the view of Bruno Bauer and a few other scholars including Hermann
Detering that the Pauline Epistles are second century fabrications,
G.A. Wells asks what Christian writer of that period would have
„invented the unseemly quarrel between Peter and Paul „ recorded
in Gal 2 „and even represented it as unresolved“.
In reply, Detering suggests that „Paul does not come off badly in
his confrontation with Peter“ who
is there (in Gal 2: 11-12) made to represent „a Catholic
Christianity that has lapsed into obedience to
the Jewish Iaw“; Paul,
on the other hand, represents „true Marcionite Christianity“.
Detering even suggests elsewhere, by implication, that it was
Marcion who invented the incident at Antioch.
I for one am not satisfied that Peter and Paul ever met, and propose
to demonstrate that it was more likely a forerunner of Marcion who
invented the quarrel.
As evidence that Marcion may have written Galatians, Detering
cites Book IV, Chapter iii of Tertullianus Against Marcion:
„...Marcion, finding the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (wherein
he rebukes the apostles for 'not walking uprightly according to the
truth of the gospel...')“.
If Marcion himself was not the writer, where had the letter
been since 56, the latest date assigned to it on the assumption that
Paul was the author? Either
the last book of the New Testament not
to show acquaintance with Paul's writings
the first (apart from Ephesians) to do so appears to have been Acts.
enough, generally recognized users of the Epistles prior to John
(125?) make relatively little apparent use of Galatians whereas the
author of Acts seems to make more use of it than the other letters
paradox is that both the Third Gospel and Acts would seem to serve an
anti-Marcionite purpose, a hypothesis of John Knox
by Marcion's seeming ignorance of Acts though complicated by Luke's of
In 1970 Enslin restated the case for a partial dependence of
Luke-Acts on the Epistles, suggesting further possible motives for
Luke's non-acknowledgment of them.
One, he agrees with Knox, would be their appeal to unorthodox
opponents such as Marcion; another is to obscure the evidence that
Paul's own opponents were not unbelieving Jews but Jewish Christians.
Far from being ignorant of the real reason for Paul's final
visit to Jerusalem, the delivery of funds he had raised for the poor,
Luke preferred not to disclose that the gift was refused.
Perhaps it was, although according to Gal 2:10 it was the
leaders of the Jerusalem church who had demanded it in the first
place. Other Pauline
allusions to the collection, however,
give the impression that it was Paul's own idea.
The author of 1 Cor 16 even wrongly remembers Galatians as
containing instructions about the collection, while in Rom 15:13 the
same or another „Paul“ hopes that it „may be acceptable to the
saints“ – reinforcing the suspicion
that it was not. Achtemeier
agrees with Enslin on that point, though not with his argument for the
dependence of Luke-Acts on the Epistles.
With most scholars he is not satisfied that a literary
relationship exists, leaving unexplained how Luke could have made as
much use – or misuse – of some of the letters as he apparently
does without being aware of them.
Neither writer seems to find it strange that the Jerusalem
church should turn down an offering which, according to Galatians, its
own leaders had required of Paul.
I myself can think of two possible explanations, both based on
a hypothesis that the author of Galatians knew Acts.
In Acts 11:27-29, in response to an appeal by the Jerusalem
prophet Agabus, the church of Antioch sends famine relief to Judea
„by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.“
Without betraying a post-Pauline knowledge of such sources, the
writer of Galatians represents the collection as a condition imposed
on Paul and Barnabas in a meeting with Peter, James and John.
A more likely motive, however, would be to advertise Paul's
ignorance of the Apostolic Decree. James did have something to add to him, though not the Decree
– only that he and Barnabas should remember the poor. Without any mention of the collection, and still avoiding
explicit reference to the Decree, the author of Galatians now depicts
a situation that would not have arisen if the latter had yet been in
„But when Cephas came to Antioch“, Gal 2 begins.
Which Cephas, if he and a „Peter“ mentioned in Gal 2:
7-8 are not identical,
and which of two Antiochs?
Although there could be some confusion elsewhere between
two different apostles known as Rock – in Anglo-Aramaic
„Cephas“, Anglo-Greek „Peter“ – and between Antioch in
Syria and a Pisidian Antioch, I assume that Gal 2:11 refers to
the Palestinian Jewish apostle Peter and to Syrian Antioch.
Are the events of the latter half of Gal 2 best
understood as a sequel to those of the first half, to a previous
visit of Paul to Peter recorded in 1:18 f,
or some other account involving Peter the „Galatians“ might
have heard about? Gal
2 begins with a statement that „after fourteen years“ Paul
went up to Jerusalem – in many manuscripts, „again“ to
Jerusalem, implying a second visit.
