Book Review: Robert Orlando, Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe

Orlando, Robert. Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe. Eugene Ore.: Cascade Books, 2014. 174 pp. Pb; $23.   Link to Wipf & Stock

A “Polite Bribe” refers to Paul’s collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Robert Orlando’s thesis is that Paul needed the approval of Jerusalem in order to continue to preach the Gospel. He therefore agreed to give a gift to the Jerusalem church in exchange for their approval to preach his Gospel to the Gentiles.

Orlando understands one of the main problems for Paul was his continual “battle with this sense of legitimacy as an apostle and as a missionary to the Gentiles” (xxiii). As Polite Bribeevidence for this is the Galatians 2, Paul’s conflict with “men from James” and the subsequent rejection of table fellowship by Barnabas and Peter. Orlando paints a vivid picture of Paul’s Gospel as radical and “counterintuitive” to the majority of early (Jewish) Christians (29).

There does seem to be a deep division between James as a leader of the Jerusalem church, Peter as a missionary along the fringes of Judaism and Paul, who was appointed by Jesus to go directly to the Gentiles. In Acts, Luke does tend to smooth over these divisions in favor of presenting the early church as more united than perhaps it really was. The Antioch Incident (Galatians 2), the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and Paul’s arrest after he returned to Jerusalem with the Collection (Acts 21:17-22:29) are all evidence of a sharp struggle between Paul and other early Christians who considered the Law as required even for Gentiles. This is especially a problem when Jews and Gentiles shared meals and celebrated Communion together.

At the heart of Orlando’s thesis is his assumption Paul needed (or wanted) approval from the original apostles. There are two problems with this assumption. Is there any evidence the original Twelve or James had an interest in appointing additional apostles? When Judas died he was replaced, but this is prior to Pentecost (Acts 1). After James the son of Zebedee is killed in Acts 12, there appears to be no effort to replace him as one of the Twelve. When there is need for leadership among the Hellenistic Jews in Jerusalem, they are told to appoint their own leaders (who are not called apostles, Acts 6). It is not as though the Twelve constitute a governing body for the church who have the authority to authorize preachers of the Gospel.

Second, a fair reading of Galatians 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 10-11 should be enough evidence to indicate Paul was not overly concerned what the Jerusalem church thought of his mission to the Gentiles. He claims an independent apostleship based on his encounter with Jesus. I agree he would have preferred to have the “right hand of fellowship” from Jerusalem, but he does not seem to have ever claimed to be working under the authority of Jerusalem, the Twelve, or James.

Orlando’s most remarkable suggestion that James and the original apostles required a monetary gift in exchange for their approval of Paul as an apostle. He describes this as a kind of Temple Tax imposed on Gentiles to assist the poor, James had his followers in Jerusalem (59). It is true James asked Paul to remember the poor, the very thing Paul was “eager to do “(Gal 2:10). It is even probably the case James understood the “poor” to be his Jerusalem church which was still living in common in anticipation of the return of Christ. But to describe this as a price paid for authorization to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles runs far past what the evidence could prove. Paul does not hurry back to Jerusalem in Acts 20-21 in order to offer a bribe to James, but to arrive on the day of Pentecost with a gift from the Gentile churches. He wants to evoke memories of the Day of Pentecost from Acts 2 when the Spirit of God was first poured out on the Jewish believers. For Paul, the Collection is a first-fruits offering from the Gentiles to those who were followers of Jesus from the beginning.

Orlando is indebted to the old History of Religions view that Paul adapted Greek and Roman myth better present the Gospel to Gentiles. For example, he says on several occasions Paul used the dying and rising god myths from Greek mystery religions (85), stating that Paul need “secret wisdom in order to avoid critique: in the public square. As a result this commitment to Paul’s adoption of Mithraism, he often misses the Jewish foundations of Paul’s theology. One result of the explosion of studies in the tradition of the New Perspective on Paul is an awareness of just how Jewish Paul remained after his so-called conversion. Orlando’s presentation on circumcision, for example, is described in terms of modern practices which were not necessarily present in the first century (metzizah b’peh, for example).

