Dream's Pauline Defense Initiative


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Accusations against Paul range from saying that he invented Christianity, to saying that he is a fictional character. This thread only tests the Hebrewology of Paul and his Jesusology -- his compliance or noncompliance with Jewish Halacha and also Jesu-Zalacha (I just coined that). If you, like some people, believe that Paul is not real than you may say I am testing the compliance of the things the Pauline Author(s) wrote. Throughout, I will impose my view, my interpretation of Paul's beliefs. That means not everybody will necessarily agree with me, so please all persons under the age of 18, please don't take me as representing all Christians. You may assume, however, that I represent Paul the Apostle as Dream thinks of him.

I am Paul. I am here to answer for my letters. If I have done anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die. Now I will attempt to explain from these letters in front of me whether I, Paul, could comply with Halacha (assuming I can spell & pronounce it), and also whether I, Paul, really believe in and agree with Jesus or not. My assertion is that I do, however I guess I'm willing to discuss it. If I'm lying or mistaken then let that be established from my letters and other Halachic resources along with the writings of the gospels and letters from other apostles (Protestant canon only, to allow for a mild case of amnesia on my part). I will draw upon accepted sources, not using myself as a resource for accepted Halacha. In this way, I hope somehow to create reasonable doubt or better against accusations that I have corrupted truth from the way that I received it.

Please stay tuned for the next exciting epistle from *Paul*.
OK, Dream, I'll play just to get you started...

Paul, how do you justify, in accord with Halaka, the eating of meats offered to idols?

I Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

I Corinthians 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

I Corinthians 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

I Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

I Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

I Corinthians 8:7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

I Corinthians 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

I Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

I Corinthians 8:10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

I Corinthians 8:11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

I Corinthians 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

I Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
(Thanks, Juantoo3. Actually, you don't have to refer to me as Paul -- I'm just trying to step into the character, however since you played, I'll play too in this post.)

I do not see what the Halakhic objection is.

What I mean in my first letter to the Corinthians becomes clearer further down in the letter, and I'll explain. The Corinthian letter is not written mostly to kosher Jews but to gentile Christians. My main concern was the conscience of idol worshipers and ex-idol worshipers, not the sacrificed food itself. Idols are nothing more than the rocks they are made of, and you might notice I emphasize this frequently. Of course Christians mustn't appear to partake in idolatry. If idol worshipers (or perhaps ex-idol worshipers) see you eat idol food purposely, then to them you are a believer in idols; not that the food has changed at all. The problem is that you're encouraging the poor idol worshipers. Don't encourage them by participating in their sacrifices, yet don't make a big issue out of idols by asking everyone where they get their meat. Why lead them to believe there is anything unusual about it?

I Thessalonians 1:9 said:
For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God,

I Corinthians 10:14-30 said:
14-18 Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?

19-23 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.

24-30 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (But if some one says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then out of consideration for the man who informed you, and for conscience' sake -- I mean his conscience, not yours -- do not eat it.) For why should my liberty be determined by another man's scruples? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? (see Psalm 50)

I didn't expect any response, but Juantoo3 already provided an important accusation. (Thank you, Juantoo3) I defended to the best of my ability, however my defense requires that Paul did not in any way intend to end normal observance of the Law of Moses among Jews. It could be an assumption, since there exists another point of view among religious scholars. What do you know about it? Have you got reason to believe Paul would have ended normal Jewish observance of things like keeping the Sabbath?
Acts 21:18-26 said:
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

It seems clear to me that the Jewish believers in Christ remained faithful to the Law, whereas the Gentiles were instructed just not to make offense of anything. Even Paul evidently kept observance of the Law.
Seems to me (for what it is worth), it wasn't Paul, it was Peter being shewn the fact that God is a respector of no persons, that "food" had nothing to do with heaven, and it was the heart of a receptive man toward God, that mattered (all that matters). God told Peter "eat". Peter balked. God told Peter again "eat". Peter balked. God said one last time "eat". Peter finally figured it out. Food was the one thing the Jews would not bend or break law on. So God used that analogy for Peter (not Paul), in order to show him that the gentiles were included in God's plan.

