On: Monday, July 29, 2013
314CE Immediately after its full legalisation, the Christian Church attacks non-Christians. The Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of Goddess Artemis.
324CE The emperor Constantine declares Christianity as the only official religion of the Roman Empire. In Dydima, Minor Asia, he sacks the Oracle of the god Apollo and tortures the pagan priests to death. He also evicts all non-Christian peoples from Mount Athos and destroys all the local Hellenic temples.
325CE Nicene Council. The godman gets a promotion: 'Christ is Divine'
326CE Constantine, following the instructions of his mother Helen, destroys the temple of the god Asclepius in Aigeai Cilicia and many temples of the goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem, Aphaca, Mambre, Phoenicia, Baalbek, etc.
330CE Constantine steals the treasures and statues of the pagan temples of Greece to decorate Constantinople, the new capital of his Empire.
335CE Constantine sacks many pagan temples in Asia Minor and Palestine and orders the execution by crucifixion of “all magicians and soothsayers.” Martyrdom of the neoplatonist philosopher Sopatrus.
341CE Constantius II (Flavius Julius Constantius) persecutes “all the soothsayers and the Hellenists.” Many gentile Hellenes are either imprisoned or executed.
346CE New large scale persecutions against non-Christian peoples in Constantinople. Banishment of the famous orator Libanius accused as a “magician”.
353CE An edict of Constantius orders the death penalty for all kind of worship through sacrifice and “idols”.
354CE A new edict orders the closing of all the pagan temples. Some of them are profaned and turned into brothels or gambling rooms.
Execution of pagan priests begins.
A new edict of Constantius orders the destruction of the pagan temples and the execution of all “idolaters”.
First burning of libraries in various cities of the empire.
The first lime factories are organised next to the closed pagan temples. A major part of the holy architecture of the pagans is turned into lime.
357CE Constantius outlaws all methods of divination (astrology not excluded).
359CE In Skythopolis, Syria, the Christians organise the first death camps for the torture and executions of the arrested non-Christians from all around the empire.
361CE to 363CE Religious tolerance and restoration of the pagan cults is declared in Constantinople (11th December 361) by the pagan emperor Julian (Flavius Claudius Julianus).
363CE Assassination of Julian (26th June).
364CE Emperor Jovian orders the burning of the Library of Antioch.
An Imperial edict (11th September) orders the death penalty for all those that worship their ancestral gods or practice divination (“sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi curiositas”).
Three different edicts (4th February, 9th September, 23rd December) order the confiscation of all properties of the pagan temples and the death penalty for participation in pagan rituals, even private ones.
The Church Council of Laodicea (Phrygia – western Asia Minor) orders that religious observances are to be conducted on Sunday and not on Saturday. Sunday becomes the new Sabbath. The practice of staying at home and resting on Saturday declared sinful and anathema to Christ.
365 An imperial edict from Emperor Valens, a zealous Arian Christian (17th November), forbids pagan officers of the army to command Christian soldiers.
370 Valens orders a tremendous persecution of non-Christian peoples in all the Eastern Empire. In Antioch, among many other non-Christians, the ex-governor Fidustius and the priests Hilarius and Patricius are executed. The philosopher Simonides is burned alive and the philosopher Maximus is decapitated. All the friends of Julian are persecuted (Orebasius, Sallustius, Pegasius etc.).
Tons of books are burnt in the squares of the cities of the Eastern Empire.
372CE Valens orders the governor of Minor Asia to exterminate all the Hellenes and all documents of their wisdom.
373CE New prohibition of all divination methods is issued. The term “pagan” (pagani, villagers, equivalent to the modern insult, “peasants”) is introduced by the Christians to demean non-believers.
375CE The temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus, Greece, is closed down by the Christians.
380CE On 27th February Christianity becomes the exclusive religion of the Roman Empire by an edict of the Emperor Flavius Theodosius, requiring that:
"All the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation should continue in the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter."
The non-Christians are called “loathsome, heretics, stupid and blind”.
In another edict, Theodosius calls “insane” those that do not believe to the Christian God and outlaws all disagreement with the Church dogmas.
Ambrosius, bishop of Milan, begins the destruction of pagan temples of his area. The Christian priests lead the hungry mob against the temple of goddess Demeter in Eleusis and try to lynch the hierophants Nestorius and Priskus. The 95 year old hierophant Nestorius ends the Eleusinian Mysteries and announces "the predominance of mental darkness over the human race."
381CE At the Council of Constantinople the 'Holy Spirit' is declared 'Divine' (thus sanctioning a triune god). On 2nd May, Theodosius deprives of all their rights any Christians who return to the pagan religion. Throughout the Eastern Empire the pagan temples and libraries are looted or burned down. On 21st December, Theodosius outlaws visits to Hellenic temples.
In Constantinople, the Temple of Aphrodite is turned into a brothel and the temples of the Sun and Artemis to stables.
382CE “Hellelujah” (“Glory to Yahweh”) is imposed in the Christian mass.
384CE Theodosius orders the Praetorian Prefect Maternus Cynegius, a dedicated Christian, to cooperate with local bishops and destroy the temples of the pagans in Northern Greece and Minor Asia.
385CE to 388CE Prefect Maternus Cynegius, encouraged by his fanatic wife, and bishop 'Saint' Marcellus with his gangs, scour the countryside and sack and destroy hundreds of Hellenic temples, shrines and altars. Among others they destroy the temple of Edessa, the Cabeireion of Imbros, the temple of Zeus in Apamea, the temple of Apollo in Dydima and all the temples of Palmyra.
Thousands of innocent pagans from all sides of the empire suffer martyrdom in the notorious death camps of Skythopolis.
386CE Theodosius outlaws the care of the sacked pagan temples.
388CE Public talks on religious subjects are outlawed by Theodosius. The old orator Libanius sends his famous epistle “Pro Templis” to Theodosius with the hope that the few remaining Hellenic temples will be respected and spared.
389CE to 390CE All non-Christian calendars and dating-methods are outlawed. Hordes of fanatic hermits from the desert flood the cities of the Middle East and Egypt and destroy statues, altars, libraries and pagan temples, and lynch the pagans. Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, starts heavy persecutions against non-Christian peoples, turning the temple of Dionysius into a Christian church, burning down the Mithraeum of the city, destroying the temple of Zeus and burlesques the pagan priests before they are killed by stoning. The Christian mob profanes the cult images.
391CE On 24th February, a new edict of Theodosius prohibits not only visits to pagan temples but also looking at the vandalised statues. New heavy persecutions occur all around the empire. In Alexandria, Egypt, pagans, led by the philosopher Olympius, revolt and after some street fights they lock themselves inside the fortified temple of the god Serapis (the Serapeion). After a violent siege, the Christians take over the building, demolish it, burn its famous library and profane the cult images.
392CE On 8th November, Theodosius outlaws all the non-Christian rituals and names them “superstitions of the gentiles” (gentilicia superstitio). New full scale persecutions are ordered against pagans. The Mysteries of Samothrace are ended and the priests slaughtered. In Cyprus the local bishop “Saint” Epiphanius and “Saint” Tychon destroy almost all the temples of the island and exterminate thousands of non-Christians. The local Mysteries of goddess Aphrodite are ended. Theodosius’s edict declares:
“the ones that won’t obey pater Epiphanius have no right to keep living in that island.”
The pagans revolt against the Emperor and the Church in Petra, Aeropolis, Rafia, Gaza, Baalbek and other cities of the Middle East.
393CE The Pythian Games, the Aktia Games and the Olympic Games are outlawed as part of the Hellenic “idolatry”. The Christians sack the temples of Olympia.
