Paul's Ignorance of the Earthly Jesus, Part 3: Claims 8-14
Paul refers to Peter by the name Cephas (rock), which was the name Jesus gave to him. (1 Cor. 3:22)
Paul tells us that he had a very involved conflict with Peter, but he never tells us that Jesus gave Peter this name. This is not even hinted at in anything Paul says about Peter. In fact, Paul nowhere indicates that Peter was a traveling companion of Jesus on earth before the crucifixion. Later writers were probably perplexed by the use of two names for Peter, and explained it by having the Jesus of their narratives give the name Cephas to Peter in an exchange which is nowhere given in Paul.
Interesting speculation, but my only question is how would one conclude that Peter/Cephas were the same person going from source material alone with no historical backbone?
1. Paul tells us that he had a very involved conflict with Peter, but he never tells us that Jesus gave Peter this name.
2. This is not even hinted at in anything Paul says about Peter.
3. In fact, Paul nowhere indicates that Peter was a traveling companion of Jesus on earth before the crucifixion.
Were David to challenge these, I would expect to see statements drawn from Paul’s authentic letters which contradict them.
Second, since the question is what knowledge Paul had of the earthly Jesus, Paul’s reference to Peter as Cephas does not qualify, precisely because Paul never suggests anything like what we read in John 1:42, where the evangelist has Jesus bestow Peter with the name ‘Cephas’.
Also, my proposal is certainly not farfetched, since, as I have shown, Paul does not explain his use of two names. Also, the backbone identifying Peter with Cephas need not have been historical so much as linguistic, since both words in their respective languages mean the same thing: in Aramaic, ‘cephas’ means ‘rock’, and in Greek, ‘petros’ is the masculine equivalent of ‘petra’, which means ‘rock’. Later writers could easily have taken this transliteration and constructed a story from it: Jesus dubbed Peter with the name ‘Cephas’ to emphasize his imperturbable faith. But at that point we have fiction, not history.
Jesus had a brother named James. (Galations 1:19)
We've already beaten this horse to death. Paul never gives a brother to Jesus - that is, a biological sibling to the earthly, pre-crucifixion Jesus. Paul is clear in reference James as "the brother of the Lord," which title signifies the post-resurrection Jesus. James, it was seen, was referred to as one of the "pillars" of the church by Paul. It is most probable then that Paul is referring to James with a fraternity title, similar to the one he uses for an unspecified number of persons in I Cor. 9:5, where he states: "Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" Here Paul is obviously referencing the upper echelon of the Christianity of his day. It would be hard to suppose that Paul is referring to a group of biological siblings of Jesus here. Instead, he's speaking of an inner circle group, who were obviously held in high regard. The assumption that Paul is referring to a biological relationship is generated by reading the gospel details into Paul's letters, when in fact Paul's letters in no way confirm this reading.
What we’ve seen is you have no argument for your interpretation. Not one of your points has passed the bar. All the citations you quoted were unsupported assertions or admitted speculation, and reference to “extant texts” which you have failed to provide information about. No I’d say the horse has been beaten to death alright but you seem to be confused about who’s holding the stick.
All you said about the external sources is basically “well they were just propounding the legend from the Gospels, so we can’t trust them either."
I have already told you that 1 Cor 9:5 is also addressing the same group of literal brothers mentioned in the Gospel.
I guess they misunderstood that one too, and figured it would make for good fiction.
You said “It would be hard to suppose that Paul is referring to a group of biological siblings of Jesus here.” To which I simply respond that, “It would be hard to suppose that Paul is referring to a group of highly regarded inner circle members (of which Cephas is excluded)."
The assumption that Paul is not referring to a biological relationship is generated ad-hoc in support of the legend theory’s interpretation of Paul’s letters, when in fact Paul’s letters in no way confirm this reading nor does any external source throughout the first 1700+ years of Christianity”
Jesus initiated the Lord's supper and referred to the bread and the cup. (1 Cor. 11:23-25)
As I asked before, when does Paul say this happened? Where? Under what circumstances? Who attended this event? Paul doesn't give any details. Later writers came along and supplied them. Paul gave the primitive rudiments, indicating no time, place or historical setting. In fact, I don't even find any indication that Paul is associating "the Lord's supper" with the Passover. It would be temptingly easy for later writers to take what Paul writes here and redress it in a narrative situation that seemed historical, but is essentially just a piece of fiction.
Ignoring the usual tiresome questioning ploys, and your repetitive bald assertions about later writers supplying details (I think you include this in every response to the bullet list, as if reasserting you point provides further argumentation)….uhh oh wait that’s all there is. :P
Jesus' death was related to the Passover Celebration. (1 Cor. 5:7)
Is Paul saying that Jesus was crucified around the Passover holiday? I don't get that from this. This is Pauline symbolism, derived from his Jewish roots, and later writers took references like this and assembled them into their narrative. Again, it would be temptingly easy for them to do this.
See Mk 14:12 and Lu 22:7
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.
