Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was President Thomas Jefferson who wrote that Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus. See text for reference.
There are several passages in the New Testament highlighting the importance of the ‘Law.’ This introduces a fundamental contradiction in the New Testament when we read these passages along with those where Paul opposes the ‘Law.’
For example note this passage, which is a part of the Sermon on the Mount, from New International Version:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 5:17-20)
Also read Luke 4:4, Mathew 19:16-18 and John 15:10.
Judging by number of letters by Paul of Tarsus that made into the New Testament, it becomes amply clear that he is the Founder of the Trinitarian Christianity as opposed to the Unitarian Christianity that still made the majority of Christians until the fourth century.
The biggest advantage that I have had from making this knol is mention of almost 10 different books to paint St Paul in true colors, in a comment below by Salimuddin Ansari.
How did Paul begin to have such a major role in the development of Trinitarian Christians? The asnwer lies in reading the history of the early Christians. Recent scholarship is focusing on these issues.
Prof. Bart Ehrman explains how Paul’s star rose by inclusion of his letters in what came to be known as the Canonthe New Testament, in his book, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, in the chapter titled, The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-orthodox New Testament:
“In some circles, the teachings of Jesus were not simply on a par with Scripture; they far surpassed it. We have seen this already in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus, the correct interpretation of which is said to bring eternal life. In proto-orthodox circles, however, it was not Jesus’ secret teachings but those found in apostolic authorities that were seen as au¬thoritative. And just as important as his teachings were the events of his life. Accounts of Jesus’ life-his words and deeds, his death and resurrection-were eventually placed in circulation and accepted as sacred Scripture, at least as au¬thoritative for most proto-orthodox Christians as the texts of the Jewish Bible.
Along with these authoritative accounts of Jesus’ life were the authoritative writings of his apostles, which were being granted sacred status before the end of the New Testament period. The final book of the New Testament to be writ¬ten was probably 2 Peter, a book almost universally recognized by critical schol¬ars to be pseudonymous, not actually written by Simon Peter but one of many Petrine forgeries from the second century (cf. the Gospel of Peter, the Apocalypse of Peter, the letter from Peter to James, etc.). One of the striking features of this letter is that it discusses the writings of the apostle Paul and considers them, already, as scriptural authorities. In attacking those who misconstrue Paul’s writings, twisting their meaning for their own purposes (some kinds of proto-Gnostics?), the author says:
Our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, saying such things as he does in all his letters. Some things in them are hard to understand, which the foolish and unstable pervert, leading to their own destruction, as they do with the rest of the Scriptures. (2 Pet. 3:16)
By grouping Paul’s writings with ‘the rest of the Scriptures,’ this author has made a significant move. Apostolic writings are already being revered and placed into a collection as books of Scripture.
And so, by the end of the New Testament period, we have a movement toward a bipartite New Testament canon, consisting of the words (or accounts) of Jesus and the writings of the apostles. In speaking of this as a “movement” we should guard against being overly anachronistic. It is not that Christians at this time were all in agreement on the matter, as we have seen time and again, and it is not that anyone thought they were in a “movement” that was heading somewhere else. These authors understood that there were certain authorities that were of equal weight to the teachings of (Jewish) Scripture. They had no idea that there would eventually be a twenty-seven book canon. But looking back on the matter from the distance afforded by the passage of time, we can see that their claims had a profound effect on the development of proto-orthodox Christianity, as eventually some of these written authorities came to be in¬cluded in a canon of Scripture.”
The divergence between Jesus and Paul can best seen in their respective proclamations. As we have observed in earlier lectures, the substance of the message of the historical Jesus was the coming of god’s kingdom and the necessity to live life in light of this new reality. Paul’s gospel was expressed differently:
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the 12. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Many scholars regard the core of this statement as the oldest part of the New Testament, reflecting perhaps the earliest creedal formulation of Jesus’ followers. The key elements of this proclamation were incorporated into later Christian creeds: that Christ died for human sins, was buried, was raised from the dead, and appeared to his followers.The message has clearly shifted. Whereas the historical Jesus promised a new state of affairs centered in god’s reign, Paul declared the forgiveness of sin centered in Jesus, who is now called the Christ. Jesus urged his listeners to amend their ways and live in accord with the new reality being enacted a in his words and deeds and coming imminently in its fullness; Paul told his listeners to believe in Christ Jesus to be saved from the wrath of god that would be directed against the ungodly when Jesus returns to earth to establish his kingdom. Paul writes: ‘if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’
Jesus’ teachings while he lived were about kingdom of God or heaven and not about Christology, his death or resurrection, you would recall that he was praying earnestly in the Garden before his arrest, he never gave a hint during his 3 or so years of ministry that he was on a suicidal mission!
Paul has little concern with Jesus’ life only an obsession with his death
What Paul does not realize is that if life of someone is non-consequential so is his death.
Mark W. Muesse is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. A native of Waco, Texas, Muesse received his B.A. summa cum laude in English from Baylor University. He completed his graduate work at Harvard University, where he received a Masters of Theological Studies from the Divinity School and the A.M. and Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He has also been Visiting Professor of Theology at the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in Madurai, India, traveling extensively throughout Asia. He writes about Christology and St. Paul:
Jesus’ death and resurrection were without doubt the most important events of his life according to the New Testament. All four gospels relate detailed stories of these occurrences. The apostle Paul, whom I consider the chief Founder of Christianity, based his entire theology. on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection without ever mentioning his teachings. For two millennia Christians have followed Paul’s example. Although other Christians have certainly given far more attention to Jesus’ life and teachings than Paul did, on the whole they have still concurred with Paul’s belief in the centrality of the death and resurrection.The emphasis on this aspect of Jesus’ life is directly related to his function in Christianity. Jesus is considered by Christians to be the atonement for human sinfulness and the means by which salvation is made possible. As Paul wrote, Jesus “was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” That has been the dominant view of the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection among Christians for centuries.… I want to develop another understanding of these events, one focusing on what we know of their historicity and their significance for the message Jesus proclaimed: the coming of god’s kingdom. I will not suggest that my interpretation and the dominant interpretation of Christians are necessarily incompatible. I simply intend to demonstrate the continuity of the crucifixion and resurrection with the rest of Jesus’ life and teaching as we’ve studied it thus far. From that vantage point, I want to discuss these events in the same manner as we have considered the parables, the healings and exorcisms, the miracles, and his prayers and feasts: as enactments of life in the kingdom. Rather than view Jesus’ death and resurrection as a divinely planned transaction conferring the forgiveness of humanity’s sin, for a moment, let’s think about them in relation to the central message of Jesus’ life.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: My comments and additions are in red:
According to the Acts of the Apostles, his conversion took place on the road to Damascus. Thirteen epistles in the New Testament are attributed to Paul, though authorship of six of the thirteen is questioned by some scholars. According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Paul’s influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author.
