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ST. PAUL IN GALATIA
1. THE IMPERIAL AND THE CHRISTIAN POLICY
When Paul passed out of Pamphylia into Galatia, he went out of a small province, which was cut off from the main line of historical and political development, into a great province that lay on that line. The history of Asia Minor at that time had its central motive in the transforming and educative process which the Roman imperial policy was trying to carry out in the country. In Pamphylia that process was languidly carried out by a governor of humble rank; but Galatia was the frontier province, and the immense social and educational changes involved in the process of romanising an oriental land were going on actively in it. We proceed to inquire in what relation the new Pauline influence stood to the questions that were agitating the province. What, then, was the character of Roman policy and the line of educational advance in the districts of Galatic Phrygia and Galatic Lycaonia; and what were the forces opposing the Roman policy?
The aim of Roman policy may be defined as the unification and education in Roman ideas of the province; and its general effect may be summed up under four heads, which we shall discuss in detail, comparing in each case the effect produced or aimed at by the Church. We enumerate the heads, not in order of importance, but in the order that best brings out the relation between Imperial influence and Church influence: (1) relation to Greek civilisation and language: (2) development of an educated middle class: (3) growth of unity over the Empire: (4) social facts.
(1) The Roman influence would be better defined as “Græco-Roman ”. Previous to Roman domination, the Greek civilisation, though fostered in the country by the Greek kings of Syria and Pergamos, who had successively ruled the country, had failed to affect the people as a body; it had been confined to the coast valleys of the Hermus, Cayster, Mæander and Lycus, and to the garrison cities rounded on the great central plateau by the kings to strengthen their hold on the country. These cities were at the same time centres of Greek manners and education; their language was Greek; and, in the midst of alien tribes, their interests naturally coincided with those of the kings who had rounded them.
The Roman Government, far from being opposed to Greek influence, acted in steady alliance with it. It adopted the manners of Greece, and even recognised the Greek language for general use in the Eastern provinces. Rome was so successful, because she almost always yielded to the logic of facts. The Greek influence was, on the whole, European and Western in character; and opposed to the oriental stagnation which resisted Roman educative efforts. Rome accepted the Greek language as her ally. Little attempt was made to naturalise the Latin language in the East; and even the Roman colonies in the province of Galatia soon ceased to use Latin except on state occasions and in a few formal documents. A Græco-Roman civilisation using the Greek language was the type which Rome aimed at establishing in the East.
The efforts of Rome to naturalise Western culture in Asia Minor were more successful than those of the Greek kings had been; but still they worked at best very slowly. The evidence of inscriptions tends to show that the Phrygian language was used in rural parts of the country during the second and even the third century. In some remote and rustic districts it persisted even until the fourth century, as Celtic did in parts of North Galatia.
The Christian influence was entirely in favour of the Greek language. The rustics clung longest to Paganism, while the Greek-speaking population of the cities adopted Christianity. It is not probable that any attempt was made to translate the Christian sacred books into Phrygian or Lycaonian; there is not even any evidence that evangelisation in these languages was ever attempted. The Christians seem to have been all expected to read the Scriptures in Greek. That fact was sufficient to put the Church, as regards its practical effect on society, on the same side as the romanising influence; and the effect was quite independent of any intentional policy. The most zealous enemy of the imperial Antichrist was none the less effective in aiding the imperial policy by spreading the official language. In fact, Christianity did far more thoroughly what the emperors tried to do. It was really their best ally, if they had recognised the facts of the case; and the Christian Apologists of the second century are justified in claiming that their religion was essentially a loyal religion.
(2) The Empire had succeeded in imposing its languages on the central districts of Asia only so far as education spread. Every one who wrote or read, wrote and read Greek; but those who could do neither used the native language. Hence inscriptions were almost universally expressed in Greek, for even the most illiterate, if they aspired to put an epitaph on a grave, did so in barbarous (sometimes unintelligible) Greek; the desire for an epitaph was the first sign of desire for education and for Greek.
