Was Julius Caesar the real Jesus Christ?

Laura

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Romans 5

Watson notes that the “Jew-Gentile” issue that has dominated the letter from 1:16 to the end of chapter 4, now disappears entirely and Christological statements come in cascades. In Romans 3 and 4, Paul is a Jew, a maestro of scriptural exegesis and suddenly, now, he is an apostle of Christ, apostle to the Gentiles in fact.

The reason for this break seems obvious: there are at least two (perhaps more) letters combined to make the Epistle of Romans as we have it today. One of the letters was the first and it was exclusively to a group of Gentile Christians, possibly converted by some of Paul’s converts in Greece or Asia; and the other to a group of Jewish messianists, probably supporters of the Zealots and followers of the gospel of the Jerusalem church and their messiah, Judas the Galilean who was supposed to return with 12 (or however many) legions of warrior angels to overthrow the Romans and put the Jews in control of the world.

Notice that the beginning of Romans 5 is natural continuation of 1:12:

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…* Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
I put an asterisk at the beginning of Chapter 5. One can easily see that there was an original letter to Gentile Christians and later, a letter to Jewish Christians in Rome, also written by Paul (that is not in doubt in my mind), and much later, an editor patched them together with some other odd bits and pieces in an effort to conform the impression to that of Acts. The end result has been a dreadful state of confusion about what Paul was thinking, doing, writing. Watson’s effort to put the letter into a social context has been extremely helpful even if he is wrong, in my opinion, and according to the historical facts. Watson himself is something of an exegetical virtuoso and his endeavor was to make all of Romans comprehensible as a totality. If it weren’t for those pesky historical facts, he would have succeeded. Despite that, on each section of the letter, the most intractable texts in all of NT studies, I think, he has undoubtedly come closest to laying out what Paul was thinking and writing theologically speaking. I think that even he might look at the letter in a different way, as I have, if the historical context was brought into sharper relief as background.

This leads us to what Paul was actually writing in that first letter to the Gentile Christians at Rome. We now know that we can set aside the text from 1:18 to 4:25 as a completely separate letter and go straight from 1:12 to chapter 5 as above. About this, Watson writes:

There is some disagreement about the theme that binds together Romans 5:1-11. … It is better to interpret the passage as a meditation on hope. … Thus the various themes of the passage – justification, reconciliation, suffering, the Holy Spirit, the death of Christ – all converge on hope. Hope is the theme that binds all these subordinate topics together. (pp. 270-72, exc.)
Exactly so. Paul is in prison in Ephesus, soon to be transferred to Rome and is writing to a group of his “god-children” in Christ. He is hoping for mercy and to be able to continue his work; he is hoping that the Roman community will welcome him, will help him, and that all things will come out for the best; naturally, he is going to write about hope; it’s part of his intention that he stated at the beginning of the letter: “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.” In the text of the first letter, that is what we are looking for and that is what we find if we reject 1:18 to 4:25 as part of the first letter, jump straight to chapter 5, and continue through to the end of chapter 8; skip 9-11, then pick up at chapter 13, and then chapter 15:14-33, 16:17-27 with minor redactions in the latter two sections. Once you know what the situation was, how Paul thinks, then it seems to me to be fairly easy to see where someone else has interfered with his text. Watson writes more about the hope Paul is expressing in chapter 5:

The focus on hope is maintained in 5:12-21, which highlights the “life” that through Christ is the object or content of hope, set against the background of the death inherited from Adam. … Yet it is the disanalogies that bear the greatest rhetorical weight. Rather than simply reversing the effects of Adam’s action, Christ’s impact on “the man” far outweighs Adam’s (v. 15) … The disanalogies are not just contrasts … they highlight the disproportionate or excess of Grace, signified by repeated references to abundance (vv. 15, 17, 21). Far from merely counteracting Adam’s action with a saving act that restores the disrupted status quo, the divine grace enacted in Jesus Christ is characterized by prodigality, extravagance, and excess. (p. 273-74, exc.)
In Genesis 3, Adam’s disobedience and desire “to be like the gods”, subjects all his descendants to the curse of sin and death. (Eve is not mentioned here as she is in 2Cor 11:3.) Apparently following the model of the Zoroastrian myths of primal man and bull to coming savior, i.e. Saoshyant, humanity can be restored to a state of existence that was semi-heavenly – paradise – where they did not suffer or die. Thus, Adam is a “type of the coming one”, a universal primal man, father of all humanity, therefore the Coming One must also be a Universal savior. Paul’s messiah is nothing like the Jewish messiah who is to come just for Israel and not the whole world (except perhaps to subject the nations to the rule of the Jews). It is thus universal salvation that is the object of Paul’s hope. And no doubt he is hoping to get through his difficult situation so that he can continue to evangelize the world.

Romans 6-7

Superabundant grace might certainly create problems as Paul realizes. He has completely laid aside the Jewish law code as a way of life; the law discloses sin, but provides no real remedy (v. 3:20) and obeying the Jewish law is irrelevant to being adjudged righteous (v. 3:28). This tells us that Paul knows what Jews have said about his gospel and he heads them off at the pass. “What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” (v. 1) Paul has his Gentile reader in mind; that they need to fully understand why they live by faith, hope and grace.

Romans chapters 6 and 7 are a two-part argument about the correct basis for righteous conduct. Step one of the argument is that grace is not arbitrary but is oriented toward a sin-free future state of the Christian, a state already attained by the crucified and resurrected Christ. (6:2-14)

Step two is to show that grace demands total obedience to the standards of righteousness and rejection of one’s pre-Christian past life and behavior.