Sources of information
Conversion of Saint Paul, fresco by Michelangelo
The Book of Acts contains an account of Paul’s travels and deeds, his conflicts with pagans and Jews, and his interactions with the other apostles. It was written from a perspective of reconciliation between Pauline Christians and their opponents, and portrays Paul as a law-abiding Jewish Christian and omits his dispute with Peter. A primary source for historical information about Paul’s life is the material found in his seven letters. However, these letters contain comparatively little information about Paul’s past. It is worth noting that Acts leaves several parts of Paul’s life out of its narrative, such as his execution in Rome.
Scholars such as Hans Conzelmann and 20th century theologian John Knox (not the 16th century John Knox) dispute the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul’s own account of his background is found particularly in Galatians. According to some scholars, the account in Acts of Paul visiting Jerusalem[Acts 11:27-30] contradicts the account in Paul’s letters. (Please see the full discussion in Acts of the Apostles). Most scholars[who?] consider Paul’s accounts more reliable than those found in Acts.
Prior to conversion
Paul, whose earlier Hebrew name was Saul, was “of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.”[Phil. 3:5] Acts identifies Paul as from Mediterranean city of Tarsus (in present-day south-central Turkey), well-known for its intellectual environment. Acts also claims Paul said he was “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee”.[Acts 23:6]
According to his own testimony, Paul “violently persecuted” the “church of God” (followers of Jesus) prior to his conversion to Christianity. and was advancing in stature within Judaism’s Jerusalem temple leadership before he came to believe that the crucified Jesus, of the line of David, was actually Lord. [Rom. 1:3] Paul’s writings give some insight into his thinking regarding his former place in Judaism. He is strongly critical both theologically and empirically of claims of moral or lineal superiority [2:16-26] of Jews while conversely strongly sustaining the notion of a special place for the Children of Israel.[9-11] His aggressive and authoritative writing style, even when addressing the supposed “super-apostles”, [1 Cor. 11] some of whom certainly had stronger claims, having known Jesus during his lifetime, suggests that Paul’s stature in Judaism and the temple leadership must have been quite high.
Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from any person, but by a personal revelation of Jesus Christ.[Gal. 1:11–16] Paul claimed independence from the “mother church” in Jerusalem (possibly in the Cenacle), but was just as quick to claim agreement with it on the nature and content of the gospel.[Gal. 1:22-24]
Conversion and mission
Geography relevant to Paul’s life, stretching from Jerusalem to Rome.
Paul’s conversion can be dated to AD 33 – AD 36 by his reference to it in one of his letters. According to the Acts of the Apostles, his conversion (or metanoia) took place on the road to Damascus, where he experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus after which he was temporarily blinded.[Acts 9:1-31] [22:1-22] [26:9-24] This event is the source of the phrase Pauline conversion.
Following his stay in Damascus after his conversion, where Acts states he was healed of his blindness and baptized by Ananias of Damascus, Paul says that he first went to Arabia, and then came back to Damascus.[Gal. 1:17] He describes in Galatians how three years after his conversion he went to Jerusalem. There he met James and stayed with Simon Peter for 15 days.[Gal. 1:13–24]
There is no explicit written record that Paul had known Jesus personally prior to the Crucifixion. Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from any person, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.[Gal. 1:11–12] Paul claimed almost total independence from the “mother church” in Jerusalem.
Paul’s narrative in Galatians states that 14 years after his conversion he went again to Jerusalem.[Gal. 2:1–10] It is not completely known what happened during these so-called “unknown years,” but both Acts and Galatians provide some partial details. At the end of this time, Barnabas went to find Paul and brought him back to Antioch. [Acts 11:26]
When a famine occurred in Judea, around 45–46, Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem to deliver financial support from the Antioch community. According to Acts, Antioch had become an alternative centre for Christians following the dispersion of the believers after the death of Stephen. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians.”[Ac. 11:26]
First missionary journey
The writer of the Acts arranges Paul’s travels into three separate journeys. The first journey,[Ac 13-14] led initially by Barnabas, takes Paul from Antioch to Cyprus then southern Asia Minor (Anatolia), and back to Antioch. On Cyprus, Paul rebukes Elymas the magician[Ac 13:8-12] who was criticizing their teachings. From this point on, Paul is described as the leader of the group. Antioch served as a major Christian center for Paul’s evangelizing.
Council of Jerusalem
Most scholars agree that a vital meeting between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place in AD 49 or 50, described in Acts 15:2 and usually seen as the same event mentioned by Paul in Galatians 2:1. The key question raised was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised. At this meeting, Peter, James, and John accepted Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. See also Circumcision controversy in early Christianity.
Jerusalem meetings are mentioned in Acts, in Paul’s letters, and some appear in both. For example, the Jerusalem visit for famine relief[Acts 11:27–30] apparently corresponds to the “first visit” (to Cephas and James only).[Gal. 1:18–20] F. F. Bruce suggested that the “fourteen years” could be from Paul’s conversion rather than the first visit to Jerusalem.
Incident at Antioch
Despite the agreement achieved at the Council of Jerusalem as understood by Paul, Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter, also called the “Incident at Antioch” over Peter’s reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch.
Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts: “I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong”. Paul reports that he told Peter: “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”[Gal. 2:11–14] Paul also mentions that even Barnabas (his traveling companion and fellow apostle until that time) sided with Peter.
