Who was Saint Paul?
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15-08-2015, 05:50 PM (This post was last modified: 15-08-2015 07:40 PM by Mark Fulton.)
Who was Saint Paul?
This is the introductory chapter about Paul from my book.

I suggest it is well worth a read. It is impossible to understand Christianity if we don't know about St Paul. I know it is long, yet I think it is a great introduction to what Paul was all about. It places Paul in what I think is the correct social and political context.

Saint Paul

“The real architect of the Christian church was...the mercilessly fanatical and self-righteous Paul” (James Baldwin)

Paul (aka Saul) of Tarsus was probably the founding figure of what became Christianity. He was an enthusiastic evangelist and, by the standards of the time, a prolific author. His theology is, arguably, more important than that taught by Jesus. Without Paul’s influence it is probable that Christianity, as we know it, would not exist today.

Copies of many of Paul’s letters have survived and now form nearly one third of the New Testament (but see below.)

Today’s reader can open any one of thousands of books in a Christian bookstore coaching people how to live happy, meaningful, or successful Christian lives. These books are loaded with quotes from Paul used to back up a multitude of agendas and opinions. The authors of these books assume Paul had an unquestionable authority, yet nearly none of them objectively assess who Paul was, his relationship with Yeshua’s followers, what Paul was trying to achieve, or the evidence for the truth of Paul’s teachings. This chapter does. It examines the basis of Paul’s authority.

Paul promoted ethics that he claimed were derived from God, and those ethics have strongly influenced people’s principles in the western world.

This chapter contains some complicated concepts because the ideas expressed contradict traditional Christian thinking.

Paul’s Early Life

Not a lot is known about Paul’s early life. According to the author of Acts, Paul was a Jew from Tarsus, a city in modern-day Turkey:

“But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people” (Acts 21:39, KJV.)

Tarsus was a large cosmopolitan city on the shore of the Mediterranean, and a thriving commercial center. In Paul’s day it was already ancient; a two-thousand-year-old seaport. A pagan religious cult, Mithraism, which originated in Persia, was very popular there, and many other faith based groups flourished there as well.

Jews living in Tarsus were a minority, yet, as was usual throughout the Diaspora, (the places where Jews lived outside of Israel) Jews living there in Paul’s time were tolerated and respected.

The book of Acts has Paul claiming his education was at Gamaliel’s school in Jerusalem. (Gamaliel was a well-known Jewish rabbi.)

“...brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day” (Acts 22:3, KJV.)

Yet Paul writes nothing in his own letters about being Gamaliel’s student, or growing up in Jerusalem. It is only the author of Acts, who never claimed he knew Paul, who makes these claims.

Although Paul presents himself as an expert in Judaism, he is not accepted as such by Jewish scholars today - and they, of all people, are most qualified to make such an assessment.

Paul had only a moderate understanding of, and no real respect for Pharisaic Judaism. He was not as endeared towards Judaism as a typical Pharisee should be. The account in Acts makes it clear that Paul was less than successful in preaching to Jews who were zealous in their beliefs. In fact Paul preferred to preach to “Hellenized”

( http://www.christianity-revealed.com/cr/...eligionofm
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...-of-tarsus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Ap...d_Judaism)

Jews, or to Gentiles attracted to Judaism, because he thought he understood them, particularly the social problems “the Law” created for them.

Tarsus was not a center of Pharisaic teaching, and evidence for the existence of Pharisees living outside Palestine in Paul’s time is weak. It is possible that the author of Acts invented Paul’s Pharisaic past to augment a tenuous Judaic link between Yeshua’s Judaism and Paul’s Christianity.

Paul was reputedly a tent maker by trade, but this was hardly his calling in life. Paul was a passionate philosopher and theologian, and it is obvious from his letters that what inspired him most was evangelizing others to convince them of his beliefs.
Paul spoke and wrote in Greek, and he had a reasonable understanding of Greek culture and philosophy. He could probably speak Aramaic too, given that he argued with James, Peter and other Jews in Jerusalem.

Paul changed his original name, Saul, to Paul, in honor of a Roman governor. Some scholars have suggested that Paul may not have been a Jew, because his theology is so obviously influenced by Gentile ideas. Yet Paul was Jewish in the sense that he had been born into a Jewish family and had been raised as such. Paul certainly passed himself off as a Jew. He claimed,

“I was circumcised when I was eight days old. As for the law I was a Pharisee; as for working for religion, I was a persecutor of the Church, as far as the Law can make you perfect, I was faultless” (Phil. 3:5–6, NJB.)

( http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and...4/who-was- paul)

Paul declared he was educated in what he called the

“... traditions of my ancestors,” (Gal 1:14, NJB)

and he clearly had a moderate understanding of Jewish beliefs. Whether Paul had a genuine respect for those beliefs is another matter.

Paul was a Roman citizen, a status he may have inherited from his parents, (Acts 22:28) although how they came to be Roman citizens is unknown. Paul’s family would have enjoyed tax breaks because they were Roman. The prestige of having the same rights and status as a native Roman was attractive. In mercantile states and cities such as Tarsus, the fact that the government embraced the upper classes of the native population was one of the most successful weapons in the Roman arsenal, as it helped them control the common people. Paul would have been comfortable communicating with Romans, and with higher-ranking Jewish officials.

Paul’s education was obviously eclectic, as Jewish, Greek, Roman, Persian and other cultures influenced him. He was an urbane, well- travelled intellectual Jew from a well-off pro-Roman family that had successfully assimilated in a multicultural city. Paul probably spent much time in his youth discussing philosophical and theological issues with educated Greek friends. As a young man he would have enjoyed the lifestyle, freedom, and stimulation of living in a peaceful, successful part of the Roman Empire. Paul was from a very different world to Yeshua, a zealot from the backwater of Galilee, who was very likely illiterate, xenophobic and poor. The differences between cosmopolitan, coastal, cultured Tarsus and heated, hostile Galilee would have been startling. Paul was at home with Romans and greatly admired their culture. Yeshua had grown up in a narrow-minded Jewish environment awash with deep resentment against Gentiles. Some of Yeshua’s friends and relatives had been killed under Roman rule (such as John the Baptist, and the thousands of Galileans killed by Roman soldiers in 4 BCE and 6 CE.) Paul and Yeshua were both Jews, but they could hardly have been more different.

Paul’s Early Opposition to the Followers of Jesus

The Bible’s first mention of Paul is in Acts, where he is depicted as a devout Pharisee. Paul is portrayed as a bitter persecutor of Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem. This persecution was unlikely. Jesus’ original followers, the Nazarenes, were Jews, not Christians. Pharisees commonly argued with other Jews over the interpretation of Scripture, yet they did not physically attack those with different opinions.

There is no historical record of overt antagonism between Pharisees and Nazarenes in the 50’s and 60’s. In Acts, the author even relates an incident in which Peter (a disciple of Jesus) was saved by a speech from Gamaliel, the leader of the Pharisees, from being sentenced to death by the Sadducees (Acts 5:37.) You do not save someone from persecution if you are persecuting him!

It is more likely that the disciples, family, and other followers of Yeshua lived reasonably harmoniously next to Pharisees in Jerusalem for decades. Both parties were firm upholders of the Jewish Law.

