Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
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05-12-2015, 05:12 PM (This post was last modified: 05-12-2015 08:28 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
This is interesting....from

http://www.sol.com.au/kor/7_02.htm

THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF MR PAUL


At the end of 1992 a book was published titled, "The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered" by Eisenman and Wise (Element books). This book offers fifty excerpts from long suppressed segments of these historic documents, placed in caves almost 2000 years ago and not discovered until 1947 and 1952.

In 1952 a team of scholars was appointed to piece together and decipher this wealth of material. But, instead of disseminating it to the world, these men withheld it, publishing only skeleton portions.

In autumn of 1991 this monopoly was broken by the Huntington's Library in California. The library announced that it would release photographs of the scrolls, which it had secured from authorities at the time of the 1967 six day war. They had argued that at such an unstable time the scrolls could be in jeopardy of destruction and that photograph copies should be held in America for safe-keeping.

The series of scholars, Catholics and Jewish, who previously had held exclusive control over the scrolls, long maintained that there was nothing of interest in the unreleased materials. They said that no light would be shed on the early days of Christianity. They were wrong.

One portion, numbered 40266, is titled by Eisenman and Wise, "The Foundation of Righteousness (The End of the Damascus Document: An excommunication text)."

It appears to be the excommunication of Paul from the Christian Community. The document was prepared for a convocation of the followers of Christ at the time of the Pentecost, "to curse those who depart to the right (or to the left) of the Torah," that is, the law of Moses.

The scroll fragments praise God. "You are all, everything is in your hand and (You are) the maker of everything, who established the peoples according to their families and their national languages."

They praise God and speak of the maryadas or "boundary markers laid down for us." Those who over-step these boundaries are those whose "soul has rejected the Foundations of Righteousness."

Paul was such a man. Elsewhere he is described as "the Lying adversary," and the "Lying Spouter" who "rejects the law in the midst of the whole congregation", "the Tongue" and the "Scoffer/Comedian" who "poured over Israel the waters of lying."

The authors of the book believe that "the priest commanding the Many" who delivers this excommunication judgement was James, the apostle often referred to as James the Just, the bishop of Jerusalem and the brother of Jesus.

In twisted logic involving blessing and cursing, Paul defends himself in his letters to the Galatians (3:11-13). Paul argues that he is redeemed in his transgressions against the teachings of Jesus, because Christ himself became cursed by the law . Paul is confusing the law of Moses with the law of the Romans and his own law.

In the Acts of the Apostles Paul writes of hurrying off to Jerusalem to be on time for an annual Pentecostal meeting as described in the scrolls. Eisenman and Wise state that "the Acts' picture of the Pentecost can be seen as the mirror reversal of the Pentecost being pictured here." Rather than taking his contribution to Jerusalem Paul was actually about to face excommunication from the community he sought to control.

The authors conclude saying, "The implications are quite startling and far-reaching. One thing is sure: one has in these texts a better exposition of what was really going on in 'the wilderness' in these times so pivotal for Western civilisation, than in any other parallel accounts."


The following two excerpts from an earlier book, "The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception" also raise doubts as to the legitimacy of Paul's role within the early church:

by Michael Bajgent and Richard Leigh (Corgi Books, London, 1991)

"... Paul is in effect the first Christian heretic, and his teachings, which become the foundation of later Christianity, are a flagrant deviation from the 'Original' or 'pure' form extolled by the leadership. Whether James, the 'Lord's brother,' was literally Jesus' blood kin or not (and everything suggests he was), it is clear that he knew Jesus...personally. So did most of the other members of the community or 'early Church,' in Jerusalem, including of course, Peter. When they spoke, they did so with first hand authority. Paul had never had such personal aquaintance with the figure he'd begun to regard as his 'Saviour.' He had only his quasi-mystical experience in the desert and the sound of a disembodied voice. For him to arrogate authority to himself on this basis is, to say the least, presumptuous. It also leads him to distort Jesus' teachings beyond recognition, to formulate, in fact, his own highly individual and idiosyncratic theology, and then to legitimise it by spuriously ascribing it to Jesus."

"As things transpired, however, the mainstream of the new movement gradually coalesced, during the next three centuries, around Paul and his teachings. Thus, to the undoubted posthumous horror of James and his associates, an entirely new religion was indeed born, a religion that came to have less and less to do with its supposed founder."


PS. Good article, but I think the author gets it wrong when he writes

"It appears to be the excommunication of Paul from the Christian Community."

The community was not Christian, it was Jewish.
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07-12-2015, 12:43 PM
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
(04-12-2015 02:06 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(03-12-2015 09:28 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  You claim I ducked 50 questions yet I've asked you one question over a dozen times on this debate and prior to this debate without one answer from you or from BB or from anyone at TTA, even one time:

Why did Paul, whom you claim to be a charlatan and Roman conspirator, get beaten many times by Romans and spend most of his ministry days in Roman prisons around the Empire?

I will answer your question (again)

Firstly, though, you must back up your claims.

1. Provide evidence Paul was "beaten many times by Romans"

2. Provide evidence Paul "spend most of his ministry days in Roman prisons around the Empire?"

If you really have to you may quote the book of Acts, yet we all know it is an unreliable source.

First, you are STILL yet to answer the question.

Second, you are aware that documentary evidence concerning Paul's imprisonment and beatings is found directly in the NT and NOT just in Acts.

Third, you cannot have it both ways--you go on and on in epexegetical orgasms regarding the atrocities and lies of Paul by constantly quoting the NT and then ANY time I point to a fact that defeats you in the NT, you say "unreliable source".

Be consistent.

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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07-12-2015, 01:15 PM (This post was last modified: 07-12-2015 02:53 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
(07-12-2015 12:43 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(04-12-2015 02:06 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I will answer your question (again)

Firstly, though, you must back up your claims.

1. Provide evidence Paul was "beaten many times by Romans"

2. Provide evidence Paul "spend most of his ministry days in Roman prisons around the Empire?"

If you really have to you may quote the book of Acts, yet we all know it is an unreliable source.

First, you are STILL yet to answer the question.

Second, you are aware that documentary evidence concerning Paul's imprisonment and beatings is found directly in the NT and NOT just in Acts.

Third, you cannot have it both ways--you go on and on in epexegetical orgasms regarding the atrocities and lies of Paul by constantly quoting the NT and then ANY time I point to a fact that defeats you in the NT, you say "unreliable source".

Be consistent.


"you are aware that documentary evidence concerning Paul's imprisonment and beatings is found directly in the NT and NOT just in Acts."

I'll try again. Please show us the evidence that Paul was "beaten many times by Romans" and that Paul "spend most of his ministry days in Roman prisons around the Empire"

You have made these statements, and claim you have documentary evidence. Show it.

Do not avoid answering by
- asking another question
- making an ad hominem about me
- telling us how many people agree with you
- not bothering to reply
- changing the wording of what you wrote
- or by claiming the question is off topic
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07-12-2015, 02:46 PM (This post was last modified: 07-12-2015 07:55 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
(07-12-2015 12:43 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(04-12-2015 02:06 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I will answer your question (again)

Firstly, though, you must back up your claims.

1. Provide evidence Paul was "beaten many times by Romans"

2. Provide evidence Paul "spend most of his ministry days in Roman prisons around the Empire?"

If you really have to you may quote the book of Acts, yet we all know it is an unreliable source.

First, you are STILL yet to answer the question.

Second, you are aware that documentary evidence concerning Paul's imprisonment and beatings is found directly in the NT and NOT just in Acts.

Third, you cannot have it both ways--you go on and on in epexegetical orgasms regarding the atrocities and lies of Paul by constantly quoting the NT and then ANY time I point to a fact that defeats you in the NT, you say "unreliable source".

Be consistent.

"Third, you cannot have it both ways--you go on and on in epexegetical orgasms regarding the atrocities and lies of Paul by constantly quoting the NT and then ANY time I point to a fact that defeats you in the NT, you say "unreliable source"."

You keep saying this, usually when you are trying to avoid discussing facts. It is non sensical. Let me explain to you, again, why.

The babble is a book written by many different people, many times edited and interpolated. A commentator like me has every right to point out the inconsistencies, the fantastical theology and the sometimes atrocious morality and ethics contained therein. I also have every right to state when I think the bible is not accurately describing history. It is as simple as that.

You appear to have invented an argument that I can't criticise the bible and at the same time point out that it is unreliable as history. That argument makes no sense. It is a non sequitur. I can, and I will, do both.
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07-12-2015, 09:05 PM
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
(07-12-2015 02:46 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(07-12-2015 12:43 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  First, you are STILL yet to answer the question.

Second, you are aware that documentary evidence concerning Paul's imprisonment and beatings is found directly in the NT and NOT just in Acts.

Third, you cannot have it both ways--you go on and on in epexegetical orgasms regarding the atrocities and lies of Paul by constantly quoting the NT and then ANY time I point to a fact that defeats you in the NT, you say "unreliable source".

Be consistent.

"Third, you cannot have it both ways--you go on and on in epexegetical orgasms regarding the atrocities and lies of Paul by constantly quoting the NT and then ANY time I point to a fact that defeats you in the NT, you say "unreliable source"."

You keep saying this, usually when you are trying to avoid discussing facts. It is non sensical. Let me explain to you, again, why.

The babble is a book written by many different people, many times edited and interpolated. A commentator like me has every right to point out the inconsistencies, the fantastical theology and the sometimes atrocious morality and ethics contained therein. I also have every right to state when I think the bible is not accurately describing history. It is as simple as that.

You appear to have invented an argument that I can't criticise the bible and at the same time point out that it is unreliable as history. That argument makes no sense. It is a non sequitur. I can, and I will, do both.

"you go on and on in epexegetical orgasms regarding the atrocities and lies of Paul by constantly quoting the NT"

You are attempting to disparage my criticism of Paul, yet you have no specific rebuttals to any of my arguments.
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12-12-2015, 07:33 AM (This post was last modified: 12-12-2015 03:47 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
I have just come across a fascinating chapter on Paul written in the 1950's.

It is beautifully real..I take my hat off to the author, who would have had to work his conclusions out without using the internet.

One thing it does is put the socio political environment in which Paul wrote in context.
He also convincingly demonstrates that Paul's Christ was not the Jeebus of the gospels.

I put it here for anyone interested in an intellectual discussion of the origin of Christianity.


Archibald Robertson, The Origins of Christianity, International Publishers, 1954, rev. ed. 1962.
CHAPTER VI
PAUL

1. Prelude to Paul

We have seen that the Jewish synagogues of the "dispersion" both influenced and were influenced by the pagan world in which they had grown up. The main effect of this interaction was the diffusion among the slaves, freedmen and poorer freemen of the Mediterranean cities of the hope of a catastrophic overthrow of the Roman Empire, to be followed by the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth, such as we find in the Sibylline Oracles, and such as led to the expulsion of the Jews from Italy as a menace to the Roman peace under the emperors Tiberius and Claudius.