395CE Two new edicts (22nd July and 7th August) cause new persecutions against pagans. Rufinus, the eunuch Prime Minister of Emperor Flavius Arcadius directs the hordes of baptised Goths (led by Alaric) to the country of the Hellenes. Encouraged by Christian monks the barbarians sack and burn many cities (Dion, Delphi, Megara, Corinth, Pheneos, Argos, Nemea, Lycosoura, Sparta, Messene, Phigaleia, Olympia, etc.), slaughter or enslave innumerable gentile Hellenes and burn down all the temples. Among others, they burn down the Eleusinian Sanctuary and burn alive all its priests (including the hierophant of Mithras Hilarius).
396CE On 7th December, a new edict by Arcadius orders that paganism be treated as high treason. Imprisonment of the few remaining pagan priests and hierophants.
397CE “Demolish them!” Flavius Arcadius orders that all the still standing pagan temples be demolished.
398CE The 4th Church Council of Carthage prohibits everybody, including Christian bishops, from studying pagan books. Porphyrius, bishop of Gaza, demolishes almost all the pagan temples of his city (except nine of them that remain active).
399CE With a new edict (13th July) Flavius Arcadius orders all remaining pagan temples, mainly in the countryside, be immediately demolished.
400CE Bishop Nicetas destroys the Oracle of Dionysus in Vesai and baptises all the non-Christians of this area.
401CE The Christian mob of Carthage lynches non-Christians and destroys temples and “idols”. In Gaza too, the local bishop “Saint” Porphyrius sends his followers to lynch pagans and to demolish the remaining nine still active temples of the city.
The 15th Council of Chalcedon orders all the Christians that still keep good relations with their non-Christian relatives to be excommunicated (even after their death).
405CE John Chrysostom sends hordes of grey-dressed monks armed with clubs and iron bars to destroy the “idols” in all the cities of Palestine.
406CE John Chrysostom collects funds from rich Christian women to financially support the demolition of the Hellenic temples. In Ephesus he orders the destruction of the famous temple of Artemis. In Salamis, Cyprus, “Saints” Epiphanius and Eutychius continue the persecutions of the pagans and the total destruction of their temples and sanctuaries.
407CE A new edict outlaws once more all the non-Christian acts of worship.
408CE The emperor of the Western Empire, Honorius, and the emperor of the Eastern Empire, Arcadius, order all the sculptures of the pagan temples to be either destroyed or to be taken away. Private ownership of pagan sculpture is also outlawed. The local bishops lead new heavy persecutions against the pagans and new book burning. The judges that have pity for the pagans are also persecuted. “Saint” Augustine massacres hundreds of protesting pagans in Calama, Algeria.
409CE Another edict orders all methods of divination including astrology to be punished by death.
415CE In Alexandria, the Christian mob, urged by the bishop Cyril, attacks a few days before the Judeo-Christian Pascha (Easter) and cuts to pieces the famous and beautiful philosopher Hypatia. The pieces of her body, carried around by the Christian mob through the streets of Alexandria, are finally burned together with her books in a place called Cynaron.
On 30th August, new persecutions start against all the pagan priests of North Africa who end their lives either crucified or burned alive. Emperor Theodosius II expels the ***s from Alexandria.
416CE The inquisitor Hypatius, alias “The Sword of God”, exterminates the last pagans of Bithynia. In Constantinople (7th December) all non-Christian army officers, public employees and judges are dismissed.
423CE Emperor Theodosius II declares (8th June) that the religion of the pagans is nothing more than “demon worship” and orders all those who persist in practicing it to be punished by imprisonment and torture.
429CE The temple of goddess Athena (Parthenon) on the Acropolis of Athens is sacked. The Athenian pagans are persecuted.
431CE Council of Ephesus ("Robber Synod"). Promotion for the godman – "Christ is complete God and complete man."
435CE On 14th November, a new edict by Theodosius II orders the death penalty for all “heretics” and pagans of the empire. Only Judaism is considered a legal non-Christian religion.
438CE Theodosius II issues an new edict (31st January) against the pagans, incriminating their “idolatry” as the reason of a recent plague!
440CE to 450CE The Christians demolish all the monuments, altars and temples of Athens, Olympia, and other Greek cities.
448CE Theodosius II orders all non-Christian books to be burned.
450CE All the temples of Aphrodisias (the City of the Goddess Aphrodite) are demolished and all its libraries burned down. The city is renamed Stavroupolis (City of the Cross).
451CE Council of Chalcedon. New edict by Theodosius II (4th November) emphasises that “idolatry” is punished by death. Assertion of orthodox doctrine over the 'Monophysites' – 'JC has single, divine nature.'
457CE to 491CE Sporadic persecutions against the pagans of the Eastern Empire. Among others, the physician Jacobus and the philosopher Gessius are executed. Severianus, Herestios, Zosimus, Isidorus and others are tortured and imprisoned. The proselytiser Conon and his followers exterminate the last non-Christians of Imbros Island, Northeast Aegean Sea. The last worshippers of Lavranius Zeus are exterminated in Cyprus.
482CE to 488CE The majority of the pagans of Minor Asia are exterminated after a desperate revolt against the emperor and the Church.
486CE More “underground” pagan priests are discovered, arrested, burlesqued, tortured and executed in Alexandria, Egypt.
full body baptism 515 Baptism becomes obligatory even for those that already say they are Christians.
The emperor of Constantinople, Anastasius, orders the massacre of the pagans in the Arabian city Zoara and the demolition of the temple of local god Theandrites.
523CE Emperor Justin I outlaws the Arian heresy and campaigns to suppress Arianism everywhere.
528CE Emperor Justinian outlaws the “alternative” Olympian Games of Antioch. He also orders the execution—by fire, crucifixion, tearing to pieces by wild beasts or cutting to pieces by iron nails—of all who practice “sorcery, divination, magic or idolatry” and prohibits all teachings by the pagans (“the ones suffering from the blasphemous insanity of the Hellenes”).
529CE Justinian outlaws the Athenian Philosophical Academy and has its property confiscated.
532CE The inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus, a fanatical monk, leads a crusade against the pagans of Minor Asia.
542CE Justinian allows the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus to forcibly convert the pagans of Phrygia, Caria and Lydia in Asia Minor. Within 35 years of this crusade, 99 churches and 12 monasteries are built on the sites of demolished pagan temples.
546CE Hundreds of pagans are put to death in Constantinople by the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus.
556CE Justinian orders the notorious inquisitor Amantius to go to Antioch, to find, arrest, torture and exterminate the last non-Christians of the city and burn all the private libraries down.
562CE Mass arrests, burlesquing, tortures, imprisonments and executions of gentile Hellenes in Athens, Antioch, Palmyra and Constantinople.
578CE to 582CE The Christians torture and crucify Hellenes all around the Eastern Empire, and exterminate the last non-Christians of Heliopolis (Baalbek).
580CE The Christian inquisitors attack a secret temple of Zeus in Antioch. The priest commits suicide, but the rest of the pagans are arrested. All the prisoners, the Vice Governor Anatolius included, are tortured and sent to Constantinople to face trial. Sentenced to death they are thrown to the lions. The wild animals being unwilling to tear them to pieces, they end up crucified. Their dead bodies are dragged in the streets by the Christian mob and afterwards thrown unburied in the dump.
583CE New persecutions against the gentile Hellenes by Emperor Maurice.
590CE In all the Eastern Empire the Christian accusers “discover” pagan conspiracies. New storm of torture and executions.
