THE PAULINE CONSPIRACY

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by RJM Corbet, Jan 13, 2021 at 9:05 AM.

  1. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Following on the discussion from this thread:
    https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/19167/page-10#post-340755

    There is an extensive article on The Pauline Conspiracy here on our Interfaith Org Homepage:
    https://www.interfaith.org/articles/pauline-conspiracy/

    "Saul of Tarsus, better known as Saint Paul, has sometimes been a controversial figure in Christianity. The Gospels by themselves would feature as important wisdom literature, but Paul’s Epistles demonstrate the building of the real theology of Christianity. Although some dislike the apparent cultural inflections in the Epistles, without the theology of Saul of Tarsus there is no Christian Doctrine.

    The Pauline Conspiracy concerns the accusation that Saul of Tarsus did not simply usurp the embryonic Jersusalem Church under Jesus’s brother James, but that he also corrupted the entire original message of Christianity"


    @Thomas, @Miken, @2ndpillar,@juantoo3? Anyone else?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021 at 9:11 AM
  2. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls Staff Member

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    I'm not sure if it was really a conspiracy .. maybe it was more a case of the result of events that were taking place for the first few hundred years AD.

    eg. the Jewish temple being destroyed and the influence of Roman rule on the Christian community
    I would think that Roman Catholics have their roots in Roman society :)

    One can see different creeds form over time in all of the Abrahamic faiths.
    I don't think it's normally due to one person .. it is often due to cultural influence.

    To get at the absolute truth, we have to erase any possible tribal belief, and attempt to
    think purely on the basis of what makes most sense.
    Not an easy job, I grant you .. there are so many things to consider .. historical, theological and
    possible motives of humans in believing in different creeds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021 at 12:33 PM
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  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Great minds think alike? Or did I hear you screaming my name?

    Refutation of Pauline Controversy | Interfaith forums

    I went looking for this old thread for your request for news. I was promised a number of times that my rebuttal would be appended to Mr Garaffa's article. I only wish he was still among us to continue the conversation.
     
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  4. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    We have enough threads here for a book. I say we get together, do some crowdfunding, and publish a book called Interfaith.org Vol. 1: The Pauline Controversy. That way we can help support the online forum. I vote for @RJM Corbet to be the editor.
     
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  5. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Now it has been:
    https://www.interfaith.org/articles/pauline-conspiracy/

    Thanks @Ahanu

    IMO if a book merits publication it will be accepted by a literary agent and sold to a publisher. No need to pay to publish, and so usually such 'vanity publications' are ones rejected by publishing houses for the good reason that they're not up to standard. Of course Internet self publishing has changed all that quite a lot. But most of it just gets buried under millions of other self-published books.

    Seriously if someone here wants to try to put something together it wouldn't be me because my knowledge is much too thin.

    I realize now the Garaffa article has done the rounds here a lot in the past! I was working on cleaning up the Homepage and I linked it hoping to draw @Miken back into the discussion, because he has left us since the 'Keeping the Sabbath Holy' thread was closed for getting too acrimonious and personal, and also to encourage @2ndpillar to come back and continue the debate, and also @Thomas has indicated he still has points to make on the subject.

    https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/19167/page-10#post-340755
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021 at 10:21 AM
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not ignoring this thread!

    I recall the debates with Garaffa re 'The Pauline Conspiracy'.

    Personally, I thought it partisan from the outset, and completely over-the-top. A thesis based on unfounded assertions, subjective interpretations and dubious claims, often contradicted by the evidence. 'The Pauline Conspiracy' needed an editor to cut away the chaff, and then a step-by-step presentation of the argument.

    Discussions on the impact of Paul on Christianity are, of course, valid.

    A lot of work has been done since The New Perspective on Paul appeared in the 1970s. This discourse is of particular relevance to Garaffa's thesis, and yet he makes no reference to it, or indeed to any scholarship on Paul.

    The 'New Perspective' is a dialogue mostly within the Reformation denominations, focussing as it does on 'the Law' and the dialogue surrounding 'grace', 'faith' and 'works', and in that it's not so big an issue in the Catholic or Orthodox spheres. It does however, have a lot to say about Paul, and for a while breathed fresh air into the ideas of what constituted 2nd Temple Judaism, and especially the role of 'the Law' in Jewish culture.

