Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Andronicus, Peter, and “direct evidence” for church leadership in the earliest church in Rome

Garrison (#364):

You [JB] said:
“So ‘direct evidence’ in 100 AD or 150 AD seems a lot less important than what the New Testament can describe for us. Especially given that, during those years, there IS that dearth of direct evidence that you had mentioned. (A mention of Peter in 1 Clement, two mentions in Ignatius, another one about 60 years later – that does not seem all that convincing to me).”

It really doesn’t matter. Produce direct evidence that Peter was not, in fact, in Rome by showing that he was elsewhere. Otherwise, this is an argument from silence. As you yourself note, we have mentions of Peter being in Rome, but none to contradict them. Telling, no?

Of course not. I’ve noticed a pattern in your response. I don’t reproduce hundreds of pages of Protestant arguments here, and so when I come here and report their conclusions, you dismiss them as “an argument from silence”.

I’ve already noted, I wasn’t arguing that Peter wasn’t in Rome. I’m arguing that in Andronicus, we already have an apostolic presence in Rome [“outstanding among the apostles”], who was “in Christ before” Paul, who was the leader of a house church. That is real history. We are talking a period from, say, 30 to 49 AD, and perhaps beyond, someone “founding and establishing” a church at Rome.

To the contrary, Bryan said “During [Paul’s] time in Rome (four to five years) he undoubtedly taught those who were or would become the bishops/elders of the Church at Rome. And all of that is fully compatible with what St. Irenaeus says.”

Now, what Bryan says is speculative on two counts. It’s speculative as to what, precisely Paul was teaching them during that time. Bryan wants to assume it was Roman Catholic concepts (or such things in seed form) of episcopacy, hierarchy and priesthood. But that’s a mere assumption. “Not inconsistent” to be sure, but speculative.

It was also a matter of speculation that he was teaching them at that time. Robert Jewett’s commentary on Romans, for example, argues at length that Paul, upon being freed (at the end of Acts), then traveled further to Spain, before returning to Rome. And we also have Clement’s testimony that Paul traveled to Spain. It seems he was more interested in spreading the Gospel where it had not been heard before, than staying in Rome and “building on someone else’s foundation”. Look at what Paul says:

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written:

“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”

It seems far more likely, based on Paul’s own words, that (a) he doesn’t stay in Rome, and (b) in Romans 16 he is listing the actual “foundation” upon which he doesn’t want to build, in the form of 23 other individuals in Romans 16, none of whom is Peter, and among them, Andronicus, “outstanding among the apostles”. Isn’t it “speculative” to suggest that that’s Peter’s “foundation”, when Paul’s own words paint a different picture?

1 comment:

  1. Besides, not everyone that Paul taught that did become "bishops/elders" remained faithful... note Acts 20:29-30. The fact that Paul taught them was no guarantee.