January 8, 2011

Titus and Galatia

If you've not yet had the pleasure, here's a tasty excerpt from my world-famous (and very succinct) blogpost on Pauline Chronology:
Galatians - 50 AD - Writen to the four South Galatian churches of Acts; before the Epistle of James, but after the council; it was carried by Titus & Luke, who visited all four churches and went on to wait for Paul at Troas (the one city everyone knew how to find, in West Asia Minor); that Titus' circumcision *was even an issue* and *could have been* "compelled" strongly suggests that this visit was part of the council occasion and virtually confirms that Galatians 2 refers to Acts 15. Further, the fact that Paul expects the Galatians to know who Titus is most likely means Titus himself was the letter carrier. As a witness to the events in Jerusalem, Titus was the perfect one to send, and he could easily have been holding Jerusalem's letterin reserve, as additional support for Paul's position. Thus, Paul had no need to mention the shorter letter because Titus was probably carrying it also - presumably on loan from missionally-minded Antioch. (For even more on Galatians and the Council, see here, here, here, and (again) here.)
For more detail, follow those links.  If you found this at all worthwhile, you can read the rest HERE.

23 comments:

Matthew Crowe said...

But if Gal. 2 is talking about Acts 15 instead of a visit in Acts 11, why didn't Paul mention the decision of the council in the rest of the book? That is, why didn't he pull the ace out of his sleeve and say, "Oh, you Galatians think circumcision is necessary? Well, it's been agreed that it hasn't! BAM!"

Granted, Gal. 2 looks A LOT like council in Acts 15, I just wonder why Paul didn't use the council's decision in his reasoning in the epistle. Was it not necessary? Did he prefer to use higher, theological reasons? Or had the council not happened yet?

Richard Fellows said...

Bill. This simply does not work. Paul and his companions were led by divine guidance to go to Troas. They had not pre-arranged to meet Luke there.

There is no need to suppose that Luke did not accompany Paul from Antioch to Troas. See my posts here and here.

You are correct, however, to point out that Titus was probably known to the Galatians. But this is explained by the fact that Titus was Timothy.

I agree that Gal 2 = Acts 15, partly for the reason that you gave. And I also agree that the letter was sent to south Galatia.

If Titus carried the letter to the Galatians, the letter would have been written BEFORE he visited them. Therefore your point about Titus being known the Galatians has no force. Indeed, the fact that the letter does not commend Titus to the Galatians, makes it unlikely that he was the letter carrier.

I do, however agree, that Paul sent Titus (Timothy) to south Galatia. I believe he was sent there to organize a collection (which Paul mentions ~6 years latter in 1 Cor 16:1-3). He was the perfect choice because he had seen the needs of the Judean Christians first hand.

It is not surprising that Paul does not mention the degree in his letter. No-one in Galatia doubted that the Jerusalem church opposed circumcision. See here.

Bill said...

@Matthew: Why should Paul mention everything in a letter? Part of the art of writing is what you don't say. But as I said, I do think Paul (or Titus) was saving that 'ace'. Isn't that the point of having the ace? You keep it around just in case all the rest doesn't work.

@Richard: Acts says Paul was forbidden to stay in Asia (=Ephesus) or go to Bythinia. It doesn't say the spirit led him to Troas.

On the rest, Richard, excuse me, but don't be such a troll.

Richard Fellows said...

Bill,

you seem to have missed my point. Why would Paul have wanted to enter Bithynia, if, as your theory requires, he had pre-arranged to meet Luke in Troas?

As far as my other points are concerned, they are all relevant to your post, so I make no apology for them. The speed of your reply indicates that you have not taken the time to consider them or follow the links. You really do need to engage with arguments that are not supportive of your own view, especially as your blog says that you welcome critical comments.

I am particularly surprised that you have ignored my fifth paragraph.

Incidentally, Acts says that Paul was forbidden to PREACH in Asia. It does not say that he was forbidden to go to Asia. Indeed, he did pass through Asia.

Stephen C. Carlson said...

Why would the Acts 15 letter be sent to Galatia? It is only addressed to "Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia" (15:23).

Richard Fellows said...

