Paul, Christ, and Believing the Bible

ARC

Padawan Learner
Re: Believing the Bible

"ARC, are you familiar at all with the material on which this forum is based?"

I'm learning - I still have a lot of reading to do but I'm getting the gist of it. There is much material to cover and I'm particularly interested in finishing Laura's "Wave" books. Earlier I had perused one of the "Sessions" threads and I was completely lost, but once I read the first chapter of the first book in the "Wave" series it started making sense.

Yet I sense what you are really asking is whether I believe in God or "aliens"?

I've read most of the Bible (with the exception of all of the Psalms), most of it more than once and parts of it several times. I haven't read the Qur'an or Torah, or any of the books that analyze the writings contained in the Bible, Qur'an, or Torah. I believe the Bible is more about an understanding of its general themes than a break-down of the sum of its parts.

I also don't read self-improvement books or follow every new-fangled idea, diet plan, or anti-depressant designed to improve my lifestyle, outlook, or appearance, which doesn't mean I'm not interested in self-improvement - I definitely am. I just don't see how changing myself to suit every new idea currently flooding the market is supposed to improve me.

The question is, "Is developing one's character all there is to 'religion' or is there more?" Well religion, as I understand it, is all about the afterlife, heaven. We don't develop our character to serve our religion, rather our religion serves to enable us to develop our character for the purpose of making ourselves suitable to be accepted into heaven - the "good" afterlife, as opposed to the bad one (hades), which requires no character development.

My understanding of the concept of this forum, at least in part, is that members are developing their character for transition into 4th density. This is a purpose, not simply to satisfy the C's or your own or each others egos - the C's are aiding you in the right way to do this. Am I altogether wrong?

ARC
 

Approaching Infinity

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Re: Believing the Bible

ARC said:
I'm learning - I still have a lot of reading to do but I'm getting the gist of it. There is much material to cover and I'm particularly interested in finishing Laura's "Wave" books. Earlier I had perused one of the "Sessions" threads and I was completely lost, but once I read the first chapter of the first book in the "Wave" series it started making sense.

Yet I sense what you are really asking is whether I believe in God or "aliens"?

:lol: Nope, not exactly. I was just curious if you were familiar with Laura's writings and also Gurdjieff (mostly Ouspensky's book, In Search of the Miraculous), since those works provide the foundation of what we're all about here.

I've read most of the Bible (with the exception of all of the Psalms), most of it more than once and parts of it several times. I haven't read the Qur'an or Torah, or any of the books that analyze the writings contained in the Bible, Qur'an, or Torah. I believe the Bible is more about an understanding of its general themes than a break-down of the sum of its parts.

Problem is that the 'general themes' are spread out between books written by different authors over hundreds of years. In other words, the Bible is very much a mixed bag.

I also don't read self-improvement books or follow every new-fangled idea, diet plan, or anti-depressant designed to improve my lifestyle, outlook, or appearance, which doesn't mean I'm not interested in self-improvement - I definitely am. I just don't see how changing myself to suit every new idea currently flooding the market is supposed to improve me.

That's where discernment (prudence!) is necessary. Surely, every new-fangled idea isn't right. But some of them are. And sometimes new research might say something in a new way - something that has been said before in another way - that makes things 'click' for us, gives us insights, and new ways of looking at old things that make more sense than they used to. And sometimes our old ideas are plain wrong, so replacing them with new ideas is a good thing. Same goes for how we approach our own inner landscape and behaviors. Sometimes we need to get rid of old beliefs, patterns of thinking, feeling and acting, to make room for healthier ones.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Re: Believing the Bible

Approaching Infinity said:
I also don't read self-improvement books or follow every new-fangled idea, diet plan, or anti-depressant designed to improve my lifestyle, outlook, or appearance, which doesn't mean I'm not interested in self-improvement - I definitely am. I just don't see how changing myself to suit every new idea currently flooding the market is supposed to improve me.

That's where discernment (prudence!) is necessary. Surely, every new-fangled idea isn't right. But some of them are. And sometimes new research might say something in a new way - something that has been said before in another way - that makes things 'click' for us, gives us insights, and new ways of looking at old things that make more sense than they used to...


Along that line of thought, I think Systems Theory, Information Theory, Ecology are fascinating areas of study that may lead one to discover the patterns that connect (Bateson). Realizing that one is only a small part of a whole and that a part can never control the whole can be rather humbling. And in moral philosophy I think 'humbleness' is considered a virtue.

Humble, sincere, and honest attempts to apply a modification of information/systems theory to help someone with an alcohol addiction has led to the discovery of a hidden arrogance often underlying self-blame and blaming-others. Both seem pinned to a presupposition that it is "I" (rather than I + others + environment) that has power to DO anything.

I'm pretty sure we could get more esoteric with the above, but I think that may suffice to offer some empiric or epistemological support to AI's point.
 

ARC

Padawan Learner
Re: Believing the Bible

"Aside: a certain reader scanning over the sentiments expressed here may begin to wonder about the point of going through any trouble or struggle to be "virtuous" if the old goals involving "God's" approval no longer apply. It would be difficult for me to fully address that in this post, but I strongly believe that working towards any such purpose or goal would be to have unrealistic expectations - to be living in a projected future, disassociated, prone to panic and anxiety, and unconnected to the present where a profoundly felt connection with some aspect of the ALL may be possible, even if only temporarily."

I have not read Gurdjeff, but I have seen documentaries that follow similar reasoning - stories of "gods" or "sons of gods" that follow a similar structure to Christianity, but they lack certain fundamental qualities.

I have to be perfectly honest with you all - I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He was/is a real person/being, Son of the Living God, born to a virgin for the purpose of saving mans' souls, and I believe his teachings, found throughout the New Testament (primarily the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). I believe He conquered death and holds the keys to life and time, moving through it freely at will.

I think you're may be right, that the translations are probably not exact but you only have to understand the message contained in the words to realize it makes perfect sense. I strive to live by His teachings because I believe in them, that they are the "bread" of life.

I also believe that Abraham was/is a real person, and the genealogy followed throughout the Bible up to the birth of Jesus Christ. Abraham had two sons, one of those (Isaac) fathered twins (Jacob and Esau) - Jacob (Israel) had two wives who bore him 12 sons, which became the 12 tribes of Israel.

I believe that Paul was/is a real person. I don't rely as heavily on the epistles of Paul but I believe they were written for the purpose of instructing new believers in the Christian faith. One thing I noticed about Paul that strikes me as interesting is the way he always told his whole story to each person he spoke to for the first time - from being a Jew and his conversion to Christianity to his later arrests and imprisonments.

