Byzantine Empire 555AD
Byzantine Empire 555AD

Historical Jesus versus Apostle Paul

by Lewis Loflin

There is a great deal of material on this site in regards to religion, in particular subjects related to rational monotheism and the Bible. Because Christianity was a product of the Hellenism Alexander the Great would be a good place to start taking another look. The later Roman Empire as such never "fell" in 479 AD, it merely changed form, a process going back a few centuries.

"We can not command religion, for no man can be compelled to believe anything against his will."

Why study the historical Jesus?

To quote a Christian:

Because our faith is based upon a historical figure for whom more evidence exists than for Julius Caesar. Christians, Jews, journalists, theologians, historians and skeptics all take an active interest in every archaeological or manuscript discovery that might shed light or doubt on the origins of our faith. We, too, must be armed with these facts to confirm our faith and equip ourselves with reasons for the faith we hold in order to answer enquirers (1 Peter 3.15). Jonathan Went

The comment on Julius Caesar is nonsense. There is plenty of evidence a Jew named Jesus lived in the 1st Century, claimed to be the political figure Jews were expecting to free them from Roman rule, then got Himself crucified by the Romans for sedition against the Roman Empire.

That's right crucified by the Romans for sedition. Crucifixion was used for state crimes such as rebellion against Rome. The other two men crucified with Jesus were not robbers but rebels - in fact some translations of the Gospels use that term.

To quote Mark Mark 15:27-32:

"They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!" ... Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe..."

Jesus was never crucified for Jewish anything but rebellion against Roman rule. Mark is likely the most historical of the Gospels.

The concept of a risen Christ, a spirit figure, is from the visions and possible epileptic fits of Paul. His epistles predate the earliest Gospel of Mark by decades. Paul was a hit man for the Temple officials installed by and loyal to Rome. Or at least loyal enough to quell rebellion to save their own skins.

Paul was no mere Roman citizen, he was a powerful, connected Roman citizen. Luke also wrote Acts and was a Gentile convert of Paul. Luke never met Jesus.

In Acts 23 the Jews caught onto Paul's false claims and his efforts to undermine the Law, his life was in danger. His nephew (Acts 23:16) went to Roman authorities. So pwoerful was his family thatin Acts 23:23-24:

Then he (Roman commander) called two of his centurions and ordered them, "Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix."

A small army to protect a single "Jew" when Jews were murdered like clockwork? A conference before the Roman governor for mere Jew???

The claims this incident occurred in 58AD. Paul broke from the Jesus sect around 51-52AD.

Like many lefty Jews today (there's speculation Paul's family were converts at best), he rejected traditional Judaism. He embraced Hellenism and a form of Greek Gnosticism.

Hellenism is process where Greek philosophy, metaphysics, etc. merged with local cultures and religions. Judaism deals with the "here and now"; Gnosticism and Christianity deal with the hereafter.

Perfect for Roman rule. Paul says obey your Roman overlords. Your reward is in heaven after you die. The Law is supplanted by belief in, faith in, or knowledge of a divine mediator, the Christ he saw in visions. Paul never met the earthly Jesus.

He hijacked the Jesus sect from St. James over money and rejection of circumcision in Galatians. His wealthy Gentile clients wanted nothing to do with Jewish anything.

Paul and his followers also demonized the Jews as Christ killers at the behest of his Roman masters, or simply deflect suspicion of rebellion from his own sect.

For more on this subject see Origins of Christianity 101.

So-called Prophet Mohammed

While atheist and leftwing skeptics work overtime to discredit Christianity, they work equally hard in most cases to defend Islam.

There is little doubt Jesus, Paul, James, etc. are historical figures. Paul at least left a number of writings and his writings are the basis of Christianity.

The real issue is faith - does one have faith that Paul had mystical visions and direct communications with a risen Christ?

Paul misquotes and contradicts important areas of what Christians call the Old Testament - as written. On that basis alone I reject Paul.

But what of Mohammed? Are there any historical references to him during his lifetime? None.

Did he actually write anything? Nothing. Did his alleged mystical visions from an angel contradict earlier known writings? Yes it did.

