Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Obscene Speech in Paul II

i. If Hultin is right why would the author of Ephesians [i.e. Paul!] have forbidden something that was universally have been understood positively?
ii. Does this not create a contradiction between Colossians and Ephesians - with one commending witty speech and one condemning it?

Hultin argues that Ephesians has a concept of ‘sacred speech’ similar to the OT. So, like the camp or the temple in the OT were holy and so, for example, the latrine had to be kept outside the camp. In a similar way, Hultin argues, believers are themselves a sacred space and so their speech had to be above reproach. At one point he says: ‘What better than the mouth […] to inculcate a sense of omni-presence of God and the connection to the holy body of Christ’.

In other words, according to Hultin, Colossians commends charming, witty speech to win the outsider while Ephesians commends totally different, holy speech that will convict outsiders of their sin. We might say that Col commends evangelism while Eph commends the testimony of a holy life.

Obviously there is a tension here between the two letters - which is not a problem for Hultin who holds them to be written by different people. Do we then have to believe that Paul contradicts himself? I don’t think so!


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