Paul of Tarsus

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All of Paul's preaching, all of his theology, is characterised by the process of the collapse of a certain sacred structure, and by the slow discovery of the perspective given by a new focus on Yahweh, the Pauline equivalent of Elijah's still, small voice.
James AlisonWikipedia, Faith Beyond Resentment (2001), p. 33

Paul of Tarsus (Hebrew name: Saul) was a 1st-century Hellenized Pharisee Jew with Roman citizenship and the author of many letters addressed to various groups of 1st-century Christians. They comprise most of the New Testament and, as such, have been (and are still) the most highly-influential texts in the history of Christianity and Christian theology.[1]

Paul, who described himself in his letters as a proud, zealous[note 1] and observant Jew (Philemon 3:6, Galatians 1:13-14, Acts 22:3-4), fiercely opposed to the new messianic sect founded by Jesus of Nazareth, called the Way (Acts 9:2; Acts 18:25; Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23), which would later become Christianity as we know it; he persecuted Nazarenes (i.e., the first followers of Jesus movement: Acts 24:5) all over the Jewish Diaspora (Acts 7:58, 8:1-4, 9:1-2, Acts 9:5, 9:13-14, Acts 9:21, 22:3-4, 26:9-11, Acts 26:14; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13, Galatians 1:23; Philemon 3:6; 1 Timothy 1:13). This lasted until his alleged conversion following a vision on the road to Damascus in Syria.

A few years later, Paul became a Nazarene himself and modified the Nazarenes' teaching (theology and christology) by stripping it of most of its original Jewish character, including worship at the Temple of Jerusalem, Kosher diet, and observance of the Mosaic Law, in order to make it more appealing for the Gentiles and conquer them to his missionary intents. He had a chief role in spreading the Christian movement outside of Jewish boundaries throughout the northeastern Mediterranean world[2] from Antioch (where its followers were called Christians for the first time) through Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy.

Meanwhile, most of the original twelve Apostles, led by James the Just, stayed in the Roman province of Judea while Peter wavered between the two factions of the sect (Jewish Christians on the right side and Gentile Christians as the breakaway group) and tried to figure out what to do. Titus, the son (and eventual successor) of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, solved Peter's problem for him by sacking Jerusalem and razing it to the ground in 70 CE, and scattering/enslaving most of the Jews, including Jewish Christians, leaving Paul's network of Gentile Christian communities intact. It was these communities that survived, which eventually gave birth to an entirely Gentile Christian Church. Thus, Paul is considered the second founder of Christianity.[1]

Historicity of Paul[edit]

There is no evidence for Paul outside the New Testament. No records of him ever visiting the kings and other powerful authority figures he supposedly held audiences with, no Jewish records of a Christian hunter gone rogue, etc. Even the usual suspects brought up in defense of a historical Jesus (Josephus, Tacitus, etc.) have nothing to say about Paul. That said, seven of the documents attributed to Paul do appear from textual analysis to be written by the same person. This is considered reasonable evidence that some single individual performed the role, and we may as well call him Paul, as does the author of Acts, thought by scholars to have also written the Gospel of Luke. Even proof of the common authorship of some of these books, though, does not prove that Paul ever met Jesus,[note 2] nor that Jesus ever existed.

Conversion/relationship with the Christ[edit]

The problem with teasing out the historical facts about Paul's conversion and life is that he was fairly scanty in providing details about himself in the epistles and that Acts is a problematic source for Paul's life, given its contradictions with what Paul actually wrote in the epistles. Even if we restrict ourselves to only what Paul wrote about himself, we know from more modern examples that it's not unusual to "beef up" one's prior skepticism to make the conversion seem all the greater.[note 3] Thus, the following has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Paul was raised a Pharisee and later converted, becoming a Sadducee. According to the author of Acts of the Apostles, his early adulthood was focused on persecuting the new Christian Jews. The Acts author wrote that Paul had a vision while traveling to Damascus wherein he saw the resurrected Jesus. Although he never met Jesus, he took from his vision the authority to speak as an apostle of the risen Christ, equal in stature to the apostles who accompanied Jesus during his earthly ministry. The details of the traditional version of Paul's conversion are from the Book of Acts, believed by many scholars to be primarily a work of fiction. In Paul's own words, Jesus' teachings have been "revealed" to him. Compare Acts 9:1-9 with Galatians 1:11-16.

