Never in any of his epistles does St. Paul recount any episodes from the Life of our Lord, or (with the exception of His words of institution at the Last Supper) quote any of His words. That the hearers of his epistles already know of our Lord’s life and teachings from their regular hearing of readings from the Gospels he always simply takes for granted. 10
In the earliest years, the bulk of Scripture readings at Mass were from the Old Testament. The pattern followed was no doubt like that set by the risen Jesus himself with the disciples travelling to Emmaus: ‘beginning with Moses and the prophets, He explained to them all those scriptures which were about Himself.’ Later too, ex-pagan Christians found themselves, from hearing Scripture readings from the Old Testament, learning a whole new past, a whole new history: that of the old Israel. From 50 the Life and teachings of our Lord were being taught in all churches by means of the Gospels. But what about the proper teachings about our Lord, and about the more practical aspects of Church life and morals? If the inherited mass of Jewish practices was no longer binding in all the new churches being founded how were problems to be solved? How was unity and correct teaching to be assured? 11
The formal Church letter, the epistle, was the answer. St. Paul’s fiery Galatians and its arguments must have made a deep impression at the Council and upon St. Peter. After his triumph in Jerusalem St. Paul now acted as one authorised not only to write and propagate epistles, but also to command that they be read and obeyed. Thus at the end of his epistle of 51 we glimpse the beginning of formal readings of epistles at Mass: ‘I order you by the Lord that this epistle be read out to all the holy brethren.’ In 52 St. Paul made it clear he meant his epistles to be taken seriously: ‘keep the traditions you have learnt, whether by word of mouth, or by our epistle…if anyone does not obey our word by epistle, note him and avoid associating with him.’ 12
As the capital of the Roman province of Achaia (Greece), Corinth was the seat of its Proconsul. Soon after Gallio began his year’s term as the Proconsul officially on 1 July 52, the Jews brought St. Paul before him to accuse him as a troublemaker. They were hoping to exploit the newly arrived governor’s newness to his duties. Gallio however wanted to have nothing to do with what he regarded as a mere internal religious squabble of the Jews.* 13
In the spring of 53, with Prisca and Aquila, St. Paul left Corinth. Via Ephesus and Caesarea he made his way to Jerusalem. During his stopover at Ephesus he decided that this city should be the base for his next mission. Here then he left Prisca and Aquila for preparations. After visiting Jerusalem he went on to spend the winter of 53/54 at Antioch, probably with plenty of opportunities to confer with St. Peter who at this time was still based there. In 54 he travelled from Antioch overland via the ‘Galatian region’ (i.e. his churches in southern Galatia) and Phrygia to Ephesus where he arrived at the end of the year. Here in Ephesus, the commercial capital of the Roman province of Asia, not only was he able to preach and teach as usual, he was also
Published on Nov 29, 2011
This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...