But in the complex society of the ancient world Jewish propaganda had other reactions of a different kind. Middle-class Jews could not be expected to welcome the gospel of revolution. They and such Gentiles as they could influence, however much they deplored the cruelty and corruption of slave civilization and however much they themselves were exploited by its organ, the Roman State, had still something to lose and nothing to gain by its violent overthrow and sought a solution short of catastrophe. As Graeco-Roman society, like all class societies, carried within it the seeds of its own destruction, no such solution was in fact possible, and these aspirations therefore took a mystical and escapist form.

The result was a movement which eventually came to be known as Gnosticism from the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge". Though the name "Gnostic" is not used until the second century A.D., the movement is pre-Christian. The main characteristics of the Gnostics are firstly, their claim to a knowledge of God attainable only by "spiritual" persons and not by the majority of mankind, and secondly, their ascription of the evil in the world to the nature of matter itself and their rejection, therefore, of any possibility of general betterment on this side of the grave.

Though not usually reckoned among the Gnostics, Philo is the most distinguished representative of this tendency and the oldest whose works are extant. He was a wealthy Jew of Alexandria, steeped in Greek culture, and flourished in the first half of the first century. In A.D. 40, when the emperor Caligula nearly provoked a revolt by insisting that the Jews should pay him divine honours, Philo was sent by the Jews of Alexandria at the head of a deputation to plead with the imperial lunatic, and has left us a graphic account of the interview. Most of his works are devoted to an attempt to restate Judaism in terms calculated to appeal to Greek philosophers.

For this purpose Philo treats the Pentateuch as a metaphysical allegory intelligible only to the "spiritual" minority, and all but ignores the revolutionary literature of the prophets. The God of the Jews is identified with the absolute of the metaphysicians -- with pure "being" of which no quality can be predicated. This naturally involves Philo in difficulties; for if no quality can be predicated of pure being, to call it "God" is no more justifiable than to call it "matter". Nevertheless, at the cost of a contradiction, the knowledge of God has to be vindicated.

Philo gets out of the difficulty by distinguishing between the ineffable God and the logos ("discourse", "reason", "thought") by which he generates the visible universe. This doctrine had a long history. As far back as the fifth century B.C. Heraclitus of Ephesus, dissatisfied with the rather naive materialism of earlier Ionian philosophers, had postulated a reason (logos) or law of motion and change. Heraclitus is still a materialist: his law of change is the law of matter itself. It is tempting to call him the first dialectical materialist; but that would imply too much. He was an ancient, not a modern, and had not the scientific equipment to verify his theory; but it remains a brilliant anticipation. With Plato in the fourth century B.C., writing for a ruling class long divorced from all productive activity, philosophy becomes idealistic. Mind or reason, the supreme principle in the universe, has nothing in common with matter: its work is to impose its own pattern or form on a matter which is formless. The Stoics of the third century B.C. -- men of the people, as Plato was not -- reverted to the materialism of Heraclitus, but in an equivocal form which lent itself easily to religious interpretation. They make no bones about calling logos (reason, the law of nature) "God" or "Zeus". By it everything develops; by it man becomes a living soul; by it he enters into social relations which transcend the decadent city-states of antiquity and extend to all mankind, Greek and barbarian, male and female, bond and free. This idea of world-citizenship was the chief bequest of the Stoics to posterity.

It was in terms of Stoicism, strongly diluted with Plato's idealism, that Jewish intellectuals like Philo tried to allegorize the Pentateuch. The creative word by which in Genesis God calls into being day and night, sea and land, sun, moon and stars, living things and man, is a symbol of the divine reason ( logos ) which imposes form on formless matter. The breath of life breathed by God into man is his immortal soul, imprisoned for a time in a mortal body by mortifying which he may rise again to God. The lives of the Hebrew patriarchs are moral allegories; and so on.

Philo's metaphysics are shot with a religious emotion hard to fit into any rational philosophy. The logos is more than a mere attribute of God. Philo personifies it as the "firstborn Son of God", a "second God", the "mediator" between God and the world, the dispenser of heavenly food to worthy souls. Holy men such as Moses are the logos incarnate. The rock from which Moses draws water, and the manna which the Israelites eat in the desert, are both symbols of the logos. It is unlikely that these ideas originated with Philo. They show that among some Jewish intellectuals of the "dispersion" the metaphysical logos was already taking on the characteristics of a mystery-god.

Since for Philo the Pentateuch is a metaphysical parable, and parables are not meant to be taken literally, the logical course would have been to cease to take it literally as history or law. Philo did not go that length, but he tells us that some contemporaries, whom he does not name, did. These were the people later known as Gnostics. Like Philo, they regarded matter as evil, and man as temporarily imprisoned in it and, with the help of the logos, working out his redemption. But unlike Philo, they rejected Judaism root and branch, regarding its myth and ritual as, at best, allegories intelligible to a "spiritual" elite, and its literal application as gross materialism. To Philo and the Gnostics alike the revolutionary propaganda of the kingdom of God on earth was alien and obnoxious.

Gnosticism in this form was neither suitable nor intended for mass propaganda. But in the second quarter of the first century events were driving the Gnostics to descend from their ivory tower and speak a language which the people could understand. After the troubles of Pilate's procuratorship came in 40 the mad order of Caligula that his statue should be placed in the temple at Jerusalem. According to Josephus this led to a mass strike of Jewish peasants; according to Tacitus, to an armed revolt. As it is unlikely that a peasant strike in the circumstances would remain passive, Tacitus is probably right. Only the assassination of Caligula early in 41 put an end to the affair.

Claudius, who was raised to power by the soldiers and people of Rome in the teeth of the senate, was one of the more liberal emperors. He reformed certain of the worst abuses of Roman slavery, and broadened the basis of imperialism by opening citizenship and the senate to many provincials and even freedmen. He reverted to indirect rule in Palestine and restored the kingdom of Herod the Great to his grandson, Herod Agrippa. But the day was past when such manoeuvres could for long conciliate the Jewish masses. Agrippa, Romanized prince though he was, had to woo the people by demagogy which his grandfather would have scorned. According to a story in the Mishnah, while reading Deuteronomy at one of the festivals Agrippa burst into tears at the text: "Thou mayest not put a foreigner over thee, who is not thy brother." The people cried out: "Fear not, Agrippa! Thou art our brother." By this kind of comedy he conciliated the Pharisees and isolated the now more dangerous Nazoraean Messianists. He even played at nationalism by strengthening the defences of Jerusalem and calling a conference of Asiatic vassal-princes at Tiberias. On his death in 44 Claudius clamped down on the nationalist movement and put Palestine again under Roman procurators.

A series of famines contributed to deepen the crisis. In 42 there was a great famine in Egypt; in 46 or 47 another in Judaea; and in 51 food shortage led to demonstrations against the emperor in Rome itself. The result was mounting revolutionary excitement in every centre of organized Jewry. Soon after the death of Agrippa a fanatic named Theudas, exploiting the Joshua legend, undertook to lead a multitude dry-shod over the Jordan. They were dispersed by cavalry and Theudas taken and beheaded. A little later two sons of Judas of Galilee, the revolutionary leader of A.D. 6, were arrested and crucified. Later, probably in 49, Claudius took the step already mentioned of expelling the Jews from Rome because they "constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus".1 If Messianic ferment simmered simultaneously in Palestine and Rome, there can hardly have been a ghetto in the Mediterranean which was unaffected.

2. Paul -- The Documents

These years of deepening crisis were contemporary with the early missionary activities of Paul and his associates. Our only authorities for the career of Paul are the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles. These have to be sifted with considerable care.

The Acts are a continuation of the Third Gospel and, like it, were written at the beginning of the second century, when many Gospels were already in circulation.2 In the Acts, as in the Gospels, miracle runs riot. And the miracles exhibit a pattern. Peter and Paul perform similar miracles. Each cures a man lame from birth. Each is miraculously freed from prison. Each raises a dead person to life. Each cures a multitude of sick people and demoniacs without contact -- Peter by his shadow, Paul by handkerchiefs and aprons taken from his person. Further, in the Acts there is not a particle of difference between the teaching of Peter and that of Paul. Both proclaim the same historical Jesus as the Christ, risen from the dead and saviour of the world.

But in certain passages of the Acts written in the first person (known as the "we" passages) and apparently based on a travel diary, we seem to be dealing with an eyewitness and are on firmer ground. Even here we have to be careful to distinguish between actual "we" passages and matter in close juxtaposition to them. Thus Paul's miraculous escape from prison at Philippi immediately follows a "we" passage. The raising of Eutychus, the escape from a snake-bite at Malta and other miracles at Malta are embedded in "we" matter. Evidently even the travel diary has been "written up" in the Acts as we have them. Nevertheless the "we" passages may be accepted in the main as historical. Much of them consists of a dry itinerary which there can have been no motive for inventing. The "we" passages contain very little indication of the content of Paul's teaching.

Our other source is the Pauline Epistles. None of these in the exact form in which we have them is likely to be wholly the work of Paul. Between Paul's day and the first collection of Epistles (made by the Gnostic Marcion about 140) there was an interval of eighty years during which they were extensively rehandled. Not only were many parts put into rhythmical form to enable simple people to memorize them, but pieces of different origin and authorship were combined under a common title. Nevertheless the Pauline Epistles (except the late concoctions to Timothy and Titus) are in the main independent of the Acts and can be used to check their statements. They differ surprisingly from the Acts in many points of history and doctrine. This will appear when we deal with the documents in their historical context.3

3. Paul of Tarsus -- Acts v. Galatians

When we have sorted out what is demonstrably early from what is demonstrably late in the Pauline Epistles, and combined the early matter in the Epistles with the "we" passages in the Acts and so much of the rest as can be fitted in, the following facts emerge. In the middle years of the first century -- years of economic crisis in various parts of the Roman Empire, and of growing political strain between, on the one hand, the imperial authorities and, on the other, the Jewish masses and the many influenced by Jewish propaganda -- certain Jewish and semi-Jewish missionaries are found propagating a new mystery-cult in Syria, Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece. The best known of these missionaries is Paul, but he was not the first in the field. He himself speaks of Andronicus and Junias (or Junia) as "of note among the apostles" and "in Christ before me."4 The travel diarist of the Acts speaks of Philip and his four "prophesying" daughters, who entertained Paul at Caesarea, and of Mnason of Cyprus, "an early disciple", with whom Paul lodged at Jerusalem just before his arrest.5 The Acts and Epistles also mention Barnabas of Cyprus and Apollos of Alexandria, missionaries independent of Paul, sometimes his allies and sometimes his antagonists or rivals. But these others are names. We have nothing, so far as we know, from their pens, and can judge the movement only by Paul and his anonymous revisers and editors.