Paul expounded on many issues that Jesus didn't bring up. Jesus had nothing to say about women being subservient to men. Jesus was circumspect on the question of whether his Jewish followers continued to be under the authority of Mosaic law. These doctrinal points seem to originate with Paul or with the way misogynists interpret Paul. Supporters of the patriarchy may also generalize too far from directions given to specific local churches addressing specific local conditions.[3] Some misogynist texts may be later interpolations.

Significant in Paul's writings is what he does not say. He seems to be completely unaware of a recent, historical Jesus. He makes no mention of Jesus' Galilean ministry or that he was accompanied by twelve disciples. Although he refers to Jesus as having been crucified, he offers no information about the time, place, and circumstances of the trial and crucifixion described in the Gospels. He makes no references to Jesus' teachings as recorded in the gospels even when it would clearly advance his argument to do so. Richard Carrier writes:

For all the evidence anyone has ever adduced from the Epistles (once we exclude those known to be forged): it is ambiguous as to whether an earthly or celestial Jesus is being referred to.[4]

Paul's missionary efforts were focused primarily on Gentiles - some of whom were "God-fearers" (pagan sympathizers of Judaism) and "Hypsistarians" (pagan monotheists) — in Asia Minor and Greece. His missionary travels, his establishment of churches, and his writings would begin about 14 years after his conversion. Some 13 years later, between 60-68 CE, Paul was arrested and, according to tradition, was beheaded by Roman authorities.

The "Pauls" of the New Testament[edit]

Dear Corinthians, this is my third time writing to you, still no reply. I don't know how you do things in Corinth, but where I come from, that's considered rude.
—Paul's third epistle to the Corinthians[5]

People tend to speak of Paul of the New Testament as if he were a single individual. But in reality, based on style, theological content, and bibliographical content, scholars identify four different "Pauline" figures in the New Testament: three for the fourteen Epistles originally credited to Paul as well as the Paul of Acts.[6]

  • Tendentious or Legendary Paul: Acts of the Apostles (90-130 CE)[6]
    • The Tendentious or Legendary Paul can be shown to be a literary creation where at best "maybe there was some authentic source material behind some of what appears in Acts somewhere." [sic][7]:362 In other words, Acts could be nothing more than the 1st to 2nd-century equivalent of a Penny Dreadful dime novel starring people like Buffalo Bill, "Wild Bill" Hickok, and Annie Oakley, i.e., a fictional account of an actual person. A modern example would be Ronald Reagan being among the soldiers that liberated the Nazi Death camps.[note 4]
    • This makes the Authentic or Early Paul our only truly potentially-reliable source regarding the historical Paul.

The "Pauls" are all ALL fabricated[edit]

[A]ll the Pauline letters are in fact skillful falsifications from the second century.
Hermann DeteringWikipedia[8]

Some scholars such as Hermann Detering and Robert M. PriceWikipedia following the previous scholarship of the Dutch Radical SchoolWikipedia have argued that the Pauline epistles are from a later date than usually assumed.[9] Willem Christiaan van ManenWikipedia of the Dutch Radical School saw various issues in the Pauline epistles. Van Manen claimed that they could not have been written earlier than the 2nd century. He argued that the canonical Pauline works de-emphasized the Gnostic aspects of early Christianity.[10]

The Authentic or Early Paul[edit]

The Pauline epistles which make up the bulk of the NT have no historical attestation prior to Marcion. . . . Prior to Marcion, most of the other forms of Christianity had been largely Jewish with Platonic influences. Marcion's Paulinism mixed with Jewish Christianity formed a syncretic amalgam, a synthesis of the absorption of two differing streams.
—Bart Willruth[11]

So, if the seven epistles credited to Paul are our only truly potentially-reliable source regarding a historical Paul, what can be said about him? Well, according to James Tabor: "Here is what we most surely know" (some assumptions Tabor makes that are not supported in the epistles themselves have been italicized):

