August 8, 2008

Logistics of Famine Relief in 43 AD

I'm so glad to see someone blogging about the historical aspects of Galatians. I've been enjoying Ken Schneck's blog (and about a hundred others this summer). And he's pressing to finish a series before Fall Semester. If Ken doesn't have time to respond to me there, I hope someone will here - eventually! He's fast! Anyone else? These are some of many, many thoughts I'll keep saving (for now) about Galatians and History.

See Ken's post over there. And his kind reply.Then here is my comment:

Thanks for that great overview, Ken. There's so many points I'd love to ask about and discuss with you. Since I know you're busy, I'll just venture to interject on one little point. If you have time to respond at some point, that'd be great.

I think the "gift trip" was in 44 43*, when Agrippa died. (Update: Agrippa died in very early 44, before Passover, so Paul & Barnabas must have come in 43.) Here's why:  
Since Agabus predicted the famine years in advance, somewhere after late 33 AD, then the church in Antioch would not have to wait until 46 - when the famine actually hit - to get the relief to Jerusalem. They would have been far more faithful and prudent to make an early delivery so that Jerusalem could be prepared.

Furthermore, since it defies imagination that two men could haul that much grain over 300 miles of terrain - or even sail it to Joppa and haul it from there - the "relief" must have been money, not material food.

And therefore, since money is far more likely, it would be least helpful if delivered when the famine actually hits... when prices are soaring and material is scarce. (By the way, can you imagine two guys coming in at the middle of a famine with multiple wagons wagons full of grain and a starving population? They'd never make it to the gates of town.)

Paul and Barnabas didn't wait until the famine hit. They brought money ahead of time.

One year? Oh I'd say at least, and more likely two. The elders in Jerusalem didn't want to make a conspicious run on the market at the last minute. They'd want to store up extra gain over time.

When you size up the logistics involved, it makes perfect sense that Paul and Barnabas came into town during the Passover of 44, just before the grain harvest, after which was obviously the best time of year to stock up.

All the scholarship I've checked on Galatians usually misses it, but it's an obvious point. They came before the famine. Not during it.

Luke's slippery text notwithstanding. ;)

Naturally, if you think I'm in error, I'd love to know why. Thanks for letting me 'play'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No, I think your right on there - (bringing relief early) - the famine was probably one of the reasons the apostles left Jerusalem shortly after. I posted in another part of this blog that they began showing up in historical documentation of other parts of the world between 44 and 50 AD. They probalby took the death of Agrippa 1 that it was a sign to "get the heck outta dodge"!

Consequently, when Paul and Barnibas brought money, there wouldn't have been that many people left to feed. Acts 8:1 says that everyone except the apostles left Jerusalem. - This was right before the conversion of Saul. (Saul was converted around 36 AD - Caiaphas was deposed in 36 AD and he's named with Annas as "kindred of the high preist". in Acts 4:6.

Stephen is stoned in 36 AD too because he says to the counsel before being stoned that "..and they have slain them which showed before the coming of the Just One; of whom you have now been the betrayers and murderes..." He spacifically says to this counsel that they have killed Jesus. So by default - he's got to be talking to Annas and Caiaphas.

Also, you might have to reconsider your time of famine; and / or the probability that there was more than one famine. In Matt 24:7 - famines is plural. Either way, it had already hit Tyre and Sidon before Agrippa 1 died and if it wasn't in Jerusalem it was probably starting.

So since we know Agrippa died in 44AD - "the famine" - or at least aspects of it had hit certain areas for a long enough period of time to bring people from Tyre and Sidon to Agrippa 1.

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