On: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Teleology is merely an extension of this. Because we have end goals and act to achieve those end goals in the real world, our ancestors assumed that the events around them arising from natural forces had a like origin, and that some sentient intent and planning lay behind them. However, this is merely another of those presuppositions that, in the fullness of time, was found severely wanting when subject to proper, intense critical scientific test. NO evidence has EVER arisen supporting the idea of an externally applied teleology governing the universe and its contents, indeed, with several physical systems, the idea that this is even possible looks decidedly nonsensical, in the light of the fact that those systems are best represented by systems of equations that are highly non-linear, exhibit extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, and wildly bifurcating behavior. There is an entire branch of mathematics devoted to the study of such systems, namely the mathematics of chaotic dynamical systems, and even relatively simple, supposedly deterministic systems of equations have been demonstrated to exhibit wide variance in behaviour with only tiny changes in initial conditions. The Verhulst Equation that is used to model population dynamics is a prime example - even small changes in the fecundity parameter in this equation will lead, once the equation enters the bifurcating régime, in wildly different outcomes even if one starts with the same initial conditions. Indeed, once that equation enters the chaotic régime, our ability to predict future behaviour of the system is severely truncated.
Now, if a simple ordinary differential equation can manifest this diversity of behaviour, it doesn't take much imagining, at least amongst those who paid attention in the requisite classes, to realise that a physical system such as the weather, which is best modelled using the Navier-Stokes Equations among others, is not going to be in any sense 'directable', no matter what delusions of grandeur any sentient entity has with respect to this. The Navier-Stokes Equations are not only highly non-linear interlinked partial differential equations (and in the most general case, tensor differential equations to boot, involving at least one second order tensor quantity), but have proven to be so intractable to attack by mathematicians, that the very existence of a general analytical solution to them remains unknown, despite a century or more of intense labour by the world's best mathematicians to answer this question. Indeed, anyone who succeeds in this endeavour will win themselves a $1 million prize courtesy of the Clay Mathematical Institute, and immediately find themselves receiving lucrative job offers from aerospace companies such as Boeing to come and help them streamline their supercomputer models of fluid flow. At the moment, Navier-Stokes turbulent flow modelling requires expensive teams of top-class mathematicians, computer scientists, and a $50 million supercomputer as baseline pre-requisites, and those operating in this field will readily tell you that there are limits to how far in future time one can push the models, particularly those using these tools for weather modelling. The idea that the behaviour of a physical system, governed by equations of this sort, is 'directable' by any sentience will result in considerable mirth amongst those who know. So if you think your magic man is capable of imposing an overarching teleology upon the universe and its contents, and micro-managing the entire show, those two gentlemen called Navier and Stokes flushed that presupposition down the toilet over 100 years ago.
As a corollary, if there is hard evidence from 300 years of continued scientific endeavour, that an externally applied overarching teleology is not only conspicuous by its absence, but wholly absurd in the light of the divergent behaviour of key physical systems (and that's before we enter the world of quantum indeterminacy), then likewise, the idea that there exists one, single, overarching set of ethical precepts applied externally to the universe from the same source, a set of precepts that remains unconditionally valid for all time, is similarly ludicrous. Nietzsche castigated philosophers who erected grand, assertion-laden metaphysical systems for the purpose of imposing their pet ethics upon the universe even without the benefit of the latest scientific knowledge, and recognised the basic fallacy underlying this exercise. Modern physics simply propels the fallacy into the realms of Pythonesque absurdity. Apart from the cosmic level of anthropocentric conceit required to erect the notion, that the affairs of one small collection of primates on one small planet, orbiting an average star situated in a nondescript galaxy, are the central reason for the universe being here, there is the central absurdity involved in imposing an overarching set of ethical precepts upon a universe in which the supposedly central characters don't put in an appearance for over 13 billion years. The monumental metaphysical profligacy this assumes would make William of Ockham barf"
Copied from the following link Teleology Debunked
On: Friday, February 22, 2013
** The following has not been shown to be completely factual. I have included this as an interesting viewpoint only. For further proof that the following is just part of the mythicist worldview, please read "Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth" by Bart Erhman
Could Jesus and Horus have been the same person or even the same God? Are the similarities just a coincidence? This is what I love about mythology, and if there was ever justification for my belief that Christianity is merely a revised version of Egyptian religion, I'd say this is it:
1. Both were conceived of a virgin.
2. Both were the "only begotten son" of a god (either Osiris or Yahweh)
3. Horus's mother was Meri, Jesus's mother was Mary.
4. Horus's foster father was called Jo-Seph, and Jesus's foster father was Joseph.
5. Both foster fathers were of royal descent.
6. Both were born in a cave (although sometimes Jesus is said to have been born in a stable).
7. Both had their coming announced to their mother by an angel.
8. Horus; birth was heralded by the star Sirius (the morning star). Jesus had his birth heralded by a star in the East (the sun rises in the East).
9. Ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Horus on December 21 (the Winter Solstice). Modern Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25.
10. Both births were announced by angels (this si nto the same as number 7).
11. Both had shepherds witnessing the birth.
12. Horus was visited at birth by "three solar deities" and Jesus was visited by "three wise men".
13. After the birth of Horus, Herut tried to have Horus murdered. After the birth of Jesus, Herod tried to have Jesus murdered.
14. To hide from Herut, the god That tells Isis, "Come, thou goddess Isis, hide thyself with thy child." To hide from Herod, an angel tells Joseph to "arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt."
15. When Horus came of age, he had a special ritual where hsi eye was restored. When Jesus (and other Jews) come of age, they have a special ritual called a Bar Mitzvah.
16. Both Horus and Jesus were 12 at this coming-of-age ritual.
17. Neither have any official recorded life histories between the ages of 12 and 30.
18. Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus. Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan.
19. Both were baptized at age 30.
20. Horus was baptized by Anup the Baptizer. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
21. Both Anup and John were later beheaded.
22. Horus was taken from the desert of Amenta up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Set. Jesus was taken from the desert in Palestine up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Satan.
23. Both Horus and Jesus successfully resist this temptation.
24. Both have 12 disciples.
25. Both walked on water, cast out demons, healed the sick, and restored sight to the blind.
26. Horus "stilled the sea by his power." Jesus commanded the sea to be still by saying, "Peace, be still."
27. Horus raised his dead father (Osiris) from the grave. Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. (Note the similarity in names when you say them out loud. Further, Osiris was also known as Asar, which is El-Asar in Hebrew, which is El-Asarus in Latin.)
28. Osiris was raised in the town of Anu. Lazarus was raised in Livanu (literally, "house of Anu").
29. Both gods delivered a Sermon on the Mount.
30. Both were crucified.
31. Both were crucified next to two thieves.
32. Both were buried in a tomb.
33. Horus was sent to Hell and resurrected in 3 days. Jesus was sent to Hell and came back "three days" later (although Friday night to Sunday morning is hardly three days).
34. Both had their resurrection announced by women.
35. Both are supposed to return for a 1000-year reign.
36. Horus is known as KRST, the anointed one. Jesus was known as the Christ (which means "anointed one").
37. Both Jesus and Horus have been called the good shepherd, the lamb of God, the bread of life, the son of man, the Word, the fisher, and the winnower.
38. Both are associated with the zodiac sign of Pisces (the fish).
39. Both are associated with the symbols of the fish, the beetle, the vine, and the shepherd's crook.
40. Horus was born in Anu ("the place of bread") and Jesus was born in Livlehem ("the house of bread").
41. "The infant Horus was carried out of Egypt to escape the wrath of Typhon. The infant Jesus was carried into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Concerning the infant Jesus, the New Testament states the following prophecy: 'Out of Egypt have I called my son.'" (See Point 13)
42. Both were transfigured on the mount.
43. The catacombs of Rome have pictures of the infant Horus being held by his mother, not unlike the modern-day images of "Madonna and Child."
44. Noted English author C. W. King says that both Isis and Mary are called "Immaculate".
45. Horus says: "Osiris, I am your son, come to glorify your soul, and to give you even more power." And Jesus says: "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once."