Ya'll ought to read your bible closer...
I apologize for that. Yeah, I know I suggested before that maybe Paul was only writing to Gentiles and not Jews; but I was suffering from amnesia again. Its been a long time. Ok, now I remember.....

Although Peter and believing Jews began to eat new foods with the Gentile converts, the Christian view insists they did not abandon the Halachah given to Moses at Sinai. Instead, Peter was permitted to eat with Gentiles through Jesus' Halakhic authority, by which he overturned the accumulated decisions of past councils. I do not think Jesus would have overturned divine words given to Moses. Christians believe that the kosher rules are appropriately simplified for Jews who believe Jesus was sent from God. Paul explains in Colossians that men invent many rules representing good intentions, but which are not really effectual.
Colossians 2:20-23 said:
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.
Jesus claimed to be the Prophet of whom Moses spoke, and overturned rules about eating that he considered to be extraordinary. I suspect that by doing so, he claimed Moses would have made the same decision. In the Christian view, the directions concerning kosher eating were simplified in order to better uphold the entire Law of Moses on Sinai. This is explained in Colossians 2 above, and in other places.


Additional point said:

A lesson from the example of Jesus 'Overturning' previous opinions and tables in the temple:

Jesus claimed to be able to rightly interpret Halacha as if he able to speak to God face to face like Moses yet this does not mean he would overturn Moses. Jesus did, however, overturn the marketing tables in the temple (Matthew 21:12), and by doing so declared them to be non halakhic! He did not overturn Moses, but his opinion could overturn mere councils and also the Sanhedrin's rulings. (It is the same thing with kosher foods, especially since Jesus had already been resurrected at the time that the kosher rules were overturned.) Jesus was not arrested for wielding his whip and overturning tables, because (much to their credit and as an example for us) the Jewish people chose to allow him to prove his claim. The money changers and bird sellers suffered correction under his whip without fighting back. Like them, Christians must be slow to accuse anyone, even when it hurts. The Jewish people in this crowd correctly observed the process for determining the identity of the prophet given in Deuteronomy 18:15-22.

Christians must not accuse Jews of the death of Jesus Christ, because the Christian view of the slaying of the king is that it was done unintentionally, a pure mistake. In fact, his death was executed outside the city specifically using the scriptural symbols of an anonymous slaying.(Deuteronomy 21:1, Luke 23:34) Even if I am wrong, lets follow the example of those who at their own expense patiently withhold an accusation until it is provable.
Lots more to go through:

Still got to look into Paul's opinion on a few other difficulties like baptism, the existence of homosexuals, etc etc. There are also Paul's opinions in Galations to consider. I may lightly address Paul's opinion about women, however I won't be going into it very deeply. The only appropriate way to approach it is by going through all the laws concerning women, and I'm no master. Someone else can do it.
Ok, the puppy can stay.

Additionally, it is nice to know the forum brains are potentially present to point out obvious logical fallacies while still providing some playroom. It was fortunate that Quahom mentioned Peter's change of diet when he did. With that in mind, I'll try to keep things short, readable and entertaining whenever possible.
Response to "Pauline Conspiracy" article.

Victor Garaffa's Pauline Conspiracy

The Summary of Pauline Conspiracy should be read first, as it is the only real attempt at tying together the ideas in the article; and it serves as a much needed map (of ideas, not of arguments) of what the book sized article is supposed to be about amidst its thousands of lines of spaghetti code sprawled betwixt vague chapter headings. It is impossible to treat any of these chapters as units, so each little grouping of sentences has to be treated individually! -- All of them! (If anybody has trouble getting through the article as I did, I say it doesn't reflect any lack of intelligence on your part.) One of the claims in the 4 page summary is that Paul didn't really know much about Jesus. I found a reference to this under the chapter that is supposed to be about the letter to the Galations.
Victor Garaffa said:
Paul sermonized Jesus at every chance, but always as Christ crucified. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 10: Page 429)