Paul was a tentmaker, we are told, of Tarsus in Cilicia -- no slave or wage-labourer, but a master-craftsman free to come and go, and a Roman citizen born. Tentmaking was a native Cilician industry and important to the Roman army. Possibly Paul's father had been granted Roman citizenship in recognition of his services as an army contractor. Such a man as Paul, while he might desire and work for a spiritual regeneration of society, had no interest in revolution. He became alarmed at the propaganda for the kingdom of God on earth conducted by his fellow-Jews of the "dispersion." In the Acts and in three Epistles we read that Paul began by persecuting the Messianic propagandists. But he cannot as a young man have been the arch-persecutor depicted in Acts viii-ix; nor can the scene of his persecuting activity have been Jerusalem. Had that been so, his face would not have been "unknown to the churches of Judaea" a few years later.6 It is remarkable that the Epistles never once refer to Stephen, whom in the Acts Saul (or Paul) takes the lead in stoning. Paul's early anti-Messianist activity is doubtless a fact. But it has been embroidered and dramatized in the Acts and falsely located at Jerusalem.

The Acts and Epistles agree in laying the scene of Paul's conversion at Damascus. But the Epistles nowhere mention the miraculous vision related three times over (with variations) in the Acts. The account in Galatians suggests an inward illumination, not necessarily sudden. "It was the good pleasure of God to reveal his Son in me."7 We shall see later that Paul uses the term "the Son of God", as Philo did, to denote the logos or divine spirit which redeems men and women from matter and mortality and forms them into moral and spiritual beings capable of immortality.

Paul came to the conclusion that he should not combat popular Messianism by the arm of the law. For he found among the Messianists whom he persecuted a spirit of solidarity and comradeship of which the world had need and which, to his thinking, was divine. He could persecute them no longer. But he must at all costs save them, and the masses whom they were permeating, from false leaders and from the head-on clash with Rome which he, as a Roman citizen, knew could end only in disaster. He would preach, as others were already preaching, a spiritualized Messianism to the masses, who might otherwise be swept into dangerous and hopeless insurrection.

So Paul went to the masses and spoke their language. He preached a mystery-religion in which the Christ-Jesus of revolutionary propaganda was transformed into a divine spirit by whom mortal men might put on immortality. He removed the kingdom of God from this world to the next.

This was to court trouble with the revolutionary Messianists. We shall see that Paul had trouble enough.

There are difficulties in regarding the Epistle to the Galatians as Paul's. The account which it gives of his early missionary activity is, as it stands, almost unintelligible, and couched in so self-important a tone that it can hardly be part of a genuine letter written (as Galatians professes to be written) to rally wavering converts. It is probably by a Pauline partisan defending Paul's memory after his death against those who attacked him as a false apostle and a false Jew.8 But, apart from some rehandling which need not concern us here, it is at least a first-century document, and it discredits the accounts of Paul's early activities in the Acts. In Galatians God reveals his Son not to Paul, but in Paul, and the "Christ" so revealed is no man who ever lived, but a divine power in suffering believers -- "crucified" and yet alive. The Epistle says:

"I have been crucified with Christ;
And it is no longer I that live,
But Christ lives in me."9

In Galatians Paul (or rather his impersonator) insists vehemently on his complete independence of the Palestinian Christians. He tells his readers that on his conversion he held no communication with them.

"When it was the good pleasure of God,
Who separated me even from my mother's womb,
And called me by his grace,
To reveal his Son in me,
That I might preach him among the Gentiles,
Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood;
Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me:
But I went away into Arabia,
And again I returned to Damascus."10

Contrast the account in the Acts, in which Paul on his conversion at once joins in Christian activity at Damascus. The Paul of Galatians and the Paul of the Acts are two different men.

The Acts and the Epistles agree that Paul had to escape from Damascus. In 2 Corinthians xi, 33, the occasion is a warrant for his arrest issued by the governor under the Arab king Aretas. This is important for the chronology of Paul's career. We know from coins that Damascus was in Roman possession as late as 34. But no coins of Caligula or Claudius have been found there, and it was probably ceded to Aretas by Caligula early in his reign. Paul's flight must therefore have been between 37 and 40, when Aretas died -- the earlier date being the more probable. This puts Paul's conversion a little earlier, say between 34 and 37.

After three years, according to Galatians, Paul paid a fortnight's visit to Jerusalem, during which he saw Cephas (Peter) and James, but no other apostle, and remained unknown to the church. Here as elsewhere, the Epistle stresses Paul's independence of the Palestinian Christians. Contrast the story in the Acts, where Paul is introduced to the apostles, preaches and has to make another hurried escape. Only one account can be true; and Galatians is earlier than the Acts. For fourteen years, according to Galatians, Paul was preaching in Syria and Cilicia and did not visit Jerusalem. This contradicts Acts xi, 29-30, which says that Barnabas and Saul (Paul) were deputed by the church of Antioch to take famine relief to Judaea in 44, the year in which Herod Agrippa died. We shall see that the author of the Acts antedated to that year a later relief mission mentioned in the Epistles, on which he is curiously silent. The Epistles also make no reference to the mission of Paul and Barnabas to Cyprus (where they convert the proconsul!) and to southern Asia Minor related in Acts xiii-xiv. Probably this is a romance.

At the end of the fourteen years, we are told in Galatians -- that is about 50 -- Paul and Barnabas visited Jerusalem to lay before the "pillars" of the church there, Cephas (Peter), James and John, the gospel which he preached among the Gentiles. The three "imparted nothing" to him and gave him a free hand on the single condition that the Gentile churches "remembered the poor" of Jerusalem.11 Paul (or the writer of the Epistle) complains that the "pillars" have broken this compact and tried to compel Gentile converts to observe the Jewish ritual law. In his anger he calls them "hypocrites" and twice invokes an anathema on anyone who preaches to his converts a gospel other than his.

On the traditional view that Paul was converted to the Christianity already preached by Peter and the other Palestinian apostles, Galatians is unintelligible. We are left wondering why on his conversion he did not at once contact them and learn what they could tell him. Why this insistence that he owes them nothing; Why these angry anathemas? A former persecutor lecturing his new comrades on their imperfections is unconvincing. The story is intelligible only if Pauline and Palestinian Christianity represented originally two separate and opposed tendencies, which in the end had to fuse because each was impotent without the other. We shall find confirmatory evidence of this as we proceed. Paul found the Palestinian apostles in his way. His gospel was not their gospel, nor his Christ their Christ. He kept away from them while he could. Then he sought an understanding with them. Failing in that, he cursed them! But their gospels had to be posthumously reconciled if Christianity was to live.

The author of the Acts sees the scandalous incompatibility of Galatians with the account of a primitive united Church which he wishes to propagate. He therefore substitutes a version in which Paul acts in perfect harmony with the older apostles.
Dissension arises among the rank and file (not the leaders) on the application of the Jewish law to Gentile converts, especially in the matter of circumcision. Paul, Barnabas and others are deputed by the church of Antioch to confer with the "apostles and elders" at Jerusalem. After a conference, a circular letter is sent to the Gentile churches releasing them from all obligations except chastity, kosher diet and abstinence from meat sacrificed to idols.12 The ruling is accepted; and the matter never arises again. Needless to say, no such ruling is known to the writers of the Epistles, or if they know it, they do not recognize it. The writ of Jerusalem did not run in the Pauline churches.

Acts xvi brings Paul and his friends Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy to Europe, and the travel diarist into their company for the first time. At Philippi they preach in a synagogue and convert and baptize the prosperous Lydia and her household.13 The story of an exorcism which follows has probably been embellished. At any rate after xvi, 17, the diarist temporarily drops out of the story, and miracles recommence. The Acts and the Epistles agree in making Paul proceed from Philippi to Thessalonica, Athens and Corinth. If the Acts may be believed, he arrived at Corinth not later than 50-51, for he had been there eighteen months when Gallio, proconsul of Achaia in 51-52,14 dismissed the case brought against him by the local Jews.

4. Earlier Epistles

However much or however little of the Epistles we regard as genuine, one fact leaps to the eye. Paul knew nothing of the career and teaching of Jesus the Nazoraean, or if he did know anything, he chose to ignore it. Even where the Epistles refer to contacts between Paul and the Palestinian apostles, any debt on his part in matters of fact or doctrine is denied.

The two Epistles to the Thessalonians purport to be addressed by Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonica soon after preaching in that city in 50-51. I Thessalonians is basically genuine. Jesus Christ, the Son of God "raised from the dead, who delivers us from the wrath to come," will in the near future, in the lifetime of the writers of the letter, descend from heaven and transport his people to a better world beyond the clouds.15 Till that day comes, they are to be chaste, sober, industrious and law-abiding. The prediction is unlikely to have been forged after Paul, Silvanus and Timothy were dead. But the Epistle has been interpolated, ii, 1-13, sounds a note of self-praise which we shall meet elsewhere in the Epistles and which should put us on our guard. The violent outburst against the Jews in 14-16 was inserted after the ruin of the Jewish people, at a time when Pauline Christians were able and eager to say to the Jews, "I told you so!"16

2 Thessalonians is certainly spurious. Its vocabulary is peculiar; it deals with a theme (the reign of Antichrist which is to precede the "coming of the Lord") mentioned nowhere else in the Pauline Epistles; and it seems to be written expressly to discredit the statement in I Thessalonians that "the day of the Lord" will come "as a thief in the night".17 But it is before the year 70, and may date from the troubled year 69, when rumours of the return of Nero were about. The temple is still standing; and the forger can accredit his work by copying Paul's handwriting.18 So soon did imitators get busy on the work of Paul!

5. I Corinthians
I Corinthians provides good practice in unravelling the genuine Paul from his interpolators. Its genuine parts were written not very long after Paul's visit to Corinth in 51-52, and therefore not very long after I Thessalonians. It purports to be addressed by Paul and "Sosthenes the brother . . . to the church of God which is at Corinth, . . . with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place".19 From this it might be supposed to be a circular letter to all Pauline churches. But it contains much matter which can have been meant only for one church. This at once suggests that the Epistle is a patchwork in which a genuine letter (or more than one letter) of Paul and Sosthenes has been worked up into a homily adapted for general reading.

At the opening of the Epistle Paul refers to his converts as "enriched in Christ Jesus, in all logos and all gnosis" -- translated in our versions "in all utterance and all knowledge". Logos, as we have seen, is the term used by the Stoics and by Philo to denote the reason or law by which everything develops, and by which man from a mere animal becomes a social and moral being. Gnosis is the knowledge attainable by those inspired by the logos. We have seen that Philo calls the logos the "firstborn Son of God", the "image of God" and the "mediator" between God and the world, and even calls holy men logoi -- incarnations of the logos. Paul may not have read Philo; but these ideas were in the air. The "Christ" preached by Paul, though in name identical with the Messiah of popular Judaism, is in the passage quoted identified with logos and gnosis.

The Epistle is full of abrupt transitions. An attack on sectarianism (i, 10-17) is followed by a poetical rhapsody on the Pauline "mystery". At the opening of this (i, 18) we meet the striking phrase, "the logos of the cross", leading to a passage which has been put into rhythm to be memorized by the illiterate paupers and slaves who swarmed in the great commercial and administrative centre of Roman Corinth, but which nevertheless represents Paul's line.