There are several bold assertions which would be hard to support from evidence. Orlando explains Paul’s desire to launch a final journey to Spain, the “end of the known world” as an attempt to “trigger the second coming of Christ” (84). For Orlando, this is in fact Paul’s motivation for dispensing with food laws and circumcision for Gentiles, God was about to “dissolve the distinctions between Jew and Greek in the Kingdom” (37). It would be very difficult to support this assertion from the letters of Paul or the book of Acts, and “dissolving the distinction between Jew and Gentile” is not part of any Second Temple period Jewish expectations for the coming Kingdom! Fourth Ezra, for example, sees no future for Gentiles in the Kingdom at all (nor for most Jews, for that matter).

According to Orlando, Paul was dispatched to Antioch to work as a protégé under Barnabas in Antioch (35), although in Acts Barnabas seeks out Paul because Gentiles are responding to the Gospel in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). For some reason Orlando omits the mission to Cypress in Acts 13. Luke uses the symbolic miracle, Paul’s blinding of Bar-Jesus, to indicate a shift from Barnabas to Paul. Luke then follows that miracle with a detailed synagogue sermon which presents Paul’s understanding of what God is doing in the present age. Rather than focus on this data, Orlando describes a breach between Paul and Barnabas: “he’d had enough” of Paul and returned to Antioch where he eroded Paul’s relationship with the church (44). It is not Barnabas who leaves Paul, but John Mark. Paul and Barnabas continue as partners through the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and only split when Barnabas insists on restoring John Mark to the ministry team.

Assuming an imprisonment in Ephesus, Orlando asserts Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from prison in a state of despair, “possibly a loss of faith” (93), which he suggests is akin to a “nervous breakdown” (the title of the chapter, although he never quite states his in the text). To describe Paul’s ministry in Ephesus as “two or three years immobilized, probably ‘lying there and rotting’” (93) completely misunderstands how Luke presents Paul in Acts 19. Although Paul may have been imprisoned for a time in Ephesus (and he probably wrote Philippians during that time in prison), he evidently spent at least two years teaching and preaching so that “all Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:9-10). Rather than “lying there are rotting” Paul established churches and trained people to plant additional churches (Epaphras and Colossae, for example).

Orlando is a film-maker and not a New Testament scholar. He tells the story of Paul in narrative fashion with little awareness of scholarship on Luke-Acts or Paul. Often his source for a particularly striking idea is not the text of the New Testament or a published commentary or monograph, but an interview from his film, A Polite Bribe. This would be unacceptable in a scholarly monograph, but since this book is a companion to the film, it is less problematic.

Sometimes his sense of story-telling goes beyond the evidence. He presents his idea of starting the story of the church with Paul rather than the Gospels as a new and groundbreaking idea. This is not exactly news to biblical scholars, especially those who focus on the writing of Paul. For example, Jens Schröter contributed an article to Paul and the Heritage of Israel (LNTS 452; T&T Clark, 2012) on “Paul the Founder of the Church: Reflections and Reception of Paul in the Acts of the Apostle sand the Pastoral Epistles.” Certainly Reformation theology stands on the foundation of Paul and his epistles.

One additional concern: the book seems to breathe the air of conspiracy. This is a byproduct of the presentation of the book as a film, since a documentary which claims to uncover some dark secret suppressed by the Church is likely to be more popular. For example, Paul’s Jewish opponents “hatch a conspiracy against him” in Corinth (73). This was more or less a standard Roman lawsuit and not a “conspiracy.” It was common problem in Roman culture and Paul treats it 1 Corinthians 6. Orlando detects a “shipboard conspiracy” against Paul on the trip to Jerusalem forcing them to return to shore (107). There is not much evidence for this in the text; Orlando does not cite the book of Acts, but rather an interview with Robert Jewett in his film.

Conclusion: A Polite Bribe is an interesting approach to the difficult problem of Paul’s relationship with James and Jerusalem. Orlando should be commended for taking Paul seriously and attempting to get behind the scenes of Acts and the Epistles, although there are many assertions in this book which will not stand up to close scrutiny. His narrative method makes for easy reading, although his non-scholarly approach seems to create some problems which erode the value of his main point.

 

NB: Thanks to Wipf & Stock for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Robert Orlando, Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe

  1. Good to see this review! I’ll only share a few impressions based on fairly recent memory of the book… no time to review it again right now. (I’ve read it twice, with multiple markings, as well as seen the film twice)…. I’ve also watched a discussion video on it twice (at http://www.apolitebribe.com, at least last I was at the site) with conservative theologians Witherington and Hurtado discussing points with Orlando (both of whom had been interviewed for and appear in the film… Orlando purposely covered a wide range of scholars in his preparation and recording before editing).

