Was Julius Caesar the real Jesus Christ?

Voyageur

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Noticed Gunnar Heinsohn's links to an article posted here at Q-mag.org and Alfred de Grazia's - quantavolution whereby Heinsohn had this article in pdf format: Rome and Jerusalem - a stratigraphy-based chronology of the Ancient World. Anyway, from here this Alfred de Grazia has an a - z reference library of names and terms, and thus looked at Jesus. This Alfred de Grazia was mentioned in just one forum post here in Darwin's Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer.

So, under J for the '
Jesus' index, Grazia speaks of Dr. Livio C. Stecchini ("professor of ancient history" who also was a supporter of Velikovsky) who is mentioned once in the forum here: "The classical historian Livio Stecchini, wrote about the origins of coinage, and his academic reputation was demolished." Livio was a historian and this is what he was poking around with related to the Greeks and Paul as told by de Grazia:

A case of the interplay among history, legend, and scripture is offered by the Christian Gospels of the life and work of Jesus. These are four in number, all written some years after the death of Jesus, under circumstances that have never been clear. Furthermore, as the reader will acknowledge, attitudes towards the Gospels and Jesus have ranged from the denial that he ever existed, passing through an acceptance of the Gospels as generally or exactly true, to other extreme ideas such as that Jesus was a Jewish radical rebelling against Roman rule, whose story was censored in the Gospels.

Dr. Livio C. Stecchini, both an ancient historian and a historian of science, for several years before his death taught a college course on the trial of Jesus. There he developed a theory that Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, dramatist, and Roman statesman, was the basic source for the Gospels. His brother met Saint Paul of Tarsus when Paul was imprisoned in Rome awaiting trial and execution, and Seneca himself could have interrogated Paul at will, given his high state position. That the Stoic and Christian positions on many ethical issues were similar - more so than the Mosaic-Christian position - has been often remarked upon.

That Jesus follows the birth history of many Greco-Roman heroes is manifest: His father being divine, his mother human. Seneca, said Stecchini, composed a great tragedy, later lost, and upon its manuscript and/or performances the Gospels drew very heavily. Thus it happened, as Stecchini has elaborated, that the plot of the trial and execution, the actions of the characters, and the timing and scenes of the Gospels are framed in the traditional structure of Greco-Roman drama.

As important as Stecchini’s theory may be, we cannot treat it here as more than a conjecture. The conjecture, however, allows us to make a point about legend and scripture. To the studious non-believer, sacred scripture is forever the source of historiography and the analysis of myth and legend. Scripture may be dissected from as many perspectives and in as many ways as the creative and scientific mind can imagine and instrument. On the other hand, to the studious believer, sacred scripture is first of all literally true, and all that the creative mind can imagine must be consistent with the literal truth. Even if, by every empirical test that is respected by historical and natural science, Jesus were deemed to have never existed (an unlikely prospect) {depends which Jesus and one true name}, the believer can continue to believe in the holiness of his mundane being and therefore in the literalness of the gospels, just as the Roman Catholic believer asserts in the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the veritable body and blood of Christ in the Holy Communion.

Rome, the city-state, the Republic, and the Empire, began and expanded in the name of Mars {this links to the index page}, encompassing finally the whole scope of the Greater Mediterranean Region. If it began with Mars, it might have ended with the death of Mars, that is, the abandonment of the worship of Mars. However, as I went to some length to demonstrate in The Divine Succession {don't know this book}, great gods never die but simply go on forever in new forms, because the universal catastrophe lies beneath the history of gods and faiths. And it is not forgotten, no matter how heavily suppressed.

“In the inscriptions and literature of the first millennium BC, gods are often referred to... by titles or by new names, so that it is often difficult to ascertain the irrelationship to the deities of the second millennium, or indeed to determine their individuality in relation to one another.[2]

Gibbons, in his magisterial Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire blames the pacifism, otherworldliness, and passive resistence of the rapidly-growing Christian population for the grand tragedy. The Empire lost its morale and could not put down its invaders.

If such be the case, then Jesus, with whatever hecame to stand for, was the next ruling God of the Divine Succession. He succeeded because he was young and was a doppelgaenger of God the Father. We could find but slight evidence that Jesus and God His Father had inherited the traits of Mars and Jupiter. But, too, we suspect that there may have been much more of a descent than our culture will let be exposed. In a way, we are saying that Christianity does not have its own Great God and must therefore be Judeo-Christianity. Jesus could not qualify as a Great God in himself because he did not enter the world on the wings of a quantavolution. He had to be introduced to the divine succession through agents of the Great God Yahweh, whose quantavolutionary credentials were impeccable{?}. He recognized his limitations, when giving all credit to “the Father who art in Heaven.” {this is Yahweh (lowercase god) who art in Heaven?}
Quantavolution:

The nature that offers itself to our view, which includes the solar system, the earth, and the biosphere, assumed its present form in a series of sudden leaps, occurring over short periods of time. So goes the theory of quantavolution. Besides the idea of sudden leaps, other principles are basic. First the original source of great changes in the nature of the earth and man has been in the skies. Second, the latest period of time, roughly the holocene period, say 14,000 years, has witnessed catastrophes. Third, the great changes of recent times have created modern humans. In sum, nature and mankind have been recently catastrophized and transformed by forces of exoterrestrial origin.

Had not heard this 'theory' of Seneca, and then there are these 'agents' of Yahweh "introducing" a divine succession.

What a crazy history that humankind had entered into following what was a very dark time of trauma and amnesia (those lost years), and then following those years things seemed to have been meticulously (with many scribe errors) crafted around this jealous god, Yahweh, bolstered by this god-son that really does seem like a 'performance,' and that thereafter was made into a god history (gods "difficult to ascertain") while being disseminated wide and far to believe in with plenty of divisions set against each other. In this, there is the god triad, and in certain quarters only Yahweh/Seth is the supreme authority, the one and only. What does this make the son, Jesus, of Yahweh/Seth? (Yahweh not being acknowledged by all quarters, such as the "Stoic and Christian positions".) It looks like a lie, it looks like another persons story in history was usurped for the purpose of being the divine successor in this triad god history with only one god supreme.

What a web, and thanks Laura for putting your mind around it and working to unravel it - it is complicated!



 

Laura

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I'm still slashing my way through the jungle of text and literary analyses and have been putting together a real Pauline Timeline based on what was happening in the real world if it can be detected AT ALL within his letters, and here's what I have so far. This is way incomplete, but even as far as this goes, it makes a complete liar out of the Lukan author of Acts.

Paul’s Timeline


29 ADPaul’s Conversion; goes to Arabia immediately after, then returns to Damascus for the next three years. Happens to be the “fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar”.3 years before his escape from Damascus which can be firmly dated by the life of Aretas.
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.
30In Damascus
31In Damascus
32First visit to Jerusalem, stayed with Cephas 15 days, saw James “The Lord’s Brother”.2Co 11:32 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.
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.
33In Syria & Cilicia – Antioch? Galatia?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."
34Corinth?
35Philippi. Paul writes in Thessalonians “but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. ” (1Thess 2:2) .
36Macedonia Paul went to Macedonia next. He writes: Php 4:15 You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone.
Php 4:16 For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once.
371st Corinthian letter written, pos from Macedonia, chap 15 alone.Tiberius died on 16 March 37 AD. Caligula becomes emperor.
38Paul now in Athens. Persecutions of Thessalonians and Paul and his group mentioned in upcoming 1st Thess Letter.Prefect of Egypt, Flaccus tried to placate both the Greek population and Caligula by having statues of the emperor placed in Jewish synagogues. Riots broke out in the city and most likely elsewhere in the empire. Tensions between Jews and Greeks were high.
39Paul in Athens with Timothy:
1 Thessalonians written.
1Th 3:1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens;
1Th 3:2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith,
1Th 3:3 so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. .
3:6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love.
3:7 For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith.
Financial crisis in Rome. Caligula goes full-on-nutzoid.
Agrippa accused Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, of planning a rebellion against Roman rule with the help of Parthia. Herod Antipas confessed and Caligula exiled him. Agrippa was rewarded with his territories.
Cassius Dio, Roman History LIX.9–10
Suetonius, Caligula, 38.
Josephus, Ant. XIX 2.5
402nd Corinthian letter written chaps 7, 8, 10, 11 of trad 1Cor. which mentions: “I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are.” (1 Cor 7:26)

2 Thessalonians written with reference to the “abomination of desolation” i.e. the statue of Caligula destined for the Jewish temple. “ Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy” together where?