I can't fathom that accurate records wouldn't have been kept, and kept safe, by the elders of the churches, just as the scriptures of the Old Testament before the birth of Christ. I also believe there is a deceiver - a liar driven by jealousy, cruelty and fear (yes, fear) - his lies can be very convincing but if you know the truth you won't be led astray.

ARC
 

Laura

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Re: Believing the Bible

ARC said:
I have to be perfectly honest with you all - I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He was/is a real person/being, Son of the Living God, born to a virgin for the purpose of saving mans' souls, and I believe his teachings, found throughout the New Testament (primarily the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). I believe He conquered death and holds the keys to life and time, moving through it freely at will.

I appreciate your honesty. I too, once believed. But I was so much a believer that I wanted to get as close to this Jesus as I could. I wanted to fully know and understand every word he was said to have uttered. And thus began my deep and intensive study of the bible. The same thing happened to me that has happened to a majority of academic biblical scholars. But, I'll let one of the most famous tell you, if you care to read it. His name is Gerd Ludemann, and he is considered to be the world's living expert on the apostle Paul.

“A Letter to Jesus: A Confession”

By Gerd Lüdemann
Emeritus Professor of the History and Literature of Early Christianity
Georg-August-University of Göttingen
Visiting Scholar at Vanderbilt University
August 2012

Dear Lord Jesus,

Permit me, please, to address you as I have since my childhood and as I have for years as a grace before meals (“Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest”). For many years I also repeated every evening another prayer (“Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me”) as a sort of verbal talisman, although I wasn’t entirely sure why I was doing so. But it is precisely for those reasons that the invocation “Lord Jesus” has left such a deep impression on me.

Largely out of habit I have continued to pray to you as Lord Jesus in times of confusion and anxiety, although I long ago knew that you were quite different from what my teachers and my pastor gave me to understand.

And of course it now seems strange to me to think of you as a person whom I can address, for I now recognize that you didn’t say or do most of the things the Bible attributes to you. More important yet, you aren’t at all like the person depicted by the Bible and the church tradition. You weren’t God’s son or free from sin, and had no notion that you had been sent to die for the sins of the world. And what was for me a particularly painful discovery, you didn’t institute the Eucharist that for years I celebrated every Sunday in your memory. And the bread I ate wasn’t your body, nor was the wine I drank your blood. My hope and longing, along with the reassurances of the servants of your church, stifled my doubts as to whether I really ought to play the cannibal and eat your flesh and drink your blood. After all, as a Jew you yourself were strictly forbidden to consume blood. But your pastors referred me to Luther’s declaration that the holy Eucharist is “the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, appointed for us Christians by Christ himself to eat and drink as the bread and wine.”

But they laid false claim to you, for that’s not who you were. Like a magician you drove out people’s demons and saw in this the advent of the kingdom of God. You had, as it were, personal knowledge of the devil, and as your powers as a healer grew, you finally saw him fall like lightning from heaven. You seem to have expected that the existing world would soon collapse and give way to a new order of things—the kingdom of God. For a while you and your followers led an insecure itinerant life in the service of that kingdom, and you taught a remarkable code of behavior that interpreted the Law of Moses in the light of love, and daring parables that portray the kingdom through the actions of flawed protagonists in the course of everyday events.

But none of this had the desired result, for you too died, and in the prime of life. You were forced to drink the cup of death in a way that you may not have foreseen. Despite profound experiences of God, whom you called a father to be trusted, and from whom you expected almost everything, your hopes for the future died with you because they clashed with the brutal realities of human nature and Roman imperialism. On the cross you had to learn what it means to become a godforsaken victim. And if your understandably inspired followers had not had visionary experiences of your resurrection and proclaimed them as proof of an historical event, all your words and deeds would soon enough have blown away like leaves by the wind. Moreover, had they not promised your imminent return for judgment and the bestowal of eternal salvation, the whole structure of Christian thought would soon have collapsed.

But you didn’t return, because your resurrection did not take place; it was only a pious wish. In fact, your body either rotted in the tomb – if indeed it was consigned to a tomb – or quickly disintegrated in a common pit. At least, given the dicey nature of the Passover context, it may have been spared the usual indignity of being devoured by vultures and jackals. But while belief in your resurrection and imminent return enabled your followers to overcome the shock of Good Friday, of what avail are such myths to thinking people today? To be sure, many Christians still cling to belief in the resurrection, though many have long since abandoned its original meaning: conceding that your body was not revived, they prefer to talk of your “being with God.” And many bishops, educated church functionaries, and such Christian intellectuals as professors of theology insist on the confession of the resurrection, regardless of what may be understood by it. But such intellectual obfuscation is bound to come to grief, and therefore needs to be decisively exposed for what it is. No authentic religion can be built on projections, wishes, and visions, not even when such phenomena take on the power and authority of the Christian church, which proclaims you to be the Lord of the universe and future judge of all humankind. Of course, you are not the Lord of the universe, nor did you make any such pretense; rather, you proclaimed the future kingdom of God. What we got instead, as one witty cleric observed, was the church. Your hopes seem to have led you to offer exaggerated promises, for the messianic kingdom did not materialize; but far worse is the evident fact that those who elected themselves as your spokesmen have falsified your message and contradicted historical truth to further their personal aims and the power of the church.

Surely you are aware of the myriad crimes that have been committed in your name. The catalogue begins in the New Testament, where anti-Judaism is featured in every gospel, and one evangelist reports that you called your fellow Jews children of the devil because they did not believe in your divinity. It is especially infamous that this so-called purveyor of the good news placed these words of condemnation on your lips. And this hostility toward the Jews that continues throughout church history is certainly not a deviation from the original teachings of the church; rather it arose because you had been exalted to the role of ruler of the universe. From then on, effecting your will from heaven and on behalf of your omnipotent Father, you punished the “unbelieving” Jews for their lack of belief, their disobedience, and their supposed enmity toward you and your churches. This was not simply a mistake based on a misunderstanding of your preaching! No, for now that the Christian church can look back on its two-thousand-year history it is clear that things could not have been otherwise – that except for scriptural and doctrinal falsehoods the church’s very existence would have been both impossible and superfluous. And that is why today we cannot get down to the crucial business of proclaiming your “true message”: we cannot get rid of the accumulated sins and lies of the last 2000 years.

