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Critique of FC Baur

 

Probably one of the most important and foundational figures in critical scholarship. Baur contributed heavily to German critical scholarship in dealing with the New Testament. He thought only the books of Romans, 1&2 Corinthians and Galatians were authentically from the Apostle Paul. Primarily because those epistles highlighted the strife between the Judaistic and Hellenized or Gentile Christians. He also understood Acts to be a compromise between the two groups and thus it wasn’t reliable in forming theology of Paul. However Baur has erred on a few levels and his historical approach is found lacking.

1. Simply because the other epistles of Paul lack the mention of controversy doesn’t put Acts as unreliable. Luke (author of Acts) mentions other controversies in Acts such as the Jerusalem Council. The point is that Luke is writing a history of the early church and he can put the emphasis where he deems appropriate.

2. Acts is criticized because Paul doesn’t mention his Apostle authority. Paul can be read relatively soon and it will not take long to see that Paul does not go around flexing his “Apostle” muscles. He mentions it in some epistles but it is hardly his trademark. Paul preaches the gospel not himself.

3. Acts doesn’t mention that Paul wrote letters. The idea that this would be necessary is unfounded. The work Paul does is never mentioned in detail. However we do see that he goes to areas without the gospel and begins preaching in the synagogues. This is in accordance with his teaching in Romans that the gospel went to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles.

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