    One thing I think is worth pointing out is that Orlando has way more than a typical filmmakers interest in or knowledge of this topic. He got onto it during seminary and it has been a long-term focus which I think Robert might admit to being almost an obsession. (I can’t recall details of exact length of his strong interest, but I believe a decade or more, and know this from direct conversations at some length that we’ve had, in person and by phone.) He’d agree that he’s not a NT scholar with all the rigor, languages, etc. that that entails. However, on this topic, given my own seminary-and-beyond education, reading a lot of NT scholars, I’d say he has specialized knowledge comparable to that of an NT scholar or beyond (depending on their specialization areas). All that to say I agree (as would he) that he DOES speculate at places, but only based on strong background knowledge and at least some evidence. He admits that the very “bribe” concept is controversial and not provable…. And it’s a spongy concept.

    Whether or not one wants to consider Paul’s collection a “bribe” or that he felt the NEED (you properly suggest “desire” as well) for authorization from Jerusalem, this point is important: Paul recognized that the real authority base for all Jesus-following in the first decades after Jesus’ death resided in the Jerusalem leaders (not synonymous with “The Apostles” as in “The Twelve”) But, at the same time, he held to HIS followers that his own authority was independently granted separately from theirs, directly from God via his visionary experiences which included encountering Christ. And herein lies a whole lot of problems… including those raised by the differences and major tensions between Paul and “Jerusalem”. A main point of the Orlando book and film is to point this out for deeper consideration by both lay people and scholars.

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  2. A follow-up to my earlier remarks….

    Rather than get “down in the weeds” when probably no one else cares much, if they even read this post in depth, I’ll mainly reiterate a couple larger points.

    First, Orlando does a service in joining others, but from a little different angle, in emphasizing the nature and depth of the differences… even the open conflict… between Paul and the Jerusalem leaders (and presumably the laity there as well, as Acts seems to indicate.) This is an issue of Christian origins that is far from adequately dealt with and understood by even most Christian scholars or historians of this region and period. And it’s important in foundational ways! And I maintain Orlando does this carefully and responsibly, with some speculation but nothing outlandish.

    Second, the book/film’s focus on Paul’s collection is warranted. It’s also a scholarly contribution to NT studies, I’d maintain. Now, I’m not a specialist or as up on publications as a person in the field, but from what I CAN find and gather, this point has generally been passed over way too lightly. It is a topic that helps bring out a number of important issues. And one Orlando makes strongly, is that a lot of the development of early Christianity has to do with issues of culture and ethnic/cultural boundaries, social relationships and such…. And this is interwoven with “revelation” and theology. It’s hard to say, on a given issue, which aspect of the theology-building process is leading and which is following as the various aspects do a complex dance.
    (This alone represents an important “corrective” to the traditional view of Christian origins.)

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  3. Mr Long,

    Thank you for the review.

    In due time, I will respond in more length to some of your points. I could not find what institution you are affiliated with, but perhaps they/you might be open to a screening of the film and a review of the book in the future? It is always best to debate these issues with the time and nuance necessary to make the broader arguments, especially when these arguments break ground with traditional understanding.

    3 undeniable points:

    1. Paul returned to Jerusalem for a collection which Luke does not clearly mention (Acts 24?) and that was in contrast with his goal to reach Spain.

    2. Paul’s collection was clearly not accepted given James suggestion to donate to the Nazarite vows.

    3. After his rejection, Paul was not defended by his peers and sent to jail without a visitor for possibly 2-3 years other than his nephew.

    While I think the finer points can be argued and some times a narrative might seem to neatly sequenced, to deny the 3 points I just mentioned above as the “creation of a filmmaker” is plain naive, or at least the product of one who finds traditional thinking comforting at the expense of his critical (scholarly) faculties.

    Please let me know about the screening.

    RO

    In terms of scholar vs filmmaker…

    http://apolitebribe.com/

    Past screenings: http://vimeo.com/apolitebribe/videos/sort:date/format:detail

    My interview with Mark Goodacre at the Full Frame Theater Duke University (http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-interview-with-robert-orlando.html).

    Amazon Reviews

    http://www.amazon.com/Apostle-Paul-Polite-Peter Reznikoff/dp/B00HRYH7BC#customerReviews

    A Polite Bribe Reviews

    “I rarely get into hyperbole, but A Polite Bribe is the best book I have ever read on Paul.”