"We preach Christ crucified,
To Jews a stumbling-block, and to Gentiles foolishness;
But to them that are called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men;
And the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For behold your calling, brothers --
Not many wise after the flesh,
Not many mighty, Not many noble!
But God chose the foolish things of the world
That he might put to shame the wise;
And God chose the weak things of the world
That he might put to shame the strong;
And the base things of the world, and the despised
Did God choose, and the things that are not,
That he might bring to nought the things that are:
That no flesh should glory before God."20

How revolutionary it sounds! But the revolution which Paul preaches is wholly spiritual and other-worldly.

"Howbeit we speak wisdom among the initiates:
Yet a wisdom not of this age,
Nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nought:
But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery --
The wisdom that has been hidden,
Which God foreordained before the ages to our glory:
Which none of the rulers of this age knows: For had they known it,
They would not have crucified the Lord of glory."21

Most of us read the Pauline Epistles in the light of the Gospels and assume that this refers to the crucifixion of Jesus the Nazoraean by Pilate. But is it likely that Paul applied the terms "power of God" and "wisdom of God" to a Jew crucified some twenty years before, to whose personal followers he admitted no debt whatever? It is significant that the Pauline Epistles nowhere call their Jesus a Nazoraean and nowhere (except in the forged Epistles to Timothy) mention Pilate. "The rulers of this age" is a Gnostic term for the demons who rule the material world and make human life wretched. Elsewhere, in a passage not by Paul, but in the Pauline tradition, the "world-rulers of this darkness" are said not to be of "flesh and blood".22 Their chief, Satan, is "prince of the power of the air"23 and "god of this age".24 Originally demons were simply gods of the enemy, as in the ancient Persian mythology and later in Judaism, and any patriotic or revolutionary struggle could be called a war against demons. But Paul does not mean that. For him the whole material world is evil and demon-ridden, and man is to be saved not by carnal warfare, but by divine agency -- by the logos, the "power of God and the wisdom of God", incarnate in Pauline believers, against whom demons do their worst in vain.

The attack on sectarianism is resumed, and leads to a rhapsodical passage on the merits and sufferings of Paul and his fellow-missionaries (iii-iv) pitched on so high a note that we wonder whether Paul really wrote it.25 A sudden transition (so sudden that it is hard to believe that the same hand is at work) leads to a section (v-vii) in which Pauline theory is translated into practice. Sentence of expulsion is passed on a church member guilty of incest. The material world being evil, Pauline converts are to reduce their dependence on it to a minimum. They cannot "go out of the world",26 and they cannot all be celibate -- though Paul wishes they could. But at least they can lead chaste, sober, ascetic lives and expel from their society any who do not. They are not to go to law before pagan courts. They are to abide in their station in life and not to try to alter it.

These middle chapters must be based on a real letter, though their strongly rhythmical diction shows that they have been rehandled and perhaps interpolated.

"Was any man called being circumcised?
Let him not become uncircumcised.
Has any been called in uncircumcision?
Let him not be circumcised.
Circumcision is nothing,
And uncircumcision is nothing;
But the keeping of the commandments of God.
In the calling wherein each was called,
In that let him abide.
A slave wast thou called? Care not for it . . .27
For the slave, called in the Lord, is the Lord's freedman:
Likewise the freeman, that is called, is Christ's slave . . .
Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed.
Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife.
But if thou marry, thou hast not sinned;
And if a virgin marry, she has not sinned.
Yet such shall have tribulation in the flesh:
And I would spare you.
But this I say, brothers,
The time is shortened henceforth,
That those that have wives may be as though they had none;
And those that weep, as though they wept not;
And those that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not;
And those that buy, as though they possessed not;
And those that use the world, as not abusing it:
For the fashion of this world passes away."28

The material world being evil and doomed, no part of it is more evil than another part. Hence for Paul the dietary taboos of Judaism are superstition. To the spiritually enlightened a pagan idol is no better or worse than any other bit of wood or stone, and since man must eat, meat sacrificed to idols is no better or worse than any other food. But all do not know that. Rather than offend the scruples of the weak, the spiritually enlightened will go without meat.

In the middle of this discussion comes an abruptly introduced and high-pitched panegyric on Paul's forbearance in not charging an honorarium for his apostolic services (ix). Surely Paul did not write that himself! Another interpolator, dissatisfied with Paul's treatment of the meat question, inserts a stern passage more in conformity with majority opinion in the early churches (x, 1-22). The natural conclusion of the liberal chapter viii does not come until x, 23-33. This is alone enough to suggest that the intervening matter is interpolated. The fact that in these chapters no reference is made to the ruling in Acts xv is an eloquent comment on the reliability of that chapter.

In I Corinthians xi-xiv we get glimpses of the day-to-day life of Pauline churches. These chapters are not entirely by Paul. For example, xi, 2-16, requires women "praying or prophesying" (i.e., preaching) at Christian meetings to wear veils. Evidently then they were allowed to preach. But xiv, 34-35, forbids them to speak at all. These passages cannot both be Paul's, xi, 2-16, is plainly the earlier. We have independent evidence that women were free to preach in the primitive churches; for in Acts xxi, 9, the travel diarist meets four daughters of "Philip the evangelist" who "prophesy". We may be sure that when Christians met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, Priscilla did not keep her mouth shut! The prohibition in I Corinthians xiv dates from a time when the original "liberty of prophesying" (with other democratic features of early church organization) was obnoxious to church leaders and marked down for destruction.

xi, 17-34, deals with the primitive communion or Lord's Supper. We are so used to the medieval and modern Mass, in which each communicant swallows a tiny wafer and sips a little wine,29 that we discover with some surprise that the original supper was a genuine common meal to which church members contributed in kind according to their means. Such meals were regular features of the guilds and burial clubs which were the only form of association open to the poorer classes in the Graeco-Roman world. If we eliminate demonstrable interpolations from I Corinthians xi, the real nature of the Lord's Supper becomes clear. Paul censures disorderly scrambles for food and drink:

"But in giving you this charge, I praise you not,
That you come together not for the better, but for the worse . . .
When you assemble yourselves together,
It is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper:
For in your eating each snatches his own supper;
And one is hungry, and another is drunk . . .
For this cause many among you are weak and sickly,
And not a few sleep . . .
Wherefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat,
Wait for one another."30

These verses bear the stamp of authenticity. A second-century forger would not so have aspersed the primitive church. The fact of the common meal is confirmed from non-Pauline sources. The Essenes, as we have seen, pooled their property and therefore had common meals. So, according to tradition, did the Nazoraeans, who were probably an offshoot of the Essenes. The Pauline churches did not pool their property, but held a weekly common meal for the benefit of their poorer members. The younger Pliny as governor of Bithynia (111-113) reported to Trajan that the Christians met "on a stated day before daybreak" to sing a hymn "to Christ as to a god", and later reassembled for a common meal.31 In the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, a work of Jewish origin adapted to Christian use in Syria early in the second century, and with no trace of Pauline influence, the consumption of wine and bread (in that order) is part and parcel of a meal at which all eat and drink their fill. Before and after the meal a thanksgiving or grace (eucharistia) is offered, together with a prayer for the coming of the kingdom of God.32 The meeting ends with the Aramaic slogan: Maranatha -- "Lord, come!" In Roman catacombs of the second century people are depicted reclining at tables provided with bread, wine and fish. As late as 197 Tertullian describes a common meal where, after prayer, "so much is eaten as satisfies hunger, and so much is drunk as meets the need of the modest".33 He knows of no other communion. All the evidence goes to show that in the early churches, Pauline or not, the Lord's Supper was nothing else than this comradely feast or agape.

But from the second century onward church leaders tried to suppress the communal meal. The original writer of I Corinthians xi had no such intention. He only wanted to correct uncomradely behaviour. But a later writer, at a time when the Gospel story was taking shape, interpolated verses with the set purpose of suppressing all except a ritual partaking of bread and wine.34 The interpolation is discredited on several grounds. The text makes better sense without it. The censure of disorder and drunkenness at the common meal leads naturally to the mention of sickness and the inculcation of better manners. Verses 30 and 33, therefore, should follow close on 21. The injunction to eat at home and the digression on the Gospel story of the Last Supper break an otherwise coherent context. The fact that here, and only here, the Epistles refer to something in the life of Jesus other than the crucifixion and resurrection is enough to awaken suspicion. According to the present text Paul claims to "receive" his account of the Last Supper "from the Lord". That he should appeal to a personal revelation when he could have appealed to eyewitnesses is most unlikely. But that an interpolator, when all eyewitnesses (if there were any) were dead, should invent a revelation of Paul to accredit his own account is likely enough.

The attempt to suppress the common meal was less successful than the attempt to suppress women preachers. In spite of the disciplinarians it was retained until the time of Tertullian, and in parts of Christendom for centuries later.

I Corinthians xii and xiv deal with the organization of Christian meetings. That these chapters are based on very early material is proved by the simplicity of the organization described. There is no trace of a professional clergy. Bishops and deacons are not mentioned. Instead there are "spiritual gifts" which any church member, man or woman, may possess. Some, like Paul himself, may be travelling missionaries or "apostles" -- a title by no means confined to the twelve of later Gospel tradition;35 some may be preachers or "prophets"; some may be teachers; some may be endowed, according to the belief of the time, with abnormal gifts of faith-healing, "speaking with tongues" or the like. Ecstatic and inarticulate utterance is a common accompaniment of religious excitement among backward and illiterate people, such as most of the Corinthian church evidently were. Paul, who has no illusions on this subject, tries tactfully to discourage "speaking with tongues" in favour of articulate preaching. "Tongues," he says, are all very well; but God only knows what they mean. If a stranger comes to the meeting, he will mistake such behaviour for lunacy, whereas preaching may convert him. Paul does not forbid "speaking with tongues" -- that would probably have been ineffective -- but he will have "all things done decently and in order".

It is noteworthy that in these chapters the word "Christ" is synonymous with the whole body of believers. This is akin to the usage in other mystery-cults, where the initiates were identified with the god of the cult.

"For as the body is one,
And has many members,
And all the members of the body,
Being many, are one body,
So also is Christ . . .
You are the body of Christ,
And severally his members."36
This is all of a piece with ii, where Christ is the "power of God and the wisdom of God" inspiring members of the church. It also enables us to understand the language used in x, 16-17, about the common meal.
"The cup of blessing which we bless,
Is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break,
Is it not a communion of the body of Christ?37
Seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body:
For we all partake of the one bread."

This does not mean that Pauline Christians believed that at their meetings they ate the body and drank the blood of a crucified man. They believed that by eating and drinking together they became part of the "body of Christ". Collectively they were that body. Egyptian and Greek peasants, living closer to nature, had believed that in bread and wine they ate the body and drank the blood of Osiris and Dionysus. Pauline converts were not peasants, but uprooted and unhappy people in the slums of Thessalonica or Corinth. Their god, therefore, was no corn-king or tree-spirit, but a projection of their need of comradeship and solidarity -- "Christ Jesus", who welded them from social outcasts into "one body". Such a Christ had nothing to do with any human Jesus crucified by an imperial procurator. This solidarity, continually expressed in symbolic action and mythical language familiar to the masses, was the strength of both Pauline and Jewish Christianity.