In education lay the most serious deficiency of the imperial policy. Rome cannot be said to have seriously attempted to found an educational system either in the provinces or in the metropolis. “The education imparted on a definite plan by the State did not go beyond instituting a regular series of amusements, some of a rather brutalising tendency” (Church in R.E., p. 360). And precisely in this point, Christianity came in to help the Imperial Government, recognising the duty of educating, as well as feeding and amusing, the mass of the population. The theory of universal education for the people has never been more boldly and thoroughly stated than by Tatian (ibid. p. 345). “The weak side of the Empire—the cause of the ruin of the first Empire was the moral deterioration of the lower classes: Christianity, if adopted in time, might have prevented this result.”
Now, the classes where education and work go hand in hand were the first to come under the influence of the new religion. On the one hand the uneducated and grossly superstitious rustics were unaffected by it. On the other hand, there were “not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble” in the Churches of the first century, i.e., not many professional teachers of wisdom and philosophy, not many of the official and governing class, not many of the hereditarily privileged class. But the working and thinking classes, with the students, if not the Professors, at the Universities, were attracted to the new teaching; and it spread among them with a rapidity that seemed to many modern critics incredible and fabulous, till it was justified by recent discoveries. The enthusiasm of the period was on the side of the Christians; its dilettantism, officialism, contentment and self-satisfaction were against them.
In respect of education Christianity appears as filling a gap in the imperial policy, supplementing, not opposing it—a position which, though it earns no gratitude and often provokes hatred, implies no feeling of opposition in the giver.
(3) Again, the main. effort of Roman policy was directed towards encouraging a sense of unity and patriotism in the Empire. It discouraged the old tribal and national divisions, which kept the subject population in their pre-Roman associations, and substituted new divisions. Patriotism in ancient time was inseparable from religious feeling, and Roman policy fostered a new imperial religion in which all its subjects should unite, viz., the worship of the divine majesty of Rome incarnate in human form in the series of the emperors and especially in the reigning emperor. Each province was united in a formal association for this worship: the association built temples in the great cities of the province, held festivals and games, and had a set of officials, who were in a religious point of view priests and in a political point of view, officers of the imperial service. Everything that the imperial policy did in the provinces during the first century was so arranged as to encourage the unity of the entire Roman province; and the priests of the imperial religion became by insensible degrees a higher priesthood, exercising a certain influence over the priests of the other religions of the province. In this way a sort of hierarchy was created for the province and the empire as a whole; the reigning emperor being the religious head, the Supreme Pontiff of the State, and a kind of sacerdotal organisation being grouped under him according to the political provinces.
As time passed, gradually the Christian Church grouped itself according to the same forms as the imperial religion,—not indeed through conscious imitation, but because the Church naturally arranged its external form according to the existing facts of communication and interrelation. In Pisidian Antioch a preacher had unique opportunities for affecting the entire territory whose population resorted to that great centre (p. 105). So Perga was a centre for Pamphylia, Ephesus for Asia. But the direct influence of these centres was confined to the Roman district or province. In this way necessarily and inevitably the Christian Church was organised around the Roman provincial metropolis and according to the Roman provincial divisions.
The question then is, when did this organisation of the Church begin? I can see no reason to doubt that it began with Paul’s mission to the West. It grew out of the circumstances of the country, and there was more absolute necessity in the first century than later, that, if the Church was organised at all, it must adapt itself to the political facts of the time, for these were much stronger in the first century. The classification adopted in Paul’s own letters of the Churches which he rounded is according to provinces, Achaia, Macedonia, Asia, and Galatia. The same fact is clearly visible in the narrative of Act,: it guides and inspires the expression from the time when the Apostles landed at Perga. At every step any one who knows the country recognises that the Roman division is implied. There is only one way of avoiding this conclusion, and that is to make up your mind beforehand that the thing is impossible, and therefore to refuse to admit any evidence for it.
