Does Paul refer to an earthly historical Jesus ?

Dec 2011
Gday Bart Dale and all :)

4. Paul refers to a number of historical details about Jesus before any gospel was written, disproving your claim that the early Christians new nothing about a historical Jesus.
Historical means names, dates, places, events etc. Paul gives nothing like that - nothing to indicate Jesus was ever on earth. It appears you are so convinced that Paul described Jesus as earthly, that you see any ambiguous reference as clear evidence of earthly historicity, without anything historical being present.

Paul gives no date or place for Jesus' birth, and never even mentions Mary (or Joseph or Bethlehem or Nazareth) even when discussing his birth. Paul never mentions the genealogies of Jesus Christ. Paul never once mentions a single earthly event (*) in Jesus' life - from the various birth stories to the miracles to the sermons on mount and plain to the healings and parables to the triumphant entry to Jerusalem. Paul doesn't give any date or place for the crucifixion, he even visited Jerusalem without mentioning it happened there, and never mentioned Pilate or even a trial, nor the Empty Tomb.
(*) Apart from claims that could be historical (e.g. born, buried, crucified.)

In short - Paul never once pins Jesus Christ down to anything historical.

Remember Bart Dale, this was a time when people really believed in all sorts of heavenly beings and gods and goddesses and angels and demons etc.

When Paul refers to Jesus Christ as being 'born of woman', I see HJers interpret this as a clear reference to an earthly historical birth (by an un-named Mary), as if no other sort of birth exists in ancient writing, when Paul specifically tells us it's an allegory and that Hagar is the mother :
Galatians 4:1 "I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. "
Paul goes on to describe an allegory of mothers and sons :
Gal 4:22 ' For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written,
Here we see explicit allegory about two mothers :

  1. Hagar, under the slavery of the law, who is an allegory of Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem
  2. Jerusalem above, an allegory who is free, and she is our mother.
Paul is apparently saying :

  • Jesus Christ the son-of-God was born allegorically to Hagar, under the law, in the earthly Jerusalem.
  • Christians are re-born allegorically in Jerusalem above.
It's an allegory, and nothing to do with history.

As another example consider another woman's child-birth from the pages of the very NT itself :
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.
Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
That's hardly any earthly historical birth is it Bart Dale ?

So, here's where we are :

I believe Paul saw Jesus Christ as a heavenly being who was born, crucified, buried, and resurrected - in heaven (specifically Paradise in the Third Heaven.)

You believe Paul saw Jesus Christ as a historical man who was born, crucified, buried, and resurrected - on earth (specifically Jerusalem.)

Can you explain, like to an objective reader, why we should take your historical view of Jesus rather than my heavenly one ?

(I'll respond to your specific points in a new post.)

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Dec 2011
Gday Bart Dale and all :)

Paul knew Jesus had a brother named James,
Not so.
Paul refered to James as the 'Brother of the Lord', which could mean a physical Jesus Christ, or could also refer to the Lord God, in the form of a title. Paul did not give the slightest hint that James was a physical brother to Jesus - rather the opposite - he denigrated James and declared himself just as much an Apostle because he too had 'seen the Lord'. Evidence for a spiritual, not historical, Jesus Christ.

I.e. the 'Brother of the Lord ' is POSSIBLY a reference to a Historical Jesus, but could also be a metaphorical usage as a title (perhaps James was the first to have a vision of Jesus Christ?)

Unfortunately, sometimes believers in the Historical Jesus mis-represent the 'Brother of the Lord ' as the 'Brother of Jesus', and present this as slam-dunk evidence, when it clearly isn't, upon examination.

Dec 2011
Gday Bart Dale and all again :)

{Paul knew Jesus Christ had} more than one brother,
Not so.
Paul again refers (1 Cor. 9:5) to "Lord's brothers" not "Jesus' brothers" :
Don't we have the right to take a sister wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?
Obviously 'sister wife' is not literal, but metaphorical - so the group called the "Lord's Brothers" could easily be a metaphorical title for a small group (probably including James.)

Christians, and Jews before them, are widely known for using family terms in metaphorical ways. Such as all being 'Children of God'. There is even a Jewish name 'AhiJah' which means 'Brother of Jahveh'.