Gentile Christians, more even than Jews, represent the embodiment of Grace, but Paul, wishing to avoid any further debacles such as occurred in Galatia, wants to make darn sure that the Roman Gentile Christians understand why Judaism and Jewish messianism is not only undesirable, but positively damning.

In chapter 6, Paul wants to persuade his addressees that their baptism represents their death to an old way of life and the creation of a new identity. Conversion is “dying to sin” (v. 14) in union with Christ’s death. (vv. 3-7) The convert has moved from being enslaved by sin/death (ostensibly against one’s true wishes at the mental/spiritual level) to choosing obedience to Christ and righteousness. Being a slave to sin leads to death; being a slave of God leads to life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ.” (v. 23)

Following chapter 6, in chapter 7 Paul continues to develop his argument in respect of the Law. He writes: “Do you not know, brothers and sisters--for I am speaking to those who know the law--that the law is binding on a person only during that person's lifetime?”

Watson and others assume a Jewish audience because of this remark, however if that were the case, there would be no need to say such a thing at all. Here, it is aimed at those Gentile Christians who may have met with Jewish messianists and had been subjected to the legal demands in the same way the Galatians had been. It could also be aimed at “god fearers,” Gentiles who attended synagogue meetings or otherwise admired Judaism. Clearly, many Gentiles were familiar with the Old Testament. Paul intends to make very sure that the Galatian scenario never happens again and that is the raison d'etre underlying the arguments of chapter 7.

The first argument is a very simple one: the law is only binding on a person during their lifetime; this is true about any law. As the saying goes, two things are certain: death and taxes. The argument then gets a little bit weird and convoluted because Paul sets up the example of a woman whose husband has died and so she is free to marry another. He then compares the convert to the one who has died (!), who can then belong to another, i.e. the still living wife in the example! It’s obviously not the best example Paul ever thought up, but the point is at least partly made: Christ’s death and the Christian’s death-by-proxy (baptism) takes them out of the sphere of the law into a new regime.

Paul then begins to move step-by-step toward his goal; he says: “While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were working in our members to bear fruit for death. (7:5)

But Paul does not mean that the law, in and of itself, is sin, rather that, in the presence of the law, known to a person, Sin, depicted by Paul as a demonic personification, excites urges against the law that are, effectively, overpowering. The apparent reason for this, derived from allusions to the OT in this text, is that humanity as a whole became entrapped in bodies of flesh that had urges that overpowered the mind/spirit that was aware of right and wrong by virtue of its connection to God, (created in God’s image; breath from God, etc), and thus became helpless to do what was right even when part of the self wanted to.

The “sin” focused on by Paul is that of “desire,” eliminating any specific objects such as the neighbor’s wife, house, money, goods, etc. This “desire” is the effect, essentially, of being incarnated in bodies of flesh and is a cruel fate rather than deliberate acts of rebellion. Obviously, Adam and Eve were the original rebel sinners, but the rest of us didn’t have any choice in the matter.

The place of the original life, before the law (knowledge of good and evil) was Paradise, known to Paul as the third heaven. (2Cor 12:2-4) Paul is undoubtedly alluding to the myth of the soul’s fall from an originally heavenly life into an embodied existence and applying it specifically to Jewish life under the law. “Through the commandment Sin deceived me.” (7:11) In Gen 3:13, Eve says that the serpent, using the commandment, “deceived me.” That is, Sin, personified as the serpent, argued persuasively for the benefits of transgressing and it’s been all downhill ever since.

Paul says “Sin … wrought in me every kind of desire.” (Rom 7:8). This points at the sexual nature of awakening after knowing the law (eating the fruit). And then, with the “fall”, the serpent has somehow taken up residence within human flesh. The effect of this is mortality. Being embodied in flesh means being subject to death. All this is actually very Gnostic in flavor, but it is written in such a difficult way that most people don’t catch on to it.

Paul is narrating this from a first person point of view, describing in a breathless dramatization, the living death that came about from the primal event (vv 7-12). Paul has adopted the persona of one under the law. Watson writes:

“[Paul’s] own Jewish roots give the fiction its plausibility and integrity: this is no mere play-acting but a re-engagement for the sake of others with Paul’s own pre-Christian identity. The speech is so compelling and so poignant that generations of readers have assumed that Paul must be articulating his present experience as a Christian. Yet, in its context, the passage can only be speaking of life under another regime than grace.” (p. 290)
Paul’s strategy is obviously to evoke horror in his readers/hearers – horror at the very thought of life under the law. And keep always in mind that Paul was targeting life as a Jew and Jewish communities. Paul’s intentions are to save his communities from the predations of the Zealots, the Jewish messianists.

Chapter 8

Above it was said that Romans chapters 6 and 7 are a two-part argument about the correct basis for righteous conduct. Chapter 6 is the argument for grace; chapter 7 is the argument against the Jewish law; and now, chapter 8 is the argument for a life in the spirit. We just left Paul in chapter 7 saying, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.” (7:24-25) In other words, Paul was saying that, under the Law, i.e. while a person is in Judaism, their mind may be a “slave to the law of God” but that doesn’t do anything to help the fact that the body is a “slave to the law of sin.” But help is on the way! Paul now says, that even in that state of duality, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (8:1-2) This was already anticipated in chapter 7:6: “But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.”

