The Origins of the New Testament, Part XVI: The Elder Paul — Philemon and Philippians

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 25 February 2010 0 Comments
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Hilda Flint from the U.K. writes:

Would not the apparently regular meetings of the followers of the Way have held the major part of the oral tradition? It seems from the first chapters of Acts that they were certainly not in the synagogue (e.g. Acts 5:13), even if the gospel writers were anxious enough to keep the Jewish tradition firmly under girding the Jesus stories.


Dear Hilda,

The book of Acts is probably the least trustworthy source one can use to establish first century facts. It was probably not written before 95 C.E. and has a pro-Roman, anti-Jewish bias.
The oral tradition was recalled and remembered in the synagogue where the disciples were actively engaged until excommunicated around the year 88 C.E. By the time the first gospel (Mark) was written, the Hebrew Scriptures had been wrapped around Jesus so tightly that he was proclaimed to be their fulfillment.

The tension Paul had with the people at the synagogue occurred in the Diaspora, the Jewish communities around the Gentile world. For the most part, however, the "Followers of the Way," as the disciples of Jesus were called, were members of the synagogue into a third generation.

Best wishes,

John Shelby Spong



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