Who was Saint Paul?
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20-10-2012, 04:44 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
I've actually never read all that stuff in that way, all put together. It screams, (other than psych illness/neurosis) :

Greek Gnosticism

The Gnostics thought the body was filthy, corrupt, and disgusting.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
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20-10-2012, 05:14 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(20-10-2012 04:44 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  I've actually never read all that stuff in that way, all put together. It screams, (other than psych illness/neurosis) :

Greek Gnosticism

The Gnostics thought the body was filthy, corrupt, and disgusting.

That's interesting! The gnostics were a very diverse bunch. This is more evidence of the Greek/Roman influence on Paul.
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20-10-2012, 05:18 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(20-10-2012 04:44 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  I've actually never read all that stuff in that way, all put together. It screams, (other than psych illness/neurosis) :

Greek Gnosticism

The Gnostics thought the body was filthy, corrupt, and disgusting.

Isn't it? Consider

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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20-10-2012, 05:25 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(20-10-2012 05:18 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(20-10-2012 04:44 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  I've actually never read all that stuff in that way, all put together. It screams, (other than psych illness/neurosis) :

Greek Gnosticism

The Gnostics thought the body was filthy, corrupt, and disgusting.

Isn't it? Consider

Depends. Blush

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20-10-2012, 05:40 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(20-10-2012 05:25 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(20-10-2012 05:18 PM)Chas Wrote:  Isn't it? Consider

Depends. Blush

I will need to gather evidence. I will need volunteers. Kim? Dom? LJ? Leela? amyb? Vera?

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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20-10-2012, 06:03 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(20-10-2012 05:40 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(20-10-2012 05:25 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Depends. Blush

I will need to gather evidence. I will need volunteers. Kim? Dom? LJ? Leela? amyb? Vera?

You know what, I don't even want to know.

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21-10-2012, 09:17 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
I think Paul was the primary source of Christian theology.

The following spiel is a brief description of that theology, and my theory as to why the guts of it was invented.

“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, http://www.willdurant.com/home.html)
“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)
Paul’s theology is strange. He fashioned a Christ almost entirely from his imagination as part of an elaborate belief system. Numerous scholars have discussed his theology at great length, yet still disagreed about what Paul may have meant, so it is near impossible to totally understand him. It is, however, important to get the drift of his key ideas.

Paul contended that his Christ was divine and existed in heaven before taking on a human form and living on earth. How his Christ got to earth he doesn’t say, as he has 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.

He had a fanatical and morbid obsession with sin. He asserted everyone was born with the stain of original sin, inherited from their parents. According to him, sin offended Yahweh, who would forgive only if he was offered a blood sacrifice, a primitive idea that was a common belief among Jews of the time. Indeed, they 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 Christ had offered his life to God so that people would be pardoned for their sins. Christ became a blood sacrifice. This notion is now known as the doctrine for the atonement of sin through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Paul claimed that Christ then rose from the dead, which proved God accepted Christ’s sacrifice on humanity’s behalf.

Paul asserted that Christ went back up to heaven but would be coming back “soon” to take all believers in this scheme up to heaven too. Even those who had already died would be raised from the dead to join the believers in heaven. Hence all who had “faith in Christ,” would be “saved” and achieve “salvation.” He 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.” According to Paul, anyone who didn’t have faith in Christ couldn’t be saved. This rather complicated scheme became known as the doctrine of justification by faith. These are the core ideas of Paul’s theology.

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. He had obviously spent countless hours cogitating over theological conundrums and came to many firmly held conclusions. He 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 the end of the world was imminent. He made out he was on a mission to get as many people into heaven as possible, and that only he knew how to do it.
He attempted, perhaps deliberately, to cajole his readers to accept his ideas using unnecessarily complex arguments that were often inconsistent and illogical, a fact admitted by many Pauline scholars (http://affectionaltheology.blogspot.com/). He used strange terminology that makes him even more difficult to understand (though that may in part be due to difficulties in translation).

I think it is easier, and ultimately more rewarding, to think of the rest of Paul’s postulations as a pot of stew. The ingredients included angels, baptism, bread, Christ, circumcision, death, faith, family, flesh, forgiveness, fornication, freedom, Gentiles, God, grace, heaven, hell, holiness, hope, humans, Israel, Jesus, Jews, judgment, kingdoms, the Law, love, lust, mercy, pagans, passion, promises, punishment, purity, reconciliation, resurrection, righteousness, sacrifice, salvation, Satan, scripture, sin, slaves, the second coming, the temple, vengeance, virgins, wine, women and works. Paul blended these and other ingredients together and carefully stirred them to make a theological brew that the reader was required to swallow to earn salvation. In different letters, he mixed the ingredients in different proportions. That didn’t bother Paul. What mattered most to him was that the Jewish messiah was portrayed as God’s son. He also needed to be idolized and obeyed. He dreamed of the day all his devotees would be one big body, believing the same or nearly the same theology and all admiring him as the world’s most authentic authority.

Paul’s soup is an over-cooked messy stew. He got himself in a real muddle trying to marry Judaic tradition with gentile mythology, for example by claiming Christ was a savior of souls, not the political messiah of the Jews. Readers will save themselves a lot of angst by not trying to arrange all Paul’s ideas so they make sense. It is best to leave any attempt to totally rationalize his arguments for the most seriously committed enthusiasts, as they have stronger stomachs for such silliness.

