Yes, I studied with Elaine Pagels at Columbia. I am not willing to reveal my actual name so you will have to take my word or disbelief. Frankly, I don't care. As I said, unlike a Guest, I am not very creative. I always cram a lot of details and piece items together. My credentials are that I am educated. Columbia, magna cum laude with Distinction in my major, and NYU Law School, with honors and a full merit schoiarship.
All I do is repeat what I learned in class. I doubt Elaine would remember me but I could refresh her memory and honestly believe she would respond. What I wrote is generally accepted and not controversial. Besides the courses and my own study over decades which covers most of the major scholars, I bring the most important part of me - my humanity and nondeferential attitude.
The details from Pagels and others count for about 5-10%. Critical thinking skills that I acquired are far more important to me. Even then, however, I'd still say a human reading the Bible verse by verse is the most important. I don't have resolutions or grand schemes. With access to an academic database and my own library, I can always pick up facts. What I do posess is the ability to ask hard questions. The same questions that others answer. Ethiopians are not born Jews. God fearers is a major category, not my own invention. What strikes most people reading this passage, including several others on this thread, is Philips' running fast enough to catch up to a moving chariot drawn by horses. The bigger question is how likely is it that an high ranking Ehtiopian just happens to be there in the desert and the authority is reading Isaiah's propehcy concerning the Messiah.
This just happens as the church is expanding to Gentiles and carrying the new gospel - the good news-that Jesus is the Messiah. I've beaten enormous odds in my life. Jung's synchronicity. This over the top story telling. I'm not saying it never happened. The Ethiopian eunuch is hankering for Judaeo/Christian worship but will not undergo circumcision. Voila- his prayers are answered.
I truly appreciated the observation that someone posted that Acts does not report that the Ehtiopian eunuch gave up all his titles and wealth to knock on doors. Cornelius is another example. They are not St. Francis of Assisi figures. The Eunuch believes in a resurrection of the body where his body will be restored to wholeness. Furthermore, the Acts passage shows that Christianity is not just popular among a bunch of Galilean fishermen. Worldly, sophisticated, weatlhy, and powerful humans also embrace Christ as Lord. This vignette is contrasted with what happened to Stephen when he preached the same message to Jews in the Temple.
Yet despite the multitude of coincidences, I believe that a eunuch could be converted to Christianity.
I won't apologize for studying under Pagels, reading James Robinson, Marcus Borg, N.T. Wright. It gives me some background. I was fortunate, stood up to horrific circumstances to attend college, and worked very hard. It is only some background, though. Perhaps this is important for 10% of Christianity. Imitating Jesus is the gold standard and college does not help with that much. I grope. Certainty about God - never. Hope and grace - a work in progress.
I do not mean to be harsh to A Guest. It is just so difficult to read her posts. I want to ask questions that I would ask of anyone, including myself. Being nasty is not my intent. So many people seem to jump to her defense. Call me a voice in the wilderness raising concerns. If someone claims Holy Spirit, what conversation can there ever be? The church is a community not an aggregation of isolated voices.