One of the contributors to this blog, our most prolific author, Stanley Porter, has another book published called When Paul Met Jesus: How an Idea Got Lost in History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016). Porter revives a theory set forth earlier by William Ramsay, Johannes Weiss, and James Hope Moulton, that Paul had seen Jesus in the flesh. This idea has since curiously dissolved in modern NT scholarship, probably because of Baur, Wrede, and Bultmann, who had pitted Jesus against Paul. But building on their idea that Paul had met Jesus during his earthly ministry, Porter argues that certain passages in the NT point to the fact that Paul did in fact meet Jesus before his crucifixion and resurrection, and consequently the Damascus road Christophany was not the first time Paul met Jesus. The key passages he looks at, besides Acts 9, are 1 Corinthians 9:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:16.
I, like many others, had not even thought about asking this question before—a point Porter identifies in this book. But having gone through it and thinking through many of the implications of this idea, I am convinced that it is more likely that Paul did meet Jesus during his earthly ministry than that he did not, and certain statements of Paul make much more sense if we consider that he knew Jesus and talked with him during his earthly ministry. Along these lines, Porter mentions the possibility, argued by A.M. Pope and T.A. Moxon, that perhaps Paul was the rich, young ruler in the Synoptic Gospels, although he admittedly does not think it is essential to the overall theory. I’m not sure if I am convinced that Paul was the rich, young ruler, but that’s a small point. The overall argument is compelling, and I think, even for those who are skeptical, the book should generate some very interesting conversations.
— David I. Yoon