The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “St. Paul’s account of the incident leaves no doubt that St. Peter saw the justice of the rebuke.” In contrast, L. Michael White‘s From Jesus to Christianity claims: “The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return.”
The primary source for the Incident at Antioch is Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Visits to Jerusalem in Acts and the epistles
This table is adapted from White, From Jesus to Christianity. Note that the matching of Paul’s travels in the Acts and the travels in his Epistles is done for the reader’s convenience and is not approved of by all scholars.
After Corinth, the next major center for Paul’s activities was Ephesus. Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity from the AD 50s, see also Early centers of Christianity#Western Anatolia. From AD 52 to AD 54, Paul lived here, working with the congregation and apparently organizing missionary activity into the hinterlands. Paul’s time here was marked by disturbances and possibly imprisonment. Finally, he was forced to leave.
Next, he traveled to Macedonia before going probably to Corinth for three months (AD 56-57) before his final visit to Jerusalem. Though Paul wrote that he visited Illyricum, he meant Illyria Graeca that was part of the Roman province of Macedonia.
Arrest and death
Saint Paul’s beheading. Painting by Jacopo Tintoretto
Paul arrived in Jerusalem AD 57 with a collection of money for the congregation there. Acts reports that the church welcomed Paul gladly, but it was apparently a proposal of James that led to his arrest. Paul caused a stir when he appeared at the Temple, and he escaped being killed by the crowd by being taken into custody. He was held as a prisoner for two years in Caesarea until, in AD 59, a new governor reopened his case. He appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen and was sent to Rome for trial. Acts reports that he was shipwrecked on Malta where he was met by St Publius[Acts 28:7] and the islanders, who showed him “unusual kindness”.[Acts 28:1] He arrived in Rome c AD 60 and spent two years under house arrest.
Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd century believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop. Though not considered a bishop of Rome, Paul is considered highly responsible for bringing Christianity to Rome.
The Bible does not tell us how or when Paul died, and history does not provide us with any information. The only thing we have to go on is Christian tradition, which has Paul being beheaded in Rome, around the mid-60s AD, during the reign of Nero at Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey). By comparison, tradition has Peter being crucified upside-down. Paul’s Roman citizenship accorded him the more merciful death by beheading.
In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb of Saint Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus itself was not opened but examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense and purple and blue linen as well as small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st to 2nd century. According to the Vatican, this seems to confirm the tradition of the tomb being Saint Paul’s.
Thirteen epistles in the New Testament are traditionally attributed to Paul, of which seven are almost universally accepted, three are considered in some academic circles as other than Pauline for textual and grammatical reasons, and the other three are in dispute in those same circles. Paul apparently dictated all his epistles through a secretary (or amanuensis), who would usually paraphrase the gist of his message, as was the practice among first-century scribes. These epistles were circulated within the Christian community, where they were read aloud by members of the church along with other works. Paul’s epistles were accepted early as scripture and later established as Canon of Scripture. Critical scholars regard Paul’s epistles (written 50-62) to be the earliest-written books of the New Testament. They are referenced as early as c. 96 by Clement of Rome.
Paul’s letters are largely written to churches which he had visited; he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome. His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. He does not tell his correspondents (or the modern reader) much about the life of Jesus; his most explicit references are to the Last Supper[1 Cor. 11:17-34] and the crucifixion and resurrection.[1 Cor. 15] His specific references to Jesus’ teaching are likewise sparse,[1 Cor. 7:10-11] [9:14] raising the question, still disputed, as to how consistent his account of the faith is with that of the four canonical Gospels, Acts, and the Epistle of James. The view that Paul’s Christ is very different from the historical Jesus has been expounded by Adolf Harnack among many others. Nevertheless, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus of Christian spirituality.
Of the thirteen letters traditionally attributed to Paul and included in the Western New Testament canon, there is little or no dispute that Paul actually wrote at least seven, those being Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, First Thessalonians, and Philemon. Hebrews, which was ascribed to him in antiquity, was questioned even then, never having an ancient attribution, and in modern times is considered by most experts as not by Paul (see also Antilegomena). The authorship of the remaining six Pauline epistles is disputed to varying degrees.
The authenticity of Colossians has been questioned on the grounds that it contains an otherwise unparalleled description (among his writings) of Jesus as ‘the image of the invisible God,’ a Christology found elsewhere only in St. John’s gospel. On the other hand, the personal notes in the letter connect it to Philemon, unquestionably the work of Paul. Ephesians is a very similar letter to Colossians, but is almost entirely lacking in personal reminiscences. Its style is unique. It lacks the emphasis on the cross to be found in other Pauline writings, reference to the Second Coming is missing, and Christian marriage is exalted in a way which contrasts with the reference in 1 Cor. 7:8-9. Finally, according to R.E. Brown, it exalts the Church in a way suggestive of a second generation of Christians, ‘built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ now past. The defenders of its Pauline authorship argue that it was intended to be read by a number of different churches and that it marks the final stage of the development of Paul of Tarsus’s thinking.
Saint Paul, Byzantine ivory relief, 6th – early 7th century (Musée de Cluny)
The Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus have likewise been put in question as Pauline works. Three main reasons are advanced: first, their difference in vocabulary, style and theology from Paul’s acknowledged writings; secondly, the difficulty in fitting them into Paul’s biography as we have it. They, like Colossians and Ephesians, were written from prison but suppose Paul’s release and travel thereafter. Finally, the concerns expressed are very much the practical ones as to how a church should function. They are more about maintenance than about mission.
2 Thessalonians, like Colossians, is questioned on stylistic grounds, with some noting, among other peculiarities, a dependence on 1 Thessalonians yet a distinctiveness in language from the Pauline corpus.
For its theology of atonement, the Christian church owes a unique debt to the writings of Paul. Paul taught that Christians are redeemed from the Law (see Supersessionism) and from sin by Jesus’ death and resurrection. His death was an expiation; as well as a propitiation, and by Christ’s blood, peace is made between God and man. By baptism, a Christian shares in Jesus’ death and in his victory over death, gaining, as a free gift, a new, justified status of sonship.