And to whom did he present this edifice of which he knew nothing else?
The Interpreter's Bible says that Paul always preached Christ crucified. Summing it up, this is taken to imply that Paul didn't know much more than that Jesus claimed to be Christ crucified and that Paul actually was conspiratorially against the twelve apostles in Jerusalem. Through such an imagined extra epistle Paul is credited with creating the entire Christian conundrum, sadly all his fault. None of our doctrinal mistakes or otherwise belong to us. Additionally, Paul is charged with falsely teaching that Christians can't be held responsible for their actions.

In the past, many arguments have been made to soften the blows we deserve, but few are quite as entertaining as that one! Then comes the icing on the cake.....
Victor Garaffa said:
"...not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:7-8; RSV)

Well, there is only one power in heaven and earth that would dare to curse God's angels. Paul has not only unmasked himself, but the power that lies behind his mission. In one breath of the pen, he has cursed the Apostles, the Lord God, God's angels, and God's ministers.
This is AMAZING! Pauline Conspiracy accuses Paul of accusing angels of falsehood. This is complete nonsense. What Paul has said of his opposition (not the twelve apostles) is equivalent to what Michael said to the Satan in Zechariah: "May the L!RD rebuke you!" That is what Paul means when he says 'if... then let him be accursed' but it is assumed the we readers of the article won't figure that out. Maybe Pauline Conspiracy doesn't know it, either. In complete contrast with Paul, Pauline Conspiracy has carelessly, arrogantly, and personally smeared Paul, who is the angel of the gospel of the kingdom of God to the Gentiles! To understand this better, we may ask ourselves why even the Jews, who of all people have reason to suspect Paul, are usually reluctant to treat Paul in this way? Surely they of all people have the best arguments against him, however whatever they do have, they hold that it is inappropriate to accuse without enough evidence and witnesses - especially when its a religious figure. That is why they only say instead 'May the L!RD rebuke you, Satan'(Zech 3:2, Jude 1:9). (Concerning Jews and accusation see Additional Point in post #10 of this thread.)

Victor Garaffa said:
It seems so difficult for those purporting to understand religious history to admit to the animosity which existed between Paul and the Apostles. But we must understand that the friction existed as a goad that inspired Paul to do his worst. The power through which he operated was most assuredly beyond the scope of human endeavor.

The reason for Paul's letter becomes apparent, his gospel is being distorted, actually being altered. It would seem that their 'desertion' from Paul's gospel was a turning toward another gospel, most likely the gospel of the mother church and the Apostles (possibly through their spokesmen). One must remember that both Mark and Barnabas, one of the finest teachers of the mother church, are back in Jerusalem working with the disciples.
It is difficult because while Paul is being accused of all kinds of animosity, it does not appear to be within his writings! Pauline Conspiracy adds new meaning to the phrase 'Reading between the lines'. Its more like 'Reading whole books in between letters'. The accusation of conspiracy against the apostles is supported only by the buffeting current of random accusations present in this exceedingly long article, any of which seem not to have any substantiation. The article Pauline Conspiracy is an idea treated as a fact, transformed into an accusation, and masqueraded as an angel of light.
Victor Garaffa said:
The Gamaliel referred to in the scriptures, was the first of the famous rabbis of that name. He was a descendant of Hillel. (The Interpreter's Bible; Volume 9: Page 86)

We must be alerted at once that there is no evidence that Paul was the primary or singular student of the famous Rabbi. To say one studied under, or at the feet of, Gamaliel or Hillel or any other great teacher, only meant that he studied in the school of that teacher. There were many students in each of the special rabbinical institutions but it did not mean that that Rabbi or teacher knew them.