Between xii and xiv stands the great poetical eulogy of agape -- inadequately rendered in our versions "charity" or "love". In the modern world "charity" means giving to the "deserving poor", and "love" either sexual attraction or family affection. The early Christian agape would be better rendered by "comradeship", in the sense in which it is used in the modern working-class movement. The inabihty of our translators to find an adequate word is symptomatic of the fact that capitalism tends to extinguish comradeship. Fine though the rhapsody of I Corinthians xiii is, it must be pronounced post-Pauline. It is irrelevant to the context, and is artificially joined to what precedes and follows by the last words of xii and the first of xiv.38 It is no part of any letter, but a genuine early Christian folk-poem.

A few interpolations in xiv by someone who wanted to tone down Paul's disparagement of the "gift of tongues" can be recognized by any who can follow an argument.39 The interpolation enjoining silence on women (xiv, 34-36) has been noted earlier.

So far the overwhelming evidence of the Epistles shows that the Christ preached by Paul was Philo's logos, the divine power by which man may escape from this evil world and be reborn to a new life. The few short allusions to a historical Jesus occur in passages open to suspicion on other grounds -- the spurious autobiography of Galatians, the anti-Jewish invective of I Thessalonians ii, the self-panegyric of I Corinthians ix. The best-known of such quasi-historical passages occurs early in I Corinthians xv, the famous "resurrection chapter".

As it stands, this passage reads:

"For I delivered to you first of all that which also I received,
That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried;
And that he has been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;
And that he was seen by Cephas,
Then by the twelve;
Then he was seen by above five hundred brothers at once,
Of whom the greater part remain until now,
But some are fallen asleep;
Then he was seen by James;
Then by all the apostles;
And last of all, as by one born out of due time,
He was seen by me also.
For I am the least of the apostles,
That am not meet to be called an apostle,
Because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am:
And his grace which was bestowed on me was not found vain;
But I laboured more abundantly than they all:
Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Whether then it be I or they,
So we preach, and so you believed."40

Now that the contradictions and relatively late dates of the Gospels are generally recognized, this passage has become the sheet-anchor of those who affirm the historical resurrection of Jesus. For those who reject the resurrection, but still maintain the Pauline authorship of the passage, it is evidence of ecstatic visions classifiable among the "varieties of religious experience". But before deciding what the passage proves, it is well to know who wrote it.

It has many peculiarities. Firstly, not only these verses, but the whole of chapter xv is as strongly rhythmical as anything in the New Testament. As we have it, it is not a letter or part of a letter, but a rhapsody on the resurrection memorized for recitation at Christian meetings. The chapter may contain Pauline matter, but as it stands it is not Paul's.

Secondly, in verses 3-4 belief in the resurrection is based on "the scriptures", but in verses 5-11 on ocular evidence. "Scriptures" here mean not the Gospels, which were not yet written, but the Old Testament. By forced interpretation Christians from the first found in the Old Testament prophecies of the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Poems included in the book of Isaiah, and really referring to the suffering people of Israel, were applied to the death of the Messiah; and figurative phrases in the prophets and Psalms on national revival were applied to his resurrection. But such exegesis convinced none who did not want to be convinced. An ounce of fact would be worth a ton of scripture. It is hard, therefore, to see why the author of verses 3-4 should have appealed to "the scriptures" if he could appeal to eyewitnesses. The suspicion arises that he appealed to scripture because there were no eye-witnesses, and that verses 5-11 are by a later hand.

Suspicion deepens when we find that Paul is made to refer to "the twelve", whom he nowhere else mentions, and to an appearance to five hundred persons at once, of which the Gospels say nothing -- an amazing silence if the evangelists knew the story. We are forced to conclude that it was not current when the Gospels were being written. This pushes the date of verses 5-11 well into the second century. Add that Paul's depreciation of himself as "the least of the apostles, not meet to be called an apostle" shows a modesty unparalleled anywhere else in the Epistles. Plainly we have here not only an interpolation, but a very late interpolation indeed, dating from a time when the rival claims of Paul and the "twelve" had to be somehow squared by second-century harmonists.

The rest of the chapter confirms this. From, verse 12 the historical Jesus is ignored, leaving only the mystical Christ of the main body of the Epistle.

"Now if Christ is proclaimed to have been raised from the dead,
How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there is no resurrection of the dead,
Neither has Christ been raised . . .
And if Christ has not been raised,
Your faith is vain;
You are yet in your sins.
Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in this life only we have hoped in Christ,
We are of all men most pitiable."41

That is to say, the resurrection of Christ is bound up with the resurrection of all Christians: unless they rise from the dead, Christ is not risen. It is not thus that one speaks of a historical fact. Its occurrence is not affected by the non-occurrence of something in the future. The author of verses 12-19 cannot have penned verses 5-11. For him Christ is not an individual whose resurrection is attested by eyewitnesses, but the logos incarnate in the Christian community, through whom they will defeat death and become immortal. The rest of the chapter celebrates this victory in language reminiscent of the mystery-cults.

"Now has Christ been raised from the dead,
The firstfruits of them that are asleep.
For since by man came death,
By man. came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die,
So also in Christ shall all be made alive . . .
But someone will say, 'How are the dead raised?
And with what manner of body do they come?'
Foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened,
Except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be,
But a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind;
But God gives it a body as it pleased him,
And to each seed a body of its own . . .
So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory:
It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown an animal body; it is raised a spiritual body."42

A contradiction in terms! Paul or whoever wrote this cannot, any more than we, imagine personality without a material basis. He dodges the dilemma by magnificent rhetoric which burkes the issue. Does any idealist do more?

" Now this I say, brothers,
That flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;
Nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I tell you a mystery:
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
At the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound,
And the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
And we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
And this mortal must put on immortality."43

Clearly the author of this rhapsody could never have believed in a material body rising from a tomb, walking, talking, proving its identity by the print of nails, eating broiled fish and ascending into heaven as depicted in the Gospels. Equally clearly the kingdom of God on earth, the slogan of the Jewish masses in the struggle against Roman exploitation, disappears from the picture. The material world is dismissed as irredeemable. The Pauline Christ is the Son of God, not the Son of Man. The Pauline "kingdom of God" is a kingdom not of "flesh and blood", not of this world, but of spirits set free from matter by a miracle. Paul's mysticism, like all mysticism, reflects the insolubility of the dilemma created by the class society of his day.

6. 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians purports to be another circular letter, addressed by Paul "and Timothy the brother to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia".44 The genuine matter in this Epistle is so embedded in later additions that it is difficult to disentangle. It is hard to believe that any leader of men, however egotistic, writing to followers, however devoted, gave himself such testimonials as Paul is made to give himself in 2 Corinthians -- that he really boasted of behaving with "holiness and godly sincerity",45 that he really called himself "a sweet savour of Christ unto God",46 or that he really made such a parade of his own labours, journeyings, perils, privations and persecutions as he seems to make in xi, 23-33. These passages raise doubts similar to those raised by the panegyric in I Corinthians ix. Great men usually leave their praises to be sung by others. It suits better with probability and raises our opinion of Paul if we see in all this the tribute of a zealous disciple defending his reputation against posthumous detractors.

But Pauline or post-Pauline, 2 Corinthians affords conclusive evidence that the Christ of the Pauline churches was no historical Jesus crucified in Judaea. The Pauline Christ is "the Spirit"47 and "the image of God"48 -- one of Philo's names for the logos. In a rhapsody on the endurance of Paul and his fellow-missionaries they are described as

"Pressed on every side, yet not straitened;
Perplexed, yet not to despair;
Pursued, yet not forsaken;
Smitten down, yet not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus,
That the life also of Jesus May be manifested in our body."49

Now at the time when Paul is supposed to have written this, he and his friends were very much alive and active. Even if we suppose him to have already suffered the imprisonments, beatings, stonings and shipwrecks mentioned in the Epistle, he had undergone nothing comparable to the torture of crucifixion. The only sense, therefore, in which he and his associates could be said to "bear about in the body the dying of Jesus" would be the mystical sense that whatever Christians suffer, the logos suffers in their persons.

Later we read:

"Wherefore we henceforth
Know no man after the flesh:
Even though we have known Christ after the flesh,
Yet now we know him so no more."50

This does not mean that Paul had known Jesus in the flesh. Were that so, he would assuredly have said more about it than this. It means that Paul (or whoever wrote the verse) repudiates the earthly Messiah and material millennium expected by popular Judaism.

As if this were not enough, we have later a bitter, sarcastic invective against the apostles of a revolutionary gospel diametrically opposed to Paul's.

"Though we walk in the flesh,
We do not war according to the flesh
(For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh,
But mighty before God for the casting down of strongholds)."51

These apostles sneer at Paul as a man of the pen:

"His letters, they say, are weighty and strong;
But his bodily presence is weak,
And his speech of no account."52

They call his mysticism folly and madness. Anyway, he replies, he and not they brought the gospel to Corinth, and he is not going to let them disrupt his churches. As to his mysticism:

"Would that you could bear with me in a little foolishness!
Nay indeed bear with me . . .
For if he that comes preaches another Jesus,
Whom we did not preach,
Or you receive a different spirit,
Which you did not receive,
Or a different gospel,
Which you did not accept,
You do well to bear it!
For I reckon that I am not a whit behind Those pre-eminent apostles . . .
Such men are false apostles,
Deceitful workers,
Fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ . . .
I say again, Let no man think me foolish;
But if you do, yet as foolish receive me,
That I also may glory a little . . .
Wherever any is bold (I speak in foolishness!) I am bold also.
Are they Hebrews? so am I.
Are they Israelites? so am I.
Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a madman!)
I am more so;
In labours more abundantly,
In prisons more abundantly,
In stripes above measure, In deaths oft."53

Then follows a list of Paul's beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, perils and supernatural revelations to match the record of " those preeminent apostles". And occasion is taken to rub in the fact that Paul makes no charge for his services. It is unlikely that Paul wrote this panegyric on himself. But this point is secondary. What is more important historically is that the polemic in 2 Corinthians is earlier than the Acts of the Apostles. The list of Paul's tribulations is not taken from the Acts, but from some independent source now lost. The "visions and revelations" described do not include that on the road to Damascus -- presumably because the story was not yet current. The polemic, then, is relatively early and probably dates from the first century. All the more important is its testimony that Paul's Jesus and Paul's gospel were different from and opposed to those of the "pre-eminent apostles" of Palestine.

7. Romans

The Epistle to the Romans is ostensibly addressed by Paul to the Christians of Rome, whom he has never yet visited, to prepare them for a coming visit and to give them an idea of his teaching. Actually it is not, as it stands, a letter at all. It is a pamphlet artificially compiled from different Pauline and non-Pauline sources, and with nothing letter-like about it except the names "Paul" and "Rome" at the beginning, some personal notes in the opening paragraphs, and some further personal notes and greetings near the end.

This would not by itself discredit it as a letter. Other men have expounded theories in letters. But their letters are addressed to friends, not to organizations, still less to organizations to which they are personally strangers.