The people he wrote to couldn’t have understood all he had to say either, yet some probably accepted his authority because he was so assertive. If they valued peace and quiet, they wouldn’t have asked him too many questions, as Paul was clearly very opinionated and self-righteous.
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22-10-2012, 06:37 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
I hope people are not finding these posts too wordy!

I want to share with everyone how I think Paul invented two key Christian concepts...

The Sacrificial Death of Christ
Paul invented the concept that Christ was crucified to save souls from their sins. Plenty of people have since accepted this peculiar idea. Why?

Having the son of God become human and free the faithful from the guilt and consequences of their sins was an attractive story for a credulous congregation. It meant God was no longer a distant deity, but was someone more like them, with whom they could identify. Christ became an ally, a great guy, and everyone’s best friend. He would personally shoulder your punishment, provided you believed in him. Do that, and Paul promised you a free pass to salvation. Churches have since saturated people’s minds with this plan; Christians today rarely question it. This is why many of them harp on about the necessity of believing in Jesus; so that sins may be forgiven and entry into heaven attained.

Yet the argument is irrational. Why would the son of God need to sacrifice himself to appease his father for the sins of the world? Is not sacrificing anyone a pointless, barbaric act that unfairly punishes a scapegoat? Why would faith in this sacrifice be a ticket for entry into heaven? Why would a hypothetical god care less about the pathetic performance of his own imperfect creation? Why should anyone agree with Paul’s delusions about sin?

Paul on Sin
Most people today 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. This is a dim-witted idea, as a baby can’t cause harm, so can’t sin. This concept of “original sin,” as further articulated by Tertullian of Carthage (AD 150-225) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE), is also a nasty notion. People are told they are basically bad - because they were born. It can make them dislike themselves, which churches know is good for business.

If, for the sake of argument, we accept the (rather odd) assumption that our behavior can offend a hypothetical God, surely this God didn’t need the death of Jesus to forgive. He could be benevolent and simply say “you are genuinely sorry, so I forgive you.” Paul, in common with ancient Jews, did not believe in a benevolent God, but thought of him as a rigid character who demanded a sacrifice.

Paul misunderstood the real problem with immoral behavior (what he called sin.) He thought of it as something that offended God. Yet the real sting of sin is that it harms our fellow humans, or sometimes the perpetrator himself. It should be the victim who does the forgiving, because he is vindicated, maybe compensated, and the perpetrator usually promises not to repeat the offense. The guilty learn from their mistakes, and society benefits. Paul bypassed this reparative process by professing that sin was forgiven by having faith in Christ, an unrelated third party. In his arrangement the perpetrator may not be genuinely repentant, the victim is uncompensated, and a repeat offense is likely. So to pass on the responsibility of dealing with sin by having faith in Jesus is deplorable.

In turning Christ’s death into a sacrifice that saves souls, Paul actually sacrificed common sense. He promoted a shame-based, fear-based belief that degrades interpersonal relationships.
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22-10-2012, 06:54 PM
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
(22-10-2012 06:37 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I hope people are not finding these posts too wordy!
I wish I had a fork and a knife to eat every single word you've ever written, but instead, all I have are some chopsticks. So I'm just gonna eat the big words and eventually I will shamefully ask for a spoon and scoop the small words into my mouth.

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22-10-2012, 07:03 PM (This post was last modified: 27-10-2012 03:07 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Who was Saint Paul?
Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, a second look, or Saul of Tarsus starts to "finally get" the Anointed One.

"Get it ?" Tongue Read on.

The purpose of this post is to take another look at what has come to be called a *resurrection event*, specifically the "event", which
is an element of the faith content, or faith affirmation of those who call themselves "Christians", today.

I propose that what we think today as the "resurrection" event, is misguided, for a number of reasons. They include the facts that :
1. The meanings of the words, have been taken out of context, and redefined, in a culturally dependent way they were never intended.
2. The historical context has been misunderstood, and deliberately misstated.
3. The words in the texts have not been carefully examined in their historical cultural context.
4. The motives of the writer's of the texts have not been understood.

In the English language, when we say "rise", or "to rise", or "risen" in general, it means something or someone "gets up", or "moves up", from a lower to a higher position, or "rises" from sleep, or "goes up" as in a "loaf of bread rises".
The normal use does not usually include, in normal usage, that a human "rises up" after their own death has occurred. The normal, everyday use of the word, does not include, "getting up from the dead", or that someone has "gotten up" from the dead. Humans never "get up" when they are dead. In human history, there is not one documented case and anyone ever "getting up" after dying. There is not one proven action, or artifact having been formed or changed, by a dead human. Dead humans are "beyond the reach" of those who exist in a time which is later than the time of the death of the person who is said to be dead. They have no continuing biological activity.

When the words are used in language to signify that the human who people think of as "Jesus of Nazareth" *rose from the dead*, it is a very special and unique use of the words, and language. It *signifies* something which is out of normal human experience.

In 2012, when the words are spoken or thought *Jesus rose from the dead*, it also rests in our cultural assumptions of what we *think* the Bible teaches about humans.
In other words we assume it *flows* from a context in which those words make sense, or might have made sense, and that we understand, what we *think* the humans who said them actually meant the same thing we understand them too mean, when we hear them today.

These assumptions are entirely unfounded in this case. I shall examine the reasons for this.