I feel great sympathy for your fellow Jews, who in our time have been able through historical research to rediscover you as their spiritual brother without adopting the church’s supernatural teachings about you. Nevertheless, I see no reason why I should become a Jew, for I am repelled by the jealous and intolerant God of the Hebrew Bible, who arbitrarily chose one small group of tribes as his elect people, and whom Christians then employed to dispossess the Jews of God’s vineyard. Such a God neither accepts the equality nor recognizes the universal rights of all people. Therefore I am firmly convinced that our Constitution, with articles protecting human dignity, personal liberty, equal rights, and freedom of belief, conscience, and opinion, affords a nobler protection to the life of all human beings than the combined scriptures of the Jewish and Christian religions. To be sure, many Christian leaders and theologians today are eager to emphasize that the aforementioned articles of our Constitution are of biblical origin; but I ask myself why it is that until the seventeenth century neither the church nor its theologians had developed any basic statement of rights applying to all individuals and why these principles, together with the notion of tolerance, had to be established by philosophers of the Enlightenment – often in the course of bitter conflict with the church.

You certainly have my deep sympathy, Lord Jesus, but because the time in which you lived is so different from that of today, I don’t imagine you can understand my situation. Perhaps you would have become pensive or even conflicted had you learned that heaven is not a place high above you, that the earth is a rather small rocky sphere circling the sun, and not the center of the whole universe. And probably you would have been very surprised to learn that we humans and the apes have common ancestors, that indeed all living beings are part of a development that began with primitive unicellular organisms. And surely you would be amazed to see that 2000 years after your death, your God had still not brought an end to the current age.

And it gets worse: your God did not create the world, as you and all pious Jews of your day assumed. Rather, the universe came into being through an evolutionary process that is now understood to have begun with a cosmic explosion we call the Big Bang. The image of the creator God developed by your predecessors betrayed a far too human perspective. Of course, the same can be said of the servants of your church today, even though they should know better; yet still every Sunday they confess your God as Creator of heaven and earth. I for one would prefer to say that the governance of the cosmos is a great mystery that cannot be solved but is worth investigating. Obviously, such a view of things is incompatible with the assumption of a creator God, and if you were to ask how I deal with the reality that you and your followers called and continue to call your God, I would tell you of an oft-repeated dream that has freed me from the superstition of this super-father.

Like Jacob, I struggled with God. He was strong and sought to drag me down into an abyss of paralysis, guilt, and anxiety. I recognized the chasm, for I recalled in a flash how much of my life had once been governed by these three emotions. I said to myself, “Never again”, and became strong as an ox. With one last, desperate effort I thrust my antagonist into the pit and at last became free.

Even after repeated experiences of this dream I made further attempts to separate the essence of your message from the time-conditioned features of your preaching. And I clung to your code of behavior and the principles underlying it, for I recognized that elements of your preaching of non-violence, love of enemy, and support of the indigent and the outcast remained valid. But I also knew that these ethical maxims had been developed by others before you, and for the most part were not unique. Moreover, they are tied to the expectation of the coming rule of your God, and that has proved an error. But above all, I now know that in attempting to attach myself to you and understand you as the central dynamic of my life, I was still unconsciously impelled by your Easter image and the Easter message that reflects the church’s dogma. And since any credence in that has long since collapsed, so has the sense of your authority over me.

Theologians will pay almost any price to avoid these conclusions, which follow from the collapse of the idea of a divine creator, from the hoax of your “resurrection,” and from the impossibility of basing a universal system of ethics on your preaching. They even think that they are honoring you and your memory by doing so. That’s how I behaved and believed for many years, but I now recognize that I was doing so for my personal benefit: to hang on to my faith, to conquer my anxiety, and to retain a degree of power and authority in the church sphere. But of course my attempts to define your “resurrection” as experiences of forgiveness, of eternity, and of life were doomed to failure, if only because these experiences can also be had apart from your person and your “resurrection,” and do not depend on the God you invoked. So I prefer from now on to develop a purely human view of religion without having to legitimate myself by the higher authority that theologians call God. Through many discussions with colleagues about the “resurrection” and its correct interpretation, I became painfully aware that these colleagues strove to remain “orthodox” theologians whatever the inward cost to their integrity, and repeatedly had recourse to another reality without explicitly acknowledging it in the discussion of specific texts. I can no longer accede to such tacit presuppositions and the self-delusions they promote.

So that’s where I stand, Lord Jesus; I can no longer bear the totally confused situation of theology, the church and the Bible. If only you could return to and remain in first century Galilee, you could once again become a charismatic exorcist and distinguished teacher, and we could again enter into a normal relationship with you, much as we have done with other normative figures of antiquity, like the Buddha, Confucius, and Socrates. Your exaltation above the level of humanity was too much to endure, for it derives from the hubristic fantasy of immortality and unreasonable longings that must at last be brought down to earth.

But if contrary to all my beliefs you really should return on the clouds of heaven, I look forward to getting to know you at last. And even though I no longer pray to you and no longer believe in your divine nature, I devoutly believe that I will have your sympathy and that despite the Bible and creed you will not annihilate me for my unbelief. But until then, when it comes to matters of religion, things between us have come to an end.

Notes

1 For the first edition of the “Letter to Jesus” see Gerd Lüdemann. The Great Deception: And What Jesus Really Said and Did, (London: SCM Press, 1998 and Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999), 1–9. The present version of the letter represents a thorough revision of that text.
 

ARC

Padawan Learner
Re: Believing the Bible

Laura,

Two things:

1 - The "Big Bang Theory" is just that, a theory. It has not been proven. However, the science that developed the theory determined it was closer to idea of a single creator than previous theories of the earth's (or universe's) beginning.

Genesis, the first book of the Christian Bible, describes how God "spoke" the world into existence. It also says God formed Adam out
of clay and breathed the breath of life into him. Perhaps one man's handful of matter composed of single-celled organisms is another
man's clay?

2 - Christ didn't call His "fellow Jews" children of the devil and the Bible is not anti-Judaea it's anti-hypocrisy. The Jews He referred to as "children of the devil" were the sociopath leaders who were in charge of executing the law of Moses, but who instead mislead the people of Judaea for the purpose of their own agenda. They abused their positions of power in much the same way as those in power still do today. They're not true leaders, they are "infiltrators", phonies who advance to power through illegal means and deception. They were not His "fellow Jews", they were criminals, and His fellow Jews knew that (or at least strongly suspected but feared offending God) and Christ confirmed it, which was very liberating for those who believed Him.

Other points:

Too many to list but you follow the signs of the times so you're aware that the world is currently transitioning and that the time is "soon" (whatever that means).

ARC
 

luke wilson

The Living Force
Re: Believing the Bible

Hey ARC, it's very nice that you have this very strong belief in the Bible and the stories it tells. I personally think it doesn't make much sense to believe in something that can't really be tested to see if it is true. Plus, Christianity and the Bible has been used as a tool for control over many centuries, where the PTB and the priesthood have used it to terrorise their own populations plus used it to incite mass genocide and violence against other people.