Our suspicions are aroused at once by the opening sentence, which is longer than in any other Epistle.54 In ninety-three words of Greek (one hundred and twenty-seven of English in the Revised Version) the writer contrives to mention his apostleship, his divine call, the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy in the gospel, the Davidic descent, divine sonship and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and yet again his own apostleship, before greeting the Roman church which he is supposed to be addressing. Was ever letter so written? Is it likely that Paul, writing to strangers, would start by stressing the unique importance of himself and his doctrine before condescending to greet his addressees? The situation demanded more tact. Probably a second-century editor, compiling a manual of doctrine out of Pauline and non-Pauline material, composed this prodigious sentence to give it the look of a Pauline Epistle when it was not. It is significant that one of the few phrases which are quoted as evidence that Paul preached an historical Jesus ("born of the seed of David according to the flesh"55) occurs in this first sentence of Romans.

The rest of the Epistle is composite. The relative date of its parts may be to some extent gauged by comparing them with the early or late parts of I Corinthians. For example, Romans i, 16, where the gospel is called "the power of God", reminds us of I Corinthians i, 18-24, where "the logos of the cross" or "Christ" is called "the power of God". Romans i, 22, where the "wise" of the world are called "foolish", reminds us of the same passage in I Corinthians. Now the Corinthian passage, if not by Paul as it stands, is at least basically Pauline. So, we may take it, is Romans i, once we are past the opening sentence. But from verse 18 onward the rhetorical, repetitious and altogether unletter-like style suggests that there has been considerable rehandling and padding.

Again, most of Romans vi and much of viii expound the doctrine of a mystical identity between Christ and the Christian community. By baptism believers die to the wicked world and rise again to a new life which is eternal. This theme, after a break, is resumed in xii, which refers to the church as the body of Christ. This is exactly the doctrine of I Corinthians xii. We saw that the Corinthian chapter dated from a time when there was no professional clergy and any church member might fulfil any function, and that it was by that criterion early. We may conclude that Romans vi, viii and xii, which reflect the same stage of development, are also early.

In these early strata of Romans, as in the early strata of I Corinthians, "Christ" denotes not an historical character, but the divine power manifest in the Christian community. This is further shown by the fact that, though Romans xii contains exhortations to all intents and purposes the same as some attributed to Jesus in the Gospels ("Bless them that persecute you . . . Render to no man evil for evil") Paul does not attribute them to Jesus, but puts them forward as his own.56 A Christian who regarded them as sayings of an historical Jesus would not have concealed their origin. Romans xii leads naturally on to xiii, in which Paul enjoins submission to the Roman Empire as a power "ordained by God".57 These chapters must date before Nero's persecution. The claim that "rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil",58 would have been flagrantly false after the Neronian horrors. No Christian, however pacifist, can have "blessed" Nero after his exploits of 64. The early part of Nero's reign, when the Empire was relatively well governed and Christianity (apart from Judaism) had not yet attracted official attention, is the most natural date for these chapters of Romans. This is a strong argument for their Pauline origin.

Romans xiv, which deals with dietary and other taboos, reminds us at once of I Corinthians viii. Like the Corinthian chapter, it declares that "nothing is unclean of itself",59 but enjoins respect for the scruples of weaker brothers. We saw that the Corinthian chapter was early and was corrected after Paul's death by someone who took a narrower view (x, 1-22). We conclude that Romans xiv is early too. But these chapters of Romans cannot have been addressed to the Roman church. Paul could not write with such authority to a church which he had not founded and had not yet visited. The chapters seem to belong to a pamphlet rather than a letter.60

Other parts of Romans are not Pauline at all. For example, Romans iii-iv, in which texts of the Old Testament are tortured to prove the dogma of justification by faith, and ix-xi, which rack the law and the prophets in a similar way to prove far-fetched conclusions, are not Paul's, ix-xi in fact is introduced very abruptly, is unconnected with what precedes or what follows, and deals with the downfall of the Jews in a way hardly intelligible before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. These text-twisting chapters show a family resemblance to I Corinthians ix, which uses the same method to prove the right of Christian ministers to remuneration and the magnanimity of Paul in not taking any. The probable date of such matter is the end of the first or early in the second century, when Christianity had finally broken with Judaism and church leaders were anxious to prove by hook or crook that the Jewish sacred books were on their side of the quarrel. Romans v, vi (verse 1) and vii, 7-25, depend on iii-iv and must also be rejected as late. The same text-twister has rehandled parts of Galatians ii-iii.61

It is noteworthy that these late strata of Romans differ in doctrine from the early parts. In vi, viii and xii-xiv, as in most of Corinthians, Christ is a divine being with whom believers are mystically united. But in Romans iii-v we read of a "man Jesus Christ" who was offered as a sacrifice for sin. This doctrine of vicarious atonement is impossible to reconcile with the mysticism of the early Paul. It is as though the Pauline movement had encountered and been forced to come to terms with "another gospel" and "another Jesus" whom Paul had not preached, but whose story had a greater mass appeal and who in the end had somehow to be assimilated to the Pauline mystery-god.

The compositeness of Romans is finally proved by the patchwork character of its conclusion. Five times (xv, 5-6, 13 and 33; xvi, 16 and 20) the Epistle seems to finish, and five times it resumes. Did Paul really write so many postscripts to one letter? Or did a compiler after Paul's time combine documents of various origin and omit to prune the perorations? The latter is the likelier alternative. The genuine Pauline pamphlet of xii-xiv flows to a natural conclusion in xv, 1-6. xv, 7-13, is a fragment unconnected with its context, xv, 14-33, seems to be the end of the real letter to the Roman church which began in i. xvi, 1-16, is the end of a letter to some Asiatic church -- perhaps Ephesus: Paul can hardly have known so many people at Rome, where he had never been, xvi, 17-20 and 21-23, are oddments of unknown origin. Finally the compiler rounds off the whole with a close (xvi, 25-27) as prolix as his opening (i, 1-7).62

8. End of Paul's Mission

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12-12-2015, 07:37 AM (This post was last modified: 12-12-2015 03:34 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
8. End of Paul's Mission
Paul's mission in the eastern Mediterranean lasted between fifteen and twenty years. Early in the reign of Nero (the exact year is uncertain) Paul and a number of fellow-missionaries left the Aegean for Jerusalem. In Acts xx, 5-xxi, 18, the travel diarist relates the journey, noting the ports of call from day to day even when there is nothing else to record. This speaks for the truth of the narrative, even if embellished here and there. It is remarkable that, though the journey is described as urgent and dangerous (Paul hurries to be at Jerusalem by Pentecost and disregards all warnings to desist), nothing is said of its reason. Only in a speech later put into the mouth of Paul by the author of the Acts do we read that he "came to bring alms and offerings" to his countrymen in Judaea.63 That is the only mention of the matter in the Acts. But the Epistles have more to say. In I and 2 Corinthians and in Romans we read of collections organized in the churches of Galatia, Macedonia and Greece "for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem".64 But why are the Acts so reticent? They relate, as we have seen, an earlier relief mission to Jerusalem in 44 -- never mentioned in the Epistles and contradicted by the account of Paul's movements in Galatians i-ii. And yet the Acts dismiss in a dozen words in a speech the collection of some years later, on which the Epistles expatiate at length. We read in detail of the journey and the arrival at Jerusalem, but not of the collection or the delivery of the money. Is there something which the author of the Acts wishes to hide?

Before answering this question let us look at conditions in Palestine at the time. The country was heading for a revolutionary crisis. The Roman procurators Cumanus (48-52) and Felix (52-55 or perhaps later) are described by Tacitus -- no friend of the Jews -- as "rivals in the worst crimes",65 and between them drove the people into simmering revolt which needed only an occasion to become open war. Imperialist repression runs true to form; and we need not be deceived by the priestly collaborator Josephus' habitual description of the resisters as "bandits" or by his pretence that the majority of the people were on the side of the Romans against them. We saw reason in the last chapter for thinking that the movement associated with John the Baptist and the real Jesus (not Paul's) was revolutionary. The poorer classes, hard hit by priestly and Roman exactions and recurrent famines, were naturally drawn to such movements. From their centre in Palestine, Messianist movements radiated to every part of the Roman Empire where mass poverty and Judaism co-existed.

To Paul and his colleagues, faced by this mounting crisis and concerned for the safety of their own congregations in Asia Minor and Greece, it might well seem that to relieve mass poverty in Judaea was to fight revolutionary propaganda at its source. The travel diary breaks off at the moment when they meet the elders of the Jerusalem church. Thenceforth the story is in the third person and obviously doctored. We should expect some mention of the handing over of the money. There is none. Instead, we are told that the elders drew Paul's attention to the painful impression made on thousands of Jewish Christians by the report that he had preached against the Jewish law and particularly against circumcision -- exactly what according to the Epistles he had been doing. The elders suggest that Paul shall give the lie to the report by taking part in a purification ceremony in the temple, and they remind him of their ruling of some years before as to the observance by Gentile converts of certain Jewish dietary rules. That ruling, as we saw, was certainly not accepted by Paul and is never mentioned in the Epistles. But in Acts he accepts it and actually agrees to the temple ceremony. In the temple he is set on by a mob and nearly lynched, but rescued by the Roman garrison and taken into protective custody. He makes several speeches -- one to the Jewish mob just after his arrest; one to the Sanhedrin next day; one, after his removal to Caesarea, before Felix, who keeps him in prison in hopes of a bribe; and one, after the recall of Felix, before his successor Festus and the Herodian prince Agrippa II. In these speeches he gives two accounts of his miraculous conversion, which contradict each other and the account given earlier by the author of the Acts. Finally, having appealed to the emperor, he is sent to Rome. A last extract from the travel diary (Acts xxvii and parts of xxviii) relates the voyage, shipwreck and arrival. The Acts end abruptly with Paul still awaiting his trial. That Paul was sent a prisoner to Rome is common ground to the Acts and the Epistles. If we deny that, we may as well deny that Paul ever lived. But the story in the Acts (fascinating though it is and one of the most readable bits of the New Testament) shows free invention and careless revision. Why, for example, is the author silent on the presentation and acceptance of the money? Can it be that the gift was not welcomed -- that it was even rejected? Again, how could Paul after his manhandling by the mob be in any condition to make a speech? And why do the mob, after hearing quietly the story of his former persecution of the Christians and his miraculous conversion, suddenly cry that he is unfit to live when he mentions his mission to the Gentiles? Because they were opposed to missions to the Gentiles? No, for their own leaders, the Pharisees, were ardent missionaries and "compassed sea and land to make one proselyte".66 Because Paul had broken with the Jewish law? No, for the interrupted speech contains nothing against the Jewish law. Indeed, throughout the proceedings before the Sanhedrin and before Felix and Festus Paul claims to be an orthodox Jew called in question only for holding the traditional Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection. An astonishing claim to anyone who reads the Epistles!

The fact is that all these speeches are concocted by the author of the Acts. In inventing them he merely followed the usual practice of ancient historians. As Acts xxii-xxvi consists largely of these speeches, its credibility sinks to that of an ingenious historical novel. In reality, Paul's attacks on Judaism and its materialist "kingdom of God" had so enraged the Jews, including the Jewish Christians, that his mere appearance at Jerusalem provoked a storm from which he escaped only by accepting Roman protection.

