Category Archives: interpolation

The Oddity of the New Testament: The Epistle of James

The epistle of James sticks out in the NT to me. Not because it seems to be a Judaizing Christian letter, but because it doesn’t seem Christian at all.

The first thing that sticks out to me is that James only writes “Jesus Christ” two times. The first line in chapter 1 and the first line in chapter 2. Keep in mind that all of our original books of the bible did not have “chapters” so there’s a strange coincidence going on there. What follows from the dearth of mentions of Jesus is the lack of any quotes of Jesus. Instead, James quotes from the Tanakh to make his points. He quotes from Leviticus 19:18, Exodus 20:14; Deut. 5:18, Gen. 15:6, and Prov. 3:34, but not from Jesus. The quotes from the Torah are only made for examples (well, except for Deut 5:18), but the Proverbs quote is deference to scriptural authority. Like my post on Paul’s silence, James could have simply quoted their lord Jesus on the issues that James is addressing instead of making arguments.

I realize that the epistle of James is short overall, but these two things — the mention of “Jesus” only twice and a lack of quoting Jesus — make it seem to me that this epistle was not originally a Christian document, but a Jewish document that was hijacked by (possibly Ebionite) Christians who inserted the two Jesus references. It would have been a lot shorter if James had simply quoted Jesus. Which would also have been more effective.

The epistle is certainly positive towards “the poor”; that phrase being what Ebionite means.

Removing the two references to Jesus Christ, the letter maintains its logic and flow, which makes me think they are interpolations. They don’t add any content, context, or logic to the letter. So either this is not a Christian document, or it has a view of Jesus that is similar to Paul (or it’s a type of Christianity that’s indistinguishable from Judaism). A Jesus that is an agent of salvation and not a wandering sage. This, however, is at odds with the Ebionites.

When James speaks of salvation or being saved, it has nothing to do with Jesus’ death or resurrection:

1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Obviously, a Logos-Christian could read this part and say that the word that saves you is the Word: The Logos Jesus. And on the other hand, Ebionites did not believe that Jesus’ death had any value in their salvation scheme. But still, one has to wonder what “word” it is that is doing the saving in James’ mind. I would guess some sort of preaching. Coincidentally, another possible strange thing is that this epistle doesn’t mention anything about good news or “gospel”.

The first witness that I could find who seems to know the epistle of James is Irenaeus writing in the late 2nd century. From Against Heresies 4.16.2:

2. And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows—that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.

This is a quote from James 2:23, but is actually a quote from Genesis 15:6. The part that’s unique to James (or Irenaeus) is the “friend of God” part. Here, I don’t think Irenaeus is quoting from James, but is quoting from Genesis and added the friend of God part himself. Irenaeus also doesn’t say who that short phrase “friend of God” he’s quoting from. In the contexts prior to this, Irenaeus doesn’t seem to have any problems saying who his quote is coming from:

(4.16.1) For we, says the apostle, have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (Colossians 2:11) And the prophet declares, Circumcise the hardness of your heart (Deut 10:16 LXX). But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service. For we have been counted, says the Apostle Paul, all the day long as sheep for the slaughter; (Romans 8:36)

It’s also quite possible that Irenaeus was viewing a version of James that was anonymous.

Origen, writing more than a generation after Irenaeus, seems to be the first unambiguous witness to the epistle of James. In his Commentary on John (19.61) he refers to it as ‘the Epistle of James that is in circulation’, so Origen would function as a terminus ante quem for when this epistle was written.

My thinking is that this epistle was originally Jewish, but Ebionites got a hold of it. They added some “Christian”/Ebionite flavor to this letter so that they have something in circulation in their arguments against orthodox or Paulinist Christians sometime in the 2nd century. But this still doesn’t explain why they wouldn’t add that this was the brother of Jesus writing this letter instead of a servant.

So who knows. I do know one thing – this letter has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus or any Christian specific subject matter. No resurrection, no cross, no gospel/good news. It really doesn’t belong. Maybe Martin Luther was right!

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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in ebionites, epistle of james, interpolation


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


Κατά τας Γράφας ή Καθώς Γεγράπται;

According to the scriptures, or as it is written?

