The book of Acts
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23-05-2015, 01:43 AM (This post was last modified: 23-05-2015 07:20 PM by Mark Fulton.)
The book of Acts
Hi friends, I have been encouraged by the warm reception that I received to my posts on "James the brother of Jesus" ( http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...us-brother ) and "what happened to the real followers of Jesus" ( http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...of-Jesus).

In those posts I made the very important point that Jesus, (if he existed), his family and his original followers were all fundamentalist xenophobic Jews in direct opposition to the Gentile world.

Yet Christianity was a religion created mainly for Gentiles, and the early Christians disparaged the Jews. That's ironic, as this clash of cultures undermines the entire basis of Christianity.

My third post in this series is about the book of Acts. This is, I think, an early second century piece of propaganda that tried to create the untrue idea that the first Christians were Jesus, his family and followers. This is nonsense. As best we know the real originator of Christian theology was someone else...Paul. So the book of Acts tried to pretend that Paul and the Jewish Nazarenes became best mates. This was an attempt to legitimise the origins of Paul's theology and therefore Christianity, and I think it is pathetically weak... here is why...

The Book of Acts

The book of Acts is the only attempt in the Bible to document the activities of Jesus’ followers in the years after Jesus’ death. The author of Acts claims these people were the first Christians. Yet the real Yeshua, his family and his disciples were Jews, not Christians, a fact that makes the whole premise of Acts dubious.

The author of Acts, writing for second century proto-Christians, most likely had what he thought was an important task; to build the untrue impression that Christianity, a new way of thinking quite separate from Judaism, was derived from Yeshua and his disciples.

The author failed, at least at the intellectual level, because many non-evangelical Biblical scholars regard Acts as unforgivably imaginative. ( http://xcntrik.wordpress.com/lukeacts-as...l-fiction/ http://jamestabor.com/2012/07/06/two-ass...out-early-
christianity/ ).

It is commonly agreed that the same Gentile author or community who wrote a version of Luke’s Gospel also wrote Acts, yet no one can be sure of that. Most modern scholars date Acts’ authorship to anywhere between 65 and 170 CE, ( http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/acts.html ) yet there is no reference to Acts in other literature before the year 170 CE. It could be that Acts was originally written after the second Jewish war of 132 - 136 CE. What scholars do agree on is that the author(s) was not Jewish, nor was he a member of the Nazarene community, and that he was probably a Gentile writing for a Gentile audience. After one, and probably two, expensive, bloody wars, Jews were not a favored race amongst the peoples of the Empire. This shows throughout the book of Acts, as the author had a very anti-Jewish, pro-Roman bias.

Chapters 1 through 9 tell a tale about the early community after Yeshua’s death, and Chapters 9 through 28 are concerned with Paul’s conversion and ministry. The author was attempting to portray a cordial connection between the disciples and Paul, to give Paul’s Christianity a link with a once-human Jesus. Yet it is very doubtful that any such friendly connection existed, a fact that sheds another cloud over the historical veracity of the book of Acts.

In chapter one, the author had Jesus’ ghost appear to his disciples and tell them

“...not to leave Jerusalem” (Acts 1:4, NJB.)

It is likely the author did not require his readers to be reminded that the disciples were Galileans, because Galilee was the heartland of Jewish zealotry. Yet the authors of Matthew’s and John’s Gospels claim that after Jesus’ death the disciples returned to Galilee. Someone in this group of authors got the story wrong.

The author James Tabor points out that the author of Acts had eleven disciples gathered together in Jerusalem forty days after Jesus’ death:

“There were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James” (Acts 1:13, NJB.)

The author then, quite deliberately, mentioned Jesus’ brothers separately:

“All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14, NJB.)

It is evident that this was a deliberate exclusion of the brothers of Jesus from an inner circle, and from any leadership role. The author portrayed Jesus’ brothers as though they just happened to be there, perhaps lurking in the background. This is a highly unlikely scenario, since family was everything in Jewish circles, so Yeshua’s brothers would have had the highest status - James was, in fact, the leader of this community.