Paul may have still been in Athens or may have traveled on to Ephesus.
Caligula began appearing in public dressed as different gods.
Riots again erupted in Alexandria in 40 between Jews and Greeks.
Disputes occurred in the city of Jamnia.
Caligula ordered the erection of a statue of himself in the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem.
Philo wrote that Caligula "regarded the Jews with most especial suspicion, as if they were the only persons who cherished wishes opposed to his".
The Governor of Syria, Publius Petronius, fearing civil war if the order were carried out, delayed implementing it for nearly a year. Agrippa finally convinced Caligula to reverse the order.
41Paul in Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla.: 3rd Corinthian letter, chaps 12, 13, 14, 16. States that he was urging Apollos to visit them.Caligula assassinated by officers of the Praetorian Guard, senators, and courtiers. Claudius becomes emperor.
42Paul in Ephesus: Apparently, Apollos has visited Corinth and caused division. 4th Corinthian letter written: chaps 1, 2, 3, 4 of 1st Cor (trad).
43Paul in Ephesus writes “Tearful Letter of Reproach: Chap 6 of 1Cor, chap 5 of 1Cor, chaps 10, 9, 11, 12, 13 of 2Cor2Co 12:2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.
44Paul in Macedonia where he traveled by way of Troas, writes “Thankful Letter” to Corinth: chaps 1-7 of 2Cor.
2Co 2:12 When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord;
2Co 2:13 but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia.
Chaps 8 & 9 are interpolations since the visit to Jerusalem has not yet occurred, so there is no “deal” for a collection.
45
46Second visit to Jerusalem. Met with the “acknowledged leaders privately). Titus accompanied and was not compelled to be circumcised. Deal struck for “the collection”. Returns to Antioch, Cephas follows. Kerfuffle.Gal 2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. … Gal 2:10 They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.
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.
47James and Simon, sons of Judas the Galilean, executed by crucifixion by Tiberius Alexander.
Judea afflicted by famine (may have already been in progress, thus the deal for the “collection” the prev year).
James Gang scatters and some of them go to Paul's congregations to "convert" them further and gain support/supporters.
Josephus, Antiquities 20.101-103; The Wars of the Jews 2.220. See also Schürer, pp. 456-458.
48Paul was probably arrested an put in prison in Ephesus at this time on suspicion of being a Zealot/Rebel. Writes Galatian, Philippians, a first Romans letter consisting of chaps 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, to Roman Gentile Christians; Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians.
Paul transferred to Rome and released.
49Paul writes 2nd letter to Roman Jews consisting of Rom. 1:18 - 4:24. This letter was an effort to convince Jewish Christians to join Gentile Christians in unity and utilized a slowly built scriptural argument to do so. It is unlikely to have succeeded; rather, it very probably triggered the tumult that resulted in the Jews being expelled from Rome in 49 AD. At that point, Paul himself may have been exiled and made his way to Spain.
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Laura

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For those who would like to read the Corinthian letters and the Roman letters, organized chronologically and into properly discrete letters, I'm appending two doc files. This will give you a better idea of who Paul was and what he was trying to do and how. He was an exegetical virtuoso as the 2nd Romans letter shows. Of course, a lot of water went under the bridge and over the dam between the last of the Corinthian correspondence and Romans, including the several letters written from prison including Galatians (very likely).
 

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Tuatha de Danaan

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I have just finished reading in pdf form. THE LIFE AND WORK OF ST.PAUL
by
F.W.FARRAR.
Late fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Vol.11. Printed 1902.

He takes us through Paul's travels up to his last imprisonment and gives a time table @ back of book of Paul's chronology. There is a 6 yr difference to Laura's for his conversion.
His description of the Epistle to the Ephesians and his arguments against the ideas that it was un- Pauline are very strong and moving and says how, in expression, it was very similar to the Epistle to Colossians. His descriptions of all the Epistles are equally descriptive.
It's evident from his writings he really admires Paul. Paul is creating an idea from scratch. He is establishing the ideas and vocabulary for a new way of thinking and living for everyone. He is doing this unaided, indeed he is being hindered on all sides, persecution, imprisonment and James with his Judiac Christians following on his heels and undoing all his hard work in the infant Church.

To separate out would be difficult for me as I'm not savez with copy and paste. I tried to download the pdf but told it's too big. His foot-notes are interesting in their own right, but I had to glaze over the Latin and Greek.

Without it being too Biblical he made Paul flesh and blood for me and by giving a little background of the times and what was going on I really got a feel for the human Paul. I really enjoyed this book and it was also very quick reading.
 

Laura

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I have just finished reading in pdf form. THE LIFE AND WORK OF ST.PAUL
by
F.W.FARRAR.
Late fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Vol.11. Printed 1902.
There are a dozen or so such books by eminent biblical scholars (such as Farrar was), each with it's own timeline and order of epistles. Few - if any - of them take the Zealot element into account or the historical context overall.

Along with what you have said about Paul:

Paul is creating an idea from scratch. He is establishing the ideas and vocabulary for a new way of thinking and living for everyone. He is doing this unaided, indeed he is being hindered on all sides, persecution, imprisonment and James with his Judiac Christians following on his heels and undoing all his hard work in the infant Church.
I'm still undecided. I can see so many elements of Zoroastrianism, Enochian apocalypticism (influenced by Zoroaster and Babylonian myth), and Hellenic religious elements in Paul's christianity. Did he know that? Or was his a fresh view of 4D realities vis a vis ours. The last two or three days I've been working through chaps 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Romans, and Paul pretty much describes the fall of humanity from a 4D STO reality to 3D STS though he does it in Jewish terms. I'll be getting those notes typed up pretty soon. It really is amazing.
 

Approaching Infinity

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I'm still undecided. I can see so many elements of Zoroastrianism, Enochian apocalypticism (influenced by Zoroaster and Babylonian myth), and Hellenic religious elements in Paul's christianity. Did he know that? Or was his a fresh view of 4D realities vis a vis ours. The last two or three days I've been working through chaps 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Romans, and Paul pretty much describes the fall of humanity from a 4D STO reality to 3D STS though he does it in Jewish terms. I'll be getting those notes typed up pretty soon. It really is amazing.
I don't think he necessarily was creating everything on his own, either. Seems more likely to me that he had an existing 'vocabulary' of images, ideas, and concepts he was familiar with, like those listed above. But through his visionary experience and creativity, was able to 'read' those symbols in the light of his objective experiences of higher realities. Of course, it might be hard in some cases to say if any given idea was definitely from some other system, or if some of the correspondences are merely the result of his experience matching some aspect of those other influences - but without any direct influence. Kind of like having a vision out of nowhere of a flaming light sword, and then future generations pointing out that it's remarkably similar to a light sabre and assuming the visionary in question must have been influenced by jedis.
 

Laura

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I don't think he necessarily was creating everything on his own, either. Seems more likely to me that he had an existing 'vocabulary' of images, ideas, and concepts he was familiar with, like those listed above. But through his visionary experience and creativity, was able to 'read' those symbols in the light of his objective experiences of higher realities. Of course, it might be hard in some cases to say if any given idea was definitely from some other system, or if some of the correspondences are merely the result of his experience matching some aspect of those other influences - but without any direct influence. Kind of like having a vision out of nowhere of a flaming light sword, and then future generations pointing out that it's remarkably similar to a light sabre and assuming the visionary in question must have been influenced by jedis.
Exactly.

In any event, I hope to have some definitive things to say soon. I'm keeping my eyes open for any place in the text that might allude to Caesar, or where the surrounding text might suggest that a reference to Caesar or something alluding to him, might have been removed.

One thing that is very interesting to me is this: when the letters are organized in what is the obvious (to me, at least) chronological order, and when the historical context is taken into account, everything Paul was saying makes a lot more sense.

I's sure love to get my hands on the redactors, though. Where's a time machine when you need one?
 

Laura

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I'm working on transcribing my handwritten notes again. Below is what I finished today. Next, I'll get into the letter(s) of Romans which perfectly reveal Paul's theology and even parts of his cosmology. That's where things get really interesting.

Ferdinand Christian Baur – 1836 mongraph – argues: “it is unthinkable that the apostle, without definite circumstances present in the Roman congregation… should have felt himself obliged to write a letter with such a content to this congregation.” (German text: Uber Zweck und Veranlassung des Romerbriefs, p. 156)

Baur is certainly correct and, if the prologue to Romans in Marcion’s letter collection is correct, Paul was transferred from prison in Ephesus to Rome and that would give him a definite motivation to write to a congregation there in hopes of having allies.