Here is an interesting exchange arguing that the Pauline resurrection account at 1 Cor 15:1-9 is a post-Mark, yet pre-Matthew addition to 1 Corinthians.


It is my understanding, Andrew, that most exegets read a portion of this passage (3-7) as a ‘credal statement’ by Paul for which he uses phrases seen nowhere else in the corpus or ideas which at variance with what he says elsewhere. Examples of non-Paulinisms are, “according to the scriptures” (κατα τας γραφας, where Paul routinely uses καθως γεγραπται – “as it is written”), “was buried”, “the third day”, “he was seen” (note that the only other Paul’s “seeing” Jesus (1 Cr 9:1) is in active perfect, while the “seeing” Jesus in this passage is passive aorist – Jesus “being seen (by)”). Am I correct in accepting that it would be the majority view of NT scholarship that at least this portion of the passage, Paul would be using church credal formulas rather than his own customary conceptual framework ?

Let us say then, FSOA, that Robert Price was not first exeget who saw these non-Pauline turns, and the curious bunching of “novelties” here for the Pauline repertoire, i.e. the notion of ranking the apostolic mettle on the basis of Jesus appearances, the mention of “The Twelve”, the 500 to whom Jesus appeared before James and Paul, the idea of Paul “unfitness” to be an apostle (directly contradicting Paul’s “competence” granted by God – 2 Cr 3:5), Paul seeing himself as eκτρωμα, against everything else he says about himself vis-a-vis other men in flesh believed to be apostles. Now, if it is accepted by a large group of scholars that Paul articulates in the passage credal norms existing prior to his conversion rather than his own ideas, what is the evidence that would make this the preferred interpretation, say, to the notion that these credal manifests were written up later in Paul’s name ?

Much obliged.



Hi Jiri

I think we can agree that parts of this passage are in origin non-Pauline ie they are either pre-Pauline material that Paul is using (which in effect taking the passage as authentic is what Paul is claiming) or they are a post-Pauline interpolation.

I have argued on external grounds that they are not a 2nd century interpolation, when one could argue that the passage arose as a “catholic” attempt to counter the Marcionite and Gnostic use of Paul.

The problem IMO with the suggestion that the passage is both 1st century and non-Pauline is that the idea that the passage was added that early to counter mis-interpretations of Paul seems difficult for 2 reasons.

a/ We have no evidence that disputes about the right way to interpret Paul started that early and it seems more likely that serious controversy about Paul’s leters began in the 2nd century.

b/ What I meant by a possible 1st century interpolation was the possibility that the first publishers of 1 Corinthians (eg Onesimus or the Corinthian church or …) 80-90 CE, interpolated the passage. ie I was thinking of the idea that although the passage is non-Pauline there was never a generally available version of 1 Corinthians without this passage. In this case the interpolation by definition pre-dates any widespread controversy about the interpretation of Paul’s letters. It just doesn’t seem likely to me that the first publisher of Paul’s leters, trying to remind his fellow Christians of a partly forgotten pioneer, would have added material about Paul being unfit to be an apostle.

This argument obviously depends on my views of the 1st century history of Paul’s letters, you may well disagree. If you want to follow this up, please make clear what is your view of what happened to Paul’s letters after Paul’s death.

Andrew Criddle


Thanks, Andrew. This is a significant point because agreeing that this dichotomy exists, is agreeing that Paul’s style here does not match his style elsewhere. That means there are internal textual grounds for doubting the passage’s authenticity. It is not some caprice.

I believe you are correct [they are not a 2nd century interpolation]. This insert would not have been made to defy Marcion. It could have been made in response to Markan Paulinists who would have scoffed at the idea that Jesus “appeared” to Peter “and the twelve” (at least until Matthew ratified it by re-writing the empty tomb mystery). So, I would say, if this is interpolation it would have to be defended as an early one. It seems clear that by Marcion’s time the gospel resurrection narrative perimeter would have been too firmly set to allow a variant as distant as 1 Cor 15:3-8.

