For the original site with Greek and graphics, go to: http://www.metalog.org/paul_p.html
(3) The Paul Paradox
kata taV entolaV autou! (II-Jn 6)
who study the New Testament may well note the fact that popular 'red-letter'
editions of the text, with Christ's words thus highlighted, contain virtually
no such rubrics thruout the Epistles of Paul. With the sole exception of
the eucharistic formula at I-Cor 11:24-25, he does not quote any
sayings of the historical Yeshúa/Jesus.
Indeed furthermore, he never even once alludes to the detailed biographical
panorama, from the Nativity up to the Passion, which fills the pages of
the canonical Gospels. This is, on the face of it, a most puzzling omission.
Beyond this remarkable lack of historical concern, however, there is an
even more enigmatic aspect of Paul's record in the New Testament. For an
objective, philosophical reading of the documents would seem to reveal
a number of logical contradictions, both within his biography and
also between his theology and that of the Evangelists. It must be emphasized
that these anomalies are conceptual rather than empirical in nature. For
although they of course occur in interwoven historical, theological and
normative contexts within the NT, they nevertheless present themselves
as a priori problems of analytical consistency between various texts--regardless
of the truth or falsity of any factual claims being made or presumed by
those texts. Furthermore, these discrepancies must be similarly distinguished
from logically posterior issues concerning the ancient composition, editing,
redactions or dating of the New Testament writings, all of which are factual/historical
In sum, and stated more formally: the Pauline antinomies are logical
contradictions and therefore cannot in principle be resolved by means of
either historical investigation or textual criticism, both of which are
Neither is this the place to provide a retrospective survey of the many
past commentaries on these complex questions. I shall only append a series
of quotations from a number of eminent figures--starting with Thomas Aquinas
(citing Jerome and Augustine), Teresa of Avila, and John Locke--who are
in general agreement that Paul's doctrines appear to be seriously at odds
with the Gospel message. These excerpts suffice to show that what might
be called 'the Paul paradox' has been recognized by a remarkably wide spectrum
of prominent individuals across the centuries.
Here then is the matrix of antinomies, along with a brief statement of
the apparent logical contradiction in each case (the original Greek should
always be checked, at least via Adolph Knoch's superlative interlinear
[Biblio.#16], as modern translations often blur these very discrepancies):
1. Ac 9:7 || Ac 22:9
In the propositional calculus of modern logic, 'p & not-q' is
the truth-functional negation of 'q & not-p'. Thus 'they heard
but did not see' directly contradicts 'they saw but did not hear'. Yet
this famous event on the Damascus road was the sole original justification
for Paul's supposed commission in independence of Peter/Kefa and the other
2. Ac 9:26-29 || Gal 1:17-2:1
Did Paul then travel immediately--or seventeen years later!--from Damascus
to Jerusalem in order to meet with the entire Apostolic circle?
3. Mt 22:41-45 || Rom 1:3
Paul asserts that Christ is descended from David, which the Gospels explicitly
4. Lk 2:49, 19:45-46 || Ac 17:24
The Gospels endorse the OT designation of the Temple in Jerusalem as the
very House of the LORD. Paul
nevertheless proclaims to the Athenians that God inhabits no sanctuary
made by human hands.
5. Ac 1:15 || I-Cor 15:6
How can Christ have appeared to over 500 Brothers at a time (prior to the
ascension) when the entire Discipleship numbered only 120?
6. Mt 10:2&40, 16:15-19 || Gal 2:11-13
The explicit designation of Shimon Petros as the foremost Apostle, with
all the delegated authority of the Lord himself, logically precludes any
other Disciple or Apostle opposing him 'to his face' and calling him a
7. Mt 28:16-20, Ac 10:1-11:18 || Gal 2:6-9
The Gospel doctrine is clearly that, after the resurrection, the remaining
eleven Apostles were sent forth to proclaim the good news to the whole
world. Paul nevertheless claims to be the one and only Apostle to
the gentiles ('the' Apostle as he is often called), while Peter and the
others according to this view were to be restricted to evangelizing among
8. Mt 5:48, Lk 1:6, Jn 1:14, 6:53-56 || Rom
The incarnation of the Logos, and also the injunction to be perfect, entail
that those who are in the flesh can indeed please God.
9. Lk 24:36-43, Jn 11:43-44, 20:27, Ac 1:9-11,
Ph 25 || I-Cor 15:50
The evangelists proclaim an incarnate resurrection and parousia (second
coming), whereas Paul on the contrary takes an anti-corporeal, gnostic
10. Lk 4:5-8, Jn 18:36, 19:18, Ac 4:26 (Ps
2:2) || Rom 13:1-5
The celestial kingdom is described in the Gospels as of another order from
the entire realm of the nations, which are ruled by Satan and whereby Christ
was crucified. On the other hand, the secular authorities with all their
weaponry (including Mk 15:16 ff.??) are stated by Paul to be God's own
11. Mt 22:21
|| Ac 25:11
Christ cedes taxes to Caesar, Paul cedes his personal security to him (Nero,
12. Dt 23:15-16, Mt 23:10-12, Jn 8:31-36 ||
Col 4:1, I-Tim 6:1-2, Philem 10-19
The re-conceptualization in the Gospels promises to emancipate the believers
from oppressive relationships, while Paul literally endorses slavery within
13. Mt 12:46-50, 23:8-9, Lk 14:25-26, Jn 1:12-13,
3:1-8, 11:52 || Col 3:18-21, I-Tim 5:8
Christ teaches that family ties are to be renounced in favor of--that
is, replaced by--the Father/Motherhood of God together with the Brother/Sisterhood
of their incarnate Sons and Daughters, whereas Paul adamantly defends the
traditional family structure.
