Jesus, Paul, and the Temple: An Exploration of some Patterns of Continuity -- By: James Sweeney

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 46:4 (Dec 2003)
Article: Jesus, Paul, and the Temple: An Exploration of some Patterns of Continuity
Author: James Sweeney


Jesus, Paul, and the Temple: An Exploration of some Patterns of Continuity

James Sweeney

[James Sweeney is on the pastoral staff at Immanuel Church, 301 Boston Road, Chelmsford, MA 01824.]

The relationship between Jesus and Paul has been vigorously debated in critical scholarship for more than two centuries, with the critical consensus generally viewing it in terms of discontinuity rather than continuity. This highly questionable model has unfavorable implications for biblical, NT, and systematic theology. This essay will investigate the Jesus-Paul relationship relative to the apostle’s teaching that believers, both corporately and individually, are the temple of God indwelt by the Spirit (1 Cor 3:16–17; 6:19).1 It will be argued that Paul’s teaching coheres with the implications of prominent strands of Jesus’ teachings preserved in the Gospels. A plausible explanation for this coherence is that there is continuity between Jesus and Paul regarding this theme.

I. The Debated Relationship between Jesus and Paul

1. Two distinct approaches to the question. Questions abound with respect to the relationship between the historical Jesus and the apostle Paul. How much did Paul know about Jesus? How indebted were Paul’s teachings to Jesus? What were the sources of his information?

As mentioned previously, two basic approaches have been discernable from the time of Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792–1860) to the present.2 To varying degrees, scholars have either emphasized a basic continuity between Jesus and Paul or they have stressed discontinuity.3 Two prominent scholars

who wrote on Paul in the early twentieth century may be taken as paradigmatic of these two conceptions. William Wrede (1859–1906) stressed discontinuity in his brief but influential history-of-religions approach to Paul.4 He contended that Paul was “the second founder of Christianity.”5 Wrede did not use this description in a particularly favorable sense. For him, “This second founder of Christianity has even, compared with the first, exercised beyond all doubt the stronger-not the better-influence.”6 Wrede’s influence on mainstream critical scholarship remains to the present.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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