The author of Acts claimed that a smallish community of 120 inhabitants stopped working, sold all their possessions, and lived together in Jerusalem. He had this close knit new community denounce their sexuality, as they believed that the end of time was near, so they could not see the point of bringing children into the world.
( http://xcntrik.wordpress.com/lukeacts-as...l-fiction/ http://jamestabor.com/2012/07/06/two-ass...out-early-
christianity/ , http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/acts.html ,
http://www.amazon.com/The-Jesus-Dynasty-...ianity/dp/ )

The author of Acts claimed many people in Jerusalem affiliated with this community, yet lived separately.

It could be said that the story starts to sound a little ridiculous and manufactured from here on. This group somehow started to talk in many different languages, thereby impressing visitors from all parts of the Empire. The author was probably trying to explain how Gentiles came to understand Yeshua’s teachings, as second century readers knew that Galilean peasants spoke only in their native tongue.

The author claimed there were three thousand converts to Christianity in Jerusalem in one day, an obviously gross exaggeration. Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish world, was full of die-hard Jews, the sort of people who were highly unlikely to readily switch their beliefs over to a new pagan faith. The author referred to these supposed converts as those “destined to be saved.”

The author had Peter, (incorrectly) portrayed as a Christian, boldly proclaim:

“Rulers of the people and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom god raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy here in your presence today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:8–13, NJB.)

The foundations of Pauline Christianity were being promoted; the Jews were condemned for killing Jesus, who rose from the dead, and who was now the only key to salvation. This speech, written long after the events described, was probably fabricated, as there is no evidence outside the Gospels that anyone who knew Jesus, such as Peter, thought Yeshua was a god or that he had risen from the dead.

The author of Acts claimed the community was a deeply united group of miracle-working enthusiasts fiercely preaching Christianity.

“The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul...” (Acts 4:32, NJB.)

Then

“So many signs and wonders were worked among the people at the hands of the apostles that the sick were even taken out to the streets and laid on beds and sleeping mats in the hope that at least the shadow of Peter might fall across some of them as he went past. People even came crowding in from the towns round Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured” (Acts 5:12–15, NJB.)

If any of these miracles actually happened, Jews everywhere in a close-knit city like Jerusalem might have been convinced, even enthralled, by the new theology. They were not. It is known from the facts of history, and even the later discussion in Acts, that Jerusalem in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s was a dangerous place for anyone to live, full of discontented Jews, and Romans intent on quelling insurgency. These stories of miracles, including the embarrassingly tasteless tale of a husband (Ananias) and wife’s (Sapphira) murders for not pooling their resources, were just pro-Christian mythmaking. ( https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%20 5&version=KJV ).

The atmosphere in Jerusalem in the decades before the first Jewish war (66-70 CE) was volatile. Gentiles preaching Paul’s theology would not have been welcome. The Nazarenes thought Gentiles were foreigners in God’s holy land. Yeshua had probably tried to start a war with Gentiles, and been crucified for his efforts. Galileans did not speak Greek, or eat with pagans, as Jews had a strictly kosher diet.

The strong likelihood is that the Nazarenes still had a xenophobic worldview; one determined by their interpretation of Scripture. They probably dreamed they would one day be in charge. To the Nazarenes, if you were a Gentile, you were most likely a person non-gratia. Nazarenes did not associate with Gentiles. So the claim that Nazarenes embraced Paul’s pro-Gentile Christianity must be unfounded.

The author of Acts, however, was adamant the Nazarenes were Christians. He had Peter and John run into trouble, claiming the Sanhedrin (the body of Jewish judges) were

“...extremely annoyed at their teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead by proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus” (Acts 4:2, NJB.)

Acts goes on:

“Then the high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common jail. But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out ‘go and stand in the Temple and tell the people all about this new Life’” (Acts 5:17–20, NJB.)

One might wonder why the “angel of the Lord” did not go to the temple himself and start preaching? He could have flown away when angry Jews pelted him with rocks!