14. Mt 19:10-12, Lk 14:20-26, 18:28-30, 20:34-36
|| I-Cor 7:2-16 & 9:5 (?!), Eph 5:22-24, I-Tim 3:1-4:3
The Gospels stipulate that those worthy of salvation must transcend matrimony
(note that Lk 18:28-30 occurs after Lk 4:38-39). Paul notwithstanding
permits a continuation of marriage among the Disciples.
15. Num 6:5, Lev 19:27, Mt 2:23 (Jud 13:5),
Tr 21 || I-Cor 11:14
The Hebrew tradition was that long hair on male or female is a sign of
holiness and special devotion to God. Indeed the word at Mt 2:23 is NAZWRAIOS
(the LXX or Septuagint term for Nazirite), not NAZARHNOS
(i.e. someone from Nazareth). Were not John the Baptist and Christ both
thus consecrated from birth?
16. Mt 6:24-34, 10:8, Mk 10:13-31, Lk 14:28-33,
Ac 4:32-36 || I-Cor 11:34, II-Thes 3:6-12
Christ decrees a cessation of working for mammon, donating all private
possessions to the poor, and living thereafter communally--childlike and
without anxiety day-to-day like the birds and the flowers, with all shared
possessions being distributed equitably among those who have need--thus
lifting the curse of toil from mankind (Gen 3:17-19). Paul's advice, on
the contrary, is to 'eat at home' and avoid idlers, who must either work
or go hungry.
17. Mk 7:14-23, Lk 7:34 || Rom 14:21, I-Cor
Either we ought, or we ought not, to maintain some particular diet for
religious reasons. Yet Paul agrees with neither the OT's dietary rules
(kashrut) nor the Savior's remarkable midrash (commentary)
18. Mt 12:19 (Isa 42:2), Lk 10:7 || Ac 17:16-34,
Paul preaches house-to-house, as well as in the streets and squares--contrary
to Christ's paradigm.
19. Mt 6:5-6 || I-Tim 2:8
Paul demands the very same outspoken prayer which Christ condemns as exhibitionist;
the Savior states that one should only pray in solitude and in secret,
20. Mt 18:1-4, Mk 9:33-35, Lk 14:7-11 || II-Cor
Paul's recounting of his travels is insubordinately boastful and rivalrous--rather
than humble, respectful and obedient--toward those who preceded him in
21. Mt 5:43-48, 7:1-5, 9:10-13, 18:21-35,
Jn 8:2-11 || I-Cor 5, Gal 5:12, Tit 3:10-11
The Gospel attitude toward wrongdoers is merciful, yet Paul's is frankly
inquisitional. Is 'turning someone over to Satan for the extermination
of the flesh' intended to mean delivering him to the secular authorities
for execution (as in Jn 19:17-18)? Are we to love our enemies or excoriate
22. Mt 23:8-12 || Ac 20:28, I-Cor 4:15, I-Tim
Paul introduces the terms 'father' and 'deacon' and 'bishop' to designate
religious leaders--the very sort of title (along with 'pastor', 'minister',
etc.) which Christ had explicitly prohibited. Indeed, the passage in Matthew
would seem to preclude any kind of hierarchy in the Discipleship
other than simple seniority (thus PRESBUTEROS,
'elder', in Ac 21:18, Jas 5:14, I-Pet 5:1, II-Jn 1--by which criterion
Paul was obliged to submit to the original Apostles, quite contrary
to II-Cor 11:5 & Gal 2:6).
23. Gen 17:10, Lk 2:21 || Ac 16:3 (?!), Gal
5:2, Phlp 3:2, Tit 1:10-11
Saying that it is necessary 'to gag (EPISTOMIZEIN)
circumcisionist dogs' is completely out of place in an Apostolic context.
In any event, even if Christ referred to that custom parabolically--as
in Th 53--he certainly did not forbid its physical practice.
24. Lk 11:27-28, Jn 4:1-30, 11:20-35, 20:11-18,
Th 21 || I-Cor 14:33-35, I-Tim 2:11-15
Various women speak up boldly to the Savior. Later, Mariam Magdalene as
first witness (!) of the resurrection is sent by Christ to relate (AGGELLW:
p66* À* A B) his rising
to the Apostles themselves. This is not a teaching of mere female submissiveness
or keeping quiet in the Convocation!
25. Lk 7:36-8:3, 10:38-42, 23:55-24:11, Jn
12:1-3, Th 61b, 114, Ph 59 || I-Cor 7:1-2, Eph 5:22-24
The Gospels represent women as an intimate part of Christ's entourage--thus
rescinding the punishment of husband-domination in Gen 3:16. Paul emphatically
opposes any liberated role for females.
26. Mt 5:17-19, 19:16-19, Lk 16:29-31, Ac
21:17-24! || Rom 7:6, Gal 3:10, 5:18
If the entire Torah--the decalogue in particular, but also the remaining
mitzvot (moral rules) such as Lev 19:18 et passim--is in effect
until the sky and earth pass away, then the Mosaic Law is not an
obsolete curse from which believers are absolved. This was the very topic
at issue when, after Paul had completed his three missionary journeys,
'all of the Elders' (!) in Jerusalem required him to take the Nazirite
vow--to prove his continuing adherence to the Torah.