Relationship with Judaism
Some scholars see Paul (or Saul) as completely in line with first-century Judaism (a “Pharisee“), others see him as opposed to first-century Judaism (see Antinomianism in the New Testament and Marcionism), while still others see him as somewhere in between these two extremes, opposed to “Ritual Laws” (see for example Circumcision controversy in early Christianity) but in full agreement on “Divine Law“. These views of Paul are paralleled by the views of Biblical law in Christianity. See also Expounding of the Law versus Antithesis of the Law.
Paul’s theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul’s own intent. He wrote that the faith of Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent. He successfully argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic Law. Nevertheless, in Romans he insisted on the positive value of the Law, as a moral guide.
E. P. Sanders‘ publications have since been taken up by Professor James Dunn who coined the phrase “The New Perspective on Paul“ and N.T. Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham. Wright, noting a difference between Romans and Galatians, the latter being much more positive about the continuing covenant between God and his ancient people than the former, contends that works are not insignificant but rather proof of attaining the redemption of Jesus Christ by grace (free gift received by faith)[Rom. 2:13ff] and that Paul distinguishes between works which are signs of ethnic identity and those which are a sign of obedience to Christ.
World to come
Paul believed that Jesus would return within his lifetime. He expected that Christians who had died in the mean time would be resurrected to share in God’s kingdom, and he believed that the saved would be transformed, assuming supernatural bodies.
Paul’s teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. Heavily persecuted, it appears that they had written asking him first about those who had died already, and, secondly, when they should expect the end. Paul regarded the age as passing and, in such difficult times, he therefore encouraged marriage as a means of happiness. He assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive.[1 Thes. 4:16ff] This suggests an imminence of the end but he is unspecific about times and seasons, and encourages his hearers to expect a delay. The form of the end will be a battle between Jesus and the man of lawlessness[2 Thess. 2:3] whose conclusion is the triumph of Christ.
Role of women
A verse in Paul’s letter to Timothy[1 Tim 2:12 KJV] is often used as the main biblical authority for prohibiting women from becoming ordained clergy and or holding certain other positions of ministry and leadership in Christianity, though Paul’s authorship of this letter is debated. The Letter to Timothy is also often used by many churches to deny women a vote in church affairs, reject women from serving as teachers of adult Bible classes, prevent them from serving as missionaries, and generally disenfranchise women from the duties and privileges of church leadership. The apparent message of this verse is certainly strange and seemingly anachronistic to 21st century mentality with its emphasis on egalitarianism and non-discrimination.
11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
When the KJV translation of this passage is understood literally, the passage seems to be saying that women are second-class citizens at every level. However, any interpretation of this portion of Scripture must wrestle with the theological, contextual, syntactical, and lexical difficulties embedded within these few words. Fuller Seminary theologian J. R. Daniel Kirk finds evidence in Paul’s letters of a much more inclusive view of women. He writes that Romans 16 is a tremendously important witness to the important role of women in the early church. Paul praises Phoebe for her work as a deacon and Junia who was an apostle. Kirk points to recent studies that have led “many scholars” to conclude that the passage in 1 Corinthians 14 excluding women’s participation in worship was a later addition, apparently by a different author, and not part of Paul’s original letter to Corinth. His third example is Galatians 3:28, “in Christ Jesus there is no longer Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female.” In pronouncing an end within the church to the divisions which are common in the world around it. He concludes by highlighting the fact that “despite what 1 Timothy commands, there were New Testament women who taught and had authority in the early churches, that this teaching and authority was sanctioned by Paul, and that Paul himself offers a theological paradigm within which overcoming the subjugation of women is an anticipated outcome.”
The conversion on the way to Damascus, by Caravaggio.
Influence on Christianity
Paul’s influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author. Paul declared that faith in Christ made the Torah unnecessary for salvation, exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment.
In the East, church fathers reduced the element of election in Romans 9 to divine foreknowledge. The themes of predestination found in Western Christianity do not appear in Eastern theology.
Augustine’s foundational work on the gospel as a gift (grace), on morality as life in the Spirit, on predestination, and on original sin all derives from Paul, especially Romans.
In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans (Ger. Der Römerbrief; particularly in the thoroughly re-written second edition of 1922) Karl Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions. Many theologians believe this work to be the most important theological treatise since Friedrich Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers.
As in the Eastern tradition in general, Western humanists interpret the reference to election in Romans 9 as reflecting divine foreknowledge.
Various Christian writers have suggested more details about Paul’s life.
“By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.”
Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote in the fourth century, states that Paul was beheaded in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. This event has been dated either to the year 64, when Rome was devastated by a fire, or a few years later, to 67. The San Paolo alle Tre Fontane church was built on the location where the execution was believed to have taken place. A Roman Catholic liturgical solemnity of Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29, may reflect the day of his martyrdom, other sources have articulated the tradition that Peter and Paul died on the same day (and possibly the same year). A number of other sources including Clement of Rome, say that Paul survived Rome and went to “the limits of the west.” Some hold the view that he could have revisited Greece and Asia Minor after his trip to Spain, and might then have been arrested in Troas, and taken to Rome and executed.[2 Tim. 4:13] A tradition holds that Paul was interred with Saint Peter ad Catacumbas by the via Appia until moved to what is now the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, writes that Pope Vitalian in 665 gave Paul’s relics (including a cross made from his prison chains) from the crypts of Lucina to King Oswy of Northumbria, northern Britain. However, Bede’s use of the word “relic” was not limited to corporal remains.
Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton and an authority on Gnosticism, argues that Paul was a Gnostic  and that the anti-Gnostic Pastoral Epistles were “pseudo-Pauline” forgeries written to rebut this.
British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contends that the Paul as described in the Book of Acts and the view of Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people. Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life. Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit, according to Maccoby. He also points out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the Book of Acts.
Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else’s words. Moreover, some have argued that the speeches of Peter and Paul are too much alike, and that especially Paul’s are too distinct from his letters to reflect a true Pauline source. Despite these suspicions, historian-attorney Christopher Price concludes that Luke’s style in Acts is representative of those ancient historians known for accurately recording speeches in their works. Examination of several of the major speeches in Acts reveals that while the author smoothed out the Greek in some cases, he clearly relied on preexisting material to reconstruct his speeches. He did not believe himself at liberty to invent material, but attempted to accurately record the reality of the speeches in Acts.
F. C. Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany, the first scholar to critique Acts and the Pauline Epistles, and founder of the Tübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, was in violent opposition to the original 12 Apostles. Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann (1866–1937) and Richard Reitzenstein (1861–1931) emphasising Paul’s Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism.
Maccoby theorizes that Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Paul’s Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributes the origins of Christian anti-Semitism to Paul and claims that Paul’s view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.
Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great. Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as “Saulus,” a “kinsman of Agrippa.” Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod’s family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul writes, “Greet Herodion, my kinsman.” This is a minority view in the academic community.
Perhaps the most speculative argument is made by British author Ralph Ellis, whose recent book King Jesus identifies Saul with Flavius Josephus, the first-century historian. In order to achieve this, Ellis has to make Saul very young (14 yrs) on his first evangelical tour of the Mediterranean. 
Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson who wrote that Paul was the “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” Howard Brenton‘s 2005 play Paul takes a skeptical view of his conversion.
- ^ a b c Harris, p. 411
- ^ Bauer lexicon; Acts 13:9, from “The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: According to the Received Greek Text” (University Press, Cambridge 1876)
- ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, Saint Paul the Apostle, 2008, O.Ed.
- ^ “The Canon Debate,” McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 32, page 577, by James D. G. Dunn: “For Peter was probably in fact and effect the bridge-man (pontifex maximus!) who did more than any other to hold together the diversity of first-century Christianity. James the brother of Jesus and Paul, the two other most prominent leading figures in first-century Christianity” [Italics original]
- ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church ed. F.L. Lucas (Oxford) entry on St. Paul
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa “Paul, St” Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- ^ Walton, Steve (2000). Leadership and Lifestyle: The Portrait of Paul in the Miletus Speech and 1 Thessalonians. Cambridge University Press. pp. 3. ISBN 0521780063. http://books.google.com/books?id=P9NznB__-E0C&pg=PA3&vq=%22these+scholars+see+the+paul%22&dq=conzelmann+paul+acts&as_brr=3&sig=QanFBxTbjopfPhsPqcWm1PG3lLw.
- ^ Hare, Douglas R. A. (1987), “Introduction”, in Knox, John, Chapters in a Life of Paul (Revised ed.), Mercer University Press, pp. xxii, 135 p., ISBN 086554266X, http://books.google.com/books?id=g_42mQjLOVsC&pg=PR10&vq=%22proper+historical+method+requires+us%22&dq=paul+primary+sources+acts+epistles&as_brr=3&sig=RvCwlMrXfqLVQ91D-2OTOOwRWm8
- ^ a b c Harris, p. 316-320
- ^ a b c Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
- ^ Galatians 1:13-14, Philippians 3:6, and Acts 8:1-3
- ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey William (1979). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A-D (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Wbeerdmans)). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 689. ISBN 0-8028-3781-6.
- ^ Barnett, Paul (2002). Jesus the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. InterVarsity Press. pp. 21. ISBN 0-8308-2699-8.
- ^ L. Niswonger, Richard (1993). New Testament History. Zondervan Publishing Company. pp. 200. ISBN 0-310-31201-9.
- ^ Hengel, Martin and Anna Maria Schwemer, trans. John Bowden. [Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=PRIKVslqctkC&pg=PA43&vq=%22the+baptism+of+Saul/Paul+in+Damascus%22&dq=paul+baptized+damascus&as_brr=3&sig=DLbwPWBw-HL4JYp6MmR3ZsIxoqg Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: The Unknown Years] Westminster John Knox Press, 1997. ISBN 0664257364
- ^ Barnett, Paul The Birth Of Christianity: The First Twenty Years (Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005) ISBN 0802827810 p. 200
- ^ Ogg, George, Chronology of the New Testament in Peake’s Commentary on the Bible (Nelson) 1963)
- ^ Barnett p. 83
- ^ Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1
- ^ Map of first missionary journey
- ^ a b Harris
- ^ Acts 15:2ff; Galatians 2:1ff
- ^ a b c White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins. pp. 148–149. ISBN 0060526556. http://books.google.com/books?id=w4ehxXoIxCUC&pg=PA149&vq=%22Two+more+of+Paul%27s+visits+to+Jerusalem%22&dq=paul+%22visits+to+jerusalem%22+acts+letters&as_brr=3&sig=Lir18QcyIN5vGQhjG0W8m8KwIqI.
- ^ Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit, F. F. Bruce, Paternoster 1980, p.151
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers see section titled: “The Incident At Antioch”
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers: “On their arrival Peter, who up to this had eaten with the Gentiles, “withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision,” and by his example drew with him not only the other Jews, but even Barnabas, Paul’s fellow-labourer.”
- ^ White, L. Michael (2004). From Jesus to Christianity. HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 170. ISBN 0060526556. http://books.google.com/books?id=w4ehxXoIxCUC&pg=PA170&vq=%22total+failure+of+political+bravado%22&dq=paul+%22visits+to+jerusalem%22+acts+letters&as_brr=3&sig=EZ2xNofTh3Rw11WHiHXs-iVqhR8.
- ^ Paul does not exactly say that this was his second visit. In Galatians, he lists three important meetings with Peter, and this was the second on his list. The third meeting took place in Antioch. He does not explicitly claim that he did not visit Jerusalem in between this and his first visit.
- ^ Note that Paul only writes that he is on his way to Jerusalem, or just planning the visit. There might or might not have been additional visits before or after this visit, if he ever got to Jerusalem.
- ^ Romans 15:25,8-9; 2Corinthians 8–9, 1 Corinthians 16:1–3
- ^ “Paul, St.” Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- ^ Paul: His Story by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor,page 247
- ^ A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
- ^ Ireneaus Against Heresies 3.3.2: the “…Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. …The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate.”
