Maccoby claimed that Paul was a Hellenized Jewish convert or perhaps even a Gentile, coming from a background exposed to the influence of Gnosticism and the pagan mystery religions such as the Attis cult, a myth involving a life-death-rebirth deity. The mystery religions, according to Maccoby, were the dominant religious forms in the Hellenistic world of that age and so, would have strongly influenced Paul's mythological psychology. Maccoby partially derived this theory from fragments of the writings of opponents of Ebionites, particularly in the treatise on Heresies by Epiphanius of Salamis.
Maccoby considered Paul's claims to an orthodox Pharisaic Jewish education to be false, asserting that while many of Paul's writings sound authentic to the uninitiated, they actually betray an ignorance of the original Hebrew scripture and the subtleties of Jewish Law. Maccoby claimed that an examination of the New Testament indicates that Paul knew no Hebrew at all, and relied entirely on Greek texts that no actual Pharisee would ever use because they were not properly translated.
According to Maccoby, Paul fused the historical story of Jesus' crucifixion with elements of contemporary mystery religions and Gnosticism [Ancient Greek: γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge; Arabic: الغنوصية al-ġnūṣīh) is the belief that the material world created by the demiurge should be shunned and the spiritual world should be embraced (God's world).], developing such new non-Judaic mythic ideas as the Trinity and the Last Supper. Paul also made an attempt to find prophetic justification for his newly created myth in the Old Testament. Paul came to present Jesus as a dying and rising savior deity similar to those from the Hellenistic mystery cults, fused with the historical pedigree of Judaism, thus giving birth to a powerful new myth whose preaching gained him a large following. As the Jerusalem group of the original disciples of Jesus gradually became aware of Paul's teachings, bitter hostility ensued between them.
Maccoby interpreted certain New Testament passages (for example Paul's account of his quarrel with Peter in the Incident at Antioch) as remnants of authentic accounts of this hostility. However, the Jewish Rebellion of 66-70 soon brought a violent end to the Jerusalem sect, and the Gentile Church founded by Paul emerged as the winner by default. Maccoby viewed the Book of Acts as a later attempt by the Pauline Church to present the relations between Paul and the Jerusalem disciples as harmonious, thus presenting the Pauline Church as legitimized by the chain of apostolic succession reaching back to the original disciples of Jesus. Maccoby also conjectured that the Jewish-Christian sect of Ebionites may have been an authentic offshoot of the original Jerusalem community.
Maccoby focused his work on tracing the roots of anti-Semitism back to an early-Christian origin, and on disassociating Christianity from a truly Jewish background. Maccoby placed the blame for the death of Jesus on the Roman authorities and their Jewish collaborators from the Sadducee party, who controlled the Temple, its funds, and its police. He considered the Gospel accounts of the hostility between Jesus and the Pharisees as an invention of the Pauline Church, and argued that Jesus himself subscribed to Pharisaic Judaism as revealed in such texts as the Sermon on the Mount. [Wikipedia]
Here some of the contradictions introduced by Paul against teachings of Jesus Christ as available in NT have been enumerated.
While one may not agree with all of them, any fair-minded individual could make his own conclusions.
This is a major one. Jesus clearly claimed to have personally delivered the Gospel to the world.
Jn 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Paul would like you to think that doctrines that Jesus did not teach (eg. Deity of Christ, blood atonement, “grace”, demotion of the Law, abolition of the Sabbath, church hierarchy, etc etc) was brought via him.
Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Jesus spent years training 12 apostles and 70-odd disciples as witnesses of Jesus and his words. But the main doctrines of the Christian church were delivered to humanity via a claimed revelation to a single witness: Paul. Jesus said that 2 or 3 witnesses are a necessary minimum for something to be true.
Jesus teaches that the Law has not been annulled.
Mt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mt 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Paul teaches that it has.
Rom 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Jesus teaches equality of believers.
Mt 23:8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ; and you are all brethren.
Paul not only sets himself up as a teacher, he sets up a church hierarchy!
1Cor 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
1Tim 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
Jesus says that the Gospel must be preached without financial reward.
Mt 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Paul disagrees, as do the multitude of churches.
1Cor 9:11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
Jesus teaches to bless unbelievers.
Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Paul teaches that unbelievers should be cursed.
1Cor 16:22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!
Jesus teaches to follow/imitate Him.
Jn 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
Paul teaches to follow him.
1Cor 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. [KJV="Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me."]
Here’s how Jesus dealt with one accused of sexual sin.
Jn 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
Paul’s solution was a little more Draconian.
1Cor 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit [NKJV = his spirit] may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Here’s how Jesus treated the sin of blasphemy.
Mt 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. [Luke 12:10]
Paul’s solution was again Draconian.
1Tim 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Eating things sacrificed to Idols was prohibited in the Law, and is specifically mentioned as something not permitted in Revelations.
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Paul gives “liberty” to eat these things.
1Cor 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. 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. 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. 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your’s become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
1Cor 10:25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake:
Jesus had no difficulty with speaking to women, even though this was unusual in that culture.
Jn 4:27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
Contrasted with Paul’s chauvinism.
1Cor 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
1Tim 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Jesus taught that God’s forgiveness is dependent on us forgiving others.
Mt 6:14 For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV)
Forgive and you will be forgiven (Lk 6:37).
The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35 illustrates this point with someone who was forgiven by God, but remained unforgiving to others.
Paul understood that he was forgiven:
1Tim 1:13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of out Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
But when someone sinned against Paul, Paul did not forgive the very sin he admitted to being guilty of only a few sentences earlier.
1Tim1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophesies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom Hymanaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
By not understanding this principle of conditional (or reciprocal) forgiveness, Paul contradicts Jesus. Furthermore, Paul asks us to believe that forgiveness is obtained by some other means:
Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Paul says that one is saved by “faith” and “confession”
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
1Cor 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
Jesus teaches precisely the opposite.
Mt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [NKJV = lawlessness].
Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
James adds this observation:
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
As discussed in an earlier thread, Paul wants it to be known that he is a spiritual father to his flock.
1Cor 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Paul must have forgotten about this little number.
Mt 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Jesus preaches meekness.
Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Paul’s version of meekness is rather conditional and mixed with threats.
1Cor 4:21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
Paul teaches that his followers will be judges on judgement day.
1Cor 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Jesus has other ideas.
Jn 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.
Paul specifically seeks to please men and to be “all things to all men”.
1Cor 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1Cor 10:33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Paul clearly failed to comprehend these teachings of Jesus.
Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Jn 5:41 I receive not honour from men.
Paul makes this claim:
Eph 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
Which Jesus pre-emptively dismissed with these words:
Mt 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Jesus teaches that God is not a God of the dead.
Luke 20:38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
Mk 12:27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
Paul contradicts this, demonstrating his unawareness of the words of Jesus.
Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
Paul teaches public prayer.
1 Tim 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
Jesus teaches private prayer.
Mt 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Paul thinks that once saved always saved.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lk 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Jesus is careful to attribute his teachings to God (another nail in the coffin of the Jesus is God theory).
Jn 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Paul has no difficulty taking the credit.
Rom 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel
Jesus teaches that Eternal life will cost you everything you own.
Mt 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Lk 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Not only does Paul fail to teach this, he teaches that eternal life is entirely free.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In fact, many churches go further and claim that believing in their religion will make you materially prosperous.
Paul is deferential to worldly authority, claiming that it comes from God.
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Jesus refutes this idea.
Jn 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
It may not be supposed that we need Jesus to tell us that earthly powers are often corrupt, but here it is anyway:
Mt 17:25b “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 Peter said to him “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first.”
Jesus teaches charity.
Mt 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Paul is concerned that welfare is going to cost his church too much.
1Tim 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be burdened; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
2Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Jesus’ teaching on “Sanctification”
Jn 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Is “blood” and “thy truth” the same thing?
Heb 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
And I don’t quite understand how this works, but its kind of funny really.
1Cor 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
Paul makes a stark admission that he cannot control his sinful nature in Romans 7
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
25b So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Rather, imitate Jesus who teaches thus:
Mt 22:37 Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.” (Mk 12:30, Deut 6:5)
Jn 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.”
Jn 5:14 “Sin no more”
If you hate something, should you not stop doing it?
Jesus prophesised this:
Jn 9:4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”
Paul says the opposite.
Rom 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
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