Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Book Plunge: What Have They Done With Jesus?

February 24, 2015

What do I think of Ben Witherington’s book published by Harper Collins? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

WhathavetheydoneiwthJesus

Recently, I received an announcement in my email that this book was on sale on Kindle. Unfortunately, it is no longer at the sale price, but I scooped it up as soon as I saw it was. Why? Because frankly, Ben Witherington is one of the most phenomenal scholars that there is. I have been told that he has an excellent memory down to the page numbers of a book that he has read and is quite knowledgeable in many other fields outside of the New Testament.

Yet in this one, he’s talking about the New Testament and taking a shot at the bad history that is often presented. I knew I was in for a treat when the very first chapter was titled “The Origins of the Specious.” This is more of a classical humor that we often see from Witherington. Witherington says we live in a culture that is Biblically illiterate and yet Jesus-haunted. Jesus is seen all around us, and most of us have not done any real study on Jesus and that consists of more than just going to church every Sunday. The way that our culture buys into ideas on Jesus immediately has had Witherington tempted to write a book called “Gullible’s Travels.”

He gives an example of this when he talks about being interviewed by a major network and being asked if it could be possible that Mary was a temple prostitute who was raped and Jesus was the result. That would be why he said in Luke that he had to be in his father’s house. Yes. That was an actual question that was asked and the tragedy is that was his first question asked by this network as was said and not presented apparently as some crank theory to get his take on.

In our culture, too often the culture will ignore the hard facts found in scholarship on the historical Jesus and instead go with the bizarre crank theories that you can find on the internet and the History Channel. Consider for instance how the idea that Jesus never even existed is spreading like wildfire on the internet. People who will demand the strongest evidences for Christians when making their claims will accept the weakest arguments when made in favor of an idea like this.

So how does Witherington deal with all of this? Witherington suggests we look at the primary sources, the Gospels and the epistles, and see what we can determine about the lives of those who were closest to Jesus. He uses the strongest scholarship he can find and also brings out many of the realities of living in an honor-shame culture that too many people are unfamiliar with. (While unfortunately, they are quite familiar with The Da Vinci Code).

Witherington starts at a place we might not expect, with a woman named Joanna. Now I’m not going to give a full look at any argument. That is for the reader to learn when they get the book. Joanna is someone mentioned in Luke 8 and is seen at the crucifixion in Luke 24, yet Witherington also makes a compelling case that she is also the Junia that we find mentioned in Romans 16.

Witherington brings out an amazing amount of information on this woman just by looking at the culture that she lived in and seeing the best scholarship on the issue. We often think of preachers who are said to milk a text for whatever it’s worth. Witherington is not like that. He’s not trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip. Instead, he is more like a highly skilled detective calling in the person for an interview and asking as many questions to get to the truth and finding the person has a lot more to tell than was realized.

From there, we move on to Mary Magdalene who contrary to popular theory was not the wife of Jesus. As Witherington has said elsewhere, when she sees Jesus in John 20, we do not see her saying “Oh honey! So glad you’re back! Let’s go and get a James Dobson book and revitalize her marriage!” (We can also say in this that she never once asked Jesus to take out the trash.) Mary Magdalene is a woman with many legends told about her, but she’s also a woman with a remarkable story. The culture not being accurate about Mary Magdalene does not mean we should downplay her. This was an amazing woman with a shameful past who is an excellent example of the transforming power of Jesus.

From there, we move on to figures who we have more information on. We go to Peter and how he would have seen Jesus in his time and what information we can gain about what Peter did after the resurrection. Peter was known as Jesus’s right hand man and what he would have to say about Jesus would be of utmost importance. As Witherington goes on and shows James and Paul later, Peter will still play an important role there since if Peter gives the okay to these guys, they must have been doing something right.

After that, we go to the mother of Jesus. Mary is definitely another Mary with many stories built up after her. Witherington points out that we have Mariology, but we don’t have Peterology or Jamesology. Yet while those of us who are Protestants do think the pendulum has swung too far with the treatment of Mary by Catholics, we should realize the Scripture does say that all people will call Mary blessed, and for good reason and realize that Mary is an important witness to the truth of Christianity and who Jesus was and is.