Paul himself uses such terms many times in such non-literal ways :

  • 1 Cor 1:1 Sosthenes is "brother" - not literal.
  • Col. 1:1 Timothy is "brother" - not literal.
  • 1 Cor 15:6 500 "brothers" - not literal.
  • Phil 1:14 "brothers in the Lord" - not literal.
  • 1 Cor 6:5 "brothers" and "brethren" - not literal.
  • Eph. 6:21 Tychicus "dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord" - not literal.
Consider this passage from Hebrews about the sanctified being 'called brothers' :
Heb 2:11-12 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
Once again - 1 Cor. 9:5 could POSSIBLY be a reference to historical brothers of an earthly Jesus Christ. While it could also reasonably be seen as a metaphorical term. It's unclear.

Dec 2011
Gday Bart Dale and all :)

{Paul knew} that Jesus had 12 followers
Not so.
Paul never once indicated that Jesus Christ had followers. (He did mention 'the twelve', but never connected them to a historical Jesus Christ, but merely as some of the persons who had seen Jesus Christ in a vision. Note that the apostles are a different group to the twelve here.)

Rather - he described Jesus Christ in entirely spiritual and metaphorical ways which cannot refer to a recent crucified earthly person -

He is 'buried with Christ in baptism' :
Col. 2:12 "...having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, "
He is united with Christ by the 'likeness of his death' :
Rom. 6:5 "For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. "
He describes himself as 'crucified', but Christ as now 'living in' him :
Gal. 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me. "
They are clearly not literal conceptions, but metaphorical or even spiritual ideas - which are never ever connected back to the historical or the earthly.

Paul belongs to a mystery school :
"We speak wisdom, however, among the initiates "
And this wisdom is of a higher kind :
"...yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nothing. "
Paul insists he is a Pneumatic (a 'spiritual man') and sees above the natural world :
2:10 But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. ... 2:12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, ... 2:15 But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one.
In fact, initiates like Paul even have Christ's mind :
2:16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?" But we have Christ's mind."
Clearly Paul is describing entirely non-historical ideas about Jesus Christ.

Paul boasts (2 Cor 12), of personal experiences - he describes a spiritual rising :
"I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
and he heard things that cannot told, which man may not utter... ''

It seems quite clear.
Paul has visited Paradise in the Third Heaven and heard about the Risen Jesus Christ, an entirely heavenly being.

Later though, historical beliefs were retrojected into his works, when it is clear that Paul makes no historical references at all.

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Dec 2011
Gday Bart Dale and all :)

{Paul knew of} a lead follower named Peter,
Not so.
Paul never indicated that Peter lead any disciples or followers of Jesus Christ (Paul never used the word 'disciple', just 'apostle', of which he was one too.)

Furthermore, when Paul listed the visions of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15) he separated Cephas both from the twelve and from the apostles :
5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Cephas is neither an apostle, nor one of the twelve, according to Paul.

Paul didn't treat Cephas like a leader (Gal. 2) :
11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
Not to mention the confusion over names when even Paul can refer to Cephas and Peter in the same breath (Gal2. 7-9.)

No evidence for anything historical about Jesus Christ.

Dec 2011
Gday Bart Dale and all :)

{Paul knew} that Jesus had a last supper with his followers,
Not so.
Paul (1 Cor. 11) calls it the 'Lord's Supper ', not the 'Last Supper '. No followers are mentioned -
23For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Firstly, note that this scene is what Paul has received (παρέλαβον, parelabon) from the Lord - language elsewhere used to describe receiving mystical knowledge.

Note too that Paul's Lord's Supper uses bread, then cup - the reverse of the Gospels and modern usage.

No place, no setting, no year, no date, no people, no connection to any event.
Nothing historical.

Dec 2011
Gday Bart Dale and all :)

{Paul knew} that Jesus had certain teachings that were distinctive, such as practically banning divorce, which was extremely unusual view at the time.
Not so.
Paul never says Jesus Christ gave any teachings.

Rather, he claims 'the Lord' did on that one issue -
10To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband ...

12To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.
Which could easily mean he is passing on knowledge he received from God somehow.

not one of those claims about Paul having evidence for a Historical Jesus stood up to scrutiny.

I think an objective reader would be entirely under-whelmed by this lack of hard evidence for the alleged Historical Jesus, Bart Dale.

While also wondering why the believers in the Historical Jesus Theory appear so confident - when the evidence is so weak that they have to puff it up with exaggerations and even un-supportable claims.



Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
Iowa USA
Does Romans 1:3 count?

"Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh"
Here it comes... the exposition on the second heaven and the third heaven.

That was just the question K was waiting for, Menshevik!