Imagine if you will (please forgive me, Rod Serling) thatIn another message he clarifies:
(a) we had the mid 60's CE Paul before us for an hour or two and that
(b) we were able to make ourselves understood by him, and that
(c) he had agreed to answer anything about himself, his career, his
beliefs, and his writings about which we might be inclined to inquire,.
what questions would you put to him?
Let's limit this to your top five.
OK, once again, I see I have not made the scenario clear enough. What I intended to be part of the "let's imagine" is the premise that we **go back to** Paul's time, and to that point in his time just before Paul met his end. The scenario is not that Paul is brought into ours, let alone that he's been schooled in all that's happened since his time.I'm not on the Corpus Paulinum list (and I'm not a Paul specialist), but for your amusement, here are the questions I would ask Paul:
1. Have you ever asked Jesus' brother James or his disciples Peter and John to tell you about Jesus and, if so, what did they say?Jeffrey doesn't say if we're allowed to bring things in our time machine, but he doesn't say we can't either, so I'm not sure whether I can get away with questions 2 and 3 as written. If he didn't mean we could, they would have to be revised. And they also might take more than an hour or two to discuss!
2. Here are a bunch of letters people claim you wrote. (I brought them with me in my time machine.) Please look them over and tell me which ones you did write and whether the text I have of them presents accurately what you actually said.
3. There's going to be a guy they call "Luke" who will write some stuff about you. Do you know him? Here's his book, which I've also brought in my time machine. What do you think of the parts about you?
4. Do you believe that everybody is "saved" in the end or not?
5. What do you mean by the "wrath of God" in your letter to the Romans? Is this some kind of eternal damnation or is it something else (see previous question)?
This exercise reminds me of a midterm question I used to ask my undergraduates back when I taught Introduction to the New Testament at another institution:
Imagine a meeting between a leader of the Q people, the Apostle Paul, and an Essene leader from Qumran in the year C.E. 58. Write your essay from the perspective of the Q person and explain how and where you (the Q person) agree and disagree with the other two leaders on observance of Torah law, proper religious lifestyle, relations with the gentiles (including proselytizing), the correct celebration of the communal meal, and the end of the world.UPDATE (9 January): Q-heretic Mark Goodacre comments regarding my midterm question:
Nice idea; I'd be interested to hear a conversation between John Kloppenborg, Paul and a Qumran person!Good one Mark!
If Mark can teach the undergraduates in his Intro to the NT course about the Q theory and why it's wrong, and get them to take it all in, well, my hat's off to him. Me, I'm a Q-agnostic, although I'm happy enough to assume the two-source theory as the current most widely accepted reconstruction when I need to think about such things.
UPDATE (11 March 2014): Just noticed a misstatement ("Paul" for "Peter") and a typo in this one. Now corrected.