- ^ Lashway, Calvin. “HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?” Web: HOW and WHERE did the Apostle Paul die?
- ^ St Paul’s tomb unearthed in Rome from BBC News (2006–12–08); http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4442169,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf
- ^ p. 316-320
- ^ Harris, p. 316-320. Harris cites Galatians 6:11, Romans 16:22, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 19
- ^ Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: “At this point[Gal. 6:11] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name([2 Thes. 2:2]; 2 Thes. 3:17 it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries… In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his handwriting may reflect the energy and determination of his soul.”
- ^ Clement 47:1
- ^ Brown, R.E., The Churches the Apostles left behind p.48.
- ^ Barrett, C.K. the Pastoral Epistles p.4ff.
- ^ a b c d “Atonement.” Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- ^ Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977; Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People in 1983
- ^ J.D.G. Dunn’s Manson Memorial Lecture (4.11.1982): ‘The New Perspective on Paul’ BJRL 65(1983), 95–122.
- ^ New Perspectives on Paul
- ^ Rowlands, Christopher. Christian Origins (SPCK 1985) p.113
- ^ Kroeger, Richard C. and Catherine C. I Suffer Not a Woman. Baker Book House, 1992. ISBN 0801052505
- ^ Wright, N.T. “The Biblical Basis for Women’s Service in the Church.” Web: <www2.cbeinternational.org/CBE_InfoPack/pdf/wright_biblical_basis.pdf Biblical Basis for Women’s Service> 16 Dec. 2009
- ^ Moore, Terri D. “Chapter Six: Conclusions on 1 Timothy 2:15.” bible.org Aug. 30, 2009:
- ^ Kirk, J.R. Daniel. “Was Paul a Misogynist?” Web:
- ^ Was the Last Supper a Seder? Jews for Judaism FAQ
- ^ The Illustrated Guide to the Bible J. R. Porter pg.192
- ^ The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 5:5–6, translated by J.B. Lightfoot in Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1890). The Apostolic Fathers: A Revised Text with Introductions, Notes, Dissertations, and Translations. Macmillan. pp. 274. OCLC 54248207. http://earlychristianwritings.com/text/1clement-lightfoot.html.
- ^ Brown, Raymond Edward; John Paul Meier (1983). Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. pp. 124. ISBN 0809125323. http://books.google.com/books?id=_6H3XKLXGvYC&pg=PA124&vq=%22such+a+martyrdom+is+the+most+reasonable+interpretation%22&dq=paul+clement+death&as_brr=3&sig=CcsRPhc3hLHN-RKGuHtE1mVQsyk.
- ^ Lactanius, John Chrysostom, Sulpicius Severus all agree with Eusebius’ claim that Peter and Paul died under Nero. Lactantius, Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died II; John Chrysostom, Concerning Lowliness of Mind 4; Sulpicius Severus, Chronica II.28–29
- ^ The apocryphal Acts of Paul, the apocryphal Acts of Peter, the Muratorian Fragment and First Epistle of Clement 5:6 all say Paul survived Rome and traveled west
- ^ Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels. Vintage Publishers, 1989, p.62
- ^ a b Price, Christopher. “The Speeches in Acts.” Christian Colligation of Apologetics Debate Research & Evangelism, 2003. Web: The Speeches in Acts
- ^ Maccoby,Ch. 1
- ^ See Paul as Herodian, JHC 3/1 (Spring, 1996), 110-122. http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/eisenman.html
- ^ Antiquities, Book XX, Chapter 9:4. http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-20.htm
- ^ Ellis, Ralph Ralph Ellis Homage .
- ^ The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being his Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private. Published by the Order of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library, from the Original Manuscripts, Deposited in the Department of State, With Explanatory Nites, Tables of Contents, and a Copious Index to Each Volume, as well as a General Index to the Whole, by the Editor H. A. Washington. Vol. VII. Published by Taylor Maury, Washington, D.C., 1854.
- ^ Powell, F. F.Saint Paul’s Homage to Plato, worldandi.com retrieved on Nov. 16, 2008.
- ^ Plato Phaedrus translated by Benjamin Jowett
CONVERSION OF PAUL
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The Conversion of Paul, as depicted in the Christian Bible, refers to the event in the life of Paul of Tarsus which led him to become a follower of Jesus. This event is the source of the phrases Pauline conversion and road to Damascus.
 New Testament description
Within the New Testament, Paul’s conversion experience is discussed in both Paul’s own letters and in the book known by the title Acts of the Apostles. In both instances, the conversion experience is described to be miraculous or revelatory in nature. According to both sources, Paul never met Jesus before Jesus’s crucifixion and was not a follower of Jesus before the crucifixion; instead he persecuted the early Christians. Although Paul refers to himself as an “Apostle” of Jesus, it is clear that Paul was not one of “The Twelve” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2). Rather, Paul’s conversion occurred after Jesus’s crucifixion, and the accounts of Paul’s conversion experience describe it as miraculous, supernatural, or otherwise revelatory in nature.
 Paul’s life before conversion
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
– Galatians 1:13-14, New International Version
 The conversion in Paul’s letters
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
– 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, New International Version (emphasis added)
 The conversion in Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles discusses Paul’s conversion experience at three different points in the text. Compared with the accounts in Paul’s letters, the Acts accounts are far more detailed. According to the accounts in Acts, around the year 36, Paul was on his way from Jerusalem for Syrian Damascus to arrest followers of Jesus, with the intention of returning them as prisoners for questioning and possible execution. The journey is interrupted when Paul sees a blinding light, and communicates directly with a divine voice.
 Acts 9
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
– Acts 9:3-9, New International Version
The account continues with a description of Ananias of Damascus receiving a divine revelation instructing him to visit Saul at the house of Judas on the Street Called Straight and there lay hands on him to restore his sight (the house of Judas is traditionally believed to have been near the west end of the street). Ananias is initially reluctant, having heard about Saul’s persecution, but obeys the divine command:
Ananias Restoring the Sight of St. Paul (c.1631) by Pietro da Cortona.
