Monday, January 14, 2008

Was Paul the Enemy of Christ?

I am no Biblical scholar so I cannot really comment on this Voice of the Day about how Paul (also known as Saul) was the enemy of Christ, but it brings up an interesting argument. I haven't studied the Dead Sea Scrolls or the ancient texts from which the King James version was written, so any thoughts I might have would be based on conjecture. Read the article for yourself.



The Gnostic Gospel texts are in my short list for future reading. I can't wait... I just need some reading time.

Missouri Politics said...


Paul, a converted murderer of the faithful, was something I use to struggle with a great deal during my own conversion process.

What I get from the story of Paul is this: He was the worst of the worst - one who killed people because of their faith.

He's also credited with founding the faith as we know it. He was the worst made the best.

The idea that the worst of us can become the best is what inspires me about Paul - that a man can change with the help of a higher power - even the worst of us.

a christian said...

Mrs. Gott is wrong, wrong and wrong. She's doing what people often do--deciding that someting which looks alike must be identical. Truth be told, there is zero evidence that the Saul/Paul of the New Testament is related to Herod. There is a member of the royal family named Saul--but even today, Saul is a common name among Jews. From that tenuous connection, she goes on to decide, based on the decisions of some scholars, that Paul "changed" Christianity and corrupted it. That may be true, but it's not in the documents. And as such, we can never know it--which she's claiming anyone willing to think can know. It would be difficult to claim that anyone knows enough about Saul or Jesus to make the claim that Saul was the enemy of Jesus.

The Dead Sea Scrolls took 50 years to release because a Jewish university didn't want anyone looking at them except their PhD students, and reveal nothing new about Judaism of the 1st century except that the kind of language which Christians were using was, in fact, not specifically Christian, but rather part of the mindset of a lot of Jews.

The Nag Hammadi Gospels took only about 10 years to get into public circulation, and that was mainly because they were in shreds and tatters and had to be painstakingly reassembled, and then translated from Coptic.

Really, the ancient texts of the books which are in the Bible are shockingly stable, and have almost no significant variations from the received text (a few, but not many). But for some reason, people keep saying that the later (3rd & 4th century) Nag Hammadi Gospels are to be preferred to the earlier (2nd & early 3rd century) canonical texts when it comes to describing who Jesus was. That's like saying that I know more about George Washington than Martha did--it might be true, but only on one or two levels, not on all of them. Sigh.

The irony is that Mrs. Gott, in trying to rescue Jesus from people who have misunderstood him, misses the point by nearly as wide a mark. And that's truly sad. The lust for conspiracy theories and the glamor of thinking that my enemy's point of view is so wrong that I cannot accept anything which she says, but must stand in direct opposition to everything, is part of what makes real religious, political and so forth discourse so hard. Mrs. Gott ought to be studying Orthodox, but not Fundamentalist, Christianity to see how we view Jesus, instead of deciding that everyone who agrees with anything the AG & Southern Baptists says is 100% deluded. Sigh. Makes me sad...