27. Mt 7:21, 19:16-19, 25:31-46, Jn 13:34!,
14:21, 15:10, Jas 2:14-26 || Rom 3:28, 10:9, I-Cor 15:35-44
Christ says that one's calling him 'Lord' is not enough, but rather that
the Disciple's total obedience is demanded; both the OT and the Gospels
require obedience to a plenitude of divine commandments, with resultant
fruitful deeds. Paul on the other hand states that a simple confession
of faith, along with a belief in Christ's (merely spiritual, not corporeal)
resurrection, suffices--a thoroughly antinomian doctrine. (This subject
must be carefully distinguished from that of forgiveness--both among
humans and between God and humankind--as a pre-eminently innovative tenet
in the Gospels. For of course absolution logically presupposes a transgression
of the rules, not their abrogation; compare e.g. Ezek 18 with Mt 6:14-15--forgiveness
28. Gen 49, Jud 2:16 ff., Mt 19:28, Ac 1:13-26,
Rev/Ap 2:2, 21:14 || I-Cor 9:1-2, II-Cor 11:5-13
Finally, we must observe the fact that the permanent tally of the Apostles
was established by the Savior at exactly twelve (for obvious reasons of
historical symbolism--note the symmetry at Rev/Ap 21:12-14), and moreover
that Paul was never numbered in that circle.
canon of the New Testament was not ecclesiastically established until
the Third Council of Carthage in 397 AD. Precisely what transpired during
the preceding four centuries is notoriously obscure, as the original Gospel
Messianics were eventually supplanted by the Pauline 'Christians' (Ac 11:25-26);
see in this regard Walter Bauer's magisterial study, Orthodoxy
and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Tübingen 1934, Philadelphia
of course is that the Gospels themselves, of which tradition Paul was evidently
ignorant, were ultimately only preserved by the Pauline Church, which also
disseminated the very OT which Paul himself had disdained--thus accomplishing
the globalization of the canonical Bible. My purpose here, however, has
been merely to format a set of scriptural dichotomies, in order to exhibit
the underlying logic of the ancient Messianic/Paulianity schism as essentially
a conceptual (and of course personal) rather than a factual issue. This
in turn may hopefully serve to stimulate a discussion both of the apostolic
status of Saul of Tarsus and thus of his inclusion in the canon. For he
seems never to have joined Christ's Discipleship at all (which would have
meant accepting Peter's spiritual authority), much less to have become
questions cannot be papered over, nor can they be settled by institutional
fiat. For their illuminating implication is that traditional Christianity--as
defined by the classical NT canon including both Gospels and Epistles--is
logically self-contradictory and hence inherently unstable. Or, in a contemporary
analogy, we might say that Paul's writings are like a computer virus: a
'theological virus' which, downloaded with the Gospels, completely changes
the latter program, rendering it not gibberish but rather transmuted into
another doctrine altogether. In order to avoid such dilemmas, 'the Discipleship'
must be delineated in terms either of the evangelists or of Paul, but not
both. The corresponding primal community centering on the historical Yeshúa/Christ
and Simon Peter may then for the sake of clarity be distinguished as 'Messianics'
or 'Christics' or 'Apostolics'.
Appendix: Quotations regarding Paul
(in chronological order)
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I-II, Q.103,
Art.4, Reply Obj.2 (1272): According to Jerome, Peter [in Gal 2:6-14] withdrew
himself from the Gentiles by pretense, in order to avoid giving scandal
to the Jews, of whom he was the Apostle; hence he did not sin at all in
acting thus. On the other hand, Paul in like manner made a pretense of
blaming him, in order to avoid scandalizing the Gentiles, whose Apostle
he was. But Augustine disapproves of this solution.
Teresa of Avila, Accounts of Conscience, XVI
(1571): It seemed to me that, concerning what St. Paul says about the confinement
of women--which has been stated to me recently, and even previously I had
heard that this would be the will of God--[the Lord] said to me: 'Tell
them not to follow only one part of the Scripture, to look at others, and
[see] if they will perchance be able to tie my hands.'
John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity
(1695): It is not in the epistles we are to learn what are the fundamental
articles of faith, where they are promiscuously and without distinction
mixed with other truths.... We shall find and discern those great and necessary
points best in the preaching of our Savior and the Apostles ... out of
the history of the evangelists.
Thomas Morgan, The Moral Philosopher (1737-40):
St. Paul then, it seems, preach'd another and quite different Gospel from
what was preach'd by Peter and the other Apostles.
Peter Annet, Critical Examination of the Life of
St. Paul (letter to Gilbert West, 1746): We should never finish, were
we to relate all the contradictions which are to be found in the writings
attributed to St. Paul.... Generally speaking it is St. Paul ... that ought
to be regarded as the true founder of Christian theology,... which from
its foundation has been incessantly agitated by quarrels [and] divisions.
Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 'Paul'
(Varberg edition, 1765): Paul did not join the nascent society of the Christians,
which at that time was half-Jewish.... Is it possible to excuse Paul for
having reprimanded Peter?... What would be thought today of a man who intended
to live at our expense, he and his woman, judge us, punish us, and confound
the guilty with the innocent?
Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire (1776): The Messiah himself, and his disciples who conversed
with him on earth, instead of authorizing by their example the most minute
observances of the Mosaic law,... [should, like Paul,] have published to
the world the abolition of those useless and obsolete ceremonies.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Characteristics of the
Present Age (1806): [The] Christian System ... [is] a degenerate form
of Christianity, and the authorship of which ... [must be] ascribed to
the Apostle Paul.
Thomas Jefferson, 'Letter to William Short' (1820):
Paul was the ... first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.
Jeremy Bentham, Not Paul But Jesus (1823):
It rests with every professor of the religion of Jesus to settle with himself,
to which of the two religions, that of Jesus or that of Paul, he will adhere.
