Monthly Archives: August 2010

Why Does Paul Never Quote Jesus When He Should Have? The Argument From Silence…

(This was originally posted by me here)

It’s argued that Paul isn’t silent about the “historical” Jesus, when I contend that he is. Here are a few points where it’s claimed that Paul is talking about the human Jesus:

The relative silence of Paul about the human nature of Jesus is a good example. The phrase, “relative silence,” is chosen because, in fact, Paul is not completely silent about the human nature of Jesus. Paul certainly thought of Jesus as spiritual in large part, but there is also a small handful of times when Paul seems to be explicit about Jesus being a physical human.

* “born of a woman” Galatians 4:4
* “who as to his human nature was a descendant of David” Romans 1:3
* “I saw none of the other apostles–save James, the Lord’s brother” Galatians 1:19
* “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it… In the same way, after supper he took the cup…” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
* “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:8
* “You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
* “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried” 1 Corinthians 15:4

The silence isn’t about the human nature of Jesus. Someone’s human nature could simply be asserted without any sort of evidence, as the later heresiologists do. If you notice, most of your examples are instances of creeds or dogmas. If you were writing a letter to someone and were talking about a third party that both you and your receiver knew, would you use a phrase “…and yeah, Joe Smith was born of a woman.”? Of course not; that’s pretty axiomatic. Do you think if I wrote an email to someone talking about you and wrote “…and Jane Doe’s human nature is of the seed of King Arthur” they would think I actually knew Jane Doe? It reads more like a formulaic dogma or creed, not an anecdote about a recently deceased human being.

The silence is more about Paul actually knowing anyone that had any sort of non-spiritual encounter with Jesus — without appealing to later gospel material. Which is especially damning because Paul argues a lot of the same points that Jesus argues in the gospel narratives, yet Paul doesn’t quote him on those.

Here are some places in Paul’s letters where we would expect him to quote Jesus, but doesn’t:

Mark 14:58 / Matt 26:59 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'” (i.e. the body is the new temple)

1 Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cr 6:19)

(2 Cor 6:16) What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God

Matt 5:39 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also

Romans 12:17-21
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Prov. 25:21,22 ) 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Mark 7
What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ 21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.

Colossians 2:14-16 [Jesus] canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us…having nailed it to the cross, having spoiled the principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through it therefore, let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths”

Mark 12:13-17
13: And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Hero’di-ans, to entrap him in his talk. 14: And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15: Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it.” 16: And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17: Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at him.

Romans 13:6-7: This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes. If revenue, then revenue. If respect, then respect. If honor, then honor

Mark 2

23One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
25He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Colossians 2:14-16 [Jesus] canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us…having nailed it to the cross, having spoiled the principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through it therefore, let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths”

Paul even contradicts Jesus:

Mark 10:18
18″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”

2 Cor 5:21
God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Paul even argues that Jesus (nor any apostles) did no miracles, in opposition to the gospel narratives:

Mark 6:3
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!
1 Cor 1:22-23
22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles

And here’s another place where Paul contradicts Jesus:

Matt 7
1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

1 Cor 6
1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

Paul says that Jesus died, was buried, and rose on the third day “according to the scriptures”, not because anyone saw such (but then again, this was probably not original to Paul). Paul also says in Ephesians 4 that Jesus ascended to/descended from heaven using Psalm 68 as an argument, not because anyone saw such a thing.

Paul says that “the mystery of Christ” was hidden for generations and recently revealed to him:

Ephesians 3

4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,

5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

Romans 16:25

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past

If we take all of this into account, it seems as though Christ was revealed in scripture, not due to anyone actually witnessing anything miraculous. This is how Paul can quote the LXX and claim or infer that it points to “Jesus” (as the non-titular “the Lord”) in places like Rom 10.9-13; 1 Cor 1.31; or 2 Cor 10.15-18.

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 is more than likely another interpolation. But if it’s not, this would count as another time where Paul makes the same argument that Jesus (or the gospel authors) makes in the gospel narratives (cf Mark 12:1-9) without attribution.

And then note that 1 Cor 11:23-30 is also contested. Either as an interpolation, or is argued to not an authentic quote of Jesus.

Of course, I pointed out in one of my earlier posts that Paul could have used Jesus’ marital status in his argument in 1 Cor 7 for further weight. This implies that Paul did not know it.

