The historical Paul is as intriguing a figure as the historical Jesus, but unlike Jesus, Paul wrote letters. The authentic letters of Paul make it possible to talk about what Paul believed and to discover his vision of a radically transformed world. Paul resists Roman imperial theology, he identifies Jesus with the dispossessed among the nations, and he insists on the practice of equality within the communities of Christ. But what becomes of the real Paul when he became the subject of conflict in the Church?
Bernard Brandon Scott (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) is the Darbeth Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A charter member of the Jesus Seminar, he is the author of several books including The Real Paul (2015) and The Trouble with Resurrection (2010).
Jason BeDuhn is Professor of the Comparative Study of Religions at Northern Arizona University, a Guggenheim and National Humanities Center Fellow, and the author of numerous articles and books including The Manichaean Body (2000, winner of the American Academy of Religion Best First Book Award), and The First New Testament: Marcion’s Scriptural Canon (2013).
A PDF will open in a new window with event details including schedule and contact information.
Finding The Real Paul
Paul is known to us in seven authentic letters. The letters bear the rhetorical strategies of Paul and are to be distinguished from other letters attributed to but not written by Paul. The real Paul is radical. He rejects hierarchical Roman society, he is fearless in resisting Roman religious customs, and he demands justice practices in Christ communities. Before asking what became of Paul, it is important to know the real Paul.
Friday evening, 7:30–9:00 PM
Marcion, Disciple of Paul
Marcion is scarcely known and poorly understood in Christianity today. He holds the distinction of proposing the first New Testament, but he is also dismissed as a “heretic.” Marcion, though, cannot be so easily dismissed. Famously called “the only one who understood Paul, but even he misunderstood him,” Marcion played a key role in remaking of the real Paul into the Paul of later Christian theology. Did he rescue Paul from obscurity? Did he take Paul’s ideas farther than Paul himself would have wanted?
Saturday 9:30–10:30 AM
The Political Paul
The real Paul is also a political Paul. Because Paul evangilized the nations conquered by Rome, because he identifies a crucified and shamed Jesus, and because he sees in the experiences of the shamed the vision of a new world, Paul cannot help but be political. He rejects the powers and principalities of his day; he offers a new form of power that overturns the order of the world. In the modern world, this Paul still needs to be heard.
Saturday 11 a.m.-Noon
The Making of the Biblical Paul
Marcion held that Paul was the key figure to a proper understanding of the gospel of Jesus. He is the first one we know of who attributed more than seven letters to Paul, and to insist that they belonged in a Christian Bible. This changed the course of Christian history. But Marcion also shared Paul’s radical side, for as Paul distanced his gospel from imperial Rome, so Marcion distanced his theology from power politics in emerging Christianity. Would Christianity be better off today if Marcion’s understanding of Paul had won?
Saturday 1:30-2:30 p.m.
QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD
Brandon Scott and Jason BeDuhn
Saturday 3-4 p.m.
Plymouth Congregational Church
Local Contact and Information
All events at:
Plymouth Congregational Church
202 North Clifton Avenue
Wichita, KS 67208