The issue of events showed that the Empire had made a mistake in disregarding so completely the existing lines of demarcation between tribes and races in making its new political provinces. For a time it succeeded in establishing them, while the energy of the Empire was still fresh, and its forward movement continuous and steady. But the differences of tribal and national character were too great to be completely set aside; they revived while the energy of the Empire decayed during the second century. Hence every change in the bounds of the provinces of Asia Minor from 138 onwards was in the direction of assimilating them to the old tribal frontiers; and at last in 295 even the great complex province Asia was broken up after 428 years of existence, and resolved into the old native districts, Lydia, Caria, Phrygia, etc.; and the moment that the political unity was dissolved there remained nothing of the Roman Asia. But the ultimate failure of the Roman policy must not blind us to the vigour and energy with which that policy was carried out during the first century. “Asia” and “Galatia” were only ideas, but they were ideas which the whole efforts of Roman government aimed at making into realities.
(4) There was another reason why the power of the new religion was necessarily thrown on the side of the Roman policy. Greek civilisation was strongly opposed to the social system that was inseparably connected with the native religion in all its slightly varying forms in different localities. The opposition is. as old as the landing of the earliest Greek emigrants on the Asian coasts: the colonists were the force of education, and progress and freedom, the priests arrayed against them the elements that made for stagnation and priest-ridden ignorance and slavery. Throughout Greek history the same opposition constantly appears. The Phrygian religion was always reckoned as the antithesis of Hellenism. That is all a matter of history, one might say a commonplace of history. But the same opposition was necessarily developed in the Romanisation of the provinces of Asia Minor. The priests of the great religious centres were inevitably opposed to the Roman policy; but their power was gone, their vast estates had become imperial property, and their influence with the population was weakened by the growth of the Greek spirit. This subject might be discussed at great length; but I must here content myself with referring to the full account of the districts in my Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia.
In this conflict there can be no doubt on which side the Christian influence must tell. When we consider the social system which was inculcated as a part of the native religion, it is evident that every word spoken by Paul or Barnabas must tell directly against the prevalent religion, and consequently on the side of the Roman policy. It is true that in moral tone the Greek society and religion were low, and Christianity was necessarily an enemy to them. But Greek religion was not here present as the enemy. The native religion was the active enemy; and its character was such that Greek education was pure in comparison, and the Greek moralists, philosophers, and politicians inveighed against the Phrygian religion as the worst enemy of the Greek ideals of life. Greek society and life were at least rounded on marriage; but the religion of Asia Minor maintained as a central principle that all organised and settled social life on the basis of marriage was an outrage on the free unfettered divine life of nature, the type of which was found in the favourites of the great goddesses, the wild animals of the field and the mountains. The Greek and Roman law which recognised as citizens only those born from the legitimate marriage of two citizens had no existence in Phrygian cities.
Thus in Galatia the Græco-Roman education, on the side of freedom, civilisation and a higher social morality, was contending against the old native religious centres with their influential priestly colleges, on the side of ignorance, stagnation, social anarchy, and enslavement of the people to the priests. Christian influence told against the latter, and therefore in favour of the former.
In all these ways Christianity, as a force in the social life of the time, was necessarily arrayed on the side of the Roman imperial policy. “One of the most remarkable sides of the history of Rome is the growth of ideas which found their realisation and completion in the Christian Empire. Universal citizenship, universal equality of rights, universal religion, a universal Church, all were ideas which the Empire was slowly working out, but which it could not realise till it merged itself in Christianity.” “The path of development for the Empire lay in accepting the religion which offered it the possibility of completing its organisation.”
With the instinctive perception of the real nature of the case that characterises the genius for organisation, Paul from the first directed his steps in the path which the Church had to tread. He made no false step, he needed no tentatives before he found the path, he had to retract nothing (except perhaps the unsuccessful compromise embodied in the Decree of the Apostolic Council, pp. 172, 182). It is not necessary to assert or to prove that he consciously anticipated all that was to take place; but he was beyond all doubt one of those great creative geniuses whose policy marks out the lines on which history is to move for generations and even for centuries afterwards.
It is apparent how far removed we are from a view, which has been widely entertained, “that there was an entire dislocation and discontinuity in the history of Christianity in Asia Minor at a certain epoch; that the Apostle of the Gentiles was ignored and his teaching repudiated, if not anathemarised”; and that this anti-Pauline tendency found in “Papias a typical representative”. Like Lightfoot, whose summary we quote, we must reject that view. We find in the epitaph of the second-century Phrygian saint, Avircius Marcellus, a proof of the deep reverence retained in Asia Minor for St. Paul: when he travelled, he took Paul everywhere with him as his guide and companion.