The death of Jesus was at the hands of earthly rulers. (1 Cor. 2:8)
It is not clear what Paul means here by "princes of this world" (the ESV translates this phrase as "rules of this age" and the ASV has it as "rulers of this world"). Doherty has some interesting thoughts on this:
Where, then, was Jesus crucified and by whom? Like the myths of the savior gods, this deed took place in the mythical world, the upper spirit realm of Platonic philosophy, where spiritual processes were seen to be located. It was the work of demon spirits. Paul says, in I Corinthians 2:8, that those who “crucified the Lord of glory” were “the rulers of this age.” That phrase is not a reference to human authorities on earth, but to the demon spirits, who were regarded as controlling the world in the present age of history and who would be overthrown with the arrival of the new apocalyptic age... This was the interpretation of 2:8 by ancient commentators like Marcion and Origen. Modern critical scholars have largely followed suit: Brandon, Barrett, Hering, Fredriksen. Paul Ellingworth, Translator’s Handbook for I Corinthians, p. 46, says: “A majority of scholars think that supernatural powers are intended here.” The Ascension of Isaiah, a Jewish-Christian document in the Pseudepigrapha, foretells the Son descending through the layers of heaven, hiding his identity from the angels and demons until he reaches the lower celestial sphere, where he is “crucified by the god of the world,” meaning Satan (chapter 9). The crucifixion of Paul’s Christ was a spiritual event. (Challenging the Verdict, pp. 250-251)
It is clear that what Paul means here is both the Jewish rulers and the Roman governor.
Doherty supports his absurd, err I mean interesting, Gnostic interpretation by pointing to early Gnostic Christians who consistently blend the two systems together…surprise surprise!
David huffed and puffed:
If you wish to hide behind what a “majority of scholars think” you better be consistent with that.
Jesus underwent abuse and humiliation. (Romans 15:3)
These are themes that are common throughout the Psalms and Isaiah, both of which very highly influenced Paul’s views. Romans 15:3, the very passage you cite here, quotes Psalms 69:9, which is attributed by the OT to David! Moreover, when Paul refers to Jesus’ abuse and humiliation, he refers to them only vaguely, and gives no historical setting, indicating no specifics of the occasion. Later writers (i.e., of the gospels) take this motif and elaborate on it in their passion scenes, which are variously embellished in the different versions.
Wow I’m seeing a trend here Dawson…1)point out “missing” stuff 2)assert the legend theory. Are you using a template or something this is crazy?! How would you like it if every single one of my responses started with “since the Gospels are all historical factual accounts…?”
The question before us is: What knowledge did Paul have of the earthly Jesus. As evidence of Paul’s knowledge of the earthly Jesus is a citation to Romans 15:3 which is apparently taken to confirm the view that Paul knew of the passion sequences found in the gospels. Look at what Romans 15:3 states:
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, ‘The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me’.
As I pointed out in my initial response to David’s claim, Paul is quoting from Psalm 69:9, which states:
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
It’s clear here that Paul is drawing from the OT, not from knowledge he allegedly has of Jesus’ earthly biography. It is through such citations that the early Christians conceived of Jesus, as a savior already present in the OT literature. For Paul, “seeing” this savior already suggested in the OT may be all that constitutes “revelation” for him. This is not some simplistic “template” of my own here. After all, I did not write Paul’s letters, and I am not the one trying to link Jesus to the OT; Christians have done this since the very beginning. Since the question before us has to do with what Paul knew about the earthly Jesus, we need to review the citations given from Paul’s letters which are purported to attest to his knowledge of the earthly Jesus, and see where he might have gotten them. Clearly this is not a reference to Jesus’ life on earth, but an excerpt from the OT grafted into a concoction which was later filled in with specific details to create a narrative of Jesus’ earthly life. There is certainly no reference to time or place of the reproaches Paul mentions here, indeed no specifics at all.
Jewish authorities were involved with Jesus' death. (1 Thess. 2:14-16)
Doherty points out for us that many scholars are of the view that I Thess. 2:15-16 is an interpolation into an otherwise (for the most part) authentically Pauline letter. He writes: [insert lots of unsupported assertions and citations to other scholars who may have argued something
In the quotation which David omitted here, Doherty names five scholars who consider the passage in question to be an interpolation. I also pointed to two additional scholars identified by Wells who consider it an interpolation. On page 241 (n.16) of his book Challenging the Verdict, Doherty gives some more specifics:
Some scholars who regard the passage as an interpolation: Burton Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament? Harper San Francisco (1995), p. 113; Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians, Yale Univ. Press (1983), p. 9, n.117; Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament, Fortress Press, Philadelphia (1982), vol. II, p. 113; Paul Fredriksen: From Jesus to Christ, Yale Univ. Press (1988), p. 122; Birger A. Pearson: “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” Harvard Theological Review 64 (1971 p. 79-94.
Here’s what Paula Fredriksen writes about I Thess. 2:14-16 in the citation given by Doherty:
There are many impediments to accepting this as authentically Pauline. Its sweeping condemnation of “the Jews” contrasts strongly with the way Paul speaks of his own people elsewhere (e.g., Rom 9-11). Its invocation of the prophet-martyr tradition and its accusation of a Jewish spiritual stinginess toward the Gentiles implies an acquaintance with the later synoptic tradition. And finally the past completed action of the final phrase – “God’s wrath has come upon them at last!” – most readily calls to mind the Temple’s destruction in 70. But the strongest argument against Pauline authorship of this passage is Paul’s undisputedly authentic statement in I Cor. 2:8: “None of the rulers (archontes) of this age (aiōn) understood this [secret and hidden wisdom of God]; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” The archons of this aeon, I have argued, are to be understood as astral, nonhuman entities. But if Paul did refer here to the human agents in Jesus’ death, the “rulers of this age” could only be the Romans [i.e., not “the Jews”].
You haven’t demonstrated it as an interpolation so really your response shows nothing other than Doherty and others trying to make sense of their Platonic eisogesis of Paul.
Well, if David won’t take it from scholars in the know, why would he accept it from lil’ ol’ me?
by Dawson Bethrick
Labels: Christian Legends