Paul and the case for mythicism
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03-11-2014, 02:04 PM
Paul and the case for mythicism
I've been reading about the mythicist view of Jesus recently and would appreciate any feedback on my understanding of where Paul fits into the picture. The chronology I have is:

- Paul (as Saul) was critical of Christians in the 30's; the extent of his 'persecution' of Christians is not well defined but he knew of them and, at the very least, spoke out against their beliefs
- sometime around the year 40 he had his Damascus road experience and converted
- for the next 14 years he developed and preached his version of Christianity based on his revelation and his reading of older scriptures but in all that time he didn't go to Jerusalem to meet with any of the apostles there, or with anybody who had known the historical Jesus
- when he did meet with Cephas and James they basically agreed to disagree on whether or not Christians had to follow the Jewish laws
- his known writings start around the year 50, before he met with the 'Pillars' in Jerusalem and continuing afterwards

I had always considered Paul's writings about the existence of Christian sects in the late 30's to be an indication that there was probably a historical figure at the core of the myth. Now that I really think about it however, Paul's actions don't make a lot of sense to me. I would expect him to want to talk immediately with people still living in Jerusalem who actually knew Jesus in the flesh. The idea that he put that off for more than a decade makes more sense if he didn't know about a historical figure and was taking his personal revelation to be just as valid as any understanding he'd get from somebody else. I'd also expect the opinion of the 'Pillars' to carry more weight than it apparently did if they could reliably claim to have known the actual man.

If I have the general facts straight then I'd say Paul's writings and actions lend weight to the mythicist view and are hard to align with a historical Jesus. Opinions?

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03-11-2014, 02:06 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
I'd say get fucked up - like acid - and read some Romans. Paul never talks about a material Jesus but rather a spiritual intermediary between the mortal and the divine. Thumbsup

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03-11-2014, 02:15 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 02:06 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  I'd say get fucked up - like acid - and read some Romans.

I don't need the acid; just reading any of it and trying to make sense is enough to twist my perception of reality into a pretzel!

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03-11-2014, 02:20 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 02:15 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(03-11-2014 02:06 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  I'd say get fucked up - like acid - and read some Romans.

I don't need the acid; just reading any of it and trying to make sense is enough to twist my perception of reality into a pretzel!

It's like that. I have sympathy for Paul as a prophet - if he ever existed. Do I exist? Big Grin

But yeah, Paul actually makes a decent case for mythicism - perhaps Mark or Bucky will weigh in. (Resident scholars and all. Wink )

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03-11-2014, 02:36 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2014 10:30 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 02:04 PM)unfogged Wrote:  I've been reading about the mythicist view of Jesus recently and would appreciate any feedback on my understanding of where Paul fits into the picture. The chronology I have is:

- Paul (as Saul) was critical of Christians in the 30's; the extent of his 'persecution' of Christians is not well defined but he knew of them and, at the very least, spoke out against their beliefs
- sometime around the year 40 he had his Damascus road experience and converted
- for the next 14 years he developed and preached his version of Christianity based on his revelation and his reading of older scriptures but in all that time he didn't go to Jerusalem to meet with any of the apostles there, or with anybody who had known the historical Jesus
- when he did meet with Cephas and James they basically agreed to disagree on whether or not Christians had to follow the Jewish laws
- his known writings start around the year 50, before he met with the 'Pillars' in Jerusalem and continuing afterwards

I had always considered Paul's writings about the existence of Christian sects in the late 30's to be an indication that there was probably a historical figure at the core of the myth. Now that I really think about it however, Paul's actions don't make a lot of sense to me. I would expect him to want to talk immediately with people still living in Jerusalem who actually knew Jesus in the flesh. The idea that he put that off for more than a decade makes more sense if he didn't know about a historical figure and was taking his personal revelation to be just as valid as any understanding he'd get from somebody else. I'd also expect the opinion of the 'Pillars' to carry more weight than it apparently did if they could reliably claim to have known the actual man.

If I have the general facts straight then I'd say Paul's writings and actions lend weight to the mythicist view and are hard to align with a historical Jesus. Opinions?

It's weird that a well known student (who Acts says "sat at the feet of") of the famous Gamaliel was never mentioned as having "gone bad" by other Jewish writers. Many of the things in his letters seem like later "theology" but I'm just starting to think about that. He did not "convert". That's a later interpretation. He was Jew before, and remained one. He said he came to "see his Christ in a different light" but still was an Apocalyptic, still thought Yahweh was the Father, still thought people were "under the law". (Actually there were at least two "Pauls" as their philosophies are so different .. I'll look for the video about that).

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03-11-2014, 02:51 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 02:36 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  He did not "convert".

Yeah, that was sloppy on my part.

Quote:... still thought people were "under the law". (Actually there were at least two "Pauls" as their philosophies are so different .. I'll look for the video about that).

Didn't Paul preach that the gentiles could be Christians without needing to be under the Jewish Law? Was that something that he changed his mind about over time? That was his main disagreement with Cephas and James, wasn't it?

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03-11-2014, 02:57 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 02:51 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(03-11-2014 02:36 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  He did not "convert".

Yeah, that was sloppy on my part.

Quote:... still thought people were "under the law". (Actually there were at least two "Pauls" as their philosophies are so different .. I'll look for the video about that).

Didn't Paul preach that the gentiles could be Christians without needing to be under the Jewish Law? Was that something that he changed his mind about over time? That was his main disagreement with Cephas and James, wasn't it?

Well, yeah. Waiting for Bucky to weigh in...

But for myself, sola fides does not mean "exempt from good works" but rather "good works are inevitable." Thumbsup

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03-11-2014, 03:24 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 02:51 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(03-11-2014 02:36 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  He did not "convert".

Yeah, that was sloppy on my part.

Quote:... still thought people were "under the law". (Actually there were at least two "Pauls" as their philosophies are so different .. I'll look for the video about that).

Didn't Paul preach that the gentiles could be Christians without needing to be under the Jewish Law? Was that something that he changed his mind about over time? That was his main disagreement with Cephas and James, wasn't it?

Depends what the subject at hand was.
1 Corinthians 14:34 "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says."

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03-11-2014, 03:25 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 02:57 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(03-11-2014 02:51 PM)unfogged Wrote:  Yeah, that was sloppy on my part.


Didn't Paul preach that the gentiles could be Christians without needing to be under the Jewish Law? Was that something that he changed his mind about over time? That was his main disagreement with Cephas and James, wasn't it?

Well, yeah. Waiting for Bucky to weigh in...

But for myself, sola fides does not mean "exempt from good works" but rather "good works are inevitable." Thumbsup

I thought sola fide meant "by faith alone" that one was redeemed or saved.Consider

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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03-11-2014, 03:35 PM
RE: Paul and the case for mythicism
(03-11-2014 03:24 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Depends what the subject at hand was.

What doesn't? Thumbsup
By being "under the law" I was thinking about circumcision, the dietary laws, keeping the holy days, etc. My understanding is that Paul, at least eventually, held that those were not necessary to be a Christian while other sects maintained that those were required.

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