These considerations show the extreme importance of the change of plan that led Paul across Taurus to Pisidian Antioch. So far as it is right to say that any single event is of outstanding importance, the step that took Paul away from an outlying corner and put him on the main line of development at the outset of his work in Asia Minor, was the most critical step in his history. It is noteworthy that the historian, who certainly understood its importance, and whose sympathy was deeply engaged in it, does not attribute it to Divine suggestion, though he generally records the Divine guidance in the great crises of Paul’s career; and it stands in perfect agreement with this view, that Paul himself, when he impresses on the Galatian Churches in the strongest terms his Divine commission to the Gentiles, does not say that the occasion of his going among them was the Divine guidance, but expressly mentions that an illness was the cause why he preached among them at first.
Now, every reader must be struck with the stress that is laid, alike by Paul and by Luke, throughout their writings, on the Divine guidance. They both find the justification of all Paul’s innovations on missionary enterprise in the guiding hand of God. We demand that there should be a clear agreement in the occasions when they discerned that guidance; and in this case the South Galatian theory enables us to recognise a marked negative agreement.
Further, there is evidently a marked difference between the looser way of talking about “the hand of God” that is common in the present day, and the view entertained by Paul or Luke. Where a great advantage results from a serious illness, many of us would feel it right to recognise and acknowledge the “guiding hand of God”; but it is evident that, when Luke or Paul uses such language as “the Spirit suffered them not,” they refer to some definite and clear manifestation, and not to a guidance which became apparent only through the results. The superhuman element is inextricably involved in Luke’s history and in Paul’s letters.
All that has just been said is, of course, mere empty verbiage, devoid of any relation to Paul’s work and policy in Galatia, if the Churches of Galatia were not the active centres of Roman organising effort, such as the colonies Antioch and Lystra, or busy trading cities like Claud-Iconium and Claudio-Derbe, but Pessinus and some villages in the wilderness of the Axylon (as Professor Zöckler has quite recently maintained). Lightfoot saw the character of Paul’s work, and supposed him to have gone to the great cities of North Galatia, and specially the metropolis Ancyra; but the most recent development of the North-Galatian theory denies that Paul ever saw the Roman central city.
2. THE JEWS IN ASIA AND SOUTH GALATIA.
In Cyprus, Barnabas and Saul had confined themselves within the circle of the synagogue, until Paul stepped forth from it to address the Roman proconsul. In entering Galatia Paul was passing from Semitic surroundings into a province where Greek was the language of all even moderately educated persons, and where Græco-Roman manners and ideas were being actively disseminated and eagerly assimilated by all active and progressive and thoughtful persons. How then did Paul, with his versatility and adaptability, appear among the Galatians, and in what tone did he address them?
At first he adhered to his invariable custom of addressing such audience as was found within the synagogue. There was a large Jewish population in the Phrygian district of Galatia, as well as in Asian Phrygia (which Paul entered and traversed at a later date XIX 1). According to Dr. Neubauer (Géographie du Talmud, p. 315), these Jews had to a considerable extent lost connection with their country, and forgotten their language; and they did not participate in the educated philosophy of the Alexandrian Jews: the baths of Phrygia and its wine had separated the Ten Tribes from their brethren, as the Talmud expresses it: hence they were much more readily converted to Christianity; and the Talmud alludes to the numerous converts.