When the whole structure you call a church has been run by maniacal psychopaths for centuries who parade themselves as priests, I find it quite strange to put much weight on anything they say or is said in any book that they chose what went into it in the first place.

Christianity is just one religion out of many that have ever existed and exist nowadays. It may have the largest following but that following was achieved through mostly violent and genocidal means. The USA which parades itself as a christian nation is out causing havoc all over the world. Crazy evangelicals are all for this as they expect it'll herald some sort of second coming where they will get raptured into heaven?

The big bang may be a theory but it aint any more of a theory than the existence of a Christian God. At least with the big bang they have ways to test it out... with the Christian God, apparently all you have to do is believe?

If you put your believes to one side and instead use your mind, you will see that all the beliefs you said are just that... beliefs. There is no way you can know what is true. PS: I know heavily religious people have this inbuilt safety mechanism where if they come across any sort of challenge to what they think, they think it's the devil testing them and that not changing their views equates to them standing by their faith and thus passing the test. This I hope you know is a double edged sword that can both protect on the positive side and lead to fanatical dogma on the negative side where the individual holds onto many falsehoods.

On the positive though ARC, you seem quite level though heavily invested in belief to essentially what amount to make-believe stories and unlike evangelicals you don't have the fanatical authoritative streak.

Anyways, interesting discussion. :)

PS: You should get some of your daily news from http://www.sott.net/. Not sure if you know about it.
 

Laura

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Re: Believing the Bible

ARC said:
Laura,

Two things:

1 - The "Big Bang Theory" is just that, a theory. It has not been proven. However, the science that developed the theory determined it was closer to idea of a single creator than previous theories of the earth's (or universe's) beginning.

I happen to agree that the Big Bang is not the answer. That was Ludemann speaking. In fact, the Big Bang has been accepted by many evangelicals because it is close enough to a "single creator" that they can buy it. And that's one reason I don't. The Big Bang is just creationism in scientific jargon and is nonsense.

ARC said:
Genesis, the first book of the Christian Bible, describes how God "spoke" the world into existence. It also says God formed Adam out
of clay and breathed the breath of life into him. Perhaps one man's handful of matter composed of single-celled organisms is another
man's clay?

It's the "Christian Bible" because it was first the Jewish bible. But, there are problems even with that. It seems that the text has been modified so many times down through the centuries that what it originally said in many passages is completely turned around. Also, as I mentioned, it is now known by researchers that the OT is a pastiche of pericopes from Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Berossos and Manetho. Berossos is responsible for the part about "creation". Moses is modeled on Xerxes. And it was written way later than has been claimed by "believers" for a very long time. As I mentioned, there is a story in Judges that was lifted right out of Roman history.

Of course, the "Satanic counterfeit" argument gets brought in when obvious problems with the text are pointed out.

"Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal & undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervour about convincing & converting other people to his view." (Festinger, 1964)

The above is exactly what happened in the early history of the church when many educated and intelligent people pointed out the problems of the Christian claims. The solution of the early church fathers was the "Satanic counterfeit" argument which you have already brought up. This is clearly a nonsensical argument.

The reasoning is via "reductio ad absurdum" - which is often used in logic and in mathematical proofs. You assume something to be true, and then by a chain of logical deductions you come to the conclusion that your assumption cannot be true. Somewhat tricky - but useful.

Applying this method to the Satanic Counterfeit argument, let us suppose it is true. In order to be true it must apply to everyone and everything equally as a challenge.

And if that is the case, why would the claims of Christianity be exempt from this challenge?

Therefore, by logic, the Satanic Counterfeit claim is possibly true of Christianity and it needs to be challenged on the same terms that every other claim is challenged with no special pleading and without privileging the text due to belief.

If you think Christianity can stand up to this challenge, then you have a lot of work to do.

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? C. S. Lewis

ARC said:
2 - Christ didn't call His "fellow Jews" children of the devil and the Bible is not anti-Judaea it's anti-hypocrisy. The Jews He referred to as "children of the devil" were the sociopath leaders who were in charge of executing the law of Moses, but who instead mislead the people of Judaea for the purpose of their own agenda. They abused their positions of power in much the same way as those in power still do today. They're not true leaders, they are "infiltrators", phonies who advance to power through illegal means and deception. They were not His "fellow Jews", they were criminals, and His fellow Jews knew that (or at least strongly suspected but feared offending God) and Christ confirmed it, which was very liberating for those who believed Him.

Once again, your ignorance of the texts and what they actually say is apparent. You are relying on what has been preached at you, I'm assuming, instead of getting your hands into direct, deep study yourself. I'll come back to this tomorrow when I have more time. But, if you think your rope is strong enough to save you, perhaps you should start testing it?
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Re: Believing the Bible

ARC, in your recent post, you start out speaking on a logical level where unproven theories would be equivalent, yet you shoot down "big bang" while affirming another unproven theory? Justification, please?

Further, in your #1, you start out mentioning concepts used in scientific contexts, then make an unannounced context switch to a philosophical, metaphor-based description as if the two were related? Clarification of your intent here, please?

As concerns your #2, you made it clear in a previous post to this thread that you get your righteousness from just believing and most of us have already heard the story form of the biblical scriptures you vaguely allude to, so, your point, please?

Shall I also mention that you've already demonstrated undeveloped knowledge of Paul's writings and have had misrepresentations pointed out to you? Ok, I won't, but sheesh, I'm beginning to wonder if you're here just to lay rhetorical traps? I realize this discussion doesn't involve the rigor of formal language requirements, but I don't see that as justifying discontinuous leaps between disparate sets of ideas.

Will you now help return this thread to the topic at hand? Or at least follow the organic path (You've been asked some great quetions, I think) If you choose to do so, you might choose to share some examples of how religion relates to character development in your life, how you define virtue or what improvements you've been making.

Just a thought that's being offered with no intent to offend.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
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Re: Believing the Bible

Buddy said:
Will you now help return this thread to the topic at hand? Or at least follow the organic path (You've been asked some great quetions, I think) If you choose to do so, you might choose to share some examples of how religion relates to character development in your life, how you define virtue or what improvements you've been making.

Just a thought that's being offered with no intent to offend.

Thanks, Buddy, I agree.
 

WIN 52

The Living Force
A George Carlin skit comes to mind. Some of his work is priceless, yet very blunt and cuts to the chase.

