The Influence Of The Damascus Vision Upon Paul’s Theology -- By: Edward I. Bosworth

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 056:222 (Apr 1899)
Article: The Influence Of The Damascus Vision Upon Paul’s Theology
Author: Edward I. Bosworth


The Influence Of The Damascus Vision Upon Paul’s Theology

Prof. Edward I. Bosworth

Put into the form of a query, the subject reads thus: What change in theological views was necessitated by Paul’s vision of Jesus, and by what processes of thought was the change made? Two considerations make this an important subject; namely, the influence of the Pauline theology upon Christian thought, and the relation of Paul’s theology to his personal religious experience.

Paul’s theology has been a mighty force in the development of the church. His ways of putting things have been more influential, even than those of Jesus, in shaping theological phraseology, though probably not in shaping the expression of individual Christian experience. Even now, when the popular cry is “Back to Christ,” the Pauline theology is fascinating the newer scholarship; and some of the best work that has ever been done upon it has been recently produced. The revulsion from Paul, which is expressed in some cases by the cry “Back to Christ,” is a revulsion from an unconscious misunderstanding of Paul; and the outcome of the closer scrutiny which the Pauline literature is now undergoing will probably be such a clearer understanding of Pauline thought as will result in a new lease of its influence. The reason for this is not far to seek. It is evident that a body of literature so increasingly influential in the world’s thought and life as that which we call the New Testament, must have come into exist-

ence by the plan of God. The production of this literature was also evidently left, in the providence of God, to the apostles. The miraculous character of Rabbi Saul’s conversion, and the simple fact that he wrote more of the New Testament than did any one else, except his associate Luke, make it evident that he was appointed of God to do this great work.

Further, it is becoming more and more evident, that the literature of the New Testament, so far as it is not history and biography, was produced out of the inspired experience of its authors. These letters of Paul contain the thoughts that he, as a busy missionary, had preached through and through, over and over, to many audiences for many years, before he finally put them into the form in which they have come down to us. They were born of a long and unique experience, inspired and shaped by the Holy Spirit. Now Paul seems to have had larger experience, than did the other apostles, in presenting the gospel to irreligious men. Others worked largely among the Jews, the religious specialists of their day. Paul was the apostle to the irreligious Gentile world. His experience led him to put the gospel into the literary form in which he had effectively presented it ...

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