What does this mean, exactly? The “spirit” of Romans 8 is life which counteracts the death that dominates life under the law. Watson writes: “The antithesis of Romans 7-8 elaborates the double antithesis of 2Cor 3:6: ‘The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.’” (p. 291)

In chapter 8, Paul juxtaposes positive and negative uses of the term “Law”. In 8:2 there is “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”; “the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” (8:4); “I delight in the law of God in my inmost self” (7:22); “the law of my mind” (7:23); as opposed to: “the law of sin and of death” (8:2); “the law of sin” (7:25); so we see that “the law of sin that is in my members” is contrasted with “the law of God”, a law that is weak through the flesh. It would be easy to get confused here but what Paul means, in short, is that the flesh overpowers the mind/spirit/will for most people. Watson writes: “If the “law of my mind” is the law of God, whose authority my mind acknowledges, the “the law of sin in my members” is the opposing set of imperatives whose authority is acknowledged by my body. … The law of sin is parasitic on the law of God, which it subjects to a process of textual emendation in which prohibitions become requirements and requirements prohibitions.” (p. 293)

In 7:21 Paul states, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.” That is, whenever one seeks the good, one comes up against one’s own evil. That is, evil is close at hand precisely as “I seek the good.” Paul is saying that even willing the good has doing evil as its necessary consequence. “The attempt to makes one’s conduct conform to God’s law in full recognition that what the law prescribes is holy and just and good, generates only evil: that is the desperate situation of the person who is under the law of Moses and who delights in it and acknowledges its goodness.” (p. 294)
That is to say, the very actions taken to “live under the law” amount to nothing more than assertion of the power of the self against God, self-aggrandizement in imagining one has succeeded in becoming righteous, and covetousness thereby for self-glory that becomes “pious ungodliness.”

Refer back to the catena in 3:9b-20:

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 “law of sin” is located in my members, i.e. the sins of the throat, tongue, lips, mouth, feet, eyes, for those who seek righteousness by “works of the law”, i.e. Judaism. Watson:

“More closely related to the law of sin is “sin dwelling within me,” which produces evil when I strive for the good. (vv. 7:17-20) Indeed, the “law of sin in my members” simply adds a further metaphorical layer to “sin dwelling within me,” where the background is the phenomenon of demonic possession. How, though, has it come about that my very own agency has been usurped by this external power that has taken up residence within me? Pursuing the law of sin back to its source, we find ourselves back in the Garden of Eden on the fateful occasion when the prohibition that preserved access to the tree of life became the occasion of death.” (p. 295)
Putting all this in more modern esoteric terms, we find Gurdjieff’s divided self and Castaneda’s “predator’s mind” to be apt translations.

“What sin did once – working evil through what is good – sin still does to this day. … The law’s effect in the realm of the flesh is uniformly disastrous. From a pragmatic point of view, Paul’s argument functions as a warning to his Roman addressees to avoid further entanglement with the law of Moses and the individual and communal praxis that it sanctions.” (p. 296)
So far, Paul on “the law of sin and death.” Those who are in the clutches of this demonic entrapment can only become free by connecting with “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

A significant difference between 7:7-25 and chapter 8 is the use of the 1st person singular in the former and first person plural (we) in the latter. In chap 7, Paul took the role of a Jew under the law, depicting himself as engaged in a failing, lethal struggle against hostile powers. In chapter 8, he leaves that role behind with relief and joins with his addressees as members of one community in Christ. The first person plural address is that of a community experiencing the first fruits of the life of the age to come. And, curiously, Law is now at the heart of that shared identity; this is Paul’s “Law of Love.” And within the law of love lies a whole new landscape of interactions, behaviors, duties and obligations based on giving to those who ask; a realm of mutually reciprocal Service to Others empowered by a network centered on Christ who provides both a template and psychic energy/intercession, to draw one up out of the mire of the flesh back into the reality of paradise.
 

Laura

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Chapters 9-11

9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit-- 9:2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.
Chapter 9 begins with a passionate declaration of anguish about the Jewish people to whom “belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” (vv 4-5) It is pretty clear, after all that has been examined in chapters 1 through 8, that Paul could not possibly have written verses 4-5. What also seems clear is that Romans 9-11 was written with the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and probably hundreds of thousands of Jews in mind.

The text goes on to say: “It is not as though the word of God had failed.” (v 9:6a) Clearly, something extraordinary has occurred that would make it seems as though there was some sort of terrific failure. The disaster language continues and I have put in bold certain expressions that support the idea that this text is post 70 AD:

Rom 9:6b For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, 9:7 and not all of Abraham's children are his true descendants; but "It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you." 9:8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. 9:9 For this is what the promise said, "About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son." 9:10 Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. 9:11 Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose of election might continue, 9:12 not by works but by his call) she was told, "The elder shall serve the younger." 9:13 As it is written, "I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau."
9:14 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 9:15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 9:16 So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 9:17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth." 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.

9:19 You will say to me then, "Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 9:20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, "Why have you made me like this?" 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 9:23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- 9:24 including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 9:25 As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" 9:26 "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they shall be called children of the living God." 9:27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 9:28 for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively." 9:29 And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah."
9:30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 9:31 but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 9:32 Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 9:33 as it is written, "See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
10:1 Brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 10:2 I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 10:3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God's righteousness. 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
10:11 The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 10:13 For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." 10:14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 10:15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
10:16 But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 10:17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. 10:18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." 10:19 Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry." 10:20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." 10:21 But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."
Rom 11:1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 11:2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 11:3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life." 11:4 But what is the divine reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 11:8 as it is written, "God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day." 11:9 And David says, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 11:10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs forever bent."
11:11 So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 11:12 Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! 11:13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 11:14 in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 11:15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead!
The section from Romans 11:16 – 29 about differences between Jews and Gentiles, the Jews being the “holy root” and grafting in Gentiles onto the Jewish root which echoes vv 4-5, are certainly a non-Pauline interpolation; Paul would never have written text that glorified the Jewish lifestyle, considering all else he has written just in the conglomerate of Romans alone, even insisting that the Gentiles have priority in Abraham’s faith. And, in fact, 11:15 continues more smoothly going directly to 11:30:

11:30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 11:31 so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 11:32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. 11:33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 11:34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" 11:35 "Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?" 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
The only rational conclusion that can be drawn about Romans 9-11 is that it was written in response to the destruction of the Jews 66-70 AD. And that is problematical in the extreme considering the standard accepted biography of the apostle Paul. Paul is supposed to have died at least no later than the Neronian persecutions following the great fire at Rome in 64 AD. But there is no evidence for this, only speculative assumptions. The author of Acts either didn’t know what happened to Paul, or chose not to say for his own theological/political agenda.