    My absence so far is because I've been looking at the literature.

    For me, the question of 'Pauline Christianity' as something opposed to the teachings of Christ fails to treat the foremost and fundamental question Paul was wrangling with – the equality of Jew and Gentile within Christianity – and all subsequent questions of the Hellenisation or derailing of the Gospel.

    The questions are there, and without a final word from Paul, will remain. New scholarship casts new light, and maybe highlights previously unseen solutions and answers, but no doubt questions will remain.

    Having said that, I'll gladly pitch in my tuppence-worth, but I'd like a bit more focus, a bit more step-by-step, than Garaffa (or indeed 2ndpillar) offers. If anyone has a question or topic about Paul, fire away.
     
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  7. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Had a quick look at ages-old threads ... sheesh, we write a lot, don't we?

    But what I got from 2ndpillar was his insistence that Paul preached against 'the Law', and this again highlights The New Perspective on Paul and I would suggest a review of that might be a touchpoint on which to start a discussion.
     
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  8. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I completely agree, from the little I was able to read of it before getting bored. But it is the theory embraced by @2ndpillar and others?

    If there's anyone prepared to do that, in an essay, it could be published in the Homepage Articles section, as a counterpoint to Garaffa's thesis? I really think someone needs to do this to provide balance?
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, unless anyone else wants a go ...?
     
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  10. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Yay!
    Something to do during the lockdown, lol?
     
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  11. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Maybe I missed something, but I already had composed a rebuttal of Mr Garaffa's summary. Perhaps because it is buried in a conversation it got missed.

    I will repost here, I invite Thomas to review and append. It already quotes Mr Garaffa's Summary and provides comment and refutation.

    It is long, it requires two posts.

    I will do some editing. To be clear, I have not edited Mr Garaffa's comments at all, and recommend not doing so, let them stand as written. I presume Thomas has mod tools and is able to edit my comments as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021 at 4:53 AM
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  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Victor!

    I composed a brief "apology" to the Summary of your Thesis.

    Response to Summary of Pauline Conspiracy

    In essence I agree, contingent upon the conclusion that were it not for Paul carrying the message beyond the Jews of Palestine (a very significant contribution to the organization called Christianity), the fledgling Christianity as practiced by the Apostles in Palestine would have been obliterated by the Roman onslaught when the Temple was destroyed and after. In carrying the message of Jesus beyond the initial Jewish converts, the message was made available to any person in the world who cared to hear. This is crucial to understanding the growth and spread of Christianity, without which the fate of Christianity is tied directly to that of Judaism. As a lesser and recent sect of Judaism, Christianity would most likely have suffered a fate not unlike that of Qumran or Masada.

    Which Gamaliel? This merely notes that Paul was formally trained in the Pharisaic tradition.

    As "hired hands" (to be polite) of Paul, surely the works come into question with the end result that all of the New Testament is not trustworthy.

    This is a slippery slope. Are we to selectively edit the New Testament, and if so, where do we draw the line and by what justification? In condemning one writer by a set of standards, do we ignore those same standards when applied to other writers?

    "Paul's" domination is twofold. First, the message of Jesus was carried beyond the confines of Judaism. Second, the "firstborn" church of Christianity was laid waste by the Roman military. Seeing it in this manner, how often in the Old Testament is the younger son set above the older son? Jacob and Esau leap to mind, and Ephraim and Manasseh come to mind as well. Further, had Paul not carried the message of Jesus beyond the confines of Judaism, then it would still be requisite to be Jewish before one could be Christian.

    Is this a nice way of silencing critics? Yes, we might "draw assumptions." We might also base those "assumptions" on known history, rather than selective interpretation of texts that have long drawn criticism from scholars. We might take a bigger picture view of the affair, looking at the political climate of the region as a whole, in drawing our assessment. And we might, considering this is a subject related to the growth and promotion of a fledgling monotheistic faith in One Creator G-d, consider that that Creator G-d might have actually had some hand in the growth and promotion of said monotheistic faith. This is appeal to authority, true, but an authority without which this entire discussion is meaningless.