46. Horus was identified with the Tau (cross).
Thanks to http://greensboring.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=6316 for the information above
On: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I will just take 3 basic undefeated good reasons:
1) Argument from Contingency
2) Teleological Argument from fine-tuning
3) Evidence of Interaction
Premise 1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).
Premise 2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Thor, God of Thunder.
Premise 3. The universe exists.
From 1 and 3 it logically follows that:
Premise 4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.
And from 2 and 4 the conclusion logically follows:
Premise 5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is Thor, God of Thunder.
P1: There are only two possible explanations of existing entities there should be little opposing doubt.
P2: Here we see a logical validation. If an opponent disagrees with P2 he would have to assert a valid proof of a self-existent universe or valid proof that the cause of the universe itself was caused by a contingent cause and would be susceptible to infinite regression:
- We can see it is far more reasonable to conclude:
o The universe was caused and is not self-existent. For an opponent to disagree here would necessitate a powerful quality and quantity of evidence to buck the consensus of scholarship.
o The cause of the universe needs to be self-existent to avoid infinite regression. It is far more reasonable to avoid self-contradictory explanations like infinite regression.
o Thor is by definition a self-existent being capable of causing the universe.
Given that we have a powerful explanation for the universe (supported by Historical interaction with said Being) it is completely logical to conclude the veracity of this premise. An opponent might respond of “some unknown self existent force ‘could’ generated the universe, how could I know its Thor, God of Thunder?” To assert such a rebuttal would deny the mountains of claims of interaction with said intelligent self existent and the fact no such metaphysical self-existent force is known save the Mind of Thor, God of Thunder.
P3: Should be obvious to the honest logician.
P4: With the concession of 1 and 3 as most will, this necessarily follows.
P5 Again with the concession of 2 and 4 this necessarily follows.
“That question is: why do design arguments remain so durable if empirical evidence is inferentially ambiguous, the arguments logically controversial, and the conclusions vociferously disputed? One possibility is that they really are better arguments than most philosophical critics concede. Another possibility is that design intuitions do not rest upon inferences at all." Stanford Philosophy Dept.
Premise 1. The Fine-Tuning of the universe was due to physical necessity, chance or design.
Premise 2. It was not by physical necessity or chance.
Premise 3. Thus it was by design.
The question the Teleological is trying to determine is the source of the pattern of the Fine-Tuning. If there is any doubts to the veracity of the fine-tuning an opponent would have to tackle a mountain evidence. Hopefully we can both leave that for another debate.
P1. It could not have been Physical Necessity. The first physical cause of the universe could not have had a physical cause. It is direct asserted by Stephen Hawking and Mlodinow.
“It appears that the fundamental numbers, and even the form, of the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle”
– To contend Physical necessity generated the constants would be a massive burden. It is far more reasonable to reject a physical cause due to the logical contradiction as the scholars have done.
P2. Chance by itself generates nothing. Without a physical impetus chance does not operate. Chance has yet to generate anything without a physical principle behind it. Chance behaves unlike actual at a mere level.
P3. This leaves Design as the only option. We look to understand that the preponderate evidence is concluded as valid when we review systems of design (not complexity).
After having ruled out the first two possible causes we can easily conclude design as the most plausible conclusion.
Evidence of Interaction:
If there is a designer, is there evidence of his presence and interaction on earth?
I submit, to start, evidence of the Testimonies for review.
Quality – We are not citing Pastors, Priests, hucksters or social deviants claims of interaction with Thor, God of Thunder , but countless educated, well adjusted Atheist heathens and idol worshipers claim this interaction.
Quantity –You can haul in countless individuals and document their claims. You can examine both the recorded and present claims to then see the overarching consistency that permeates the claims.
Dissociative claims – Any of the claims of other gods can be categorized and be easily delineated that indeed these people have encountered different gods as per the Thorean claim of as a multitude of supernatural beings exist to thwart the Designers Plan.
All Hail to Thor, God of Thunder 
Part 2 - The Problem of Paul an excerpt from: The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby
On: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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:
1. To abstain from anything polluted by Idols
2. To abstain from fornication
3. To abstain from anything which had been strangled
4. To abstain from blood
The seven Laws of Noah ( Rabbinical List )
1. Prohibitions against Idolatry
2. Prohibitions against Blasphemy
3. Prohibitions against Fornication
4. Prohibitions against Murder
5. Prohibitions against Robbery
6. Prohibitions against Eating limbs cut from live animals
7. 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
Part 1 - The Problem of Paul an excerpt from: The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby
As a Talmudic scholar, I have found that knowledge of the Talmud and other rabbinical works has opened up the meaning of many puzzling passages in the New Testament. In my earlier book on Jesus, Revolution in Judaea, I showed how, in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus speaks and acts as a Pharisee, though the Gospel editors have attempted to conceal this by representing him as opposing Pharisaism even when his sayings were most in accordance with Pharisee teaching. In the present book, I have used the rabbinical evidence to establish an opposite contention: that Paul, whom the New Testament wishes to portray as having been a trained Pharisee, never was one. The consequences of this for the understanding of early Christianity are immense.
In addition to the rabbinical writings, I have made great use of the ancient historians, especially Josephus, Epiphanius and Eusebius. Their statements must be weighed in relation to their particular interests and bias; but when such bias has been identified and discounted, there remains a residue of valuable information. Exactly the same applies to the New Testament itself. Its information is often distorted by the bias of the author or editor, but a knowledge of the nature of this bias makes possible the emergence of the true shape of events.
In using the Epistles as evidence of Paul’s life, views and ‘mythology’, I have confined myself to those Epistles which are accepted by the great majority of New Testament scholars as the genuine work of Paul. Disputed Epistles, such as Colossians, however pertinent to my argument, have been ignored.
When quoting from the New Testament, I have usually used the New English Bible version, but, from time to time, I have used the Authorized Version or the Revised Version, when I thought them preferable in faithfulness to the original. While the New English Bible is in general more intelligible to modern readers than the older versions, its concern for modern English idiom sometimes obscures important features of the original Greek; and its readiness to paraphrase sometimes allows the translator’s presuppositions to colour his translation. I have pointed out several examples of this in the text.
In considering the background of Paul, I have returned to one of the earliest accounts of Paul in existence, that given by the Ebionites, as reported by Epiphanius. This account has been neglected by scholars for quite inadequate and tendentious reasons. Robert Graves and Joshua Podro in The Nazarene Gospel Restored did take the Ebionite account seriously; but, though they made some cogent remarks about it, their treatment of the matter was brief. I hope that the present book will do more to alter the prevailing dismissive attitude towards the evidence of this fascinating and important ancient community.
Part I Saul:Chapter 1 The Problem of Paul
At the beginning of Christianity stand two figures: Jesus and Paul. Jesus is regarded by Christians as the founder of their religion, in that the events of his life comprise the foundation story of Christianity; but Paul is regarded as the great interpreter of Jesus’ mission, who explained, in a way that Jesus himself never did, how Jesus’ life and death fitted into a cosmic scheme of salvation, stretching from the creation of Adam to the end of time.
How should we understand the relationship between Jesus and Paul? We shall be approaching this question not from the standpoint of faith, but from that of historians, who regard the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament as an important source of evidence requiring careful sifting and criticism, since their authors were propagating religious beliefs rather than conveying dispassionate historical information. We shall also be taking into account all relevant evidence from other sources, such as Josephus, the Talmud, the Church historians and the Gnostic writings.