If there was any conflict, it was between the Sadducees (the high priests) and the Nazarenes. The high priest occasionally physically persecuted the Nazarenes - Yeshua’s death is one example, and James’ (Jesus’ brother) murder under the orders of the high priest in 62 CE is another.

If Paul did, in fact, attack Yeshua’s followers, it would have been under the direction of the Sadducees, who were allied to the Roman establishment.

Paul’s Fictional Epiphany

The account in Acts of Paul’s abrupt, theatrical conversion to belief in Jesus on the road to Damascus is very familiar to most Christians. Is it historical?

Paul was a man eager to be believed and desperate to shore up his own credibility, as his ideas were without precedent and not based on traditional Jewish dogma. If Paul had experienced a visit from Jesus’ ghost on the road to Damascus and been temporarily blinded, he undoubtedly would have mentioned it in his letters, but he does not.

The author of Acts was trying to make his readers believe that Paul had received his commission - and therefore his legitimacy - directly from Jesus. The difficult fact for the author of Acts was that Jesus had died many years before Paul surfaced. It was managed by having Jesus’ ghost appear to Paul, who then, allegedly, went from being intensely pro-Jewish to becoming a fan of Jesus and fiercely pro-Christian.

The road to Damascus story was probably written sometime at least fifty-plus years after this epiphany was supposed to have happened, by someone (real identity unknown) who did not witness it, (if he did he would have said so) and by someone who never even claimed he had met Paul.

The author of Acts, through the story of the apparition, retrospectively falsely anointed Paul as Jesus’ new spokesman.

Paul did decide that his Christ was an important character. This may have been an idea that Paul promoted after a deliberation over political issues. It was probably just before, or in the early 50’s CE, roughly fifteen years after Yeshua’s death, that Paul launched a tale about his Christ designed to sell a new theology to the wider world.

The First Christian Author

Paul was the first known Christian author whose writings have survived. Paul had a burning need to tell anyone who would listen all about his theology, so he became a traveling evangelist. Paul probably wandered around half the Roman Empire for twenty years or so, preaching his version of religious truth.

Paul wrote letters to many communities, some of which have survived. They are very interesting, as we can read Paul’s authentic thoughts and emotions, and they are the letters that would contain the first formulas for Christian theology.

The Gospels did not influence Paul; they could not have, because they did not exist at the time Paul wrote. Paul wrote first. In fact, the reverse is true; Paul’s writings undoubtedly influenced the canonical Gospels.

Paul is traditionally credited with writing thirteen of the twenty- seven titles in the New Testament. All scholars admit that other parties, who used Paul’s name to give themselves credibility, wrote a
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ear...an_writers
http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/jesus.html )
number of “his” letters. This was a common practice of the time, and was, in fact, forgery. Many scholars claim only the following letters are genuine: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. The rest, which are Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus probably are not genuine. Hebrews is universally recognized as not Paul’s. The doubtful letters, including Hebrews, are labeled as “deutero-Pauline.”

It is thought Paul wrote his first surviving letter, to the Thessalonians, in 50–51 CE and his last enduring dispatch to an individual named Philemon, in 61–63 CE. Anonymous reporters penned the deutero- Pauline posts, probably in the early second century.

Paul Knew Almost Nothing of Jesus

“Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of Christ...Through these interpretations Paul could neglect the actual life and sayings of Jesus, which he had not directly known...Paul replaced conduct with creed as the test of virtue. It was a tragic change.” (Will Durant)

Most Christians incorrectly assume Paul was restating Jesus’ teachings. Yet Paul never claimed he was inspired or influenced by Jesus or Jesus’ disciples. Paul held his messages came from God and were about his Christ. They were not from the Jesus in the Gospels, who was someone else.

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_...e_epistles )

Paul’s Christ was not the wise teacher full of parables and anecdotes we think we know from the Gospels. Amazingly, in the twenty-first century, we know more about “Jesus” than Paul did!

Paul wrote,

“Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now” (2 Cor. 5:16, NJB.)

What an extraordinary statement! It only begins to make sense if we realize that Paul was only interested in the idea of a resurrected spirit, his Christ figurehead. A “once human” Jesus, someone with a personality and ideas, was never a topic Paul was comfortable discussing.

Someone passing himself off as Paul wrote that “Christ” was a mystery, one that he had a particularly good understanding of:

“Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4, KJV,) and

“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds” (Col. 4:3, KJV.)

Paul did not give a fig tree about the details of Jesus’ life, family, miracles or Jesus’ teachings. The only facts about Christ that mattered to Paul were that a Christ was crucified and resurrected. Paul rambled on and on about the supposed significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, not about the details of Jesus’ life.

( http://www.sonofman.org/paul1.htm
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamin...-did-paul-
know-about-jesus-not-much/ )

Consider Galatians:

“Then god who had specially 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. Even when after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days, I did not see any of the other apostles; I only saw James, the brother of the Lord, and I swear before God that what I have just written is the literal truth” (Gal. 1:15–20, NJB.)

After God “called” Paul, Paul more or less snubbed Yeshua’s family and supporters by shooting off to Arabia for three years. If Paul had thought Yeshua was the Son of God, surely he would have jolted to Jerusalem to meet James, Jesus’ brother, and Peter and Mary, two of Jesus’ close associates. Should not Paul have been anxious to meet the other Mary, Yeshua’s mum, the mother of God? Yet Paul very obviously was not. Something more important enticed him to Arabia. Three years later, Paul visited Jerusalem again, and there is definitely something very odd about the way Paul casually downplays the fact that he met James, Yeshua’s brother and Cephas, who was one of Yeshua’s disciples.

In all his writings Paul did not express any pleasure or awe in associating with Yeshua’s family or followers. This is strong circumstantial evidence that Yeshua never was Paul’s Christ.

The Gospel stories are sadly short of genuine historical facts about Jesus, as they were written by no one is sure whom, by people who had no known connection to Yeshua.

Things could have been different. Paul, who was educated and literate, could have saved much of the painstaking guesswork of historians over the last three hundred years (Jesus’ historicity has only been seriously studied in this time) by jotting down some facts about Jesus as related by Yeshua’s family and disciples. Paul should have outshone the Gospels and made them redundant. He did not. Instead, Paul wrote about things he thought were important: his own Christ, and his own ethics.

This was not a deliberate omission on Paul’s part; he was obviously totally unaware that people in the future might care to know about Yeshua. Interestingly, the author of the epistle of James, who may have been Jesus’ brother, also neglected to document a single fact about Jesus in his letter. Neither Paul nor James knew Jesus was going to become a hero-figure - because the Gospels had not been written yet, so Jesus’ status as a legendary character had not yet been created.

Who then, was Paul’s Christ? It was someone who Paul thought had existed in heaven since the beginning of time, yet only revealed to the world via Paul’s own peculiar interpretation of Jewish scripture. In the Gentile world of the time there was competition from many dying and rising gods such as Mithras. Those gods often did not have a mortal life that was remembered, just like Paul’s Christ. It was only the myth of them dying and rising again that gave them significance, just like Paul’s Christ. Paul’s Christ, real identity uncertain, appears to have been a Judaic myth invented to compete with these other cults. The idea that Paul’s Christ would one day be equated with Yeshua was probably never on Paul’s radar.

It is true that “Paul” mentions “Jesus” many times, yet “Jesus” may have been edited into Paul’s writings, where he had written only

“Christ.”