What reads in Tertullian's On
the Prescription of Heretics, Chapter xxiii, like an
incomplete quotation of Gal 1:18 –
„Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit
either the phrase „after three years“ or the further
statement that Paul remained with him fifteen days – appears,
and in the light of Against
be a distortion of Gal 2: 1.
Both Marcion and Tertullian were evidently aware of only
one occasion, in the
fourteenth year of his apostleship, on which Paul visited
Jerusalem in order to see Peter. Gal 1:18-24 amounts to a rewrite of the first ten verses of
the second chapter.
scholars who differentiate between the Apostolic Council
depicted in Act 15 and the meeting described in Gal 2: 1-10
treat the visit of Peter to Antioch (2:11 f)
as earlier than the former.
Logically, if ever persuaded that the events of Acts 15
correspond to those of Gal 2, such critics would have to
reconsider the temporal relationship between the Pauline visit
to Jerusalem recorded in verses 1-10 and the incident in
relationship has indeed been questioned by D.F. Robinson,
though on other grounds: Peter was no longer alive when Paul met
James and John
in Jerusalem, thus he and Paul must have met in Antioch at an
the sole epistolary reference to Peter or even Paul in Antioch
(Gal 2: 11)
appears to presuppose the reader's knowledge of Acts 15:35, in
which Paul and Barnabas have returned to Antioch, and the
reference by James (Acts 15:14) only to the testimony of
casts doubt on the presence of either Peter or Paul at the
Apostolic Council. Together,
the division of Jewish and Gentile missionary effort depicted in
Gal 2:9 and the incident at Antioch (2: 11f)
closely parallel Luke's version of relations between Paul and
Barnabas in Antioch.
Barnabas is first mentioned in Acts as having sold a
field and given the proceeds to the apostles at Jerusalem for
distribution among needy believers (4: 36-37).
Does this perhaps anticipate the appointment of
„Barnabas and Saul“ by the church at Antioch as bearers of
famine relief for Judean Christians (11: 27-30)?
Or the requirement by the leaders of the Jerusalem
church, in Gal ii: 10, that Paul and Barnabas should „remember
the poor“? Or
even the final visit in Acts of Paul to Jerusalem with funds for
the poor (24: 17)? Or
is it not just possible that all four stories are different
versions of a single Pauline visit to Jerusalem, with or without
Barnabas and not necessarily having anything to do with charity?
In Acts, when the church at Jerusalem first hears about
the existence of a Gentile church in Antioch, it sends Barnabas
there to investigate (11: 12).
It was also Barnabas who, according to Acts 9: 27, had
introduced a recently converted „Saul“ to the apostles.
A brief allusion to his experience on the road to
Damascus strikingly parallels what appears to be a Pauline
version of the same meeting in Jerusalem and a peculiarly Lucan
account of the experience of two lesser apostles on another
road, plus their return to Jerusalem.
Let us now compare these three accounts, each in context:
very day [Easter Sunday] two of them were going to…Emmaus…
and talking…. Jesus
himself drew near and…said to them, 'What is
this conversation which you are holding…?…And they said to
'Concerning Jesus of Nazareth,…and how our chief priests and
rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death….But we had
hoped that he was the one
to redeem Israel…' And
he said to them, 'O
foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the
prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer all these
things and enter into his glory?'
And beginning with Moses and all
the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the
scriptures the things
concerning himself….When he was at table with them…they
recognized him….And they rose that same hour and returned to
Jerusalem, and they found the eleven
gathered together and those who were
who said, 'The Lord has risen indeed, and has
appeared to Simon!'
Then they told what had happened on the
and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke had read Mark 16: 7-8, in which the women fail to relay a
message for „his disciples and Peter“ to return to Galilee
for a meeting with their risen master.
He may well also have read the final chapter of Matthew
in which Jesus himself comes to meet the women, bids them to
tell his disciples to go to Galilee, and subsequently meets them
on a designated mountain. In
Luke's gospel, however, he appears to them in Jerusalem, though
not before an appearance to Simon (Peter?) and one to the
visitors to Emmaus. If Jesus had literally returned from the dead, and had
sufficiently recovered from his crucifixion to walk and talk
with them, why do they recognize him only after a long
discourse? For the
same reason, I suggest, as the others at first „supposed that
they saw a spirit“ (Luke 24:37); nevertheless Jesus convinces
them of his reality. What he had said at
Emmaus he now repeats, reminding them of scriptural proof
„that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from
In an expanded Luke 24:51,
in Acts 1:3,9 forty days later, he then disappears upward into
Saul…went to the high priest and asked him for letters to
the synagogues at
Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the
he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Now as he…
approached Damascus,…suddenly a light from heaven flashed
about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to
him. '…I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter
the city, and you will be told what you are to do.'…
there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananaias.
said to him in a vision, '…Rise and go to…the house of
Judas for a man of Tarsus
named Saul…a chosen instrument of mine to carry
my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
for I will show him how
much he must suffer for the sake of my name.'
