Item description for The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon by Dennis Ronald MacDonald...
Overview The apostle Paul--antifeminist conformist, or social radical? Combining New Testament studies with folkloristic methods to search for the true identity of Paul, the author sheds new light on the apocryphal Acts of Paul and the Pastoral Epistles of the canonical New Testament. With this book, the legends surrounding the apostle have been rescued from near oblivion and properly placed in the Pauline tradition. Formulated in the days of early Christianity and handed down through the centuries, they cast new light on Paul's views about the ordination of women, the forms of Christian community, and the meaning of the gospel for politics, society, and sexuality.
Publishers Description The apostle Paul-- antifeminist conformist, or social radical? Combining New Testament studies with folkloristic methods to search for the true identity of Paul, the author sheds new light on the apocryphal "Acts of Paul" and the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) of the canonical New Testament.
Dennis Ronald MacDonald focuses particularly on the legend of Thecla, the virgin and martyr who was converted by Paul and who, with his blessing, became a Christian teacher. Such utilization of women and an affirmation of celibacy and hostility toward the state were attitudes of Paul that were expressed in the legends, transmitted orally, then written into the "Acts of Paul." MacDonald argues that the author of the Pastoral Epistles knew about the legends and wrote under Paul's name to counteract them. The result: a complicated Paul, a still unresolved battle over his message.
With this book, the legends surrounding the apostle have been rescued from near oblivion and properly placed in the Pauline tradition. Formulated in the days of early Christianity and handed down through the centuries, they cast new light on Paul's views about the ordination of women, the forms of Christian community, and the meaning of the gospel for politics, society, and sexuality.
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Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.22" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.39" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Apr 19, 1983
Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN 0664244645 ISBN13 9780664244644
Availability 0 units.
More About Dennis Ronald MacDonald
Dennis R. MacDonald teaches at the Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University and Director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon?
The Fate of Women's Traditions about Paul Jul 30, 2000
Dennis Ronald MacDonald's book is one of the earliest (1983) reviving an interest in Thecla of Iconium, an ascetic woman whose story inspired many women and some men to remain celebate and serve God. Another early book in this revival which mentions Thecla (2 pages) is Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza's _In Memory of Her_ (1983). Fiorenza's book piqued the interest of feminist theologians. In Fall 2000, Oxford University Press publishes _The Cult of Saint Thecla : A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity_.
Early Christianity's diverse communities developed and treasured different stories about Jesus and the Apostles, including Paul. MacDonald examines certain traditions of Paul, particularly in light of the patriarchal tradition which apparently "won" the battle for Paul and a tradition which he believes originated with women, the Acts of Paul and Thecla.
MacDonald especially examines the two Pauline traditions that made the biblical canon, the deutero-Pauline (Colossians, Ephesians, and II Thessalonians) and pastoral epistles (I & II Timothy and Titus), in relation to the Acts of Paul, which was in some early Armenian and Syrian canons. The Acts were written down by an orthodox Christian in Asia Minor between 160-190 and circulated in several languages, including Greek, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Armenian.
_The Legend_ is a "readable academic book." It illuminates some of the gender politics involved in the post-Pauline church and how they fit into the over all context of the Roman concept of the family structure and the role of women. Though the more woman-positive traditions about Paul revealed in the Acts of Thecla did not make the canon, both women and men followed in her tradition for centuries afterward. To this day, Thecla is the patron saint of Tarragona, Spain; Italy, Turkey, and Syria claim she is buried in their countries; Maalula, Syria has a convent established in her name; and that's just a beginning of a list-- not to mention that some advocate that she should be the patron saint of the Internet!
Was this battle really fought by only two sides? Jul 8, 2000
MacDonald writes of the battle between the producers of the Pastorals and the tradition embodied in the Acts of Paul (written between 150 and 190). MacDonald's unique contribution is seeing an oral tradition behind the Acts of Paul, and using folkloristics to prove it. His first chapter is devoted to showing how the Acts of Paul fits the laws of oral storytelling. I think he places too much trust in the ability of these rather vague laws to distinguish between oral and written, and he doesn't defend his assumption that oral stories are necessarily old. It should be noted that MacDonald also chooses to discuss only the three most promising episodes from the Acts of Paul, which is fair enough, but which also preserves the possibility that Tertullian is at least partially right in saying that the presbyter who wrote them made them up.
In his second chapter, MacDonald is on firmer ground. He discusses the sympathetic treatment of women and the contemptuous treatment of men in the Acts of Paul. He also points to strong evidence that the stories originated in Asia Minor. Finally, he identifies the themes of opposition to the Roman empire, city, and household in the Acts of Paul, and connects them with the rough treatment Christians received at the hands of society in second-century Asia Minor.
MacDonald then turns to the Pastoral epistles and their relationship to the Acts of Paul. He identifies the Pastorals as products of Asia Minor, written between 100 and 140. These polemical epistles were directed in part at the oral stories which would become the Acts of Paul, according to MacDonald, and were meant to silence the "old wives' tales" that glorified virginity, feminine autonomy, and rejection of the claims of society. The question of relationship is also raised by several similarities of detail between the Pastorals and the Acts of Paul. Many scholars have concluded that this is because the author of the Acts of Paul knew and used the Pastorals, while a weaker argument has been made that the author of the Pastorals used an earlier version of the Acts of Paul. MacDonald disagrees with both, and posits that the authors knew the same oral legends. His strongest argument here is the lack of polemic or even response to the charges of the Pastorals in the Acts of Paul. In chapter four, MacDonald discusses the victory of the Pastorals over the Montanists, who held to the apocalyptic radicalism, rejection of social norms, and role of women in prophecy, all themes from the Acts of Paul. (MacDonald believes that the traditional view that the Acts of Paul represent Gnostic beliefs is no longer tenable, not least because of the stories' emphasis on the resurrection of the flesh.) The Pastorals were not fighting a doctrinal heresy, but sought to affirmed hierarchical church leadership and conformity with society against the ways of the Montanist radicals. MacDonald identifies the presbyter who wrote the Acts of Paul with a priest caught in the Montanist turmoil of Asia Minor in the second century.
MacDonald's final chapter considers the lesser "victory of the legends." He describes the popularity of Thecla and the Acts of Paul in later centuries. He closes his book with a discussion of the consequences of the battle's outcome for the Christian church.
Given the intensity of the battle as described by MacDonald, and the close geographical proximity of the battling authors, I am left wondering why the Acts of Paul appeared as such a naïve recording of oral tradition. MacDonald insists that the defrocked presbyter did not use the Pastorals at all, and this certainly seems to be the case. If these Pastorals spoke to the heart of the controversy, and even had a role in deposing the author of the Acts of Paul, how could he have been ignorant of them? If the controversy prompted him to record the Acts of Paul, why are the Acts so free of controversy? The battle doesn't seem to be properly joined.