Yes, you read the title correctly. You probably had some of the same thoughts that I did when I read the title of Dan Wallace’s new post at Parchment and Pen. As a professor at Dallas Seminary and the author of the textbook I’m currently using, it is wonderful to see such personality and a sense of humor.
Pauline scatology has to do with Paul’s use of salty language, the kind of language that turns the air blue, four-letter words. We know that James and John were not averse to using this sort of language. Jesus nicknamed them the ‘sons of thunder.’ They were volatile, hotheaded, reactionary, and they could cuss like a sailor. After all, they were fishermen! So was Peter. His language was strongest when he denied the Lord.
But Paul was different from these other apostles. He used strong language too, but most often when he was affirming the Lord. Although Paul could instruct the churches in Asia Minor, “there should not be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting” among Christians (Eph 5.4), he either thought that what he did on occasion did not fall under such proscriptions or that there were times in which it was acceptable to violate his own instructions.
So, what did Paul say that would qualify as colorful speech? I’ll give three or four illustrations. In Galatians 1.8, he says that if anyone preaches a false gospel, “let him be anathema!” This is often translated, “Let him go to hell!” But just to make sure that his readers didn’t miss the point, Paul says it again in v. 9. He even includes angels in his curse. Paul obviously was ticked at the Galatians for being duped with a gospel that did not find its origin in Christ.
Read on for a fresh look into the language of the New Testament.