The charistmatic gifts in the Acts of Paul: second century trends

The charistmatic gifts in the Acts of Paul:  second century trends” (pdf),  by P. W. Dunn

I presented this paper at the 29th annual meeting of the Society of Pentecostal Studies (March 16-18, 2000) at my own alma mater Northwest College (now Northwest University), Kirkland, WA. While the Acts of Paul is an unreliable biography of Paul, it nevertheless remains a valuable source for the beliefs and practices of the second-century church. I wrote: “Where contemporary sources corroborate this portrayal [of the Christian life from a second century perspective], we are likely standing on firm ground when trying to ascertain trends in the second-century church.” The two most notable trends in the Acts of Paul are the connections of the charismatic gifts with sexual continence and with martyrdom. The portrayal of women prophets speaking freely in the church assembly suggests both an ignorance of 1 Corinthians 14.34-35 and a date for Acts of Paul before the Montanist crisis.

4 Responses to The charistmatic gifts in the Acts of Paul: second century trends

  1. thebrooks says:

    “The portrayal of women prophets speaking freely in the church assembly suggests both an ignorance of 1 Corinthians 14.34-35”

    How does that follow?

  2. P. W. Dunn says:

    Hey Brooks:
    The Acts of Paul appears to know and to respect certain Pauline epistles, especially 1 Corinthians. But the portrayal of women prophesying in the assembly would contradict this tendency to respect 1 Corinthians; early church Fathers, Origen and Tertullian, interpreted 1 Cor 14.34-35 as forbidding prophetic speech from women during church. Since the 1 Cor 14.34-35 is a suspected interpolation on both internal and external grounds, the easiest way to solve this dilemma is to say that the author of the Acts of Paul did not have 1 Cor 14.34-35 in his copy of 1 Cor.

  3. Brooks says:

    Or that they correctly interpreted 1 Cor 14.34-35 due to their allowing of women prophets. I’ve never understood Fee’s argument that section of chapter 14. Don Carson wrote an article on the topic for “Recovering biblical manhood and womanhood” that seemed to resolve most of the tensions quite easily.

  4. P. W. Dunn says:

    My contextual understanding of 1 Cor 14.34-35, is that it occurs in the relationship to prophesying during an assembly. Prophets must prophesy one by one, and not all at once. But then women must remain silent in church. Both Origen and Tertullian interpret it in this manner (see paper, p. 4 and n. 11). If you have the article by Carson, could you get me a copy? Otherwise, can you summarize for me what he says? Have you read the argument in Fee’s book Empowering Presence?

    Fee cut his teeth in textual criticism. He is considered one of the living doyens of textual criticism. Now with the death of Metzger, that leaves Fee and Eldon Epp of that older generation of text critics. Don Carson, to my knowledge, is not a textual critic. All that to say, that Fee’s presents no negligible opinion on the matter.

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