"The Bible encourages a person to save your soul. At the church, the preacher encourages a person to give their soul to the church. I'm outta here! "

In the early 80's, I undertook a study of the Bible. The inconsistencies were glaringly obvious to me, but there was also some good material there. How funny, STO concept with what you say and an STS slant in what you do.
 

ARC

Padawan Learner
"It's the "Christian Bible" because it was first the Jewish bible. But, there are problems even with that. It seems that the text has been modified so many times down through the centuries that what it originally said in many passages is completely turned around. Also, as I mentioned, it is now known by researchers that the OT is a pastiche of pericopes from Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Berossos and Manetho. Berossos is responsible for the part about "creation". Moses is modeled on Xerxes. And it was written way later than has been claimed by "believers" for a very long time. As I mentioned, there is a story in Judges that was lifted right out of Roman history."

Well thank you for not puking up stories of "Horace" and the "Age of Aquarius". I'm not threatened by differing points of view but some of it seems just plain silly, yet many people fall for it.

"Of course, the "Satanic counterfeit" argument gets brought in when obvious problems with the text are pointed out."

I want to clarify that my statement about the "deceiver" was not meant as an accusation toward anyone on this forum but rather as a reminder that just because someone puts together a convincing collection of "facts" to express a particular point of view doesn't mean their theory is necessarily correct or that falsehoods haven't been inserted to bridge any possible "gaps" in the line of reasoning.

If you can forgive my "ignorance" - I studied the Bible for the purpose of understanding it and not to "debunk" it. I am nowhere near as "learned" as many on this forum and I'm also a bit rusty since, for the past 2 and 1/2 years, my discussions have mostly been limited to online (eighth-grade-level) college essay assignments - you research a topic, post half a page, and then reply with comments to your classmates' work. (It's like trying to "critique" a limerick as though it were a work of fine poetry.) Most college courses these days require one to two of those assignments per week and I studied computer networking so, you can probably imagine that they weren't very interesting.

At any rate I'm always willing to debate religious ideas if it's what members want to do but it's not the reason I joined the forum. I actually followed the link to this site from a blog about psychopaths I've been following in what little spare time I've had over the past couple of years and it seems to "have it all" - discussions about psychopathy/sociopathy, alien abduction, dream interpretation, religion, and even recipes and diet/health - all the "fun" topics. I can also appreciate that it's well-monitored - I've had my fill of chaotic forums crawling with trolls.

ARC
 

Laura

Administrator
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ARC said:
At any rate I'm always willing to debate religious ideas if it's what members want to do but it's not the reason I joined the forum. I actually followed the link to this site from a blog about psychopaths I've been following in what little spare time I've had over the past couple of years and it seems to "have it all" - discussions about psychopathy/sociopathy, alien abduction, dream interpretation, religion, and even recipes and diet/health - all the "fun" topics. I can also appreciate that it's well-monitored - I've had my fill of chaotic forums crawling with trolls.

ARC

Fair and reasonable, in my view. I don't like to debate the Bible. I spent 30 years testing each strand of the rope and, without exception, they all snapped under the smallest tension. That certainly was not the outcome I expected, as a committed believer, when I began to study the Bible in depth. And it took many years, step by step, for me to become free of the inculcated/programmed belief system into which I had been born and in which I was reared. But, unlike many others who began as born again Christians and who later "escaped", I didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater: I still perceive a non-material fountain that infuses our material world. Let's face it, matter can't just appear from nowhere no matter how hard the Big Bangers bang on about it. At the same time, the theodicy problem more or less excludes a conscious creator with intent unless, of course, s/he/it is a cosmic psychopath.

However, there is one path open that appears, thus far, to solve all the ontological/existential problems: Information Theory and the material delivered by the Cs respecting 7 levels of Density and the laws of operation at each level as described by Gurdjieff who, himself, referred to his system as "Esoteric Christianity". I think he was right though we don't know exactly where he acquired his knowledge/information. He suggests at one point that he was channeling, so perhaps that was part of it.

In any event, there are elements of Stoicism and the philosophy of Heraclitus as filtered through Plato in the commentaries written by Philo of Alexandria. Some of this is evident also in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Qumran community and other Essenic groups throughout the Roman Empire being probably the earliest Messianists. They also engaged in a form of Pythagorean number mysticism, asceticism, studying astrology, healing arts, etc. One of the main characteristics of these groups was their practice of a particular form of scriptural exegesis called Pesher. They derived "predictions" from reading the texts of the OT and applied them to their current day. This was transferred to the writing of the gospels which consist mainly of someone having found a text in the OT which they then sought to "fulfill" by having their character, Jesus, say or do something to express that.

The gospels were written by non-Jews, much later than the epistles of Paul (and others, generally NOT the claimed authors), and the development is clear when the texts are read in proper order. One of the main ways that the reader is discombobulated when reading the Bible is because the texts are NOT in chronological order.

One needs to begin their study of Christianity with the writings of Paul because his letters are admitted by ALL scholars to be the earliest unquestionably Christian writings. There is also some agreement about the time period in which they were written: mid-first century. They are thus the benchmark against which all subsequent developments can be compared. Notice also that Paul was a contemporary of Philo of Alexandria as well as Seneca the Younger. Elements of the writings of the latter two appear in the writings of Paul and, consequently, later in the gospels. It was noticed very early that there were relationships between the writings of Seneca and Paul and thus, the legend of an exchange of letters between him and Paul was developed and fraudulent letters produced. All scholars reject these letters - and this alleged fraternity of Seneca and Paul as a later invention. I wonder about it though. But that's another story.

The portrait of Paul created and developed in Acts is almost 100% false. The great John Knox points out the obvious fact that the author of Acts was familiar with, and used, the writings of Josephus. That eliminates the earlier consensus of a very early date for Luke-Acts. He also proposes that both Acts and the final version of the Gospel of Luke were written and published at the time when Marcion of Pontus was beginning to proclaim his version of the Christian gospel. Thus was a "Gospel and Apostle" (super Luke and a Life of Paul conforming to Catholicity) to counter Marcion's "Gospel and Apostle" (Luke and the letters of Paul) created. Knox further proposes that the version of Luke that Marcion was using was not a "cut-down" or heavily edited text, but was rather a more primitive version of Luke before the author of Luke-Acts got ahold of it and put his own spin on everything. At a couple of points, he seems to suggest that it could even have been something very similar to the gospel of Mark that Marcion used.

After the production of Luke-Acts in response to Marcion's "canon", it was seen by certain persons that a definitive response was needed and so the New Testament itself was created. Interestingly, Knox proposes that the heretical use of a gospel and the letters of Paul forced the emerging institutional church to preserve Paul almost intact though they got busy writing some additional epistles to counter the radical nature of the authentic Pauline writings.