I cannot prove this happened, yet it is a distinct possibility given that there was a culture that encouraged “pious fraud” amongst Christians in the second, third and fourth centuries (more on this later.) Or, it could be that Paul was using the (very common) name to represent a spirit, not a person. “Paul” does say, once, in 1 Tim 6; 13, that Pontius Pilate crucified Jesus, yet this was probably not written by Paul. “Paul” does talk about what Christ allegedly said on the night he was betrayed, in the first letter to the Corinthians, but this whole passage is unique in that regard and therefore it too is suspiciously “unPauline.”

Most Christians who become aware of Paul’s lack of commentary on Jesus are perplexed, and with good reason. The almost complete absence of descriptions of Jesus in Paul’s writing undermines the account about Jesus’ activities in the Gospels. If Yeshua had been an inspiring, miracle working individual, someone with real feelings, empathy for his fellows, and charisma, who preached wise anecdotes that had so impressed his disciples and the crowds, Paul would have documented it, and he did not. Paul knew none of these stories about Yeshua.

Outside of Jewish scripture Paul only ever acknowledged one source of wisdom—himself.

Just who Paul thought his Christ was is a difficult concept to grasp, and maybe it is not worth spending too much time on. It is worth remembering that the sources of Paul’s ideas are obscure; that Paul’s writings have been tampered with, and that original meaning is often lost in translations. Further complications are introduced by realizing that the Jesus stories we know so well only finished being cobbled together in the fourth century, and that Paul had never read them.

( http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/parttwo.htm)

Paul’s Theology

“I draw a great distinction between the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus and the Letters of Paul. Paul’s letters are a graft on Christ’s teachings, Paul’s own gloss apart from Christ’s own experience.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

To the modern reader, Paul’s theology is strange, and very contrived. Numerous scholars have discussed aspects of it at great length, yet often still disagreed about what Paul may have meant. Despite that, it is important to get the drift of Paul’s key ideas.

Paul was an imaginative theologian. Paul claimed his Christ was a god - a very novel, indeed blasphemous idea for a Jew to entertain. All devout Jews believed in the one and only Yahweh, a god who had no family; monotheism was a central pillar of their theology. Various pagan cults, however, had gods who had families, for example the cult of Mithras and the Roman imperial cult. Was Paul trying to reinvent a basic tenet of Judaism to make it more like these pagan cults?

Christians may be surprised to learn that it was also Paul who first documented the idea that Yahweh had a son. (Rom.8; 3, Gal. 4; 4 and others.) Jews sometimes referred to a pious man or a king being a “son of God,” but it was never meant in a literal sense. Whether Paul considered his Christ to literally be the equal to God is a matter for much debate, yet there is no doubt Christians today consider Jesus was God’s son because of what Paul wrote.

Paul contended that his Christ was divine and existed in heaven before taking on a human form and living on earth. How this Christ got to earth Paul does not say, as he provides no birth story. Paul did, however, claim that Christ had a human father—

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3–4, KJV)

—which is inconsistent with his claim that Jesus was the son of God, because it is impossible to have two fathers. Paul was frequently inconsistent.

Paul was also probably the first person ever to document that a Christ had risen from the dead. Peter’s and John’s letters, found in the Bible, do mention a risen Christ, but they are thought to have been written a little later than Paul. Yeshua’s disciples did not write them.

Paul had an almost fanatical and rather morbid obsession with sin. He asserted everyone was born with the stain of original sin, inherited from his or her parents. According to Paul, sin offended Yahweh, who would forgive people only when offered a blood sacrifice, a primitive idea that was a common belief among Jews of the time (although not the Essenes.) Indeed, traditional Jews slaughtered cattle and other animals on a titanic scale in the temple to tempt Yahweh into forgiving their sins.

Paul had a highly original and rather odd theory. He claimed that his Christ had offered his life to God so that people would be pardoned for their sins. Paul’s Christ therefore became a blood sacrifice; just like a slaughtered animal. This notion is now known as the doctrine for the atonement of sin through the sacrificial death of Jesus.

( http://www.sullivan-county.com/id2/paul_theo.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_cu...ient_Rome)
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...&version=K )

The Christian world has, perhaps erroneously, assumed Paul’s Christ was Jesus.
Paul claimed that his Christ then rose from the dead, which in his mind proved God accepted Christ’s sacrifice on humanity’s behalf.

Paul asserted that Christ went back up to heaven, but would be com- ing back soon to take all believers in this scheme up to heaven too. Even those believers who had already died (at the time of Paul’s writing) would be raised from the dead to join the other believers in heaven. Hence all who had “faith in Christ,” would be “saved” and achieve “salvation.”

Paul proposed that the primary purpose of existence was to get into heaven by becoming “one with Christ,” and thereby receive the “gift of eternal life.” (Romans 6; 23.) According to Paul, anyone who did not have faith in Christ could not be saved, so would not get into heaven. This rather contrived, complicated and confusing scheme became known as the doctrine of justification by faith.

These are the core ideas of Paul’s theology, and of today’s Christianity. It is remarkable that Paul imagined the creator of the universe had such a convoluted agenda in mind. It is also astonishing that Paul was confident enough to claim that he held the key to the post mortem destiny of all the world’s peoples.

Paul frequently took his readers and listeners on mental roller- coaster rides such as this, creating a complex web of ideas about God, Christ and man. Paul had clearly spent countless hours cogitating over theological conundrums and came to many firmly held conclusions. Paul claimed to have no doubt that he spoke the truth, and that anyone who would listen needed to be told - and the sooner the better, because he made out that the end of the world was imminent.

Paul claimed he was on a mission to get as many people into heaven as possible, and was arrogant enough to insist that only he knew how to do it.

It was Paul’s unwavering commitment to these novel notions that seemed to spark his passion for evangelism.

Paul attempted, perhaps deliberately, to cajole his readers into accepting his ideas using reasoning that was often inconsistent and illogical, a fact many Pauline scholars admit. Paul made very dubious interpretations of Scripture (examples given shortly). Paul used strange terminology, concepts and language that made him even more difficult to understand (though that may in part be due to difficulties in translation). For example, Romans 7:7-13 (KJV) reads

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.”

( http://affectionaltheology.blogspot.com/ )

The reader is asked to perform mental gymnastics to make sense of this!
Paul was adamant the Jewish god was everyone’s. This god of his was watching you closely; God knew your every move, could read your thoughts, and judged you accordingly. Think or do or say the wrong thing, and Paul thought his god might deny you heaven, as Paul lays down in his letter to the Romans.

“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God” (Romans 2; 5, KJV.)

Paul mixed elements of his theology in different proportions in different letters, as he tried to sell his ideas to disparate social groups, but it did not bother him that he was inconsistent.

It was very important to Paul that the Jewish Messiah was not a patriotic rebel rouser, but was his Christ, God’s son. Paul did not want Jews thinking that they were more special than Gentiles. Paul wanted Jews and Gentiles to get over their differences, so he claimed they were equal in God’s eyes.

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:26-29, KJV)

For Paul, belief in Christ was a universal ideal he hoped would help different cultures get over their differences.

Considering the didactic tone of Paul’s letters, it becomes apparent that Paul had a personal need to be idolized and obeyed, and to help achieve this, he repeatedly reminded his readers of his own (rather dubious) credentials.

“Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?’ (1 Corinthians 9; 1, KJV.)

Paul no doubt dreamed of a day when everyone would get over their differences and believe the same or nearly the same theology, and as an added bonus, he would be admired as the most authentic authority.

Yet it can be argued that Paul’s theology is an over-cooked, messy brew of ideas, and the moment of enlightenment when it all makes sense never arrives.

It remains doubtful whether the people Paul wrote to would have understood all he had to say, yet some probably accepted his authority because he was so assertive.

The Source of Paul’s Theology

It cannot be assumed that Paul had a legitimate and verifiable source for his hypotheses, since the evidence is quite to the contrary. One can imagine going back in time to ask Paul from where he sourced his ideas. Paul showed signs of anxiety when his credibility was questioned, as when “his” communities were visited by someone preaching an alternate theology. Paul frequently wrote at length about himself, and often wrote how hard he worked, how genuine he was, how he had suffered for his beliefs, and how sure he was that what he was preaching was the truth. Paul’s actual answer about the source of his legitimacy might be a long time coming, yet it is embedded in his own writing. Paul thought God himself inspired his ideas. He wrote:

“The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realize this, the Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learned only through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You must have heard of my career as a practicing Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors. 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 may preach the Good News about him to the pagans” (Gal. 1:11–24, NJB.)

Paul specifically stated that the message he preached came not from human sources, but from God, “through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This was not the only occasion Paul wrote that God inspired him:

“I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle” (1 Cor. 1:1, NJB) and

“But our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5 NKJB.)

What Paul probably meant was that he thought he had a God given talent enabling him to interpret Scripture. That was, after all, the job description for a Pharisee. Paul openly communicated that his God, a character with whom he thought he had a special relationship, was the source of his “Good News.”

That may have impressed naïve people two thousand years ago, but a modern person can read any number of accounts from over imaginative people who also claim, without evidence, that they have talked to God. Some of these people who hear God are mentally unwell. Paul had no more credibility than them. Most objective people today would not accept Paul’s assumptions about his own credibility.

Paul took things one step further than his more traditional colleagues (the Pharisees) when interpreting Scripture. He thought he alone had a divine mandate from God.

Consider the opening lines of Paul’s letter to the Romans:

“From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures” (Rom. 1:1–3, NJB.)

Paul promoted himself as a uniquely special interpreter of Scripture, and he castigated anyone who happened to disagree with him (see 1 Corinthians 15:1–3 107)

Yet today’s Jewish scholars are adamant that Paul’s “good news” is not to be found in their Scriptures. Moreover, Paul often changed the meaning of Scripture to suit himself. For example, Paul wrote,

“... so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11, NJB.)

( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...ns+15%3A1-
3&version=KJV
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...-of-tarsus )

The actual Old Testament source that Paul borrowed heavily from was

“Before me every knee shall bend, by me every tongue shall swear, saying ‘From Yahweh alone come victory and strength.’” (Isa. 45:23–24, NJB.)

Paul merely replaced Yahweh with Christ, to fit with his own manufactured theology.
One of Paul’s main themes differentiating his theology from that of the Jews was that Gentiles could be God’s special people too. Paul wrote,

“Well, we are those people; whether we were Jews or pagans we are the ones he has called. That is exactly what God says in Hosea: ‘I shall say to a people that was not mine, ‘you are my people,’ and to a nation I never loved ‘I love you’” (Rom. 9:24, NJB.)

However a reading of chapters one and two of Hosea reveals that “God” was not referring to Gentiles, but Jews whom he was accepting back under his wing after a misdemeanor. Paul changed the meaning of Scripture to sell his own story to Gentiles living in Rome.

Mithras, the pagan god of an ancient Persian cult, had remarkable similarities with Paul’s Christ, and Paul’s hometown (Tarsus) was a major center of Mithraic belief. As Paul would have known of Mithras, it is probable that Paul manufactured his Christ partly based on the Mithraic model.

It is not unreasonable to consider whether Paul’s Christ was also, in part, an invention to counter the dreams of the Nazarenes, who were hoping for a Messiah.

Paul’s theology was the product of a complex mishmash of concepts from other cults, innovative interpretations of Jewish scripture, his personal ambitions, his desire to undermine Messianic Judaism, and of his own imagination. One could rightly label Paul a master confabulator, a man who invented fictions and interpretations to support his own views.

Paul must have known he was fabricating, but he did not let that niggle at his conscience. Paul was on a mission to snare converts, and the end justified the means. The more Paul thought and talked about the divinity of Christ, Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, the more real and useful these ideas probably became to him.

It either did not bother Paul, or he was not aware, that his ideas were fundamentally odd. Paul did not waste time questioning his own themes. He was too busy for that, too obsessed with winning people over.

Paul could not have imagined that his letters would one day be critically examined and compared with each other, and it appears that he just made up parts of his theology to suit his arguments to different groups of people.

Paul was preaching and writing to people in ancient times who, judged by today’s standards, while not unintelligent, were naïve, unsophisticated and isolated. Most of them would have had Paul’s epistles read to them. A well-written letter must have been impressive. When Paul appeared in person he was probably a confident teacher.

( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...ersion=KJV http://jdstone.org/cr/files/paulandthepa...raism.html )

So Paul must have assumed his readers would be impressed by his claims that God inspired him, yet there is clearly no legitimate reason why modern readers should be.

Christ’s Sacrificial Death

Scholars agree that Paul invented the curious concept that Christ was crucified to save souls from their sins. Why has this strange idea become part of Christian dogma?
Having the Son of God become human, and free the faithful from the guilt and consequences of their sins, was an attractive story. It meant God was no longer a distant impersonal deity, like the god of the Old Testament, but someone more like them, with whom they could identify. Christ was an ally, a great guy, and everyone’s best friend. Christ would take on your punishment for you, provided you believed in him. If you did that, Paul promised a free pass to salvation. Churches have pushed this unusual plan to such an extent that Christians rarely question it. This is why some Christians insist everyone believe in Jesus: so that sins can be forgiven and entry into heaven assured.

The whole argument is irrational. Why would the Son of God need to sacrifice himself to appease his father, who was also himself, for the sins of the world? Is not sacrificing anyone a pointless, barbaric act that kills an innocent scapegoat? Why would faith in this sacrifice be a ticket for entry into heaven?

Amongst theologians, there has never been a sound explanation for these ideas, because no sensible explanation is possible.

( http://atheistfoundation.org.au/article/...atonement/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v= )

Paul’s God could simply be had to say

“you are genuinely sorry, so I forgive you.”

Yet that was not good enough for Paul, as he had been indoctrinated with Scripture, so he could not imagine a benevolent God. Instead, Paul had God as a rigid demagogue who demanded a sacrifice.

Sin

Most modern people consider sin a deliberate act that results in harm, usually to another person. Yet Paul claimed sin can be something one is born with, like a birth defect. ( http://atheism.about.com/od/thebible/a/originalsin.htm ) This idea is of great concern, as a newborn baby cannot deliberately cause harm, therefore cannot sin.

Paul is the only New Testament author to discuss this concept of “original sin,” as further articulated by Tertullian of Carthage (AD 150-225) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE.) in later centuries. It is a nasty notion. People are told that they are basically bad - because they were born. It makes susceptible people dislike them- selves, which many Church people know is good for business.