There was nothing new and was mostly distortions or repeats of earlier traditions.

Ibn Warraq in his Koran Origins notes that,

The traditional accounts of the life of Muhammad and the story of the origin and rise of Islam, including the compilation of the Koran, are based exclusively on Muslim sources...

The Prophet Muhammad died in 632 C.E. The earliest material on his life that we possess was written by Ibn Ishaq in 750 C.E., in other words, a hundred twenty years after Muhammad's death...

Will Durant notes the Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian Sources of the Koran. Mohammed (a title) like Paul hijacked Judaism. To quote Durant,

As the style of the Koran is modeled on that of the Hebrew prophets, so its contents are largely an adaptation of Judaic doctrines, tales, and themes. The Koran, which excoriates the Jews, is the sincerest flattery they have ever received. Its basic ideas-monotheism, prophecy, faith, repentance, the Last Judgment, heaven and hell, seem Jewish in proximate origin, even in form and dress. It deviated from Judaism chiefly in insisting that the Messiah had come.

Mohammed knew many Jews in Medina where they were half the population. He wiped them out through mass murder and enslavement later on. He made heavy use of the Talmud. To quote,

Allah is Yahweh; Allah is a contraction of Allah, an old Kaaba god; ... The Koranic refrain that Allah is "gracious and compassionate" echoes the same frequent phrase in the Talmud.'

...The designation of Allah as Rahrnan, the merciful, recalls the rabbinical use of Rahmana for Yahweh in the Talmudic age. ... Apparently the Jews who acquainted the Prophet with the Bible also gave him snatches of the Talmud; a hundred passages in the Koran echo the Mishna and the Gemaras.

The teachings of the Koran about angels, the resurrection, and heaven follow the Talmud rather than the Old Testament. Stories that make up a fourth of the Koran can be traced to haggadic (illustrative) elements in the Talmud. Where the Koran narratives vary from the Biblical accounts (as in the story of Joseph) they usually accord with variations already existing in the haggadic literature of the pre-Moslem Jews...

The first chapter of the Koran, which is the basic prayer of Islam, is essentially Judaic. ...Some of these elements in creed and practice may have been a common heritage of the Semites; some of them-angels, devils, Satan, heaven, hell, the resurrection, the Last Judgment-had been taken by the Jews from Babylonia or Persia, and may have gone directly from Persia to Islam.

In Zoroastrian, as in Mohammedan, eschatology, the resurrected dead must walk upon a perilous bridge over a deep abyss; the wicked fall into hell, the good pass into a paradise where they enjoy, among other dainties, the society of women (houris) whose beauty and ardor will last forever. To Jewish theology, ethics, and ritual, and Persian eschatology, Mohammed added Arab demonology, pilgrimage, and the Kaaba ceremony, and made Islam...

His debt to Christianity was slighter. If we may judge from the Koran, he knew Christianity very imperfectly, its Scriptures only at second hand, its theology chiefly in Persian Nestorian form. His earnest preaching of repentance in fear of the coming Judgment has a Christian tinge. He confuses Mary (Heb. Miriam) the mother of Jesus with Miriam the sister of Moses...

The final question on claims of divine revelation: do we accept these claims on the mere say-so of various evangelists? I say no.

On the topic of Judaism and Zoroastrianism see Judaism Meets Zoroastrianism.

Most notable were the "barbarians" were not like what we often make of the word today. They didn't destroy everything and in fact were Christians!. They were Arian Christians and in fact acted more civilized in many respects than Rome and the Catholic Church. Two great men express my view and that of this website: As Theodoric the Great viewed religion,

"We can not command religion, for no man can be compelled to believe anything against his will."

Quoting Thomas Paine:

I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson:

On the contrary. I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition...We see, too evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the universe in its course and order...

Quoting Christoph Cardinal Schonborn:

What could be more fundamental to science than the assumption that the explorability and thereby the cognizability of reality arises due to its bearing the handwriting of its author? God speaks the language of his creation, and our spirit, which is likewise his creation, is able to perceive it, to hear it, to comprehend it.

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