Archeologists Discover Letter Written to St. Paul

March 25th, 2011
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Word is now coming out that a letter has been discovered that was written to St. Paul, in response to his letter to the churches in Galatia. Here is an English translation.

Parodios, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, to our brother Paulos.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our church recently received a copy of the letter that you sent to the church of Galatia. We hope you will not mind hearing our humble concerns. In the past we have noticed you are more interested in confronting people rather than conversing with them, but we hope you will receive this letter as an invitation to further dialogue.

First of all, we are uncomfortable with your tone throughout the correspondence. We know it is difficult sometimes to discern tone of voice from written communication, but you should keep this in mind as well. One could gather from your careless use of words that you are losing your temper. You certainly sound angry. This is unbecoming a spokesperson for the faith. As you say yourself, one of the manifest fruit of God’s Spirit is gentleness.

Aren’t you being a hypocrite to preach grace but not show it to our Judaizer brothers? They may not worship as you do or emphasize the same teachings you do, but our Lord has “sheep not of this fold,” and there is certainly room within the broader Way for these brothers. Their methodology may differ from yours, but certainly their hearts are in the right place.

You yourself know that our Lord required personal contact when we have a grievance against another. Have you personally contacted any of these men? Have you sat down to reason with them personally? Have you issued a personal invitation? Some of them may even reconsider their viewpoints if you had taken a different tack. We know that your position is likely that public teaching is open to public criticism, but we can do better than what is expected, can’t we?

In one portion of your letter, you indicate you don’t even know these persons! “Whoever he is,” you write. Our dear Paulos, how can you rightly criticize them when you don’t know them? It’s clear you haven’t even read their material, because you never quote them. We implore you to see that they are plainly within the tradition of Moses and of the Prophets. They understand the context of the covenant in ways you appear deaf to.

Similarly, we find your tone and resorting to harsh language not in keeping with the love of Christ. “Foolish Galatians.” “Let him be accursed.” “Emasculate themselves.” Really? Can you not hear yourself? You think this is Christlike? Does this sound like something our Lord would say? Do you think this flippant, outrageous, personal, vindictive manner of speech speaks well of God’s love or the church? It is clear you are taking this way too personally. Indeed, you ask the Galatians if you are now their enemy. Does everything have to be so black and white to you?

Paulos, what will unbelievers think when they read this letter? Do you think this will commend the gospel to them? This kind of harsh language just makes us look like a bunch of angry people. They see we can’t even love each other, and over what? Circumcision? This is a terrible advertisement for God’s love to an unbelieving world. You have given plenty of people permission now to disregard Jesus, if this is what his mouthpieces sound like.

We hope you will reconsider your approach. We know that you catch much more flies with honey than with vinegar. We are concerned that your ill-worded letter signals a divisiveness that threatens to fracture the church. We beg you to reconsider how important these minor issues are, and how in the future you may speak in ways that better reflect God’s love.

The grace—and the love!—of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brother.

HT: Justin Taylor

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  1. Bob Gruener
    March 25th, 2011 at 12:59 | #1

    Here’s a translated excerpt from an actual letter written by Paul to Timothy:

    “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Tim. 2:24-26 (ESV)

    • March 25th, 2011 at 14:07 | #2

      Bob: I officially present you with today’s “Missing the Point” reward!

      : )

  2. Rev. J Douthwaite
    March 25th, 2011 at 13:45 | #3

    LOL! Should have posted this on April 1st! :-)

  3. Clint Hoff
    March 25th, 2011 at 13:49 | #4

    Ha ha, excellent. Thanks for posting.

  4. March 25th, 2011 at 13:54 | #5

    Amazing how little things have changed, huh? ;)

    Seriously, though, you did have me going for a second. The “Galatian’s” heavy use of a 21st century vernacular was the tip-off.

    Keep it up, Pr. McCain!

  5. Ed
    March 25th, 2011 at 14:17 | #6

    Wow – this certainly has an impact. Could this have simply been a quick response from a disgruntled congregation member? I’m very interested to hear the comments on this one.

    • March 25th, 2011 at 14:19 | #7

      Ed, just checking, but you do know this is/was satire?

  6. Ed
    March 25th, 2011 at 14:19 | #8

    lol … ok … after listening to the news these days I’m probably gonna believe anything I read ;-)

  7. Ed
    March 25th, 2011 at 14:21 | #9

    I’m actually prep’ing for an inductive study on Galatians using Luther’s Commentary On Galatians … and I jumped into this one head first.

  8. Jacob
    March 25th, 2011 at 19:46 | #10

    Parodios – heh. You had me going for a few seconds.

  9. Mitch
    March 25th, 2011 at 20:04 | #11

    Well I was fooled! Thought it sounded too much like an email.

  10. Rev. R Salemink
    March 26th, 2011 at 07:27 | #12

    While I know this is a satirical piece, the concept is interesting to consider. How would the “Judaizers” in the Galatian church have responded to Paul’s letter? What would they have said in the assembly (read: “Voters’ Assembly ;o) in defense of their position? Maybe they did draft a letter back to Paul. Just thinking out loud. This might make for a good idea for a sermon sometime.

