You seem to have also overlooked that even in the undisputed Pauline letters, there are six or seven places where Paul talks about the Kingdom of God as both present and also future, using the same sort of language as Jesus about inheriting or obtaining or entering the Kingdom as Jesus uses (see e.g. 1 Cor. 15.50). It is a caricature of Paul's Gospel to say it was not about the Kingdom but about Jesus--it was about both. It is likewise a caricature of the teaching of Jesus, even if we confine ourselves to Mark, the earliest Gospel, to say that Jesus' teaching was just about the Kingdom and not about himself. Perhaps we can move on from the old stereotypes and admit that a non-eschatological, non-Jewish, non-messianic Jesus just doesn't make sense given our earliest and best evidence about him--by which I mean the four canonical Gospels and elsewhere in the New Testament.

In regard to your various complaints about Paul, I think you are right that Paul does say in Galatians that the Mosaic Law--while a good and glorious gift of God--was given only for a specific period of time in the life of God's people, and that now that Christ has come, it is time to recognize that new occasions teach new duties.

While Paul was fine with being the "Jew to the Jew and the Gentile to the Gentile," he did not believe Jewish Christians needed to keep the Mosaic covenant. It could be seen as a blessed option, but not an obligation for anyone who was in Christ. His was a more radical position than that of some Jerusalem Jewish Christians. One of the reasons why Paul takes such a view, as he makes plain in a text like Rom. 9-11, is that he believes that Christ was and is the messiah of the Jews, as well as the Savior of the Gentiles. He believes that God intends for there to be only one people of God in the long run, namely Jew and Gentile united in Christ. On this matter, I suspect we agree.

It's also a caricature to paint Paul as some sort of endorser of an oppressive patriarchalism. Paul was a major proponent, not only of women in ministry, but also of a significant overhaul of the traditional patriarchal family structure.

Let me suggest for a moment that Colossians and Ephesians, as I and most scholars still think, are by Paul. I suggest another way to read those books' household codes. These codes, however much they have been misused down through the centuries to repress women, must, in fact, be read in the context of other similar comments by both Gentiles and Jews about household management and in light of Paul's rhetorical purposes.

Furthermore, Colossians in general, and Col. 3-4 in particular, is the sort of thing one would say as an opening salvo to an audience one has never addressed before. Paul had not been to Colossae, a church which seems to have been founded by some of his co-workers. When he begins to address the issue of Christians household structures he must start where they are -- and then begin to move them in a more Christian direction. Thus in Colossians we see him attempting to lessen the harsher effects of the patriarchal structure on all the subordinate members of the family.

He does this in two ways: he addresses all the members of the family--including the children and slaves, as well as the wives--as free moral agents. He does not, for example, do what we find in other household codes where the head of the household is told how to manage his extended family. Paul urges a limiting of the head-of-household's power and obligates him to provide loving and compassionate treatment of the other members of his family. The exhortation to love especially distinguishes Paul from most other ancient advice to the head of the household.

In Ephesians, Paul goes much further in trying to inject the leaven of the Gospel into the pre-existing patriarchal structure. He begins his whole discussion by exhorting all Christians to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5.21). In short, he exhorts men and women to mutual submission, which certainly cannot be said to simply baptize the patriarchal structure as it is. In fact, Ephes. 5.22 is elliptical, and so when Paul gets around to saying "wives to husbands as to the Lord." and so on, he is presupposing the meaning of submission enunciated in vs. 21--namely that that wife's submission should only be offered in the context of mutual submission. When the husband is exhorted to love his wife as Christ does the church, this is another form that mutual submission takes in Christ.

In Philemon, he says the sort of thing that one would say to a close friend or confidant. In regard to the slavery issue, to read what is said in Colossians and Ephesians outside the context of other Pauline remarks in Philemon and 1 Cor. 7 is a huge mistake. In Philemon, we hear loud and clear the clarion call for the emancipation of the slave Onesimus. He is to be treated "no longer as a slave, but as a brother in Christ." Paul's remarks in Colossians and Ephesians are meant to ameliorate the situation and help slaves out, and when Paul has the opportunity, as he does in Philemon, this shows where his argument is leading--toward emancipation.

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