I beg to differ [that we have no evidence that disputes about the right way to interpret Paul started (in the first century)]. Galatians speaks volumes about the precarious relationship Paul had with the Jerusalem missions, and therefore the reports of Epiphanius that he was considered an apostate by the “Jewish heretics” most likely originated in Paul’s own lifetime. Mt 5:19 can also be seen as an early ‘dissing’ of Paul.

Again, I would reply to [the idea that some would have added material about Paul being unfit to be an apostle] that we need not to assume a single source of controversy around Paul’s writings. The motive to rewrite Paul in order to cut him to size would have existed as soon as the Palestinian Nazarenes and Pauline Christians began mixing and converging which I have grounds to believe happened after the war of 66-70. The most significant impetus for an insert into 1 Cr 15 would have been Paul’s non-traditional, speculative view of resurrection, exhibited later in the chapter (48-54), which clashed with the emerging view of physicality of Jesus’ rising when Mark was digested by the Petrines.

I think the possibilities [about what happened to Paul’s letters after Paul’s death] are endless. To begin with, IIUC the prevailing view is that both Corinthians were assembled from several letters. If there were extant copies of whole letters or specimen of alternative arrangements of the chapters, we could perhaps glean more about the stages of transmission. But I am not aware of evidence of this sort. Was there a master of 1 Corinthians (in a master collection like ‘Apostolikon’) ? Was it kept at Corinth ? With Onesimus ? Onesiphorus ? Who had access to it ? How many copies were made ? I really don’t know where one would begin.

Thanks again for writing.



Hi Jiri

Can I clarify a point ?

You seem to be saying that although you don’t think the passage in 1 Corinthians is authentically Pauline you do regard it as our earliest surviving account of the resurrection appearances.

Am I understanding you correctly ?

Andrew Criddle


Close to, yes. I believe Mark ended at 16:8, and described the experience of the resurrected Jesus as his Transfiguration. The passage of 1 Cr 15:3-8 might well have been from the period between Mark and Matthew, articulating for the first time Jesus post-mortem appearances as confirmation to the select witnesses that he had risen. It could have been written after Matthew, but not long after, because Matthew was superior writing which likely overturned Mark on short order. (I read the SE & LE of Mark as attempts to re-establish Mark as the premier gospel authority, a losing cause.)



I regard the eleven in Matthew 28:16 compared to the twelve in the best text of 1 Corinthians 15:5 as evidence that the Corinthians passage is pre-Matthaean.

Andrew Criddle


Yes, it is a point to consider. My inclination is to view the mystical “twelve” as a literary creation of Mark which was “converted” into an explicit, ID-ed “twelve disciples” by Matthew. That Mark did not use the “disciples” to overlap with the “twelve” is apparent from 2:15, 4:10 cf. 4:34, and his other uses of the mystical number. The power of Matthew’s suggestion that this is what Mark meant permanently restricted the exegesis of the original narrative gospel even though I believe Matthew was well aware of the eschatological function of the “the twelve” (19:28). Mark 3:14 does not appoint a restricted group of disciples to preach but an eschatological cipher “twelve” representing the twelve tribes. The only character explicitly linked to “the twelve” in Mark is Judas.

So, if I am correct about the origin of “the twelve”, the theoretical terminus a quo for 1 Cr 15:3-11 would be the gospel of Mark, and ad quem, the writing of Matthew. In practical terms, since we do not know the rate of diffusion of Matthew, or its early oral deposits, the period would be extended somewhat. The situation is somewhat similar to Gospel of Peter, which does not know the reduction to eleven, but which most exegets see as dependent on Mark.


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Posted by on July 21, 2010 in interpolation, paul


Did Paul Think The Jews Killed Jesus?

This is from the discussion here:

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

14For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews,

15who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men

16in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last

Here Paul says that the Jews killed Jesus, as well as the prophets. What a statement! That sounds alarmingly like some sort of Muslim charge against the Jews. However, it doesn’t look like the Jews killed any of their prophets.