…For several days he [Saul] was with the disciples at
Damascus. And in the
synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying
'He is the Son of God.'…and confounded the Jews who lived in
Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
When many days had passed, the Jews…were watching the gates
day and night, to kill him;
but his disciples
took him by night and let him
down over the wall, lowering him in a basket.
when he had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the
disciples; and they were
all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a
But Barnabas…brought him to the apostles,
and declared to them how
on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him….
only is the initial revelation to Saul as depicted here not
complete: it is
shared with Ananias. Did
Saul preach that Jesus was the Son of God in a different sense
than that already being preached in Damascus?
Does proving that he was the Christ mean „more than
just a prophet“ or, whatever the term implied, that Jesus and
not someone else was it?
For whatever reason the Jews planned to kill Saul – if
indeed they ever did – why did they do so only after „many
days“? How long
after his departure from Damascus did he come – not return?
– to Jerusalem?
As for his reception there, Barnabas credits him with
having actually „seen the Lord“, which is more than Luke
ever does in his own words.
Cor 11: 22-12: 9
they [unidentified rival apostles] ….servants of Christ?
I am a
better one…with far greater labors, far more imprisonments,
with countless beatings,
and often near death….
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my
weakness….At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas
guarded the city…
in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a
window in the wall, and escaped his hands.
I must boast: there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will
go on to
visions and revelations of the Lord.
I know a man in Christ who
fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven –
whether in the body or
out of the body I do not know, God knows – and he
heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own
behalf I will not boast,
except of my weaknesses.
23-27 recall Acts 9: 16, „for I will show him how much he must
suffer for the sake of my name.“
Similarly, II Cor 11: 32-33 parallels Luke's account of
Saul's escape from Damascus.
Concerning the relationship between both versions of the
incident and a further mention of Damascus in Galatians, see
There is also a three-way relationship, which we shall
now examine, between the pre-ascension appearance of Jesus on
the road to Emmaus, Saul's encounter with the heavenly Jesus on
the Damascus road, and his first contact with the apostles at
common to Luke 24: 15-31, Acts 9: 3-6 and Acts 9: 27 are (a) the
authorship, (b) the presence of one or more men on a road, and
(c) an apparition, with a message.
Even if the main author of Luke's gospel and that of Acts
were two different men – a possibility rarely considered –
the three passages in question give the impression of coming
from the same hand. In
each case one man on the road is named, whether as Cleopas or
Saul/Paul, and at least one other remains anonymous.
In the case of Acts
9: 27 Saul appears to have reported his experience to Barnabas,
who in turn tells the apostles „how…he had seen the Lord,
who spoke to him…“ In
what terms would Paul himself have described the experience and
what Jesus had said to him?
Hardly as quoted elsewhere in Acts
or impersonated in I Cor 15: 8-9,
let's take a closer look at II Cor 12.
Just as Luke, in Acts 9: 15-17, passes from an allusion
to Paul's future sufferings back to a vicarious revelation and
thence to Paul's escape from Damascus, so in II Cor „Paul“
recounts his sufferings and another version of his escape from
Damascus (11: 23-24). Now
paralleling Acts 9: 27, in which Barnabas, tells the apostles
about the Lord having appeared to Saul and spoken to him, II Cor
12: 3 introduces „a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was
caught up to the third heaven [and] …heard things that cannot
be told….“ On
behalf of that man the writer will boast – just as Barnabas
had in effect boasted about Paul's vision fourteen years
short, the first five verses of II Cor 12 are a spoof on
Barnabas' commendation of the Paul of Acts to the apostles at
If Paul went up to Jerusalem „by revelation“ in order
to present his gospel to „those…of repute“ lest he should
somehow have been running in vain for the past fourteen years
(Gal 1: 1-2), why should he have been accompanied by Barnabas
and others? Because
in Acts 15: 1-2 the entire party is appointed by the church at
Antioch to get a ruling from Jerusalem on the question of
Gentile circumcision. Without
too obviously betraying his knowledge of Acts, the author of
Galatians doubly contradicts that explanation for the visit.
In view of James' reference only to the testimony of one
„Symeon“, apparently overlooking that of Paul and Barnabas,
Achtemeier suggests that they were not even present,
and that the delegation from Antioch was in fact headed by
Nevertheless the remarks attributed to this spokesman and/or
Peter in Acts 15 strikingly recalls Simon Peter's defiance, four
chapters earlier, of criticism for having eaten with the
if neither Peter, Paul nor Barnabas was present when James
decided that Gentile believers need only „abstain from the
pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is
strangled and from blood“ – the Apostolic Decree – where
were they at that time? On
the evidence of Gal 2: 11-13, Achtemeier supposes that all three
were in Antioch, enjoying a freedom of association not provided
for in the existing arrangement „that we [Paul and Barnabas]
should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised“ (verse
8). Sole leadership
of the church in Jerusalem has passed to James,
the supposition continues, and through „Judas called
Barsabbas, and Silas“ (Acts 15:22) he issues the Decree to
Gentile believers in Antioch and elsewhere.