  • Paul calls himself a Hebrew or Israelite, stating that he was born a Jew and circumcised on the eighth day, of the Jewish tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5-6; 2 Corinthians 11:22).
  • He was once a member of the sect of the Pharisees. He advanced in Judaism beyond many of his contemporaries, being extremely zealous for the traditions of his Jewish faith (Philippians 3:5; Galatians 1:14).
  • He zealously persecuted the Jesus movement (Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 15:9).
  • Sometime around 37 CE Paul had a visionary experience he describes as “seeing” Jesus and received from him his Gospel message as well as his call to be an apostle to the non-Jewish world (1 Corinthians 9:2; Galatians 1:11-2:2).[6]
  • He made only three trips to Jerusalem in the period covered by his genuine letters; one, three years after his apostolic call when he met Peter and James but none of the other apostles (around A.D. 40); the second, fourteen years after his call (A.D. 50) when he appeared formally before the entire Jerusalem leadership to account for his mission and Gospel message to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:1-10), and a third, where he was apparently arrested and sent under guard to Rome around A.D. 56 (Romans 15:25-29).
  • Paul claimed to experience many revelations from Jesus, including direct voice communications, as well as an extraordinary “ascent” into the highest level of heaven, entering Paradise, where he saw and heard “things unutterable” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).
  • He had some type of physical disability that he was convinced had been sent by Satan to afflict him, but allowed by Christ, so he would not be overly proud of his extraordinary revelations (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
  • He claimed to have worked miraculous signs, wonders, and mighty works that verified his status as an apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12).
  • He was unmarried, at least during his career as an apostle (1 Corinthians 7:8, 15; 9:5; Philippians 3:8).
  • He experienced numerous occasions of physical persecution and deprivation, including beatings, being stoned and left for dead, and shipwrecked (1 Corinthians 3:11-12; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
  • He worked as a manual laborer to support himself on his travels (1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 9:6, 12, 15).
  • He was imprisoned, probably in Rome, in the early 60s A.D, and refers to the possibility that he would be executed (Philippians 1:1-26)."

Note that the dates are based on material outside the seven epistles and so are questionable. The only real temporal marker for any of Paul's exploits is in 2 Corinthians 11:32 where he states that "In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me." At best, all this does is establish the latest Paul could have had his vision is 37 CE, but there is nothing that really limits how early he could have had his vision. In fact, as the Historical snarl: Aretas and Damascus section below show if this passage is true then Paul would have to have had his vision no later than 33 CE.

Only two of the seven epistles (Philemon and Philippians) credited to Paul were supposedly written during his imprisonment...and it is not clear just where this is. People have suggested Ephesus[12] while others have suggested Herod's Palace in Jerusalem (based on Acts 23:35) or Rome itself. The idea that Paul was in Rome when he wrote some of his epistles comes from Acts, which is of questionable value as a historical reference.

Evidence for Paul[edit]

Unlike the Gospels, Paul's secondary provenance is somewhat reasonable as there are two writers, Clement of Rome and Ignatius, who clearly reference him and who have works that are generally dated to the late first and early second century. 1 Clement is especially interesting as, despite its 80-140 CE date range, 1 Clement 41:2-3 acts as if the Temple is still intact, which implies a terminus post quem (i.e. the latest the work could have been written) of 70 CE. Rufinus of Aquileia (late 4th-early 5th century) writes about an epistle by Clement that informed James the Lord's brother of the death of Peter,[13] but, while part of it seems to fit (1 Clement 5:4 talks about the death of Peter in passing), there is nothing in it that even suggests a succession by Clement, but if it could apply that would push terminus post quem to no earlier than 67 CE.

A big deal is made by some mythists that Justin Martyr doesn't mention or know of Paul...but even in the 19th century there were doubts to that:

  • Epistle to Zenus and Serenus by Justin Martyr: "For we are ' altogether' carnal, and in us dwelleth no good thing. Wherefore we must call in the physician to heal us, And he that is thus minded shall be healed and escape disease"
  • Paul: Romans 7:14 KJV: For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
  • Romans 7:18 KJV: For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Moreover, recent scholarship suggests Justin Martyr not only knew of Paul but used Paul's ideas and, in some cases, even quoted or paraphrased him.[14][15]