It is quite feasible there was friction between the Sadducees (the high priests) and the Nazarenes. The Nazarenes were probably still trying to rally the people against Rome. The amateurish author of Acts inadvertently effectively admits this was their real agenda when he wrote that Gamaliel, leader of the Pharisees, made the following speech:

“Then he addressed the Sanhedrin, ‘Men of Israel, be careful how you deal with these people. There was Theudas who became notorious not so long ago. He claimed to be someone important, and he even collected about four hundred followers; but when he was killed, all his followers scattered and that was the end of them. And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census, who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too, and all of his followers dispersed. What I suggest, therefore, is that you leave these men alone and let them go. If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord, but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God’” (Acts 5:35–39, NJB.)

Theudas and Judas were men who had started insurrections against the Romans and been killed. The author had probably read about them in Josephus. ( http://www.josephus.org/ntparallels2.htm ). “Gamaliel” was drawing an analogy between these trouble causers and the followers of Jesus! It is surprising that the author may not have realized that he was correctly portraying Jesus’ followers as zealots.

The author of Acts had to emphasize that Christianity was something quite distinct from traditional Judaism. He used the character of Stephen to help do it.

Stephen

The author of Acts introduced Stephen into the story by giving him a minor role in the community as someone who distributed food to widows while the apostles went about the more important task of evangelizing. Yet Stephen was subsequently portrayed as a man of more importance:

“Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people” (Acts 6:8, NJB.)

The term “the Jews,” with a negative connotation, was introduced. Stephen debated “the Jews” from synagogues outside Jerusalem, so Stephen was being used to represent Gentile Christianity.

The author had Pharisees denounce Stephen, and Stephen was put on trial before the Sanhedrin and accused of being an agitator. In a long speech in Acts 7, a Christian angel-faced Stephen replied by claiming the Jewish Law had now lost its relevance, as it had been replaced by faith in Christ. Stephen delivered an ominous charge; the Jews had betrayed and killed Christ, just as their ancestors had killed earlier prophets:

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received
the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
(Acts 7:51–56 KJV.)

The confident Stephen, a Christian, openly slandered Jews by saying they had always, throughout history, got things wrong, and that the Jews had now made another mistake by betraying and killing Jesus. To add some color and weight to Stephen’s argument, Jesus then appeared in the clouds next to the Jews’ god, Yahweh, but the belligerent Jews never noticed the dynamic duo. The Jews were so steamed up they stoned Stephen:

“At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him” (Acts 7:57–58, NJB.)

So the obstinate, teeth-gnashing, Christ-murdering Jews were pitched against Stephen, the angel-faced Christian apologist. Jewish beliefs were portrayed as incorrect and out-dated, and Jews as inflexible, angry, and aggressive. Those stubborn Jews were so headstrong they never noticed Yahweh and his newly invented son, Jesus, sitting up in the clouds together. Christianity, the new kid on the block, was now the real religion. It had found its voice, and then rejected its roots, like an opinionated adolescent who despises his deluded old dad.

If “the Jews” had wanted Yeshua dead, why wasn’t he stoned, and without a Roman trial, just like Stephen? One or both of the stories are fabricated.

Paul in Jerusalem

The author of Acts claimed that Paul got on real well with the disciples after his alleged conversion:

“When he (Paul) got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to Saul and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord” (Acts 9:26–29, NJB.)

Yet Paul’s own story, a primary source written perhaps fifty or so years earlier, specifically stated he did not go to Jerusalem after his “conversion:”

“Then God, who had specifically chosen me, while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans. I did not stop to discuss this with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me, but I went off to Arabia at once and later went straight back from there to Damascus” (Gal. 1:15–18, NJB.)

Paul being baptized and becoming an enthusiastic associate of the apostles is most likely another of the author of Act’s inventions. The Nazarenes would not have trusted Paul, and were, in fact, implacably opposed to him.

It is claimed in Acts that Christians were persecuted, and fled Jerusalem. Many Christians supposedly went to Antioch, well away from those Christ-killing Jews in Jerusalem who would shortly start a war with Rome (in 66 CE.) This was the author’s explanation for Christianity’s separation from Judaism, and why the new religion became so widespread so quickly.

