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In Quest of the Third Heaven: Paul & his Apocalyptic Imitators

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It is an irony of history that by late antiquity Paul had become the authority figure he never was during his lifetime. However, by the subapostolic and patristic periods Paul's apostolic authority was no longer considered quite so controversial. From 200 AD onwards Paul's letters were regularly cited alongside the Gospels and the Old Testament as 'Scripture'. It is therefore no surprise that the premier apocalyptic theologian of the New Testament would spawn several apocalyptic imitators. Two 'Apocalypses of Paul' have come down to us from antiquity, one gnostic, the other Christian. After discussing each work, the article asks to what extent the historical Paul would have agreed with these later works written in his name. The article will demonstrate how differing ecclesiastical traditions appropriated Paul for their own theological and social agendas instead of allowing the apostle to the Gentiles to speak to his first-century context


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