Cephas, „fearing the circumcision party“, now stops
eating with the Gentiles, as do the rest of the Jewish
Christians of Antioch including „even Barnabas“.
Paul then accuses Cephas – why not the bearers of the
Decree? – of compelling the Gentiles to live like Jews.
As a further allusion to the Apostolic Decree I myself
would add „but if I build up again those things which I tore
down“ (Gal 2:18), though why should Paul only allude to the Decree if it was in fact the issue?
Because the author of Galatians in effect denies its
existence: the only condition imposed on Paul and Barnabas in
his version of the meeting in Jerusalem is that they should
„remember the poor“ (verse 10).
The issue in Antioch, according to verses 11-12, had to
do with table fellowship between Jewish Christians and Gentile
Symeon (Peter?) who, in Acts 15, is overruled by James somehow
re-emerges in Antioch as someone who stops eating with Gentiles
on the arrival of „certain men….from James“, incongruously
referred to as a „circumcision party“ – a term that makes
sense in Acts 11:12 and 15 1-2 and 5, but not here.
The anonymous emissaries of James are obviously the
bearers of the Apostolic Decree, identified in Acts 15: 22 as
Judas Barsabbas and Silas, although in Galatians they are just
as silent about the Decree as they are concerning circumcision.
Peter has withdrawn from a mixed gathering, or perhaps
repeatedly failed to attend one, with or without explanation.
All the other Jews of the congregation, including
Barnabas, have since also separated themselves.
Why does Paul only now rebuke Peter (Gal 2: 13), and how
„before them all“? Alternatively,
why does he not first confront the men from James or, finally,
the author has brought Peter to Antioch for the sole purpose of
incurring Paul's censure, in a re-enactment of the formulation
of the Apostolic Decree by James and its acceptance by Peter,
Barnabas and –
according to Acts 15: 30-35 – even Paul.
If in having previously eaten with the uncircumcised
Peter had become as one of them, how indeed can he now „compel
the Gentiles to live like Jews“?
This charge does not fit any action imputed to Peter in
preceding verses of Galatians, but it would cover the imposition
of the Apostolic Decree. Similarly,
the remarks that follow (Gal 2:15-21), though still without any
explicit references to the Decree, serve to explain why Paul
would not have accepted such token observance of the Law.
Ironically, this explanation has become to many
Christians a gospel in itself – „justification by faith”.
defection of Barnabas and a reminder of how he and Paul first
preached to the „Galatians”
parallel Luke’s account of a quarrel between Barnabas and Paul
and the latter’s return to the South Galatian cities of Derbe,
Lystra and Iconium without Barnabas (Acts 15:36 – 16:2).
Barnabas and John Mark are last mentioned in
Acts as having sailed for Cyprus, and both are again mentioned
together only in one of the more disputed minor Epistles.
Elsewhere in the New Testament Barnabas’ name appears
only in I Cor 9:6, a verse not quoted by Tertullian and probably
not present in Marcion’s text.
Mark, on the other hand, is mentioned three more times and is also identified
– rather doubtfully – as the author of the earliest Gospel.
Is all this not an attempt, perhaps by a single
third-century editor, to assure readers that Barnabas’ dispute
with Paul was only of a minor, personal nature and that
apostolic harmony was eventually restored?
As for G.A. Wells’ argument that only Paul himself
would have represented the issue in Antioch as unresolved,
where in Galatians does the writer do any such thing?
What he does say is that all the Jewish Christians of
Antioch followed Peter’s example, resulting in separate Jewish
and Gentile congregations.
Ignatius, as the overseer of several Gentile churches in
Syria, has something to say about Judaizing but shows no
knowledge of the past controversy depicted in Gal 2 or even of
Galatians itself. If
Marcion did not write that letter, the actual author has yet to
6/1 (Spring 1999), in a review of Bauer's Christ
and the Caesars.
further suggests that it was misunderstood as an attempt by
Paul to buy his way into the apostolate, perhaps parodied in
Acts 8: 8-14 where Simon Magus vainly attempts to purchase the
gift of the Holy Spirit.
16: 1-4, II Cor 8-9, Rom 15: 27-29.
All four chapters were evidently unknown to Marcion and
Marcion deleted those passages he would surely have also
deleted Gal ii: 10.
J. Achtemeier, The Quest
for Unity in the New Testament Church
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), pp. 60, 98.
10; Philadelphians, 4-8 (Early Christian Fathers, pp.
96-7, 108-10 respectively).