    – Ron Way, Author, Talk Show Host

    “for the first time some one told the truth.”

    Paul Achtemeier, Union Seminary

    “the most unique book ever written about the apostle Paul.”

    Jeffrey Butz, Penn State University

    “I can’t recall having seen anything quite like this”

    Mark Goodacre, Duke University

    “a notable step forward in the public understanding of the life and career of StPaul.”

    Philip Esler, University of Gloucestershire

    a compellingly-told story of a key figure in the history of early Christianity.”
    –James McGrath, Butler University

    “ardently and articulately makes a plausible case for what might have happened to Paul”

    Corrie Norman, University of Wisconsin

    “ scholars and laypersons alike are given the unique
    chance to meet Paul again for the first time”
    –Gerd Ludemann, Vanderbilt University,

    “fair and airs a spectrum of opinions”

    Ben Witherington, Asbury Theological Seminary

    “pulls back the veil on that history revealing the true account of the parties and politics”

    James Tabor, University of North Carolina,

    “does a good job at getting at some of the major tensions and problems in Paul’s life and ministry”

    Bill Tameus, Faith Matters Blog

    “an informative and provocative film”

    Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh

    “a narrative that cannot easily be dismissed, regardless of one’s faith or political leanings”

    Joshua Paul Smith Near Emanus Blog

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    • I appreciate your response, and I am open to your “three undeniable points.” I reviewed the book at the prompting of Howard Pepper (see the previous comment) who loved your book/film and saw some similarities to the work I have done on this blog over the last few years. So rather than naive, was “already there.” My main negative critique of the book is the idea that Paul wanted or needed approval from Jerusalem, as if the Apostles and James could ordain him to ministry (in the modern sense of the word). Galatians gives the impression Paul is dismissive of the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church and will go one fulfilling his commission from the resurrected Jesus regardless of what they think. So to call the collection “a polite bribe” misses the point, Paul’s offering to the poor in Jerusalem at Pentecost was a way symbolizing the firstfruits of God’s harvest among the Gentiles.

      The fate of the collection in Acts has always been a problem, and the suggestion James did not accept it or that it was used for the Nazarite vow turns up in the literature often. One other possibility is James rejected the money and Paul used it to cover legal expenses while under house arrest in Caesarea.

      The lack of local defense for Paul and his mission after his arrest is also a problem, prompting James Dunn to describe James a rather “sinister”. You are of course aware of the apocryphal literature on James, some of which develops a violent break with Paul.

      Here are a few of the posts I have made in the past in these issues:

      On the collection:
      https://readingacts.com/2015/04/06/acts-20-and-the-collection-for-the-saints/

      For James as leader in Jerusalem, see here:
      https://readingacts.com/2015/03/16/acts-1513-21-james-emerges-as-a-leader/

      For Acts 21, see here:
      https://readingacts.com/2015/04/08/acts-21-paul-vs-james/

      My (hopefully constructive) criticism is from the perspective of someone who reads scholarship professionally. It means far more for me to see a citation of Ben Witherington’s Acts commentary than a personal interview in a film. I can go to a book, read the argument, weigh the supporting evidence. For the most part, a choice line drawn from an interview is hard to evaluate. Your book targets a popular, so you cannot be faulted for not satisfying the sort of academic rigor one expects at SBL (for example).

      Thanks for the dialogue! Rarely does an author respond to a book review, so this is good.

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      • Philip,

        RO: Thanks for your continued thoughts. I have responded below…

        I appreciate your response, and I am open to your “three undeniable points.”

        RO: They seem self evident to scholar or non scholar.

        I reviewed the book at the prompting of Howard Pepper (see the previous comment) who loved your book/film and saw some similarities to the work I have done on this blog over the last few years.

        RO: Thank you Howard!

        So rather than naive, was “already there.”

        RO: I stand corrected.

        My main negative critique of the book is the idea that Paul wanted or needed approval from Jerusalem, as if the Apostles and James could ordain him to ministry (in the modern sense of the word).

        RO: I think this true because Paul’s authority was rooted in the geographical holy land of Jesus and his original (first) Apostles. Without this legacy, as Paul contended with most of his life, his legitimacy could and would be challenged.

        Galatians gives the impression Paul is dismissive of the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church and will go one fulfilling his commission from the resurrected Jesus regardless of what they think.