At least 34 prophets are mentioned by name in the Bible, besides the occasional obscure prophetesses. …

Of these prophets, no record of their deaths is given for most of them, so there is no scriptural indication that they were killed. ….. There were instances where false prophets were put to death, as when Ahab and Zedekiah were roasted to death by Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 29:21. Presumably, the Babylonian king was doing the Lord’s work here, but that’s not what Paul had in mind in 1 Thessalonians. We might also include Jeremiah’s death curse on Hananiah (28:15-17) for the horrendous impiety of giving the people hope in the face of foreign oppression, but, again, that’s not what Paul had in mind either.

No, we need the deaths of “true” prophets, not “false” ones. In my investigation of the prophet-killing charge, I found only three who actually were killed: John the Baptist, Balaam, and the obscure Urijah. The Baptist was killed not by the Jews but at the behest of Herodias, the wife and former sister-in-law of Herod, who took offense at John’s denunciation of her. It is highly unlikely she was a Jew but rather an Edomite.

As far as Balaam is concerned, while Numbers 31:8 records his death at the hands of the Israelites, it is important to realize two things. First, he was not one of “their” prophets anyway (although he set the pattern subsequent prophets followed) but was hired by the king of Moab, whom he double-crossed by refusing to curse Israel. Second, he was judged to be evil (Numbers 31:16; Rev. 2:14; Jude 11; 2 Peter 2:15), just the sort of prophet Yahweh would conceivably *want* the Jews to kill, despite his use of Balaam against Moab.

The only fully legitimate prophet I could find who was killed by his own people was Urijah, a small-time Jeremiah parrot, who was tracked down, dragged back, and killed by King Jehoiakim himself (Jere. 26:20-23). This was the deed of one Jew and his flunkies and not a collective act.

“Killed Their Own Prophets”: New Testament Libel of the Jews by Stephen Van Eck

So it doesn’t seem as though the Jews actually killed any of their prophets. Not only that, but Paul’s statement above contradicts his other claims in 1 Corinthians and Romans:

1 Corinthians 2:8 None of the rulers of this world understood [God’s wisdom]: for had they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Romans 8:4 in order that the just requirement of the law [the crucifixion] might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Paul, in both 1 Corinthians and Romans, thinks that the crucifixion was just, and according to the law.

Here’s Matthew 23, Jesus’ childish rant against the Pharisees (a similar rant is in Luke):

29″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.

30And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.

32Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

33″You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

34Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

36I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

37″O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

38Look, your house is left to you desolate.

39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'”.

The virtrol in Matt 23 couldn’t have existed against the Pharisees in 33 CE, since they were not the Jews in power. This animosity would better fit in a post 70 CE conflict between Christians and Pharisees, since the destruction of the temple removed the power of the Sadducees and the Pharisees picked it up. “Jesus” here is basically gloating that the Jews lost their temple. Somehow, Paul knew about this as well, since 1 Thess 2:16 could only make sense of the destruction of the temple. What wrath of god befell the Jews in 50 CE?

Thus, this part of 1 Thessalonians must be post-70 CE interpolation.

This makes me more and more suspicious about the traditional date of Paul’s letters. What if they’re all post-70 and the gospel narratives are contemporaneous of the Bar-Kokhba revolt c. 132?

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Posted by on December 8, 2009 in interpolation, paul


Paul, Cephas, and Peter

I mentioned in my post on the history of early Christianity that Paul says in 1 Cor 15 that Jesus appeared to “Cephas (κηφας::kefas), and then the twelve” which might imply that Peter and Cephas are two different people. Because according to the gospel narratives, Peter was one of the twelve. Thus Paul should have written “Cephas and the eleven” if Peter and Cephas were indeed the same person.

Galatians 2:6-14 is the only mention of a person named “Peter” (πετρος::petros) in Paul’s letters. Assuming they are the same person, every other instance of this “pillar” Paul uses the name Cephas. Why Paul would out of the blue decide to call Peter “Peter” here instead of his usual “Cephas” has no other explanation other than interpolation.