In Galatians Paul is keen to stress (for whatever reason) that he opposed circumcision, and he rejects the view that he preached circumcision (5:11). If he had circumcised Timothy soon after writing Galatians he would surely have undermined the efforts that he had made in the letter to show that he opposed circumcision. It seems to me that it is more likely that Galatians (especially 5:11) was written AFTER the circumcision of Timothy and in response to confusion caused by that circumcision.

As I say, I like the way you combine the Gal 2 = Acts 15 theory with the south Galatia theory, but doesn't this work best when we place the writing of Galatians after the events of Acts 16:-13?

Bill said...

@Richard: "Why would Paul have wanted to enter Bithynia, if, as your theory requires, he had pre-arranged to meet Luke in Troas?"

Because the reality of life is that plans often change. They could have considered sending word to Troas, or taking a detour to Troas and then cut back through Mysia.

And you know I've seen your other stuff before. Every time you comment on someone else's post, Richard, you're just tooting your own horn.

Your fifth paragraph was idiotic. Titus can very well introduce himself to the Galatians. There is no iron clad custom requiring Paul to commend him. And anyway, at that point (freshly post-Judiazers) in Galatia, it's Titus who goes there to commend Paul. (!)

Bill said...

@Stephen: I agree with you on Jerusalem's letter. Based on a mirror reading of 1st Corinthians, my view is that Paul preferred NOT to mention it wherever he went... but Peter let that cat out, in Corinth. So, yes, I think it's likely Galatia never saw that Jerusalem letter.

*However*, I do think it makes sense for Paul to keep [a copy of] it around. But another beauty of preparing an 'ace in the hole' is also that you hope not to need it.

The key thought, to me, is that Paul & company are in Antioch, unsure of how bad things have gotten in Galatia. They had to prepare for the worst, so they probably brought it. But it was also none of their business, so they'd prefer not to mention it.

That's what I honestly think.

As a side benefit, though, it makes a nice answer for guys like Matthew Crowe, don't you think? ;-)

Bill said...

@Richard: to your last comment:

First, we don't know if Paul's circumcision of Timothy was public. But even if so, no, the knife doesn't undermine anything. Circumcision was fine. It was *requisite* circumcision that Paul was against. But I take Gal.5:2 as a temporally particular injunction - not as an all-time absolute.

Circumcising the young man from Lystra (who'd obviously stood up for Paul's Gospel during difficult days) was a brilliant diplomacy. Timothy *willingly converted* to Judaism could be a more effective apostle-in-training, to BOTH Gentiles AND Jews.

So no, Galatians doesn't "work better" after Acts 16. I'm glad you equate Acts 15 with Gal 2, but you can't equate A.16:3 with G.5:11. One single snipping does not Paul's whole reputation for preaching, ah, make.

Again, Richard, I'm happy to be challenged and critiqued. I'm just not willing to entertain your pet theories *first* in order to argue here, about my own post.

Thanks for understanding...

Bill said...

@Richard: to your "incidently":

I said, "Acts says Paul was forbidden to stay in Asia"

To which you said, "Acts says that Paul was forbidden to PREACH in Asia. It does not say that he was forbidden to go to Asia. Indeed, he did pass through Asia.",

But I said "stay".

I'm assuming that, at least in this case, if Paul wasn't going to preach there, then he wasn't going to stay there.

FWIW. :-)

Richard Fellows said...

Hi Bill,

I know that you have read the first of the posts that I linked to, but I have no way of knowing whether you have read the others, and they are relevant to the discussion. I'm sorry that you think that I toot my own horn. Thanks for your honesty on this. I always make my comments relevant to the post, and assume that they may then be of interest to the author. Do you have some suggestions for how I and others can encourage discussion of our work and get feedback without appearing to toot our horns? One route is to publish more in print, but I am reluctant to do that because it is not possible to correct or supplement a piece once it is on paper.

You mention that plans can change, but doesn't this make it unlikely that Paul would send Luke on ahead to Troas? Since plans could change, would it not have made more sense to keep the party together so they would not risk losing contact with each other. If Luke and Paul had pre-arranged to meet in Troas both their plans would be constrained. What if Luke had suddenly been called to go to Ephesus instead? Yes, Paul could, in principle, have sent a message to Troas to try to inform Luke of a change in plan, but what if Luke was not there? And wouldn't Paul have been constrained to stay put until he got a reply to such a communication? I do feel that it would have been hazardous to split the party when going into unknown territory, especially since itineraries had to be flexible enough to adjust to divine guidance, illness, imprisonment, and missionary success.

