Saturday, April 06, 2013

Paul the Artist?

The following info is from a single person on a random forum, so I would not put a lot of stock into it, but it raises an interesting concept.

According to Yancy Smith (and yes, it seems like it might be that Yancy Smith, the scholar):

1) "Further, Paul’s day job is like connected to graphic arts. See the BDAG article on tent-maker and you will find that the word is never used of tentmaking in Hellenistic Greek, only for scene or wall painting. There is ample evidence of Jews working in theater arts in the first century."

2) "In 1st century domestic spaces of nearly every socio-economic level, living areas were decorated with wall paintings. One can confirm this abundantly by looking at the wall art in Pompley, Herculaneaum, and the terrace houses in Ephesus. Floors were also decorated in mosaics and Christian worship spaces continued the use of converted pagan artistic themes in the early worship spaces that survive from Dura Europos and the many mosaics of Christian spaces in Jordan." ... "If you look at BDAG carefully you will [sic] that Paul’s use of this verb is closely associated with the artistic connection of this word. The theme of suffering was ubiquitous on the wall art and, indeed the theme of vicarious suffering was quite common. Such portraiture as Iphigenia (of Euripides fame) would have provided ample points of contact with the gospel story of Jesus who redeemed believers at the cost of his own blood."

3) "The verb γράφειν is quite often used to mean 'paint' (Lucian, Essays in Portraiture, 4, 8, 17, 18, 19, 23; Essays in Portraiture Defended 23 etc, etc)."

A relative of the word γράφειν (in #3 above) is what's found in Gal 3:1. Now notice how the HCSB renders this word in that verse (see underlined):

You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified?
(Originally posted at:

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