From there, we move to the Beloved Disciple. Witherington has an interesting take in that he thinks much of the material in the Gospel of John comes from Lazarus. I must say that after reading the material, I find it quite fascinating. Still, it doesn’t mean John has no role in this. John could very well have been the editor of all the material and compiled it all together into a Gospel. This is possible and worth considering.

The next look comes from James, the brother of Jesus. James has often got a bad rap as being a legalist of sorts. Witherington argues that James was in fact an expert at how to handle possibly volatile situations. Paul was interested in the question of what Gentiles needed to do to be considered Christians. Did they need to be Jewish. James was wanting to make sure there was no entire cut from Judaism and that Gentiles would be sensitive to Jewish concerns so that Jews would want to remain Christians and was wanting to say that Jews could still follow and observe the Law as Christians and honor their heritage. While there was no doubt some disagreement between the two, if these two were brought together to discuss points of doctrine, there would be more nods of agreement than disagreement.

At the end of this section, I had a new respect for James and still do. It left me thankful that there were Christians like James who were put in very difficult situations and had to learn how to walk a line very finely to keep an early church together, and James did this without an instruction manual or without even having access to a New Testament. He also had no doubt had to rely on people like Peter a great deal for information on Jesus since James was not a disciple beforehand. That Peter let James lead the Jerusalem church shows what a remarkable amount of trust Peter had in James’s understanding of the Jesus tradition.

Also, we have a brief look at Jude. Jude is one of the shortest books in the Bible, but it is still a book of utmost importance and the look at Jude, one of Jesus’s brothers, will show the importance that Jude would have played in the society and how this little book contains big information on Jesus.

Finally, we get to Paul. We too often can see Paul as the originator of Christianity. This would not explain Peter and James approving of the work of Paul. It also misses the radical change that Paul had in his life, something Witherington brings out well. I have been at men’s study groups before where Paul came up and people have said they want to have faith like Paul. I have reminded them that if they want to have faith like Paul, they need to see the change Christ brings to the world like Paul did. We often do not see that.

Paul was a first-rate thinker highly educated and was the one who really first saw the implications of the death and resurrection of Jesus, even beyond that which Peter saw. This is remarkable since Paul was not part of the inner circle or even part of the twelve at the time of Jesus. Witherington gives a detailed look at the life of the Apostle to the Gentiles and how he changed the world in a way that it has never been the same since.

What do all these people have in common? It would take something miraculous to get them to do what they did. It would have to be an utter life-changing event. Witherington sees no other way to explain the rise of the church. As Witherington says:

“Here we are able to reach a major conclusion of this study. None of these major figures who constituted the inner circle of Jesus would have become or remained followers of Jesus after the crucifixion if there was no resurrection and no resurrection appearances of Jesus. The church, in the persons of its earliest major leaders, was constituted by the event of the resurrection, coupled with the Pentecost event! The stories of these figures, especially their post-Easter stories, are the validation of this fact. There would be no church without the risen and appearing Jesus”

I wholeheartedly agree with Witherington. The best explanation for the rise of the Christian church is the one that the church itself gave. God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is the Messiah and the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel. Jesus is the one who is bringing the Kingdom of God to man. By His resurrection, God is reclaiming the world for Himself and inviting us to take part in it.

I conclude with saying that this is a book that should be read entirely and its ideas grasped. The people around Jesus will not be seen in the same light again. Readers will also get great clues as to the dynamics that exist in an honor-shame society and what a radical difference that makes to our understanding of Christianity.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Advertisements

Book Plunge: In Search of Paul

June 10, 2014

Do Crossan and Reed find him? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of the most important lessons you can learn in studying is to read those who disagree with you. Too often, we have the idea that all of them can be liberals who dream night and day about how they can undermine the Bible and destroy the faith of some at every chance. In reality, when you read them, one can often find a seriousness to the Biblical text and get valuable insights in interpretation and in fact make special note of where they agree with you. Of course, I still think they are wrong in much in the long way, but we should listen to their voices as they can most easily question our own presuppositions.

In Search of Paul by Crossan and Reed is a book looking at the Roman Empire’s “gospel” in contradiction to the “gospel” that Paul taught. Both sources were claiming that there was a man who was deity and who was going to be the ruler of the world and usher in a new age.

