Did Paul desire and strive to know Jesus-biography?

  • Clarifying the question

    Was Paul committed to knowing (and confirming his knowledge) of Gospel history—the authentic and uncorrupt story of Jesus’s life, teachings, and actions more broadly?

  • New Testament historians

    • James Dunn: “[There is] a high degree of probability that Paul must have both known and cared about the ministry of Jesus,” [The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Eerdmans, 1998), 188.]
“Yes, after all…
  • Examples show Jesus biography Paul wanted to know

    Examples show Jesus biography Paul wanted to know.

    • …Paul aimed to know Jesus's teachings. [Forthcoming]
    • …Paul aimed to know about Jesus’ conduct. [Forthcoming]
    • …Paul aimed to know about Jesus’s death.1
    1. We know this for a few reasons:
      a) We can anticipate Paul would want to know it. (See Hengel quote in the link below on the next line.)
      b) Paul did end up knowing a lot about Jesus's death.
  • Paul visited Jerusalem/Peter to know it

    Paul visited Jerusalem/Peter to know it.

    • …It's plausible: Paul received tons of Jesus biography from the Jerusalem church. [Forthcoming]
    • …In Gal 1:18, Paul says he stayed at Peter's “to get information”
  • Paul had clear reason to want to know Jesus biography

    Paul had clear reason to want to know Jesus biography.

    • …Paul saw Jesus as incredibly interesting/valuable (his hero). [Forthcoming]1
    • …Paul aimed to have influence over people/churches. [Forthcoming]
      • ……Paul liked to make his points by alluding to Jesus’s life. [Forthcoming]
      • ……Paul liked to base his teachings on Jesus’s teachings. [Forthcoming]
      • ……Paul wanted be educated (and to come off as educated). [Forthcoming]
    • …Paul desired to bequeth self-defining Jesus traditions on new churches. [Forthcoming]2
    1. This is relevant because, in general, people (including ancients) were interesting in knowing about their heroes.

      James Dunn: “And we can also speak without exaggeration of a universal curiosity regarding the prominent or hero figure, which is as evident in ancient writings as it is today” (Note, e.g., the degree of biographical interest evident in Dio Chrysostom in the lite and teaching of Diogenes, or, on the Jewish side, in Jeremiah preserved (by his disciples) in "The Words of Jeremiah" (Jer. I.I. i.e., canonical Jeremiah).)

    2. For example, see 1 Thes 4.1; 2 Thes 3:6; 1 Cor 11:2; 15:3; Col 2:6. These all use the words denoting the transmission and reception of tradition (paradidomi and pandambaiw). [The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Eerdmans, 1998), 186 fn13.]
“No, after all…
  • 2 Cor 5:16: Paul says we know Jesus “according to flesh” no longer

    [See this argument and response here]