Monday, November 08, 2010

Triablogue Silliness Continues

It seems Mr. Hays is trying to save face (too late) by posting a bunch of "research" to allegedly support his "serious satire" about "Popessa Priscilla" and her husband Aquila (being the first bishops of Rome - supposedly upsetting Catholic claims of St. Peter being the first bishop of Rome.  Mr. Hays seems to think that if he uses lots of names (mostly, if not wholly, Protestant commentators) that we will be impressed.  Well, he did impress some who would be easy to impress, but to those looking critically at what he wrote (not his choir, in other words), his conclusions are laughable.  Let us look at those conclusions:
 1. The church of Rome wasn’t founded by Peter. Indeed, the church of Rome wasn’t founded by any apostle.
As I stated in my initial response to him - we don't claim St. Peter "founded" the Church at Rome - but he is the first Bishop of Rome.
2. The church of Rome was informally founded by Roman Christians.
There we agree!  And if we slip in the word "informally" then we could also use the word "formally" - and validly claim the "formal" formation of the Church of Rome was when the bishops, Sts. Peter and Paul, arrived there.  Then it went from a "mission" community to a "formal" church.
3. Aquila and Priscilla were among the founders (or cofounders) of the Roman church.
Again, "informally," we agree.
4. There was no single church of Rome in the 1C (first century). Rather, the 1C church of Rome was a loose association of independent house-churches. As Barnett summarizes the data in Rom 16:

There are at least three house church groups:

Verse 5: “the church in the house [of Prisca and Aquila]”
Verse 14: “the brothers with [Asyncritus et al]”
Verse 15: “the saints with [Philologus and Julia et al]”

It is possible, however, that a dozen other “clusters” are implied by individuals, couples or groups named by Paul. Beyond that there may have been synagogue-linked groups to which Paul’s main opponent’s belonged.

As many as six Jewish-led house-groups are implied. These Jewish names [Rom 16:3,6-7,10-11,13] confirm that some Jews reentered Rome after the death of Claudius in AD 54 when his decree of AD 49 expelling Jews from Rome would have lapsed.

P. Barnett, Romans (Christian Focus 2003), 366-67.
And again, this would appropriately describe a MISSION community, where several MISSION churches/chapels were established prior to officially establishing the Church hierarchy at Rome as was done in other cities.
5. Aquila and Priscilla probably hosted a church in Rome before the expulsion of Jews and Jewish Christians, then returned to Rome, after the Claudian edict had lapsed, to restore the church of Rome.
They left due to the edict and didn't return until after Claudius' death.  Then some historians have it that they left again for Asia on more MISSIONARY work, and were martyred there.
6. Priscilla was probably a Roman noblewoman who used her wealth and family connections to sponsor the nascent Christian movement. Priscilla and Aquila were Pauline missionaries and church-planters.
They were Jewish tentmakers, hardly a position of "nobility" in Rome!   Now, amongst Jews they may have had some stature and/or financial stability, and perhaps those resources assisted them in attaining a household in Rome large enough to host church meetings (or perhaps they met in a tent!), but to jump to "Roman noblewoman" seems quite the leap here.  I can't prove she wasn't of Roman nobility, so if Hays, et al, wishes to make that leap, sobeit.
7. Given his role as a Pauline missionary, Aquila is probably a Christian elder or “bishop” (in the NT sense of the term). Indeed, he may have been a Jewish elder before he became a Christian elder–since Christian eldership is a carryover from Jewish eldership.
All this "probably" and "may have been" is pure speculation - all we "know" is he was a Jewish tentmaker who did missionary work for St. Paul.  Why do we need to press beyond that... ...unless we have an agenda to promote?
Since they hosted Christian gatherings in their various homes, they were in charge of the proceedings, in their head-of-household capacity. In addition, Priscilla was a Roman aristocrat, who outranked the plebian class. And, of course, they would have instructed the faithful in Christian doctrine and ethics.

As such, we could designate Aquila as the first pope and Priscilla as the popessa. Likewise, since they headed “the church of Rome,” this made them vicars of the heavenly head (Christ).
I'm really OK with the speculation of the head of household hosts argument, but Mr. Hays goes a bit too far in describing Aquila as the "first pope" and Priscilla "as the popessa."  Mr. Hays has already stated and documented that there were SEVERAL "in-home" churches in Rome, Aquila and Priscilla were just one among many.  THEN to jump to "vicars of the heavenly head (Christ)" is taking it (again) WAY too far!  Jesus Christ Himself selected His vicar in St. Peter - ALONE - in John  21:15-17. 

Many Protestants (perhaps all who eisegete this passage) believe Jesus is simply "restoring" St. Peter after he had denied the Lord three times.  Consider, however, St. Peter was not outcast - he was there with the rest of the Apostles.  His answer to Jesus' questions was "Lord, you know I do (love you)."  So obviously there is no evidence of St. Peter being outcast or looked down upon or need for restoration.  No, Jesus was singling him out to be the lead Shepherd to "feed (His) sheep" after He ascended into Heaven. 
That usage is admittedly anachronistic, and I myself don’t subscribe to the papacy. Since, however, Catholic apologists never hesitate to retroject later unscriptural developments back into the 1C, I’m simply responding to them on their own grouds. If they reisist the application of papal terminology to Aquila and Priscilla, then they need to ditch the anachronism of a monarchical episcopate in 1C Rome.
So, Mr. Hays admits to building this straw man - and then he proceeds to knock it down.  Does he really think he's convincing anyone here (besides the choir)?
Of course, if Peter came to town, there’s a sense in which he could pull rank on Priscilla and Aquila. But that’s true of any apostle who happened to be there.
I realize the Protestant need to throw the "if" in there... they wish to deny that St. Peter ever even went to Rome in their fear of the papacy.  Like I mentioned earlier, WHEN Sts. Peter and Paul arrived at Rome they converted these "home churches" into the formal hierarchical churches of the rest of Christendom in providing them with the Bishop of Rome to oversee these formerly independent chapels.
BTW, mainstream Catholic scholars like Raymond Brown (Priest and Bishop) wouldn’t have any problem with what I’m saying. It’s only lay Catholic apologists, many of them converts to Rome, who resort to retrograde arguments for the papacy.
I hope the readers have noticed the bait and switch here which has reduced his argumentation to ad hominem (invalidity).   What difference to the substance of what these Catholics say is affected by whether or not they are laity and/or converts?   He seems to think that if one is a layperson or a convert that they have a lesser voice in apologetics.  What it boils down to is that he is trying to minimize what is levied against him through character attacks (ad hominem).

The fact that Fr. Brown held liberal, modernistic and revisionist ideas is not unknown to the Catholic faithful, even this short bio ( by a non-Catholic source admits he has his critics - especially in Catholic circles.  I am also wholly unaware of his ascension to the bishoprick!  When did this happen?   That being said, we can only speculate on what Fr. Brown MAY have said regarding Mr. Hays' comments - since he's been dead since August of 1998.


1 comment:

  1. Hays desperation to prove his thesis reminds me of a story about WC Fields. Fields was reading a Bible on his deathbed. A friend, knowing that this was totally out of charecter for Fields, asked "Bill, are you seeking consolation?" Fields replied " No' I'm looking for loopholes." I'm afraid Hays, like Fields< isn't going to find any loopholes!


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