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
– Acts 9:13-19, New International Version
 Acts 22
Paul on trial before Agrippa (Acts 26), as pictured by Nikolai Bodarevsky, 1875.
Acts’ second telling of Paul’s conversion occurs in a speech Paul gives when he is arrested in Jerusalem (Acts 22:6-21). Paul addresses the crowd and tells them of his conversion, with a description essentially the same as that in Acts 9, but with slight differences. For example, Acts 9:7 notes that Paul’s companions did not see who he was speaking to, while Acts 22:9 indicates that they did share in seeing the light (see also Differences between the accounts, below). This speech was most likely originally in Aramaic (see also Aramaic of Jesus), with the passage here being a Greek translation and summary. The speech is clearly tailored for its Jewish audience, with stress being placed in 22:12 on Ananias’ good reputation among Damascene Jews, rather than on his Christianity.
 Acts 26
Acts’ third discussion of Paul’s conversion occurs when Paul addresses King Agrippa, defending himself against the accusations of antinomianism that have been made against him (Acts 26:12-18). This account is briefer than the others. The speech here is again tailored for its audience, emphasising what a Roman ruler would understand: the need to obey a heavenly vision (26:19); and reassuring Agrippa that Christians were not a secret society (26:26).
 Feast day
The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul is a feast celebrated during the liturgical year on January 25, recounting the conversion. This feast is celebrated in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churches. This feast is at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an international Christian ecumenical observance that began in 1908, which is an octave (an eight-day observance) spanning from January 18 (observed as the Confession of Peter) to January 25.
The traditional collect was:
O God, who through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: grant, we beseech thee;that we, having his wonderful Conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught.
 Theological implications
The Conversion of Paul, in spite of his attempts to completely eradicate Christianity, is seen as evidence of the power of Divine Grace, with “no fall so deep that grace cannot descend to it” and “no height so lofty that grace cannot lift the sinner to it.” It also demonstrates “God’s power to use everything, even the hostile persecutor, to achieve the divine purpose.”
The transforming effect of Paul’s conversion influenced the clear antithesis he saw “between righteousness based on the law,” which he had sought in his former life; and “righteousness based on the death of Christ,” which he describes, for example, in the Epistle to the Galatians.
 Nature of the conversion experience
The Bible says that Paul’s conversion experience was an encounter with the resurrected Christ. Alternative explanations have been proposed, including sun stroke and seizure. In 1987, D. Landsborough published an article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, in which he stated that Paul’s conversion experience, with the bright light, loss of normal bodily posture, a message of strong religious content, and his subsequent blindness, suggested “an attack of [temporal lobe epilepsy], perhaps ending in a convulsion … The blindness which followed may have been post-ictal.”
This conclusion was challenged in the same journal by James R. Brorson and Kathleen Brewer, who stated that this hypothesis failed to explain why Paul’s companions heard a voice (Acts 9:7), saw a light (Acts 22:9), or fell to the ground (Acts 26:14). Furthermore, no lack of awareness of blindness (a characteristic of cortical blindness) was reported in Acts, nor is there any indication of memory loss. Additionally, Paul’s blindness remitted in sudden fashion, rather than the gradual resolution typical of post-ictal states, and no mention is made of epileptic convulsions; indeed such convulsions may, in Paul’s time, have been interpreted as a sign of demonic influence, unlikely in someone accepted as a religious leader.
 Differences between the accounts
An apparent contradiction in the details of the account of Paul’s revelatory vision given in Acts has been the subject of much debate. Specifically, the experience of Paul’s travelling companions as told in Acts 9:7 and 22:9 has raised questions about the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles, and generated debate about the best translations of the relevant passages. The two passages each describe the experience of Paul’s travelling companions during the revelation, with Acts 9:7 (the author’s description of the event) stating that Paul’s travelling companions heard the voice that spoke to him; and Acts 22:9 (the author’s quotation of Paul’s own words) traditionally stating they did not.
Biblical translations of Acts 9:7 generally state that Paul’s companions did, indeed, hear the voice (or sound) that spoke to him:
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.—Acts 9:7, King James Version (KJV)
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one.—Acts 9:7, New American Bible (NAB)
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.—Acts 9:7, New International Version (NIV)
By contrast, Catholic translations and older Protestant translations preserve the apparent contradiction in Acts 22:9, while many modern Protestant translations such as the New International Version (NIV) do not:
And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.—Acts 22:9, King James Version (KJV)
My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.—Acts 22:9, New American Bible (NAB)
My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.—Acts 22:9, New International Version (NIV)
 “Hear” or “Understand”?
Critics of the NIV, New Living Translation, and similar versions contend that the translation used for Acts 22:9 is inaccurate. The verb used here — akouō (ἀκούω) — can be translated both “hear” and “understand” (both the KJV and NIV translate akouō as “understand” in 1 Cor 14:2, for example). It often takes a noun in the genitive case for a person is being heard, with a noun in the accusative for the thing being heard. More classically, the use of the accusative indicates hearing with understanding. There is indeed a case difference here, with Acts 9:7 using the genitive tēs phōnēs (τῆς φωνῆς), and Acts 22:9 using the accusative tēn phōnēn (τὴν φωνὴν). However, there has been debate about which rule Luke was following here. On the second interpretation, Paul’s companions may indeed have heard the voice (as is unambiguously stated in Acts 9:7), yet not understood it, although New Testament scholar Daniel B. Wallace finds this argument based on case inconclusive.
 “Voice” or “Sound”?
A similar debate arises with the NIV’s use of the word “sound” instead of “voice” in Acts 9:7. The noun used here — phōnē (φωνῆ) — can mean either. By translating 9:7 as “they heard the sound” instead of “they heard the voice,” the NIV allows for Paul’s companions to have heard an audible sound in Acts 9:7 without contradicting the statement in Acts 22:9 that they did not hear a comprehensible voice. Atheist activist Dan Barker has criticised this as unjustifiable.