The only early text that speaks of the death of Paul is the First letter of Clement, written to the Corinthian church. The date of the First Letter of Clement, whom Eusebius says was the first bishop of Rome, is much disputed, but most modern scholars date him to post-destruction of Jerusalem, i.e. ca. 95 AD or later. Clement shows knowledge of the letter to the Hebrews, as well as Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Romans, but no knowledge of the Gospels’ Jesus so it must have been written before the Gospel of Mark. Clement describes the Corinthian church as “very firm and ancient” (47:6) and the Roman church is described as being equally old, since the messengers are described as having been members from their youth to old age (63:3), which echoes Paul’s language in addressing this group. This would be impossible according to the view that Christianity was launched by a Palestinian Jesus crucified by Pontius Pilate around 30 AD. Paul’s activity is referred to in 47:2 as “the beginning of the evangelization”, which is a rather extraordinary statement. It tells us that there was something very special in the work of Paul, the spreading of his particular spin on the Messiah message to communities that were already established at the time he was converted. So it seems that these communities had existed for some time, but their understanding of who and what they were was very different prior to Paul; they were possibly not on a messianic or apocalyptic trajectory. It was Paul and other apostles who began to teach about a messiah, though obviously Paul had very different ideas about how this was supposed to work from those belonging to the Jerusalem ecclesia. As noted, what is striking is that 1 Clement does not mention the “time of Jesus’ death” or “the time of Jesus” but rather dates things from the time of the beginning of Paul’s apostolic mission.

Crucifixion is never mentioned which is surely remarkable, in view of Paul’s intense involvement in the mystique of the cross, a mystique that he quite likely originated. Clement never goes beyond bare mentions of the ‘blood’ of Christ, without any concrete elaboration whatever. Clement tells us nothing about Jesus’ life, his disciples, his baptism by John, his betrayal by Judas, his trial and the manner of his death. His resurrection is represented as a fact, not as an event. … There is no hint as to when and where it occurred. Clement sometimes calls Jesus ‘High Priest’, thus emphasizing the connection with ancient Jewish history, and also … with the Qumran Essenes. Finally, when Clement in 5.1 turns from ‘ancient examples from the OT’ of the consequences of ‘jealousy’, and talks of ‘our own generation’, he mentions Peter and Paul – whose deaths he refers to as recent events – but does not mention Jesus … (Ellegård (1999), pp. 42–3.)
It seems that apostles from the Jerusalem sect were going out to evangelize along the line of uber-Judaism – promoting their coming Revelation-Revolution – while Paul was doing the opposite – promoting his Revelation-Resolution. It just depended on which apostle was more convincing, as Paul’s conflicts evident in his letters reveal. If we can take as fact some of the personal data dropped in the letter to the Romans, it may be that connections also had a lot to do with the way the wind blew in any given ecclesia.

Second, Clement’s reference to the recent deaths of Peter and Paul are couched in rather vague terms which could be the way he wrote it or could be because a plainer statement was edited later. First Clement 5:2 says rather specifically: “By reason of jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church were persecuted, and contended even unto death.” If we recall that Paul referred to Cephas, James and John as the “pillars” in Jerusalem, I don’t think it is stepping too far out on a limb to say that this sentence may very well refer to the deaths of those individuals and that those deaths were recorded by Josephus as argued above.

So, having made a statement about the pillars, the author then moves on to apostles, and here he names Peter first of all. The way this is presented is as if Peter is not one of the pillars, which might mean that Cephas and Peter were not one and the same person. Paul usually uses the name “Cephas” (“rock” in Aramaic) in his letters. He only uses “Peter” twice, in Gal. 2:7–8: “On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.” He never refers to Cephas in the same context, as apostle to the Jews. In fact, in the very next sentence (2:9) he calls “James, Cephas and John” the pillars.

Clement writes (5:4): “There was Peter who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one not two but many labors, and thus having borne his testimony went to his appointed place of glory.” The question we might wish to ask here is: was it Peter who was unrighteously jealous, leading to his many labors (a metaphor for torture?), or was he a target of unrighteous jealousy? It very much sounds like Peter came to an ignominious end.