What would Jesus himself have thought of Paul? We must remember that Jesus never knew Paul; the two men never once met. The disciples who knew Jesus best, such as Peter, James and John, have left no writings behind them explaining how Jesus seemed to them or what they considered his mission to have been. Did they agree with the interpretations disseminated by Paul in his fluent, articulate writings? Or did they perhaps think that this newcomer to the scene, spinning complicated theories about the place of Jesus in the scheme of things, was getting everything wrong? Paul claimed that his interpretations were not just his own invention, but had come to him by personal inspiration; he claimed that he had personal acquaintance with the resurrected Jesus, even though he had never met him during his lifetime. Such acquaintance, he claimed, gained through visions and transports, was actually superior to acquaintance with Jesus during his lifetime, when Jesus was much more reticent about his purposes.
We know about Paul not only from his own letters but also from the book of Acts, which gives a full account of his life. Paul, in fact, is the hero of Acts, which was written by an admirer and follower of his, namely, Luke, who was also the author of the Gospel of that name. From Acts, it would appear that there was some friction between Paul and the leaders of the ‘Jerusalem Church’, the surviving companions of Jesus; but this friction was resolved, and they all became the best of friends, with common aims and purposes. From certain of Paul’s letters, particularly Galatians, it seems that the friction was more serious than in the picture given in Acts, which thus appears to be partly a propaganda exercise, intended to portray unity in the early Church. The question recurs: what would Jesus have thought of Paul, and what did the Apostles think of him?
We should remember that the New Testament, as we have it, is much more dominated by Paul than appears at first sight. As we read it, we come across the Four Gospels, of which Jesus is the hero, and do not encounter Paul as a character until we embark on the post-Jesus narrative of Acts. Then we finally come into contact with Paul himself, in his letters. But this impression is misleading, for the earliest writings in the New Testament are actually Paul’s letters, which were written about AD 50-60, while the Gospels were not written until the period AD 70-110. This means that the theories of Paul were already before the writers of the Gospels and coloured their interpretations of Jesus’ activities. Paul is, in a sense, present from the very first word of the New Testament. This is, of course, not the whole story, for the Gospels are based on traditions and even written sources which go back to a time before the impact of Paul, and these early traditions and sources are not entirely obliterated in the final version and give valuable indications of what the story was like before Paulinist editors pulled it into final shape. However, the dominant outlook and shaping perspective of the Gospels is that of Paul, for the simple reason that it was the Paulinist view of what Jesus’ sojourn on Earth had been about that was triumphant in the Church as it developed in history. Rival interpretations, which at one time had been orthodox, opposed to Paul’s very individual views, now became heretical and were crowded out of the final version of the writings adopted by the Pauline Church as the inspired canon of the New Testament.
This explains the puzzling and ambiguous role given in the Gospels to the companions of Jesus, the twelve disciples. They are shadowy figures, who are allowed little personality, except of a schematic kind. They are also portrayed as stupid; they never quite understand what Jesus is up to. Their importance in the origins of Christianity is played down in a remarkable way. For example, we find immediately after Jesus’ death that the leader of the Jerusalem Church is Jesus’ brother James. Yet in the Gospels, this James does not appear at all as having anything to do with Jesus’ mission and story. Instead, he is given a brief mention as one of the brothers of Jesus who allegedly opposed Jesus during his lifetime and regarded him as mad. How it came about that a brother who had been hostile to Jesus in his lifetime suddenly became the revered leader of the Church immediately after Jesus’ death is not explained, though one would have thought that some explanation was called for. Later Church legends, of course, filled the gap with stories of the miraculous conversion of James after the death of Jesus and his development into a saint. But the most likely explanation is, as will be argued later, that the erasure of Jesus’ brother dames (and his other brothers) from any significant role in the Gospel story is part of the denigration of the early leaders who had been in close contact with Jesus and regarded with great suspicion and dismay the Christological theories of the upstart Paul, flaunting his brand new visions in interpretation of the Jesus whom he had never met in the flesh.
Who, then, was Paul? Here we would seem to have a good deal of information; but on closer examination, it will turn out to be full of problems. We have the information given by Paul about himself in his letters, which are far from impersonal and often take an autobiographical turn. Also we have the information given in Acts, in which Paul plays the chief role. But the information given by any person about himself always has to be treated with a certain reserve, since everyone has strong motives for putting himself in the best possible light. And the information given about Paul in Acts also requires close scrutiny, since this work was written by someone committed to the Pauline cause. Have we any other sources for Paul’s biography? As a matter of fact, we have, though they are scattered in various unexpected places, which it will be our task to explore: in a fortuitously preserved extract from the otherwise lost writings of the Ebionites, a sect of great importance for our quest; in a disguised attack on Paul included in a text of orthodox Christian authority; and in an Arabic manuscript, in which a text of the early Jewish Christians, the opponents of Paul, has been preserved by an unlikely chain of circumstances.
Let us first survey the evidence found in the more obvious and well-known sources. It appears from Acts that Paul was at first called ‘Saul’, and that his birthplace was Tarsus, a city in Asia Minor (Acts 9:11, and 21:39, and 22:3). Strangely enough, however, Paul himself, in his letters, never mentions that he came from Tarsus, even when he is at his most autobiographical. Instead, he gives the following information about his origins: ‘I am an Israelite myself, of the stock of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin’ (Romans 11:2); and ‘… circumcised on my eighth day, Israelite by race, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born and bred; in my attitude to the law, a Pharisee….’ (Philippians 3:5). It seems that Paul was not anxious to impart to the recipients of his letters that he came from somewhere so remote as Tarsus from Jerusalem, the powerhouse of Pharisaism. The impression he wished to give, of coming from an unimpeachable Pharisaic background, would have been much impaired by the admission that he in fact came from Tarsus, where there were few, if any, Pharisee teachers and a Pharisee training would have been hard to come by.
We encounter, then, right at the start of our enquiry into Paul’s background, the question: was Paul really from a genuine Pharisaic family, as he says to his correspondents, or was this just something that he said to increase his status in their eyes? The fact that this question is hardly ever asked shows how strong the influence of traditional religious attitudes still is in Pauline studies. Scholars feel that, however objective their enquiry is supposed to be, they must always preserve an attitude of deep reverence towards Paul, and never say anything to suggest that he may have bent the truth at times, though the evidence is strong enough in various parts of his life-story that he was not above deception when he felt it warranted by circumstances.
It should be noted (in advance of a full discussion of the subject) that modern scholarship has shown that, at this time, the Pharisees were held in high repute throughout the Roman and Parthian empires as a dedicated group who upheld religious ideals in the face of tyranny, supported leniency and mercy in the application of laws, and championed the rights of the poor against the oppression of the rich. The undeserved reputation for hypocrisy which is attached to the name ‘Pharisee’ in medieval and modern times is due to the campaign against the Pharisees in the Gospels — a campaign dictated by politico-religious considerations at the time when the Gospels were given their final editing, about forty to eighty years after the death of Jesus. Paul’s desire to be thought of as a person of Pharisee upbringing should thus be understood in the light of the actual reputation of the Pharisees in Paul’s lifetime; Paul was claiming a high honour, which would much enhance his status in the eyes of his correspondents.
Before looking further into Paul’s claim to have come from a Pharisee background, let us continue our survey of what we are told about Paul’s career in the more accessible sources. The young Saul, we are told, left Tarsus and came to the Land of Israel, where he studied in the Pharisee academy of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). We know from other sources about Gamaliel, who is a highly respected figure in the rabbinical writings such as the Mishnah, and was given the title ‘Rabban’, as the leading sage of his day. That he was the leader of the whole Pharisee party is attested also by the New Testament itself, for he plays a prominent role in one scene in the book of Acts (chapter 5) — a role that, as we shall see later, is hard to reconcile with the general picture of the Pharisees given in the Gospels.
