Monday, March 13, 2023

And we come to Paul

As influential as the Stoics treated in this book have been, even their cumulative weight is virtually insignificant compared with St. Paul’s. Already within the New Testament itself, Paul is acknowledged as a foundation upon which the Christian tradition has begun to rest, and he has been both hero and foe in turns to almost everyone concerned with the rise of Christianity and its enduring impact. This is not to say he was always well and clearly understood. Indeed, the author of the little New Testament letter 2 Peter admits as much. In Paul’s letters, he says, there are some things “that are hard to understand, which the unlearned and unstable distort” (2 Pet 3:16). But it is to say that Paul’s legacy has been enormous. Down through the centuries from his time to ours no less than theology, philosophy, politics, law, literature, architecture, and visual and material art—in short, the whole field of human life we call a culture—experienced the gravitas of Paul.—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, 85

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