    To paraphrase Paul: "To the Romans I am a Roman, to the Greeks I am a Greek, to the Jews I am a Jew." Yes, Paul was a political and cultural chameleon. And I do wonder how much of the misgivings over his works are misunderstandings or misinterpretations cross-culturally, and politically motivated. It is impressive that he was able to translate a radically Jewish concept into Greek and Roman terms in order to present Jesus' message in a meaningful way to non-Jews. Perhaps this "poetic license" of Paul was later abused, his cultural chameleon methods are certainly the same methods historically used by the Catholic Church in its missionary spread throughout the world.

    Paul brought a rather deep understanding to some OT teachings, if one can get past the fluff usually taught in a typical church today.

    We do not know this.

    Poor Luke can't catch a break, he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't…"the Bible is something less than inspired by God" either way...regardless of how Luke is discounted, it further erodes the value of the Gospels and the Acts, and the New Testament by extension. Do we keep the Gospel and trash the Acts, when they are effectively the first and second halves of the same narrative?

    Depending which professional Christian scholar you are speaking of, any part of the entire Bible can be brought into question. The motive and intent to undermine the faith is quite strong in some scholars, who fail to consider the ramifications of a few well placed charges destroying the faith. What purpose is served? How does this edify, console, comfort or encourage the weak, downtrodden or fearful? How does this elevate humanity?

    Considering, if Paul was a Jew of the Pharisaic tradition having learned at the feet of Gamaliel, living during the time when animal sacrifice was practiced on a factory scale by the Jews at the Temple, and blood sacrifice was practiced by virtually every surrounding culture, I fail to see why one should be shocked at this. The Jewish Temple is usually thought of by Christians today as if it were some kind of Church or Cathedral. It was not. The inner sanctuaries were reserved solely for devout Jews born into the faith, and the inner most sanctuary was reserved solely for the High Priest on one specific day of the year. The outer court, where everybody did their religious business, going about seeking absolution of sin, was a marvel of engineering for the sole purpose of slaughter and butchering and burning the sacrifices. That is why the sellers of doves and money changers were in the outermost courtyard, offering their wares in what had become a mindless ritual devoid of any meaning. The people no longer offered sacrifice out of a sense of duty, it was something you just did because it was expected of you. Hence, a portion of the motivations that lay behind the rage fueling Jesus' cleansing of the Temple courtyard.

    Is not your theology, mine, everybody's, if we really get truthful with ourselves?

    Don't we all?

    Why? 14 years ago my eyes were much better than they are now, it troubles me greatly to watch as my vision deteriorates.

    Are you saying a student the likes of Paul, duly trained in the Pharisaic tradition, denied the Ten Commandments? I can see a lot of wiggle room pertaining to the 613 Levitical laws, which IMHO would seem necessary in order to translate what is effectively a Jewish cultural thing into a more Greek / Roman / Pagan cultural thing. Paul still remained within the confines of the Ten Commandments and The Noahide Laws once his ministry started.

    To answer the question, No. This is circular logic. You allude to laws speaking of Jesus yet provide no evidence. The Jewish interpretation is quite different. In their view Jesus did not fulfill prophecy, let alone law. It is not denial of law if the law cannot be produced. This challenge has been laid before Christians here in times past, with nothing definitive ever coming from it. In short, this is a circular supposition. How can a law that doesn't exist be denied? How can one point to a law that doesn't exist as proof, and then accuse those who don't accept a blind supposition without evidence?

    *continued*
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021 at 4:52 AM
  13. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    OK, which law? Paul did not teach against Noahide Law. Paul did not teach against the Ten Commandments. That leaves the Levitical Law. So, if no part of the 613 Levitical Laws (not a jot or tittle!) passes, then how come Christians often eat pork? How come Christians are often uncircumcised? My suggestion would be because they never were bound by Levitical Law to begin with, coming from the Pagan backgrounds that they did. Of course, others are welcome to guide their Christian faith-walk by a different set of parameters if they wish, but if one carries this line of reasoning to its natural conclusions; circumcision is a must, no unclean meats may be eaten, linsey/woolsey must be observed, the Jewish Holy Days must be observed in propriety…in effect, one must be a Jew in all aspects who also happens to believe Jesus is Messiah. This is a monumental undertaking, especially since one is not likely to gain much sympathy or assistance from the Jewish community, who view Jesus at worst as a traitor to the faith, and at best as a misguided rabbi.

