Paul: A Pre- and Post-Test

Just for fun, I started the semester with some version of the following true/false “pre-test” in my courses on Paul’s letters and theology, one in the (Catholic) seminary and the other in the Ecumenical Institute of Theology. Although I do not give final exams in either course, after a semester of study, it could make for an interesting essay or take-home exam. Each question is meant to be a bit of a trick question, or at least to have a twist or two.

1. Paul was a Christian.

2. Paul was a Jew.

3. Paul was converted after falling off a horse on the road to Damascus.

4. Saul changed his name to Paul after his conversion.

5. Paul wrote Romans.

6. Paul wrote Ephesians.

7. Paul wrote Hebrews.

8. Catholics like Jesus, but Protestants like Paul.

9. Paul was a misogynist.

10. The center of Paul’s thought, and his abiding contribution to Christian theology, is the doctrine of justification by faith.

Each question provoked a few minutes of give and take that made the “obvious” answers look ┬ásimplistic and the questions appear–rightly–more complicated than they seem at first.

4 Responses to “Paul: A Pre- and Post-Test”

  1. Kurt says:

    OK, off the top of my head… (I’m no Bible scholar)

    1. False, the term “Christian” was a later pejorative term for believers in Antioch… did I get that right?

    2. True, Paul is a descendant of Abraham and a “Jew”… a “Jew” is one inwardly right?

    3. Qualify “conversion” and yeah, True

    4. Sort of true… that’s what he went by… his Roman name.

    5. True… not sure if he personally penned the letter. He probably dictated it?

    6. True, I guess there is some debate on this, but I’d say yeah.

    7. False, probably…

    8. False, both like both… haha

    9. False, but this a egalitarian talking :)

    10. False! Especially in the classic reformed characterization… that was an easy one ;)

    how did I do?

  2. Jeremy O says:

    1. F. But many Christians today would agree (anachronistically?) that Paul was a Christian. I would qualify my answer that Paul was a Christ-follower. You say tomeyto, I say tomahto. :)

    2. T. Philippians 3 pretty much reveals this.

    3. F. There is no mention of a horse. Why not “he fall off a wagon”? :) But yes, it is the conversion / commissioning story of Saul.

    4. T. – I’m with Kurt. It’s assumed that’s what he did. It is referenced in Acts 13.9.

    5. T. it’s his letter, but F.: Rom 16.22 – it is Tertius who wrote it (Paul’s dictation).

    6. Conservatives would say T., some moderates and liberals would say false or that they are on the fence. I’m on the fence still but leaning toward Paul.

    7. F.

    8. F. only to say that it would be both/and.

    9. F.

    10. F. The center of Paul’s thought, or more specifically, theology, is God the Father. Paul is a theocentrist.

    What are the results?

  3. MJG says:

    I’m not going to weigh in yet, Kurt and Jeremy, but both of you have picked up on a few of the “twists” involved. There’s a lot more to most of these!

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