Paul misunderstood the real nature of sin. Paul proposed that sin was about actions or thoughts that upset his God. Yet modern people recognize that sin harms others, or sometimes the actual perpetrator. It should be the victim of sin, or society, who does the forgiving, not God. When God is left out of the proceedings, people are vindicated, maybe compensated, and the guilty party can promise not to repeat the offense. Wrongdoers learn from their mistakes, and society benefits. Paul bypassed this reparative process by saying that sin was forgiven by a God who insisted on faith in Christ, an unrelated third party.

In turning Christ’s death into a sacrifice that saves souls, Paul sacrificed common sense. Paul devalued interpersonal relationships and indirectly compromised social harmony. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA55jGyq2C8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gvv_UM7CYg )

Today’s Churches accept Paul’s ideas on sin. They derive a side benefit; they can cash in by claiming that they are the conduit between the sinner and God.

Salvation

Paul put forward the idea that life on earth was just a prologue, and, therefore, unimportant compared to the never-ending afterlife. ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans 8&version=
KJV ) He taught people to daydream about heaven.

Paul thought that life was one long test upon which we will be judged, and rewarded for, if we make the grade. This nasty notion poisons mental well-being. Most competent, admired philosophers today know that it is better to enjoy what life has to offer, and wish the same for our fellows, than to worry about an afterlife!

If, hypothetically, Paul’s God exists, surely that God has no interest in making judgment calls, because he made every atom of us, and of the universe. Our so-called “free will” is, therefore, his creation. This God knows why, when and what we have done and will do. There is nothing about “us” that is not a product of “him.” Why, then, would he judge “us,” his own creation? This did not occur to Paul, or to people today who try to promote this dogma.

Paul could not prove the existence of his God, nor of heaven. He just assumed, or pretended to believe, that both were real. He borrowed “God” from traditional Judaism, and “heaven” from the Pharisees, because it was convenient to do so. Paul could hang his novel ideas on the coat tails of Judaic tradition. Paul took existing traditions and turned them around a little so they were new and different.

It is an obvious con; Paul promised a fictional salvation, a good time in a hypothetical heaven, to anyone who did what he or she were told, as dictated by him, yet he never had to make good his promise. Sometimes people in Churches play the same game today using their own dubious interpretations of the Bible and the same unproven promise of heaven.

Some of today’s evangelical Christians are dismayed that their more down-to-earth friends have not accepted faith in Jesus, so are not going to be “saved.” These Christians do not appreciate the fact that Paul just concocted this concept, and it makes no sense, and therefore it cannot be true.

The Second Coming of Christ

Paul preached that Christ was going to come back to earth sooner rather than later:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4; 16–18, KJV.)

A few years later, in about 53 CE, Paul’s Christ still had not come, but Paul kept his followers primed:

“Brothers this is what I mean: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:29–31, NJB.)

Ten years later Paul was still preaching that the end of the world was approaching, and then he disappeared from the historical record.

Paul was the ringleader of a doomsday cult. ( world-or-is-it-pauls-apocalyptic-worldview-nt-26/ ) Paul's communities lived in daily expectation of the return of Christ and the end of their earthly existence.

Two thousand years later, Paul’s Christ still has not reappeared and the earth is still circling around the sun, just as it has done for the last four and a half billion years, so Paul’s predictions have been proven false for countless generations.

Did Paul really believe the world was about to end, or was it merely an idea he promoted to introduce a fear in people for not believing?

In more modern times, numerous cult leaders like Paul have forecast that fabulous or cataclysmic events, such as the reappearance of Jesus or the destruction of the earth, are imminent. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEsWX0YDB2Y ) Their agenda has been driven by dubious motivations, the consequences have been varied in the damage done to followers, and all predictions have failed to come to fruition.

Paul the Salesman

It can be argued that Paul was a salesman with an ambitious agenda. Paul hoped to sell his interpretation of Judaism to the Roman world. He had a plan to undermine those dangerous messianic Nazarene beliefs that roused rebellion against Roman rule.
Paul wrote to various groups scattered throughout the Empire, and pleaded they believe only his theology. Judging by the content of his letters, Paul was so obsessed with snaring converts that little else in his life mattered. In Romans 15:16, he wrote that Gentiles were an offering he would bring to God.

“...that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”

Most of the people Paul wrote to were Gentiles (pagans) associated with Jewish synagogues, (“God-fearing Gentiles”) although he wrote to some Jews in the Diaspora too. From Paul’s perspective, his patrons were in desperate need of direction and an authoritative, charismatic leader to look up to. He considered himself just the man. Paul thought he knew how to win the hearts, minds, and souls

( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEsWX0YDB2Y
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2006/10/12/its-not-the-end-of-the- )

of people, as he probably imagined himself as one of the few God fearers (i.e. Jews) who understood Gentile cultures.

“And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-23, KJV)

Paul’s theology probably had a long and carefully thought out gestation. Paul knew that to appeal to his customers he needed a product very different to traditional Judaism. Traditional Judaism required obedience to cumbersome dictates, and was too anti-Roman. The Jews believed men had to be circumcised, a painful and embarrassing procedure, not easy to sell to an adult man. The Jews worshipped Yahweh, who is portrayed in Jewish Scripture as a thunderous and violent pro-Jewish anti-Gentile God, and Jews would bow to no one but Him. The Jews had to eat kosher food, could marry only Jewish women, and were not allowed to work on the Sabbath. Jews regarded Jewish heritage and history as superior to others, and all Jews were expected to take part in the fasts and feasts celebrating the ancient epic of Israel. Many Jews thought they were one day going to be the masters of the world, and they had chips on their shoulders that right now it was Rome, not they, who were in charge. Jewish Messianic dreams were a threat to Roman rule. Paul knew that the vast majority of Gentiles found all this inconvenient, irksome and out of touch with reality, so he labeled these Jewish rules and beliefs as a type of “slavery.” Paul had to jettison the old Jewish rules, so he did, by reinventing Judaism so that it was more to the Gentile world’s liking.

According to Paul, there was now no need for circumcision or to stop work on the Sabbath. The dietary kosher rules were out; bacon was on the breakfast menu, with shellfish salad for lunch. Paul made the extraordinary claim that to obey the Roman government was to obey God. Paul downplayed the importance of the Jewish temple, and replaced the Jews’ hope for a political Messiah of their own with Christ, the spiritual savior of all mankind. The “kingdom of God,” according to Paul, became a place in heaven, not in Israel. Paul declared Yahweh was such a decent deity he had sent his own precious son, the Christ, to earth. Paul alleged Gentiles were descendants of Abraham too, and that the centuries old Jewish Law was a “curse,” and a type of “slavery.” All that was now required was faith in Paul’s claims about Christ. Voilà! The Christ myth and Christian theology were born.

It can be argued that Paul was one of history’s first examples of an ambitious cult leader who, when the rules of the established religion were problematic or no longer convenient, simply invented new ones to suit himself.

Paul advocated the replacement of what he called the “old covenant” of the Jews with his entirely fabricated “new covenant.” It is evident that Paul was trying to reinvent Judaism and dampen down Jewish messianic dreams, and that he was bending over backwards to infiltrate the old religion with Gentiles and pro-Roman ideas. Paul had little idea that he was creating an almost entirely new faith, yet that is precisely what his writings helped to do many years later.

