II Corinthians 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: (33) And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

"..the basket-escape episode connection between II Corinthians and Acts. Both accounts have Saul/Paul escaping from Damascus in a basket through the city wall. Thus, the basket-escape story likely comes from a tradition grounded in historical fact—Paul did in fact make such a basket escape at some point in his early career.

There is, however, a major difference between the two versions. In Acts Paul’s enemies are the Jews of the city. In II Corinthians his enemy is the local representative of the king of the Nabataean Arabs. Acts’ depiction of the enemy must be rejected. It is too obviously a product of later resentment by Christians against the Jewish majority that had eventually rejected them, and it makes no sense in the time frame in which it occurred. The enemy depiction in II Corinthians merits credibility precisely because it has no such easy explanation. It comes out of nowhere. Why would anybody make it up?

There is no reason to think that the Nabataean king had any animosity to Saul/Paul because he was a Jew in general or because he was a Jew belonging to a particular sect. The effort to arrest Saul/Paul appears to have been directed against him as an individual, not as a member of a group. The Nabataean Arabs, pagans themselves but long familiar with the Jews, had no reason to persecute Jews in general or any Jewish sect in particular. Paul would not have been an Arab target because of his religious beliefs, even if we posit the very unlikely assumption that he had made some sort of nuisance of himself during some period of preaching in the Nabataean kingdom."

"..at the time that the temple priesthood in Jerusalem supposedly granted Saul the right to arrest Jews in Damascus, that city was either an autonomous city state or under the control of the Nabataean kingdom. In neither case is it reasonable to assume that any agent of the Jerusalem priesthood could simply enter the city and order its Jewish community to deliver up to him such Jews as he specified for transport in bondage to Jerusalem. The priests could not have conferred such authority. Nor could the Herodian rulers Herod Antipas and Philip. Nor could the Roman procurator of Judaea."

This information is from "Paul and Damascus" by R. E. Lay.


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