Ferdinand Christian Baur, 'The Christ Party in the
Corinthian Church, the Opposition between Petrine and Pauline Christianity
in the Ancient Church, and the Apostle Peter in Rome' (1831); The Church
History of the First Three Centuries (1853): What kind of authority
can there be for an 'Apostle' who, unlike the other Apostles, had never
been prepared for the Apostolic office in Jesus' own school but had only
later dared to claim the Apostolic office on the basis of his own authority?
|| The only question comes to be how the Apostle Paul appears in his Epistles
to be so indifferent to the historical facts of the life of Jesus.... He
bears himself but little like a disciple who has received the doctrines
and the principles which he preaches from the Master whose name he bears.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'The Lord's Supper' (1832): It
does not appear that the opinion of St. Paul, all things considered, ought
to alter our opinion derived from the evangelists.
Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and
Merrimack Rivers (1849): It is necessary not to be Christian to appreciate
the beauty and significance of the life of Christ.
Søren Kierkegaard, The Journals (1849,'50,'54,'55):
In Christ the religious is completely present-tense; in Paul it is already
on the way to becoming doctrine. One can imagine the rest!... This trend
has been kept up for God knows how many centuries. || When Jesus Christ
lived, he was indeed the prototype. The task of faith is ... to imitate
Christ, become a disciple. Then Christ dies. Now, through the Apostle Paul,
comes a basic alteration.... He draws attention away from imitation and
fixes it decisively upon the death of Christ the Atoner. || What Luther
failed to realize is that the true situation is that the Apostle [Paul]
has already degenerated by comparison with the Gospel. || It becomes the
disciple who decides what Christianity is, not the master, not Christ but
Paul,... [who] threw Christianity away completely, turning it upside down,
getting it to be just the opposite of what it is in the [original] Christian
Benjamin Jowett, The Epistles of St. Paul to the
Thessalonians, Galatians and Romans (1855): Our conception of the Apostolical
age is necessarily based on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of
St. Paul. It is in vain to search ecclesiastical writings for further information....
Confining ourselves, then, to the original sources, we cannot but be struck
by the fact, that of the first eighteen years after the day of Pentecost,
hardly any account is preserved to us.... It seems as if we had already
reached the second stage in the history of the Apostolic Church, without
any precise knowledge of the first.
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit (1857): There
was the dreary Sunday of his childhood, when he sat with his hands before
him, scared out of his senses by a horrible tract which commenced business
with the poor child by asking him, why he was going to perdition?,... and
which, for the further attraction of his infant mind, had a parenthesis
in every other line with some such hiccoughing reference as 2 Ep.Thess.
c.iii v.6&7 ['Keep away from any brother who travels about in idleness'].
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859): The Gospel
always refers to a pre-existing morality,... the Old Testament.... St.
Paul, a declared enemy to this Judaical mode of interpreting the doctrine
... of his Master, equally assumes a pre-existing morality, namely that
of the Greeks and Romans;... even to the extent of giving an apparent sanction
Ernest Renan, Saint Paul (1869): True Christianity,
which will last forever, comes from the Gospels, not from the epistles
of Paul. The writings of Paul have been a danger and a hidden rock, the
causes of the principal defects of Christian theology.
Feodor Dostoyevsky, The Diary of a Writer (1880);
The Brothers Karamazov (1880): If slavery prevailed in the days
of the Apostle Paul, this was precisely because the churches which originated
then were not yet perfect, as we perceive from the Epistles of the Apostle
himself. However, those members of the congregations who, individually,
attained perfection no longer owned or could have had slaves, because these
became brethren, and a brother, a true brother, cannot have a brother as
his slave. || This child born of the son of the devil and of a holy woman:...
they baptized him 'Paul'.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn (1881): The story
of one of the most ambitious and obtrusive of souls, of a head as superstitious
as it was crafty, the story of the Apostle Paul--who knows this, except
a few scholars? Without this strange story, however, without the confusions
and storms of such a head, such a soul, there would be no Christianity.
Leo Tolstoy, My Religion (1884): The separation
between the doctrine of life and the explanation of life began with the
preaching of Paul who knew not the ethical teachings set forth in the Gospel
of Matthew, and who preached a metaphisico-cabalistic theory entirely foreign
to Christ; and this separation was perfected in the time of Constantine,
when it was found possible to clothe the whole pagan organization of life
in a Christian dress, and without changing it to call it Christianity.
Frederick Engels, 'On the History of Early Christianity'
(1894): Attempts have been made to conceive ... all the messages [of John's
Revelation/Apocalypse] as directed against Paul, the false Apostle....
The so-called Epistles of Paul ... are not only extremely doubtful but
also totally contradictory.
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
(Gifford Lectures, 1901): This is the religious melancholy and 'conviction
of sin' that have played so large a part in the history of Protestant Christianity....
As Saint Paul says: self-loathing, self-despair, an unintelligible and
intolerable burden ... [--a] typical [case] of discordant personality,
with melancholy in the form of self-condemnation and sense of sin.
William Wrede, Paul (1904): The obvious contradictions
in the three accounts [of Paul's conversion in Ac 9 & 22 & 26]
are enough to arouse distrust of all that goes beyond this kernel.... The
moral majesty of Jesus, his purity and piety, his ministry among his people,
his manner as a prophet, the whole concrete ethical-religious content of
his earthly life, signifies for Paul's Christology--nothing whatever....
If we do not wish to deprive both figures of all historical distinctness,
the name 'disciple of Jesus' has little applicability to Paul.... Jesus
or Paul: this alternative characterizes, at least in part, the religious
and theological warfare of the present day.