Paul’s Relationship with the Nazarenes

At the so-called “Jerusalem council,” of about 49 CE, James convened a meeting to discuss tactics for promoting the Nazarene’s beliefs. 2 Galatians, written by Paul, describes this meeting. It is a truly enlightening passage from the Bible:

“It was not until fourteen years had passed that I went up to Jerusalem again. I went with Barnabas and took Titus with me. I went there as a result of a revelation, and privately I laid before the leading men the Good News as I proclaim it among the pagans; I did so for fear the course I was adopting or had already adopted would not be allowed. And what happened? Even though Titus who had come with me is a Greek, he was not obliged to be circumcised. The question came up only because some who do not really belong to the brotherhood have furtively crept in to spy on the liberty we enjoy in Jesus Christ, and want to reduce us all to slavery. I was so determined to safe- guard for you the true meaning of the Good News, that I refused even out of deference to yield to such people for one moment. As a result, these people who are acknowledged leaders—not that their importance matters much to me, since God has no favorites—these leaders, as I say, had nothing to add to the Good News as I preach it. On the contrary, they recognized I had been commissioned to preach the Good News to the uncircumcised just as Peter had been com- missioned to preach it to the circumcised. The same person whose action had made Peter the apostle of the circumcised had given me a similar mission to the pagans. So James, Cephas and John, these leaders, these pillars, shook hands with Barnabas and me as a sign of partnership: we were to go to the pagans and they to the circumcised. The only thing they insisted on was that we should remember to help the poor, as indeed I was anxious to do. When Cephas came to Antioch, however, I opposed him to his face, since he was manifestly in the wrong. His custom had been to eat with the pagans, but after certain friends of James arrived he stopped doing this and kept away from them altogether for fear of the group that insisted on circumcision. The other Jews joined him in this pretence, and even Barnabas felt himself obliged to copy their behavior. When I saw they were not respecting the true meaning of the Good News, I said to Cephas in front of everyone, ‘In spite of being a Jew, you live like the pagans and not like the Jews, so you have no right to make the pagans copy Jewish ways.’” (Gal. 2:1–15 JB.)

Each sentence, written by Paul, reveals a facet of a very strained relationship. Paul was clearly intimidated by James,’ John’s and Peter’s authority. He referred to them as “Pillars,” and “leading men,” and he writes that he was well aware that they might not accept his proclamation of “Good News:”

“I laid before the leading men the Good News as I proclaim it among the pagans; I did so for fear the course I was adopting or had already adopted would not be allowed.”

Moreover, Paul barely concealed the fact that he begrudged them their authority. He wrote:

“...not that their importance matters much to me.”

Can anyone imagine Paul writing that about someone (James) he thought was the half brother of the Son of God? This is more compelling evidence that Paul’s Christ was not Yeshua, James’ brother.

Paul quite clearly regarded the three Pillars, including Jesus’ brother James, as competition:

“I was so determined to safeguard for you the true meaning of the Good News, that I refused even out of deference to yield to such people for one moment.”

Paul mistrusted “such people,” the Nazarenes, the family and disciples of Jesus. They did not “belong to the brotherhood.” Paul accused them of spying on “...the liberty we enjoy in Christ Jesus.” Paul said they had “...nothing to add to the Good News I preach.” Paul believed they “...want to reduce us all to slavery.” Paul thought that he was freeing people from the “...slavery...” of the Judaic Law. Paul thought that the “Good News” he, and only he, preached, entitled people to “...belong to the brotherhood...”

Then, Paul and Peter, allegedly stalwarts of the fledgling Christian movement, (who the Vatican claim founded a Christian church in Rome together) bickered with each other. Paul claimed (probably quite correctly) that Peter did not respect his “Good News.” Paul claimed he publicly challenged Peter directly by accusing him of hypocrisy.

What an intriguing snippet of the Bible! A churlish, hostile Paul, who was probably the first founder of Christianity, was personally and philosophically at odds with Jesus’ brother and disciples! Paul was angry and frustrated that the Nazarenes had been undermining him, and he did not hold back his vindictive retort. Paul and the pillars obviously were not preaching the same message! (As claimed in Acts.)

The historical reality revealed (in part) in this passage probably is that devout Jews (such as the Nazarenes) despised Paul and rejected his ramblings. The idea that their mysterious, perfect, one and only God could be incarnated in a Christ (as per Paul) was unthinkable to them. They could not imagine there was any basis to Paul’s claim that their God could die, or that a Christ’s death somehow addressed man’s sins. For the Nazarenes, the kingdom of God promised in Scripture never was in a hypothetical heaven, but was to be on earth in the here and now. Their Messiah was not some savior of souls, but a leader of the Jews who was to herald in a glorious age in which Israel triumphed and pagans recognized the glory of their god, Yahweh. This Messiah was to build the temple, (Ezek. 37:26–28) gather all Jews back to Israel, (Isa. 43:5–6) bring an end to Roman rule, and was supposed to end all exploitation, corruption, famine, disease, and war. Paul’s fictional Christ had done none of this!

Paul claimed:

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2; 16, KJV) and

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Gal. 3:13, KJV) and

“Before faith came, we were allowed no freedom by the Law; we were being looked after till faith was revealed. The law was to be our guardian until the Christ came and we could be justified by faith. Now that that time has come we are no longer under that guardian, and you are, all of you, sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. All baptized in Christ, you have all clothed yourself in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:23–28, NJB.)

Paul quite clearly thought that faith in his Christ made the Jewish Law redundant. Jews, however, did not buy this. They would not be Jewish if they did. James’ letter in the Bible directly contradicts Paul’s assertions. The Jews believed - and still do - that the way to find favor with God was to obey “the Law” - that is, the Torah, as allegedly taught by Moses. There is no mention in their Scriptures about an end to the covenant God made with their ancestors on Mount Sinai. Jews regarded the Law almost as a gift from their God, not a curse, or an imposition on freedom. No Jews, including the Nazarenes, recognized a “new covenant.” Why would they give up centuries of tradition to believe a renegade such as Paul?

Imagine a hypothetical modern analogy; a fanatic from a small cult, such as the “branch Davidians,” grabbing a microphone during a Catholic mass at the Vatican, and proclaiming that David Koresh was Jesus’ son, and that Koresh’s teachings replaced the sermon on the mount. Paul was behaving like a deluded fanatic.

Paul had an ambivalent attitude to Jewish Scripture, which varied with the audience he was writing to. At times Paul used Scripture to justify his own ideas, such as when writing to “Hellenized” Jews in the Diaspora. Yet when writing to Gentiles he claimed large parts of Scripture (such as “the law”) were redundant.

Yeshua had died over a decade before Paul appeared on the scene, and had Yeshua been alive, there is little doubt he would have been at first perplexed and then seriously offended by Paul’s idea that the Law was no longer important and that his death could somehow give Gentiles a ticket to heaven. Yeshua must have hated the Romans, (they did nail him to a cross!) and would never have imagined that Yahweh, whom he never regarded as his temporal sire, would grant Gentiles a place in heaven!
Jesus said,

“Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish them but complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved” (Matt. 5:17–18 JB.)