Similarly, the John Frum movement shows just how asinine the idea of Paul being fictional is. Paul Raffaele's February 2006 Smithsonian article "In John They Trust"[16] talks about a schism in the John Frum movement with a Prophet Fred who, Raffaele is told, broke with the main leader, Chief Isaac, in 1999. Raffaele is also told by a man claiming to be Prophet Fred's brother-in-law that Prophet Fred “raised his wife from the dead two weeks ago.” Yet, when Raffaele goes to the village Prophet Fred lives in, he is told that Prophet Fred has gone to the island’s northern tip to preach. By the logic (if such a word can even be used for this argument) used by those saying Paul didn't exist then Prophet Fred can't exist:

  • We only have believers in John Frum saying Prophet Fred existed just as we only have believers in Jesus saying Paul existed
  • No non-believer in John Frum has actually met Prophet Fred just as no non-believer in Jesus had actually met Paul
  • Seven epistles appear to be of one hand and, based on internal evidence, are earlier than other epistles under the name Paul, while Prophet Fred, as far as we know, hasn't written a single thing.

So there is less evidence that Prophet Fred existed in 2005 than for Paul around 50-70 CE, but (and this is the important part) there is no one as far as we know who is claiming Prophet Fred didn't exist.

So where is the consistent logic in saying the Paul who is credited with being the author of seven epistles said to be written-dictated by him didn't exist? That Paul (opposed to the one in Acts which can be shown to be on par with 19th century fictional stories starring real people) doesn't have anything that indicates that any contemporary would notice him. Rather we get a person who is trying to take the movement in a certain direction just as what happened previously with Manehevi, Neloaig, and Iokaeye only Prophet Fred seems to take steps to avoid potential conflict (Raffaele's exact comment regarding Prophet Fred not being in the village he visits is "that he’s gone to the island’s northern tip to preach, most likely to avoid the celebrations").

Epistle Paul comes off as a first century John Ballou Newbrough with his effort in taking Christianity in a certain direction being on par with what the Oahspe movementWikipedia was for its time: nothing more than a curiosity.

Historical snarl: Aretas and Damascus[edit]

One problem with Paul is his claim in 2 Corinthians 11:32 that "In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me"[17] based on other sources has some interesting historical issues.

To understand them a little history lesson is in order.

In 64 BCE, the Roman general Pompey annexed the western part of Syria and Damascus was put into the league of ten cities known as the Decapolis which, in turn, were incorporated into the province of Syria and granted autonomy.[18][19]

In 23 BCE, Herod the Great was granted lands controlled by Zenodorus son of Lysanias by Caesar Augustus, which may or may not have included Damascus as well.[20] Most maps show Damascus as NOT being part of Herod the Great's empire. In the sources that say Herod the Great gained control of Damascus, that control is either given back to Syria upon his death or is part of the portion of Herod's territories that Herod Philip got (It is admittedly muddled here.)

In 6 CE, the control of Herod Archelaus' lands is given to Syria.[21]

Before Herod Philip's death, his wife and Herod Antipas agreed to divorce their spouses and marry each other. This marriage may have happened as early as 24 CE.[22]

After Herod Philip's death (no later than 34 CE), his lands were given to Syria which are controlled by Lucius Vitellius the Elder (he supported and was good friends with Caligula).

So we are left with six possibilities:

  1. Aretas controlled Damascus after the war with Antipas i.e., 37-40 CE: extremely unlikely, based on social-political factors. Caligula wouldn't have given a willful barbarian lands controlled by one of his friends and supporters.[23]
  2. Aretas controlled Damascus during the war with Antipas i.e., 36 CE: again extremely unlikely, as Lucius Vitellius the Elder controlled those lands and would not have left a garrison of men (300-1000 men) where it could outflank his armies or ravage his lands.
  3. Aretas controlled Damascus before the war with Antipas but after Philip died i.e., 33/34-36 CE: again extremely unlikely, as Lucius Vitellius the Elder had been given the lands of Herod Philip.
  4. Aretas controlled Damascus before the war with Antipas when Philip was alive i.e., between 28-33 CE: Philip did have his wife "stolen" from him by Antipas whose daughter had been "abandoned" by Antipas, so an alliance between Phillip and Aretas is possible. Also, some sources claim that Damascus had been given to Herod the Great, meaning that it would have been part of the portion of the kingdom that Phillip gained. (Other sources say it wasn't but we go with those that say it was for the sake of the argument.) A flanking maneuver to surround Antipas's lands would militarily make sense. If Paul's story is true, this seems to be the most likely time that it could have occurred...except that it creates a greater likelihood of conflict with when Jesus ministry was; a 34-36 Jesus ministry would created a real mess regarding Paul's vision.
  5. Paul is misremembering/exaggerating events and Aretas never controlled Damascus.
  6. The 2 Cor. 11:32-33 passage is "a marginal 'gloss' copied into the text, or even a later insertion" i.e., it was NEVER written by Paul.[24]

