Did Paul receive information on Jesus from Peter (during his Gal 1:18 visit)

  • Clarifying the question

    Two men are inside of a house. One has a speech bubble with Jesus's head inside.

    Paul writes in a letter:

    Galatians 1:18 — “Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas (i.e. Peter), and stayed with him fifteen days.”

    This is an extended stay, and as famously commented by:

    C. H. Dodd: ”we may presume they did not spend all the time talking about the weather.” [The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments 2nd ed. (Hodder and Stoughton, 1964), 16.]

    Is this presumption accurate? Can we rationally conclude that Paul received information about the historical Jesus from Jesus's disciple Peter during this visit?

  • New Testament historians

    • Richard Bauckham: “Two weeks of conversation with Peter (for he states that he saw none of the other apostles except James: v. 19) is a lot of conversation. … We should rather presume that Paul was becoming thoroughly informed of the Jesus traditions as formulated by the Twelve, learning them from the leader of the Twelve, Peter.” [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Eerdmans, 2007)]
  • Plausibility

    It need not be too implausible that Paul received Jesus information this way. After all:

    • Paul received tons of Jesus biography from the Jerusalem church at some point. [Forthcoming]
    • Paul received the 1 Cor 15 creed, and it dates to around AD 30
“Yes, after all…
  • Paul visited Peter for that very reason

    Paul went to Jerusalem for 15 days precisely to receive information on Jesus.

    After all…

    This is relevant because such information would be hard for Paul to miss. As Paul stayed at Peter’s, Peter would have been eager to deliver his account to Paul.1

    1. After all, Peter was eager to teach in general, and would be especially eager to teach someone as influential as Paul who he believed God was clearly working through.

      Birger Gerhardsson: “…a man with Peter’s commission does not waste a fornight talking rubbish. It [sic] can be little doubt that during this time the word of Christ ‘was between them’” [Memory and Manuscript (1998), 298.]

      Gerhardsson is nothing here how, in Paul and Peter's overtly Jewish context, pupils and teachers meet in just this way such that “the word of the Torah was between them”. This is a Jewish context for exchanging doctrinal statements from teachers and predecessors.

“No, after all…
  • Paul says he did not receive his gospel from men


    After all…
    • …Paul writes “I neither received it from man, nor…” (Gal 1:11-12)1
    • …Paul writes that the gospel he preaches is “my gospel”.2 This is relevant because if Paul received info about Jesus from Peter, then he would have received the gospel from men after all.

    But wait, Jesus biography and creedal statements are not “the gospel”.3

    1. • Gal 1:11-12 — [T]he gospel… I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
    2. See:
      • Rom 2:16 — “when, according to my gospel, God will judge…through Christ…”
      • Rom 16:25 — “…able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ”
      • 2 Tim 2:8 — “Remember… risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,”
    3. Paul would not categorize all Jesus biography as being part of the gospel (see 1 Cor 15:1-5). While not needing to learn the Gospel from the apostles, Paul had good reason to learn more about Jesus from them. (See Licona quote here)

      • Richard Bauckham: [On Galatians 1] “It was on the strength of this revelation [from Jesus] of the gospel message that he already proclaimed the gospel, with full apostolic authority, in the period before he visited Peter in Jerusalem (vv.15-17). What he lacked, however, was detail about the words and deeds of Jesus, and he may have come to see the need for this during his period of mission in Nabatea (Arabia: v. 17). [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses 2nd ed. (Eerdmans, 2017) 267.]