Yet Paul himself, in his letters, never mentions that he was a pupil of Gamaliel, even when he is most concerned to stress his qualifications as a Pharisee. Here again, then, the question has to be put: was Paul ever really a pupil of Gamaliel or was this claim made by Luke as an embellishment to his narrative? As we shall see later, there are certain considerations which make it most unlikely, quite apart from Paul’s significant omission to say anything about the matter, that Paul was ever a pupil of Gamaliel’s.
We are also told of the young Saul that he was implicated, to some extent, in the death of the martyr Stephen. The people who gave false evidence against Stephen, we are told, and who also took the leading part in the stoning of their innocent victim, ‘laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul’. The death of Stephen is described, and it is added, ‘And Saul was among those who approved of his murder’ (Acts 8:1). How much truth is there in this detail? Is it to be regarded as historical fact or as dramatic embellishment, emphasizing the contrast between Paul before and after conversion? The death of Stephen is itself an episode that requires searching analysis, since it is full of problems and contradictions. Until we have a better idea of why and by whom Stephen was killed and what were the views for which he died, we can only note the alleged implication of Saul in the matter as a subject for further investigation. For the moment, we also note that the alleged implication of Saul heightens the impression that adherence to Pharisaism would mean violent hostility to the followers of Jesus.
The next thing we are told about Saul in Acts is that he was ‘harrying the Church; he entered house after house, seizing men and women, and sending them to prison’ (Acts 8:3). We are not told at this point by what authority or on whose orders he was carrying out this persecution. It was clearly not a matter of merely individual action on his part, for sending people to prison can only be done by some kind of official. Saul must have been acting on behalf of some authority, and who this authority was can be gleaned from later incidents in which Saul was acting on behalf of the High Priest. Anyone with knowledge of the religious and political scene at this time in Judaea feels the presence of an important problem here: the High Priest was not a Pharisee, but a Sadducee, and the Sadducees were bitterly opposed to the Pharisees. How is it that Saul, allegedly an enthusiastic Pharisee (‘a Pharisee of the Pharisees’), is acting hand in glove with the High Priest? The picture we are given in our New Testament sources of Saul, in the days before his conversion to Jesus, is contradictory and suspect.
The next we hear of Saul (Acts, chapter 9) is that he ‘was still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and applied for letters to the synagogues at Damascus authorizing him to arrest anyone he found, men or women, who followed the new way, and bring them to Jerusalem.’ This incident is full of mystery. If Saul had his hands so full in ‘harrying the church’ in Judaea, why did he suddenly have the idea of going off to Damascus to harry the Church there? What was the special urgency of a visit to Damascus? Further, what kind of jurisdiction did the Jewish High Priest have over the non-Jewish city of Damascus that would enable him to authorize arrests and extraditions in that city? There is, moreover, something very puzzling about the way in which Saul’s relation to the High Priest is described: as if he is a private citizen who wishes to make citizen’s arrests according to some plan of his own, and approaches the High Priest for the requisite authority. Surely there must have been some much more definite official connection between the High Priest and Saul, not merely that the High Priest was called upon to underwrite Saul’s project. It seems more likely that the plan was the High Priest’s and not Saul’s, and that Saul was acting as agent or emissary of the High Priest. The whole incident needs to be considered in the light of probabilities and current conditions.
The book of Acts then continues with the account of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus through a vision of Jesus and the succeeding events of his life as a follower of Jesus. The pre-Christian period of Saul’s life, however, does receive further mention later in the book of Acts, both in chapter 22 and chapter 26, where some interesting details are added, and also some further puzzles.
In chapter 22, Saul (now called Paul), is shown giving his own account of his early life in a speech to the people after the Roman commandant had questioned him. Paul speaks as follows:
I am a true-born Jew, a native of Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up in this city, and as a pupil of Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in every point of our ancestral law. I have always been ardent in God’s service, as you all are today. And so I began to persecute this movement to the death, arresting its followers, men and women alike, and putting them in chains. For this I have as witnesses the High Priest and the whole Council of Elders. I was given letters from them to our fellow-Jews at Damascus, and had started out to bring the Christians there to Jerusalem as prisoners for punishment; and this is what happened….
Paul then goes on to describe his vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. Previously he had described himself to the commandant as ‘a Jew, a Tarsian from Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city’. It is from this passage that we learn of Paul’s native city, Tarsus, and of his alleged studies under Gamaliel. Note that he says that, though born in Tarsus, he was ‘brought up in this city’ (i.e. Jerusalem) which suggests that he spent his childhood in Jerusalem. Does this mean that his parents moved from Tarsus to Jerusalem? Or that the child was sent to Jerusalem on his own, which seems unlikely? If Paul spent only a few childhood years in Tarsus, he would hardly describe himself proudly as ‘a citizen of no mean city’ (Tarsus). Jews who had spent most of their lives in Jerusalem would be much more prone to describe themselves as citizens of Jerusalem. The likelihood is that Paul moved to Jerusalem when he was already a grown man, and he left his parents behind in Tarsus, which seems all the more probable in that they receive no mention in any account of Paul’s experiences in Jerusalem. As for Paul’s alleged period of studies under Gamaliel, this would have had to be in adulthood, for Gamaliel was a teacher of advanced studies, not a teacher of children. He would accept as a pupil only someone well grounded and regarded as suitable for the rabbinate. The question, then, is where and how Paul received this thorough grounding, if at all. As pointed out above and argued fully below, there are strong reasons to think that Paul never was a pupil of Gamaliel.
An important question that also arises in this chapter of Acts is that of Paul’s Roman citizenship. This is mentioned first in chapter 16. Paul claims to have been born a Roman citizen, which would mean that his father was a Roman citizen. There are many problems to be discussed in this connection, and some of these questions impinge on Paul’s claim to have had a Pharisaic background. A further account of Paul’s pre-Christian life is found in chapter 26 of Acts, in a speech addressed by Paul to King Agrippa. Paul says:
My life from my youth up, the life I led from the beginning among my people and in Jerusalem, is familiar to all Jews. Indeed they have known me long enough and could testify, if they only would, that I belonged to the strictest group in our religion: I lived as a Pharisee. And it is for a hope kindled by God’s promise to our forefathers that I stand in the dock today. Our twelve tribes hope to see the fulfillment of that promise…. I myself once thought it my duty to work actively against the name of Jesus of Nazareth; and I did so in Jerusalem. It was I who imprisoned many of God’s people by authority obtained from the chief priests; and when they were condemned to death, my vote was cast against them. In all the synagogues I tried by repeated punishment to make them renounce their faith; indeed my fury rose to such a pitch that I extended my persecution to foreign cities. On one such occasion I was travelling to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests….
Again the account continues with the vision on the road to Damascus.
This speech, of course, cannot be regarded as the authentic words addressed by Paul to King Agrippa, but rather as a rhetorical speech composed by Luke, the author of Acts, in the style of ancient historians. Thus the claim made in the speech that Paul’s career as a Pharisee of high standing was known to ‘all Jews’ cannot be taken at face value. It is interesting that Paul is represented as saying that he ‘cast his vote’ against the followers of Jesus, thus helping to condemn them to death. This can only refer to the voting of the Sanhedrin or Council of Elders, which was convened to try capital cases; so what Luke is claiming here for his hero Paul is that he was at one time a member of the Sanhedrin. This is highly unlikely, for Paul would surely have made this claim in his letters, when writing about his credentials as a Pharisee, if it had been true. There is, however, some confusion both in this account and in the accounts quoted above about whether the Sanhedrin, as well as the High Priest or ‘chief priests’, was involved in the persecution of the followers of Jesus. Sometimes the High Priest alone is mentioned, sometimes the Sanhedrin is coupled with him, as if the two are inseparable. But we see on two occasions cited in Acts that the High Priest was outvoted by the Pharisees in the Sanhedrin; on both occasions, the Pharisees were opposing an attempt to persecute the followers of Jesus; so the representation of High Priest and Sanhedrin as having identical aims is one of the suspect features of these accounts.