    This is after having rebuked Paul for disregarding the Law? What is contemptible about saying that something as sacrosanct as Communion to a Christian should be done in the reverent and contrite (read that: correct) attitude it was intended? Indeed, considering the direct connotation between Jesus' sacrifice (of which Communion is the symbol) and the blood sacrifice of the Jewish Temple, and what was brought to light earlier about how the sacrifice had become a mindless habit, Paul was forewarning against the same mindless disrespect following onto the Christian symbol of remembrance. Bear in mind this same mindlessness was a contributing factor to the only time written that Jesus actually showed righteous indignation.

    I don't know that I would use the term "false." That one sees an alternate path does not inherently presume that G-d has chosen only one path back to Him. (Let alone, that one is specifically on that singular correct path)

    I do not speak for the church, any church, but as a humble student finding his way along the path home to my Father. On this issue we will simply have to agree to disagree. I do not take my value of Communion from Paul, but from Jesus in the role of Christ. Perhaps one must see and understand the value of the Jewish Holy Days, specifically the High Holy Day of Passover, and the timing of Jesus' sacrifice (when He "gave up the ghost") in order to fully appreciate the symbolic meaning and the reverence with which it should be rendered, if it is to be rendered properly in my view. Better not to partake of Communion or the Passover meal at all, than to do so improperly.

    This presumes people think for themselves! How few really do? The rest, as the famous atheist Neitzsche reminds us, are "cattle." Wherein lies the fault, on the cattle, or the Shepherds?

    It also presumes Shepherds are willing feed their flocks more than just the milk of babes. (Just put your indulgence money in the coffers, and all will be forgiven……can't blame that on Paul)

    Paul's activities are *not* the singular cause of the disappearance of the Jerusalem church. If we must seek one singular cause, then it is the Roman army and the Roman government. From the sack of Jerusalem, the Diaspora brought on by the Bar Kochba revolt, at least 4 "great" persecutions of the Christians in the interim leading up to Emperor Constantine, and under Constantine the consolidation by the first great Council at Nicea. This is not relying on circular reasoning, or questionable interpretation; this is historically known and accepted by any reputable scholar of history of the time.

    If this is so, then we are back to denuding the New Testament. In effect, the end result is that none of the material is reliable, ergo, trash it all. Why be a Christian? Just be a Jew and be done with it. Or a Deist, if one still prefers to eat ham and pork chops.

    Seems a lot to lay at the feet of Paul. I can understand "blaming" Paul for things he did directly, and how one may not agree with his methods and style. But it hardly seems fair, or accurate, to lay blame upon him for things that transpire hundreds of years after the man has been laid to rest!


    Caesar, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with any of this…?

    "Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought, But if it be of G-d, ye cannot overthrow it: lest haply ye be found even to fight against G-d." -Acts 5:38-39

    Of course, I suppose one could claim that since Luke was a dupe of Paul, that Paul had Luke write that just to cover his hiney…

    I have no argument with this comment. It does not require undermining Paul to achieve it. Just remember, Jesus was a Jew. To properly follow this specific path will require becoming observant of the Levitical Laws, while simultaneously being ostracized by Judaism proper. Tough task. A noble aspiration. Best of wishes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021 at 4:21 AM
  14. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Oh, I see. Yes, there are thirteen posts above and then several pages following them. But at least now the whole thread has been appended to the thesis.
    I would not ever do that @juantoo3
     
  15. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    That was my invitation to Thomas. He and I have a long history, sometimes we see eye to eye, sometimes we don't. I have learned from him, I hope I have returned the favor. He is the only one here I would trust to add his insight.

    Were Bananabrain or Dauer available I would extend the same offer to one of them.
     

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