The next case is Paul, who “by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.” I don’t think this passage at all conveys that Paul was martyred, but rather that after many trials, his life turned around completely, he hobnobbed with the elite and died an old and honored man, having become notable even to rulers. He may have done this in Spain, which was the Empire’s “farthest bounds of the West”, or Rome. Carrier agrees on this partly:

The fact that this contradicts all later legend (which has Paul executed by Nero in Rome) suggests, first, that that was indeed only a later legend and, second, that Paul did in fact die in Spain – as otherwise there would be no reason for Clement to make this up [But even if Clement was extrapolating based on Romans], Paul’s martyrdom at Rome is proved to be a myth (that tale not existing yet, or it being known at Clement’s time that in fact Paul was martyred in Spain) (Carrier (2014), pp. 309–10.)
So who was Clement? Twenty-five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, 95 AD, a man named Titius Flavius Clemens was consul in Rome. Domitian executed him the year after. Syncellus, writing in the ninth century, was the first to call him a Christian, and the earlier accounts of his death suggest Syncellus may have been correct. First there is Suetonius, writing in the early second century:

[Domitian] unexpectedly killed his own cousin Flavius Clemens, [a man] of most contemptible laziness, on a very feeble suspicion, shortly after the end of his consulship.
Dio, writing a century later, adds more detail:

In the same year Domitian executed among many others, also Flavius Clemens, although he was a cousin and his wife was Flavia Domitilla, a relative of Domitian. Both were accused of godlessness, a crime on account of which also many others, who were inclined to Jewish practices, were condemned. Some lost their lives, others at least their fortunes. Domitilla was only exiled to Pandateria.
Another century after Dio, Eusebius, most likely quoting a Roman history by Bruttius that hasn’t survived, writes:

Flavia Domitilla, a daughter of the sister of Flavius Clemens, a Roman consul at that time, was exiled to the island of Pontia because of her Christian faith. Many others were exiled too in that year.
Eusebius here confuses things. Domitilla was Clemens’ wife and Domitian’s niece. And she was exiled to Pandateria, which was a common place of exile, not Pontia. Oddly, Eusebius (and/or Bruttius) calls Domitilla a Christian, but not Clemens, whereas Dio accuses them both of the same crime.

The only other early account is from Philostratus, who probably wrote around the time of Dio in the early third century. He makes Domitilla the sister of Domitian, and adds the details that Domitian also ordered her execution, and her slave made an unsuccessful attempt to save her:

And now the gods were about to cast down Domitian from his presidency of mankind. For it happened that he had just slain [Flavius] Clemens, a man of consular rank, to whom he had lately given his own sister [Flavia Domitilla] in marriage; and he issued a command about the third or fourth day after the murder, that she also should follow her husband and join him. Thereupon Stephanus, a freed man of the lady, he who was signified by the form of the late portent, whether because the latest victim's fate rankled in his mind, or the fate of all others, made an attempt upon the tyrant's life worthy of comparison with the feats of the champions of Athenian liberty.
My how details do multiply as time goes by! In any event, note that Dio says the couple was accused of godlessness and which he links to Jewish practices. At the time, this charge of atheism would have referred to the refusal to worship the emperor (Domitian in this case) as god. Early Pagan and Christian sources both refer to Christians as “Jewish” (Suetonius, Lucian, Acts, Acts of Peter, Ps. Clem.), and Christians are repeatedly accused of atheism (attested in the writings of Justin, Tatian, Minucius Felix, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Celsus, Prophyry, Lucian). Roman Christians in particular were called “superstitious”. On the other hand, there’s no known charge of atheism against Jews in any sources. Based on this evidence, it seems likely that Domitilla was a Christian, and that “Dio changed the Christianity of Domitilla to an ‘inclination of Jewish customs’” because, at the time, it WAS known as a Jewish messianic sect.

As for Clemens, Lampe doesn’t think he was a Christian, preferring to think that he was executed on suspicion of Domitian that Clemens was planning to have one of his sons (whom Domitian had chosen as successors) take the throne ahead of schedule. But the two are not mutually exclusive, and it seems just as likely that Dio was being truthful by saying they both faced the same accusation.

Was this Clemens the same Clemens Romanum (Clement of Rome), the “first bishop” of Rome and author of 1 Clement? The same Clement mentioned by Hermas as being in charge of Christian correspondence for the Roman church? The same one mentioned by Paul as his fellow-worker? It’s possible. But he would need to have been born prior to 30 AD in order to be an associate of Paul by the late 40s. (His cousins Titus and Domitian were born in 39 and 51 AD, respectively, and his uncle Vespasian was born in 9 AD, so it could fit time-wise.)

Well, I toyed with the idea but ultimately rejected it as being very unlikely. However, there is one idea that solves a number of problems here: if this Clement of the letter was a clerical freedman of Flavius Clemens. It was standard procedure that a slave's name consisted of his own name followed by the nomen and praenomen of his master. An ex-slave usually adopted the praenomen and nomen of his or her former master while retaining his or her slave name as a cognomen. Thus, Cicero's educated slave, Tiro, when he was freed, became Marcus Tullius Tiro; and Zosimus, the slave of Marcus Aurelius Cotta Maximus, when he was freed, became Marcus Aurelius Zosimus. The Claudian Civil Service set a precedent whereby freedmen could be used as civil servants in the Roman bureaucracy. During the early Empire, freedmen held key positions in the government and it wouldn’t be inconceivable for a trained bureaucrat in the Imperial family to have undertaken to utilize his particular skills on behalf of the ecclesia to which he belonged. If it is the case, it may be that Paul’s connection with Clement was his entrée into the world of the elite, thus providing for his “reward and high esteem after so many sufferings”. Additionally, if this proposal is correct, it might explain Clement’s reference to “The disasters and calamities that have suddenly and repeatedly struck us, have delayed us in turning to your affairs.” Perhaps the letter was written after the execution of his former master and the exile of his former mistress? That would date it to ca. 95 AD or not much later.

Coming back to the issue: were Romans Chaps 9-11 written by Paul in grievous reaction to the destruction of the Jews? Was this separate letter then patched in with two other letters and some fragments to create the Epistle of Romans we have today? I think it is not only possible, but likely. Except for some minor interpolations to bring the text more in line with the agenda of Acts, the taste and feel of it is Pauline.
 

