The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity
I have included Maccoby's work because it contrasts well with Brandon's critical hypothesis that most traditional scholarship on this topic fails to cover the "context" that is the "historical context" of events within Judea at this time under oppressive Roman rule. The Rabbinical and Talmudic references available to a Jewish scholar also provide independent sources. Few Christians are even aware that perhaps the most important proponent of a non orthodox type of Jewish belief was never even in verbal contact with the man called Jesus in fact, Paul never met Jesus and yet he claimed to be a direct interpreter of his teaching.
The Problem of Paul
Paul never met Jesus, they did not know each other. N.T. earliest writings are Paul's letters written A.D. 50-60 the Gospels were written about A.D.70 to 110. Paul's birthplace was in Tarsus, Acts. 9:11, 21:39, and 22:3 he claims he is from the tribe of Benjamin see Romans. II:2, and was a Pharisee according to Phillipians 3:5 claims he studied under Gamaliel Acts. 22:3 * it is important to note that Paul himself never mentions that he was a student of Gamaliel. Stephen was murdered and Paul is implicated in his death see Acts. 8:1. Paul harries the church and siezes Christians, Acts. 8:3. At the time of Paul's activities the High Priest was a Sadducee not a Pharisee! Paul claims he was a Roman citizen by birth meaning his father also was a Roman citizen. He was, however, flogged several times see Acts.26, and
II Corinthians 11:24 " Five times I have recieved at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.25 Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned....
(he was flogged in total five times) this is problematical as under Roman law Roman citizens were not flogged. see the best modern effort to make Paul a Pharisee in W.D. Davies Paul and Rabbinic Judaism.
Pharasees, Sadducees and Ebionites:
Paul was never a Rabbi ( ie. Pharisee ) he was a police officer for the Sadducee party in Jerusalem under the High Priest. Jesus and his followers were members of the Pharisee sect. Both James and Peter who founded the church after Jesus died were Nazarenes definately a Jewish sect. It was Paul who founded the new religion called Christianity. * Epiphaneus in his book "Heresies" Testified that Paul had no Pharisee background but that he was the son of Gentile parents who converted to Judaism in Tarsus. The Ebionites were the true successors of Jesus the word in Hebrew means the poor.
Pharisees noted for their scholarship, fairness, and leniancy in the law, see Josephus (Ant: 13:294) Torah Relgious teaching and Written and Oral Law. Through the Halakah (Going) and Aggadah (Telling) Christ is the Gk form of the Hebrew word for Messiah or the annointed one ie. the King. The Sadduccees rejected as heretical by the Pharisees because they rejected the Oral Law and were more concerned with the Status quo. The Sadduccees held three things to be important the Old Testament the Temple and The Priesthood. The Pharisees were leaders concerned with being Rabbi's whereas the Sadduccees were more concerned with being ireus the ireus were accepted by the Pharisees as leaders ie. as didaskos Pharisees were qualified as lawyers and teachers in the Midrash , Torah, and Talmud. They were the favourite of the people. By 160 B.C. the Ptolemic Greeks had centralized power in the "ireus Rank and file priests were Pharisees they really held the power among the people. The Essenes began a movement against the ireus for bieng corrupt Jesus said regarding the Sabbath and observation of the Law " The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath " this is a famous Pharisee source, part of an argument that saving a life takes presedence over the Sabbath.
Was Jesus a Pharisee?
Yes see (Mark12. 28-34) Jesus is speaking to a lawyer (meaning a Pharisee) in a (friendly discussion) * in Mathew the story is edited to make a Pharisee look very critical of Jesus.
