May 17, 2008

Mental Files

I just noticed today there were Arabian Jews at the Day of Pentecost (in 33 AD) and wondered if any of them met Paul (Saul) when he lived in Nabatea (North Arabia) for 21/2 years. There's probably not much we could do with that, but it's interesting. It's also interesting to note another example of skimming over a detail in one passage that my brain doesn't associate with other topics. But Acts 2:11 says: "...and Arabs..." Hmmmm....

Of course, the rest of Acts is no help because Luke avoids Paul's Nabatean years entirely. Luke was trying to show that Jewish leaders everywhere had a pattern of accusing Paul unfairly. So if Luke shows Paul had a criminal record in Nabatea, it simply doesn't help Paul's case! This is also _a_ reason why Luke blurs his chronology in the 30's & 40's. Just like Luke also forgets to mention Paul & Silas each broke their exile from Thessalonica! Or that Titus jumped ship at Fair Havens! But now I digress... :)

I wonder - how likely is it that Paul found believers in Bostra or Petra? And I wonder what other information we have about Arabia/Nabatea that might apply to Paul's time there?


Richard Fellows said...


It seems that you, like me, are thinking that Luke's silence about Arabia is some kind of protective silence. You may be interested in my discussion of other protective silences in Acts and in Paul's letters. You may also be interested in my discussion of Pauline chronology. You can find the links here:
Comments welcome.

Bill Heroman said...

I am very interested, Richard, and I am reading the chronology page right now. How old is that page and have you gotten much feedback on it?

I have many differences with your timeline, but many of your considerations are intriguing, and I'd enjoy discussing them more at length by private e-mail.

At the least, yes I do agree there are many protective silences in Luke and I'll give you another one: Illyricum. I believe Luke says "all over that region" because he didn't want the Romans to know Paul had been as far as Dyrrachium, the end of the Egnatian Way and the ferry point to the 'boot heel' of Italy.

I believe perhaps all of these protective silences (good term, by the way, and thank you for it) in Luke only make sense if Luke was writing a defense for Paul's trial in Rome. The three omitted shipwrecks, for example, make Paul look like a prophet, instead of merely an unfortunately experienced man or worse, a cursed one.

Have you found any books or articles that discuss these protective silences? And can you tell me which of your articles discuss this best and/or other scholarship on the topic?

Thanks so much, Richard.

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