Weekend 457.0

Quotes from Paul by N.T. Wright:

“But the dark powers do not give up easily.”

“Ephesus was famous as the home of all kinds of magic, the dark and powerful arts that were always popular on the edge of mainstream paganism. When Acts describes converted magicians burning their secret books as evidence of the impact of Paul’s teaching, this makes sense precisely in Ephesus. But it would also make sense to imagine a backlash. And when the dark forces strike back, they do not play fair.”

“In one scene that must have shaken the world to its core, a substantial group of magicians made public confession of what they had been up to and brought their valuable magic books to be burned. The dark arts were being smoked out of hiding, almost literally. All those prayers Paul had prayed, invoking the name and the power of the crucified and risen Lord, were having their effect.”

“But in this case he had sensed that something else was going on. The forces ranged against him were not simply human. He had stirred up a hornets’ nest with his powerful ministry in Ephesus. Think of all those magic books going up in smoke. Just as Jesus warned his followers not to fear those who could merely kill the body, but rather to fear the dark power that could wreck a more terrible destruction, so Paul was learning that human authorities, though important in themselves, might sometimes be acting merely as a front for other powers that would attack through them.”

“I think that, like a plant in harsh winter, Paul in prison was forced to put his roots down even deeper than he had yet gone into the biblical tradition, and deeper again, still within that tradition, into the meaning of Jesus and his death. The roots slowly found moisture. From the depth of that dark soil, way below previous consciousness, he drew hope and new possibilities. The fruit of that labor remains to this day near the heart of Christian belief.”

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