If I say, "Babe Ruth has achieved immortality", we all understand that means he achieved a certain pre-eminent status in his sport. It does NOT mean he is actually physically alive, or still playing baseball. (Some people may actually *think* his "soul" exists, but that's not a part of the content of that statement, normally.) The normal use, is not a special religious use. It is a statement about his status with respect to his sport. If I say "Babe Ruth, during his career, *rose* to *immortal* status, it also does not mean he actually is playing baseball today. It means we, live humans, *remember* him, as a great baseball player.

Our brains have become accustomed to automatically *convert* or translate or move into an "alternate mode" of meaning, when we use and hear the words about Jesus' resurrection. It is a very specific learned response. Why is that and where does that response come from ?

We will look here at some of the assumptions, and fallacies underlying that learned response, and why they are incorrect.

When we hear or say today that someone is a "son" of someone, in normal usage, we mean a biological son. When we say someone is a "Son of Norway", our brains instantly convert or translate that to understand, what is meant, and that it is metaphorical. In the same way, when a Jew in Jesus' day, said someone was a "son of God" the culture of that day, used the term in general to mean the person was a "righteous person". It was applied to many people : politicians, generals, famous military heroes , and other cultural "good"guys". It did NOT mean, that a person was actually physically generated in any way by the deity, In some instances id could mean that a human had. (just as Babe Ruth), *attained* that status. Yahweh had become a monotheist god by the time of Jesus, and ANY meaning of "divine as equal" status to Yahweh was unthinkable, to a Jew. Even with the Doctrine of the Trinity, just the name "Father", as opposed to "Son" *IS* a hierarchical relationship, which is inescapable. If not, why not just say "Brothers", if they really are equal ? It was unthinkable for a Jew of the day of Jesus to claim equality with Yahweh. Anyone claiming that would be stoned on the spot. Even if Yeshua claimed sonship, (which we don't know), it does NOT mean he claimed equality. There were other offenses for stoning also, but that certainly was one. Any other use of that term with a DIFFERENT meaning would have to be proven in it's context. When Hebrews heard the phrase "Jesus was a "son of god" it meant he was a "righteous man". Later, the use of that word became an issue of great contention in Christianity, as it grew to mean something else, and there were large fights over the meaning in the Councils of early Christianity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filioque , and how it relates to what developed into the Doctrine of the Trinity. In Jesus' day, he was not thought of as a being with a "divine" nature. Also those with "divine" natures, were not necessarily considered equal to Yahweh. (see below). So the use of words, and what they mean was, and is very important in Christianity, and its' history.

Matthew 28:5 Do not be afraid. I know that you are seeking Jesus, the crucified one. He is not here. For he has been raised, just as he said.
....28:7 ....He goes before you to Galilee.

Matthew 28:17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
They did NOT really believe that they were seeing a "risen" human corpse.
Not "some doubted". Not "Thomas doubted". They ALL doubted,. THAT late, JUST before the "great commission". In Galilee. That's what Matthew says. It's in the text.
By then, wouldn't they be used to seeing the "shade".

Luke : Luke 24:37 But they were startled and terrified, and thought they were seeing a "shade". (NOT a modern day "ghost")
They did not recognize him. Even after he said "Peace be with you".

John.20:19-24 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.... But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
There were only 11 at that point. Oops. If they just "called it "numerical Twelve". even though one was missing, finding another would NOT be important. If Having 11, and one ws missing, then there were really 10, and they should have called themselves '"The Eleven". If, having one missing, and STILL calling themselves The Twelve, talking about the missing one would be irrelevant. If calling themselves "The Twelve" with only 10 present, and Eleven in the group, they don't know how to count. If "The Twelve " is just a "title", and they didn't mean 12, then nothing about this is reliable.

The Road to Emmaus, they saw him, talked with him, walked with him, yet did not recognize him.
Whatever it was that rose, it was not the body of Yeshua ben Josef. This time whatever they saw, was not a "shade" but resembles a human enough that they were not afraid of it.


This subject is a fascinating one. It employs all the skills a Biblical scholar can muster, and bring to bear on a topic. I'm an amateur here. My specialty is NOT these texts. I find the older texts more interesting, and more of a puzzle, and challenge. I've never really had much interest in the Christian writings. (They all presume a content in Genesis, which is absent, yet which is foundational to "salvation", thus whatever all this is all about is simply moot. Genesis is not really about sin and disobedience, and there is no immortality in Hebrew culture.) But it's a fun exercise in scholarship to tackle, as it pulls together so many themes and topics.

When Gary Habermas stands in front of his small audiences and *pretends*, with a degree in History, (from Michigan State), that somehow he is competent to examine the context, meanings, and truthfulness of the resurrection stories, and that that degree enables him to comment on religious texts from the ancient Near East, it is completely, utterly preposterous. The real scholars of Ancient Semitic languages think he's a fraud. He would be thrown out on his ear from gatherings of the field he pretends to speak for. He has the contempt of the academic community. The gymnastics he pulls on the stage, about Paul, is so laughable, it's beyond laughable. It's why he's relegated to Liberty University, as they all are. The academic backwaters. The same goes for William Craig, and Edward Feser. Third rate schools is the best they can do. Presuppositionsalists all. Also the fact that in the Habermas spiel, he uses Paul, as his dates are earlier, he doesn't even get it, that the gospels were placed first, as the gospels had primacy. He ignores that, as he wants dates.

They are like the Ugly American. They are the Ugly Christians. They do not really serve their own cause. They are not really academics. They are "plastic" *what passes for* fake versions of real academia, and what it is like, and what is done with a subject, such as the resurrection of Yeshua ben Josef. He is no more qualified to discuss this subject than his friend, the JOURNALIST-with-no-training-in-the-subject, Lee Strobel, who thinks interviewing people with favorable attitudes toward a view, is somehow evidence for the view. THAT is not even good journalism.