Paul and Jesus contradicted each other! So much for Biblical infallibility! (http://www.essene.org/Yahowshua_or_Paul.htm). Many Christians today insist that Jesus came to do away with the Jewish Law. In believing this, they are not considering Jesus’ words, but Paul’s.

Most Jews (the Samaritans were an exception) believed God dwelt in the temple, in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. Paul made a cavalier dismissal of the importance of Israel by suggesting that all believers become a temple for God:

“And that is what we are—the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:15, NJB) and

“Didn’t you realize that you were God’s Temple” (1 Cor. 3:16 JB.)

Paul was trying to expand God’s seat of power out of Jerusalem and into the whole known world. Yet for most first century Jews, this downplayed the importance of the temple, the geographical pivot of Judaism.

Jews thought they were Abraham’s descendants and God’s special people. Yet Paul claimed:

“Those therefore who rely on faith receive the same blessing as Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gal. 3:9, NJB,) and

“Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he was promised” (Gal. 3:29, NJB.)

Paul wanted believing Gentiles to consider themselves God’s chosen, so that they too were special, and at the same time weaken the patriotic fervor of Jews by downplaying their exclusivity.

Throughout Paul’s travels, it is clear from the book of Acts that Paul was initially welcome in synagogues because he masqueraded as a traditional Jew, but after Jews heard what he had to say, Paul was rejected, sometimes even beaten and pelted with rocks. Most Jews liked to think they were part of a chosen race, superior in all ways, and in God’s eyes, to the pagan hordes. These Jews must have imagined Paul was upsetting their God, and the whole Jewish community would suffer as a consequence. Is it any wonder the Jewish people lashed out at Paul?

Jesus’ own people attacked Paul because he was promoting Christian ideas, a fact that should raise eyebrows in today’s Churches.

In the decades Paul was preaching, the Nazarenes were expanding into a significant force under James’ leadership in Jerusalem. The Nazarenes also enjoyed a strong membership among Jews throughout the Empire. They most definitely did not preach the divinity of Christ, nor did they intend to start a new religion.

Paul, when he was not pretending to be one of the Nazarenes, considered them to be competitors. Paul got very upset when he encountered rival missionaries, who were probably Nazarene, and complained bitterly about them hijacking “his” converts. He condemned them, using the undeniable truth of his own Gospel as justification, in his letter to the Galatians:

“I am astonished at the promptness with which you have turned away from the one who called you and have decided to follow a different version of the Good News. Not that there can be more than one Good News; it is merely that some trouble makers among you want to change the Good News of Christ; and let me warn you that if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one that we have already preached to you, whether it be ourselves or an angel from heaven, he is condemned” (Gal. 1:6–9, NJB.)

Paul sounds like an upset child whose best friend has gone off to play with someone else. It is ironic that he was accusing his adversaries of the very thing he was guilty of - preaching a fabrication! Paul clearly undermined Yeshua’s family and disciples behind their backs. Paul was surprised and angry to find himself competing with them for people’s allegiance. The Nazarenes were treading on what he considered his turf. How dare they preach old-fashioned Jewish theology and disrupt his mission to set up communities of believers! Those annoying war-mongering Jews promoted subversive fantasies about a militaristic Messiah, but God had revealed to him something he thought much more appropriate-his Christ! He, not they, was plugging the “Good News.”

Paul was sure he knew what the flexible, expansionist, less violent, less Judaic God expected in these modern, pro-Roman times. Paul thought of himself as an educated, savvy sophisticate who knew a stack more about selling religion than the old fashioned anti-Roman bumpkins from Jerusalem!

Paul probably tried to ingratiate himself with the Nazarenes when in their company, but they became implacably opposed to him, as verified by the verbal confrontation described in Galatians chapter two, and the adamantly anti-Pauline assertions in James’ letter.

Paul knew that he was not popular amongst traditional Jews. In his letter to the Romans he expressed his nervousness that the Nazarenes in Jerusalem might reject him, which, if the story in Acts is true, is precisely what happened. James summoned Paul to Jerusalem when it became apparent that Paul was preaching against the Torah, and James sent Paul to the temple to be purified so as to prove that he was still a true Jew. (See Acts 21,120) This led to Paul’s so called arrest and eventual transportation to Rome. James, Jesus’ brother, effectively terminated Paul’s missionary career!

When Romans arrested Paul he was forced to admit that he was a Roman citizen, and his cover, that is his masquerade as a Nazarene, was well and truly blown. Nazarenes were implacably opposed to Rome, and they would not have taken kindly to finding out there was a spy in their ranks. According to Acts, Roman authorities had to dedicate considerable resources (500 soldiers) to protect Paul from angry Jews. That is about the same number of soldiers who arrested Jesus. It appears as though Rome was looking after one of their own.

Paul was not deterred. He kept writing letters from Rome.

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15-08-2015, 05:54 PM (This post was last modified: 15-08-2015 06:42 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
...continued....

Paul was not deterred. He kept writing letters from Rome.

Paul’s modern-day reputation as an honest evangelist, and the implication that Paul taught Yeshua’s message, have no foundation, yet they have become part of Christian tradition, largely because of Acts, written some time in the early second century. To bolster Paul’s legitimacy, the author of Acts had Jesus’ ghost appear to Paul on the road to Damascus, which was obviously fiction, as was the story of Paul becoming best friends with Jesus’ disciples. The author of Acts even tried to shore up Paul’s status by having him (and his handkerchief) perform a number of miracles. Yet in Paul’s writings there is no mention of Jesus’ ghost or his own miracles. Paul most certainly would have written about these events had they been true. Paul revealed many personality traits in his letters, but genuine modesty definitely was not one of them.

Paul the Cult Leader

A cult is a small group that has religious beliefs or practices regarded as strange or sinister. Traditional Jews may have regarded Paul’s proto Christian communities as parts of a cult.

Like all cult leaders, Paul did his best to bolster his personal power and prestige. His ego was partly responsible for his self-styled theology. Despite Paul’s wordy protestations that he was only working for everyone else’s welfare, his letters lay bare his burning need to browbeat the reader into believing that he, Paul, was the ultimate authority on theological and ethical issues. Paul often called his teachings

“ . . . my gospel,” (Rom 2; 16 and 16; 25-27)

a very apt description. His Gospel elevated him to the status of the master teacher, as no one else in his immediate circle was an authority on it.

The arrogant Paul insisted this Gospel of his was the only path to salvation:

“Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you - believing anything else will not lead to anything” (1 Cor. 15:1–3, NJB.)

Sophisticated men are interested in others’ opinions, but Paul could not cope with competing convictions. Magnanimous men are never overly dogmatic; they give people space to find their own paths, but Paul would have none of that. Authentic teachers do not need to threaten their students, but Paul did.

Paul wrote

“Take me for your model, as I take Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1, NJB.)

Paul thought he was the next best thing to God; that he was the personal deputy of his deity.

A few years later Paul wrote,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, KJV.)

By then God’s right hand man had himself become God. These delusions of grandeur aptly reveal one facet of Paul’s narcissistic personality. It is surprising that more of today’s Christians do not recognize this obvious flaw in Paul’s character.

Status and power were not all that Paul pursued. He needed food and shelter, items that usually needed to be bought. Money seems to have been a niggling issue:

“That is why I have thought it necessary to ask these brothers to go on to you ahead of us, and make sure in advance that the gift you promised is all ready, and that it all comes as a gift out of your generosity and not by being extorted from you. Do not forget that thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow, the more you reap. Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:5–7, NJB.)

