Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Saint Paul Bribed the Early Church

The Jerusalem collection is a well-known feature of the Apostle Paul's story. According to Acts and some of Paul's letters, Jerusalem was suffering a severe food shortage (Acts calls it a famine). Paul took it upon himself to gather a collection from among the Gentile churches he founded and to present it to the Jerusalem church. It was Paul's way of showing the Jewish believers in Jesus that the Gentile believers were concerned for their fellow Christians in Judea. It was also Paul's way of demonstrating that he understood that Jerusalem was still the center of Christianity, the home base of the movement.

So was it a bribe? Was Paul attempting to use the generosity of the Gentile churches as a way to get approval from the Jerusalem authorities for his Gentile mission? Was this what Paul means in Galatians 2:9-10 when he recounts that James and John endorsed his mission, with the proviso that he "remember the poor"? Was it a polite bribe? That is how some New Testament scholars have described it. And now it is the basis of a new film about the Apostle Paul.

Robert Orlando is the writer and director of the soon to be released A Polite Bribe. This movie/documentary looks at the story of Paul and the collection that he gathered for the Jerusalem church. It features a wide selection of New Testament scholars from across the theological spectrum.

Below is a trailer for the film. The promotional web site also contains a number of short video clips featuring some of the scholars interviewed in the film. The trailer says it is being released in "select theaters" on December 29th. Somehow I don't think Ashland will be one of those "select theaters." I will post more as information becomes available.


  1. It's nice to see that Paul is being discussed, but when Daniel Boyarin drops the F-bomb in his video clip (the 5th of the individual clips) to describe Paul, you know things are being over-sensationalized to drive ratings and make $$$. Again.

  2. Interesting, I had not watched Boyarin's clip. That's too bad. But I suppose your right, $$$ is what makes the world go round.

  3. Hope to see you and your students this Thursday night Oct 11th at 7 pm.




    Let us now if you would like to cover