In truth, "neither from archaeological evidence, secular-historical sources, nor New Testament texts can Nabartean sovereignty over Damascus in the first century AD be proven."[25]

If we give this passage of Paul the benefit of a doubt, then he seems to have pulled a Ronald Reagan and misremembered events and simply escaped Damascus sometime before 40 CE and latched on to Aretas as the main ruler he could remember when writing the passage. But this means that Paul could have seen Jesus as early as 24 CE which would totally screw up the Gospel timeline.

His travels[edit]

Paul states that, immediately after his conversion (c. 33 CE), he traveled to "Arabia" and later to Damascus, rather than to see the other apostles in Jerusalem, something which he postponed for three years (Galatians 1:17-18) as one would expect. Acts doesn't flat out contradict this, as it claims that Paul went immediately to Damascus, but it neglects entirely to mention the three-year interval between the conversion and Paul's first visit to Jerusalem, making it seem as if he went to Jerusalem soon after his conversion (Acts 9:8, Acts 9:26).

Paul records that, after three years (c. 36 CE), he went to Jerusalem for 15 days, seeing no apostles except Peter (AKA Cephas[note 5]) and James (Galatians 1:18, 19). Paul then wrote in Galatians 2:1 that he returned to Jerusalem after 14 years (c. 50 CE), though offering no explanation of what he did during those 14 years. However, given that he wrote that his purpose of this second journey to Jerusalem was to tell the city's congregation about the gospel that he had been preaching (Galatians 2:2), preaching (and probably continuing his correspondence with far-flung congregations) is a good guess. How much of this reflects actual history, rather than Paul trying to burnish his credentials as a Christian authority (to give weight to his admonishments to the Galatian congregation), is unclear because of the scarcity of verifiable details. Paul's assurances that he's not lying (Galatians 1:20) is essentially just an argument by assertion and, when combined with his claims about his status, an argument from authority. The very fact that Paul felt it necessary to insert such a "trust me" passage in his letter and to warn against false teachers among the Galatians spreading rumors about him (Galatians 5:7-12:1) suggests that his status and authority at the time was far from rock solid. On this second trip to Jerusalem, Paul met James, Peter, and John[note 6] who confirmed Paul's role as as apostle of the Gentiles and asked that he continue to deliver the collection (Galatians 2:9, 10). However, contrary to Acts, where Paul is extremely respectful towards the Jerusalem congregation, in Galatians, Paul describes the James/Peter/John Jerusalem trio as people "who seemed to be pillars" (in the KJV version), suggesting that Paul didn't actually consider their authority to be genuine.

Paul related that, thereafter, Peter came to Antioch, at which time there was a strong disagreement between the two regarding the necessity for Gentiles to observe "the Law",[note 7] a dispute which continued during Paul's subsequent visit to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-21). In fact, Paul wrote that his travelling partner and associate, Barnabas, was won over by the "Judaisers" (Galatians 2:12-13) and, since Paul made no mention of having "reconverted" Barnabas to his point of view, it's not far-fetched to suggest that Paul did not fare well in his dispute with the Jerusalem faction over the adherence to Jewish customs. By contrast, Acts 15:2-22 offered an entirely different rendition of the same events that downplayed the argument with Peter and finished the Jerusalem encounter with an outright endorsement of Paul by James. Rather than the conflicting story presented by Paul which suggested the theological disputes in the early Christian community surrounding such things as the retention of Jewish customs,[note 8] Acts instead tried to paper over these differences and present a harmonious picture where Paul, Peter and James were all essentially in agreement and that the main problem was some malcontents among "certain of the sect of the Pharisees" (Acts 15:5).

In Romans 15:25, Paul wrote of his intention to return to Jerusalem (c. 57 CE), which is where Acts put the date of his arrest (Acts 21:33) and subsequent journey to Rome for an appeals trial. Here, Acts abruptly broke off, but Christian tradition has it that Paul was ultimately executed in 67 CE.