Laura

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Romans 12

This chapter seems to me to be the natural continuation from chapter 8, the original letter to the Gentile Christians at Rome. Observe how they connect together:

8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. *I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Again, I have placed the asterisk at the junction of 8 and 12. Recall that in chapter 8, Paul juxtaposes positive and negative uses of the term “Law” including “I delight in the law of God in my inmost self” (7:22); “the law of my mind” (7:23); as opposed to: “the law of sin and of death” (8:2); “the law of sin” (7:25); so we see that “the law of sin that is in my members” is contrasted with “the law of God”, a law that is weak through the flesh. It would be easy to get confused here but what Paul means, in short, is that the flesh overpowers the mind/spirit/will for most people. Watson writes: “If the “law of my mind” is the law of God, whose authority my mind acknowledges, the “the law of sin in my members” is the opposing set of imperatives whose authority is acknowledged by my body. … The law of sin is parasitic on the law of God, which it subjects to a process of textual emendation in which prohibitions become requirements and requirements prohibitions.” (p. 293)

And here, Chapter 12, moves directly to “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” This is followed by typical Pauline statements that amount to the “Law of Love in Christ” and have many verbal echoes with chapters 6, 7 and 8.

Chapter 13

This chapter is a continuation of chapter 12, with “Rules for Christian Life”, most particularly aimed at what could be considered making peace with the authorities. Additionally, Paul makes a couple of statements indicating that he felt the Parousia was imminent: 13:11 “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 13:12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…”

Chapter 14

This chapter has already been excluded as a generalized re-writing of 1Cor 8-10 and was the chapter Watson used to orient his social situation.

Chapter 15

The last lines of chapter 13, flow smoothly into 15:14:

13:11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. *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. Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 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. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. …
As mentioned previously, there are some editorial insertions in this passage that obviously attempt to bring Paul’s itinerary into line with Acts, even in direct contradiction to what Paul says elsewhere. For example: “from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ.” And, of course, the insertion promotes the idea that Paul is going to take a collection of money to Jerusalem before he travels to Rome. As we know, Paul is unlikely to have ever returned to Jerusalem for a third visit as Acts depicts because the main pillars of the church there have been executed, Paul himself was arrested and put in prison, and most likely his trip to Rome was from Ephesus, not Jerusalem.

Chapter 16

As noted previously, the greetings that constitute most of chapter 16 were undoubtedly part of a letter sent from Rome to Ephesus likely, and probably after Paul was set free in Rome. He makes mention of Priscilla and Aquila who risked their lives for him, and that probably had something to do with his imprisonment there. Considering what has been said above about Clemens, the collection of names: Aristobulus, Herodion, Narcissus, make somewhat better sense. What we can know is that we don’t know a LOT about Paul’s actual life and ministry and can only lay out the few pieces we have and try to make sense of it. One thing for sure is that Acts is not anywhere near a true account of the early Church and the activities of Paul.

However, having said that, I think that part of chapter 16 may be part of the conclusion to the original letter to the Gentile Roman Christians:

16:17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. 16:18 For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. 16:19 For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise in what is good and guileless in what is evil. 16:20 The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Considering what Paul himself has been through vis a vis the Galatians and being put in prison, it is likely that he would include such a warning. Note again that Paul expects the Parousia soon.

And the final ending:

16:21 Timothy, my co-worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. 16:22 I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. 16:23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you. 16:25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 16:26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith-- 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
If this last part is most likely the actual ending of the letter of Paul to the Roman Gentile Christians, it conveys some valuable bits of information suggesting that Paul had converts even among the bureaucrats of the Empire. Gaius was mentioned in 1Co 1:14. Acts claims that Gaius was a Macedonian, but we know that Acts was using bits and names from Paul’s letters to create its fairytale of early Christian unity. Acts refers to “Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea” in contradiction to Paul’s claim above that he was a relative of Paul’s.

Conclusion

At the end of this examination, the conclusion is that Watson is correct to say that the social situation can tell us a lot about a text; the problem is that one must have in mind the real social situation, as closely as it can be determined based on all available evidence, in order to construct a reliable yardstick for what is reasonable and what is not in a given text. It is on this basis that I have deconstructed Romans and re-constructed at least three separate letters, fragments, and interpolations.
 

Laura

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Now, the question is: have I found any trace of Julius Caesar in the Epistle to the Romans?

Not as far as I can see.

But it does seem fairly clear that Paul's gospel was very different from the gospel of the Jerusalem Christians and the early history of Christianity was very different from what we have been told, and what Acts portrays.
 

Gaby

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But it does seem fairly clear that Paul's gospel was very different from the gospel of the Jerusalem Christians and the early history of Christianity was very different from what we have been told, and what Acts portrays.
Fascinating reading! After Zoroaster and the various world's myths, "From Yahweh to Zion", etc. this analysis comes in very timely!
 

genero81

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The form of Christianity that Paul was actually teaching is really something. No wonder STS forces went into overdrive to undermine it in various ways. There was some real potential there to help facilitate graduation to higher levels, I think. Great work so far sorting it out! What you've outlined makes a lot of sense. This whole thing about Faith vs Law; they can both lead astray without proper context and understanding.
 

Palinurus

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Now, the question is: have I found any trace of Julius Caesar in the Epistle to the Romans?

Not as far as I can see.

<...>
Not as such, no.

But I couldn't help myself while reading your expose to get aware of a faint image of Caesar -a shadow perhaps- looming large in the background of these stories. Caesar's wit, his creativity, his ability to think out of the box, his humbleness, clemency and deep understanding of man's predicament from own experience, can all be found in Paul's commitments and the way in which he pursues them -- here as well as in other places.

