Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 11th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Good Stuff from St. Irenaeus on St. Paul (inspiration, rhetoric)

Irenaeus compiled a list of apostolic successi...

Irenaeus compiled a list of apostolic succession, including the immediate successors of Peter and Paul” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holy cow. I love this sort of stuff.

St. Irenaeus is fighting off Marcion and attempting to explain some things about St. Paul’s writing. Here, he cites Galatians 3.19. The Iion from Lyons writes,

From many other instances also, we may discover that the apostle frequently uses a transposed order in his sentences, due to the rapidity of his discourses, and the impetus of the Spirit which is in him. An example occurs in the [Epistle] to the Galatians, where he expresses himself as follows: “Wherefore then the law of works? It was added, until the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator.” For the order of the words runs thus: “Wherefore then the law of works? Ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator, it was added until the seed should come to whom the promise was made,”—man thus asking the question, and the Spirit making answer. (Adv. Haer. 3.7.2)

I see a few things:

  • St. Paul writes haphazardly “due to the rapidity of his discourses, and the impetus of the Spirit.”

Notice the collision of human and divine. After St. Irenaeus notes why St. Paul is writing in such a way — and why it is often confusing, the word order is messed up, etc… — he offers a correction. 

Second,

    • St. Irenaeus sees a dialogue in Galatians.

Some of us have noted that this seems to be St. Paul’s style in various other books, notably Romans. This would be a very small snippet of this, but St. Irenaeus noticed it and that is a big [Joe Biden] deal.

 

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

3 Responses to “Good Stuff from St. Irenaeus on St. Paul (inspiration, rhetoric)”
  1. That approach seems to help a great deal with Romans 7:25b – it should logically fit between vv 23 and 24 – I say that of course as a Wesleyan/Arminian. Lutherans and many other evangelicals would cry wolf though as such a construction would remove any support for “simil justus et peccator” from the usual mis-reading of Romans 7.

    I too find it interesting that the great saint and bishop would presume to re-order Paul’s words/thoughts. The knee-jerk fundamentalist reaction would be to say no, you can’t re-arrange the words of Scripture, because they are God’s inspired Word.” But what Irenaeus said is they sometimes need some rearranging because they are inspired – because Paul was literally so caught up in the Holy Spirit that it was all he could do to get it down on paper.

  2. “But I’ve never caught a glimpse of
    How the others must see the faker
    I’m much too fast to take that test
    Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…”

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