Albert Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical
Jesus (1906); Out of My Life and Thought (1931); The Mysticism
of St. Paul (1931): Paul ... did not desire to know Christ after the
flesh.... Those who want to find a way from the preaching of Jesus to early
Christianity are conscious of the peculiar difficulties raised. ... Paul
shows us with what complete indifference the earthly life of Jesus was
regarded by primary Christianity. || The rapid diffusion of Paul's ideas
can be attributed to his belief that the death of Christ signified the
end of the Law [of Moses]. In the course of one or two generations this
concept became the common property of the Christian faith, although it
stood in contradiction to the tradition teaching represented by the Apostles
at Jerusalem. || What is the significance for our faith and for our religious
life, of the fact that the Gospel of Paul is different from the Gospel
of Jesus?... The attitude which Paul himself takes up towards the Gospel
of Jesus is that he does not repeat it in the words of Jesus, and does
not appeal to its authority.... The fateful thing is that the Greek, the
Catholic and the Protestant theologies all contain the Gospel of Paul in
a form which does not continue the Gospel of Jesus, but displaces it.
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth (1909);
Notebooks (date?): Paul ... advised against sexual intercourse altogether.
A great change from the divine view. || If Christ were here now, there
is one thing he would not be--a Christian.
Gerald Friedlander, The Jewish Sources of the Sermon
on the Mount (1911): Paul has surely nothing to do with the Sermon
on the Mount.... The Sermon says: 'Beware of false prophets, who come to
you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves' (Matt.vii.15).
This is generally understood as a warning against untrustworthy leaders
in religion.... Does the verse express the experience of the primitive
Church? Might it not be a warning against Paul and his followers?
Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life
(1913); The Agony of Christianity (1931): Paul had not personally
known Jesus, and hence he discovered him as Christ.... The important thing
for him was that Christ became man and died and was resurrected, and not
what he did in his life--not his ethical work as a teacher. || During Christ's
lifetime, Paul would never have followed him.
George Bernard Shaw, Androcles and the Lion,
Introduction (1915): There is not one word of Pauline Christianity in the
characteristic utterances of Jesus.... There has really never been a more
monstrous imposition perpetrated than the imposition of Paul's soul upon
the Soul of Jesus.... It is now easy to understand why the Christianity
of Jesus failed completely to establish itself politically and socially,
and was easily suppressed by the police and the Church, whilst Paulinism
overran the whole western civilized world, which was at that time the Roman
Empire, and was adopted by it as its official faith.
Martin Buber, 'The Holy Way' (1918); Two Types
of Faith (1948): The man who, in transmitting Judaism to the peoples,
brought about its breakup,... this violator of the spirit,... [was] Saul,
the man from Tarsus.... He transmitted Jesus' teaching ... to the nations,
handing them the sweet poison of faith, a faith that was to disdain works,
exempt the faithful from realization, and establish dualism in the [Christian]
world. It is the Pauline era whose death agonies we today [in World War
I] are watching with transfixed eyes. || Not merely the Old Testament belief
and the living faith of post-Biblical Judaism are opposed to Paul, but
also the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount.... One must see Jesus apart
from his historical connection with Christianity.... It is Peter [rather
than Paul] who represents the unforgettable recollection of the conversations
of Jesus with the Disciples in Galilee.
Thomas Edward Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
(1919): Christianity was a hybrid, except in its first root not essentially
Carl Gustav Jung, 'The Psychological Foundations of
Belief in Spirits' (1919); 'A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the
Trinity' (1940): Saul's ... fanatical resistance to Christianity,... as
we know from the Epistles, was never entirely overcome. || It is frankly
disappointing to see how Paul hardly ever allows the real Jesus of Nazareth
to get a word in.
Herbert George Wells, The Outline of History
(1920): St. Paul and his successors added to or completed or imposed upon
or substituted another doctrine for--as you may prefer to think--the plain
and profoundly revolutionary teachings of Jesus, by expounding ... a salvation
which could be obtained very largely by belief and formalities, without
any serious disturbance of the believer's ordinary habits and occupations.
James Joyce, Ulysses (1922): Robbing Peter
to pay Paul.
Franz Kafka, The Castle (1926): Barnabas is
certainly not an official, not even one in the lowest category.... One
shouldn't suddenly send an inexperienced youngster like Barnabas ... into
the Castle, and then expect a truthful account of everything from him,
interpret each single word of his as if it were a revelation, and base
one's own life's happiness on the interpretation. Nothing could be more
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu
(1927): The mystical Christ, the universal Christ of St. Paul, has neither
meaning nor value in our eyes except as an expansion of the Christ who
was born of Mary and who died on the cross. The former essentially draws
his fundamental quality of undeniability and concreteness from the latter.
However far we may be drawn into the divine spaces opened up to us by Christian
mysticism, we never depart from the Jesus of the gospels.
Mahatma Gandhi, 'Discussion on Fellowship', Young
India (1928): I draw a great distinction between the Sermon on the
Mount and the Letters of Paul. They are a graft on Christ's teaching, his
own gloss apart from Christ's own experience.
Kahil Gibran, Jesus the Son of Man (1928):
This Paul is indeed a strange man. His soul is not the soul of a free man.
He speaks not of Jesus nor does he repeat His Words. He would strike with
his own hammer upon the anvil in the Name of One whom he does not know.
Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (vol
II, 1928): Paul had for the Jesus-communities of Jerusalem a scarcely veiled
contempt.... 'Jesus is the Redeemer and Paul is his Prophet'--this is the
whole content of his message.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929):
That Saint Paul.... He's the one who makes all the trouble.
Rudolf Bultmann, 'The Significance of the Historical
Jesus for the Theology of Paul' (1929): It is most obvious that [Paul]
does not appeal to the words of the Lord in support of his strictly theological,
anthropological and soteriological views.... When the essentially Pauline
conceptions are considered, it is clear that there Paul is not dependent
on Jesus. Jesus' teaching is--to all intents and purposes--irrelevant for
Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism
(Second Series, 1933): Te-shan (780-865 [AD]) ... was very learned in the
teaching of the sutra and was extensively read in the commentaries....