Baur thought that the Roman church was composed mainly of Jewish Christians who denied the legitimacy of Paul’s apostleship and that Paul, hearing of tensions there between the Jewish majority and a Gentile minority, wrote a defense of Christian Universalism against Jewish particularism.

Baur was wrong about this because, at the time Romans was written, Paul was most certainly persona non grata among Jewish Christians as is revealed in Galatians. This understanding helps one to read Romans in a different way and to discern that there is more than one letter combined there.

W. Wiefel (The Jewish Community in Ancient Rome and the Origins of Roman Christianity) brings up the alleged expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius and suggests that this brought the first Roman congregation to an end. After that, there were only Gentile house churches and the letter was addressing tensions between this now Gentile Christian majority and returning Jewish Christians. Wiefel proposes that the intent was to help the Gentile Christian majority to live together with the Jewish Christians in a society marked by hostility toward Jews. (Watson. p. 110-113)
Taking a more historically oriented dating into account, based on external events and clues within the texts of Paul, it appears that the expulsion from Rome of Jews must have occurred AFTER Paul arrived there from prison in Ephesus.

J. Jervell (The Letter to Jerusalem), on the other hand writes: “The letter itself clearly states that its raison d’etre does not stem from the situation of the Roman congregation, but is to be found in Paul himself at the time of writing.” Jervill sees Romans 1:18-11:36, as “the defense Paul plans to give before the church in Jerusalem.” (64) Here “Paul is absorbed by what he is going to say in Jerusalem.” (70) and he writes as he does because he wishes to ask the Roman congregation for its solidarity, support and intercession. (64) “Paul wants to represent the whole Gentile world in Jerusalem, including the West.” (74) “Paul needs the congregation jus as much as they need him.” (62) (p. 165-166)
Jervell (and others) idea could be considered reasonable if one could take Acts as historically accurate (it isn’t even close) or could take the Epistle to Romans at face value (one can’t.) The actual situation appears to be that the second meeting in Jerusalem took place in 45/46; the upset between Paul, Cephas/Peter and Barnabas in Antioch took place just after; that James and Simon (Peter) were soon after executed by Tiberius Augustus in 47/48, the Galatian congregation was subjected to a takeover by Zealot Christians not long after; Paul was then arrested and put in prison in Ephesus (possibly accused of being associated with the recently executed James and Simon, sons of Judas the Galilean, all rebels), and it is patently absurd to think that Paul was just going along, making a collection to take to Jerusalem, and actually planning to go there!

In any event, Watson attempts to incorporate these different views noted above into his own argument: that Romans presupposes a particular social situation within the Roman church and that the contents of the theological discussions of Romans 1-11 are determined by the letter’s intended function within that social situation

NB: Klein and Bornkamm reiterate Luther’s conviction that in Romans, Paul sets out the essence of his gospel in a universally normative manner. That is, that “faith” and “works” are to be defined as logical opposites rather than as incommensurables, and together they represent the two great anthropological possibilities that permeate human life in its entirety. (See Watson p. 166-7)

The problem with connecting the composition of Romans to any expulsion of Jews from Rome is twofold: 1) There were 2 expulsions in the first century 0 one in 19 AD (at the time of the execution of Judas the Galilean and the tumult this caused); and the 2nd in 49. Acts is written to cover up the truth about early Christianity, not to document it and displaces this event saying that was the reason Paul met Prisca and Aquila. However, Prisca and Aquila are mentioned in 1Cor 16:19 which was certainly written before the 2nd meeting in Jerusalem because Barnabas is also mentioned in the same letter, and he and Paul split up just after the 2nd meeting when there was the confrontation with Cephas in Antioch.

It is far more likely, considering the data point that Paul may have been sent from prison in Ephesus, and this not very long after the arrests and executions of James and Simon, that the tumult in 49/50 in Rome was caused by both the executions of the latter two, as well as the presence/influence of Paul himself.

Suetonius writes in his “Life of Claudius” about an expulsion of Jews from Rome during the reign of that emperor. He gives no date but says, basically, they were expelled because of disturbances they created with “Chrestus” as instigator. Watson writes that “it is probabl that “Chrestus” is to be identified with “Christus”; the substitution occurred because “Chrestus” was a popular personal name. According to Tertullian, opponents of Christianity habitually mispronounced “Christianus” as “Chrestianus”.” (Apol. 3.5)

“If Suetonius’s “Chrestus” is Christ then the disorders he mentions are likely to have occurred within the Jewish Christian community … the compressed phrase “impulsore Chresto” is not incompatible with an awareness of the Judean origin of the disturbances in the Roman Jewish communities. In that case, Suetonius will have shared the view of his older contemporary Tacitus, who knows that the originator (auctor) of the name “Christian” was Christus, executed by Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. … “the deadly superstition broke out again, not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but even in Rome.” (Ann. 15.44) If for Tacitus “Christus” is the originator of an evil that began in Judea but spread to Rome, then the same may be true of Suetonius’s “Chrestus,” the impulsore of disturbances in the Roman Jewish Community even after his death in Judea.” … By the time of the fire in 64 AD, the name “Christiani” identifies a specific group of people, hated for their shameful practices and for their hatred of humanity. (Tacitus, Ann 15.44 (p. 168-9)
“Shameful practices and hatred of humanity.” That just happens to be exactly how Paul saw Judaism. Therefore, we have to conclude that Paul’s letter to the Romans was actually written to a different group: Gentile converts to something other than the gospel preached by the Zealot Christians of Jerusalem and believed by many practicing Jews throughout the Empire, i.e. that Judas the Galilean was going to come back from heaven with 12 legions of angels and stomp the Romans into the dust, after which the Jews would rule the world. That Paul was NOT writing to Jewish Christians is far more likely considering his experiences with the Jewish Christians in Asia.

Now, the Book of Acts is clearly involved in covering up the facts while still trying to pepper the story with historical seeds for the sake of verisimilitude. Acts 18:2 says that Paul, on his arrival in Corinth, “found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.“ The Lukan author (probably Polycarp) doesn’t say why Claudius issued such an edict and the whole book is one cockamamie story after another about Paul preaching in synagogues to Jews. Knowing Paul’s own self-declared mission, from the beginning, to the Gentiles, plus his recent experiences with the James Gang Reps in Galatia, we can discard this nonsense as pure apologetic fiction.

Watson asks: “When at Ephesus, Paul encounters people who are already Christians, they are clearly identified as disciples. (Acts 19:1). Yet neither does Luke claim that Aquila and Priscilla were converted by Paul; it is simply taken for granted that they are Christians (Acts 18:18-26). Is there a connection between Luke’s failure either to give a reason for the expulsion or to mention that Aquila and Priscilla were already Christians when they met Paul? Is it the arrival of Christianity in Rome that is at both points concealed? (cf. 28:15) Luke’s strangely emphatic reference to “all the Jews” would be compatible with such a hypothesis: Luke knows that Christians were implicated in the events that led to the expulsion from Rome but does not wish to acknowledge this.” (Watson p. 170)
Watson is certainly dancing around the crux of the matter there. The reference to Acts 28:15 is interesting too. It is part of the “we” text in Acts, claimed to be a travel diary kept by a companion of Paul (allegedly Luke, but that’s unlikely). The story at this point is about Paul being transferred to Rome from Jerusalem where he had almost been killed by the Jews. The text says, starting at 11 and going right through to the end of Acts:

28:11 Three months later we set sail on a ship that had wintered at the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there for three days; then we weighed anchor and came to Rhegium. After one day there a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found believers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. The believers from there, when they heard of us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. When we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

Three days later he called together the local leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, "Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, yet I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. When they had examined me, the Romans wanted to release me, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to the emperor--even though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason therefore I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is for the sake of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain."

They replied, "We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you. But we would like to hear from you what you think, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against." After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets. Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe. So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: "The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, 'Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn--and I would heal them.' Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen."

He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (v 31, end of Acts)
I’m not going to completely discount this tale because, as noted, there are seeds of historical data peppered through the text. This may very well describe some of the events and conditions Paul met when he arrived in Rome, and the situation described as occurring in Jerusalem most likely occurred in Ephesus. It strongly suggests that it was the Jews who had Paul arrested and thrown in prison there, most likely accusing him of being associated with Zealot rebels. And, well, he was – sort of.