This part of the story is a contrived fiction on many levels. It is remarkable for its amateurish audacity. Consider the author’s account of the persecution of “the church:”

“That day a bitter persecution started against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled to the country districts of Judaea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1, NJB.)

If the apostles had been Christians, would not they have been persecuted too? It is implausible that run of the mill Christians were chased out of Jerusalem while the supposedly Christian apostolic leaders were left unprosecuted. The author of Acts probably could not hide the fact the Nazarenes always were centered in Jerusalem. The “tradition” that Peter moved to Rome had not been invented yet.

The assertion that Jews persecuted Christians is almost certainly untrue, because there is no historical evidence, other than what is presented here in Acts, that Christianity even existed in Jerusalem prior to the first Jewish war of 66-70 CE, other than in Paul’s head. Paul was never comfortable or safe in Jerusalem. He rarely visited the place, and never gained a foothold there (see below.) Gentiles were, no doubt, given a hard time in Jerusalem in the 50’s and 60’s, yet to call them Christians is too long a stretch.

The author of Acts wrote that Peter

“...fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things and birds of the air. And a voice came to him: ‘Now Peter; kill and eat!’ but Peter answered, ‘Certainly not, Lord; I have never yet eaten anything profane or unclean.’ Again a second time, the voice spoke to him: ‘What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane.’ This was repeated three times and then suddenly the container was drawn up into heaven again” (Acts 10:11–16, NJB.)

If Peter experienced these visions, he must have told someone, yet he would hardly have admitted he questioned Yahweh! This was a bumbling attempt by the author of Acts to portray that God told Peter, a Jew, how to be a good Christian by giving up his kosher diet. The obstinate Peter needed to be told three times, by God himself! Those damn Jews, even those who had (allegedly) become Christians, were so strong willed they argued with God!

The author of Acts wrote

“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.” (Acts 12; 1-3 KJV.)

King Herod was made out to be anti Christian, yet in reality Herod was pro Roman and would therefore have been pro Christian.

“The Jews” were falsely made out to be encouraging the murder of Christians, in the same way that “the Jews” were falsely accused of wanting Jesus killed. Maybe the author of Acts was the author of Luke’s Gospel!

There are two separate accounts of a meeting between Paul and the Nazarenes at the famous Council of Jerusalem, in 49 CE. The one in Acts claimed that the meeting was held to discuss what was required of Gentiles who wished to become Nazarenes. The author wrote,

“Certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5, NJB.)

The issue was whether Gentiles wishing to join the Nazarenes must be circumcised.

The author was trying to make out that the followers of Jesus were not committed to circumcision, but that the more pro-Jewish Pharisees, who just happened to be hanging around, were. The author made out Peter gave a speech saying there was no need for circumcision, and then so did James,

“I rule, then, that instead of making things more difficult for pagans who turn to God, we send them a letter telling them merely to abstain from anything polluted by idols, from fornication, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” (Acts 15:19–21, NJB.)

That James dropped the circumcision requirement is highly unlikely, yet it was convenient for the author of Acts to promote such an idea. The author was hoping to spread a new version of Judaism that ignored the requirement for penile surgery. The new faith, Christianity, was given the seal of approval from Jesus’ brother, and was opened up to a massive new market - men reluctant to be circumcised. Yet it is hard to imagine James, the Torah loving, pro-Jewish fundamentalist, or his side kick Peter, making such a concession. James and Peter would not have been interested in the spiritual welfare of Gentiles. Elsewhere in the Bible, Paul referred to James as insisting on circumcision! The author of Acts was probably trying to make James and Peter sound less Jewish than they were.

The author of Acts indirectly admitted James was in charge, because James made the definitive ruling. Jesus’ brother, who had previously just been lurking in the background, clearly had a superior status to Peter.

