Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:18 pm
Ok. Let's bear in mind, the institutional church did not really begin until the 4th century, well after the death of the apostles and Paul and their influence. So what emerged under Constantine was quite far removed from the original traditions. For this reason, it is fortuituous, in my opinion, that you have quoted Romans, as I feel it was Paul's "The Doctrines of Christianity" course 101. So for the time being, let's discuss the beliefs prior to Constantine.Ishtar wrote:But in the case of this discussion, it is more important to talk about the institution of the Church and the Law then - 2,000 years ago - because that is what grabbed the political agenda under Constantine and set about eradicating the Gnostics – to hide its own roots, so to speak.
(actually Rom 1:14)Monk, Paul makes it very clear in that verse to the Romans (1:11) that he is not talking about actual Greeks or actual barbarians. He even spells it out for them:
“I am a debtor, both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians: both to the Wise and the unwise.”
To the Wise and the unwise.
The colon does not exist in the greek so the linkage between greeks/barbarians = wise/unwise may be not be intended by Paul. In fact, many translations do not include the colon and thus imply linkage. But really it doesn't matter all that much as Paul spends the next half chapter or so explaining in detail the attributes of the foolish or barbarians as he may have called them. They are basically those who were considered uncivilized and worshipped no God. (today we would call them Minimalists - ooooohh bad joke, sorry Min.)
Conversely it is well understood by christian scholars, that Paul's use of the term "Greeks" pretty much encompassed the non-jewish civilized world. At least that portion where Paul had contact. And so it is throughout the book of Romans he constantly shows contrasts or parallels between jews and greeks who may also be seen as gentiles (i.e. the non-jews). Being a former Pharisee, Paul's distinction between wise and unwise may be the distinction between the follower of God and non-follower but more likely between the educated and uneducated (as he was supposedly a learned man in jewish service). So is this how gnostics made a distinction between wise and unwise? I think there are similarities in thought but one can not draw any conclusions on the strength of this single passage.
I agree about the law. I regret mentioning the law since it threw you off. I was making a broader point in support of KBs posts but really it is irrelevent to this discussion for the time being. As for saying Paul's use of the word wise relates to the "wisdon of god", I disagree completely. It refers to the wisdom of men and probably more specifically their allusion of being wise by virtue of their knowledge, education and philosophies.This is nothing to do with Law. His use of the word ‘wise’ relates to ‘wisdom’ which is the ‘wisdom of God’, which he would have written in the original Greek as ‘Sophia’.
This is blasphemous to both jews and christians and so once again illustrates the profound differences in the beliefs. If the Book of Wisdom claimed she sat at God's right hand, it is clear why it is not included in the approved christian canon.The OT apocryphal book, The Wisdom of Solomon, which was written around the same time, talks about Sophia in the Gnostic sense, as the one who sits at the right hand of God.
Romans is probably one of the most important works in establishing the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith and it is worth noting it does not dwell on the church or the conduct of the church or any rituals. Beginning in the third chapter and continuing for several chapters Paul drives home the principle of justification (salvation) through faith. Not wisdom, not the law and not works.
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested...
even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe...
justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith
Where then is boasting? It is excluded By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.
Here Paul clearly tells the reader, that God's righteousness is displayed in Jesus' shed blood that all who have faith in his rightousness may be saved to the exclusion of the law (obeying a set of rules) and exclusion of works (doing good things or earning the gift by some behaviour or discipline).
There is nothing gnostic about this teaching.