Galatians 2:6-14


6απο δε των δοκουντων ειναι τι οποιοι ποτε ησαν ουδεν μοι διαφερει προσωπον [ο] θεος ανθρωπου ου λαμβανει εμοι γαρ οι δοκουντες ουδεν προσανεθεντο

7αλλα τουναντιον ιδοντες οτι πεπιστευμαι το ευαγγελιον της ακροβυστιας καθως πετρος της περιτομης

8ο γαρ ενεργησας πετρω εις αποστολην της περιτομης ενηργησεν και εμοι εις τα εθνη

9και γνοντες την χαριν την δοθεισαν μοι ιακωβος και κηφας και ιωαννης οι δοκουντες στυλοι ειναι δεξιας εδωκαν εμοι και βαρναβα κοινωνιας ινα ημεις εις τα εθνη αυτοι δε εις την περιτομην

10μονον των πτωχων ινα μνημονευωμεν ο και εσπουδασα αυτο τουτο ποιησαι

11οτε δε ηλθεν κηφας εις αντιοχειαν κατα προσωπον αυτω αντεστην οτι κατεγνωσμενος ην

12προ του γαρ ελθειν τινας απο ιακωβου μετα των εθνων συνησθιεν οτε δε ηλθον υπεστελλεν και αφωριζεν εαυτον φοβουμενος τους εκ περιτομης

13και συνυπεκριθησαν αυτω [και] οι λοιποι ιουδαιοι ωστε και βαρναβας συναπηχθη αυτων τη υποκρισει

14αλλ οτε ειδον οτι ουκ ορθοποδουσιν προς την αληθειαν του ευαγγελιου ειπον τω κηφα εμπροσθεν παντων ει συ ιουδαιος υπαρχων εθνικως και ουκ ιουδαικως ζης πως τα εθνη αναγκαζεις ιουδαιζειν


6As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message.

7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.

8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.

9James, Cephas, and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.

10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

11When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.

12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

In the reconstructed version of Marcion’s To the Galatians, Gal 2:7-8 are not in it:

(Gal 2:5) To these not even for an hour we yielded in subjection, That the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

(Gal 2:6) But from those reputed to be something – those of repute conferred nothing to me.

(Gal 2:7) But against them, when they had seen that I was entrusted the gospel of the uncircumcision.

(Gal 2:9) Peter, James and John , who regard themselves pillars, gave to me the right of fellowship: – to me the nations – to them the circumcision

In the Epistle of the Apostles (EoA), the writer gives a list of all of the apostles:

2 We, John, Thomas, Peter, Andrew, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Nathanael, Judas Zelotes, and Cephas, write unto the churches of the east and the west, of the north and the south declaring and imparting unto you that which concerneth our Lord Jesus Christ

The only question that remains is why the interpolation? The only other instance of “Cephas” in the entire NT besides 1 Corinthians and Galatians is at John 1:42, who deliberately joins the two. However, the EoA uses the same motiffs as the gospel of John (disciples poking holes in Jesus’ wounds) so they might have been using that gospel as a source. If so, how could they separate Cephas and Peter?

The interpolation doesn’t add or subtract anything to Paul’s rant here, so the only purpose must be the same purpose as John 1:42 – joining the name Cephas and Peter into one person. Nowhere else does Paul mention that a “Peter” is a pillar of this Jesus movement. Maybe this version of Gal 2:7-8 is the same person who wrote John 1:42.

Edit: Or maybe the interpolation does detract from the rant a bit. Reading this section without the interpolation, Paul obviously has no love for the “so-called” pillars. Which follows the theme of 2:6 where he obviously said that their apparent leadership had no effect on his message, only that he remember the poor (which he did). Using the word δοκουντες::dokountes to describe them (“so-called”) makes sense of how he had no qualms about rebuking Cephas to his face later on in the letter. The interpolated passage softens the vitrol of Paul’s disdain for these pillars… which makes it seem slightly anti-Marcionite.

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Posted by on December 1, 2009 in cephas, gospel of john, interpolation, marcion, paul, peter


Ahead of You in Galilee

Joe Wallack over at FRDB argues that Jesus’ prediction “ahead of you in Galilee” Mark 14:28 and the young man’s reiteration in 16:7 were interpolations. It is possible.