* Pharisee teaching:
The 2 statements Jesus makes are an exact reference to Deuteronomy and to Leviticus and are Pharisee teachings; as follows:
A) Shema Hear O Israel the Lord our God is the only Lord, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
B) Love your neighbour as yourself. Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Akiba both taught that this was the principal of Judaism upon which everything else depended. These two men were the greatest sages of Pharisee thought. In the Gospels an attempt is made to state the Pharisees accused Jesus of healing on the Sabbath against the Jewish laws when in fact there are laws which support these very acts of Jesus. see. Mark3:6 and Matt.12:14 In Mark 3:6 the reference is to partisans of Herod Antipas they must be Sadduccees! Mark 12:18-27 Ressurection from the dead is a Pharisee belief. Luke 13:31 At that time a number of Pharisees came to him and said, " You should leave this place and go on your way, Herod is planning to kill you. " Jesus is shown in this reference to be a friend of the Pharisees and therefore it cannot be an interpolation or a late insertion it must be true. Messiah= anointed ie. King of Davidic line this is not a blasphemy. Exodus 21:19 Doctors bills and loss of employment must be paid for by the guilty party to an injury. * an eye for an eye refers to monetary compensation. Mark 7:19 Jesus declared all foods to be clean. ( is this an interpolation or mistranslation?) see the word Brwmata = foods? Mark 1:43 Jesus expressly commands a leper to follow the laws of purity. Mark 2 the corn plucking incident. * Jesus did not break the law as the men were very hungry ie. a sense of emergency has been removed.
Why was Jesus Crucified?
And they began to accuse him, saying, " We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king." The actual charge was that he claimed to be King and forbid people to give tribute to Caesar
John 19:12 Upon this Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release him you are not Ceasar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself agianst Ceasar."
Acts 5 Gamaliel's actions show that the Pharisees were sympathetic towards Jesus see the reference to his intervention upon the behalf of the disciples in the Sanhedran Sadduccee court.
33 When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, held in honour by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a while. 35 And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. 36 For before these days Theu'das arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail;39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" 40 So they took his advice and, when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Was Paul a Pharisee?
Acts 5 shows that the disturbance was political. Judas of Galilee was a Pharisee Rabbi who founded the Zealot movement against Rome mentioned by Gamaliel. If the Pharisees were very angry with Jesus and found his teaching to be so agianst the law why did Gamaliel not question him about breaking religous laws? Gamliel was held in very high regard as a Pharisee. The word saviour in Gk is close to the word Liberator? the word for robber in the NT Gk ie. lsths = a rebel not a robber.
Alleged Rabbinical Style in Paul's Epistles
* Pauls elevation of Jesus to divine status was a reversion to paganism to Jews and to Pharisees. kurios= Gk for Lord a heretical title given to Jesus by Paul
Schoeps and Klausner are the only scholars to attempt to prove that Paul's Epistles are Pharisaic ( Hyam claims that they failed ). Using the light and heavy arguments of the Pharisaic school Hyam argues that there is only one example from Paul's writing which could be used to support their contention. Examples are found in Romans 7.1-6, Is an example of Paul's very poor legal thinking only the death of the Torah not the body of Christ would make the analogy correct! Targum was in Aramaic as ordinary Jews did not read Hebrew. Regarding the Septuagint Paul always reads from this text but why not from the Hebrew if he was a Pharisee??? eg.Corinthians 15:55 Oh death where is thy victory Oh death where is thy sting? Hosea 13:14 But in Hebrew this passage reads; Oh for your plagues Oh death Oh for your sting Oh grave.
Paul and Stephen ( Saulos kai Stefanou )
Acts show Paul acting for the Ireus a Sadduccee and not acting as a Pharisee. Stephen was accused of two things.