He heard of this Zen teaching in the south [of China], according to which
a man could be a Buddha by immediately taking hold of his inmost nature.
This he thought could not be the Buddha's own teaching, but [rather] the
Evil-One's.... Te-shan's idea was to destroy Zen if possible.... [His]
psychology reminds us of that of St. Paul.
Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest
Christianity (1934): As far as Paul is concerned, in the Apocalypse
[Rev/Ap 21:14] only the names of the twelve apostles are found on the foundations
of the New Jerusalem--there is no room for Paul.... For Justin [Martyr
in the mid-second century], everything is based on the gospel tradition....
The name of Paul is nowhere mentioned by Justin;...not only is his name
lacking, but also any congruence with his epistles.... If one may be allowed
to speak rather pointedly, the apostle Paul was the only arch-heretic known
to the apostolic age.... We must look to the circle of the twelve apostles
to find the guardians of the most primitive information about the life
and preaching of the Lord.... This treasure lies hidden in the synoptic
Herbert A.L. Fisher, A History of Europe (1935):
Paul of Tarsus ... drew a clear line of division between [the] two sects....
Christian and Jew sprang apart.
Henry Miller, Black Spring (1936): That maniac
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (1980,
notes from 1937): The spring which flows gently and limpidly in the Gospels
seems to have froth on it in Paul's Epistles.... To me it's as though I
saw human passion here, something like pride or anger, which is not in
tune with the humility of the Gospels.... I want to ask--and may this be
no blasphemy--'What might Christ have said to Paul?'... In the Gospels--as
it seems to me--everything is less pretentious, humbler, simpler. There
you find huts; in Paul a church. There all men are equal and God himself
is a man; in Paul there is already something like a hierarchy.
Kenneth Patchen, The Journal of Albion Moonlight
(1941): We were proceeding leisurely down the main street in St. Paul when
suddenly, without warning of any kind, an immense octopus wrapped his arms
around our car.
Will Durant, Caesar and Christ (1944): Paul
created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found
in the words of Christ.... Through these interpretations Paul could neglect
the actual life and sayings of Jesus, which he had not directly known....
He had replaced conduct with creed as the test of virtue. It was a tragic
Paul Schubert, 'Urgent Tasks for New Testament Research',
in H.R. Willoughby (ed.), The Study of the Bible Today and Tomorrow
(1947): As regards Paul and his letters there is no notable agreement [among
modern theologians] on any major issue.
Robert Frost, A Masque of Mercy (1947): Paul:
he's in the Bible too. He is the fellow who theologized Christ almost out
of Christianity. Look out for him.
Herbert J. Muller, The Uses of the Past (1952):
Saul of Tarsus, who became St. Paul,... knew Jesus only by hearsay, and
rarely referred to his human life.... Paul preached a gospel about Jesus
that was not taught by the Jesus of the synoptic Gospels.... Setting himself
against [the] other disciples,... he was largely responsible for the violent
break with Judaism.... He contributed a radical dualism of flesh and spirit
unwarranted by the teachings of Jesus.
Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ
(1955): The door opened. A squat, fat hunchback, still young, but bald,
stood on the threshold. His eyes were spitting fire.... 'Are you Saul?'
Jesus asked, horrified.... 'I am Paul. I was saved--glory be to God!--and
now I've set out to save the world....' 'My fine lad,' Jesus replied, 'I've
already come back from where you're headed.... Did you see this resurrected
Jesus of Nazareth?' Jesus bellowed. 'Did you see him with your own eyes?
What was he like?' 'A flash of lightning--a flash of lightning which spoke.'
'Liar!... What blasphemies you utter! What effronteries! What lies! Is
it with such lies, swindler, that you dare to save the world?' Now it was
Paul's turn to explode. 'Shut your shameless mouth!' he shouted.... 'I
don't give a hoot about what's true and what's false, or whether I saw
him or didn't see him.'
W.D. Davies, 'Paul and Jewish Christianity', in J.
Daniélou (ed.), Théologie du Judéo-Chriantianisme
(1958): Jewish-Christians [opposing Paul] ... must have been a very strong,
widespread element in the earliest days of the Church.... They took for
granted that the gospel was continuous with Judaism.... According to some
scholars, they must have been so strong that right up to the fall of Jerusalem
in AD 70 they were the dominant element in the Christian movement.
Lawrence Durrell, Clea (1960): For a brief
moment [freedom] looked possible, but St. Paul restored ... the iron handcuffs.
Hans Joachim Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of the
Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History (English translation
1961): [Drawing a] stark contrast between the religion of the law and the
religion of grace,... Paul had lost all understanding of the character
of the Hebraic berith [covenant] as a partnership involving mutual
obligations, [and thus] he failed to grasp the inner meaning of the Mosaic
Erich Fromm, The Dogma of Christ (1963): Paul
appealed ... to some of the wealthy and educated class, especially merchants,
who by means of their adventures and travels had a decided importance for
the diffusion of Christianity.... [This] had been the religion of a community
of equal brothers, without hierarchy or bureaucracy, [but] was converted
into 'the Church', the reflected image of the absolute monarchy of the
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963): The
real architect of the Christian church was not the disreputable, sun-baked
Hebrew who gave it his name but [rather] the mercilessly fanatical and
self-righteous St. Paul.
Georg Strecker, 'On the Problem of Jewish Christianity',
Appendix 1 to Walter Bauer, op.cit. (1964 ed.): Jewish Christianity,
according to the witness of the New Testament, stands at the beginning
of the development of church history, so that it is not the [pauline] gentile
Christian 'ecclesiastical doctrine' that represents what is primary, but
rather a Jewish Christian theology.