Finally, why do the Acts, after getting Paul to Rome, break off without even telling us the result of his appeal to the emperor? It is sometimes said that the author, in order to represent the Roman authorities as friendly to Christianity, deliberately suppressed the condemnation and execution of Paul. But nothing would be gained by suppressing a fact well known in the second-century Church. The apologetic purpose would be better served by pointing out (as Tertullian did later) that to be condemned by Nero was to be condemned in good company. The unevenness, contradictions and abrupt ending of the Acts mean only that the work was imperfectly revised and never finished.

9. Later Epistles

For the last years of Paul's life our only evidence consists of the later Epistles and of short allusions in the early Fathers. Of the Epistles, the short note to Philemon stamps itself as authentic in the absence of any intelligible motive for forgery, but tells us nothing beyond the fact, interesting so far as it goes, that Paul returned a runaway slave to his master.

The Epistles to the Philippians and Colossians may contain genuine fragments, but are in substance post-Pauline. Both, especially Colossians, are marked by rhythmical rhapsodies on the Christian "mystery" which read more like hymns than letters. Both are marked by flights of self-praise similar to those which take our breath away in parts of 1 and 2 Corinthians. Paul is made to refer to his own "blameless" life as a Jew, to enjoin his readers to take him as an example, and to boast repeatedly of his sufferings and strivings.67 It is more likely -that some fervent follower put these passages into his mouth after his death than that he wrote them himself. Ephesians with its long, lumbering sentences (so unlike the "punch" of the real Paul) its references to the "apostles and prophets" as holy men of the past68 and its absence of personal messages or greetings stamps itself as a homily written at least a generation after Paul's time -- later even than Colossians, of which it makes extensive use. As to the Epistles to Timothy and Titus (the so-called Pastorals) all scholars except Catholics and Fundamentalists now agree that they are second-century compositions dealing with a second-century situation. They belong to Church history, but have no bearing on Christian origins. Yet these forgers probably drew on what they knew of Paul's life to lend their work an air of verisimilitude. Some of them may have used short extracts from real letters.69 When we read of rival propagandists at Rome, some of whom "preach Christ from envy and strife";70 when we read that "all that are in Asia have turned away" from Paul, that friends have forsaken him and that "only Luke" is with him71 -- such phrases, if not actually authentic, point to a tradition current in the time of the writers that his life had ended in isolation and failure.

10. Nero's Persecution

In 64 the Christian movement emerges into the light of secular history. The greater part of Rome was destroyed by fire. Tacitus leaves it an open question whether the fire was accidental or deliberate. Suetonius roundly attributes it to Nero's orders; and as the emperor was undoubtedly mad, this is likely enough. To divert suspicion from himself, says Tacitus, Nero fastened the guilt on "a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. ... An arrest was first made of those who avowed the fact. Then upon their information an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city as of hatred against the human race". Tacitus describes their punishment. They were thrown to dogs, crucified or burnt as living torches to illuminate Nero's shows. A hideous story, but not more hideous than the atomic massacre of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the burning of live Koreans with napalm bombs by our modern Neros.

"Hence," continues Tacitus, "even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty that they were being destroyed."72 The Roman populace had their feelings. In 61 they had turned out in force to try to rescue four hundred slaves who were executed by a decree of the senate under an old law which required that, if a master were murdered by a slave, the whole slave household should suffer death. It had needed troops to carry out the execution. In 64 the same populace resented the butchery of the Christians.

The account of Tacitus raises more than one point of interest. Whom exactly did the populace call Christians? Plainly, the followers of a Jewish Messiah or Christ -- just as the followers of Caesar were called Caesarians, of Pompey Pompeians, of Herod Herodians. That is, these Christians were Jewish revolutionaries. At Rome they were numerous enough to be considered dangerous. A multitude of a thousand or even less would seem "immense in a matter of incendiarism.

What did the original suspects "avow" -- that they were Christians or that they had fired the city? The Latin may mean either; but the more natural meaning is that they avowed having fired Rome. It is quite possible that Nero's police agents entrapped a few unbalanced individuals into starting the fire and then arrested and tortured them into incriminating others who had had no hand in it. Such things have been done in our own century.

The most interesting point about Nero's persecution is its failure. It was intended to clear him and smear the Christians. It did not clear Nero. The people of Rome still believed that he was guilty. And it did not smear the Christians. The people believed that they had been "framed".

11. Death of Peter and Paul

We have no contemporary evidence of the fate of Peter or Paul. But in one of the earliest Christian documents outside the New Testament, the Epistle of the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth, written in A.D. 96 and traditionally known as the Epistle of Clement (it is in fact anonymous), we find this passage:

"By reason of jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church were persecuted and contended even to death. Let us set before our eyes the good apostles. There was Peter, who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one nor two, but many labours, and thus having borne his testimony went to his appointed place of glory. By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world and reached the furthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, he departed from the world and went to the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.
"To these men of holy lives was gathered a vast multitude of the elect, the victims of jealousy, who through many indignities and tortures set a brave example among us."73

This passage is remarkable as the first documentary attempt (older than the Acts of the Apostles) to bridge the gulf between Palestinian and Pauline Christianity, and to treat Peter and Paul not as rivals, but as fellow-apostles and fellow-martyrs. It undoubtedly connects their deaths with Nero's persecution. The "vast multitude" of the Clementine Epistle is the "immense multitude" of Tacitus. Peter was never "bishop of Rome": the Acts never even mention his presence there. But in all probability he made a journey there and was included in the general butchery, though the recent Vatican pretence to have identified his bones can be dismissed as the fraud it is.

In the case of Paul there are unsolved chronological questions. He arrived at Rome the year after Festus succeeded Felix as procurator of Judaea. We do not know when that occurred; there are difficulties in dating it after 55, and the later the date, the greater the difficulties.74 There is thus a gap of anything up to eight years between Paul's arrival at Rome and Nero's persecution; but the Acts say that his imprisonment at Rome lasted two years only. Either, then, there is a blank in the record, or the chronology of the Acts is wrong. But the Clementine Epistle leaves no room for doubt that Paul perished in 64.

This passage further confirms the fact that Christianity in the time of Nero did not present a united front to its enemies. Otherwise why the dark allusions to "jealousy and strife"? The deaths of Peter, Paul and the other Neronian martyrs can be attributed to "jealousy" only on the supposition that there were mutual denunciations. Paul was no revolutionary. He had combated resisters to the power of Rome, and had once threatened that those who resisted should "receive to themselves judgment".75 The relations between Jewish and Pauline Christians, whether in Palestine or Rome, were extremely bitter. If at the time of the fire some Pauline Christians (not Paul himself) seized the occasion to denounce Jewish revolutionaries, and some Jewish revolutionaries denounced Paul, the statement that they died "victims of jealousy" is intelligible, but scarcely otherwise. Paul's anti-revolutionary fervour did not save him. Only his Roman citizenship earned him a quick death by the sword. By preaching a spiritualized version of Messianism Paul had tried to dam the revolutionary stream and avert a head-on collision with Rome. In this he failed. The Jewish tragedy had to be played out.

12. The Social Basis of Pauline Christianity

Enough has been said to show that Pauline Christianity as reflected in the Epistles was not a movement of the disinherited classes. Paul himself was a master-craftsman and a Roman citizen, and explicitly repudiated resistance to the Roman Empire. Though most of his converts were poor, the live wires of the Pauline churches were householders like Gaius and Stephanas of Corinth, Erastus "the treasurer of the city",76 Paul's fellow-craftsman Aquila and the slaveowner Philemon -- men perhaps not "wise after the flesh" or "mighty" or "noble", but at least of the middle class and middling education, ranging from small property-owners to artisans in direct contact with the masses. We shall find, so far as the evidence goes, that the same is true of those who continued Paul's work. The question arises why, if they had no quarrel with the Roman government, such men became Christians?

To this question one answer has already been given. Jewish revolutionaries were at this time propagating among the slaves, freedmen and poorer freemen of the Mediterranean cities Messianic hopes which, if not countered, would end in a head-on clash with the Roman Empire. Middle-class Jews like Paul, and such Gentiles as they could influence, though with no illusions about the Roman Empire or its rulers, were interested in averting that clash and tried to avert it by preaching a spiritualized version of Messianism. This accounts for the content of Pauline Christianity.
But it hardly accounts for the persistence with which it was preached after it had failed in its immediate object of averting the clash between Rome and Judaism.

To account for this we must consider ancient imperialism under another aspect. Among its principal agencies was pagan priestcraft. For centuries many who were neither Jews nor revolutionaries, and who had no objection to paying tribute to whom tribute was due, had protested against the State religion. That religion had long been open to attack as an organization of imposture for political purposes and had actually been attacked for that reason before the time of Plato.

The strength of this protest may be gathered from the popularity of the Epicurean and early Stoic philosophies. In the fourth and third centuries B.C. ancient slave civilization and imperialism had not yet reached their peak. The successors of Alexander were "multiplying evils on the earth" by their dynastic wars;77 but Roman rapacity and repression did not yet bestride the Mediterranean. To Greek middle-class intellectuals it seemed possible to palliate the misery of the time by a simple appeal to reason -- by organizing a society of people who renounced the struggle for wealth and power, the "hatred, envy and contempt"78 which that struggle produced, and the superstition and fear of death which it exploited. The teaching of Epicurus, the schoolmaster's son, took the Greek world by storm in the third century B.C.: his adherents were "so many in number that they could hardly be counted by whole cities".79

The fact that Epicureanism was a materialistic philosophy and concerned itself only with this life, whereas Christianity called in another world to redress the balance of this, must not blind us to important resemblances. Epicureanism, like Christianity, was a missionary movement rejecting the sanctified magic of official cults and the pretentious learning of rival schools. There is a parallel between Epicurus' advice to a young disciple to "steer clear of all culture"80 and Paul's dismissal of the wisdom of the world as folly. Like the Christian churches, the school of Epicurus, though its leaders were men of education, admitted women and slaves to membership. Like Christianity, Epicureanism (in spite of the libels circulated by its enemies) inculcated a simple and even ascetic life. The Epicureans held that "the wise man would not fall in love"81 just as Paul wrote: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman."82 The Epicurean eulogy of friendship as the royal road to happiness is not unlike the Christian panegyric on comradeship (agape). Both Epicurus and Paul accepted slavery; but Epicurus taught that "the wise man would not punish his servants, but rather pity them",83 just as Paul exhorted Philemon to receive the fugitive Onesimus as "more than a slave -- a brother and comrade".84 Epicurus bids his converts seek "peace of mind";85 Paul would have his "free from cares".86 The Epicureans have been well described as "a sort of Society of Friends with a system of natural philosophy as its intellectual core".87

Even in religion the opposition between Epicureanism and Pauline Christianity was not as absolute as we might think. The theism of Epicurus is no mere lip-service. His teaching that "God is a living being, immortal and blessed", attested by "the common sense of mankind", and that "not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes is truly impious",88 reminds us of Paul's contrast between the "incorruptible God" manifest in creation and the idols worshipped by the pagan world89 -- with the important difference that the gods of Epicurus are part of the material universe, while the God of Paul is prior to it and created it.