So that said, let's look at the resurrection.
Where to start ? The Letters of Paul. They were the earliest Christian documents that exist today.

Much of what we see in Paul's texts, we see through the lens of a 21st Century reader. It's hard to jettison our automatic pre-judgements about what words mean, and what the value is, of dropping our prejudices, at all. For a "person of faith", is an honest "search for truth" even possible ? For the Presuppositionalists, (Craig, Habermas. Feser, Licona and Co. ), apparently it is not. If you don't come out at their predetermined outcome, it's because you have a moral failing. and you just "don't understand" correctly. There is only one outcome that is legitimate. If you read the mission statement of Biola University, http://offices1.biola.edu/hr/ehandbook/1.3/ , for example, the search is not about the search for truth. The "truth" is presumed to be "their truth", (and only their truth). Thus for them, if the truth were to lead away from their presupposed truth, they would reject it, because they did not ALREADY believe it.

While this model is EXACTLY the way that communities in the ancient Near East accepted or rejected a gospel text, ie : did it "fit" with their presupposed common idea of what the truth was about the Jesus Event, and thus used as a gospel text, it's no good in helping us with the texts of Saul of Tarsus, since they were not used as "proclaimed faith" documents in liturgical services, in their original intent. They were just letters. This difference is maintained to this day. They are not gospels.

Always, there exists the problem of translation. All translation involves at least some interpretation. Presumed attitudes, and unseen premises abound, at every turn, unless one is very careful. For this discussion, I won't get into this much except to point out the common errors. I will explain sources for translations, if anyone is interested.

So ok. in 2012, no one can say or read the word *resurrection* and not have their brain cells associate that word, at least subconsciously with the resurrection of Jeebus. I will continue to use that word, as it is a reminder that any discussion of the resurrection event implies that those involved in the discussion are taking about an historical person. I do not presume that. Jeebus may have be a person, a conflation of two Jesuses, or a total myth. Thus Jeebus, is not a disrespectful word. It's a "place holder" for, and reminder of the above. All the usual historical references to the "historical" Jeebus, are either forgeries, (such as Josephus 18), or references to Christians. Never Jesus as an historical person. I admit there was a "something" .. or "somethings". To me the proof is mostly that the growing cult argued about the meaning of the event. Why would a growing cult mention the fight s at all, if they were just making up something. They would white-wash it all, if there was nothing.

Also I will presume, for the moment "good faith". in Saul. There are good reasons NOT to do that, That's a discussion for another day. That's also why I will continue to say "Saul". He well may have had an ulterior motive. He changed his name to honor a Roman emperor.

Resurrection. The word has a few meanings.
1. An event in time, in which a previously live biological entity, after (clinical) death, resumes it's actual previous live biological processes . A secular meaning. This has never been observed. For this to happen, would involve so many problems with the science, (*see the below scientific discussion) I can't even begin to discuss the implications. It's not one miracle. It's billions, and trillions, if not more, of miracles.
2. The event in Christianity, which, without further definition, or further examination, just means the (supposed) event, in time that happened on Easter Sunday, early in the morning.
3. As a shutout to my friends up in Hollywood, I guess I can give you a Zombie definition also. Tongue Don't say I didn't do ya no favors.

Ok. So, imagine yourself as Saul of Tarsus. It's 50 CE. No gospels, No Mark, no John, no telephones, no TV, Only letters, but 95 % of the population are illiterate. Not only are they pre-scientific, with all that means. It also means they they have many apocalyptic preachers who do miracles, and some come back to life, You're on your own baby. How are you going to impart your message, and try to keep the adherents to your religion in line. You write them letters.

In "The Problem with The Resurrection", Dr. B. B. Scott does a brilliant comparison to Humpty Dumpty. Tell yourself that rhyme. Then ask yourself, what actually happened in that rhyme. If you tell me, "oh an egg fell off the wall, and smashed" ... I say nuh-uh. Nowhere does it say an egg fell. How do you KNOW an egg fell ? You presumed an egg fell. It's the same with the resurrection. Because of all the pictures, and picture books you've seen, you presume it was an egg.

So lets look at some words. "Resurrection" in English is defined above. Saul's letters were written in Greek In the second chapter of Luke, verse 34, the author has Simeon say, (to Mary and Joseph), "For this child is destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel. The Greek word used, is "anastasin". The Greek word here, is used, as anyone would normally use it in Greek, as in the "rising of the sun", would mean to us. LATER, after cultural and historical overlay, when "anastasin" is used, (just as in the Humpty Dumpty examaple, ), the word's meaning has TWO different meanings. A normal one, and a religious one. So there is an intra-gospel example of the post event cognitive change. There also is a good example we know of from Saul, and the Gospel of John. When Jesus gets up from the table, at the Last Supper, he (in the Greek), is said to "egeiretai", he "gets up". (For those who know Latin, the similarity is obvious.) When Saul uses this SAME verb in 1 Corinthians, 15:12, it's translated "For if our message is that the Anointed has been raised, how can you possibly be saying there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead". Thus without the later religious overlay, the phrase SHOULD be translated,as "he is gotten up from among the dead". This "gotten up" is equivalent to the way a Greek would have said "I *got up* this morning". It DOES NOT mean, I "rose from the dead" this morning.