It is not clear to me why Paul would have sent Luke ahead to Troas. We know of no other time when Paul sent anyone ahead to new territory.

I recently read a comment by Ben Witherington (I don't remember where) to the effect that Luke was with Paul on the trip to Troas, but kept silent about his presence for reasons of modesty. This is essentially correct, I think.

Bill said...

On commenting, Richard, I'd recommend sticking with things *directly* relevant to a bloggers post on that post's own terms. I mean, we don't comment elsewhere simply to market our own stuff, do we?

Okay, then...

On Troas, this has to do with part of my own church experience.

On the one hand, imagine a small leaderless congregation in turmoil, waiting for direction from an outside worker, without complete agreement among the body members as to whether we trust his authority at the moment...

On the other hand, imagine the outside worker, far away, far removed from his last visit, unsure how many saints might still be 'in his corner', if anyone...

Now, imagine the worker has to strategize HOW to send this group THAT particular letter... and not only strategize how to SEND it, but how to FOLLOW UP on that sending.

(I'm going to keep saying "imagine" because this is so foreign to most church experiences. But it isn't to me.)

Imagine that the dynamics of such a group are in flux, and that Paul knows they may very well need a good deal of UNSUPERVISED REACTION TIME, *after* reading the letter, before the group - as a group - determines what its substantial response to that letter will be.

Got all that? Now...

Paul has to get the letter in there, with a gracious and skillful carrier. Then the carrier(s) need to move on. Then Paul needs to WAIT... before arriving himself to find out whether a positive result has occurred AND has *stuck*.

So, why does Luke go ahead?

Two reasons. One, because this particular group mission from Antioch was headed further on anyway. And Two, because the Galatians needed TIME to react, to reflect, and to settle into their corporate response to Paul's letter. And Galatia needed that time to be theirs *as an unsupervised group*.

And don't say they had elders. A lot of those elders got Judiazed, so that ship had sailed. (More on Paul vs. Barnabas & elders is here.)

Anyway...

That's why I believe they set up a rendezvous location. No point in going back. There was a mission ahead.

Btw, I actually think this was when Titus (and Luke) planted Troas, but feel free to ignore this last detail. :-)

Bill said...
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Bill said...

On commenting, Richard, I'd recommend sticking with things *directly* relevant to a bloggers post on that post's own terms. I mean, we don't comment elsewhere simply to market our own stuff, do we?

Okay, then...

On Troas: [this won't post as a comment for some reason. It's very long. I'll try to make a new blog post.]

Bill said...

Nope, it posted. And appeared not to. Odd.

Ta.

Matthew Crowe said...

@Bill: That IS a good answer:-). Further, I later considered that Paul may have been reluctant to appeal to an apostolic decree, choosing the freedom of the gospel as a better motivation to convince the Galatians that circumcision, etc. is not necessary. Maybe Paul appealing to human authority would've been counterproductive to rumors about him in Galatia. Thanks for the exchange!

Bill said...

@Matthew, See, I knew you would like it! :-)

And to the rest of your thinking - yep, yep and yep!!! You've actually got me up shouting and dancing on the inside. But don't worry, it's just on the inside.

Honestly, that's a tremendous connection that _I_ should have made, long ago. Well done.

Richard Fellows said...

I think Matthew is exactly right when he writes, "Maybe Paul appealing to human authority would've been counterproductive to rumors about him in Galatia." I think this provides a clue as to what the rumors were, as I have mentioned.

Bill, my first comment WAS directly relevant to your post. Maybe you feel that it was not relevant "on that post's own terms", but surely we can learn the most when we are encouraged to think in DIFFERENT terms.

You wrote, "Further, the fact that Paul expects the Galatians to know who Titus is most likely means Titus himself was the letter carrier." My point is not that Titus could not possibly have been the letter carrier. My point is rather that your point does not work for me. Galatians implies that Barnabas was also known to the Galatians, but he was not the bearer of the letter. I think you need to do more to argue against the possibility that Titus had visited Galatia prior to the writing of the letter.