They’re right too. Rome was indeed seeing itself in a position of restoring the world and shaping it the way it ought to be and the divine Caesars were bringing blessings to all people. This is probably why elsewhere Crossan has said that Mark 1:1 where it talks about the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus, the Son of God, could be translated as “In your face, Caesar.”

This is something I’ve used in my own apologetic. In the clash of these two forces together, neither one of them wanting to compromise an inch, it is a wonder that it was in fact Christianity that won out. How did a shameful traitor and blasphemer to YHWH (by the standards of the world) come to be the one that eventually even the Roman Emperor bowed a knee to, and this without the Christians raising a sword?

But that is another question for another time and those interested can pursue my writings elsewhere and find my answer.

To return to the review, Crossan and Reed also bank on a hypothesis that Paul in his journeys went most to the God-fearers. These were people who admired the Jewish worldview and believed in the Jewish God, but they didn’t follow through entirely. For some bizarre reason for instance, the men were hesitant to get circumcised. I can’t imagine why….

Unfortunately, this is what I consider the weakest part. It’s not really explained well and when it comes to Acts, the parts that go against the theory are deemed to be non-historical without any real argument. If they give one elsewhere, it would have been good to have seen a reference.

The authors ask why would Jews care about these God-fearers coming to believe in Jesus? They also ask why would the pagans have cared about some pagans becoming Christians. Actually, both of these questions are quite simple to answer.

Jews would care because this would go against the honor of God. They didn’t want people going around saying that the Messiah had come and that Messiah was a crucified criminal. It also didn’t help that the leaders of Israel were being blamed for this. If this went unchecked, then that would mean that God would surely come and judge the nation. They were in violation of the covenant and the new movement had to be stomped out.

Why would pagans care? Simple. These people would be deviants in society. “You’re not worshiping the gods or the emperor? You’re in fact proclaiming our gods are not real and that the emperor is not deity? If you keep this up, the gods and/or Rome will judge us!” Both groups had something to gain by going after the Christians.

Despite this disagreement, a good reader will learn much from this book. The story is also told with powerful descriptions of visiting the areas where the events took place in modern times. One gets to see how the Empire was growing alongside of Christianity and go through the letters of Paul deemed to be authentic and see how they could be translated in light of this information.

Another point of interest is that Crossan and Reed want to tie this in to modern America today. How are we like the Roman Empire and differnt from them? I found myself puzzled though in wondering what great message Jesus taught that was so unique that it is still here today from a non-Christian viewpoint. For Crossan and Reed, the impression is that it is about the end of violence, but this does not seem to be the main message of Jesus.

As NT scholars agree, Jesus’s message is the Kingdom of God and the message would then be that God has begun His rule and He has begun it in the person of Christ. The resurrection would be the vindication of that claim. (As well as providing forgiveness of sins.) This is the solution to the problem of evil. God is reworking this world and reshaping it by the spread of the Gospel.

Non-violence would be good, but to what end? Just so we can all get along? If Jesus’s message had simply been that we should love one another and avoid violence and live in unity, it is hard to imagine how it is that He would have been crucified. It must be something much more radical. This is the problem I have with Crossan’s Jesus every time I read about Him. He’s a nice guy. There’s nothing wrong with being a nice guy, but nice guys while they finish last, do not get crucified.

Despite these differences, I do encourage Christians interested in the historical Jesus and studying Paul to read Crossan and Reed’s work. It will be very eye-opening and reading a stance different from your own will help you inform yours.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 2/22/2014: Lynn Cohick

February 21, 2014

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We live in an age where equality is praised as a good. Today one idea that we try to value equality in is men and women. Of course, we know they’re not identical, but women are allowed to vote, to own property, to have jobs, to drive, etc. Yet if women are privileged to have such rights in our society, where did they come from?

I would contend that if we want to see the one who most helped us break down many of the barriers between male and female, we start with Jesus and how he revolutionized the world, including in his treatment of women in the society that he lived in. To discuss this, who better to bring in than a female scholar?

That’s why my guest will be Lynn Cohick out of Wheaton. Cohick is the professor of NT there and she is a highly accomplished author with numerous books and articles to her name. We’re going to be talking about the role of women in the NT and if there’s anyone who is equipped to handle it, it’s her.