Notice in particular this response from his Jewish interlocutors in the scene above: "We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you. But we would like to hear from you what you think, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against."

Well, butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths! Acts is trying to make it look like the Jews in Rome were not messianists and that there were just Christians (all one happy family) vs Jews and unsaved Gentiles. And Paul was living in his own house with just a guard? And what happened to him? The Lukan author wants us to believe that he would be martyred, but I think we’ll discover that this is not what happened. The whole story, even if using something historical, is a complete farce.

Getting back to the expulsion of Jews from Rome, Dio Cassius reports that Claudius banned the Jews from assembly at the beginning of his reign in 41 AC. This was most likely due to a build-up of tensions related to the plan of Caligula, his predecessor, to erect his own statue in the Jewish temple at Jerusalem.

All of these clues indicate the widespread nature of the Zealot Messianic movement and its simmering, volatile undercurrent throughout the Empire. Of three other decrees of Claudius relating to Jews made in the first year of his reign, two are addressed to the citizens of Alexandria where tensions had escalated to civil war. (Josephus, Ant. 19.280-85) and one to “the rest of the world” (Ant 19.287-91). Two of these edicts are explicitly critical of the Jews, and one of them bans the presence in Alexandria of militants from Egypt and Syria (Syria being the province in which Judea was located at the time.)

According to Philo, writing specifically about the Roman Jewish community, he said that Augustus was well aware of the sizeable Jewish population of ex-slaves on the further bank of the Tiber who met together in their houses of prayer each Sabbath and sent money for sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem (Philo, Leg. 155-56) Such individuals would be highly attracted to a messianic form of Judaism that promised them a chance to destroy their oppressors and rule over them.

Thus it seems obvious that there was a Roman Jewish Messianic community at least since the time of the execution of Judas the Galilean, probably about 19 AD as I argue elsewhere. It also seems evident that this community was under constant tension and easily stirred up to unrest.

Hengel suggests that the disorders in Roman Jewish communities could be due to “Hellenists” preaching a law-free gospel. (Acts and the Early History of Christianity, p. 107-8) Watson thinks that the preaching of Jesus as the Messiah was controversial enough. Hengel may be right, at least when Paul arrived in Rome, probably in 49/50 AD. Watson is surely wrong. There was nothing controversial to Jews about a Messiah; it was the going thing at the time, many of them popping up all over the place according to Josephus; the messiah of the James Gang being pretty persistent, however, having been transformed from an earthly war leader to a heavenly one after his execution. The entire Jewish War came about because of the widespread belief in the coming of the messiah to help wipe out the Romans! As I have said before and repeat: Judas the Galilean was the Jewish messiah, he was executed in 19 AD, which caused an uproar in Rome and elsewhere in the Jewish Disapora; his sons, James and Simon were the pillars of the Jerusalem church of “Christians”, i.e. Messianists; they turned against Paul when they learned he was preaching a law-free gospel and a universal savior for all mankind, not just the Jews, and not one who was going to destroy Rome; James and Simon were executed by Tiberius Alexander in 47/48 AD.

Regarding the Epistle to the Romans itself, Watson wants to orient the composition of the Community by his reading of Romans 14:1- 15:13. Others have noted that this section is a generalized re-writing of 1Cor 8-10. Compare below:
Rom 14:1 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord.
Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.
If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name"; and again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; and again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; and again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1Co 8:1 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "no idol in the world really exists," and that "there is no God but one." Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth--as in fact there are many gods and many lords-- yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge.

Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. "Food will not bring us close to God." We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

1Co 10:12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? "All things are lawful," but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, for "the earth and its fullness are the Lord's." If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience-- I mean the other's conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.
If you were paying attention as you read, you would have noticed that 1Cor chap 10 excerpt pretty much directly contradicts the Chap 8 excerpt! All things considered, the passage from chap 10 about eating appears to be a later non-Pauline interpolation in 1Cor! In the first case you can eat food offered to idols since idols aren't real and it doesn't matter; in the second, you cannot because it is tied up with demons!




Nevertheless, it is pretty easy to see that Romans 14:1- 15:13 is a complete rip-off of the Corinthians text, yet this is the text that Watson chooses to orient his “social situation” of the community to whom the Epistle of Romans was sent. Combining the ideas of Wiefel, who thought that the Jewish Christians had formerly been the majority, but were expelled in 49, so now Gentile Christians are the majority, but Jewish Christians are drifting back to town bit by bit; and Jervell’s idea that Paul is planning on going to Jerusalem and wants to engender the support of the Roman combined congregation AND write his defense for Jerusalem, Watson believes that this letter was written to a congregation that was mixed and was having a hard time getting along, so Paul had to write to them to sort it all out.

Watson’s estimate of the situation is clearly wrong. Keep in mind Paul’s likely situation – he’s been pretty much at war with Jewish Christianity for the whole of his career. In the previous few years before the writing of Romans, he has been in open warfare with the James Gang beginning with the incident with Cephas/Peter at Antioch. Then, there was the executions of James and Simon/Peter/Cephas followed by the Galatians incident. Paul was arrested and put in prison and he is probably writing Romans from prison and, in fact, makes a few small remarks that support that even if any blatant information regarding same has been redacted so as to make the letter appear more in line with the story of Acts. At this point, Paul has written several other letters strongly condemning Jewish Christians either overtly or covertly. Now he learns that he may be transferred to Rom. Thus, indeed, he needs friends at Rome and support there and that is most obviously the reason for the writing of the epistle. And with that more rational estimate of the situation, reading Romans takes on a whole new significance. We have to keep in mind redaction, cover-up, and what was probably really happening. It is vanishingly unlikely that Paul would be appealing to Zealot/Messianic Jews.

Watson writes: “Romans 14 is incompatible with the claim that the letter was addressed exclusively and straightforwardly to the Gentils.” (p. 178).

True. That means that Romans 14 – 15:13 was not part of the original letter. It must be set aside.

Watson writes: “Paul’s denial of a positive soteriological role to the Law is an imperative. He is calling on the Roman Gentile Church to finalize their break with Judaism.”

Denial of a positive role of the law is characteristic of only chapters 1:18 -4-24 of Romans and this section is decidedly addressed to Jewish leaders and not Gentile Christians, therefore, it, too, must be set aside as a separate text.

Watson relies on the “greetings list” of chapter 16 of Romans to give him clues as to who was there and what the social situation was. He combines this information with the stories of Acts to find his bearings. A very shaky foundation to seriously understate the matter!

In chapter 16, Paul allegedly sends greetings to Prisca and Aquila. “16:3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, 16:4 and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 16:5 Greet also the church in their house.”

As noted, Aquila and Priscilla were mentioned in 1Cor 16:19 as having a house church in Ephesus and recall that the 1Cor correspondence was written before the 2nd Jerusalem meeting, in complete contradiction to the fiction in Acts. (This alone exposes Acts for the complete fraud it is.) Here he says they “risked their lives” for him. In Acts, Prisca and Aquila are said to be Jews, but Paul never says they are Jews and, in fact, we do not know that they are; they are more likely Gentiles. But Watson relies on them being Jews and being IN ROME because this passage with a load of greetings is at the end of that epistle.

Paul’s next greeting is to “beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ.” Why would Epaenetus now be in Rome and why would Paul be writing as though he were still “in Asia”?

Then to “Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”

This bit is interesting. The implication is that Paul was formerly in prison, but is now no longer in prison, and here mentions the fact that some of his relatives had actually been put in prison with him. If, in fact, he had been in prison in Ephesus, then he is sending greetings to them from Rome! Further, that these relatives were Christians before he was is furiously interesting! He says that these two were “prominent among the apostles.” As far as we know, Paul considered a person to be an apostle if they had received a vision of Christ. If Paul had relatives who were Christians before him, and he was converted in 29 AD as the evidence shows, then what kind of Christians were his relatives? And if Paul was persecuting “the church”, as he allegedly admits in 1Cor 15:9, what are we to make of this? Let’s look at the passage:

1Co 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you--unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them--though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
There are several problems with the above text and many NT experts are convinced that at least part of it is a later addition. I’ve put two things in italics: 1) That Paul “handed on what I received.” This is written as though he is talking about a tradition that some person taught him and he then just handed it on. He then segues to the visions of the resurrected Jesus, starting with Peter/Cephas, then “the twelve” (no indication that there should only be eleven if Judas was the betrayer), then to 500 people all at once, then to James, then to “all the apostles.” Those are some pretty odd categories and a strange order of appearances, and overall, it does, indeed, smack of textual prestidigitation. Does that mean that the claim that Paul persecuted the early church was also added by a much later editor? I think it is very possible.

