Tuesday, November 24, 2009


St. Paul and Odysseus

Edward Kennard Rand, Founders of the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928; rpt. New York: Dover Press, 1957), pp. 35-36:
In St. Paul's temperament and his methods of winning his audiences, I see something Greek. I wonder, when we consider his voyages and his mind, that nobody has given him the title of a Christian Odysseus, πολύτροπος, a man of subtle twists and turns, all things to all men, with of course a difference. St. Paul became all things to all men in the hope that he might save some. Odysseus became all things to all men in the hope that he might save Odysseus. But St. Paul is just as agile, just as infallibly alive to the requirements of the moment. When he talks to the Athenians he is Greek. He is just as fittingly Jewish in his defence before King Agrippa, whom he knew to be "expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews." I doubt not that, if St. Paul were alive to-day and preached to a Boston audience, he would, in the fashion of our most liberal divines, choose a text from the Swami Vivikanda or Rabindranath Tagore, prefacing the quotation with the words "as certain also of your own prophets have said."

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