It is much to be desired that this distinguished scholar should discuss more fully this subject, which he has merely touched on incidentally. The impression which he conveys is different from that which one is apt to take from the narrative in Acts; and one would be glad to have the evidence on which he relies stated in detail. But my own epigraphic studies in Phrygia lead me to think that there is much in what Dr. Neubauer has said; and that we must estimate Luke’s account from the proper point. Luke was profoundly interested in the conflict between Paul and the Judaising party; and he recounts with great detail the stages in that conflict. That point of view is natural in one who had lived through the conflict, before the knot was cut by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; but, though short, the struggle was far more severe than later scholars, who see how complete was Paul’s triumph, are apt to imagine. Even to a writer of the second century, the conflict with the Judaisers could not have bulked largely in Church history. But to Luke that conflict is the great feature in the development of the Church. Hence he emphasises every point in the antagonism between Paul and the Judaisers; and his readers are apt to leave out of notice other aspects of the case. The Jews of Pisidian Antioch are not represented as opposed to Paul’s doctrines, but only to his placing the Gentiles on an equality with themselves (p. 101, XIII 45). A great multitude of the Iconian Jews believed (XIV 1). The few Jews of Philippi seem to have been entirely on Paul’s side: they were probably to a great extent settlers who had come, like Lydia, in the course of trade with Asia Minor. In Berea the Jews in a body were deeply impressed by Paul’s preaching. In Thessalonica, however, the Jews were almost entirely opposed to him; and in Corinth it was nearly as bad, though the archisynagogos followed him. In Corinth the Jewish colony would certainly be in close and direct communication with Syria and Palestine by sea, more than with the Phrygian Jews of the land road; and it is probable that the same was the case in Thessalonica, though no facts are known to prove it.
From the recorded facts, therefore, it would appear that the Jews in central Asia Minor were less strongly opposed to Pauline Christianity than they were in Palestine. Further, the Asian and Galatian Jews had certainly declined from the high and exclusive standard of the Palestinian Jews, and probably forgotten Hebrew. In Lystra we find a Jewess married to a Greek, who cannot have come into communion with the Jews, for the son of the marriage was not submitted to the Jewish law (XVI 1-3). The marriage of a Jewess to a Gentile is a more serious thing than that of a Jew, and can hardly have come to pass except through a marked assimilation of these Jews to their Gentile neighbours. In Ephesus the sons even of distinguished priests practised magic, and exorcised demons in the name of Jesus (XIX 14); and Dr. Schürer has shown that gross superstitions were practised by the Jews of Thyatira. There seems, therefore, to be no real discrepancy between the evidence of Luke and Dr. Neubauer’s inference about the Phrygian Jews from the Talmud.
Naturally the approximation between Jews and Gentiles in Phrygia had not been all on one side. An active, intelligent, and prosperous minority like the Jews must have exercised a strong influence on their neighbours. Evidence to that effect is not wanting in inscriptions (see Cities and Bishoprics, Chap. XIV); and we may compare the readiness with which the Antiochians flocked to the synagogue, XIII 43-4, and at a later time yielded to the first emissaries of the Judaising party in the Church (Gal. I 6). The history of the Galatian Churches is in the closest relation to their surroundings (p. 183).
3. TONE OF PAUL’S ADDRESS TO THE GALATIAN AUDIENCES.
The only recorded sermon of Paul in Galatia was delivered in the synagogue at Antioch (p. 100). Thereafter he “turned to the Gentiles,” and appealed direct to the populace of the city. Now Paul was wont to adapt himself to his hearers (p. 82). Did he address the people of Antioch as members of a nation (Phrygians, or, as Dr. Zöckler thinks, Pisidians), or did he regard them as members of the Roman Empire? We cannot doubt that his teaching was opposed to the native tendency as one of mere barbarism and superstition; and that he regarded them as members of the same Empire of which he was a citizen. Moreover, the Antiochians claimed to be a Greek foundation of remote time by Magnesian settlers: that is, doubtless, a fiction (of a type fashionable in the great cities of Phrygia), but it shows the tendency to claim Greek origin and to regard national characteristics as vulgar. Finally, Antioch was now a Roman colony, and its rank and position in the province belonged to it as the representative of old Greek culture and modern Roman government amid uncultured rustic Pisidians and Phrygians. But some North Galatian theorists resolutely maintain that Paul could never appeal to its population as “men of the province Galatia,” but only as “Pisidians”.
We possess a letter which Paul addressed to the Galatian Churches; but it was addressed to congregations which had existed for five years or more, and was written on a special occasion to rebuke and repress the Judaising tendency: it moves in a series of arguments against that tendency, and gives us little information as to the line Paul would take in addressing for the first time a pagan audience in one of the Galatian cities (see Ch. VIII).