Saul of Tarsus was, at this point, a non-descript bystander. What we have of him to this point, is that of his own word.
In other words, we know of Paul through his letters, unlike the Pauline Conspiracy which is able to see so much more than we mere mortals can.
I think this is, pardon the term, the "fundamental" issue I have with Mr. Garaffa's hypothesis, and other similar. That was actually a portion of the motivation behind my Rome in transition thread, along with a little unbeknownst instigation from other good friends from CR. Impugning Paul's character is not necessary, attributing various manners of conspiratorial evil to him is not necessary. There is sufficient anecdotal evidence in the accepted historical timeline to shown a...modification...of Christianity from its original basis and form into something more broadly and politically palatable. It seems to me understandable to attribute the instigation for this to Paul, it seems he is the first to open the doors beyond Judaism to a broader Pagan audience. But during Paul's lifetime and for a considerable time after, Christianity was a cult of suspicious weirdos in the eyes of the powers that be at that time. It seems Paul was actually executed after having been caught up in the suspicious fervor vented by Nero after the burning of Rome. That hardly seems conducive to conspiratorial usurpation of the Christian leadership.

It wasn't cool to be Christian for a couple of hundred more years. 200 years is a long time under adverse conditions, frequently in hiding and in mortal fear of losing life, liberty and / or property.

Was Christianity adulterated? Of that I am most certain. By Paul? I doubt it. By Pauline sympathizers? I doubt that even more, there was no apparent benefit for doing so for a very long time after Paul's death. Who then? Rome. The powers that be first scapegoated the Christians, I suspect they didn't anticipate the martyr effect. The harder Rome pushed against Christianity, the more it grew. Quite a subversive bunch really, those original Christians. Finally, partly in thanks for a political victory and partly as a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy, Rome acquiesed. But even that was not an overnight thing, it still took another 150 years from Nicaea for the formal adoption of Christianity along with the formal outlawing of the traditional Roman Pagan pantheon. I see well over 300 years here...far more than *any* one man's lifetime, for this to be some conspiracy wrought by a single man.
That's a cool thread you've got going Juantoo3 on the Dead Sea Scrolls -- a bit beyong me right now, but I'm going to try to go through it because I like what you're doing.

So many papers have rotted. All I can do with regard to Paul is to check his writings. If he has been edited or has originally written quack recipes or has compromised this should be detected. With regard to comparative religion, it matters to know what is the same and what isn't, so I think we can go a long way towards establishing that.
It is just a bit outside of my understanding, but would probably make a nice addition to what I wrote, to look at some of the textual criticisms.

One I hear quite a bit is that Paul did not write the book of Hebrews.
There is a rather vigorous debate among scholars over how much of his other epistles can actually be attributed to him (through his scribe, usually Timothy I believe). But it seems a rather uniform consensus that Paul is not the real author of the book of Hebrews. So there are a lot of deeply thinking people (whose motivations I sometimes question) that are actually detecting compromised manuscripts.

Around here somewhere I seem to recall a thread dealing with a couple of texts. The Textus Receptus is one you will often hear of in certain circles. It is the oldest known set of complete manuscripts, and it is from these that the King James Version of the Bible was translated. This set is in the British Museum still, as far as I know.

Some fellow whose name I don't recall found a set of manuscripts in a monastery a couple of hundred years ago, and when he compared notes he found a handful of discrepencies. Some would think them minor, but there has been a lot of hullabaloo raised over these inconsistencies, that they even existed. Some scholars would try to make this set more important, other stood behind the T.R., the battlelines were drawn and all scholarly hell broke loose. I want to know where this second set was found, where *precisely* within the monastery. It seems during the scribal period (which was well over a thousand years, prior to the printing press) scribal errors of sacred texts were treated with certain dignity and respect. One didn't just throw your mistakes in the trash and start over. Consequently, there are scriptoriums within monasteries that house these erroneous texts, which were never intended for public use, but which were afforded some sense of dignified "burial." I suspect this second set of texts is something dug up from the burial in the scriptorium, not meant for public view, and some collection of scholars are attempting to use them to further their careers (best case) or undermine Christianity (worst case).