We all think of the resurrection, the way we do, because of past Easter bunnies, and Easter church, and the way we have seen countless pictures of crappy sentimental art with pretty Caucasian Jeebuses

So before, we even start, we have to agree, the only objective way to examine this question, is without cultural overlay.

Before we get to the Historical and Biblical aspects, it's necessary to look at two ideas.

The Egyptians believed in an after life. They had for thousands of years. The concept of a "soul" as distinct from the body, and surviving the body, was called the "ka". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egy...f_the_soul
They speculated about what it would be in the Book of the Dead.

The Sumerians talked about it in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
While there are obvious things appropriated from Sumerian texts, in the Bible, they did not import content about an after -life.

Almost all the surrounding cultures of ancient Israel DID believe in some sort of afterlife. Israel was an odd exception to this. It has perplexed scholars. Why Not ? I will propose my personal explanation for this later. There is both a positive, and negative case for this. It is important. Israel was not concerned with a personal afterlife. Genesis 3:19 says, "For dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return". God breathed life into the man, not a soul. While there are examples of exceptions to this where in 1 Samuel 28:15, Saul calls the Witch of Endor, and she conjures up the shade of Samuel, who is angry to be disturbed. He was in a "dormant" state". not a "blissful" state. Conjuring was forbidden. Apart from the magic, there was just no cultural content of the ideal of an individual ("happy", or "sad") state of immortality. That does not mean immortality was not present. We'll look at that later.

Psalm 39 :
"Turn your gaze away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart, and am no more"

Psalm 115 :
The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any that go down into silence".

However ALL the dead, both good and bad, were thought to go to an underground region called "Sheol". And Sheol is referenced in mostly the Wisdom texts. It's certainly NOT where God lives.
Psalm 6 : "For in death there is no remembrance of you, in Sheol, who can give you praise ?"

However, ....
The Biblical texts were written, by the upper-class priests. In Canaan , ancestors remained powerful, after death, and had to be fed, and placated. Because of it's threat to monotheism, shamanism and witchcraft had to be suppressed. The fact it had to be suppressed, means it was widespread, and perceived as a threat. Saul expelled the mediums and the wizards. When the Witch of Endor conjures Samuel's "shade", Saul asks the witch, "What do you see". She answers, "I see a DIVINE being, (the word is "elohim"), coming up out of the ground. (Only the witch could *see* or perceive the shade). Saul asks "What does he look like ?". She describes him. And the text then says, (just as the text in the New Testament does about the "Road to Emmaus" incident), "So Saul knew it was Samuel...etc" because of the description. The DEAD SHADE HAD TO BE INFERRED. In Hebrew culture, the dead did not have recognizable human shapes. or appearances. !!!. Read that again, please. The identity of dead shades was not apparent. The "shade" of Jesus also was not recognized, when they said they saw it. Next, if a shade is a "divine being", it speaks volumes about what that means to them. If a dead human's shade is of the SAME essential nature as other divine beings, (and there were many, in the polytheistic Hebrew culture), then it calls into question our notion of "supernatural". In our culture a "god" is perceived as "up there", watching from above, powerful from on high, riding the clouds of heaven. Obviously from the Samuel's shade remark we see that was not true of the Hebrews. Instead of saying "super-natural", it would be more correct to say "other than natural", as it denoted an equal, or equivalency of power and status. There is no hierarchical paradigm implied.

Historically there is a long, very interesting historical set of occurrences, in which the Greek, and Roman, and Seleucid empire's forces are battling for ascendancy in the Near East) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes .
Suffice it to say the Greeks purchased the High Priesthood in Israel, and Jason, (Greek equivalent name of Jesus), imported Hellenistic ideas, even more than they had been already, as recounted in 2 Maccabees, which drove some changes in the Hebrew culture, and it's assumptions. The famous "abomination of desolation" resulted from the interaction of the forces from these days, when the desolate temple, was associated, with not allowing Jews to perform their practices arose. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abomination...solationry involved Unfortunately it would lead us too far afield here, to do all the history involved here, but as a result of persecution in the Maccabeean period, there arose the idea of Martyrdom,

In the Book of Daniel, in chapter 12, for the first time the idea of rising from the dead appears in the Old Testament. Interestingly enough, it also involves a redemptive aspect.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel Daniel was a prophet who was taken into exile in 606BCE. Thus we know that before that date, there was NO concept of general, or individual immortality, in Hebrew culture. Daniel had to try to make sense of the horrific experience. He had the "trial in lions den", etc, which symbolized the horrible time in Babylon. How would he make sense of the awful experience. Daniel 12:3 "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars, for ever and ever." They get rewarded for suffering. And immortality is born.

A few years later, post Exile, also, we have Isaiah saying:
Isaiah 26:19
Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise.
O dweller in the dust, awake and sing for joy !
For your dew is a radiant dew, and the Earth will give birth to those long dead.

The first text in the Bible to be written was the Book or Torah of Job, was also an attempt to ask why, and make sense of the experience of "exile".

So, just as with everything else in Hebrew culture, the horror of the Exilic period, gives rise to it's MOST important changes, and ideas. Religion had to rationalize how an absent god could allow his chosen people to undergo such a horror. Who cares, if you live forever, and there was another life after this one ?
So something clearly has changed here. This is when and how the Hebrew's prophets and priests, added the notion of an afterlife to a culture which had none, previously. The culture was ready for this new addition, for another reason, as you will see below. However, these men, in no way say everyone rises, or that eternal life is for everyone, or where the resurrection takes place, or how exactly how this is made manifest.