1) Speaking against the Temple and saying Jesus will destroy it
2) Both Jesus and Stephen are portrayed as being tried for something of which they are not actually convicted of; they were killed for a crime they committed in the trial itself. Acts.5 is odd because Gamaliel helps Peter; why would their be any difference between helping Peter and helping Jesus? Hyam feels the text here has been edited. Acts.8 Ref to the persecution of the Church in Jerusalem but why were the leaders allowed to remain? Stephen was leading a schism sect perhaps? Acts.7:59-60 States Paul is a young man a neanou but the Ebionites claim Paul was an adult when he came from Tarsus. Could a young man in Gk adolescent youth lay waste the church and persecute people house to house? Acts.8:1... Acts 7:58 kai ou martures apesento ta imatia autvn para tous podas neanion kaloumenou Saulou
The road to Damaskou
Saulos could have had no authority from the arxierei to bring a udas tkai gunaiks eis Ierouslhm his jurisdiction was only over the Temple mount in Ierouslhm The arxierei had no authority to send Saulos into another sunagwgas outside of Judea. Damaskou under the rule of King Aretus IV (9.BC. to A.D.40 ) was an independent kingdom of Nabatae not under Roman rule. Pseudo Clementine Recognitions 1.70 ff. states that Saulos went to Damaskou to arrest Peter. II.Cor. and Acts 9:22-25 Paul's version of events is far more truthfull! Written in AD 55-60 Acts was written about AD 90 and shows the shift from a Political to a Relgious focus. There are four versions of his conversion in Damascus; Acts.9, Acts.22, Acts.26 these are the later accounts. Pauls account is in Gal.1, Romans.7:14 and 8:1 There are contrasts with the Pharisee concept of yetzer ha-tov and yetzer ha-r'a both balance each other both are human. Good and Evil in the Midrash. Rabbah on Ecclesiastes 3:11 Pharisee philosophy of evil versus good; the morality of psychic aggression etc. Saulos created two laws pneuma and sarx and denies the Pharisaic concept of the unity of God: Paul slips and states "We" in ref to the Gentiles in Gal 3:14 ie. is he a Gentile? Ebionites state his parents were Gentiles not Jews. Paul's trade = a leather worker not a tent maker his father in Acts:22-28 is wealthy as a Roman citizen this does not seem true.
The Road to Damascus
Paul's version of his Damascus visit written AD 55-60 is much earlier and therefore in most cases more truthfull as to the "political versus the religious nature of these events " than the Acts written much later in AD. 90 *see the shift from
A. Political ie. Paul versus the Police chief King Aretus who wished to arrest him for being in Damascus and causing trouble and;
B. The later version in Acts where it is the Jews who objected to him ie. it is now a religious account not a political one. Ananias is a respected Jew Acts.22 so why does he baptize Paul? as in Acts.9. Gentiles could become Jews in two ways during this period of time.
A. By full conversion;
B. By addressing the so called Noahide Laws as required by the Rabbi's; this was the more common procedure adopted by the Gentile converts and they became known as the God-fearers this is probably what Paul originally was. He was by trade a leatherworker not a tentmaker although Skenopoios could also mean tentmaker.
Damascus and After
Paul has defied the authority of the Jerusalem church apostles; see Gal.1:10-17 He is very conceited and states that he has special status he also claims to have stigmata on his body which was not attested until much later in Church history II Corin.12:2-3
Paul and the Eucharist
Lords prayer is really an old Jewish prayerI Corin 11:23-30contains the first reference to the Eucharist and it is Paul who states plainly that he was the inventor of this tradition. * If Jesus founded the Eucharist why do we not find any reference to it and why was it not practiced in the Jersalem church? * The Gospels were all written after Paul's Epistles. John refers to the shock of the Jewish disciples when they first heard about Paul's Eucharist. Bread then wine is the traditional Jewish meal. Paul's term is Kuriakon Deipnon ie. the Lords supper which = a Gk mystery term for sacred meals. This has been changed by the church to the Eucharist ie. blessing as the church was embarrassed by the connection to the mystery cults proven by this borrowing from the Gk. Hanz Lietzmann indicated long ago that the book of Acts indicates that the Eucharist was not practiced by the Jewish Nazzarines. See Acts.2:42-46 where breaking bread and attending the Temple is shown to be the traditional practice as it is today.
