Paul and the Gnostics

Schmithals W.


The estimate of the relations between parties in primitive Christianity still stands today under the impact of the studies of F.C. Baur.

The essays presented here, in continuation of my work on Die Gnosis in Korinth (FRLANT 66 [1969, 3rd ed.]; cited in the following as Vol. 1; English translation as Gnosticism in Corinth, trans. John E. Steely, Abingdon Press, 1971), run counter to the dominant trend in modern study and go back to F. C. Baur to the extent that they, like Baur, are able to perceive only one decisive contrast in primitive Christianity. On the other hand, they represent a radical break with Baur’s thesis, which likewise is still influential today, that this was the contrast between Pauline and Judaistic Christianity.

The first four essays concern themselves with Paul’s opponents in various communities that had been established by him. The fifth essay makes use in a comprehensive way of the insights gained therein as well as in Die Gnosis in Korinth for introductory questions relating to the Corpus Paulinum.

Insofar as the essays have already appeared earlier in print, they have been revised, in parts significantly. The present study finds its continuation in my work on Paulus und Jakobus (FRLANT 85 [1963]; English translation as Paul and James, trans. Dorothea M. Barton, SBT 46 [1965]; cited in the following as Vol. 3).

My thanks must be expressed above all to the Theological Faculty of the Philipps-Universitat of Marburg, who accepted the present essays together with the above-mentioned work on Paul and James as Habilitationsschrift.