Gilles Quispel, 'Gnosticism and the New Testament',
in J. Philip Hyatt (ed.), The Bible in Modern Scholarship (papers
read at the 100th meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, 1964):
The Christian community of Jerusalem ... did not accept [Paul's] views
on the [Mosaic] Law.
Helmut Koester, 'The Theological Aspects of Primitive
Christian Heresy', in James Robinson (ed.), The Future of our Religious
Past (German edition 1964); Ancient Christian Gospels (1990);
with Stephen Patterson, 'The Gospel of Thomas: Does It Contain Authentic
Sayings of Jesus?', Bible Review (1990): Paul himself stands in
the twilight zone of heresy. || One immediately encounters a major difficulty.
Whatever Jesus had preached did not become the content of the missionary
proclamation of Paul.... Sayings of Jesus do not play a role in Paul's
understanding of the event of salvation.... The Epistle of James also shares
with the Sermon on the Mount the rejection of the Pauline thesis that Christ
is the end of the [Mosaic] law. || Paul did not care at all what Jesus
had said.... Had Paul been completely successful, very little of the sayings
of Jesus would have survived.
Emil G. Kraeling, The Disciples (1966): The
peculiar, unharmonized relationship between Paul and the Twelve that existed
from the beginning was never fully adjusted.... Modern Biblical research
in particular has made it difficult to put the religion of the New Testament
(to say nothing of the Bible as a whole) into the straightjacket of Paulinism.
Bruce Vawter, The Four Gospels (1967): We have
no authentic information about the activity of most of the Twelve after
the first days of the Church in Jerusalem, but it is likely enough that
they remained identified with Jewish Christianity, particularly, perhaps,
with the Galilean Christianity about which we know practically nothing....
This Christianity ... all but disappeared.
Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought
(1968): The [Mosaic] law was not evaluated in the negative way in which
we usually do it; for the Jews it was a gift and a joy.... The way of despair
... was the way of people like Paul, Augustine, and Luther.... Paul's conflict
with the Jewish Christians did not have to be continued. Instead of that,
the positive elements in the faith, which could provide an understandable
content for the pagans, had to be brought out.
Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Creative Mythology
(1968): The reign in Europe of that order of unreason, unreasoning submission
to the dicta of authority:... Saint Paul himself had opened the door to
such impudent idiocies.
Günther Bornkamm, Paul (1969): Above all
there results the chasm which separates Jesus from Paul and the conclusion
that more than the historical Jesus ... it is Paul who really founded Christianity....
Already during his lifetime Paul was considered an illegitimate Apostle
and a falsifier of the Christian message.... For a long time, Judeo-Christianity
rejected him completely, as a rival to Peter and James, the brother of
the Lord.... Paul does not connect immediately with ... [the] words ...
of the earthly Jesus. Everything seems to indicate that he didn't even
David Ben-Gurion, Israel: A Personal History
(1971): Jesus probably differed little from many other Jews of his generation.
The new religion was given an anti-Jewish emphasis by Saul,... [who] gave
Christianity a new direction. He sought to uproot Jewish law and commandments,
and to eliminate Judaism as a national entity striving to achieve the Messianic
vision of the Prophets.
William Steuart McBirnie, The Search for the Twelve
Apostles (1973): Why did Jesus choose only twelve chief Apostles? Obviously,
to correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel.... Paul stoutly maintained
that he also was an Apostle.... Yet there is no evidence that he was ever
admitted to that inner circle of the original Twelve.... Those who expect
the Acts to be the complete early history of Christianity are doomed to
disappointment.... The Bible student is soon, and perhaps unconsciously,
caught up in the personal ministry of Paul. Peter, though prominent at
first, is later ignored, as the Acts unfolds for the reader the story of
Paul and his friends.... There is absolutely no evidence that Paul ever
recognized the 'primacy' of Peter.
Ronald Brownrigg, The Twelve Apostles (1974):
The letters of Paul present a marked contrast to Luke's writings [in his
Gospel and the Acts]. Whereas Luke suggests that the Apostles were a closed
corporation of twelve governing the whole Church, Paul disagrees, claiming
his own Apostleship to be as valid as any of the twelve.... Certainly Paul
knew no authority of the twelve.... The qualification for Apostleship,
at the election of Matthias [Ac 1:15-26], had been a divinely guided selection
and a constant companionship with Jesus throughout his [active] lifetime.
Elaine H. Pagels, The Gnostic
Paul (1975): Two antithetical traditions of Pauline exegesis have emerged
from the late first century through the second. Each claims to be authentic,
Christian, and Pauline: but one reads Paul anti-gnostically, the other
gnostically.... Whoever takes account of the total evidence may learn from
the debate to approach Pauline exegesis with renewed openness to the text.
Irving Howe, World of our Fathers (1976): The
view that sexual activity is impure or at least suspect, so often an accompaniment
of Christianity, was seldom entertained in the [east-European Jewish] shtetl.
Paul's remark that it is better to marry than to burn would have seemed
strange, if not downright impious, to the Jews.
Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ (1977): There
is a difference between the theology of the early Jewish Christian congregations
in Jerusalem which are oriented on Jesus of Nazareth, and Pauline theology,
which knows only 'the crucified'.
Thomas Maras, The Contradictions in the New Testament
(1979): In disagreement with [Matthew and Luke], who wish him to be a direct
Son of God, Paul says to us [in Rom 1:3-4] that in the flesh Jesus is the
descendent of David, and only in power is the Son of God.
Patrick Henry, New Directions in New Testament
Study (1979): There remains in the popular mind a strong suspicion
... that Paul corrupted Christianity (or even founded a different religion)....
Jesus [was] a teacher in the mainstream of Jewish prophetic piety,... while
Paul ... takes the irrevocable step away from Judaism of rejecting the
[Mosaic] law.... Paul imported into the Christian community a form of religion
characteristic of the 'mysteries',... religious movements of initiation
into secret rites and esoteric knowledge.
