The Antioch Incident (Two Views) part 2

This is part 2 of a series of posts recreating the debate between Jerome and Augustine over the passage in Galatians 2:11-14. Think of it as the “cliff notes” to a series of letters written between them as a series of blog comments. I added some interaction with more recent debates to highlight how the issues we face today are not much different than those faced in the early centuries of Christianity. The comments are based on how I thought the theologians might respond to modern theological issues based on the point of view they expressed in their letters. You might want to start with part 1 and read Jerome’s blog post and the earlier comments.

Comment Section for the Antioch Incident

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Jerome, the high esteem that others hold you in is well deserved. Here in northern Africa we eagerly await your next set of translations of the Scriptures and ancient commentaries into the Latin. Thanks for updating everyone of your progress in your blog.I do hope you saw my comments regarding the use of the LXX that I left.

Regarding the events that took place in Antioch, you have appealed to the writings of those in the past and have asked if anyone holds to my opinion.The path you are taking us down is one well traveled. Like you Rob Bell, a popular writer, claims his views are orthodox appealing to the pool of diverse opinions that can be found among the ancient writers. He can even find many of the opinions he holds in Origen, yet that does not end the debate on “the fate of every person who ever lived”. Nor will it be the end to our debate.

I know that you hold Origen in high regard and where he holds to the truth we should accept him, but even you have had problems with some of his opinions on other matters. I only wish that you would apply your great learning and knowledge of this man and catalog his heresies for all to plainly see.

I, however, am not without support in the ancient writers. A hard working and well-read scholar like yourself is certainly familiar with the works of those great men who have labored for the gospel in ages past. Ambrose and Cyprian both share opinions that would agree with my own regarding the Antioch Incident.

As to the 7 names of men that share your view only 3 of them are credible as the rest have either left the church or had their writings and opinions censured.That leaves us with a score of 3-2 in your favor.

Not being as well read as you, I will be content to appeal to the Apostle Paul himself as my third supporter. Of course he is actually the only support that I really need because I place the Scriptures and the Apostle Paul above the opinions that are held by ancient writers no matter how wise and well educated they may be. I accept his testimony as true when he plainly said what Peter did was wrong. I do not accept that Paul presented as true that which he knew was false.


Augustine, when time permits I will provide a more capable defense of this view, so that you do not accuse me of resting my opinion solely on the views of others. I am diligently working on translating the Scriptures as you well know, and hope to complete the Latin Vulgate soon.

I must point out to you that you ignore the task that I gave all who disagree with the opinion I expressed. If you wish to refute me then the burden lies with you to show how Paul was correct in condemning Peter for actions that he both condoned and practiced.

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

When ever you present me with the gift of a response, I accept your words as sincere representing what you both think and affirm. I do not assume that you are deceiving me by saying things that you don’t actually mean.

Why would I not give Paul the same benefit of the doubt?

You are correct, we must examine the case by which Paul is accused of hypocrisy for condemning what he knew was right. But we must also examine whether Paul merely pretended to observe the law as you contend or consider the possibility that he actually performed Jewish rites without hypocrisy. For I cannot see how any case of hypocrisy is much better than the other. Are we really to choose between these options of 1) Paul condemned an action he knew to be right 2) Paul and Peter pretended to follow the Law and 3) Paul and Peter staged a rebuke. None of these seem worthy of these great men.

But my question still stands. Do the sacred books record falsehoods that the author presents as truth?

If this is the case we have no ground to stand on. How are we to seriously contend with a scholar like Peter Enns. He has adopted the view that Paul wrote falsely (even if Paul did not know it was a falsehood) when he wrote in Romans of the first Adam and the introduction of sin into this world?

Do you know how hard it would have been to deal with Pelagius and his notions of sin and the nature of man if these passages were not true. If he, as you do, could relegate as false any verse that demonstrated the folly of his ideas how would we be able to affirm anything as true. He could supply any meaning to a passage that suits his own opinions and call that the intended meaning. It would lead to chaos! I urge you to reconsider what you have written and write a rebuttal.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. (Eccles 1:9 NLT)

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