Theologian, Douglas Campbell, has produced a compelling study that organizes the letters of Paul in the following order:

1) 1st Thessalonians
2) 2nd Thessalonians - here, there is an indirect reference to the emperor Gaius AKA Caligula, who ordered his statue to be placed in the temple of Jerusalem. This was the "abomination of desolation" that was supposed to repeat the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the Jewish temple and triggered the Maccabean rebellion. Thus, we have an approximate date of this epistle, 40 AD.
3) Laodiceans known in the canon as Ephesians.
4) Colossians
5) Philemon - These three, Laodiceans/Ephesian, Colossians, Philemon, were all written at pretty much the same time and from the same place.
6) 1st Corinthians
7) 2nd Corinthians
8) Galatians
9) Philippians
10) Romans

Notice that this list does not exclude several letters as the Westar Institute has done, claiming that only 7 letters are authentic. I think that Campbell makes a compelling case that all of these are authentic to Paul, though certainly there is evidence of modification and interpolations and some of the letters are "collections".

Also, the oldest version of the epistle to the Romans only has 14 chapters and it is widely believed that chapter 16 is a separate letter (if it is authentic). It is my view that chapters 9-11 were added AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple which would suggest Paul was still alive then. The emotion of this portion of the text is so compelling that I do think it was Paul writing.

1st and 2nd Thessalonians appear to be very close in time so it could be said that we can date the beginnings of Paul's writings to around 39/40 AD and the end, if I am right about Romans, to just after 70 AD.

The next Christian texts that come in the timeline are:

1) The Pastor of Hermas
2) Didache (the teachings of the apostles)
3) The first Letter of Clemans Romanus
4) The Letter of Barnabus
5) The Epistle to the Hebrews
6) The Revelation of John.

All of the above have been dated by scientific philological methods by Alvar Ellegard, a non-believer. That gives additional credibility to his work.

They are more or less contemporaneous with the work of Paul. Ellegard suggests that the main body of Revelation was written during the siege of Jerusalem and was designed to rally support for the believers in the Messianic idea that god was going to suddenly show up and save them all. Other parts were added later. Obviously, god didn't show up and it is really horrifying to read Josephus' depiction of the events which shows how messianic fanatics led tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths. Obviously, the Messiah they were promoting wasn't Jesus of Nazareth. It's almost a certainty that this group of zealots was headed up by James, John, and Cephas AKA Peter whose real name was Simon bar Jonah, and that they all perished in the siege. This was the gang that opposed Paul and hounded him on his journeys and probably were responsible for his beatings and canings.

The main features of these six documents appears to be that they were addressed to a mainly Jewish audience in the diaspora. Revelation repeatedly criticises people whoo, the author says, "call themselves Jews, but are of the synagogue of Satan." Hermas' Pastor refers to outsiders as "gentiles and sinners". Didache is based on a document that scholars agree is of purely Jewish, pre-Christian origin. That document Duae Viae, is also incorporated in the Letter of Barnabas, and is quoted in Hermas.

The Letter to the Hebrews and The Revelation have been included in the canon though there was long and persistent opposition to this among early gentile Christians.

Thus, since these documents circulated among early Christians in the 2nd century (along with the letters of Paul) and long before the gospels were composed, it seems to be rather important to study them in order to learn what kind of Christianity was the going thing closest in time to the alleged life of a Jesus, one would think.

Richard Pervo and Joseph B. Tyson have produced definitive studies, following John Knox, showing that Acts was a very late production and most definitely NOT written by "Luke". (See above regarding Knox and the obvious use of Josephus by the author of Acts.)

It seems obvious from reading the New Testament documents in chronological order with reasonably accurate contexts as revealed in recent scholarship, that there really was no "Jesus of Nazareth" as the gospels created/presented him. Sure, there was probably a Jewish religious Robin Hood type with his band of merry revolutionaries (Josephus is rife with them, take your pick) who died and was then claimed to have "resurrected" in a spiritual sense (see Israel Knohl's "The Gabriel Revelation"), and Paul utilized his story as a vehicle for his world-changing plan to unite all men under one god (with added features of course), but there was no great Jewish teacher who was crucified and rose from the dead: it was all a theological creation based on Pesher. Paul was the one who added "The Cross" so we don't even know how this Jewish revolutionary died. After Paul, the gospels and Acts were written as ALMOST pure fiction. However, the work of Elaine Hilsenrath reveals that there WERE elements of memory of the Jewish revolutionary retained in the texts. (See her "Jesus, the Nazorean")

Effectively, this means that there was no "Christianity" in Jerusalem as we conceive of it, there was only a gang of revolutionaries who utilized their dead teacher/leader (who was going to return with God and whup up on the Romans) as a recruiting symbol: "The Resurrected Messiah WANTS YOU! So he can come on the blood of martyrs to destroy the Romans and evict them from our real estate!" What's more, the most likely characters from Josephus weren't even crucified (though some related bit-players were).

Paul probably got the idea for a crucified/ascended "god-type" being from the mystery play reenactments of the funeral of Julius Caesar where the dead (and much beloved by the people) dictator's wax effigy was mounted on a cross-like trophaeum. (See Francisco Carotta for details on this.) The last supper probably came from the reports of the last supper of Caesar where it was said that the topic of conversation was "how would you like to die?" and Caesar said "quickly" combined with other Hellenic dying gods and their banquets. And most certainly, the most famous betrayal of all time was that of Brutus vis a vis Caesar. Interesting that Dante puts both Brutus and Judas in the lowest circle of Hell together. The whole ascension/deification business probably was due to Caesar's comet and certainly everyone knew that comets tend to "return" and often were accompanied by disasters which were deemed to be the hand of God acting against one or another nation, group, king, whatever: thus, apocalypticism.

Enough for today.
 

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
Laura, you said that Paul accepted the Hebrew God as being the same as the Father. Is that settled? There are some parts of the epistles that hint at the Gnostic view that those were two different beings. I know Bob Price argues that those may have been interpolations by later Gnostics, who, claiming Paul as one of them, added passages to counteract proto-Catholic interpolations that imply the opposite. The Gnostics also claimed that Paul had a secret teaching that he passed to Timothy who ultimately (IIRC) passed it to Marcion. Given Paul's powerful enemies in the Judaicizer camp (The pillars) it might make sense that he would keep that teaching veiled.