The second Pauline text that makes the claim that Paul persecuted the church is Galatians 1:13 and 1:23 reads as follows:

Gal 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 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.

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. 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. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 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. Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother. In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me. Gal 2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 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.
Paul is pretty adamant here that the gospel he preaches did NOT come from any human teaching. And notice, if you were to remove from the text the phrases I have put in italics, it would actually read much smoother.

Richard Pervo has argued strongly (and definitively, in my opinion) that the author of Acts used Josephus “Antiquities” and possibly “Wars” as a source for ideas to write his fairy tale of early Christianity. In Josephus, there does happen to be a character named Saul and there are strong verbal echoes with those passages and Acts. This Simon ben Saul was a “man of reputation among the Jews”, who, for some reason or another, was at war with his own people (Jews). (Wars 2.18.4 (469–76)) Paul is referred to as “Saul” only in Acts; Paul himself never indicates or suggests that his real name was Saul.

If Paul’s statement that he “persecuted the church” is authentically Pauline (which I doubt since I think it was made up by the Lukan author as an attempt to paper over the Galatians dispute and other things Paul said against the Jerusalem Christians), then we have to wonder, based on the above bit of text where Paul says his relatives were Christians before he was, what the heck was going on?

Back to Romans 16: skipping a few greetings that offer no clues, we come to “Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 16:11 Greet my relative Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus.”

Aristobulus? There was a Greek historian of that name associated with Alexander the Great and a few others of historical interest. But we won’t get sidetracked on that. At the time of Paul, the name was associated with the Jewish royal family. At the time of Paul, there was an Aristobulus who was the 3rd son of Herod of Chalcis (Wars 2.221) and was the third husband of Salome, daughter of Herodias. Apparently, the emperor Claudius thought well of him (Ant. 20.13). In 54 AD, Nero gave him the kingdom of lesser Armenia (Wars 2.252, Ant. 20.158, Tacitus Ann. 13.7). So, is Paul indicating that he was friends with a lesser member of the Judean royal family?

What about Herodion? Considering naming customs of the time, the name seems to imply that he was a freedman of the Herods, that is, a member of the household of Aristobulus, the grandson of Herod the Great. This is followed by the mention of “Narcissus”. The emperor Claudius had a freedman named Narcissus who apparently murdered a guy named Silanus (former governor of Syria) in 42 AD. (Ann. 11.29.1) If it weren’t all so coincidental finding this set of names grouped together, one could just pass this by with no serious interest. But it is the grouping that grabs attention. It appears that Paul may have had some very helpful Christian convert family and friends and that would explain why he may have been a Roman citizen and why he was sent to Rome from Ephesus and there, released from prison.

All taken together, the list of names of people to whom Paul sends greetings strongly suggests that chapter 16 of the Epistle of Romans is the ending of a different letter: one sent FROM Rome to a church or churches in Asia. Therefore, chapter 16:1-17, must be excluded from Romans.

Going back to the beginning of the epistle, a Gentile readership is suggested by the greeting:

1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.
As noted previously, Mark’s gospel in 12:35-37a has Jesus rejecting the appellation “Son of David” as the Christ/Messiah where he cites psalm 110:1. That is, Jesus indicates that the Christ cannot be the son of David. This suggests to me that the claim made in Romans, a text that is earlier than Mark, (and it is clear that Mark was using Paul), did NOT contain this statement, and it was added by a later editor.

1:9 …without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God's will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you-- or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish --hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
So far, so good. But then Paul supposedly writes something absolutely impossible considering the basic outline of his experiences up to this point in time: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Paul clearly did not write that. It was inserted by an editor, the same one who wrote chapters 9 through 11 after the destruction of Jerusalem. The phrase will be repeated two more times at 2:9-10.

But there is another problem: Paul starts out by saying that he wants to “share some spiritual gift” and then to be “mutually encouraged”. That comes across as though he is writing to someone or a group he considers “equal”, so to say, not someone he has to evangelize as is suggested by “reap some harvest” and then is stated in the last sentence above. Obviously, if the fame of this group is proclaimed throughout the world, and Paul wishes to be “mutually encouraged”, I don’t think he’s going to preach to these folks. Oh, I don’t doubt that Paul wrote something about his reasons for coming to Rome, but I suspect that it was very different from what we see now. In relation to the above “I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you” there is are a couple of connected passages toward the end of the letter as we have it that must be editorial activity designed to bring the epistle into conformity with Acts. It’s difficult sometimes to know how much to reject and I tend to be conservative. I have reconstructed the original letter of Romans as including part of chap 1, chaps 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, and then, the second half of 15 – with rejected insertions - as the general closing to that initial epistle. Below you will see how the bit of text from the beginning, “I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you”, ties into the editorial additions later, which, considering the actual historical situation, we know are impossible. What I believe has been added is in italics. Try reading the text with and then without the text to be excluded. If I am right, then the Gentile congregation in Rome is a product of Paul’s own work via his own converts. The “lacuna” indicates where I think words have been deliberately omitted, words that would tell us something about the debacle at Galatia, Paul’s imprisonment, and perhaps more.

15:14 I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. 15:15 Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 15:17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. 15:20 Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else's foundation, 15:21 but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand." 15:22 [LACUNA] This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you. [ 15:23 15:30 ] I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, 15:31 that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 15:32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you 15:24 when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. 15:33 The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.
The following - 15:23 - 15:30 - must be rejected entirely since it is so completely contradictory to what we know was going on with Paul as we can read in his other letters written around this time. The passages about the “collection” that were added to 2Corinthians have already been noted: they were added to letters that were written before the 2nd Jerusalem meeting even took place. It looks like the same redactor who worked on those letters also worked on Romans, again, in an effort to bring it into conformity with Acts and to heck with what kind of confusion it might cause:

Rom 15:23 But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you 15:24 when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. 15:25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; 15:26 for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 15:27 They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. 15:28 So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; 15:29 and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
Obviously, the redactor desperately needed to get Paul to Jerusalem so as to confirm the bogus “everything is beautiful and we are all happy campers” scenario dreamed up by the Lukan author.

In v 27 above, Paul allegedly writes something that the Paul we know by now would never write: he suggests that the Achaians and Macedonians seek, by material means, to repay a spiritual debt to the Jews. This idea of Gentile indebtedness to the Jerusalem Church, the James Gang, etc, is utterly foreign to Paul’s thinking, though it is right in line with Romans chaps 9-11. Notice also a dead giveaway: Paul allegedly states that he began his preaching career in Jerusalem; we know from Paul’s own words that this is not true. Thus, in violent contradiction to what Paul writes in Galatians 1-2, Romans 15 presents a thoroughly Jerusalem/Acts oriented account of his own ministry!

No, in Romans, Paul is not trying to reconcile Gentile Christians with Jewish Christians nor rehearsing what he is going to say on his alleged trip to Jerusalem that never happened; he is writing to a group of Gentile Christians, “offspring” of his own converts, letting them know the trials he has suffered, that he is in prison, but will be sent to Rome and hopefully released there if he has friends and assistance. All of that was removed from the text, other material – some of it Pauline for sure – was combined with that original letter, and some carefully contrived editorial additions were placed throughout the text to make link-ups. But the whole fraud doesn’t really work if one reads attentively as we are going to do with the help of Watson; even though he got the social situation all wrong, his exegetical acumen is still amazing and of great use.
 
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genero81

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
But the whole fraud doesn’t really work if one reads attentively as we are going to do with the help of Watson; even though he got the social situation all wrong, his exegetical acumen is still amazing and of great use.
Fascinating stuff! So you want to go back in time and smack the redactors upside the head? lol Or at least give them a piece of your mind!

It's a tangled web for sure.
 

Tuatha de Danaan

Jedi Master
Good grief Laura,
Your study must be like the control centre at Cape Canaveral. Various computers all lined up or else books laid out on every available worktop comparing texts from assorted tomes. Your concentration is phenomenal .
I imagine signs everywhere saying DO NOT DISTURB and Ark trying to coax you away to eat.,

You are awesome.!!!!
 

Voyageur

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Try reading the text with and then without the text to be excluded. If I am right, then the Gentile congregation in Rome is a product of Paul’s own work via his own converts. The “lacuna” indicates where I think words have been deliberately omitted, words that would tell us something about the debacle at Galatia, Paul’s imprisonment, and perhaps more.
Very impressive, a really interesting way to look at all this - it was uncanny after you pointed it out.

