The Author of Acts says Paul was a great Orator. Paul in his epistles suggests he was not.

Albrecht Dürer, detail of St. Paul from The Four Holy Men (Mark and Paul) (1526)

                                                                        St. Paul
                                                                by Albrecht Duerer

Copied from:  Rejection of Pascal’s Wager

Paul is everywhere presented in Acts as an outstanding orator. He defended himself with eloquence in front of Tertullus (Acts 24:1-21). Through his mastery of public speaking, Paul was able to keep a tumultuous Jewish crowd silent for some time (Acts 21:40-22:21). As Haenchen remarked:

Whether he speaks before Jews or Gentiles, governors or philosophers (Acts 17:22-31), he is never at a loss for the right word. He is a born orator, imposing himself with the eloquence of Demosthenes. [8]

Yet the picture we get from Paul’s own letters is the exact opposite! Paul himself recounted his opponents’ critique of him:

II Corinthians 10:10

 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”

That Paul did not provide a direct counterargument against this means that the criticism must have been right on target. Thus by the time Luke was written, Christian tradition (or Luke himself) had morphed Paul the great missionary to the Gentiles into Paul the great orator! [9]


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