Acts details many travels that Paul does not mention. For example, Acts 11:27-30 refers to a trip to Antioch for the purposes of delivering a collection for famine relief. But, given the quality of Acts, the usefulness of such details is highly questionable.

The collection[edit]

If one is looking for a motive for participation in the early Christian church, one need look no further than the collection. It was Paul's promise to "remember the poor" that apparently allowed an agreement between him and the "pillars" in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9-10).

In his letters, Paul gives instructions to several churches to prepare a collection for Jerusalem in anticipation of his arrival (1 Corinthians 16:1-3, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, 2 Corinthians 9). Paul thanks Philippi for their aid (Philippians 4:10-19) and mentions a contribution for Jerusalem made by Macedonia and Achaia in Romans 15:25-28.

It was apparently while delivering this collection that Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, and it is claimed he mentioned it at his trial in Acts 24:17.

In Acts[edit]

"The book of Acts has been all but discredited as a work of apologetic historical fiction."[7]:359 The best one can hope is that "maybe there was some authentic source material behind some of what appears in Acts, somewhere" [sic].[7]:362

However, Acts resembles so many non-canonical works that obviously are not historical either (such as Acts of Peter, Acts of Paul, Acts of Andrews, Acts of John, and Acts of Thomas) and has a structure exactly like a novel of the period[7]:364-368

Not only is Acts filled with historical fantasy regarding the behavior of the Romans and Jews, but nearly everyone seen in Luke simply vanishes from the record, and, when it comes to Paul's actual "trial transcripts", the detailed Jesus of Luke also vanishes to be replaced by the vague Jesus of the epistles.[7]:375-376</ref>

At best, the Paul in Acts is nothing more than the ancient equivalent of a penny-dreadful or dime novel starring people like Buffalo Bill, "Wild Bill" Hickok, and Annie Oakley, i.e., a historical person used in a fictional story.

In fact, it has been suggested that the Luke-Acts we know of (which is actually longer than the version in any Bible) were in response to Marcion of Sinope's preaching in 120-125 CE, if not his Bible of c 140 CE.[26]

Paul proclaims himself to be an apostle of Jesus in Galatians 2:8, 1 Corinthians 9:1-2, and in several other instances. However, according to Acts 1:21, to be considered for inclusion by the other apostles, one must have "been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us," making Paul ineligible. This just one of the many things in Acts that suggests that it is nothing more than a fiction with Paul as a main character.

Paul, in fact, regarded his claim to apostleship to be just as valid as that of anyone. He notes, concerning "important" men in the church, "...those men added nothing to my message" (Galatians 2:6). However, Acts has Paul acknowledging "those who had traveled with [Jesus] from Galilee to Jerusalem" (Acts 13:31) to be of greater importance. Also note that Paul believed no one could dispute that his vision of the living Jesus after the crucifixion was as significant as other sightings of the resurrected Jesus, which casts doubt on the claim that anyone actually saw a resurrected Jesus.

Acts has Paul on many occasions assert that he considers himself a Jew, at one point noting, "I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple..." (Acts 25:8). In his own letters, however, Paul frequently denies the significance of Jewish law. In one instance he admits he does not have "a righteousness of [his] own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ" (Philippians 3:9).

By the varied speeches attributed to Paul in Acts, he is portrayed as a great orator. However, Paul himself notes the accusation by some that "in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing" (2 Corinthians 10:10).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]