Cohick has been in several peer-reviewed journals and is a member of a number of professional organizations with regards to her writing. She has writings not only on women, but on the patristics in church history and on Paul.

Cohick graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Bible and Religion from Messiah College in Grantham, PA. She went on to get her PH.D. in New Testament and Christian Origins at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

What was life like for a woman in the Greco-Roman world where Jesus lived? If you were a pagan, what could you expect being part of such a world as a woman? What rights would you have and how would you be treated?

On the other hand, if that wasn’t so good, how would it be if you were a Jew. Did Jews have a high view of women or not? We can already suspect that many did not such as by the fact that a woman’s testimony was not worth much and yet women were the first ones to witness the resurrected Jesus and the empty tomb.

So how did Jesus actually come to change the way that we view women and get us to the point in our society where women have reached the place that they are at? What about Paul? Did Paul have a view that was anti-woman or did he have a view that really lifted up women beyond where they had been before? What about problem passages in the Pauline epistles? Was Paul a misogynist or not?

These are all important questions and I will be discussing them with my guest this weekend. I hope that you will join me as we welcome Lynn Cohick to the Deeper Waters podcast. The show will air this Saturday from 3-5 PM EST. The call-in number with your questions is 714-242-5180. The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Faith Like Paul

November 11, 2013

What does it take to live like the apostle Paul? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, I heard somewhere someone saying about how great it would be to live like Paul. Paul certainly had a great faith and it really transformed his life. He wrote about joy from a prison cell and he dealt with persecution all his life, until in the end he was beheaded for his faith in Christ.

Now I do want to say that when I speak about faith like Paul, I mean faith in what I take to be the biblical sense. Faith is one of the most misused words today. I have written about a true understanding of faith here. Faith biblically is trust in that which has been shown to be reliable. It does not mean belief in the absence of evidence. It’s quite the opposite in fact. It requires evidence.

It’s important to realize Paul is not traveling around the Roman Empire based on what he thinks is a subjective experience or a hope he wants to see fulfilled alone (Though he has had an experience and he does have hope for the future because of Christ), but it is rather because he is because he has seen something in the world outside of his mind that he thinks changes everything about reality.

Years ago, there was a cartoon I watched and one clip advertising said something like “I watched the TV shows. I used to play the card game. Then I found out, this is real.” Imagine what it would mean if the plot of a favorite cartoon of yours was real. How would it change your life? Imagine if you found out that just one fairy tale or Disney movie was a real historical event. What would it change for you? Would you ever see the world the same way again?

Now for Paul, Paul has been a good Jew all his life and has grown up hearing about the hope of Israel, the Messiah, and as a good Pharisee, he has also believed in the resurrection. He has been holding to the Torah all his life. The Law of God is sacred writ for him. He treasures it. He reads it daresay I far more than we’ve ever read our NT. We would not be surprised if we heard Paul had the whole of it memorized.

What happened?

Paul’s claim is that He saw the risen Christ.

So what did that mean for Paul? “Yay! My sins are forgiven!” No. Paul thought he had a system of forgiveness already that worked quite well. He saw himself as blameless before the law. If you preached Jesus to him because he needed forgiveness, Paul would say “No I don’t! I am a faithful observer of Torah! That reveals that I am justified in the eyes of God!”

Of course, Paul did come to realize and teach that forgiveness is found only in Christ, but that is not why he came to Christ and while that is something that he was teaching an unbelieving world, that was not the main change.

What was it? I’d like for you to think about a work like Craig Keener’s book “Miracles.” Now if you’re the atheist reading this, just take a thought experiment with me. Suppose you undeniably witnessed someone praying in the name of Jesus for someone and then saw right before your eyes that they were instantaneously healed. Let’s suppose it was a condition like blindness or paralysis in fact.

Does your worldview change any at that point?

Now you might not come straight across to Christianity at that point (though I would have no complaints if you did), but I would hope at least you would if you were a committed atheist start thinking “Could I be wrong about something? What would it mean if God has broken in?”

In fact, for those of us who are Christians, we might need to start thinking like atheists more. We need to realize that this is something incredible really. God has broken into our world. There is someone out there in the world and He has spoken. There is more to this universe than meets the eye.

