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Problems Accessing “Interactive Diversity”

June 24, 2013

Several have reported being unable to get access to the html version of my article, “Interactive Diversity,” published last week in Journal of Theological Studies online (print version to appear in the forthcoming paper issue).  I thought it should be possible to go via the link I gave, at least that’s how I understood the Oxford University Press instructions to authors.  Sorry for the trouble.  So, for those who can’t access the published version, I’ve just uploaded the pre-publication typescript of the essay.  If all you want is the ideas, and don’t need (at least immediately) to cite page numbers, etc., then this version may be adequate to your purposes.  It’s titled “Interactive Diversity” and is in the list of such items on the tab above (below the blog-site header) marked “Selected Published Essays, etc.”

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  1. Dr. Hurtado:

    I’ve been ill and in the hospital and have been catching up on lots of things after recovering, so I have just now read your interaction v. trajectories article.

    Here are some questions:

    1. Doesn’t “interact” usually connote cooperation?

    A couple of sources define the term as “to act on or in close relation with each other.” Another source gives an endless set of sample sentences; and none of them express opposition or confrontation. (See

    2. In your examples from Paul, based on his statements in Galatians and 2 Corinthians, doesn’t Paul speak out:

    (a) Against non-apostolic activists who were “false brothers,” rejected by the leaders at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:3-5)?
    (b) From within the apostolic circle (Galatians 2:2; 6-10)?
    (c) In letters sent to churches that are within an apostolic network?

    Paul refers to Cephas in his letters to both Galatia and Corinth in ways that imply familiarity and, at Corinth at least, the personal presence of Cephas there on at least one apparently lengthy visit (Galatians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 1:11-12; 3:22). And 1 Corinthians 9:5 indicates that the leaders from Jerusalem, including “the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas,” were accustomed to traveling widely, just as Paul and Barnabas did. (Galatians 2:11 places Cephas at Syrian Antioch for a period of time; and there are other indications in Acts and the letters that illustrate the networking, pastoral responsibility of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem toward the widely scattered churches.)

    It seems to me that Paul’s adversaries at Galatia and Corinth cannot be accurately represented as “unidentified other Christians.” Instead Paul’s opponents acted outside the apostolic circle and were checked at least temporarily, because the apostolic networking of the churches was effective. Taking Paul’s statements in their full context, these teachers of an alternative gospel are “false” and anti-apostolic, not to be numbered among the saints.

    Based on direct references in Galatians and 1 Corinthians: James, Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas, Apollos – all – would never consider these teachers to be fellow-servants of God. And this apostolic stance is justified, because the apostles and their companions are the called out servants (and are the “sent ones”) of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    3. Must we take the Synoptics and the theoretical Q as representations of “alternative Christianities” rather than variations round a relatively clear medial core of assertions about the words and works of Christ and their implications?

    The “distinguishable early Christian outlook and literary emphasis” of each of the Gospels and the “interaction and appropriation of material” implies flexibility. But the firm stand taken on some core issues indicates a limit to this flexibility.

    As for the theoretical Q Document, it has seemed to me that those who take the most radical view of its contents must begin with the assumption that somehow the whole document is represented in the parts Matthew and Luke have adapted. A more realistic view, as you choose to take (if I understood you), would simply indicate that an evangelist’s use of Q is, in your words, “interesting” but not “revolutionary.”

    4. Does the variety of social backgrounds of the churches necessitate the creation of alternative Christianities?

    Here again flexibility and acceptance seems to be the rule on such matters as dietary laws and the keeping of religious holy days – unless abiding by these rules is made the basis of acceptance before God. Then the practices are condemned. Other socially prescribed behavior may be either accepted or condemned, depending on its compatibility with the gospel.

    In my mind, such acceptance – and condemnation as needed – do not imply separate forms of the faith.

    (I also have questions and thoughts about the idea of how Paul understood his source for Romans 1:2-4, but will not bring that up here.)

    • Bobby,
      I’ll respond briefly to your comments. First “interaction” as I mean it can take a variety of forms, as I think I illustrated quite specifically in my article, ranging from friendly to hostile.
      Second, the opponents in Jerusalem whom Paul called “false brothers” were members of the Jerusalem church. “False” was Paul’s attitude toward them, in that they didn’t demonstrate his idea of a fraternal attitude toward his pagan converts.
      You seem quite anxious about any serious diversity in early Christianity. I’m afraid that your anxiety is both misplaced and doomed to disappoint. There WERE serious differences, as Paul in particular makes clear. But the purpose of my article was to emphasize the dynamic nature of these differences, their “interaction” with one another, over against the “trajectory” model of somewhat unilinear developments of relatively isolated forms of early Christianity.

  2. Yes, thanks, Larry. I also appreciate it.

  3. Thanks for sharing your work. I appreciate it!

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