In writing to the Corinthian Church Paul mentions that he had adopted a very simple way of appealing to them, and that his simple message was by some persons contrasted unfavourably with the more philosophical style of Apollos and the more ritualistic teaching of the Judaising Christians. But it is apparent (see p. 252) that Paul made a new departure in this respect at Corinth; and we must not regard too exclusively what he says in that letter. Though the main elements of his message were the same from first to last (Gal. III 1, I Cor. II 2), yet it is natural and probable that there should be a certain degree of development in his method; and in trying to recover the tone in which he first appealed to his Galatic audiences, we are carried back to a period in his career earlier than any of his extant letters.
The passages in Acts that touch the point are the address to his worshippers at Lystra, the speech before the Areopagus at Athens, and, at a later time, the account which the Town-clerk at Ephesus gave of his attitude as a preacher.
The Town-clerk of Ephesus reminded the rioters that Paul had not been guilty of disrespect, either in action or in language, towards the patron and guardian goddess of the city. Chrysostom in the fourth century remarks that this was a false statement to suit the occasion and calm the riot; it seemed to him impossible that Paul should refrain from violent invective against the false goddess, for the later Christians inveighed in merciless terms against the Greek gods, and (as every one who tries to understand ancient religion must feel) the Apologists from the second century onwards give a one-sided picture of that religion, describing only its worst features, and omitting those germs of higher ideas which it certainly contained. But we cannot suppose with Chrysostom that the clerk misrepresented the facts to soothe the popular tumult. The effect of his speech depended on the obviousness of the facts which he appealed to; and it would defeat his purpose, if his audience had listened to speeches in which Paul inveighed against the goddess. If this speech is taken from real life, the clerk of Ephesus must be appealing to well-known facts (see p. 281 f.).
Next we turn to the speech at Athens. So far was Paul from inveighing against the objects of Athenian veneration that he expressly commended the religious feelings of the people, and identified the God whom he had come to preach with the god whom they were blindly worshipping. He did not rebuke or check their religious ideas, but merely tried to guide them; he distinctly set forth the principle that the pagans were honestly striving to worship “the God that made the world and all things therein” (p. 251 f.).
In this speech Paul lays no emphasis on the personality of the God whom he sets forth: “what ye worship in ignorance, this set I forth unto you,” and “we ought not to think that the Divine nature is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art and device of man”. The popular philosophy inclined towards Pantheism, the popular religion was Polytheistic; but Paul starts from the simplest platform common to both—there exists something in the way of a Divine nature which the religious try to please and the philosophers try to understand. That is all he seeks as a hypothesis to start from.
At Athens the speech was more philosophical in tone, catching the spirit of a more educated populace. At Lystra it was more simple, appealing to the witness they had of the God “who gives from heaven rain and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with gladness”. But the attitude is the same in both cases. “God who made the heaven and the earth in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways”; and “we bring you the good news that you should repent”. That is the same tone in which at Athens he said, “The times of ignorance God overlooked; but now He commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent”
There is one condition, however, on which Paul insisted from the first, at Athens and at Lystra and everywhere. The worship of idols and images was absolutely pernicious, and concealed from the nations the God whom they were groping after and trying to find: they must turn from these vain and dead gods to the God that lives. Hence the riot at Ephesus was got up by the tradesmen who made images of the Goddess Artemis in her shrine, and whose trade was threatened when the worship of images was denounced. But the denunciation of images was a commonplace of Greek philosophy; and the idea that any efficacy resided in images was widely regarded among the Greeks as a mark of superstition unworthy of the educated man. Paul stands here on the footing of the philosopher, not contravening the State laws by introducing new gods, but expounding to the people the true character of the living God whom they are seeking after.
Such was the way in which Paul introduced his Good Tidings to the peoples of the province Galatia. From this he went on step by step, and his method is summed up by himself, Gal. III 1, “Christ had been placarded before their eyes”. Now was the opportunity granted them; “through this Man is proclaimed remission of sins” (XIII 38). But if they despised the opportunity they must beware (XIII 40-1), “inasmuch as He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world” (XVII 31).