It is worth recalling Paul’s own account of this meeting, written many decades earlier, which gave a very different version of events. In his letter to the Galatians Paul described a meeting where he justified his own “good news” story to Peter, James, and John, who he quite clearly had little respect for:

“Not that their importance matters to me” (Gal. 2:6, NJB.) Paul referred to them as the

“...so-called pillars of the church,”

a phrase dripping with sarcasm. Paul writes that they (he and the pillars) shook hands and agreed that he was to preach to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

Did Paul ever shake hands with the apostles? It is highly unlikely, unless Paul lied through his teeth about his real agenda while in their company. The apostles would never have accepted Paul’s heretical ideas. Paul would have received a thorough dressing-down, or worse, if the Nazarenes worked out or heard what Paul was saying and writing behind their backs. Paul was telling a tale to make himself sound like an authority the Nazarenes respected.

Why did Paul, a man full of his own self-importance, even bother associating with Nazarenes? He was just a two-bit player amongst Jews, and he knew it. He lacked credibility. He only had a few co-workers and a small circle of supporters to back him up. Paul admits that one of his communities spurned his instructions in his absence. ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians 1:6-10&version=KJV ).

James and the others were the leaders of a large, well-established sect within Judaism, supported in synagogues throughout the Diaspora. They thought James was the real, legitimate high priest. The Nazarenes were a significant threat to Palestinian peace. Paul, who could have been a government agent, needed to know what the Nazarenes were up to, so outside Jerusalem he often masqueraded as one of them to get his foot in the door. This gave him access to the synagogues, and an attentive audience. Paul probably posed as a Nazarene, but then tried to sabotage Judaism by promoting ideas that are now recognized as proto Christian.

Paul was so self-righteous he unashamedly admitted being two-faced:

“So though I am not a slave of any man I have made myself a slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. I made myself a Jew to the Jews, to win the Jews; that is, I who am not a subject of the Law made myself a subject of the Law to those who are the subjects of the Law, to win those who are subject to the Law. To those who have no Law, I was free of the law myself (though not free from God’s law, being under the law of Christ) to win those who have no law. For the weak I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and I still do this, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:19–23, NJB.)

Outside Jerusalem Paul was sometimes accepted as a Nazarene teacher. He then brazenly preached his own peculiar Gospel, and astounded his pro Jewish audience with a novel doctrine; that the Messiah had already been and gone, the Torah was obsolete, and that everyone should obey the government. Paul frequently paid a price for this audacity.

One must give Paul some kudos for being brave. He did whatever was necessary to spread subversive anti Jewish propaganda.

Paul’s Travels

From Chapter 14 on, Acts portrayed Paul’s evangelical missions.

To augment Paul’s authority, the author alleged Paul was a miracle maker. Paul supposedly made a blind man see again, (Acts 13:6–12) a lame man walk, (Acts 14:8–10) raised a youngster from the dead, (Acts 20:7–20) and survived a lethal snakebite (Acts 28:3–7.) Even Paul’s handkerchief cured the sick and cast out evil spirits. (Acts 19:12.) Paul’s stunts were just as jaw dropping as Jesus’! Yet if Paul, desperate to be believed, had pulled off these party tricks, he would have waxed lyrical about them in his letters. He doesn’t because he didn’t.

According to Acts, Paul created converts among Gentiles who were associated with synagogues in the Diaspora. He also wrote to groups of Gentiles who would meet in houses. Paul did not do so well with Jews, who took exception to someone preaching heresy. The Jews were convinced that if individuals ignored God’s commandments, the whole community would be punished. Paul upset Jews in Antioch, Iconium, Thessalonika, Beroea, Ephesus, Philippi, and Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Nazarenes were sending envoys out from Jerusalem to Jews in the Diaspora. Paul was desperate to destabilize them. He was not acting alone. Agrippa, the king of Judea from 41 - 44 CE, ( http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodians/he...ppa_i.html ) had a number of Jewish dissidents in Jerusalem arrested and murdered at this time, and they may have been Nazarenes. This would tie in with the claim in Acts that the Sadducees had Peter arrested.

The author of Acts made a clumsy attempt to create the impression Paul’s teaching was the much-improved version of Nazarene doctrine:

“An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos now arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures, and yet, though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquilla heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they took an interest in him and gave him further instruction about the Way. When Apollos thought of crossing over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote asking the disciples to encourage him. When he arrived there he was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:24–28, NJB.)