There did seems to be something explosive in the teaching that Paul had, maybe beyond the mission to the Gentiles thing (that Christians didn't have to be circumcised or follow the dietary restrictions). Paul's view on the Law was after all was accepted by the Catholics in Rome even while they were fighting the more Gnostic views of Marcion and Valentinus.

Sounds like a good question for the Cs.
 

Laura

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Mr. Premise said:
Laura, you said that Paul accepted the Hebrew God as being the same as the Father. Is that settled? There are some parts of the epistles that hint at the Gnostic view that those were two different beings. I know Bob Price argues that those may have been interpolations by later Gnostics, who, claiming Paul as one of them, added passages to counteract proto-Catholic interpolations that imply the opposite. The Gnostics also claimed that Paul had a secret teaching that he passed to Timothy who ultimately (IIRC) passed it to Marcion. Given Paul's powerful enemies in the Judaicizer camp (The pillars) it might make sense that he would keep that teaching veiled.

There did seems to be something explosive in the teaching that Paul had, maybe beyond the mission to the Gentiles thing (that Christians didn't have to be circumcised or follow the dietary restrictions). Paul's view on the Law was after all was accepted by the Catholics in Rome even while they were fighting the more Gnostic views of Marcion and Valentinus.

Sounds like a good question for the Cs.

Yes, this is very true. And the problem we face is that there were edicts at various times ordering the destruction of Christian writings and then pagan writings. The best book that discusses this topic is Robert Eisler's book "The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist: According to Flavius Josephus' recently rediscovered 'Capture of Jerusalem' and the other Jewish and Christian sources" (1931) where he includes an astonishing array of rare source citations AND images of actual ancient documents showing how they were defaced and/or edited.

Now, was Marcion correct that Paul was actually teaching a different god than the Jewish one? It is certainly possible and it can be read into the texts rather easily. If he was he was certainly playing a covert game about it in his relations with the three "pillars" at Jerusalem.

Take a look at some passages:

Gal 1:11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin;
Gal 1:12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Here Paul makes it explicit that his gospel was inspired and did not come from the teachings of ANYONE, not even a human Jesus. His Christ was a cosmic being.

Gal 1:13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it.

There was, in Palestine/Judea, at the time, a tremendous conflict between the Messianists and the Hellenizers. The Messianists were Zealots, Nazoreans, Sicarii, Essenes. This last is pretty clear from the Dead Sea Scrolls. So, in order to be against the Messianists, Paul would have necessarily had to be a Hellenizer on the side of the Romans, supporting the Herodian party. Many of these Hellenizers considered themselves to be the "best Jews". This is why Paul could say, at the same time:

Gal 1:14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.

Now, notice in the following that Paul says that it was GOD who revealed his son to him. He makes no mention of a vision. And in fact, in several places he alludes to the method by which this revelation took place: studying scripture and messianic texts such as those found at Qumran. There are 43 references to his study/quoting of "what is written" in the epistles. It was in these writings, particularly Isaiah 63, that he found texts that created his version of the Messiah and that the Jewish god would become the god of all men. "As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name" (Rom. 15:9)

Gal 1:15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased
Gal 1:16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being,
Gal 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

Again, we notice that there is no mention of the story of the vision on the road to Damascus that is described three separate times in the book of Acts, each with different and/or contradictory details. Paul never had that experience; it is quite simply made up borrowing from several literary descriptions of such visions in pagan literature of the time. And again, notice his emphasis that he did not confer with anyone - no human being. HOWEVER, he does reference "those who were apostles before me" in Jerusalem, which suggests strongly that he was using SOMETHING from their literature/proclamation. That is to say, he more or less borrowed their "messiah" person for his own purposes.

Paul says he went to Arabia - or the Arabah - the wilderness. He doesn't say how long he was there; it could have been weeks, months, or years. But he does say that he "returned" to Damascus. So, taken together with the fact that he later says that no one in Jerusalem knew him, we can be sure that he wasn't persecuting anyone in Jerusalem but was probably just trying to prevent the recruiting of revolutionaries in Damascus by the James Gang from Jerusalem who were sending emissaries to Jewish communities all over the empire to tell them that god was going to destroy the Romans very soon and to "return" (repent) to their strict observance of Judaism so as to be ready to rise up at the signal.

Note on the Arabah: The Arabah was home to the Edomites (Edom was called "Idumea" in Roman times). East of the Arabah was the domain of the Nabateans, the builders of the city of Petra. Why was Paul there considering a subsequent event as we will see.

The fact that Paul clearly says that he was unknown in Jerusalem, makes it clear that the story about the stoning of Stephen with Paul acting as coat check, is another completely made up episode in Acts. It simply didn't happen. Or, if it did happen, it happened to someone else under different circumstances without the involvement of Paul.

Next, we learn that Paul was messing around in Damascus practicing his preaching which basically amounted to undermining the work of the James Gang, for three years:

Gal 1:18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days;
Gal 1:19 but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother.
Gal 1:20 In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!

Here, "the Lord's Brother" does not necessarily mean a brother of Jesus. Most likely, it refers to James as a member of a brotherhood, the Nazoreans, Zealots, Essenes, whatever, and all of them were known this way. Cephas, as is pretty well know, was probably Simon bar Jonah, or Simon the Zealot. That expresses the political nature of this group. But then, in those times, there was no separation of religion and politics.

Also, we learn later that Paul left Damascus under unusual circumstances: he was being chased by the agent of King Aretas of the Nabateans and was hidden and then let down over the city wall in a basket to escape. It is probably at this time that he first went to Jerusalem. 2Co 11:32-33 "In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands."

Notice: Aretas was king of the Nabataeans from roughly 9 BC to AD 40. We already know that 2 Thessalonians was written around 40 AD because of the reference to the activities of Gaius/Caligula which means that Paul's escape must have occurred much earlier in order to give him time to establish his missions in Thessalonica.

So, we have Paul being converted, then going to the land of the Idumeans/Nabataeans for a period, then returning to Damascus for a period of three years at which point he goes to Jerusalem for 15 days and THEN sets off for his major mission:

Gal 1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia,
Gal 1:22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ;
Gal 1:23 they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy."
Gal 1:24 And they glorified God because of me.

Notice where Paul says he was unknown by sight to the churches of Judea. Keep in mind that "church" is simply "ecclesia" which meant, at the time, a political group that met regularly. So there were obviously many "cells" of the revolutionaries meeting and discussing the coming Messiah who was going to whup up on the Romans. And a LOT of them, obviously, were violent guerrilla fighters going about the countryside killing their opponents, engaging in raids for food and goods, etc. That is really what early "Christianity" was in Judea.