Point being, there are a lot of people far better versed than I that *do* look very hard at the editing and compromise question, and not just with Paul.

Not the thread I was looking for, but it looks like it starts off discussing some of the textual criticisms:

Another thread, but still not the one I was looking for:
My post 30 sums up nicely what I was saying here.
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I don't know textual criticism, either. I've skimmed information on it, and I thought there were now 3 or 4 old major codices and not just two; but what you're saying makes sense. I had only heard that Paul might have written Hebrews, but not that he definitely did. To us today it is just as cryptic as any of the other ancient letters. That's been the real trouble with Hebrews down the ages but is a gift to us now when we are trying to date the book and detect alterations. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, Hebrews is antagonistic to substitutionary atonement, so why didn't any scribe, gnostic, cardinal, or cleric edit it to better conform with that doctrine? I think changes to the text tend to get noticed, because they're too tangential and skin-deep and the original texts are elegant.
I don't know textual criticism, either. I've skimmed information on it, and I thought there were now 3 or 4 old major codices and not just two; but what you're saying makes sense. I had only heard that Paul might have written Hebrews, but not that he definitely did. To us today it is just as cryptic as any of the other ancient letters. That's been the real trouble with Hebrews down the ages but is a gift to us now when we are trying to date the book and detect alterations. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, Hebrews is antagonistic to substitutionary atonement, so why didn't any scribe, gnostic, cardinal, or cleric edit it to better conform with that doctrine? I think changes to the text tend to get noticed, because they're too tangential and skin-deep and the original texts are elegant.
There probably are more codices I am not aware of, I didn't get terribly deep into it, it was all quite confusing to me. And little consensus to be found among those bickering, at least when I stumbled into the stuff almost 20 years ago.

I would have to see what you are referring to about Hebrews being "antagonistic to substitutionary atonement," its been awhile but I seem to recall being one of the better books in my opinion, even if Paul turned out not to be the author. It just has a feel of genuineness to it that is lacking in the other epistles. But then, I am a huge fan of the book of James. In practical and pragmatic terms I think his is the best book of the New Testament, possibly excepting the Gospels; and I hesitate really in that regard.

If there is a conflict to be laid out and defined, I think there is a nice place to make the distinction: James against the epistle of choice by Paul. Its fairly easy to see the Judaic connection with James, the "Judaism plus" so to speak. Whereas Paul comes across as "Judaism lite." Tastes great *and* less filling. I can't help but think some of this view is latent modern doctrinal interpretation on my part, because while I can see some of the typical denominational interpretations, at the same time I see a lot that is out of context or otherwise misconstrued. Which seems to me an attempt to force and justify a view that isn't necessarily there. Examples would be teachings on the rapture and "once saved always saved," but there are more. James on the other hand is cut and dried, common sense, cut to the chase, get 'er done. Paul plays to the audience; James tells it like it is, take it or leave it.

"Even devils believe, and tremble."

Yours is a good question, why, when Hebrews seems so contrary in some respects to the rest of Paul's epistles, that it wasn't edited? Or included in the canon at all, for that matter. Hard to say. I suppose there may be an explanation out there (won't say a good one until I hear it). The whole canonization process is an interesting story in itself, one that probably would make a good addition to the other thread too. What great ideas you are giving me! I had stopped posting there because I was running out of ideas of where to go to chase the evidence to where it leads. Now I've got some fresh ammo!
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There probably are more codices I am not aware of,

What great ideas you are giving me! I had stopped posting there because I was running out of ideas of where to go to chase the evidence to where it leads. Now I've got some fresh ammo!

Codex Sinaiticus, I am pretty sure that is the Codex I remember reading about. The wiki gives it a lot more credit dating it to 400 AD, while claiming at one point that the Textus Receptus dates to 1500 AD, which I am certain is incorrect.

At any rate, I updated the other thread with some textual criticism and non-canonical book stuff. Should make for some interesting reading for a student. :D I know it has for me.