Did Paul Model His Language After That Of Demosthenes? -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:43 (Jul 1854)
Article: Did Paul Model His Language After That Of Demosthenes?
Author: Anonymous


Did Paul Model His Language After That Of Demosthenes?

Translated from the German of Dr. Eriedrich Köster of Stade.1

The late De Wette has pronounced it improbable that the Apostle Paul acquired any appreciable benefit from the old Hellenic learning and literature. In like manner, Winer affirms it to be “now pretty generally conceded, that no Greek culture can be ascribed to Paul, any more than to the Jews generally, who dwelt in Egypt and Palestine,” although this language is qualified by the remark, that “he has, to be sure, a greater degree of skill in Greek style and composition than the other apostles (e. g. Peter and Matthew), which he probably obtained in Asia Minor, where his intercourse with native Greeks, many of whom were learned and distinguished men, was so extensive and intimate.” We believe, however, that we must advance a step further, and admit the probability of his having not merely read, but become familiar with, several of the old Greek writers, and more particularly that he has modelled the language of his Epistles, to a considerable extent, upon the Orations of Demosthenes.

On account of the importance of this point to a correct judgment of the intellectual culture of the Apostle, and of the light it throws upon his character as an author, we shall endeavor to exhibit with more precision, the reasons which appear to us to speak in its favor.

And first, let us call attention to the course of his mental training from youth upwards. Paul was born, it is true, of Jewish parents, who dwelt, however, at Tarsus, a celebrated commercial city in Cilicia, in which Greek learning flourished; and, as his father had acquired the privileges of Roman citizenship, he would seem, to a considerable extent, to have overstepped the bounds of Jewish bigotry and exclusiveness. Judging from the analogy of the dispersed Jews generally, it is even possible that Greek was the vernacular language of the boy Paul, while, as

the son of an orthodox Jewish family, he was duly instructed at school in the Hebrew and Syro-Chaldaic tongues; and, if we may assume this to be true, he would in all probability have read Greek works in early life. Be this, however, as it may, we have next to view him as the zealous pupil of the Rabbi Gamaliel at Jerusalem, who was miraculously converted on a journey to Damascus, and received a Divine call to labor as a messenger of the Gospel among the Gentiles, and especially among the Greeks. If, then, in obedience to the heavenly mandate, he conceived the great design of liberating Christianity from the bonds of Jewish sectarianism, he thereby, at the same time, imposed upon himself the task of effectin...

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