...he is writing to a group of Gentile Christians, “offspring” of his own converts, letting them know the trials he has suffered, that he is in prison, but will be sent to Rome and hopefully released there if he has friends and assistance.
He seems to have had these friends - who they all were I don't know; and of course detractors.

Remarkable work, can't wait to read more.
 

goyacobol

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Obviously, the redactor desperately needed to get Paul to Jerusalem so as to confirm the bogus “everything is beautiful and we are all happy campers” scenario dreamed up by the Lukan author.
.....
No, in Romans, Paul is not trying to reconcile Gentile Christians with Jewish Christians nor rehearsing what he is going to say on his alleged trip to Jerusalem that never happened; he is writing to a group of Gentile Christians, “offspring” of his own converts, letting them know the trials he has suffered, that he is in prison, but will be sent to Rome and hopefully released there if he has friends and assistance. All of that was removed from the text, other material – some of it Pauline for sure – was combined with that original letter, and some carefully contrived editorial additions were placed throughout the text to make link-ups. But the whole fraud doesn’t really work if one reads attentively as we are going to do with the help of Watson; even though he got the social situation all wrong, his exegetical acumen is still amazing and of great use.
@Laura ,

Well, my head is spinning and I don't know how you do it but if there is anyone who can make sense of it I think it is you. There is good reason to continue to try and separate the "wheat from the chaff" concerning Paul I think.

Session 9 April 2011:
Q: (L) Did the people who put together the Old Testament use the Greek canon of Homer and Hesiod as a template?

A: You finally figured that out?

Q: (L) Are you saying what took us so long?

A: Yes!

Q: (L) Were the Therapeutae involved in the composition of the Old Testament?

A: Partly.

(L) Did Paul of Tarsus put the new testament together?

A: Nope.


Q: (Burma Jones) Did Paul of Tarsus actually exist?

A: Yes.

Q: (L) Are parts of the new testament composed of Paul’s actual writings?

A: Yes.

(L) How close are they to what he originally wrote?

A: 70 percent.


Q: (L) Did Paul of Tarsus belong to any philosophical school or mystical group?

A: Yes.

Q: (L) Was it one of the mystery religions?

A: Similar to them but older. There are traces here and there. You have been doing well reconstructing this. You could say that this communication is part of same.

Q: (L) Is this what Gurdjieff referred to as esoteric Christianity?

A: Yes.

Q: (L) What did the 7th grade of Mithraism originally confer?

A: Mithraism was the reversal of the STO version.

Q: (L) What does that mean it conferred?

A: Mastery of forces and being mastered.

Q: (L) Why is Mithras shown wearing a Phrygian cap?

A: To confuse the observers. Keep in mind that the issues are more complex than your questions all
One day all this Work may benefit millions of people I think.

Session 24 February 1996:

Q: (L) So, you came through because we asked. Is this material being given to others, or is it designed to or intended to be shared with others?

A: If they ask in the necessary way. Otherwise, the sharing of the messages we give to you will teach millions of others.

Q: (L) What is the 'necessary way?'

A: How "long did it take you?"

Q: (L) Well, it took all our lives and a LOT of hard work.

A: Okay, now what did we mean when we referred to "millions of others?"

Q: (L) Are you saying that this information will be transmitted in some way to millions of others?

A: In what way?

Q: (L) Well, the only thing I can think of is through books.

A: Bingo!!


Q: (W) That's a lot of work.

A: The work has been ongoing, W!

Q: (W) Well, it all has to be typed, and edited, and correlated and put in a cohesive form, and it will be a couple of years....

A: All will be taken care of, and no, W!.
Anyone who doesn't realize you are doing a lot of Work is very blind.
 

mamibio74

Padawan Learner
Laura I admire your investigative work. I'm looking forward to the rest, it's exciting. I copied everything in order to reflect calmly on this whole avalanche of information. A big thank you to you.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Okay, here's the third installment which will have to be in 3 posts because of its length:

After looking at the beginning and the ending of Romans, let’s continue with what follows the apparently doctored introduction.

Rom 1:18-32 has strong verbal and ideological echoes with Sibylline Oracles 3:97-829. (See Collins: Seers, Sibyls and Sages in Hellenistic Roman Judaism, p. 18) It is thought that these oracles were written in imitation of the Roman Sibylline Oracles and that they date to before the historian Alexander Polyhistor; they apparently are related to, and represent, a revival of Jewish Nationalism following the Maccabean Revolt.

The Oracle in question reads, in part:

They [the Jews] are mindful of holy wedlock. Nor do they practice unholy intercourse with boys, as do the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Romans, spacious Greece and many other nations, Persians and Galatians and all Asia, transgressing the holy law of immortal God, which they transgressed. Therefore the Eternal will inflict on all people disaster and famine and woes and groans and war and pestilence and lamentable ills, because they would not honor in holiness the eternal Father of all people but honored idols made with hands, revering them.
So, basically, it is an anti-Gentile polemic that was very likely well-enough known at the time to be recognizable, but probably only to Jews, and it is developed and expanded in Romans 1:18-32:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God's decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die--yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.
This is a thoroughly Jewish critique of Gentile life. We are expected to believe that just after Paul greets the Roman Gentile Christians whose “faith is proclaimed throughout the world”, the same group that he says he is longing to see so they can be “mutually encouraged by each other,” he is now going to insult by repeating a slander against Gentiles common to Jews of the time?! What is going on?

The solution appears in 2:1: “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”

Something may be missing, but it appears that Paul is going after an unknown person who appears to endorse the previous anti-Gentile passage above.

Romans 2 is addressed from the outset to a Jewish interlocutor. (Watson pp 198-199) In vv 1-6, Paul warns his addressee not to think that he will escape God’s judgment since he does precisely the things he condemns in others. There are strong thematic links between vv 1-5 and 17-25 written in 2nd person singular, a direct attack on the leaders of Judaism:

Rom 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.
2:2 You say, "We know that God's judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth."
2:3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?
2:4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
2:5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
Rom 2:17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God
2:18 and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, 2:19 and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 2:20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, 2:21 you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?
2:22 You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples?
2:23 You that boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
2:24 For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."
Rom 2:25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.

There is thematic unity between 2:6-15 and 25-29, a defense of Gentiles:

Rom 2:6 For he will repay according to each one's deeds: 2:7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 2:8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
2:9 There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew and also the Greek,
2:10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew and also the Greek.
2:11 For God shows no partiality.
2:12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God's sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
2:14 When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves.
2:15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them
Rom 2:26 So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
2:27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law.
2:28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical.
2:29 Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart--it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.

Rom 2:6 alludes to LXX Psalm 61:13: “Once God spoke: these two things I heard: that might is God’s and to you, O Lord, belongs mercy, because you will repay to each according to his works.”

Romans 2, as a whole, may plausibly be read as a critique of Jewish covenantal theology based on the law and circumcision. Thus it totally rejects the traditional Jewish polemic against Gentiles reproduced in 1:18-32. With the sharpest of contrasts, the “sacred race” ideology is totally debunked by the realities of actual conduct as seen by Paul.

Verses 1-11 appear to deal with the Jew who falsely relies on his covenant status. Verses 12-24 deal with the two components of covenant status: law and circumcision. Paul is saying that the Jews do the same things they condemn others for, but they rely on their status as Jews to gain immunity from judgment (v. 4). Paul insists, however, the God is impartial (vv. 6-11)

This chapter appears to be an attack mainly on Jewish leaders and not the Jewish community as a whole. The Jew addressed here is “a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children” (vv 19-20, echoes of which are found in the Gospel of Mark vis a vis Scribes and Pharisees) Paul utilizes a quote from Isaiah 52:5 (LXX): “For the name of God because of you is blasphemed among the Gentiles.” The 2nd person pronoun indicates that this is a representative figure, a group, whose conduct is collectively responsible for Gentile hostility to Jews and God.

In a curious reversal, in Romans 2 it is Paul who insists on salvation by works and his Jewish interlocutor/addressee who insists on salvation by grace (by virtue of being a Jew) alone! It is the Jewish standpoint that is being attacked here which only appears to espouse a salvation by works by keeping the law (vv 26-27); that is, Paul is throwing the conceit of the Jews back in their faces for the sake of developing his argument. When Paul argues for a judgment according to one’s works, he deploys the argument to remove the soteriological difference between Jew and Gentile.

