The End of the Year of St. Paul

Today is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul and also the conclusion of the year of St. Paul in the Catholic Church. Although I am a Methodist, because I teach in a Catholic seminary and because my work on Paul is fairly widely read in Catholic academic and ecclesial circles, I gave about 30 or 40 talks and lectures on Paul between September and May in conjunction with the year of St. Paul. It was announced as an ecumenical celebration, and it was.

Two odds and ends related to today:

1. The pope has announced that Paul’s bones have probably been found. Highly unlikely in my view.

2. Peter and Paul were of course not always the best of friends (at least from Paul’s perspective!). But celebrating them together is important: in many ways, they are the Catholic apostle and the Protestant apostle. (Ecumenical) hope springs eternal.

2 Responses to “The End of the Year of St. Paul”

  1. MERF says:

    I’m curious..why do you say “highly unlikely in my view”??

  2. MJG says:

    MERF,

    Thanks for the question.

    We have very few sources that tell us how, where, and when Paul died, and their reliability is at least questionable. Since making historical judgments is usually about probability based on sources, the chances of knowing that Paul was actually buried in or near a specific location are not as good as we would like. But even if early Christian tradition is correct, going from finding bones that date from the first or second century (according to tests) to the conclusion that these are a specific man’s bones—Paul’s—is speculative at best, and certainly not anywhere near probable, much less conclusive, according to standards of historical investigation.

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