  11. Alex
    March 26th, 2011 at 08:31 | #13

    I’ve been studying Greek (Hellenistic and Classical) – could anyone point to a printed Greek version of this letter? I’d like to take a look at it. Does anyone think this is legit?

  12. Timothy Miille
    March 26th, 2011 at 09:19 | #15

    I loved it. But sad to say it sounded way too familiar. Heard something a great deal like it back in June and July.

  13. March 26th, 2011 at 19:27 | #16

    Dear Pastor McCain,

    I have in my possession a letter written by St. Paul himself that appears to repudiate traditional Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Christ and the Resurrection. In fact, it seems that the entire story of Jesus was invented by first century right-wing fundamentalists intent on destroying Islam and establishing a world-wide Christianist theocracy.

    Let me know if you are interested in seeing this letter. Courage!

    Signed, Dan Rather

  14. Joel
    March 27th, 2011 at 22:43 | #17

    The author should’ve picked a different name. I knew it was a joke the moment I read the name “Parodios.”

  15. March 27th, 2011 at 23:16 | #18

    @Recovering Lutheran
    That’s rather interesting, seeing as how Islam wasn’t established till centuries after the first century.

  16. Michael Heidle
    March 27th, 2011 at 23:17 | #19

    As “Bones” [not sure if you're a Star Trek fan; so please take this in the intended spirit] would say, “That’s not very damn funny!” It actually cannot be a 1st century letter to Paul, for it’s first draft was certainly in my mailbox from some members! haha
    I agree with the thought that it would have been fitting (but then more apparent) for April 1; but the satire (made more sharp by it’s surprise appearance) was certainly appreciated. THANKS!!
    Mike — the Key West one

  17. March 27th, 2011 at 23:18 | #20

    This is Brilliant!

  18. Larry Luder
    March 28th, 2011 at 23:41 | #21

    The last time I was in St. Louis, I took the complimentary tour to the Anheuser-Bush brewery. There were whispers about Thomas Jefferson being a Freemason and that all the buildings on South Jefferson were Masonic built. Possibly you may be partly jesting and have discovered a binder full of response epistles by many of the early church struggling congregations.

  19. Craig
    March 29th, 2011 at 00:29 | #22

    Satire? A joke?

    To treat God’s Holy Word so flippantly. Laugh and joke about a satire of God’s Word?

    Allowing…a satire of God’s Word to be published on a “Lutheran” blog.

    Paul McCain, I can tell you what this really is.

    Pathetic.

    • March 29th, 2011 at 06:43 | #23

      Apparently some people were sleeping the day they covered “satire” in English Lit 101. Oh, well.

  20. Jim
    March 29th, 2011 at 08:04 | #24

    Craig.
    Please read it again. This is a satire as you noted; a brilliant one. But it is not a satire or a joke about God’s word. It is a satire about post-modern thinking and the emergent church. It exposes those who think they are helping the message of Christ but are only diluting it.

  21. March 29th, 2011 at 18:38 | #25

    The best satire is offensive to the boilerplates and golden calves of the status quo. Satire is at its best when it mercilessly pierces through the callous hide of the culture and digs down to the deep enough to get at the source of the very infection that everyone would rather just ignore or explain away.

    Satire is what it is because it has to be… because the victims of the satire have refused to listen to politely worded reason for far too long. This isn’t even mean-spirited, Juvenalian satire.

    If this very mild and clear satire offends you, steer clear of classic works of English literature like Jonathon Swift’s essay from the 1700s titled “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public.” :P

    Excellent work, Pr. McCain. Keep up the good work.

  22. March 30th, 2011 at 11:41 | #26

    I saw this over at Justin Taylor’s blog — have to admit it wasn’t I who picked up on “Parodius” and the “Island of Satiricus” – but the common vernacular got me. And even if there were contemporary letters of objection, there are plenty of other writings from the day that would have gone against Paul – after all, it wasn’t out of a great affection for him that people stoned and imprisoned him, so I don’t know why people want to make a big deal out of public opinion anyway. But it reminds me of another little satirical piece over at the Sacred Sandwich from a couple years ago -http://sacredsandwich.com/archives/2781

  23. gtrnvox
    March 31st, 2011 at 10:18 | #27

    That’s an image of the beginning of the Gospel of John from P66.

    • March 31st, 2011 at 11:00 | #28

      Actually a seminarian did spot that immediately. No meaning behind the image, other than to grab an old Greek text to illustrate the post.

  24. gtrnvox
    March 31st, 2011 at 10:53 | #29

    (I mention that not because I don’t get the satire, but because I’m surprised no one reading this spotted that immediately.)

  25. gtrnvox
    March 31st, 2011 at 11:21 | #30

    Ah, good. That’s very encouraging!

  26. Nils
    May 6th, 2012 at 18:28 | #31

    I was just about to try to parse through the Greek text when I began reading the comments and had my suspicions confirmed (I was thinking “This can’t be real…it’s way too much like a modern liberal argument for non-confessional theology”). Oh well, good to know the Greek is John. He’s nice to read.

    Good one on stumping us!

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