There is a transitional period, as always. In Maccabees 2, there is the famous set of speeches of the seven sons of Hannah.
Each of the sons gives a speech before they are martyred for refusing to eat pork, ("an" abomination of desolation). In the speeches, they refer to SOME people being given eternal life, not all. Saint Paul STILL had this "some" idea. Only the saved have eternal life, in the Pauline literature.

Saul of Tarsus thought the apocalypse was next week. The end-times were immanent for him, just as for Jeebus. The Thessalonians were worried that the dead would be disadvantaged when the end-time came, Saul had to convince them otherwise. He told them "the living will not be given preference over those who have already fallen asleep", and goes into great detail how the end-times will play out. (1 Thess 4:13-18).

Alright, so that's a very simplistic background.

A human being who says, "I believe that Jesus rose from the dead", or "I have seen the risen Lord", is saying the linguistic equivalent to "I have experienced the risen Lord". Two are active, one is passive. They are all equivalent with respect to an empiric truth. As we have seen above, the content of the words is 100 % dependent on cultural context.

There is a lot of razzle-dazzle among apologists, concerning where Saul got his message and authority to preach. It's all irrelevant. He told us he made it up, and how he felt about himself :

"Let me make it clear, friends, the gospel I announced does not conform to human expectations. I say this because it was NOT transmitted to me by anyone, nor did anyone teach it to me. Rather it came to me as an insight from God, about Jesus as God's Anointed." ...... "I went WAY beyond most of my contemporaries in my observance of Judaism"..... I would proclaim God's world-transforming news to the nations." Galations 1

Well la tee da. Isn't he just special. This man is fricking insane.
The REASON he changed from being a self-righteous Jew to an Apostle, was he was an insane megalomaniac, and he found a better way to express it. He goes so far as to invoke Jeremiah, ABOUT HIMSELF, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you". (Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 49:1).
"However when God who designated me before I was born, and commissioned me through his grace ..." Gal 1: 11-17.

One of the Sauls in Acts DEMANDED apostolic status for himself based on revelation, alone. and grants it to himself. Apostleship is never "given" or offered to him in Jerusalem by that community. He proclaimed himself the "Apostle to the Gentiles" on the way out the door. He GAVE HIMSELF a very important, hitherto unknown status in the new community. A job description he created for himself. Quite the entrepreneur, this Saul. After the introduction of Saul ends in Acts 9:30, the text is silent on him, and leaves him abruptly in Tarsus, The Saul, from Damascus Road disappears from Acts, and is not seen again, until much later. Acts 9:31 says that now, before the next Saul appears, the church was at peace. It says nothing more about a Saul, who, BTW, IS STILL being called SAUL, in the text. until, out of the blue, without explanation, a man also named Saul, is spoken of, in words that *could* be seen as saying it was another man, in Acts 13, but he is now in Antioch. . Acts introduces him all over again, without saying it was the SAME man which was spoken of earlier. If we hadn't been culturally told they were the same, we would have no way of knowing it WAS the same guy. Despite many opportunities, the new Saul does NOT refer to any conversion experience. in Acts 13, until much later. Why would an historical "look back" point of view not call him, consistently "Paul" ? In Acts 13:9, it says "But Saul, also known as Paul". We are NOT told it happened at the conversion. Why would the writer, all of a sudden choose to explain this fact HERE, if it's not a new actor in the text ? "Paul" is a "Romanized" name which means "small". Is this some sort of joke in the text, or does the name refer to Saul's "abnormal from birth" comment ? Was Saul abnormally short ? There are 3 times Acts recount the conversion. After the first one, Saul continues to be called "Saul". In the first one, when the god calls Ananias to baptize him, clearly the author wants the hearer to remember the Moses story when Moses was called from the burning bush, as Ananias, being called by the god, says "Here I am Lord". It happens in a dream. Clearly it's allegorical. Saul is NOT "baptized" here. It's a "laying-on" of hands. In Act 22:16 he IS baptized, AND it says "his sins are washed away". This is a HUGE paradigm shift. "Washing away of sins" is NOT a Hebrew idea. I shall deal with it below. In this second account, his name is changed but not explained. In the third account before Agrippa, the name change is not mentioned. Also too long for here is an examination of the Essene roots of Jeebus, except I would mention the Essene Book of Jesus, http://www.thenazareneway.com/essene_gos...ok_two.htm , says EXACTLY the SAME thing, as the Gospel of John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.".

...but, the accounts are inconsistent, and actually contradict each other.

1. In Galatians 1, he says he was "anointed", by his Anointed One". His authority comes straight from "God the Father, who raised him from the dead". THIS is THE first report of a "risen lord in the New Testament, and it comes in a statement by Saul, proclaiming his self appointing of his own authority. The "Saul event" is just as mythological as the resurrection. Saul does not say it happened on the Road to Damascus in this first account. If you compare the Pauline literature from the letters, with the later account in acts, a number of additional factors have appeared. There is nowhere a horse he fell off. Where did THAT come from. Later art work. There is no horse. In the letters Saul never says it happens on the Road to Damascus. In Acts, it says after the Damascus Road event, he went into Damascus and was taught by them. In Acts 22:10, it says he was told to get up, go into Damascus, and there he would be TOLD what to do. So Acts contradicts the letters with regard to the transmission of the message. This idea made Saul really mad, and he kept repeating he got it straight from God.