Epicureanism, in fact, in its best days appealed to the same class of people to whom Pauline Christianity was later to appeal -- not to the ruling class, who found superstition very useful, nor so much to the slaves and disinherited (though they were not excluded) as to small middle-class people who were the victims of power-politics which they could not control, and who, without being revolutionaries, resented the imposture planted on them by an official religion which was a mere wheel in the machinery of State.

But ancient social order was incompatible with the emergence of a scientifically based "society of friends". As Marx puts it, the "duplication of the world into a religious, imaginary one and a real one" is a result of "self-cleavage and self-contradictoriness" in the real world.90 Not only did the ruling class, as Polybius, Varro and Cicero frankly tell us, need superstition as an instrument of government, but Greek science, in which Epicureanism was intellectually rooted, slowly withered away in consequence of mass slavery and the divorce of theory from experiment. In the last century B.C. Epicureanism (still in the estimation of Cicero a "plebeian" philosophy) uttered its supreme protest in the noble poem of Lucretius. Then it began to lose ground before the religious counter-offensive launched by Augustus, and from a mass movement eventually shrank to a little-regarded sect. Its rival, Stoicism, after revolutionary beginnings (the early Stoics had advocated a world-state without classes or cults) had since the second century B.C. come to terms with the Roman State and its religion. The later Stoics were no more than a liberal party (not always so very hberal) within the ruling class of the Roman Empire. By the first century A.D. the possibility of either an Epicurean or a Stoic Utopia had disappeared. Whoever else might renounce the struggle for wealth and power, the Roman ruling class did not. They were using superstition as their auxiliary policeman, and refuting Epicurean arguments against the fear of death by a grimly literal experimentum crucis on rebel subjects and slaves. In such a world Epicureanism was no longer a possible creed for the masses. Opposition to the State religion ceased to be materialistic and became mystical.

Pauline Christianity offered people whose ancestors had flocked to Epicurean lectures an ideology equally opposed to the official religion, but turning its back on the material world and based on elements derived from Judaism, Platonism, Stoicism and the mystery religions. It owed nothing directly to the Epicureans, but it appealed to what had once been their public and had, as we have seen, many points in common with their teaching. The difference between the materialism of Epicurus and the mysticism of Paul is explained by the different historical situations in which the two ideologies arose.

Did any Epicureans join the Pauline churches? We have evidence that some did. In I Corinthians xv Paul argues at considerable length against those who "say that there is no resurrection of the dead". These are not pagan opponents, but Christians -- "some among you".91 They do not merely reject a physical in favour of a spiritual immortality. Paul would not have objected to that: he himself repudiates a resurrection of "flesh and blood".92 The men whom he attacks say that Christian hopes relate to "this life only" and that death ends all.93 Why did such people become Christians? Probably they were Epicureans who found Paul's other teaching to their liking, but could not swallow the dogma of immortality. The Epicureans had always fought that idea as the mainstay of the priestcraft they abominated. For them the reward of virtue was peace of mind in this life, and the punishment of vice its absence. There was no other life -- no reward and no punishment after death.

Now so far as punishment of the wicked was concerned Paul had no quarrel with the Epicureans. We may search the Epistles in vain for the doctrine of hell-fire. For Paul, the "wrath of God" against idolaters is proved by their vicious lives and by the ramifications of wickedness to which they lead.94 In the end the wicked die, and Paul nowhere suggests that they live again. If he had read it, he would have endorsed the doctrine of Lucretius that "the life of fools becomes a hell here on earth".95

What concerns Paul is the fate of Christian believers. Epicurean peace of mind was impossible in the vast slave prison of the Roman Empire. Nothing sufficed except redemption from the material world which had become wholly evil. Such redemption, says Paul, is open to those baptized into the Christian community. They thereby become part of the body of Christ, the indwelling spirit of the community, and share in his eternal life.

Pauline Christianity thus established on a mystical basis -- the only basis possible in the conditions of that time -- the fellowship of men and women, rich and poor, bond and free, which the Epicureans had tried and failed to establish on a materialistic basis. If they had stopped there, it is possible that Pauline Christians would not have been persecuted any more than the Epicureans. They exposed themselves to persecution when they began to preach their doctrines to the masses and used their funds to attract and capture the destitute followers of the Jewish Messianists. For, as we shall see, Pauline leaders who themselves had no quarrel with the Roman Empire, but only with its cults, thereby found themselves at the head of followers to whom the Empire itself was Satanic, and whom they could not repudiate without undoing their own work and disrupting the "body of Christ". Christian writers usually show little gratitude to the Epicureans who blazed the trail for them in the struggle with paganism. Tertullian cites with approval a maxim of Epicurus on the endurance of pain;96 otherwise the Fathers seem to accept the vulgar estimate of him as a voluptuous atheist. In the atmosphere of the Roman Empire men who were trying to supplant the official religion by another could not afford to be connected with avowed materialists. But others saw the connection. In the second century A.D. the fashionable fancy religionist, Alexander of Paphlagonia, used, says Lucian, to warn "any atheist, Christian or Epicurean" to leave his meetings. It has been said of Christianity on its social side that "because Spartacus was beaten, Jesus had to win".97 We may say of it on its ideological side that because Epicurus was beaten, Paul had to win.
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15-12-2015, 04:57 AM (This post was last modified: 15-12-2015 03:32 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
I will summarise Archibald's main points for those who found his chapter a bit long...

- "among the slaves, freedmen and poorer freemen of the Mediterranean cities" , there was "the hope of a catastrophic overthrow of the Roman Empire, to be followed by the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth"

-"Middle-class Jews could not be expected to welcome the gospel of revolution. They and such Gentiles as they could influence, however much they deplored the cruelty and corruption of slave civilization and however much they themselves were exploited by its organ, the Roman State, had still something to lose and nothing to gain by its violent overthrow and sought a solution short of catastrophe. As Graeco-Roman society, like all class societies, carried within it the seeds of its own destruction, no such solution was in fact possible, and these aspirations therefore took a mystical and escapist form."

"A series of famines contributed to deepen the crisis. In 42 there was a great famine in Egypt; in 46 or 47 another in Judaea; and in 51 food shortage led to demonstrations against the emperor in Rome itself. The result was mounting revolutionary excitement in every centre of organized Jewry."

"If Messianic ferment simmered simultaneously in Palestine and Rome, there can hardly have been a ghetto in the Mediterranean which was unaffected....

These years of deepening crisis were contemporary with the early missionary activities of Paul and his associates."

"In the middle years of the first century -- years of economic crisis in various parts of the Roman Empire, and of growing political strain between, on the one hand, the imperial authorities and, on the other, the Jewish masses and the many influenced by Jewish propaganda -- certain Jewish and semi-Jewish missionaries are found propagating a new mystery-cult in Syria, Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece. The best known of these missionaries is Paul, but he was not the first in the field."

"Paul was a tentmaker, we are told, of Tarsus in Cilicia -- no slave or wage-labourer, but a master-craftsman free to come and go, and a Roman citizen born. Tentmaking was a native Cilician industry and important to the Roman army. Possibly Paul's father had been granted Roman citizenship in recognition of his services as an army contractor. Such a man as Paul, while he might desire and work for a spiritual regeneration of society, had no interest in revolution. He became alarmed at the propaganda for the kingdom of God on earth conducted by his fellow-Jews of the "dispersion." In the Acts and in three Epistles we read that Paul began by persecuting the Messianic propagandists."

But he must at all costs save them, and the masses whom they were permeating, from false leaders and from the head-on clash with Rome which he, as a Roman citizen, knew could end only in disaster. He would preach, as others were already preaching, a spiritualized Messianism to the masses, who might otherwise be swept into dangerous and hopeless insurrection.

"So Paul went to the masses and spoke their language. He preached a mystery-religion in which the Christ-Jesus of revolutionary propaganda was transformed into a divine spirit by whom mortal men might put on immortality. He removed the kingdom of God from this world to the next."

"This was to court trouble with the revolutionary Messianists."

I suggest anyone interested in the history digest these statements. The "revolutionary messianists" were people like the recently executed Jesus, and James, his brother. Paul was a middle class Jew who was concerned that a war was brewing. The author doesn't go so far as to say Paul was working for the government, but I think that was the case.

To be continued...
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15-12-2015, 03:09 PM (This post was last modified: 15-12-2015 03:29 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
The following quotes demonstrate my point that Paul and the Nazarenes were fighting in opposite sides in a cold war of propaganda. Later, in the 2nd century, the two ideologies were fused to create Christianity.

"In Galatians Paul (or rather his impersonator) insists vehemently on his complete independence of the Palestinian Christians. He tells his readers that on his conversion he held no communication with them."

"Here as elsewhere, the Epistle stresses Paul's independence of the Palestinian Christians. Contrast the story in the Acts, where Paul is introduced to the apostles, preaches and has to make another hurried escape. Only one account can be true; and Galatians is earlier than the Acts."

"The story is intelligible only if Pauline and Palestinian Christianity represented originally two separate and opposed tendencies, which in the end had to fuse because each was impotent without the other. We shall find confirmatory evidence of this as we proceed. Paul found the Palestinian apostles in his way. His gospel was not their gospel, nor his Christ their Christ. He kept away from them while he could. Then he sought an understanding with them. Failing in that, he cursed them! But their gospels had to be posthumously reconciled if Christianity was to live."

I'm not sure whether readers here find this interesting...but it fascinates me. The very foundations of Christianity are dodgy.
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19-12-2015, 04:41 PM
RE: Mark Fulton vs Q..."Was Paul a Charlatan"
Archibald writes

"Is there something which the author of the Acts wishes to hide?

Before answering this question let us look at conditions in Palestine at the time. The country was heading for a revolutionary crisis. The Roman procurators Cumanus (48-52) and Felix (52-55 or perhaps later) are described by Tacitus -- no friend of the Jews -- as "rivals in the worst crimes",65 and between them drove the people into simmering revolt which needed only an occasion to become open war. Imperialist repression runs true to form; and we need not be deceived by the priestly collaborator Josephus' habitual description of the resisters as "bandits" or by his pretence that the majority of the people were on the side of the Romans against them. We saw reason in the last chapter for thinking that the movement associated with John the Baptist and the real Jesus (not Paul's) was revolutionary. The poorer classes, hard hit by priestly and Roman exactions and recurrent famines, were naturally drawn to such movements. From their centre in Palestine, Messianist movements radiated to every part of the Roman Empire where mass poverty and Judaism co-existed.

To Paul and his colleagues, faced by this mounting crisis and concerned for the safety of their own congregations in Asia Minor and Greece, it might well seem that to relieve mass poverty in Judaea was to fight revolutionary propaganda at its source."

I think the learned Archibald is describing the original raison d'etre for the creation of Christianity...to counteract militaristic Judaism. If he's right , that is big news.
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