The Jerusalem Church
In Acts.2:46 Jesus followers still attend the Temple on a daily basis; * this indicates there was no rival priesthood which could lay claim to authority.If Jesus chose Peter to found his church why was James his brother leader of the Jerusalem Church instead? and further, why did Simon follow him? see Eusebius's list of bishops The ref to the keys of my kingdom is from Isiah where Eliakim is made head of the Sanhedrin with powers to bind and to loose. see Isaiah:19:23 Jesus therefore, is only giving powers to Peter to act as his legal representative not as the founder of a new sect. The priesthood is still monarchial and flows through the blood line. Gibbon states that the first ten leaders of the Christian church were all circumcized Jews while Eusebius states that the first fifteen bishops were circumcised Jews. In Acts.22:12 Ananias of Damascus is no Christian he is described there as a " devout observer of the law and well spoken of by all the Jews of that place." This hardly sounds like a converted Jew! In Acts.21:18-21 James questions Paul re: his efforts to change circumcision and to turn your back upon the Law Johannes Munck Editor of the 20Cent Anchor Bible book of Acts of the Apostles denies the Jewish element of the Jerusalem Jews. See his comments in the Anchor Bible.
Acts purpose is to minimize the conflict between Paul James and Peter The Laws of the sons of Noah known as theNoachim laws used by the Pharisee rabbi's to deal with relations with the Gentiles who wished to become Jews. Reffered to in Acts.15
The commandments given by James to Paul regarding relations with the Gentiles were as follows:
- To abstain from anything polluted by Idols
- To abstain from fornication
- To abstain from anything which had been strangled
- To abstain from blood
The seven Laws of Noah ( Rabbinical List )
- Prohibitions against Idolatry
- Prohibitions against Blasphemy
- Prohibitions against Fornication
- Prohibitions against Murder
- Prohibitions against Robbery
- Prohibitions against Eating limbs cut from live animals
- Set up courts of Law * note that Paul was summoned to Jerusalem to give an account of his actions to James and the Elders
He was also involved with a confrontation with Peter see Gal.II:11-14 Paul admits in Corin.9:20-22 that he used deception in achieving his goals. He was forced in Acts.21:18-26 to undergo a public humiliation as punishment for his actions in breaking the authority of the Jerusalem Elders in the way he tried to spread his own version of Christianity. He is forced by James to undergo a Nazorean purificatio ritual involving the shaving of the head, baptism payment of fines to the Temple, and the admission that he is a follower and upholder of the Law. Paul agreed to do all this.
The Trial of Paul
Acts.21:27-31The whole of Jerusalem is in an uproar Why the uproar over Paul? if he was such a law abiding Jew? In Acts.17:6-7 the Jews of Thessalonica denounce him to the Roman authorities regarding his trouble making and the efforts by him to stir up trouble against Rome and the claims that there was a rival King. Jesus. ie. he was acting in a political fashion in Acts.21:20-22the Gk word is myriades which means literally tens of thousands not thousands. Claudius Lysius the Roman commandant intervenes on Paul's behalf see his letter to Governor Felix Acts.23-27 * He must have already known about Paul's actions as he was ready to rescue him he was probably informed by Paul's agents. Acts.24:26Paul had a great deal of money with him so Felix invited him often expecting a bribe. At his trial Paul divided the Pharisees and the Sadduccees very perceptively so that he could save his neck.Acts.23:1-10 This trial also shows that the Pharisees supported the Nazoreans. Claudius letter to Felix states however nothing about the riot which supposedly occured at this trial in the Sanhedrin. Assassination attempt. Acts.23:12-15 *Thugs of the high priest about forty in all tried to murder Paul Paul evades capture and a second attempt is made upon his life in Caesarea this time by an agent of the high priest so it is obvious he is wanted for political reasons in Jerusalem.Acts.24:1-9 The high priest's advocate Tertullus charges Paul with disturbing the peace and profaning the Temple, Felix keeps him prisoner for two years in Caesarea until the next Governor Festus arrives . Paul was then sent to Rome by Festus and his destiny is unknown the church claims he was martyred in Rome but there is no proof.