2. In Acts 8:1 it says : "Now Saul, was consenting to his execution", with respect to the execution of Stephen, the proto-martyr. Steven, in acts goes through the ENTIRE history of the Hebrew history, WHICH WE NOW KNOW WAS ALMOST ENTIRELY MYTHICAL. Thus the ENTIRE Book of Acts is now suspect, and the entire Hebrew Patriarchal history is impossible, historically, and Stephen re-asserts the falsehoods. But that's not the problem here. In Galatians 1:22, Saul asserts "I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea". That could not possibly be true, if he was a leader of the opposition in Jerusalem, and played a major part in the execution of Stephen. In the letters, Saul uses the Greek word "dioken", with respect to what he did to the church. That does not mean "persecute". It means "harass". The story is changed in Acts. Saul doesn't report himself as murdering Christians. He is much more lenient on himself, than Acts. He does this in the context of talking about his "zealotry", which at that time had no negative connotation.

Ok. Back to "experiencing" the "risen Lord".
Saul is THE first human in the Christian literature to actually write down that he had experienced a risen Lord. Acts were written many years later. The Paul in acts, is not Paul of Tarsus, or anyway, they are different "enough" to question one of them. We can accept that there IS a Saul of Tarsus, as his ideas are "Greeky", even while Jewish, and are non-Jewish enough that we know he was not from Israel. There are substantial underlying assumptions about Reality in the two Pauls, but it's too long for here. I'll post a link to a video about this subject at the end.

In Numbers 25: 6-13, Phinehas was zealous, don't cha know. Phinehas was "zealous for the Lord". The ends justify the means. Violence, and whatever is needed to achieve an outcome is valued, as the ULTIMATE value. Thus in his culture, "pious fraud" was 100 % acceptable. It was seen as a great thing to be "zealous for the Lord". You could do whatever you felt was necessary to get the outcome you *thought* your deity wanted accomplished. Saul was a Zealot. A Zealous Pharisee.

So why did they make such a big deal about Saul's change, (conversion), if he just stayed the same, essentially. He was already a Jew. He already believed in Yahweh. There IS no Christianity yet to convert to, Christians are NOT yet called Christians. (Acts 11:26 is NOT proof of anything, as Acts was written MUCH later), he continued to think of himself as a Jew,. He STILL thought women were to be "under the law", He is NOT in need of "moral conversion", (from before his Damascus Road experience). He says he was "As to the Torah, blameless") Phil 3:6.

So WTF IS going on here ? It's a mass of contradictions.

So next we will look at what Saul actually says about his "resurrection experience".

Scholars think the next earliest reference in existing written form to a risen Jeebus, is a rather strange "hymn" or poem which we see placed in the beginning of the 2nd chapter of Philippians. Just as in the Old Testament, a "hymn" may be the oldest fragment, placed into another text. In Philippians 2: 6-11, there is a poem called the "Carmen Christi". The name comes from a letter of Pliny the Younger, in which he tells the Emperor Trajan, about (111-112 CE) what he found in the Provinces of Pontus and Bithynia, in Asia Minor. The Christian sect was being accused of various crimes, and he could find nothing especially seriously wrong about them. He didn't really know what to do. He says in Latin, "carmenque Christo quasi deo dicere secum invicem"..or "they chant verses alternately among themselves, in honor of the Christ, as if to a god". That's all he could find. Nothing especially bad. But that's why the hymn is called the "Carmen" Christi.. it's a (probably) chanted hymn. (I personally think he heard the chanting of alternate verses of psalms, but I have no proof, as they were done that way also). This hymn has been studied to death, by scholars. By the 1990's the "hymn" status was even being questioned, but whatever it is, ( a Greek "encomion" ? ), it doesn't really fit with Saul's known writing style. So he got it from somewhere. We know Philippians was a combo job, because, among other things, the author says "finally" more than once, (3:1, 4:8), and more importantly, the tone of the text does not match the surrounding text. Some think from 4:10 on, is yet a third author. Some think the hymn may have come from inside the community at Phillipi, and Saul approved of it, so he included it. In any case, the hymn says Jeebus was "super-exalted", after being humbled. What does that mean, exactly ? The academic examination of this poem is extensive, but an interesting part, is in the Greek, the form of preposition and verb compounding, called a "hyperypsosen". It's a linguistic element used which intensifies the verb. "Super-exalted", or "extra-exalted" are just made-up English words which attempt to translate the meaning, as there is not an English equivalent. Anyway, the "high" position is used to intensify the difference from the "humbled" of the low position. Anyway, Saul KNEW the context, and that the Romans would hear of this, and/or, it would be "heard" in a cognitive sense, as a shocking insult. A pathetic criminal, whom the Romans had executed, now was "raised" to a very high position. It was the equivalent to a (political) "obscenity". It would be the same as an American "wacko-preacher" telling HIS audience, in a US military setting, that Osama bin Laden had been raised to the highest place in heaven. There is a VERY strong anti-Imperial "ring" to the last part of the poem. So the first citing of the resurrection theme, can be seen in a striking political context. If you wanted to get the Romans mad at the Christians, or justify Roman anger toward Christians, you would use such a poem.