I think, to find more of Caesar in Paul's endeavors and writing, one should know more about which elements exactly played a part in Paul's life-changing 'vision' that formed the impetus so to say for all he later-on undertook and endeavored.

For instance, whether there were legends or folk-tales about Caesar extant in Paul's time -- which is about 80-100 years later; whether there still was an active worship of some sort keeping him in honored remembrance; whether the awareness was wide-spread that the official Emperor Cultus was a deep authoritarian and dictatorial perversion of the peoples acclaim of Caesar when he still lived; etc.

On the other hand, the specifics of Paul's mental make-up are of a wider variety than were exposed here in Romans but the main characteristics have become clear; especially the novelty of his creative exegesis both in method as in results. I thought that the juxtaposition of good gentiles and narrow-minded orthodox Jews could be reminiscent of those rare and far in between Romans (and others) who tried to be of service to the greater good of the population as a whole in stead of to the narrow benefit of a privileged and rapacious elite.

There's yet so much we really don't know the detailed specifics about....

That's why I'm very grateful for all we already have, thanks to your unrelenting search. :perfect:
 

Approaching Infinity

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But I couldn't help myself while reading your expose to get aware of a faint image of Caesar -a shadow perhaps- looming large in the background of these stories. Caesar's wit, his creativity, his ability to think out of the box, his humbleness, clemency and deep understanding of man's predicament from own experience, can all be found in Paul's commitments and the way in which he pursues them -- here as well as in other places.
Same here. If there was influence there, I think it's more under the surface. Kind of as if Paul took the features of the Divine Julius and incorporated them into "Jesus Christ". The closest thing I've found to a reference in Paul's letters is his description of Jesus in 2Cor 10:1:

Paul writes of Christ’s prautes (mildness, gentleness) and epieikeia (reasonableness, fairness, goodness, clemency). Epieikeia is Greek for clemency, Caesar’s byword. Several Greek writers from the first century on used these terms in the same sentence to describe historical and mythological figures (Josephus: Agrippa I; Plutarch: Pericles, Sertorius, the “virtuous man”, and the Pythagoreans; Appian: Numitor; Athenaeus: Dionysius son of Clearchus) and in lists of virtues. Plutarch uses the same phrase, reversed, to describe Caesar (Caes. 15.3, 57.3).

The Latin equivalents are clementia (moderation, mildness, forbearance to the faults and errors of others, clemency, mercy), mansuetudo (mildness, gentleness, clemency), and misericordia (tender-heartedness, compassion, mercy). In Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Divitiacus of the Belgae pleads for Caesar’s accustomed “clementia [and] mansuetudine” (BG 2.14). Sallust (Cat. 54) writes of Caesar’s “mansuetudine [and] misericordia”.

I think, to find more of Caesar in Paul's endeavors and writing, one should know more about which elements exactly played a part in Paul's life-changing 'vision' that formed the impetus so to say for all he later-on undertook and endeavored.

For instance, whether there were legends or folk-tales about Caesar extant in Paul's time -- which is about 80-100 years later; whether there still was an active worship of some sort keeping him in honored remembrance; whether the awareness was wide-spread that the official Emperor Cultus was a deep authoritarian and dictatorial perversion of the peoples acclaim of Caesar when he still lived; etc.
I think that needs to be taken into account. By that time, Caesar had become a dirty word, IMO. Even if the Jews loved Caesar, the "Caesars" after him were a mixed bag at best, and one of them - Caligula - even tried to install a statue of himself in the Temple. There would have been some strategic advantage in preaching Caesar's qualities in the form of a newly divine figure "Jesus Christ" without the baggage of Roman emperor worship.
 

Joe

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Paul writes of Christ’s prautes (mildness, gentleness) and epieikeia (reasonableness, fairness, goodness, clemency). Epieikeia is Greek for clemency, Caesar’s byword. Several Greek writers from the first century on used these terms in the same sentence to describe historical and mythological figures (Josephus: Agrippa I; Plutarch: Pericles, Sertorius, the “virtuous man”, and the Pythagoreans; Appian: Numitor; Athenaeus: Dionysius son of Clearchus) and in lists of virtues. Plutarch uses the same phrase, reversed, to describe Caesar (Caes. 15.3, 57.3).

The Latin equivalents are clementia (moderation, mildness, forbearance to the faults and errors of others, clemency, mercy), mansuetudo (mildness, gentleness, clemency), and misericordia (tender-heartedness, compassion, mercy). In Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Divitiacus of the Belgae pleads for Caesar’s accustomed “clementia [and] mansuetudine” (BG 2.14). Sallust (Cat. 54) writes of Caesar’s “mansuetudine [and] misericordia”
Just thought I add that the "clemency" (etc.) for which Caesar was known and admired seems to be more than simple compassion or tender-heartedness. That was there, but it seems to have been tempered by a deep understanding of human nature, that included an awareness of how fickle, self-serving, two-faced and manipulative people can be, and the need to be aware of that and deal with (at least some) people on that understanding.