        RO: I am speculating, but based on what we know, Paul seemed resentful of the fact that while he would have liked to go out on his own, he could not, and needed to return to mother church to keep rooted in the authority that came with that legacy.

        RO: Also, in the eyes of Roman authority, if the collection was not rooted in the Jewish religion, it would have been an illegal act.

        So to call the collection “a polite bribe” misses the point, Paul’s offering to the poor in Jerusalem at Pentecost was a way symbolizing the firstfruits of God’s harvest among the Gentiles.

        RO: It was both/and not either/or. It both served a monetary and symbolic meaning as would a donor today offering money to a college or a donor giving money to lobby their political views. Nothing inherently suspicious in this, unless you want to think of Paul and James as supernatural beings, or without the need or use for money? And it was a “polite” bribe, because of its persuasive power to keep the two movements together at least temporarily.

        The fate of the collection in Acts has always been a problem, and the suggestion James did not accept it or that it was used for the Nazarite vow turns up in the literature often.

        RO: for a reason. (I will copy the conclusions of other scholars below).

        One other possibility is James rejected the money and Paul used it to cover legal expenses while under house arrest in Caesarea.

        RO: coincidentally, or not, Felix confesses in Acts 24:26 (New International Version: At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.) that he himself was hoping to receive a “BRIBE” from Apostle Paul, which shows Paul was a man of means and bribes were a possibility. He also mentions this bribe in the context of Paul bringing the collection “to his people.”

        The lack of local defense for Paul and his mission after his arrest is also a problem, prompting James Dunn to describe James a rather “sinister”. You are of course aware of the apocryphal literature on James, some of which develops a violent break with Paul.

        RO: Yes, I am, and if I wanted to just be an entertainer and drive home the drama, I would have used the apocryphal writings, which I did not (i.e. Paul shoves James down the Temple steps).

        RO: Highly regarded New Testament scholar James Dunn (University of Durham), points out,“When Paul was arrested and put on trial we hear nothing of any Jewish Christians standing by him, speaking in his defense–and this despite James’ apparent high standing among orthodox Jews…Where were the Jerusalem Christians? It looks very much as though they had washed their hands of Paul, left him to stew in his own juice. If so it implies a fundamental antipathy on the part of the Jewish Christians to Paul himself and what he stood for.” (Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, p. 277).

        My (hopefully constructive) criticism is from the perspective of someone who reads scholarship professionally. It means far more for me to see a citation of Ben Witherington’s Acts commentary than a personal interview in a film.

        Read this quote from Ben, (Ben Witherington, a lead scholar in the film, surmises, “Under such circumstances, it is very believable that the collection will have failed to accomplish what Paul intended. Marching into Jerusalem with Gentiles from various parts of the Empire at this xenophobic moment would hardly have produced a positive response from Jews in general…)

        I can go to a book, read the argument, weigh the supporting evidence. For the most part, a choice line drawn from an interview is hard to evaluate.

        RO: I found that much of what was spoken about in interviews was also covered in written form in the scholar’s book, and the use of Socratic method allowed me to expose even deeper insights some times then allowed with the comparison of texts alone.

        Your book targets a popular, so you cannot be faulted for not satisfying the sort of academic rigor one expects at SBL (for example).

        RO: It does but is supported in part by 30 scholars and years of scholarship, and also born out of the NT literature dating back to Baur.

        Thanks for the dialogue! Rarely does an author respond to a book review, so this is good.

        RO: My pleasure. I don’t think this topic of the Apostle Paul’s collection, his relationship to James and and the role of money in the ancient world has been taken seriously in terms of the implications on the founding of the Christian faith, with the possible exception of Barclay’s recent book on “the gift,” which is still more of a Protestant theological treatment

        RO: We will be doing more of this at this year’s SBL, if you wanted to send your email info@apolitebribe.com or robo@apolitebribe.com we could keep you in the loop.

        A POLITE BRIBE: Sensationalized Hype or Expert Opinion?
        For those who are speaking or writing about our film A Polite Bribe without having viewed it, and who are looking to dismiss the film by assigning “bad or radical motives” to its creator (me), I suggest you please take a moment and read some of the quotes below. Not every Pauline scholar agrees on the validity of my narrative featuring the collection and the conflict between Paul and James, but generally speaking, a consensus of NT scholars does. Some even go beyond the film! I have written a book to explore these issues in more depth, to be released after the film in the fall, with an E-Book outline available now (http://apolitebribe.com/Ebook), but, I still felt compelled to invite some experts (and believers) into the conversation. Here is a small sample of quotes from main stream scholars on the collection (bribe?), the factionalism between Paul and James in early Christianity, and Paul’s final journey to Jerusalem.

