For a school assignment, our class has been working through Paul: His Life and Teaching by John McRay. I have deeply enjoyed McRay’s thorough research and clear presentation. Early on, there was a moment of acadimic self-awareness that many, many Bible students would do well to consider.
Admittedly, Luke’s inclusion [in the book of Acts] of all Paul’s visits, the place and circumstances of the composition of his letters, and the itinerary involved in the hardships he enumerates in 2 Corinthians 11 would have made our task of reconstructing Paul’s life much easier. But perhaps this ultimately amounts to little more than scholastic inconvenience. Our task is not to write Acts and the Pauline letters but to read and respond to their theological intent. We do this not by lamenting what is omitted but by utilizing what is included. Arguments from silence are at best precarious and at worse irrelevant. Both Luke and Paul included what they considered to be essential in painting their portraits of these events. We have no choice but to view the portraits as they were painted.