It will be seen from the above collation of passages in the book of Acts concerning Paul’s background and early life, together with Paul’s own references to his background in his letters, that the same strong picture emerges: that Paul was at first a highly trained Pharisee rabbi, learned in all the intricacies of the rabbinical commentaries on scripture and legal traditions (afterwards collected in the rabbinical compilations, the Talmud and Midrash). As a Pharisee, Paul was strongly opposed to the new sect which followed Jesus and which believed that he had been resurrected after his crucifixion. So opposed was Paul to this sect that he took violent action against it, dragging its adherents to prison. Though this strong picture has emerged, some doubts have also arisen, which, so far, have only been lightly sketched in: how is it, for example, that Paul claims to have voted against Christians on trial for their lives before the Sanhedrin, when in fact, in the graphically described trial of Peter before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5), the Pharisees, led by Gamaliel, voted for the release of Peter? What kind of Pharisee was Paul, if he took an attitude towards the early Christians which, on the evidence of the same book of Acts, was untypical of the Pharisees? And how is it that this book of Acts is so inconsistent within itself that it describes Paul as violently opposed to Christianitybecause of his deep attachment to Pharisaism, and yet also describes the Pharisees as being friendly towards the early Christians, standing up for them and saving their lives?
It has been pointed out by many scholars that the book of Acts, on the whole, contains a surprising amount of evidence favourable to the Pharisees, showing them to have been tolerant and merciful. Some scholars have even argued that the book of Acts is a pro-Pharisee work; but this can hardly be maintained. For, outweighing all the evidence favourable to the Pharisees is the material relating to Paul, which is, in all its aspects, unfavourable to the Pharisees; not only is Paul himself portrayed as being a virulent persecutor when he was a Pharisee, but Paul declares that he himself was punished by flogging five times (II Corinthians 11:24) by the ‘Jews’ (usually taken to mean the Pharisees). So no one really comes away from reading Acts with any good impression of the Pharisees, but rather with the negative impressions derived from the Gospels reinforced.
Why, therefore, is Paul always so concerned to stress that he came from a Pharisee background? A great many motives can be discerned, but there is one that needs to be singled out here: the desire to stress the alleged continuity between Judaism and Pauline Christianity. Paul wishes to say that whereas, when he was a Pharisee, he mistakenly regarded the early Christians as heretics who had departed from true Judaism, after his conversion he took the opposite view, that Christianity was the true Judaism. All his training as a Pharisee, he wishes to say — all his study of scripture and tradition — really leads to the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. So when Paul declares his Pharisee past, he is not merely proclaiming his own sins — ‘See how I have changed, from being a Pharisee persecutor to being a devoted follower of Jesus!’ — he is also proclaiming his credentials — ‘If someone as learned as I can believe that Jesus was the fulfilment of the Torah, who is there fearless enough to disagree?’
On the face of it, Paul’s doctrine of Jesus is a daring departure from Judaism. Paul was advocating a doctrine that seemed to have far more in common with pagan myths than with Judaism: that Jesus was a divine-human person who had descended to Earth from the heavens and experienced death for the express purpose of saving mankind. The very fact that the Jews found this doctrine new and shocking shows that it plays no role in the Jewish scripture, at least not in any way easily discernible. Yet Paul was not content to say that his doctrine was new; on the contrary, he wished to say that every line of the Jewish scripture was a foreshadowing of the Jesus-event as he understood it, and that those who understood the scripture in any other way were failing in comprehension of what Judaism had always been about. So his insistence on his Pharisaic upbringing was part of his insistence on continuity.
There were those who accepted Paul’s doctrine, but did regard it as a radical new departure, with nothing in the Jewish scriptures foreshadowing it. The best known figure of this kind was Marcion, who lived about a hundred years after Paul, and regarded Paul as his chief inspiration. Yet Marcion refused to see anything Jewish in Paul’s doctrine, but regarded it as a new revelation. He regarded the Jewish scriptures as the work of the Devil and he excluded the Old Testament from his version of the Bible.
Paul himself rejected this view. Though he regarded much of the Old Testament as obsolete, superseded by the advent of Jesus, he still regarded it as the Word of God, prophesying the new Christian Church and giving it authority. So his picture of himself as a Pharisee symbolizes the continuity between the old dispensation and the new: a figure who comprised in his own person the turning-point at which Judaism was transformed into Christianity.
Throughout the Christian centuries, there have been Christian scholars who have seen Paul’s claim to a Pharisee background in this light. In the medieval Disputations convened by Christians to convert Jews, arguments were put forward purporting to show that not only the Jewish scriptures but even the rabbinical writings, the Talmud and the Midrash, supported the claims of Christianity that Jesus was the Messiah, that he was divine and that he had to suffer death for mankind. Though Paul was not often mentioned in these Disputations, the project was one of which he would have approved. In modern times, scholars have laboured to argue that Paul’s doctrines about the Messiah and divine suffering are continuous with Judaism as it appears in the Bible, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and in the rabbinical writings (the best-known effort of this nature is Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, by W.D. Davies).
So Paul’s claim to expert Pharisee learning is relevant to a very important and central issue — whether Christianity, in the form given to it by Paul, is really continuous with Judaism or whether it is a new doctrine, having no roots in Judaism, but deriving, in so far as it has an historical background, from pagan myths of dying and resurrected gods and Gnostic myths of heaven-descended redeemers. Did Paul truly stand in the Jewish tradition, or was he a person of basically Hellenistic religious type, but seeking to give a colouring of Judaism to a salvation cult that was really opposed to everything that Judaism stood for?
Chapter 2 The Standpoint of this Book
As against the conventional picture of Paul, outlined in the last chapter, the present book has an entirely different and unfamiliar view to put forward. This view of Paul is not only unfamiliar in itself, but it also involves many unfamiliar standpoints about other issues which are relevant and indeed essential to a correct assessment of Paul; for example:
Who and what were the Pharisees? What were their religious and political views as opposed to those of the Sadducees and other religious and political groups of the time? What was their attitude to Jesus? What was their attitude towards the early Jerusalem Church? Who and what was Jesus? Did he really see himself as a saviour who had descended from heaven in order to suffer crucifixion? Or did he have entirely different aims, more in accordance with the Jewish thoughts and hopes of his time? Was the historical Jesus quite a different person from the Jesus of Paul’s ideology, based on Paul’s visions and trances? Who and what were the early Church of Jerusalem, the first followers of Jesus? Have their views been correctly represented by the later Church? Did James and Peter, the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, agree with Paul’s views (as orthodox Christianity claims) or did they oppose him bitterly, regarding him as a heretic and a betrayer of the aims of Jesus? Who and what were the Ebionites, whose opinions and writings were suppressed by the orthodox Church? Why did they denounce Paul? Why did they combine belief in Jesus with the practice of Judaism? Why did they believe in Jesus as Messiah, but not as God? Were they a later ‘Judaizing’ group, or were they, as they claimed to be, the remnants of the authentic followers of Jesus, the church of James and Peter?
The arguments in this book will inevitably become complicated, since every issue is bound up with every other. It is impossible to answer any of the above questions without bringing all the other questions into consideration. It is, therefore, convenient at this point to give an outline of the standpoint to which all the arguments of this book converge. This is not an attempt to prejudge the issue. The following summary of the findings of this book may seem dogmatic at this stage, but it is intended merely as a guide to the ramifications of the ensuing arguments and a bird’s eye view of the book, and as such will stand or fall with the cogency of the arguments themselves. The following, then, are the propositions argued in the present book:
1 Paul was never a Pharisee rabbi, but was an adventurer of undistinguished background. He was attached to the Sadducees, as a police officer under the authority of the High Priest, before his conversion to belief in Jesus. His mastery of the kind of learning associated with the Pharisees was not great. He deliberately misrepresented his own biography in order to increase the effectiveness of missionary activities.