Apollos was a Jew, baptized by John, so he was a Nazarene, and therefore portrayed as a little naive. Apollos needed some polish by learning about Christ from Priscilla and Aquilla, who were both Paul’s lackeys. Apollos then became a new man, a Christian, and publicly refuted his own people and his old Jewish beliefs so as to promote Paul’s Christianity. One wonders why the author thought he could get away with telling such a tall tale!

The author of Acts claimed James summoned Paul back to Jerusalem. James was on to Paul. James sent Paul to the temple, allegedly to prove he was still a dutiful Jew. Once there, Paul was recognized and physically attacked by devout Jews. Paul was rescued in the nick of time by Roman soldiers. After Paul publicly admitted he was a Roman citizen, he was spirited out of town to nearby Caesaria with a military escort of five hundred men!

Five days after his so called arrest in Jerusalem, the High Priest Ananias and his lawyer Tertullus allegedly went to Caesaria and accused Paul of being an insurrectionist:

“And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged accord- ing to our law. But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so." (Acts 24:1-9, KJV.)

The High Priest was portrayed as wanting Paul killed, but it is doubtful that the High Priest would have been at odds with Paul. What may be historical is the fact the High Priest was cow tailing to Felix, the Roman procurator.

It is interesting that the author unambiguously, and correctly, portrays the Nazarenes as insurrectionists. What is unhistorical is that Paul was portrayed as a leader of the Nazarene sect.

It is ironic that a few decades earlier a High Priest had tattled to the Romans about Yeshua, allegedly for more or less the same crime Paul was accused of; being a trouble causer that offended Jewish religious sensibilities. Yeshua was crucified, but Paul was a Roman citizen and probably a government agent, so Felix was never going to execute him. Paul was kept in “safe custody” in a palace, for two years, before he was packed off to the relative safety of Rome. The Romans were protecting one of their own, a spy who had blown his cover in Jerusalem.

The author of Acts portrayed Paul as the misunderstood good guy, and made sure his readers knew Paul’s manufactured life story by having Paul repeat it.

Once in Rome, where Paul was supposedly kept under “house arrest,” it seems that he continued writing his pro government, anti Jewish letters. People in real prisons did not have access to pen, paper and mailmen, so it is probable that in reality Paul was never treated like a prisoner.

Perhaps Paul was eventually put out to pasture somewhere safe, well away from any Jew who might identify him, which may be why it is not known how or when Paul met his demise. There were no more letters from Paul after his sojourn in Rome.

Christian tradition has it that Paul was tried and executed in Rome, yet there is no good evidence for this, and no reason to think the government would have executed one of their own.

The author of Acts finished the story there. There is nothing more in the Bible about Yeshua’s disciples, or about James’ demise, the first Jewish war, or anything that happened afterwards. This meant there was a massive gap left for any Christian hoping to understand the real history of Christianity. Fortunately, there are extra Biblical sources to complete the picture.

Summary of Acts

The informed reader is best served by considering the tale told in Acts with a large degree of skepticism.

Acts makes out Christianity inherited Yeshua’s teaching, and this is quite misleading. The author of Acts invented a story of a strong friendship between Yeshua’s disciples and Paul to justify the idea that Jesus was a Christian, and thereby legitimize the beginnings of Christianity, yet it is apparent, reading between the lines, that there was never a cordial relationship between Paul and Yeshua’s disciples.

The author of Acts made out that the Nazarenes were Christians, whereas the Nazarenes opposed pagan philosophy (such as Christianity) and were, in fact, zealously promoting Messianic Judaism.

Paul was the founder of Christianity, not Yeshua. The author’s story about Paul’s supposed moment of enlightenment on the road to Damascus was a weak attempt to fabricate a link between Jesus and Paul, yet it is never discussed in any of Paul’s own writings, so is obviously a fiction.

No one knows for sure who the author of Acts was, but he was not a Jew, or a Nazarene, or a person who knew Paul, or even a person living in Jerusalem in the 50’s and 60’s. He never revealed from where he sourced his information. He was most likely a spin-doctor, a rewriter of history - someone employed to create a fabricated tale about the origins of Christianity. Was he aware that the Roman government was behind the creation of Christianity? I don’t know.