The gospel of Peter uses Mark’s tomb appearance but leaves out the prediction:

He is risen and gone away. But if you do not believe, bend down and see the place where he lay, because he is not here. For he is risen and gone away to there whence he was sent.’ Then the women fled frightened.

The use of women being solely frightened is only found in Mark; Luke and Matthew have them being frightened and overjoyed at the same time. Also, Mark is the only one that describes the person at the tomb in the pedestrian term “youth” or “young man”. Luke/Matthew have more “bombastic”, supernatural messengers who announce that Jesus has risen. Both of these evidence that Peter is more faithful to Mark than the other synoptics. Since Peter doesn’t have the Galilee prediction, the original version of Mark might not have had it either.

If Mark 14:28 is taken out of the context, it still makes sense:

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:” ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'”

29Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30″I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

It reads a lot smoother than it does with Jesus’ prediction of going ahead of them in Galilee. Jesus also quotes Zechariah 13:7. This might be more of that overzealous prophecy fulfillment that I wrote about in an earlier post that also might not be original to Mark. Though I admit that’s a stretch 😉

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Posted by on October 5, 2009 in gospel of mark, interpolation, mark 14:28, mark 16:7


Paul and The Lord’s Supper

This was posted by “spin” over at FRDB in regards to the Eucharist ceremony that Paul describes in 1 Cor 11:17-34. It really goes to show how one needs to learn Greek in order to see past all of the Christian interpretation of translations:

Paul felt it was necessary to reprimand his Corinthians over their behavior when they partook in the group’s communal meal, which Paul calls “the lordly supper” — kuriakos deipnos. This is usually translated as “the lord’s supper” (which would be deipnos tou kuriou), but kuriakos is an adjective (used only twice in the christian scripture), hence “lordly” for want of better representation. This will help to avoid the perhaps undue influence that the phrase “lord’s supper” would bring to the text.

Here is the reconstructed text (arrived at through reduction of the current text):

Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear which of you have approval. When you come together, it is not the lordly supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

Is it that I have so mangled the text that I have lost sight of its significance or is this a communal meal of the sort that people adhering to Jewish customs partook in? We find such a communal meal mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls and believers who had become recognized members of the community could partake in the meal, though they could be excluded from it.

Paul’s complaint, so far, seems to have nothing to do with the Jesus inaugurated ritual meal, but with how members of Paul’s Corinthian community treated each other by not partaking as good responsible members should. It was not an ordinary meal where one could gluttonize or get drunk, but a meal in which all members should be able to partake and not miss out because of the gluttony of some. If one needed to think of one’s body one should do that at home.

If this analysis is correct, let’s look at the text as it has become:

17 Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear which of you have approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the lordly supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

The phrase in red is not well supported by the manuscript evidence, so it can be reduced to a footnote as is done in the NRSV. It seems to be a late erroneous attempt at clarifying the significance of “body”, shifting from the body of the individual to that of Jesus. It’s not the lord’s body that the member doesn’t discern but his/her own, such that s/he comes to the meal with the wrong attitude and gluttonizes.

The green section is mainly the Lucan presentation of the last supper. Its presence draws attention onto itself and away from Paul’s complaint about the poor attitude of his Corinthians when they come to the communal meal.

Interestingly enough, “spin” is right; the only other instance of “Lordly” or “lord-like” (κυριακον) is in Revelation 1:10. Some scholars have posited that John’s Revelation was originally a Jewish apocalypse that was reappropriated by Christians and thus Christianized by interpolating a bunch of “Jesuses” and “Christs” into the text. The Didache, the “Ascension of Isaiah”, also suffer a similar fate – originally Jewish works that were later Christianized. What if Paul’s letters were the same? What if Paul’s letters were originally part of the Dead Sea Scrolls community and were reappropriated by Christians? I think another person, DC Hindley, has a similar conclusion. But not necessarily related to the Dead Sea Scrolls community (usually referred to as the Essenes), but some other Jewish interaction with the ger toshavim.

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Posted by on August 30, 2009 in eucharist, interpolation, lord's supper, paul

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