2 Jesus and his immediate followers were Pharisees. Jesus had no intention of founding a new religion. He regarded himself as the Messiah in the normal Jewish sense of the term, i.e. a human leader who would restore the Jewish monarchy, drive out the Roman invaders, set up an independent Jewish state, and inaugurate an era of peace, justice and prosperity (known as ‘the kingdom of God,) for the whole world. Jesus believed himself to be the figure prophesied in the Hebrew Bible who would do all these things. He was not a militarist and did not build up an army to fight the Romans, since he believed that God would perform a great miracle to break the power of Rome. This miracle would take place on the Mount of Olives, as prophesied in the book of Zechariah. When this miracle did not occur, his mission had failed. He had no intention of being crucified in order to save mankind from eternal damnation by his sacrifice. He never regarded himself as a divine being, and would have regarded such an idea as pagan and idolatrous, an infringement of the first of the Ten Commandments.
3 The first followers of Jesus, under James and Peter, founded the Jerusalem Church after Jesus’s death. They were called the Nazarenes, and in all their beliefs they were indistinguishable from the Pharisees, except that they believed in the resurrection of Jesus, and that Jesus was still the promised Messiah. They did not believe that Jesus was a divine person, but that, by a miracle from God, he had been brought back to life after his death on the cross, and would soon come back to complete his mission of overthrowing the Romans and setting up the Messianic kingdom. The Nazarenes did not believe that Jesus had abrogated the Jewish religion, or Torah. Having known Jesus personally, they were aware that he had observed the Jewish religious law all his life and had never rebelled against it. His sabbath cures were not against Pharisee law. The Nazarenes were themselves very observant of Jewish religious law. They practiced circumcision, did not eat the forbidden foods and showed great respect to the Temple. The Nazarenes did not regard themselves as belonging to a new religion; their religion was Judaism. They set up synagogues of their own, but they also attended non-Nazarene synagogues on occasion, and performed the same kind of worship in their own synagogues as was practiced by all observant Jews. The Nazarenes became suspicious of Paul when they heard that he was preaching that Jesus was the founder of a new religion and that he had abrogated the Torah. After an attempt to reach an understanding with Paul, the Nazarenes (i.e. the Jerusalem Church under James and Peter) broke irrevocably with Paul and disowned him.
4 Paul, not Jesus, was the founder of Christianity as a new religion which developed away from both normal Judaism and the Nazarene variety of Judaism. In this new religion, the Torah was abrogated as having had only temporary validity. The central myth of the new religion was that of an atoning death of a divine being. Belief in this sacrifice, and a mystical sharing of the death of the deity, formed the only path to salvation. Paul derived this religion from Hellenistic sources, chiefly by a fusion of concepts taken from Gnosticism and concepts taken from the mystery religions, particularly from that of Attis. The combination of these elements with features derived from Judaism, particularly the incorporation of the Jewish scriptures, reinterpreted to provide a background of sacred history for the new myth, was unique; and Paul alone was the creator of this amalgam. Jesus himself had no idea of it, and would have been amazed and shocked at the role assigned to him by Paul as a suffering deity. Nor did Paul have any predecessors among the Nazarenes though later mythography tried to assign this role to Stephen, and modern scholars have discovered equally mythical predecessors for Paul in a group called the ‘Hellenists’. Paul, as the personal begetter of the Christian myth, has never been given sufficient credit for his originality. The reverence paid through the centuries to the great Saint Paul has quite obscured the more colourful features of his personality. Like many evangelical leaders, he was a compound of sincerity and charlatanry. Evangelical leaders of his kind were common at this time in the Greco-Roman world (e.g. Simon Magus, Apollonius of Tyana).
5 A source of information about Paul that has never been taken seriously enough is a group called the Ebionites. Their writings were suppressed by the Church, but some of their views and traditions were preserved in the writings of their opponents, particularly in the huge treatise on Heresies by Epiphanius. From this it appears that the Ebionites had a very different account to give of Paul’s background and early life from that found in the New Testament and fostered by Paul himself. The Ebionites testified that Paul had no Pharisaic background or training; he was the son of Gentiles, converted to Judaism in Tarsus, came to Jerusalem when an adult, and attached himself to the High Priest as a henchman. Disappointed in his hopes of advancement, he broke with the High Priest and sought fame by founding a new religion. This account, while not reliable in all its details, is substantially correct. It makes far more sense of all the puzzling and contradictory features of the story of Paul than the account of the official documents of the Church.
6 The Ebionites were stigmatized by the Church as heretics who failed to understand that Jesus was a divine person and asserted instead that he was a human being who came to inaugurate a new earthly age, as prophesied by the Jewish prophets of the Bible. Moreover, the Ebionites refused to accept the Church doctrine, derived from Paul, that Jesus abolished or abrogated the Torah, the Jewish law. Instead, the Ebionites observed the Jewish law and regarded themselves as Jews. The Ebionites were not heretics, as the Church asserted, nor ‘re-Judaizers’, as modern scholars call them, but the authentic successors of the immediate disciples and followers of Jesus, whose views and doctrines they faithfully transmitted, believing correctly that they were derived from Jesus himself. They were the same group that had earlier been called the Nazarenes, who were led by James and Peter, who had known Jesus during his lifetime, and were in a far better position to know his aims than Paul, who met Jesus only in dreams and visions. Thus the opinion held by the Ebionites about Paul is of extraordinary interest and deserves respectful consideration, instead of dismissal as ‘scurrilous’ propaganda — the reaction of Christian scholars from ancient to modern times.
The above conspectus brings into sharper relief our question, was Paul a Pharisee? It will be seen that this is not merely a matter of biography or idle curiosity. It is bound up with the whole question of the origins of Christianity. A tremendous amount depends on this question, for, if Paul was not a Pharisee rooted in Jewish learning and tradition, but instead a Hellenistic adventurer whose acquaintance with Judaism was recent and shallow, the construction of myth and theology which he elaborated in his letters becomes a very different thing. Instead of searching through his system for signs of continuity with Judaism, we shall be able to recognize it for what it is — a brilliant concoction of Hellenism, superficially connecting itself with the Jewish scriptures and tradition, by which it seeks to give itself a history and an air of authority.
Christian attitudes towards the Pharisees and thus towards the picture of Paul as a Pharisee have always been strikingly ambivalent. In the Gospels, the Pharisees are attacked as hypocrites and would-be murderers: yet the Gospels also convey an impression of the Pharisees as figures of immense authority and dignity. This ambivalence reflects the attitude of Christianity to Judaism itself; on the one hand, an allegedly outdated ritualism, but on the other, a panorama of awesome history, a source of authority and blessing, so that at all costs the Church must display itself as the new Israel, the true Judaism. Thus Paul, as Pharisee, is the subject of alternating attitudes. In the nineteenth century, when Jesus was regarded (by Renan, for example) as a Romantic liberal, rebelling against the authoritarianism of Pharisaic Judaism, Paul was deprecated as a typical Pharisee, enveloping the sweet simplicity of Jesus in clouds of theology and difficult formulations. In the twentieth century, when the concern is more to discover the essential Jewishness of Christianity, the Pharisee aspect of Paul is used to connect Pauline doctrines with the rabbinical writings — again Paul is regarded as never losing his essential Pharisaism, but this is now viewed as good, and as a means of rescuing Christianity from isolation from Judaism. To be Jewish and yet not to be Jewish, this is the essential dilemma of Christianity, and the figure of Paul, abjuring his alleged Pharisaism as a hindrance to salvation and yet somehow clinging to it as a guarantee of authority, is symbolic.