The author assumed his readers would accept what he wrote as the truth. He was not writing for a critical 21st century audience that can objectively examine all the facts, but for more simple folks who were toying with the idea of joining a new religion.

Historical truth was not an important priority for many ancient storytellers. Acts was written to buttress and convey belief, and the truth could be sacrificed in the process. The author’s rather clumsy attempts to denigrate Judaism and promote Christianity are too obvious, too weak, and clearly unhistorical.

It matters that the author of Acts was creating, not recording, history, because characters such as James, Paul and Peter were some of the key players in the Christian story. The fact that Acts is largely fabricated is further evidence that the very foundation of Christianity is fraudulent.

References:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UZeR3yV_Z8&list= TLkwY15HQ_OTDZ_DO6hYpfJuCrR68jFe2J (...seriously great viewing...)
Cresswell, Peter 2010 “Jesus the Terrorist” O books, Winchester, UK. Tabor, J. 2006 “The Jesus Dynasty”. Harper Collins. London.
Schonfield, H. 1977 “The Passover Plot”. Futura Publications. London
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Theiring, B. 1995 “Jesus Of The Apocalypse – The Life of Jesus After The Crucifixion” Moorebank. Doubleday Australia.
http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp01.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJIHgMR7LP0 http://askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0580Paul.php http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/s...idden.html
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23-05-2015, 06:06 AM
RE: The book of Acts
Quite the long read.

Along the way, I had never heard the name Yeshua before and had to look it up. Imagine my surprise to learn that Jesus is a mistranslated name for Yeshua.

I found a site that explains how the sounds and letters were mistranslated into English.

http://jesusisajew.org/YESHUA.php

I don't know how accurate this information is, but I found it funny to think of all the silly people in the world praying to jesus and Yeshua up in heaven thinking "Who the fuck is this jesus guy ?"

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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23-05-2015, 06:35 AM
RE: The book of Acts
Good stuff as usual doc. Smile

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23-05-2015, 08:02 AM
RE: The book of Acts
That was an excellent write up. Thank you.

(23-05-2015 01:43 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  ...
King Herod was made out to be anti Christian, yet in reality Herod was pro Roman and would therefore have been pro Christian.
...

Consider That's the leap I can't quite make.

I understand the hypothesis regarding fabricating an alternative to Judaism but the Romans elsewhere (e.g. England) went for Merger rather than Acquisition.

Being pro-pagan does not, in my mind, equal pro-christian.

I guess I'm not seeing the evolution I'd expect to see i.e. competing memes that morph and adapt to changing environmental conditions.

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23-05-2015, 08:52 AM
RE: The book of Acts
Great post! Thank youSmile

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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23-05-2015, 05:08 PM
RE: The book of Acts
(23-05-2015 06:06 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Quite the long read.

Along the way, I had never heard the name Yeshua before and had to look it up. Imagine my surprise to learn that Jesus is a mistranslated name for Yeshua.

I found a site that explains how the sounds and letters were mistranslated into English.

http://jesusisajew.org/YESHUA.php

I don't know how accurate this information is, but I found it funny to think of all the silly people in the world praying to jesus and Yeshua up in heaven thinking "Who the fuck is this jesus guy ?"

Oops, sorry, I should have explained that I used "Yeshua" when discussing the (probable) real historical character, and "Jesus" when discussing the character in the gospels.
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23-05-2015, 05:41 PM (This post was last modified: 23-05-2015 06:46 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: The book of Acts
(23-05-2015 08:02 AM)DLJ Wrote:  That was an excellent write up. Thank you.

(23-05-2015 01:43 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  ...
King Herod was made out to be anti Christian, yet in reality Herod was pro Roman and would therefore have been pro Christian.
...

Consider That's the leap I can't quite make.

I understand the hypothesis regarding fabricating an alternative to Judaism but the Romans elsewhere (e.g. England) went for Merger rather than Acquisition.

Being pro-pagan does not, in my mind, equal pro-christian.

I guess I'm not seeing the evolution I'd expect to see i.e. competing memes that morph and adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Okay. I hear you.