The problem is that we’ve grown up with Christianity so much that its become familiar to us. We know the stories so well that we’ve never found them to be incredible. It can sadly seem natural to us that God took on flesh and that Jesus rose from the dead.

They weren’t natural at all to a first century Jew.

For Paul, to see that Jesus is raised expresses so much that I seriously doubt that I can get it all. It is extremely difficult to begin to think like a 1st century Jew, but to understand Jesus as his contemporaries saw him, we must do this.

For Paul, I can wager some guesses.

First, he sees in Jesus that the promises of God are all yes and amen. God has spoken in Jesus which means that the time of renewal is at hand. The Kingdom of God has begun and it has begun with the reign of King Jesus.

Second, since the kingdom of God has begun its reign, then that means that the eschatological hopes of Israel are being fulfilled. God’s glory is being made known throughout the world. The Kingdoms of this world are to eventually bow the knee to the Kingdom of Christ.

Third, moral renewal will begin. The Law will be written on our hearts and we will follow the moral dictates. Paul is not an antinomian. He holds that there is still a law, but the righteous demands are being made known through the Holy Spirit.

Fourth, salvation has changed entirely. No more does it rely on following the sacrificial system, but it relies on trust in the Messiah of Jesus who occupies the throne of Israel. The Davidic and Abrahamic covenantes both find their fulfillment in Christ.

Fifth, God is in the act of making all things new. This includes even the dietary laws and the sacred days of Israel. Creation is being reborn. The curse is being lifted. Paul would have very well understood the claim of Revelation “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Sixth, in the resurrection of Jesus, we find the death of death itself. Death was the stranger that came into the world and ruined humanity. It has had a hold on most everyone save Enoch and Elijah. As long as death reigns, we have no certainty that justice will be done on this Earth. Since Christ has been raised and is the firstfruits of the resurrection, we have certainty.

Seventh, this means that judgment is coming. God has acted which means he’s not kidding around any more. The time of patience is over. It is now time to repent and get right with God. This motivates Paul even more to preach the gospel.

These are just seven I can think of. I do not doubt for a moment that there are many more, but if these facts haven’t fully gripped you, and to confess they haven’t fully gripped me either, then we will not have the faith of Paul that we so want to have.

Today, I urge you to look at your Christianity differently. Only when you see it as changing the world, can you see it as changing your world.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Hashing It Out With Hashmalah

December 28, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, I’d like to look at something that was sent to me by Ratio Christi on the topic of Paul. There is a web site that has the claim that Paul was the false teacher that Jesus warned about.

You would have thought the claim of Paul creating Christianity as it is today would have died out since E.P. Sanders gave it a death blow so long ago, but this is the internet. I am reminded of how Mark Twain is reported to have once said “When the world comes to an end, I want to be in Kentucky because everything happens twenty years later in Kentucky.” (No offense to my readers in Kentucky.) I think a similar saying could be “If you want to find a false teaching highly supported, find it on the internet because everything scholarship has refuted already takes fifty more years on the internet.”

The link to their site will be shown below.

Let’s look at their first argument made concerning 1 Cor. 4:16

Here Paul claims that HE, not “Christ” had “begotten you.” He “beseeches you” to be HIS followers, HIS imitators. The impostor claims are not made out rightly so as to astonish, but to subtly influence and brainwash the masses over a long term, strategic ministry of indoctrination (one which continued well on past 65 C.E.).

Swing and a miss here. Paul also claimed to be in a motherly position earlier giving them milk. It’s a metaphor. What does it mean to say he fathered them? It means he established the Corinthian church and he saw himself as responsible for their being united and a witness to the world. It is not at all taking the place of Christ.

Does he call them to be imitators of him? Yes he does. That was the typical way a rabbi, to which Paul was one, talked in those days. The students were to observe the rabbi and follow life as he did it. Paul says in Philippians however that he imitates Christ, the ultimate rabbi. Thus, Paul is telling them to imitate him as he imitates Christ, which is really placing a large responsibility on his head.

Hash, which is what we will call the site from here on, sees this as an ego trip, but there is no basis for that in Rabbinic thought. Rabbis were to live lives before their students in such a way that they would be ready examples to follow of being imitated. A little bit of study of the social context of 1 Corinthians and the Mediterranean culture would have gone a long way.