There is a complete lack of any reference to Christ’s saving role in Romans 2, though he is presented as God’s judge. There is also a vague reference to divinely enabled human agency in v. 15. “They [Gentiles] show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness…”

The fact is, opposed to those who claim that Paul was only and ever about “salvation by grace” and that was the whole thing, he actually made a number of strong statements about salvation by works. “The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption.” (Gal 6:8) And “those who do such things [works of the flesh] will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:21) And Christians must “Work your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12). In short, even with grace, salvation or condemnation will be decided at a judgment.

It is important to understand that this is not “salvation by works” as commonly understood, i.e. salvation attained by unaided human effort. Nor is it salvation by grace in a passive sense. Watson compares Paul’s argument to Jubilees’ account of angel marriages (from Gen 6:1-4), expanded under the influence of Enochic tradition into an account of a final universal judgment. Note that the Enochian ideas were derived from a heavy dose of Zoroastrianism modified by Babylonian themes. Jubilees 5:13-18 says:

And the judgment of all is ordained and written on the heavenly tablets in righteousness – all who depart from the path that is ordained for them to walk in; and if they walk not therein, judgment is written for every creature and for every kind. And there is no exception in heaven or on earth, or in light or in darkness, or in Sheol or in the depth, of in the place of darkness; and all their judgments are ordained and written and engraved. In regard to all he will judge, the great according to his greatness, and the small according to his smallness, and each according to his way. And he is not one who will regard the person, nor accept anything at his hands, for he is a righteous judge.

And of the children of Israel it has been written and ordained: if they turn to him in righteousness, he will forgive all their transgressions and pardon all their sins. It is written and ordained that he will show mercy to all who turn from their guilt once each year. (cited by Watson, p. 206)
In short, Jubilees proposes that Jews have a “get out of jail free” card as long as they repent of their sins once a year on the Day of Atonement! That is to say, theoretically, a Jew would be judged only minimally, if at all, while everyone else will be judged according to the full weight of their lifetime of transgressions.

Paul radically reinterprets this, removing the soteriological advantage from the Jews, declaring God’s judgment to be universally impartial. “There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.” (2:9-11)

In verses 12-13, Paul states that Jews who possess the law may be condemned and Gentiles who observe the law “will be justified.” The contrast is between hearers who do not do, and doers who have not heard. “They show the work of the law written on their hearts … on the day when God judges the secrets of humans according to my gospel, through Jesus Christ.” (vv 15-16)

In verses 25-29, Paul denies that circumcision is a guarantee of salvation. In verses 28-29 he argues that being a Jew is a matter of an inward disposition of the heart, not external rites. It is therefore possible for Gentiles and Jews to do good and be saved. (vv 10, 14-15, 26-29)

What we are seeing here is Paul the Jew, arguing against Jews, on strictly Jewish terrain. Watson argues that the purpose of Romans 2 is to persuade Roman Jewish Christians/Zealots to distance themselves from the Jewish community entirely and to recognize the reality of genuine obedience to the law of God in the heart, not the ritual law, and that this confirms the salvation of Gentiles alongside Jews.

Some of the polemic in the Gospel of Mark appears to be derived from these arguments, so surely Mark had access to this text. The question is, was it originally part of the letter Paul wrote to the Roman Gentile Christians from prison in Ephesus?

Against the background of events in Jerusalem under Tiberius Alexander, the following “invasion of Galatia” by Jewish Zealot Christians spying on and disrupting Paul’s communities, the likely fact that Paul was arrested and in prison in Ephesus under suspicion of being a Zealot himself, and the probable plan to transfer him to Rome, it would have been suicidal for Paul to write such things to Roman Jewish Christians in advance!

The interpretative problems would be easily solved by supposing that Paul wrote a different letter to the Jewish Christian community in Rome, possibly even after he had arrived in Rome and was safely ensconced among his Gentile community. There are merits to this idea. The Jewish Christian Zealots were likely the majority of Christians in Rome and it is likely that it was they who disrupted the entire mass of Jews there, leading to expulsion by Claudius. Perhaps it was such a letter from Paul that triggered the outrage?

Watson points out that all of Paul’s references to “works” and “law written on the heart” may be alluding to Jeremiah 31:33: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

As noted, Christ is referred to only once in this chapter, and then only as the divinely appointed judge. It has also been noted that “doers of the law” appears to contradict what we will read in 3:20a. However, as already noted, it is important to understand that this is not “salvation by works” as commonly understood, i.e. salvation attained by unaided human effort. Nor is grace, received by faith passive. For Paul, “faith” is a public renunciation of one way of life and the adoption of another, with Christ as both template and intercessor. To say that “faith” earns salvation would be wrong; faith is the reaching up to Christ who has extended himself downward to meet the Christian. This is not “salvation by works”, but rather God’s prior grace working in and through the human agent who reorients his or her life along the Christian model. In Romans 2, the Law is God’s law on the heart and obedience to that. This contrasts with Paul’s usual use of the term “law” to mean the Torah, which he declares is unable to save a person no matter how hard they try to fulfill its demands. Living in the Jewish community “under the law” means, for Paul, living under the “wrath of the law”. And that is the topic of Chapter 3, which is clearly part of the same missive to Jews.

Having started with citing a common slander of the Gentiles propagated by Jews, then moving to accuse the Jews of being just as bad as Gentiles and on an equal footing before God, based on non-scriptural foundations, Paul then moves on, in chapter 3, to more refined arguments against Judaism and for Universalism. Watson writes:

Romans 3 is based on the single antithesis between “Law” and “faith.” In vv 1-20 Paul argues that being a law-observant Jew is not the indispensable presupposition for salvation. … The law rightly understood places the Jew in the same position of guilt before God as the gentile. In vv 21-31, it is argued that the faith associated with Christ is God’s means of salvation and that one of the chief characteristics of this faith is that Jews and Gentiles are treated in exactly the same way.” (p. 218)
In Romans 3:1-8, Paul describes “the word of God” as being what is conveyed in scripture. Verse 4 references Psalm 15 (LXX):

I believed, therefore I spoke; I was greatly humbled. I said in my astonishment, “Every human is a liar!”
The affirmation “I believed, therefore I spoke” is cited in 2Cor 4:13 where Paul claims to embody in his ministry “the same spirit of faith” as is expressed in the psalm text, which continues as follows:

What shall I return to the Lord for all that he returned to me? A cup of deliverance I will take and the name of the Lord I will call upon. Precious before the Lord is the death of his devout ones. Ah Lord, I am a slave of yours; I am a slave of yours and son of your serving girl. You broke through my bonds. To you I will sacrifice a sacrifice of praise. My vows to the Lord I will pay before all his people, in courts of the Lord’s house, in your midst, oh Jerusalem.
In this Psalm, Paul found not only the disclosure of universal human depravity: “everyone is a liar”, he also found Divine Grace. For Paul, it must have been shattering to realize that universal falsehood is a scriptural doctrine, especially because the Jews are convinced that they only have to confess once a year to keep their salvation account balance topped up.

In scripture, God speaks an indictment of the whole human race. The indictment follows in vv 9-20, a catena of scriptural quotes/allusions:

Rom 3:9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 3:10 as it is written: "There is no one who is righteous, not even one; 3:11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. 3:12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one." 3:13 "Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of vipers is under their lips." 3:14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 3:15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 3:16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 3:17 and the way of peace they have not known." 3:18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
This indictment is based on Psalm 13:1-3 (LXX) where Paul selectively modifies the text:

The fool said in his heart, “There is no God.” They caused corruption and were abominable in their practices; there is no one practicing kindness; there is not even one. The Lord peered down from the sky on the sons of men to see if there was any who had understanding or who sought after God. All turned away, as well they became useless; there is no one practicing kindness; there is not even one.”
In 3:13-18, Paul assembles his argument from Psalms and Isaiah: Ps 14:1-2; 53:1-2; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Is 59:7; Ps 36:1. (See also Gal 3:19-29). Paul makes his assertion and then backs it up with scripture about the universality of sin. This tells us that Paul knows that the persons to whom he is writing are going to recognize these allusions and would consider them to be authoritative commentators on the law. So, what is being declared here by a Jew, to other Jews, via their common terrain of scripture, is the law’s totally negative verdict on mankind and Jews in particular. That is, Paul is telling other Jews that he, himself, has figured out God’s hidden message about humanity, the true meaning of the scriptures which are the word of God. The bottom line of it all is that “there is no optimistic reading of the Torah.” As Watson points out, Rom 3:9-20 is articulating not a general doctrine of the human condition, but the true meaning of a text, i.e. the Jewish Torah! According to Paul, the text, God’s word, declares universal guilt especially of Jews!