The New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, and English Standard Version maintain the “hear”/”understand” distinction while using “voice” in both passages. On the other hand, the Holman Christian Standard Bible has “sound”/”voice” with “hear” in both passages, and The Message adopts a similar translation, but with “sound”/”conversation.” The French La Bible du Semeur distinguishes between entendaient (“heard”) and compris (“understood”).
Although it is possible that there is a contradiction in these two passages unnoticed by the author, Richard Longenecker suggests that first-century readers probably understood the two passages to mean that everybody heard the sound of the voice, but “only Paul understood the articulated words.” Similar comments have been made by other scholars.
 Cultural references
The conversion of Paul has been depicted by many artists, including Albrecht Dürer, Francisco Camilo, Giovanni Bellini, Fra Angelico, Fra Bartolomeo, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, William Blake, Luca Giordano, and Juan Antonio de Frías y Escalante.
The Renaissance Italian master Caravaggio painted two works depicting the event: The Conversion of Saint Paul and Conversion on the Way to Damascus. Peter Paul Rubens also produced several works on the theme.
 Music and theatre
 Popular usage
From the Conversion of Paul, we get the metaphorical reference to the “Road to Damascus” that has come to refer to a sudden and/or radical conversion of thought or a change of heart or mind, even in matters outside of a Christian context. For example, Australian politician Tony Abbott was described as having been “on his own road to Damascus” after pledging increased mental health funding, and a New Zealand drug dealer turned police officer was likewise described as taking “the first step on the road to Damascus.”
 See also
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Conversion of Saint Paul|
|Look up Pauline conversion in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up road to Damascus in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- On Paul’s conversion
- On the Feast day
- ^ John Phillips, Exploring Acts: An expository commentary, Kregel Academic, 2001, ISBN 0825434904, p. 179.
- ^ a b C. K. Barrett, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles: Introduction and commentary on Acts XV-XXVIII, Continuum, 2004, ISBN 0567083950, pp. 1029-1031.
- ^ a b Charles H. Talbert, Reading Acts: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Smyth & Helwys, 2005, ISBN 1573122777, pp 208-209.
- ^ Liturgy for 25 January, www.breviary.net.
- ^ a b Johann Peter Lange (ed.), A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: critical, doctrinal, and homiletical, Volume 8, Scribner, 1868, p. 24.
- ^ Jean Marie Hiesberger, The Catholic Bible, Personal Study Edition: New American Bible, Oxford University Press US, 2007, ISBN 0195289269, p. 341.
- ^ a b c G. Walter Hansen, “Paul’s Conversion and His Ethic of Freedom in Galatians,” in The Road from Damascus: The impact of Paul’s conversion on his life, thought, and ministry, Richard N. Longenecker (ed.), Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0802841910, pp. 213-237 (quotes on p. 214).
- ^ a b D. Landsborough, “St. Paul and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy,” J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1987; 50; 659-664: 
- ^ a b c d e f J.R. Brorson and K. Brewer, “Matters arising: St Paul and temporal lobe epilepsy,” J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1988; 51; 886-887: 
- ^ a b Ben Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles: A socio-rhetorical commentary, Eerdmans, 1998, ISBN 0802845010, pp. 312-313.
- ^ Mike Davis, The Atheist’s Bible Companion to the New Testament: A Comprehensive Guide to Christian Bible Contradictions. Denver: Outskirts Press, Inc., 2009, pp 169-170.
- ^ Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon: ἀκούω
- ^ J. W. Wenham, The Elements of New Testament Greek, Cambridge, 1991, p. 203.
- ^ Herbert Weir Smyth and Gordon M. Messing, Greek Grammar, 2nd ed., Harvard University Press, 1956, ISBN 0674362500, p. 323.
- ^ a b c Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights Into the New Testament, Continuum, 2004, ISBN 0567081982, pp. 87-90.
- ^ a b Frederick Fyvie Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 2nd ed, Eerdmans, 1990, ISBN 0802809669, p. 236.
- ^ Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, 1997, ISBN 0310218950, p. 313.
- ^ Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon: φωνή
- ^ Dan Barker, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists. Berkely: Ulysses Press, 2009, pp 246-250.
- ^ NASB: Acts 9:7 and 22:9.
- ^ NCV: Acts 9:7 and 22:9.
- ^ ESV: Acts 9:7 and 22:9.
- ^ HCSB: Acts 9:7 and 22:9.
- ^ The Message: Acts 9:7 and 22:9.
- ^ La Bible du Semeur: Acts 9:7 and 22:9.
- ^ Richard N. Longenecker, The Ministry and Message of Paul, Zondervan, 1971, ISBN 0310283418, p. 32.
- ^ For example, R. C. H. Lenski, Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles 1-14, Volume 1, 1944 (reprinted 2008 by Augsburg Fortress, ISBN 080668075X), p. 356; or the Ignatius Catholic study Bible on Acts 9:7.
- ^ John Chrysostom, Saint Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church 1889, Part 11, Philip Schaff (ed.), Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 0766184005, 2004, Homily XIX, p. 124.
- ^ Gosudarstvennyĭ Ėrmitazh, Peter Paul Rubens, a touch of brilliance: oil sketches and related works from the State Hermitage Museum and the Courtauld Institute Gallery, Prestel, 2003.
- ^ Mental health experts praise Abbott’s spending pledge, ABC News, Thu Jul 1, 2010 12:04am AEST, accessed 3 July 2010.
- ^ Drug dealer hired as police officer, The New Zealand Herald, 4:00 AM Saturday Jul 3, 2010, accessed 3 July 2010.
 Further reading
- Richard N. Longenecker (ed.), The Road from Damascus: The impact of Paul’s conversion on his life, thought, and ministry, Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0802841910, 253 pages.
- Thomas Martone, The theme of the conversion of Paul in Italian paintings from the early Christian period to the high Renaissance, Garland Pub., 1985, ISBN 0824068823, 254 pages.
- Prof. Bart Ehrman. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. Oxford University Press, 2003. Pages 233-234.
- Prof. Mark W Muesse. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Great Courses transcript book, 2010. Page 328.
- Prof. Mark W Muesse. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Great Courses transcript book, 2010. Pag 311.