Moving on we see the following:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Paul says it is not really “him” that you see, the “he” was crucified, and it is “not I but Christ” living in his body. He is claiming that he is essentially Christ, and for this reason he is superior to all of Christ’s Disciples who opposed him at every turn.

One wonders just how much fail can be packed in an argument. No again. The Galatians knew that Jesus was crucified. They knew Paul wasn’t and they knew Paul had been in their midst. So what is Paul saying?

Paul is simply identifying himself with Christ as all Christians should. To become a Christian was to identify yourself with the carpenter from Nazareth. Which one? The one that was put on a cross under the curse of YHWH? Yep. The one that was given the death penalty for being treasonous to Rome? Yep. That was quite a claim to make.

For the ancient world, your identity came from who you identified with. As Don Matzat teaches in his book “Christ-Esteem” we have too much of a problem with self-esteem in our world. We need Christ-esteem. We need to find our identity in Christ and realize the good that we have is His good.

If one lives as if the Law is still the force that determines righteousness, then one is saying that Christ died for nothing. If one lives however knowing that Jesus has fulfilled the Law, then one lives knowing that they are righteous in Christ and not in the Law. Their righteousness comes from being identified with Christ.

Hash’s statement is simply wild speculation about Paul claiming to be superior to the other apostles. Do they have any scholarly sources that will say such a thing? Do they have a work such as Ken Bailey’s newest book, a look at 1 Corinthians from a Mediterranean perspective, or do they have the work of the context group with scholars like Pilch and Malina?

Nope.

And some people wonder why I have such a problem with the idea that we need no study to understand the Bible….

Jesus’ Brother Yaqov or “James” is almost entirely written out of the picture, and is referred to in a butchered historical account of Acts (an account which is retold in original, more precise terms in the Dead Sea Scrolls), by a descriptive noun “Stephen” (`Atarah, or the “Crown”), rather than by his true name.

What is this source that Hash is using? We don’t know. He doesn’t say, but supposedly we are to believe that Stephen is not really a real person but is rather a made-up name for James. This despite the fact that Josephus tells us that it was after the death of Festus that James was stoned. This can be found in book 20 and chapter 9 of the Antiquities.

So upon what basis are we to believe that Stephen is really James? Beats me. Apparently, Hash thinks that asserting it is the case. Is it because both are killed by stoning? Then to reference what Chesterton said in “The Everlasting Man”, we might as well think the baptism of John and the great flood are the same event. Both of them have people going underwater.

However, neither the censored Gospel accounts – relegated to the “Apocryphal works” that didn’t make the Council of Nicea’s “cut” in 325 C.E. – nor the “early Church fathers” were silent in regards to James and this outright war on Paul.

Source for this? None is given. I had no idea the canon was decided at Nicea. Oh wait. It wasn’t. Will we see citations from the church fathers soon? I sure hope so. Keep in mind Clement, the disciple of Peter, and Polycarp, the disciple of John, both spoke highly of Paul.

For instance, consider this from 1 Clement.

1Clem 47:1
Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle.

Or what Polycarp said in Polycarp 3:2

Polycarp 3:2
For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the
wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you
taught face to face with the men of that day the word which
concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent,
wrote a letter unto you, into the which if ye look diligently, ye
shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you,

And in 11:3

But I have not found any such thing in you, neither have heard
thereof, among whom the blessed Paul labored, who were his
letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those
churches which alone at that time knew God; for we knew Him not as
yet.

Yep. Great war going on there.

Moving on with Hash:

For instance, Paul said: “Yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Torah but through the faith of Jesus Christ, even we believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Torah, because no flesh will be justified by the works of the Torah.” Galatians 2:16

Yaqov poignantly rebuked this statement, saying: “What does it profit, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, and doesn’t have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it doesn’t have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17

Paul and James are speaking to two different situations. Paul is speaking of righteousness before God. James is speaking of our righteousness as displayed before man. James is telling us that if you just say “I have faith” with no actions to back it, one can really question that you have faith.

In 2 Corinthians 12:16, Paul makes a perplexing, yet revealing, statement: “But be it so, I did not burden you: being crafty, I took you in by deceit.”

Does Christianity accept “taking in by deceit” as a means of “ministering,” and propagandizing?