So, what was Paul doing with their Messiah? He had taken him and made something altogether different than what the James Gang were preaching. And this led to a whole lot of trouble for Paul.

So, 14 years pass with Paul on his mission. Once gets the feeling that something has been deleted here because the last he tells us is that he was in Cilicia and Syria. Yet, in order for the timeline to work at all he MUST have also been much further afield, so why is it not mentioned? Fourteen years is a long time... One suspects that he was using Antioch as a base and journeying out from there to his various missions.

Gal 2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.
Gal 2:2 I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.
Gal 2:3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.
Gal 2:4 But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us--
Gal 2:5 we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you.
Gal 2:6 And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)--those leaders contributed nothing to me.
Gal 2:7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised
Gal 2:8 (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles),
Gal 2:9 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
Gal 2:10 They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

The above is obviously the famous "meeting in Jerusalem" described VERY differently in Acts. Paul's version and the version of Acts, written 70 or more years later, are simply irreconcilable. Paul makes it sound like they argued things out and came to an understanding that Paul would recruit for the revolution of the coming Messiah in his way, and they would recruit in theirs.

Notice that Paul never mentions "the twelve" in this recitation of events. The only place "The Twelve" are ever mentioned by him is at 1 Cor. 15:5 which is probably an intepolation. For Paul, there were never "twelve apostles/disciples". There was only the three "pillars": James, John and Cephas. Notice above the bit about "Peter". These are the ONLY two verses in all of Paul's writings that mention anyone named "Peter" though "Cephas" is mentioned in 8. Thus, it is very likely that the two verses, 7 and 8 are added much later to bring Peter clearly into the picture as a major apostle.

At this point, the troubles really begin. Even though the "pillars" were said, by Paul, to have agreed to disagree as long as he gave them money, (and he was anxious to do this because it fulfilled a prophecy in the OT about the gentiles sending gifts to Jerusalem and Paul was quite driven by this Pesher-like exegesis), they obviously either lied or had second thoughts because now, the persecution of Paul by the James Gang began in earnest:

Gal 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned;
Gal 2:12 for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.
Gal 2:13 And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

Now, imagine that! Paul dressed down one of the three Pillars in public. And even his former companion, Bar Nabas, obviously a Jew, turned against him and sided with Peter. The James Gang must have been pretty scary. They came and took over Paul's HQ in Damascus, and he was OUT. Off he went to his other communities, and the James Gang peeps relentlessly pursued him as is revealed in the Corinthian letters and Galatians. They may have been responsible for the events that landed him in prison at which time he wrote Philemon, Laodiceans/Ephesians and Colossians.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about the James Gang (some scholars try to get the Jerusalem peeps off the hook on this, but it is pretty clear from the sequence of events, as well as the clear context of the times that can be obtained from Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, that the Jerusalem "church" was little more than a revolutionary gang of uber-Jewish zealots/messianists and it is these individuals that Paul railed against, this group that hounded him and attempted to steal his congregations from him, to demand full conversion to Judaism in order to be "saved" by the Jewish god and his coming Messiah.

2Co 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.
2Co 11:5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. {Super apostles obviously referring to those sent by James}
{...}
2Co 11:13 For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
2Co 11:14 And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
2Co 11:15 So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds. {Clearly, Paul is accusing the apostles from the Jerusalem gang, the organization alleged to be the first church of the apostles of Jesus of Nazareth, which it obviously was not, of being Satanic deluders.}

{...}
2Co 11:19 For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves!
2Co 11:20 For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face. {Obviously, this is how Paul saw the James Gang peeps}
{...}
2Co 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. {Here Paul makes it absolutely clear that he is referring to the James Gang}
2Co 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman--I am a better one: with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death.
2Co 11:24 Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
2Co 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
2Co 11:26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters;
2Co 11:27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked.

In the above, please notice Paul's list of adventures. Now, this letter was written not very long after the infamous meeting in Jerusalem followed by the hounding of Paul at Antioch by the agents of the James Gang and his public confrontation with Cephas. So, that means it was not long after the mentioned 14 years. Recall that he said "Gal 1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia" which is the last thing you hear before the 14 years later comes up. That's why I say that something is missing. Obviously, all these sea voyages, shipwrecks, dangers in the wilderness, dangers from false brothers and sisters, floggings, beatings, stonings, and MULTIPLE imprisonments, took place in that 14 year period. Paul was a busy guy. And he wasn't just hanging out in Syria-Cilicia.

I mean, REALLY, a long, hard look needs to be taken at this. Fourteen years and all that sort of thing happening? Just what the holy heck was going on??!!!

Another example of Paul's opinion of the "church at Jerusalem"
Php 3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh!

So you see, Paul has a very interesting story to tell and it certainly trumps anything that came later composed about a mythical Jesus of Nazareth who was some kind of messiah for the world. Judas the Galilean, my candidate for the messiah given the name of Joshua by the James Gang and used as their messianic poster boy for the revolution, was in no way, shape or form, the least bit interested in gentiles or peace or any of the things attributed to this mythical Jesus created much, much later. Anything and everything about Jesus that is positive actually came from Paul's ideas. Even Paul's very words were later put into the mouth of the novelized Jesus.

This development, how one text is dependent on another, becomes glaringly obvious when they are read in the correct chronological order.

Now, as to the question: was Marcion correct in saying that Paul was preaching a different god? I don't think so. The weight of the evidence is against that. That appears to have been a twist that developed by Marcion's gnostic exposure. Because, certainly, there were a lot of Jewish gnostics around the time of Paul who developed the idea that Yahweh was a demiurge (based on Platonic ideas since Plato was the one who came up with the term) and not the highest god. I think Paul was trying to sort through this and find a middle way. He searched and searched the scriptures for evidence that there was a great mystery that had been hidden for ages that Yahweh really, all along, was planning on fixing things up. And it was Paul who figured it all out by his interpretation of the scriptures.

1Co 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment {on Paul} before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.
1Co 4:6 I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, "Nothing beyond what is written," so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.

Everything Paul taught was supported by him via his peculiar exegeses.

Eph 2:11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called "the uncircumcision" by those who are called "the circumcision"--a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands--
Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
Eph 2:15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace,
Eph 2:16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
Eph 2:17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near;
Eph 2:18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.


Eph 3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--
Eph 3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you,
Eph 3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,
Eph 3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.
Eph 3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
Eph 3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Eph 3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power.
Eph 3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,
Eph 3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;
Eph 3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Eph 3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Eph 3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

So it is, Christianity, as we know it, was really created by the imaginative exegeses of Paul.


Edit: added a few thoughts about Paul's adventures.
 
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