Just so everyone understands the terms, a pagan is anyone who is not a Jew.

Here are some reasons why I suspect that being pro-pagan was being pro-Christian...

- Paul ( the inventor of Christian theology) finished off his letter to the Philippians:

“All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22, KJV.)

Paul had contact with the Emperor Nero’s (Roman Emperor from 54-68 CE) family, and even permitted himself to speak on their behalf!

- Paul being a Roman associate fits with the fact the book of Acts states:

“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul” (Acts 13:1, KJV.)

The earliest Christian community at Antioch boasted a member of Herod Antipas’ family, the pro-Roman Tetrarch who had murdered John the Baptist, and Paul (Saul) was associated with him.

- Paul was a Roman citizen. The Roman army protected him. (I don't believe he was treated like a prisoner). He wrote that Jews should obey their Roman masters.

- if Jesus ever was a real historical person, he was born in Galilee, the heartland of Jewish zealotry, to Jewish parents, and he tried to start a war against Rome and got knocked off. The Roman government could well have used his name and his memory to turn his story around 180° to create a pro-government story.

- Jesus was made to say in the gospels "Love your enemies" "pay your taxes" turn the other cheek" "blessed are the meek" "blessed are the poor, you'll get your reward in Heaven," "stop worrying about tomorrow." Jesus even badmouths his own people, the Jews, in parts of the gospels.

- Christianity promoted the idea that the Jewish Messiah has already been and gone, and he wasn't a political leader, but a saviour of souls. This could've been to dissuade Jews from rallying around any other Messiah.

- some of the earliest Christians were supposedly members of the Imperial family.

- it was the government that controlled the distribution of literature in those days, which would be one good way of explaining how Christianity developed in so many different places throughout the Empire relatively quickly.

- the book of Acts, as just discussed, is adamantly anti-Jewish.

- Josephus, a Jew, was the government's chief propagandist in the years after the first war when the gospels were first created.

- consider how the centre of Christianity became Rome, not Jerusalem.

- consider how there was good reason to suppress Judaism both before the first Jewish War of 66 to 70, after it, and before the second Jewish War of 132 to 135. Significant Roman man power and money was spent on suppressing those pesky Jews. The Roman government was smart. They used propaganda all the time as well as military might, and I think Christianity was government propaganda.
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24-05-2015, 03:04 PM
RE: The book of Acts
(23-05-2015 08:02 AM)DLJ Wrote:  That was an excellent write up. Thank you.

(23-05-2015 01:43 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  ...
King Herod was made out to be anti Christian, yet in reality Herod was pro Roman and would therefore have been pro Christian.
...

Consider That's the leap I can't quite make.

I understand the hypothesis regarding fabricating an alternative to Judaism but the Romans elsewhere (e.g. England) went for Merger rather than Acquisition.

Being pro-pagan does not, in my mind, equal pro-christian.

I guess I'm not seeing the evolution I'd expect to see i.e. competing memes that morph and adapt to changing environmental conditions.

I understand the hypothesis regarding fabricating an alternative to Judaism but the Romans elsewhere (e.g. England) went for Merger rather than Acquisition.

Could you explain what you mean? You've lost me
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24-05-2015, 07:59 PM
RE: The book of Acts
(23-05-2015 06:06 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Quite the long read.

Along the way, I had never heard the name Yeshua before and had to look it up. Imagine my surprise to learn that Jesus is a mistranslated name for Yeshua.

I found a site that explains how the sounds and letters were mistranslated into English.

http://jesusisajew.org/YESHUA.php

I don't know how accurate this information is, but I found it funny to think of all the silly people in the world praying to jesus and Yeshua up in heaven thinking "Who the fuck is this jesus guy ?"

Did you also know that the name Jehovah is also due to a mistranslation into Greek?

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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24-05-2015, 08:41 PM
RE: The book of Acts
(24-05-2015 07:59 PM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  Did you also know that the name Jehovah is also due to a mistranslation into Greek?

Sometimes I think it might be easier to list everything that isn't a mistranslation or an interpolation.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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