Caesar did not hesitate to wage war on and kill many people to impose his will on them, but it was when those people finally 'saw sense' that his fairness and clemency shone forth. Basically, he had no 'mean streak' in him that drove him to destroy or kill or even seek revenge just for the sake of it. Amazingly, all of his warring does not seem to have hardened his heart as you might imagine that would do to lessor men. Perhaps it even brought him to a more compassionate understanding for humanity in general.
 

goyacobol

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Chapter 9 begins with a passionate declaration of anguish about the Jewish people to whom “belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” (vv 4-5) It is pretty clear, after all that has been examined in chapters 1 through 8, that Paul could not possibly have written verses 4-5. What also seems clear is that Romans 9-11 was written with the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and probably hundreds of thousands of Jews in mind.
The section from Romans 11:16 – 29 about differences between Jews and Gentiles, the Jews being the “holy root” and grafting in Gentiles onto the Jewish root which echoes vv 4-5, are certainly a non-Pauline interpolation; Paul would never have written text that glorified the Jewish lifestyle, considering all else he has written just in the conglomerate of Romans alone, even insisting that the Gentiles have priority in Abraham’s faith. And, in fact, 11:15 continues more smoothly going directly to 11:30:
After seeing these two different gospels compared side by side it is becoming more clear to me that most Christians have been groomed to support Israel by the early Jewish Christian editors.

The verses that emphasize the "adoption" or "grafting" of gentiles into the olive tree of Israel always stuck in my mind and I was cheering for Israel, the chosen people, for a very long time. I think it lends itself to a very heavy interest in biblical prophesy which was my case. Seeing the Palestinian issues now the way I do would not be possible if I held to my previous indoctrination/programming.

Hope you don't mind the King James version:

King James Bible
Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
17And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in hisgoodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

All Israel Shall Be Saved

25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
The red highlighted part is a warning to gentiles to stay humble since they are just grafted branches and for me it did not go without notice in my early years as a bible believer. I now see why some of these verses have been possibly edited and mixed together.

I am not sure about "the fullness of the gentiles" as to who wrote that part indicating an eventual point that would precede the salvation of Israel.

Some biblical prophecy scholars expect a time when Israel will be "saved" after waking from it's "blindness". You can see how this is not going to be easy to explain to many Christians. There is certainly enough "ungodliness from Jacob" going on in Israel.
 
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Laura

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Same here. If there was influence there, I think it's more under the surface. Kind of as if Paul took the featuresof the Divine Julius and incorporated them into "Jesus Christ". The closest thing I've found to a reference in Paul's letters is his description of Jesus in 2Cor 10:1:

Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ


<snip>
There is actually another highly suggestive expression in 2Cor 2:14:

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.

The Roman Triumphal procession was the main honor given to great heroes of the Empire.

The Roman triumph (triumphus) was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state or, originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. Roman triumph - Wikipedia

I think that needs to be taken into account. By that time, Caesar had become a dirty word, IMO. Even if the Jews loved Caesar, the "Caesars" after him were a mixed bag at best, and one of them - Caligula - even tried to install a statue of himself in the Temple. There would have been some strategic advantage in preaching Caesar's qualities in the form of a newly divine figure "Jesus Christ" without the baggage of Roman emperor worship.
I've got a paper somewhere that I'll have to find, about the "Disappearance of the Caesar Cult". It discusses the fact that, in the beginning, Augustus encouraged the worship of his adopted father/uncle, because by that, he was able to be known as the "Son of God." But after a time, he decided that it was better to just sort of fade it out, give it less emphasis, and concentrate on his own position as "Son of God." But for many years, the Caesar cult persisted and there are archaeological finds attesting to this. There was a temple dedicated to Julius Caesar in Ephesus.

Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. The city was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.
From all I can tell, Ephesus was one of Paul's main hangouts.

1574240167908.png

Then, Philippi:

Philippi was a major city northwest of the nearby island, Thasos.

The city reappears in the sources during the Liberators' civil war (43–42 BC) that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Caesar's heirs Mark Antony and Octavian confronted the forces of the assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus at the Battle of Philippi on the plain to the west of the city during October in 42 BC. Antony and Octavian won this final battle against the partisans of the Republic. They released some of their veteran soldiers, probably from Legion XXVIII, to colonize the city, which was refounded as Colonia Victrix Philippensium. From 30 BC Octavian established his control of the Roman state, becoming Roman emperor from 27 BC. He reorganized the colony and established more settlers there, veterans (possibly from the Praetorian Guard) and other Italians. The city was renamed Colonia Iulia Philippensis, and then Colonia Augusta Iulia Philippensis after January, 27 BC, when Octavian received the title Augustus from the Roman Senate.

Following this second renaming, and perhaps after the first, the territory of Philippi was centuriated (divided into squares of land) and distributed to the colonists. The city kept its Macedonian walls, and its general plan was modified only partially by the construction of a forum, a little to the east of the site of Greek agora. It was a "miniature Rome", under the municipal law of Rome, and governed by two military officers, the duumviri, who were appointed directly from Rome.

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Notice especially that the city of Philippi was settled by Roman veterans from the wars following Caesar's assassination. These veterans would have been Caesars soldiers who rallied behind Augustus. That they were ready to retire at the end of this war tells us that most of them had probably spent most of their adult lives with Julius Caesar. I don't find a legion given the number of the one above, so I think it must be a mistake. List of Roman legions - Wikipedia

And Corinth:

In 44 bce Julius Caesar reestablished Corinth as a Roman colony. The new Corinth flourished and became the administrative capital of the Roman province of Achaea. It's well known that Caesar populated Corinth with his retired legionnaires.

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Thessaloniki
The city later became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia. Later it became the capital of all the Greek provinces of the Roman Empire because of the city's importance in the Balkan peninsula.

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So it looks like Paul was mostly hanging out in Asia/Ephesus, and sailing to his various communities, the main ones of which were arranged around the Aegean Sea.

Galatia was more inland and Paul states that he was there evangelizing only because he was traveling and became ill:

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All in all, the evidence in the letters gives a very, VERY different picture of Paul's activities from what is presented in Acts.
 
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