It is definitely certain that this is addressed to Jews who know the texts, the only ones who could be expected to catch the catena of allusions. And here, in contrast to chapter 2 where “Law” is an abstraction, a thing of the heart, the “Law” is specifically that of the Jewish covenant. This is a devastating attack on Judaism as a whole, and Jewish communities in particular.

Paul’s arguments here are complicated and tricky (and this is a very short piece of text!). As noted, he began with Psalm 115 (LXX) which declares that everyone is a liar and then immediately refers to Psalm 50 (LXX). This psalm has been traditionally ascribed to David’s remorse at his sin with Bathsheba and against her husband Uriah the Hittite. It reads:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great mercy, and according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my lawless deed. Wash me thoroughly from my lawlessness and from my sin cleanse me because my lawlessness I know and my sin is ever before me. Against you alone did I sin, and what is evil before you I did, so that you may be justified in your words and be victorious when you go to law.
Having brought up those two scriptural references, that is, that everyone is a liar and God will be proved true at the judgment, Paul then asks a question based, apparently, on the following logic:

1) At the final judgment (a lawsuit as in the psalm), those who are under the Law (Jews) will be compelled to face the divine judgment based on the cited scripture “Everyone is a liar”, and 2) God is true if, and only if, the scriptures are true, to which Jews are bound by covenant.

Then, the question: If, as scripture says, our state of unrighteousness (all are liars) serves to show that God is Truthful (scriptures are true), what can we conclude from this? Does God really intend to carry out the sentence that would be imposed in a legal case (judgment day)? God would not be unjust to do that as the law, the scripture says. If God did not carry out what he said (and he is truthful), “how then could God judge the world?”

BUT, Paul seems to imply, if human sinfulness (every man is a liar) serves to vindicate God’s assertions and prove God’s truthfulness, thus giving him the “win” in court, why isn’t God satisfied with this? Why would God, who has already been justified as to his words by winning his case, still want to annihilate the sinner? Obviously, this is where, according to Paul, God’s grace comes in, his mercy. Having shown that the law does not lead to righteousness, Paul argues that righteousness is attained through faith (vv 21-30). Notice that the word “faith” occurs 8 times closely correlated with righteousness. Faith is the mode of life oriented toward Jesus Christ and his example of love and mercy and the grace of God.

Rom 3:21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 3:24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 3:25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 3:26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. 3:27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 3:28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. 3:29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 3:30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
For Paul, faith was related to social behavior and sole allegiance to Jesus Christ and the social norms this represented: universalism, love, mercy. Thus, in practice, this absolutely excluded allegiance to any other “Lord” such as the Jewish Law.

The conclusion is that we ALL stand unprotected and exposed to Divine Judgment at which time the scriptural indictment of humankind – and more specifically, the Jews – will be vindicated, judged and executed, unless we call on God’s mercy by faith (active) in Christ. The catena of vv 9-20, already quoted above, leads inexorably to this conclusion:

Rom 3:9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 3:10 as it is written: "There is no one who is righteous, not even one; 3:11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. 3:12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one." 3:13 "Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of vipers is under their lips." 3:14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 3:15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 3:16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 3:17 and the way of peace they have not known." 3:18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
The logic of it all is based on scriptural references and the conclusion of the argument is in v 20: “For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” That is, in the catena, scripture interprets scripture and definitively interprets the law of Moses as the Divine Indictment of human kind. (Watson, p. 228) Paul rejects any reading of scripture that could validate the idea that works of the law is “the way of righteousness.”

Paul does not reject “works of the law” because they represent an abstract principle of achievement that is incompatible with an equally abstract principle of submission to the lordship of the divine grace. He understands “works of the law” as the prescribed or proscribed practices … of the Jewish community, the privileged inheritors of the divine election and covenant. He rejects this form of life in order to affirm another, founded on a shared allegiance to Christ … in which Jewish and Gentile adherents are united.” (Watson p. 230)
These arguments are most certainly aimed at Jewish Christians with the aim of promoting the abandonment of Judaism and the embracing of faith in Christ and the Christian lifestyle.

This, of course, brings us back to the actual social situation. The Jewish Christians of Rome were more than likely die-hard supporters of the Zealots in Jerusalem who were always agitating for freedom from the Roman yoke. They were no doubt already in a serious state of tension after receiving news of the executions of the sons of their Messiah (Judas the Galilean) James and Simon, pillars of the Jerusalem church who were very much at odds with Paul. The fact that Paul may have been arrested by Romans on suspicion of having ties to the rebels/Zealots, and had been transferred to Rome and possibly/probably released due to intercession from friends, and who was now telling the Roman Jewish Christians that the Jerusalem version was all wrong, may very well have excited quite a tumult.

Therefore, the letter that begins at Romans 1:18 must be a second letter directed specifically to Jewish Christians in Rome, and written only after Paul’s arrival there. The passages examined thus far are arguments about the Law, based on the Law, and rendered in true Pharisaic fashion. One can imagine the leaders of the Roman Jewish Christians literally tearing their hair and clothing in rage upon reading or hearing these claims. In short, such a letter to such people in such a time would have gone off like a bomb – and probably did.

In several places, the text says “To the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16; 2:10) etc. I have removed the “first” since I believe that this is an editorial/redactional insertion. Note that 3:22b-23 says, to the contrary, “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In 3:29-30, Paul says God is the god of the Gentiles and Jews. Later, in 4:9-12, Paul argues that Abraham is the father of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. Therefore, the emphasis on Jewish Christians over Gentile Christians is very strikingly non-Pauline. But notice how cleverly the editorial insertion is made! The simple addition of a single word to a phrase.

At the end of the argument, Paul asks another question: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” Paul here reveals some of the criticisms directed against his gospel: “And why not say (as some people slander us by saying) that we say “Let us do evil that good may come”?” His answer is “By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” And, of course, he means the Law of the Heart.

Paul isn’t done with the Jews just yet. In Romans 4, he reinterprets scripture to show that his doctrine of justification by faith, apart from the law, even prior to the law, is confirmed in the story of Abraham. He denies the Jewish view that Abraham underwrites Jewish practices and beliefs; instead, Paul asserts that what the scripture is really saying is that the promise to Abraham meant that all people who have faith in God are justified via the promise to Abraham. Paul is attacking the most vital elements of the Jew’s self-understanding, and he transforms Abraham into a symbol of unity for all mankind.

Paul opens the argument with a question that is asked by Paul on behalf of any Jew or Jewish Christian: “What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?” Chapter 4 is the answer.

"Abraham was initially ungodly (v. 5) but was reckoned as righteous (vv 3, 5, 6) and had his sins forgiven (vv 7, 8) by means of God’s grace and the faith it evoked in him" (vv 3-5). (Watson, p. 262) “The transition between ungodliness and blessedness (cf. vv. 7-8) occurs through an act of forgiveness on the divine side and an act of faith on the human side.” (Watson, p. 263) “Abraham, then, is a model for the convert, the one who has passed from ungodliness to righteousness by a transforming event whose divine side is the forgiveness of all past sins and whose human side is simply faith in the God who acts this way. … He is not a model for the person committed to a lifetime of law observance.” (p. 263)
To reconstruct Abraham as a model for Jewish and Gentile unity is quite a feat for Paul, but he manages to do it with skillful use of scriptures: 4:3: “For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’”

Paul’s intention here is to completely reconceive Abraham as the father of Jewish and Gentile unity; the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity under one god with one intercessor: Jesus Christ. It is Paul’s claim that since Abraham enjoyed righteousness both before and after he was circumcised, he is the symbol of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. Jews must learn to recognize that righteousness by faith is more fundamental than circumcision, thus actually prior to Abraham as the “Ideal Jew”. (Watson, p. 267) Law observant Jews are therefore not the true seed of Abraham, that is, heir to the promise of salvation. (p. 268)
Thus, Paul goes from the question at the beginning of the chapter about “Abraham OUR (Jews) forefather” to “Our (all humanity) father Abraham.” In vv 16-17, Abraham is “father of us all in fulfillment of the promise” in Gen 17:5.

“Through Paul’s exegetical virtuosity, “our forefather according to the flesh” has shifted his communal location and now points the way towards a united community of Christian Jews and Gentiles.” (Watson, p. 270)
 
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