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Titus: Paul's identification with Epimenides.

For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.  - Titus 1:10-16

This passage, in Titus, is one of two places in the New Testament where Paul quotes Cretica (Κρητικά), by the Greek poet Epimenides (the other is in Acts 17:28).




The fact that Paul quotes a work by a Pagan author on two separate occasions is interesting, it means that this work must have made quite an impression on him.  Being the bibliophile I am, I would like to know what he loved so much about that work. 

Looking at the individual citations, you would hardly know that they were taken from the same source. The passage in Acts (In him we live, move, and have our being) is cited to make a connection between the Jewish view of God and the highest views of God in Greco Roman culture. The section here (Cretins are liars, evil beasts, etc. . . ) is cited, not to indict the people of Crete, but specifically to use Epimenides' indictment against Paul's own opponents - the Judaizers.

The he uses Epimenides differently in each passage, means that we have no way of telling, by looking at the New Testament alone, what it is that Paul likes about Cretica. To figure that out, we need to look at  Cretica for ourselves

Here we see that both quotes in the New Testament come from the same passage.
They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.
— Epimenides, Cretica
 I would argue that this passage appeals to Paul, because it speaks so directly to what he experiences in his own life. Evil people killed Jesus, they put him in a tomb. But Paul knows this is not the ultimate truth. He knows that Jesus alive. He has been raised from the dead. Now the mission of Paul's life is to proclaim that "good news" against the prevailing lie that Jesus is dead. So Paul identifies with the speaker in this passage from Cretica on a very personal level. And this personal connection he feels, is the reason these quotations come to mind when he is preaching and writing. He and Epimenides are both defenders of the truth about God.

These kind of things are obvious to us, when we think about ourselves. We have books or movies we feel close too, and that connection causes quotes and examples to spring to mind at appropriate (and inappropriate) moments. But I enjoy getting a glimpse into what someone else is thinking. Especially somebody like Paul, where the cultural and chronological distance seems, at times, to be an insurmountable barrier. At moments like these you feel like you really understand someone.

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