Daily Archives: March 12, 2012

What Did Paul Mean By "Another Jesus"?

2 Cor 11:

4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

5 But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”

Here Paul is implying that some “super-apostles” ὑπερλίαν ἀποστόλων or hyper-lian (super-duper) apostles were preaching some “other Jesus” with some “other gospel”. This seems to allude to heretics of some sort.

But there is a bit of an inconsistency with his use of “some other Jesus” and “some other gospel”. For both the other “spirit” and “gospel”, the adjective that Paul uses is ἕτερον yet for the other Jesus he uses ἄλλον. The word ἕτερος or heteros is where we get words like heterosexual or heterochromia. It means “another” of a different type. The word ἄλλος or hallos, on the other hand, means “another” but of the same type. So if I wanted to say “get me an apple and another pear” I would use heteros for “another” yet if I were to say “get me an apple and another apple” I would use hallos.

Using the fruit analogy: If the Jesus, gospel, and spirit that Paul is preaching are apples, then the spirit and gospel that the super-duper apostles preach is a pear yet their Jesus would also be an apple. So the gospel and spirit that these other apostles are preaching is of a different stripe altogether, yet the Jesus is “another” Jesus but of the same… I dunno, “type” of Jesus? What does that mean? And why, if it is the same “type” of Jesus but another, would it be a bad thing for these other apostles to preach about him?

We know what “other gospel” is to Paul because he uses the same term in Galatians (Gal 1.6 ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον). What exactly was the Jesus that these other apostles were preaching at Corinth? I would think that if Paul were talking about something like docetism vs. adoptionism vs. what-have-you, he would also use heteros. But he doesn’t, so those distinctions must not have existed when he wrote. Or at least, he wasn’t aware of them.

This might be more evidence for my observation that all of the variants of Jesus didn’t come about until the first gospel was written (Gnosticism, etc.). The question then becomes what sort of Jesus did Paul have in mind? Was it the Jesus of Marcion, the Jesus of Mark, the Jesus of John, the Jesus of Valentinus, or some “other” (ἕτερος) Jesus?

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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in early Christianity, paul

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