2. The most extensive passage in the NT about the resurrection, is in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15. If the gospels are not the first mention of the event, why is it the accounts in Saul's letters not looked at more carefully, or first ? Scholars know why. They were, capriciously put in the canon in the order they are in, for no particular legitimate ordering reason. No one has ever claimed "ordering" was important, or that it enhanced legitimacy claims, or inspiration claims. Opening the NT, one just comes to Mark first. Paul is less well known, also as he is used in liturgy less, in the sense that the gospel stories are used more often, than any one Pauline passage is used. Lastly, the artistic legacy, depicts the gospel story frequently. So visually we *think* of a "risen lord* the way we do. Ask yourself, "When I think of the resurrected lord, what do I think of ?". Probably a Caucasian, adult male around 30 years old, with long hair, and pleasant features". THAT is NOT what the gospels said they saw. The gospels all say they did not recognize him, and they were afraid of what they saw. Our thought has been determined by our culture, not the facts. Next what are the best known stories you remember ? Probably Mary Magdalene being told not to touch, and the doubting Thomas story. If Thomas DID recognize Jeebus, why would he HAVE to put his fingers into the wounds ? The problem is not faith, it's "recognition". They do NOT know who or what they see. If it WAS the actual body of Jeebus, they would recognize him. We will return to that. The accounts in Paul are brief, and our brains fill in the gaps, with our cultural assumptions. We know the *real* 1 Corinthians is missing, as the letter referenced in 1 Cor 5:9 is unknown. 1 Corinthians is a combo job. The section in 1 Cor 14:33-36 was likely added by a scribe who liked Timothy and Titus.

When Saul first talks about the resurrection, other than himself as a "revealed" thing, he says that he "appeared to Cephas". The word "appeared", is an ok translation but not exactly correct, in context. The Greek word is "ophthe". It has a *passive* element. In English it is an intransitive verb. "Appeared" is a word which means "to become visible". The Greek verb is the past tense of the passive verb "horao", "to see", ("was seen"). The passive translation is "The Anointed has been seen by Cephas". HOWEVER, normally a Greek translation of "by whom" would be translated in Greek using the "hypo" (preposition), to indicate "agency". THAT is not here, in the Greek. It really should be translated as "The Anointed has been seen FOR the advantage of Cephas or to BENEFIT Cephas, or for Cephas' *Advantage*". It does NOT mean "Cephas saw the Anointed". It means the "Anointed was made manifest for Cephas' advantage". That begins to look very different, than Cephas saw something. It's more like Saul's vision. There are many examples of these kinds of misuse, and mistranslations, due to assumed cultural overlay, which when translated correctly, make the entire picture look very very different, especially in terms of the many "sightings" of various beings, and mysterious things, in both the Old and New Testaments. The most famous of these "shifts" is the sighting of Moses of Yahweh in the burning bush, where the angel shifts into the bush and is also "seen for" Yahweh, when Abraham moves from Ur, (which Philo of Alexandria talks about around 20-50 CE, in "On Abraham". There is NO physical "seeing". The correct translations all mean "seeing in the mind". It's a MENTAL change. Guess what ? SAUL's "blinding", and the "new seeing" is an EXACT correlation of these prior Biblical "manifestations", and any Jew or Christian, or Greek of the day would conflate these various "manifestations", "blindings", "and then seeings" as METAPHOR, for a mental attitude change. The same verbs, and words are used. Sauls blinding and then seeing" was equated, as Abraham's "vision", where his "mind saw again with it's recovered sight". Just like Saul. Saul "saw" with a different "sight". It was NOT a physical thing. It was a metaphor for a mental change. THAT is how he "*saw* the Anointed One". It like we say, "oh, ok, I get it, now". He did not intend to say he physically "saw" the Anointed One. It means "I have come to understand the Anointed One". In 1 Corintians 9:1-2, in defending his apostleship, he appeals to his new "seeing". "Have I not seen the Lord". That means that a requirement for apostleship, one has to have "seen the light Lord". But here he changes the passive past tense, to active verb. He means the "seeing" has an ONGOING present continuing "influence". It's all missed in translation, usually.

So just to emphasize here : Saul's "re-seeing", or "recovery from blindness", (ie THE "conversion event") WAS for him, personally the SAME thing, as the resurrection for him. For him "resurrection" was "re-seeing" the same set of events he already knew about, just "seeing" them in a different light. THAT is what he thought of the same thing as "Have I not *seen* the risen lord" It's metaphor, for a different understanding of events he already knew about. It's NOT a physical resurrection.

There are countless other contradictions, and interesting tidbits, in Saul's letters, and how the wordplay is used, and later referenced by the gospels.
For example at the end of Romans, he says to greet the Apostle Junia. Junia was a WOMAN !!! Even (St.) John Chrysostom talked about how shocking that was, but says she was worthy of it. (On The Epistle to the Romans). John Chrysostom is full of interesting clues to the early church, including the fact they were still Jews, as late as 400 CE, (see the Christmas Sermon).

So what exactly did they mean they saw ? In 1 Corinthians 15:35, Saul says "How are the dead raised ?" He calls those who deny it "stupid man" (15:36). In Greek culture, the idea of immortality is as convoluted as Hebrew culture. The Greeks were Dualists. Body/soul was not a unity. But in Philippians 1:20, apparently Saul rejects this dualism, "the Anointed will be exalted, by my life, whether I live or die", or in SV translates it as "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death". To Saul, to deny the resurrection is the same as saying "You don't think, what you now think". When Saul *saw* things in a different light, of course he saw them in a different light. To say otherwise, would make one a "stupid man".

....... to be continued, and needs editing .. please forgive the preliminary version.

more "body or what"
empty tomb
order of sightings
authentic use of literary devices ubiquitous in the Bible, and Jewish literature
Fundamentalism is simply error, and ignorance of literature in general, and this literature in particular


Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
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