        Catholics
        Raymond Brown writes, “Was there also a personal issue…? Did Paul’s opponents at Galatia pass on his sarcastic comments about the so-called Jerusalem pillars of the church, who were of no importance to him (Gal 2:6,9), and his description of the present Jerusalem as in slavery (to the Law) with her children (4:25); and, if so, is Paul hoping that the collection will heal any hard feelings between him and the Jerusalem authorities? Certainly in Rom 15:30-31, Paul seems apprehensive about [whether] his service in Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Christians there…” “…Between the lines of Acts 21:17-25, one can detect tension between Paul and James when Paul does get to Jerusalem. Thus the collection may have played a spiritual, ecclesiological, and diplomatic function in Paul’s ministry–a sampling of the complicated roles that raising money has played in churches ever since.” (An Introduction to the New Testament, pp 553-554)

        Luke Timothy Johnson in his The Acts of the Apostles suggests (Acts 21), “The scene between Paul and Jerusalem leaders (especially James) is even on its own terms somewhat odd. But when we read it against the backdrop of the information provided in Paul’s letters concerning his planned trip to Jerusalem, puzzlement deepens. Was Paul accepted by the Jerusalem community or not? Was his eventual arrest and imprisonment something entirely outside the community’s control and concerning which it was powerless to intervene? Or was Paul abandoned by the Jerusalem community? Was he, possibly, even set up? (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 377)

        Roman Catholic Jerome Murphy-O’Connor (École Bibliotiche in Jerusalem) adds, “Paul must have lived in fear that he would be handed back to the Jewish authorities. This was incentive not to push too hard for a decision. At the same time he must have hoped desperately for some news from the outside, and in particular concerning the fate of the collection….What had happened to his companions? Had his and James’ plan been carried through when the situation in Jerusalem quieted down? To such questions Paul got no answers, and the weary days dragged on interminably under Porcius Felix.” (Paul: His Story, p. 216)

        Mainstream Protestants
        Highly regarded New Testament scholar James Dunn (University of Durham), points out,“When Paul was arrested and put on trial we hear nothing of any Jewish Christians standing by him, speaking in his defense–and this despite James’ apparent high standing among orthodox Jews…Where were the Jerusalem Christians? It looks very much as though they had washed their hands of Paul, left him to stew in his own juice. If so it implies a fundamental antipathy on the part of the Jewish Christians to Paul himself and what he stood for.” (Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, p. 277).

        J. Louis Martyn (Princeton Theological Seminary) writes, “Paul’s plan to journey to Jerusalem thus brought to him the prospect of a renewed confrontation with a group that was both intensely hostile to him and greatly influential in Judea and beyond. This prospect created in Paul a considerable amount of anxiety.” (Romans: 15:30-33) (Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul, p. 41)

        Yale Divinity School’s Leander Keck ends his book on Romans by saying, “What came of the money also remains unknown. What is evident is that the rationale for the offering stated in Romans 15:26-27 (ministering to the saints) does not account for Paul’s determination to take the offering to Jerusalem. Nor does it disclose what was actually at stake for him–and for the Jerusalem Church: the legitimacy of his apostolic standing and interpretation of the gospel. For him, by contributing to the needs of the poor Christian Jews, the Gentile churches acknowledge that they are part of one church, not, a “gentile Christianity,” a breakaway movement, or parallel option. Theologically, Paul was right, even though the offering that expressed his conviction failed historically. (Romans, pp 367-368)

        Evangelicals
        Leading 20th-century evangelical Scholar F.F. Bruce, citing A.J. Merrill’s work, states that it has even been suggested that they (the Jerusalem Apostles) knowingly drew Paul “into an ambush by luring him into the Temple”–and that this suspicion dawned on Luke himself when Paul was riotously assaulted while carrying out their directions. (Acts, p. 408)

        Modern conservative evangelical Ralph P. Martin (Fuller Seminary) admits that by the time of Paul’s final visit to Jerusalem, “his ministry was decisively rejected by James and the Jerusalem leadership.” The official acceptance of a collection gathered from Paul’s Gentile congregations would be seen as tacit approval of Paul’s teachings. (World Biblical Commentary #48, James, p. xxxvii)

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