Paul in 2 Corinthians informs readers that his escape from Damascus was an escape from the governor under King Aretas.
Luke in Acts informs readers that Paul’s escape from Damascus was an escape from Jews hiding in ambush at the city gates.
Pervo exposes the nonsense of Luke’s narrative and suggests why he chose to re-write 2 Corinthians the way he did.
Think and ask how plausible it is for a murder plot to arise in the synagogues the moment Paul was converted to and began preaching his new faith — but before thinking and asking that, do recall that according to Acts the Jerusalem authorities could be relied on to write a letter ordering Paul’s detention and extradition. (Paul himself was in Damascus with just such a letter.)
Think and ask how plausible it is for the Jews to win the connivance of the Syrian state authorities to prepare an ambush for Paul outside the guarded gates of Damascus. Why not simply do him in while he was asleep or in the streets?
Think and ask how plausible it would be for Paul, who by some unexplained manner discovers this ambush plot, decides to make an urgent risky escape instead of just waiting them out while making more and more converts as he did so.
Then think and ask again:
Who would have organized “the Jews” to set the ambush outside the gates of the city — and in particular, organize this while the one they wanted to kill or capture continued unmolested inside the city to preach at will?
If there was a “Jewish” plot against Paul why would he have been so keen to escape Damascus and flee to Jerusalem, the very centre of Jewish authority, of all places?
Add to this the tendency of the author of Acts to regularly blame “the Jews” for all of Paul’s problems;
and add the coincidence of “the relatively rare words” [lowered in a basket through an opening in the wall] joining the Acts and 2 Corinthians accounts, along with the unlikeliness of either a pro- or an anti- Pauline oral tradition preserving these words across the divide;
and ask if the simplest explanation is that the author of Acts has re-written or “corrected” 2 Corinthians.
This is Pervo’s micro discussion of this question. He embeds it in the broader discussion of what the author of Acts normally does in comparison with the sorts of stories we find in Paul’s letters. But have omitted that side of it for this quickie post. Check the book.
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