Margaret Mitchell: Two Hypocrites founded Christianity (Peter and Paul)?


Professor Margaret M. Mitchell (Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago) gives a lecture entitled “Peter’s ‘Hypocrisy’ and Paul’s: Two ‘Hypocrites’ at the Foundation of Christianity”, delivered on September 12, 2011 at The University of Texas at Austin.

In an infamous passage in his Letter to the Galatians (2:11-14), Paul called out Peter as a ‘hypocrite.’ This passage, especially when read in light of Paul’s own appeal to himself as ‘all things to all people’ in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, was to cause deep trouble for later Christian interpreters, who sought to defend their movement against charges from outsiders that it had a cracked and unstable foundation in dual ‘hypocrites.’ This lecture will introduce this ‘pagan’ critique and the cultural force it had, and the various solutions to the inherited dilemma from their scriptures that were offered by patristic authors (Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Jerome and Augustine). In light of this context, turn to a sustained analysis of an untranslated homily by John Chrysostom, hom. in Gal 2:11 (In faciem ei restiti), which addresses not just the hypocrisy of Peter and Paul, but also the sticky problem of the hypocrisy of the Christian who reads this text approvingly as Paul’s “in your face” to Peter. As we shall see, Chrysostom does this by engaging in a convoluted pretense of his own.

The lecture is available in mp3 audio format.

2 thoughts on “Margaret Mitchell: Two Hypocrites founded Christianity (Peter and Paul)?

  1. Reblogged this on Chance Bonar and commented:
    This lecture, along with Dr. Mitchell’s related article, was extremely influential in my own understanding of Patristic “problem-solving” and the complex relationship between (as moderns see it) the two largest powers in mid-first century Christianity. Mitchell’s work led me to write a seminar paper on the characters of Peter and Paul, in Acts and Galatians respectively, and how the authors attempt to prove their apostle’s impartiality and role as messenger of God’s intentions: including the impartiality of God in acceptance of both Jewish Christians and gentile Christians.


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