  1. Some scholars suggested that Paul wasn't just zealous as we conceive religious fervor or devotion today, but that he was actually a zealot: the Zealots were a Judaic social movement that refused to compromise with Hellenism and reacted violently to Roman rule in Judea. Their extremely fanatical nationalism went beyond political issues and extended to religious observance of the Mosaic Law for all the Jews; those who didn't respect it were murdered. If Paul was one of them, this could explain the reasons behind his persecution of Jewish Christians before the conversion; cfr. Fairchild, Mark R. Paul's Pre-Christian Zealot Associations: A Re-Examination of Gal 1.14 and Acts 22.3 (1999), pp. 514-532, New Testament Studies (Vol. 45, Issue 4), Cambridge University Press.
    However, at least three Apostles of Jesus (Peter, Judas and Simon) were Zealots, so turning from one type of radical on the fringe of Judaism into another was not unheard of; cfr. Brandon, S. G. F. Jesus and the Zealots (1967), Manchester University Press, ISBN 978-06-84-31010-7.
  2. Though the bible does not claim that Paul ever met the physical Jesus prior to his execution
  3. Lee Strobel claims to have been a staunch and sinful atheist, despite giving a rather incoherent description of these supposed beliefs. Compare with several of the Satanic Panic frauds, such as Mike Warnke or John Todd and their bullshit autobiographies.
  4. In fact, Ronald Reagan spent the entire war stateside and was never in Europe when the camps were liberated.
  5. Note that it is not certain that Peter and Cephas are the same person, but the consensus seems to be that they are.
  6. As no further detail is given, we can't know which John is being referred to, but John son of Zebedee is one likely candidate.
  7. Mainly Jewish dietary customs and circumcision.
  8. A struggle in which the Pauline view eventually won out. Hence why, for instance, Christians don't have to be circumcised and can have all the shrimp cocktails and pork sandwiches they like.


  1. 1.0 1.1 James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (2006), pp. 2-3, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge, U.K.), ISBN 978-0-8028-4423-1; Beginning from Jerusalem: Christianity in the Making (2009), p. 519, Eerdmans, ISBN 978-0-8028-3932-9.
  2. Eckhard J. Schnabel, Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods (2008), IVP Academic, ISBN 978-0-8308-2887-6.
  3. What did St Paul say about women?
  4. Carrier, Richard (2015)."Foreword" ap. Lataster 2015b, pp. xi-xii.
  5. As related by Frankie Boyle
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 James Tabor 08/14/2014 "The Quest for the Historical Paul". Bible History Daily
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2
  8. Detering, Hermann (1995) (in German). Der gefälschte Paulus : das Urchristentum im Zwielicht (1. Aufl ed.). Patmos. ISBN 3491779693. ; Published in English: Detering, Hermann (Fall 2003). "The Falsified Paul". Journal of Higher Criticism 10 (2). ; English translation revised 2018: ISBN 978-1-981040-81-0 and ASIN B006XXX04G.
  9. Price, Robert M. (2012). "Ch. 2: By Posthumous Post §. The historical Paul". The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul. Signature Books. ISBN 978-1-56085-216-2 and ASIN B00IB3YSMO.
  10. Detering, Hermann (1996). "The Dutch Radical Approach to the Pauline Epistles". Journal of Higher Criticism 3 (2): 163–193. 
  11. Willruth, Bart (28 March 2008). "The Father of the New Testament".  Debunking Christianity.
  12. Robinson, Benjamin W. (1910) "An Ephesian Imprisonment of Paul" Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 181-189
  13. "The epistle in which the same Clement, writing to James the Lord's brother, informs him of the death of Peter, and that he had left him his successor in his chair and teaching..." Recognitions (Preface)
  14. Saint Justin Martyr Online Encyclopædia Britannica
  15. Rodney Werline (1999). The Transformation of Pauline Arguments in Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho. Harvard Theological Review, 92, pp 79-93. doi:10.1017/S0017816000017867.
  16. Raffaele, Paul (February 2006) "In John They Trust" Smithsonian
  17. 2 Corinthians 11:32 KJV
  18. Warwick Ball (2002). Rome in the East: The Transformation of an Empire. p. 181.
  19. Skolnik, Fred; Michael Berenbaum ( 2007) Encyclopaedia Judaica Volume 5 Granite Hill Publishers pg 527
  20. Burns, Ross (2007) Damascus: A History Routledge pg 52
  21. Samuel Rocca (2005) The Army of Herod the Great
  22. Christiane Saulnier in G. J. Goldberg's John the Baptist and Josephus
  23. Riesner, Rainer (1998) Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, Theology Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing pg 73-89
  24. Raanan Shaul Boustan, Alex P. Janssen, Calvin J. Roetzel (2010) Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practices in Early Judaism and Christianity BRILL pg 94
  25. Riesner, Rainer (1998) Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, Theology Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing pg 83-84, 89
  26. Tyson, Joseph B. Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle (annotated edition, 2006), Edition University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-1570036507.