The evidence of the Ebionites
Re-Judaization the attempt by 20 Cent scholars to explain the Jerusalem Church. See Matt.5explained as an insertion. S.F.Brandon has shown that the story of the Jerusalem Church leaving for Pella is a fabrication. See The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church, London, 1951. From AD 70 to AD 140 more or less there was no Gentile church in Jerusalem *only in AD 140 was a church errected in the now new Roman city called "Aelia Capitolina", Therefore, there was no continuity this was a Gentile Church as Eusebius states in Ecc.Hist.III .V2-3 * Ebionites; " from the Heb the poor men " despised as heretics by the Catholic Church refused to accept Paul's doctrines. Nazarenes = the original name of the sect of Jesus see Acts.24:5 The term for Christians came from AntiochActs.11:26. In Rabbinical writings the name for this sect of Jesus is Notzrim. The Ebionite belief in the thousand year reign is a sign of their continuation of Nazorean ideology. In the Pseudo Clementine Writings falsely attributed to Clement I a core of writing is found which is 2 Cent Syrian see, F.C.Baur 19Cent and Simon Magus is Paul! An Arabic MS discovered by Shlomo Pines showed that a 10 Cent MS " Abd-al Jabbar" contained Jewish Christian info * ref to the corn plucking incident was a direct Tr of the Heb for Piqqah nefesh " the saving of a soul" 5 Cent MS states Paul was Pro Roman and the cause of the Jerusalem temple destruction. Gospels are untrustworthy the earliest views of the Ebionites are in the "Panarion 30:16:6-9 by Epiphanius
Descent of the Divine Saviour The Doctrine of Paul; Good versus Evil this gnosticism predates Christianity Paul's Epistles are gnostic Paul refers dramatically to the evil powers as "Gods" see I Cor.2:8 Arxonton tou aionos touto supernatural powers eg Romans.8:38 evil God II Cor.4:4 Paul's dualims is not Judaic it is Gnostic but he did not accept the demiurge Paul asserted the Torah came from angels Gal.3:19-20 diatageis = ordained No Jewish sources only Gnostic say anyone but God gave Moses the Torah. acts.7:53 and Heb2:23 are the only other 2 ref to angels as authors of the Torah in the NT but they are both based upon Paul's earlier ref. Paul stated the prophets were all Proto-Christians
* The essence of Paul's faith is that "the Law cannot save" "only the sacrifice of Jesus can save" Thus his affinity to Gnostic Antinomianism the Church had thus to develop a new Canon Law Pauline Law rejected the safeguards of women "Rabbinic law forbid evidence obtained under duress " and protected the rights of women. * Gk mystery religions., Paul borrowed from them the idea of a ressurected God which in Gnostic thought brings down to man knowledge. Paul taught however, that by the sacrifice of this God ie. of Jesus and by the sharing of this sacrifice as in the Gk mystery cults. Christians could be saved by the power of this God. The Gnostics were accused of Docetism ie. to appear or to seem as if they refuted the death of Christ on the cross. A combination of Gnosticsm and Mystery religion = Pauline Christianity with Paul adding Judaism for the historical value of tradition which it gave to his new religion. * The hostility towards sex in Paul's thought is not based upon Judaic practice eg. as Rabbi's encouraged marriage chastity was considered a sin * It was also considerably later than the time of Paul that women were no longer allowed to sit with the men in the Synagogue and were placed in the seperate gallery. Women also held high office in the Synagogue as we know from the title Archisynagogiassa and presbytera it was Paul who helped initiate anti-semitism.
The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity Hyam, Maccoby, Harper San Francisco: 1986
Taken from: http://www.geocities.com/aleph135/paul21.html
Hyam Maccoby: Harper San Francisco 1986