Ever heard of sarcasm? Paul is using it. He’s stating something that’s obviously not true so his audience will realize it. Leave it to a site like Hash to totally miss the point. Paul is saying that he in fact did not do what it is that the super-apostles at Corinth were doing.

The Torah, the “Law,” which Paul mocked and considered a “yoke” and “bondage,” says: “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.” Leviticus 19:11

Where does Paul say this? We aren’t told. We’re just told that he does. This despite the fact that in Romans 7, he affirms the goodness of the Law.

We find more disagreement supposedly between Paul and James which I believe has been dealt with. Then we find the complaint that Paul never met Jesus in person, which has what to do with the price of tea in China, I have no idea. I can just as easily say Hash hasn’t met Jesus in person nor have I, so therefore we have no authority on what Jesus taught? This despite the fact that in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is very careful to distinguish his words from the Jesus tradition.

What do we find next?

In short, the case against Paul doesn’t look too good. Aside from being named out rightly in the Habakkuk Pesher of the Qumran “Dead Sea Scrolls” and found consonantally named in the Book of Habakkuk (which, recall, didn’t have diacritical vowel marking ascribed to it until absolutely no earlier than the 6th century C.E., and possibly not until the 10th or 11th century), Paul was also blind in the right eye, fitting the Book of Zechariah’s prophecy of the Antichrist called “the Worthless Shepherd” (Zechariah 11:17), and also the many Islaamic “Ahadeeth” (oral traditions) speaking of the “Antichrist” (Maseehu-d-Dajjaal), as being blind in the right eye.

References? Not a one. We have no idea where this is found. Blind in the right eye? News to me. Where is the scholarly information that backs this?

Beyond that, Paul was an admitted murderer who never stood trial for his crimes. He merely claimed that the “blood of Jesus” had absolved him from his sins. What civilized person would accept such a defense from admitted murderers wishing to escape justice today or 2,000 years ago?

And who would Paul have stood trial with considering the very organization that he was working for is the one that would have jurisdiction? They were ordering the murders. Paul repented. He never claimed it justified his actions. Paul is not escaping justice. He is in fact going against the system that was wanting to put Christians to death.

Interestingly, Paul himself never once admits that he was from Tarsus, Greek mythology’s entrance to “Hades” or “Sheol” in Hebrew (consonantally the same spelling as Paul’s Hebrew name “Sha’ul”). This fact is written in his biography, the book of Acts, after his mysterious disappearance and presumed death in 65 C.E. Why does Paul himself keep his Roman origins from us if not for the fact that Jews has long known from oral tradition that the Antichrist or “Armilus” was to be a “Roman Jew?”

Why should Paul spend epistles talking about his growing up? We’re not told. Where is this tradition about the antichrist being a Roman Jew? We’re not told. Hash expects us to be people of great faith obviously.

Now we also have complaints about Paul boasting, but Paul is simply using mockery and sarcasm again against his opponents. This was part of rhetoric in the ancient world. Paul himself said in 1 Cor. 13 that love does not boast.

As well, Paul admitted to theft and swindling churches. These are his own words: “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” 2 Corinthians 11:8

Once again, Paul is using sarcasm. He is being accused of using the Corinthian churches, and instead he is saying that he took money from the other churches instead. The use of robbery is again Paul being sarcastic.

Hash also shares Matthew 5:17-20 and how Jesus had said he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. Supposedly in contrast to this, Paul says:

However, in utter contradiction to Jesus Christ’s affirmation of the eternal validity of the Torah, as long as Heaven and Earth are extant, Paul blasphemously claims that the Messiah came to “destroy the barrier… by abolishing in his flesh the Torah.” This alone is proof that Paul is an outright Impostor and Liar, the Great Pretender.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the Law with its commandments and regulations.” Ephesians 2:13-15

What is gone is the distinction between Jew and Gentile based on the Law so the people of God can become one. Note also that Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law, which He did. The purpose of the Law was a guardian to lead people to Christ. Now that Christ has come, the Law is no longer the identification of righteousness.

As we reach the conclusion, once again, there is nothing scholarly in what is said. There are just assertions piled upon assertions. As it turns out, there is not much to hash out with Hash.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Link to Hash is here.

Link to First Clement is here.

Link to Polycarp is here.