Paul’s teaching thus was introduced to his pagan audiences in the language of the purest and simplest theology current among educated men. He started from those thoughts which were familiar to all who had imbibed even the elements of Greek education. But even in the more advanced stage of his teaching he did not cut it off from the philosophy of the time. He never adopted that attitude of antagonism to philosophy which became customary in the second century, springing from the changed circumstances of that period. On the contrary, he says (Col. IV 5-6, cf. Eph. V 16): “Regulate with wisdom your conduct towards the outside world, making your market to the full from the opportunity of this life. Let your conversation be always gracious, seasoned with the salt and the refinement of delicacy, so as to know the suitable reply to make to every individual.” As Curtius says, with his own grace and delicacy of perception, the Attic salt is here introduced into the sphere of Christian ethics. Polished courtesy of address to all, was valued by Paul as a distinct and important element in the religious life; and he advised his pupils to learn from the surrounding world everything that was worthy in it, “making your market fully from the occasion” (a thought very inadequately expressed in the English Version, “redeeming the time,” Col. IV 6). But it is in Phil. IV 8 that his spirit is expressed in the fullest and most graceful and exquisite form, “whatsoever is true, whatsoever is holy, whatsoever is just, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is courteous, whatsoever is of fine expression, all excellence, all merit, take account of these,” wherever you find these qualities, notice them, consider them, imitate them.
It is not the Jew who speaks in these and many other sentences; it is the educated citizen of the Roman world attuned to the most gracious and polished tone of educated society. We can faintly imagine to ourselves the electrical effect produced by teaching like this on the population of the Galatian cities, on a people who were just beginning to rise from the torpor of oriental peasant life and to appreciate the beauty of Greek thought and the splendour of Roman power. They found in Paul no narrow and hard bigot to dash from their lips the cup of education; they found one who guided into the right channel all their aspirations after culture and progress, who raised them into a finer sphere of thought and action, who showed them what wealth of meaning lay in their simple speculations on the nature of God, who brought within their grasp all that they were groping after. We can imagine how sordid and beggarly were the elements that Jewish ritual had to offer them in comparison; and we can appreciate the tone of Paul’s letter to them, where his argument is to recall to their minds the teaching which he had given them on his former visit, to contrast with this freedom and graciousness and progress which he offered them the hard cut and dry life of Jewish formalism, and to ask who had bewitched them into preferring the latter before the former.2323Curtius’s beautiful essay on Paulus in Athen has been constantly in the writer’s mind in this and some other places.
It is remarkable that, alike at Lystra and Athens, there is nothing in the reported words of Paul that is overtly Christian, and nothing (with the possible exception of “the man whom he hath ordained”) that several Greek philosophers might not have said. That is certainly not accidental; the author of Acts must have been. conscious of it; and it is a strong proof of their genuineness: no one would invent a speech for Paul, which was not markedly Christian. That remarkable omission is explained by some commentators in the speech at Athens (e.g., Meyer-Wendt) as due to the fact that the speech was not completed; and yet they acknowledge that the speech is a rounded whole, and that all the specially Pauline ideas are touched in it. To look for an addition naming the Saviour is to ignore the whole character of the speech and the scene where it was delivered.
The same mark of genuineness occurs in the central episode of the romance of Thekla, when we disentangle the tale of her trials at Pisidian Antioch from the incongruous and vulgar additions by which it is disfigured. In the beautiful story as it was originally written, probably in the latter part of the first century, Thekla appeared to the mass of the Antiochian populace to be a devotee of “the God,” bound by a rule of service given her by direct Divine command; and she commanded their sympathy, in so far as she represented their own cause; whereas, if she had been seen to be severing herself absolutely from their life and their religion, their sympathy would be incredible. In this character lies the proof of its early date: the episode in its original form is contrary to the tone of the second century.
Incidentally we notice what an anachronism it is to suppose that the attitude attributed in Acts to Paul could have been conceived by a second-century author! The tone of these speeches is of the first century, and not of the time when the Apologists were writing. In the first century Christianity and the current philosophy alike were disliked and repressed by the Flavian emperors, as favouring the spirit of unrest and dissatisfaction. But during the second, the Imperial Government and the popular philosophy were in league against the increasing power of the Church; and the tone of the speeches in incredible in a composition of that time.
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