Re: poor or beggar

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Apr 22 1996 - 11:12:20 EDT

At 7:48 AM -0600 4/22/96, James H. Vellenga wrote:
> Carl W. Conrad responds:
> >
> > And now, as I think on screen, another purely speculative ramification of
> > Gal 2:10 teases my mind: IF "PTWCOI" should be a designation for the
> > missionaries sent to evangelize in accordance with the Missionary Discourse
> > parallels in the Synoptic Gospels, which have at least occasionally been
> > thought to be post-Easter regulations for missionary work in the primitive
> > community, then perhaps the "collection" that Paul conscientiously sought
> > from his Gentile congregations was never intended to relieve poverty in the
> > Jerusalem church but rather to promote its missionary activities? What
> > think ye about that?
> >
> Ook! It certainly seems like a logical consequence if PTWCOI does refer
> to the itinerant friars.
> But I think we can rule that out from other statements in Paul's letters
> regarding the collection. E.g., 2 Cor 8.10-11 NIV: "At the present time
> your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will
> supply what you need." While the latter clause could refer to other
> than material provision, I suspect that "At the present time" indicates
> a temporary condition. (But I don't have the Greek text here with me.)

Upon checking the text of 2 Cor 8 here, I read the antithesis of "your
plenty" and "what they need" not as referring to what the Jerusalem
Christians need but what the Macedonians, evidently under economic
constraints, have not recently been able to contribute. It's worth noting
also, that in 2 Cor 8:8-10 the example of Christ's becoming poor that the
Corinthians might become rich has nothing whatsoever to do with economic
needs, but refers specifically to what a fellow-parishioner, disparaging
charity efforts, called "bread of life--we make sure that we give bread to
everybody, but we don't give the bread of life!"

I'm not really arguing positively FOR the interpretation that Paul's
collection was meant to support missionary activity so much as I am urging
an exploration of the hypothesis, which seems to me an interesting
alternative to the only view I've ever heard expounded, i.e., Paul was
raising funds from his Gentile churches for the purposes of (a) alleviating
the economic difficulties of the Jerusalem Christian believers, and (b)
demonstrating his commitment to a universal community of Jewish and Gentile
Christian believers. In this respect, then, I'm not convinced that the data
from 2 Cor 8 sufficiently weighs against the hypothesis.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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