Juan Luis Segundo, The Person of Today confronting
Jesus of Nazareth (1982): Within less than thirty years of the events
by the synoptics concerning the life and proclamation,
death and resurrection of Jesus, Paul permits himself to compose a long
and complex exposition of what this means, retaining, apparently, only
the two final specific events, the death and the resurrection. Jesus' words
are not cited (with the exception of those pronounced over the bread and
wine at the Last Supper), his teachings are not remembered. The key terms
have disappeared which he employed to designate himself, his mission and
his immediate audience: the Son of Man, the Kingdom of God, the poor.
Jürgen Moltmann, Political Theology [&]
Ethical Theology (1984): The theology of Paul and that of the Reformation
interpreted the death of Jesus theologically as a victim of the law [of
Israel]; and they made it very clear that the resurrection and exaltation
of Christ signified the abolition of [that] law with all its demands....
[But] Jesus did not die by stoning, but rather by Roman execution.
Yigael Yadin, 'The Temple Scroll--the Longest Dead
Sea Scroll', Biblical Archaeology Review (Sept/Oct 1984): We must
distinguish between the various layers, or strata, to use an archaeological
term, of early Christianity. The theology, the doctrines and the practices
of Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul ... are not the same.
James Michener, Legacy (1987): Women ... will
no longer kowtow to the fulminations of St. Paul.
Paula Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ (1988):
Scholars, their confusion facilitated by Paul's own apparent inconsistency,...
do not agree even on what Paul said, much less why he said it.
Jon Sobrino, Jesus Christ Liberator (1991):
Paul's ... Christology is centered on the resurrected Lord, and he does
not make a detailed theological appraisal of the life of Jesus.
Stephen Mitchell, The Gospel according to Jesus
(1991): Paul of Tarsus ... [was] the most misleading of the earliest Christian
writers,... [and] a particularly difficult character: arrogant, self-righteous,
filled with murderous hatred of his opponents, terrified of God, oppressed
by what he felt as the burden of the [Mosaic] Law, overwhelmed by his sense
of sin.... He didn't understand Jesus at all. He wasn't even interested
in Jesus; just in his own idea of the Christ.
Paulo Suess, 'Acculturation', in Ignacio Ellacuría
& Jon Sobrino (eds.), Mysterium Liberationis (1991): The allegorical
exegesis of Philo (13 BC-45/50 AD), Jewish philosopher and theologian,
is present in the writings of Paul,... [who] was in many respects a figure
atypical of the primitive Church,... due to the transition from an agrarian
context--very much present in the parables--to an urban world ... of the
Shlomo Riskin, The Jerusalem Post International
Edition (March 28, 1992): Saul of Tarsus ... broke from Jewish Law,
and the religion thereby created was soon encrusted with pagan elements.
Dennis J. Trisker & Vera V. Martínez
T., They Also Believe (1992): While many persons believe that
Christianity was founded by Jesus Christ,... it is due to Paul that there
exists the organization called Christian.... In the New Testament, we can
see how Paul ... was in disagreement with the church in Jerusalem and even
held in suspicion by them.... He did not emphasize the Jewish aspect of
the teaching, and this brought about the first separation within the church.
Across the years this separation widened, making the church more pagan
and less Jewish.... Paul was no Apostle.
Xavier Zubiri, The Philosophical Problem of the
History of Religions (1993): There is absolutely no doubt that much
of St. Paul's terminology derives from the Mystery Religions.
Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture
(1993): Whether seen from a social or a theological point of view,... Christianity
in the early centuries was a remarkably diversified phenomenon.... Matthew
and Paul are both in the canon.... Many of Paul's opponents were clearly
Jewish Christians ... [who] accepted the binding authority of the Old Testament
(and therefore the continuing validity of the [Mosaic] Law) but rejected
the authority of the apostate Apostle, Paul.
Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah
(Supplement 1993); The Death of the Messiah (1994): [Regarding]
Paul's statement that Jesus 'was descended from David according to the
flesh' (Rom 1:3),... one may ask whether the evangelists who wrote of the
virgin conception would have chosen such phrasing. || Paul ... does not
quote Jesus or cite his individual deeds.
Ian Wilson, Jesus: The Evidence (1996): [The]
interest [in Paul's letters] lies in their apparent ignorance of any details
of Jesus' earthly life.... [Paul] reflected the attitudes of contemporary
society towards women rather than what we may now believe to have been
Jesus' own ideas.... We seem to be faced with a straight, first-century
clash of theologies: Paul's on the one hand, based on his other-worldly
[Damascus Road] experience; and James' [in his epistle], based on his fraternal
knowledge of the human Jesus. And, despite the authority which should be
due to the latter, it would seem to be Paul's that has been allowed to
come down to us.... Particularly significant is [James'] gentle but firm
stance on the importance of Jesus' teaching on communal living.
Alan F. Segal (for Eugene Schwartz), 'Electronic
Echoes: Using Computer Concordances for Bible Study', Biblical Archaeology
Review (Nov/Dec 1997): We can easily quantify allusions by measuring
whether a passage in one Biblical work merely repeats a few words of another
or whether it directly quotes several words running.... The results of
our research seemed to confirm ... very few clear parallels between Paul
and the Gospels.... [They] almost always express [even] the same ideas
in completely different words.... I am unconvinced by the myriad rather
weak parallels between the Gospels and Paul. Rather,... the [computer]
word study seems to show that the two are definitely unrelated.
Georg Baboukis, On the Way to One God (1999):
Paul ... is the real founder of Christianity as we live it today, which
is completely different from the Christianity of Jesus.
ADELFOTHS TOU CRISTOU