Cult leaders trying to earn a quid love a cheerful giver too! Giving and taking money has always been part and parcel of the machinery of religion, and Paul’s activities were no exception.

Paul tried to justify living off the communities he visited:

“Nobody ever paid money to stay in the army, and nobody ever planted a vineyard and refused to eat the fruit of it. Who has there ever been that kept a flock and did not feed on the milk from his flock?” (1 Cor. 9:7, JB.)

Paul must have milked money from his fraternities. Anyone he clashed with was compromising not just his ego, but his income too.

Paul did not have an easy time selling his ideas, as he repeatedly wrote about his own credentials. If he had impressed more people in real life, he would not have needed to sell himself so hard in his letters.

These details about Paul are rather eye opening. I hope you have found them interesting.

References:
Cupitt, D. 1979 “The Debate About Christ”. SCM Press Limited. London
Murphy-O’Connor, J. 1996 “Paul A Critical Life”. Oxford University Press. Oxford.
Schonfield, H. 1977 “The Passover Plot”. Futura Publications. London
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Stourton, E. 1994 “Paul Of Tarsus”. Hodder and Stoughton. London.
Tabor, J. 2006 “The Jesus Dynasty”. Harper Collins. London. Cresswell, Peter 2010 “Jesus the Terrorist” O books, Winchester,
UK.
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2009/0...es-1–paul- and-his-communities-podcast-collection/
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2007/1...-13-pauls- response-to-followers-of-jesus-at-thessalonica/
http://www.sullivan-county.com/id2/paul_problem.htm http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/paul/paul.htm
http://armageddonconspiracy.co.uk/The-Mithras- Deception(1753794).htm
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prair.../nazarens. htm
http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp06.htm http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp08.htm http://paulproblem.faithweb.com/paul_odd...acts15.htm
http://books.google.com/books?id=3VFnsDu...intsec=fro ntcover&dq=Jesus+words+only&hl=en&ei=M0pQTZelKo2CsQP B-fSRCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0C CsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
http://feeds.feedburner.com/feedburner/APRP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h5L1Js9e...re=related
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/064...nFraud.php
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFXVR8W5Ngw&feature=rela ted
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPhKmRmCSoE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8HFMoyl6SY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_Vg9HNlRLM http://askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0580Paul.php http://www.askwhy.co.uk/questioningbelie...essiah.php http://askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0589PaulJudaizers.php
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15-08-2015, 06:04 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
Excellent Mark.

EDIT: Forgot to add this which I especially liked.

Paul misunderstood the real nature of sin. Paul proposed that sin was about actions or thoughts that upset his God. Yet modern people recognize that sin harms others, or sometimes the actual perpetrator. It should be the victim of sin, or society, who does the forgiving, not God. When God is left out of the proceedings, people are vindicated, maybe compensated, and the guilty party can promise not to repeat the offense. Wrongdoers learn from their mistakes, and society benefits. Paul bypassed this reparative process by saying that sin was forgiven by a God who insisted on faith in Christ, an unrelated third party.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
Banjo.
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15-08-2015, 06:04 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
Nicely done, this was actually on my TTA bucket list Big Grin

Awesome job as usual. Thumbsup

Worship Slaves

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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15-08-2015, 06:16 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
Mark Fulton: "Paul was an imaginative theologian. Paul claimed his Christ was a god - a very novel, indeed blasphemous idea for a Jew to entertain.
Alla: John 8:
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.
59 then took they up stones to cast him.

Why did they take stones? Because Jesus said: I AM. And we know who I AM is. I AM is God of Old Testament.

John 1: 10 He(Jesus) was in the world and the WORLD WAS MADE BY Him.
We know who made the world. God of Old Testament I AM or Yahweh.
the world was made by Jesus/I AM/Yahweh

Jews understood Jesus's claim that He was God/I AM.
They say this to Jesus:
John 10
32 Jesus.. for which of those works do ye stone Me?
33 the Jews answered him, saying for good works we stone thee not; but for BLASPHEMY; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

So, they had this impression that Jesus claimed to be God.
Before Abraham was, I AM

English is my second language.
I AM DEPLORABLE AND IRREDEEMABLE
SHE PERSISTED WE RESISTED
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15-08-2015, 06:28 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
Interesting! Thank you for posting Thumbsup
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15-08-2015, 06:47 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(15-08-2015 06:16 PM)Alla Wrote:  Mark Fulton: "Paul was an imaginative theologian. Paul claimed his Christ was a god - a very novel, indeed blasphemous idea for a Jew to entertain.
Alla: John 8:
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.
59 then took they up stones to cast him.

Why did they take stones? Because Jesus said: I AM. And we know who I AM is. I AM is God of Old Testament.

John 1: 10 He(Jesus) was in the world and the WORLD WAS MADE BY Him.
We know who made the world. God of Old Testament I AM or Yahweh.
the world was made by Jesus/I AM/Yahweh

Jews understood Jesus's claim that He was God/I AM.
They say this to Jesus:
John 10
32 Jesus.. for which of those works do ye stone Me?
33 the Jews answered him, saying for good works we stone thee not; but for BLASPHEMY; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

So, they had this impression that Jesus claimed to be God.
Before Abraham was, I AM

Yes. " Jesus " did claim he was God. But don't forget that Jesus is a comic book character invented four decades plus after he may or may not have existed.

The authors of the gospels quite rightly made out that Jews would have been pissed off with such a blasphemous claim.
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15-08-2015, 07:33 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
Hey Mark, I am 1/4 the way through. Not bad so far, not bad.

Some things ...

Quote:In all his writings Paul did not express any pleasure or awe in associating with Yeshua’s family or followers. This is strong circumstantial evidence that Yeshua never was Paul’s Christ.

This may be overstated, something scholars Bart Ehrman and Richard Carrier do, and should be avoided. Overstating things demonstrates bias, and you need to stay as neutral as possible to achieve credibility. You may want to reword this to something to the effect of:

"This could be viewed as good circumstantial evidence that Yeshua never was Paul’s Christ."

Try to stay as neutral as possible.

The following needs to be addressed clearly:

Is Yeshua the prototype for Paul's Christ? Was Yeshua the inspiration for Paul's Christ? If not, what or who was?

Quote:It is true that “Paul” mentions “Jesus” many times, yet “Jesus” may have been edited into Paul’s writings, where he had written only

“Christ.”

Supporting evidence must be presented, otherwise any scholarly review will destroy this immediately, and damage the credibility of the book.

More to come ...

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? I am an atheist because it is the natural state of being we are all born into.
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15-08-2015, 07:36 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
Thanks for this post!

I think Paul has been far more influential to the course of Christianity than Jesus has.
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15-08-2015, 07:40 PM (This post was last modified: 15-08-2015 07:45 PM by Banjo.)
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(15-08-2015 07:36 PM)julep Wrote:  Thanks for this post!

I think Paul has been far more influential to the course of Christianity than Jesus has.

Personally, I suspect Jesus is a fictional character. So yes, Saul or Paul is the founder of xianity. If I am correct. Is that okay Free? Wink

And he seems to have been a mental case.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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