You may like to make more of Gal 2:5 where the "might continue with you" seems to connect Titus with Galatia. Paul seems to be saying here that Titus was not circumcised (or possibly WAS circumcised) for the benefit of the south Galatians. It seems to me that these words come into sharper focus if Titus had visited Galatia at the time of writing or was about to visit. This might support one aspect of your reconstruction (and mine).

Concerning your proposal that Luke and Titus were sent ahead to Troas, you have solved some of the difficulties but only at the expense of carrying of a lot of additional assumptions. It seems to me that Luke is saying in Acts 16:6-10 that Paul and the others received three pieces of divine guidance which had the consistent purpose of bringing them to Troas and thence to Macedonia. If the journey to Troas was already pre-arranged, then the first two pieces of divine guidance loose much of their point. They would then serve only to accelerate Paul's trip to Troas, not to determine his destination.

Richard Fellows said...

I think Matthew is exactly right when he writes, "Maybe Paul appealing to human authority would've been counterproductive to rumors about him in Galatia." I think this provides a clue as to what the rumors were, as I have mentioned.

Bill, my first comment WAS directly relevant to your post. Maybe you feel that it was not relevant "on that post's own terms", but surely we can learn the most when we are encouraged to think in DIFFERENT terms.

You wrote, "Further, the fact that Paul expects the Galatians to know who Titus is most likely means Titus himself was the letter carrier." My point is not that Titus could not possibly have been the letter carrier. My point is rather that your point does not work for me. Galatians implies that Barnabas was also known to the Galatians, but he was not the bearer of the letter. I think you need to do more to argue against the possibility that Titus had visited Galatia prior to the writing of the letter.

You may like to make more of Gal 2:5 where the "might continue with you" seems to connect Titus with Galatia. Paul seems to be saying here that Titus was not circumcised (or possibly WAS circumcised) for the benefit of the south Galatians. It seems to me that these words come into sharper focus if Titus had visited Galatia at the time of writing or was about to visit. This might support one aspect of your reconstruction (and mine).

Concerning your proposal that Luke and Titus were sent ahead to Troas, you have solved some of the difficulties but only at the expense of carrying of a lot of additional assumptions. It seems to me that Luke is saying in Acts 16:6-10 that Paul and the others received three pieces of divine guidance which had the consistent purpose of bringing them to Troas and thence to Macedonia. If the journey to Troas was already pre-arranged, then the first two pieces of divine guidance loose much of their point. They would then serve only to accelerate Paul's trip to Troas, not to determine his destination.

Richard Fellows said...

I think Matthew is exactly right when he writes, "Maybe Paul appealing to human authority would've been counterproductive to rumors about him in Galatia." I think this provides a clue as to what the rumors were, as I have mentioned.

Bill, my first comment WAS directly relevant to your post. Maybe you feel that it was not relevant "on that post's own terms", but surely we can learn the most when we are encouraged to think in DIFFERENT terms.

You wrote, "Further, the fact that Paul expects the Galatians to know who Titus is most likely means Titus himself was the letter carrier." My point is not that Titus could not possibly have been the letter carrier. My point is rather that your point does not work for me. Galatians implies that Barnabas was also known to the Galatians, but he was not the bearer of the letter. I think you need to do more to argue against the possibility that Titus had visited Galatia prior to the writing of the letter.

Richard Fellows said...

Bill, you may like to make more of Gal 2:5 where the "might continue with you" seems to connect Titus with Galatia. Paul seems to be saying here that Titus was not circumcised (or possibly WAS circumcised) for the benefit of the south Galatians. It seems to me that these words come into sharper focus if Titus had visited Galatia at the time of writing or was about to visit. This might support one aspect of your reconstruction (and mine).

Concerning your proposal that Luke and Titus were sent ahead to Troas, you have solved some of the difficulties but only at the expense of carrying of a lot of additional assumptions. It seems to me that Luke is saying in Acts 16:6-10 that Paul and the others received three pieces of divine guidance which had the consistent purpose of bringing them to Troas and thence to Macedonia. If the journey to Troas was already pre-arranged, then the first two pieces of divine guidance loose much of their point. They would then serve only to accelerate Paul's trip to Troas, not to determine his destination.

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