Lastly, Paul doesn’t mention meeting anyone who was any sort of “disciple” of Jesus. His Jesus didn’t have any students, just those that are sent out (i.e. apostles). Saying that Paul met disciples is projecting later written “facts” from the gospel narratives into Paul’s letters. The trend seems to be that as soon as Jesus is given “disciples” by the gospel narratives in the late 1st century, that Gnosticism (i.e. some concept of “secret teachings”) begins to explode in the early 2nd.

Edit to add Steven Carr’s apt observation:

2 Corinthians 12

But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge.

Paul, of course, never dreams of comparing his preaching to that of Jesus, explaining how Jesus was a much superior preacher to him.


Posted by on August 26, 2010 in historical jesus, interpolation, paul


What’s Wrong With Believing In God?

The most religious places to live are also the worst places to live.

Teen pregnancies are highest in the most religious parts of the US. Porn is bought more in the more religious parts of the US. Out of first world democracies, the most religious ones are positively correlated with rates of homocides, STDs, teen pregnancies, and other societal ills.

fMRI scans show that people simply assign their own beliefs to god in order to validate them.

Belief in god doesn’t reduce substance abuse, and makes people more intolerant.

Religious attendance, but not beliefs, were linked to improved health, a reduction in suicides, and increased marital fidelity. Which suggests that it’s having social support networks, and not god belief, that makes people happier and society better.


Posted by on August 17, 2010 in religiosity, theism


Simon the Zealot

Two of Judas (the Zealot) sons, James and Simon, were involved in a revolt and were executed by Tiberius Alexander, the procurator of Iudaea province from 46 to 48 (“Ant.” xx. 5, § 2)

Luke 6:15 σιμωνα τον καλουμενον ζηλωτην (Simon the one called zealot)
Matt 10:4 σιμων ο καναναιος (Simon the Canaanite?)
Mark 3:18 σιμωνα τον καναναιον (Simon the Canaanite?)
Acts 1:13 σιμων ο ζηλωτης (Simon the Zealot)

Matt 15:22 γυνη χαναναια (Canaanite woman) same spelling as in the LXX for Canaan. Canaanite/Canaan in Hebrew is כנען / כְּנַעֲנִי

The Hebrew word qanai (קנאי “kana”), meaning The Zealous.
Exodus 20:4 El Kana (אֵל קַנָּא) “jealous god” in English, but might be “zealous god”.

Jewish Encyclopedia:

The reign of the Idumean Herod gave the impetus for the organization of the Zealots as a political party. Shemaiah and Abṭalion (Ptollion), as members of the Sanhedrin, at first opposed Herod, but seem to have preferred a passive resignation in the end (Josephus, “Ant.” xiv. 9, § 4; xv. 1, § 1; xv. 7, § 10; xv. 10, § 4); though there were those who “could by no torments be forced to call him [Herod] king,” and who persisted in opposing his government. Hezekiah and his so-called “band of robbers,” who were the first to fall as victims under Herod’s bloodthirsty rule (“B. J.” i. 10, § 5; “Ant.” xiv. 9, §§ 2-3), were by no means common robbers. Josephus, following his sources, bestows the name of “robbers” upon all the ardent patriots who would not endure the reign of the usurper and who fled with their wives and children to the caves and fortresses of Galilee to fight and to die for their conviction and their freedom (“Ant.” xiv. 15, §§ 4-6; xv. 8, §§ 3-4; xvii. 10, §§ 5-8; xx. 8, §§ 5-6; “B. J.” i. 18, § 1; ii. 13, §§ 2-4; iv. 4, § 3; and elsewhere). All these “robbers” were in reality Zealots.

In other words, the Zealots were a reaction to Herod the Great’s murder of the last of the Hasmoneans (Antigonus) and taking the throne from them. Herod was actually a convert to Judaism so many saw him as not being a “real” Jew. This was the impetus for the Zealots.

One of Jesus’ disciples being called “Simon the Zealot” might actually have a root in history, since it seems as though the word was transliterated from the Hebrew “kana” to be read phonetically in Greek as kananaios. Bible translators probably translate it as “Canaanite” to cover this up, even though “Canaanite” would be spelled with a Chi, not a Kappa. No other information is given about Simon the Zealot’s actions in the gospel narratives, but it’s curious that a Simon the Zealot is listed as one of Jesus’ disciples and another Simon the Zealot is described by Josephus as being an insurrectionist (or “robber”). The gospel Zealot has no personality, while Josephus’ Zealot does.

The two are also contemporaries.

I think it could be argued that these two Simons are one and the same. What a violent insurrectionist was doing in Jesus’ party is an enigma… unless the supposed historical Jesus was a violent insurrectionist as well, which would explain his crucifixion.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 11, 2010 in simon the zealot

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