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Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

Paul says we no longer know Jesus as human...
 
Paul the first Christian writer is thought to have said that faith in Jesus was about faith and not about any historical facts. In fact, the Church had a Jesus of faith as opposed to one of history. If Paul did say that then it is quite likely there never was a Jesus.
 
2 CORINTHIANS 5:16

“The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17, King James Version).

When writing to the Christians of Corinth, Paul says that we who knew Christ according to the flesh know him that way no more (2 Corinthians 5:16). Christians have always argued at this point that Paul meant only that he has a different opinion and evaluation of Jesus now since Jesus ceased to be an ordinary man and became the risen saviour (page 81, Jesus, Qumran and the Vatican). That interpretation is impossible because Paul shows no knowledge of Jesus as a man and never met Jesus as a man. He doesn’t teach about Jesus’s life as a man. On the contrary he says many things that indicate that the gospel portrait of Jesus is fiction. He often contradicts the gospel view of Jesus.
 
In 2 Corinthians 8 he says the Corinthians are to remember that Jesus was rich but for their sake he became poor to make them rich out of his poverty. He added that this didn’t mean that to give relief to the starving and the poor they had to make things difficult for themselves but to use their surplus! So Jesus then was clearly a totally rich man who gave it all up. This denies the gospels which have a Jesus who was born in a stable, had poor parents, had to wander about homeless and often hungry and whose invectives against the rich were harsh in the extreme. Paul means that Jesus was literally rich.  There is no room for the idea that he only meant that Jesus had the supernatural power to take whatever he wanted and was rich in that sense but didn’t use it. God or the Son of God incarnate then should have the power to enjoy all the gold in the world for its theirs and their magic can get it for them. Jesus then was only acting poor but wasn’t poor at all if he was one of these. He was like a multi-trillionaire who doesn’t use his money but lives in a box with the homeless. Such a man wouldn’t be poor. In Paul’s description of Jesus as rich and then poor we see that he denied that Jesus was God or had the magical power to turn stones into bread or even bread into money. He denied the gospel Jesus who claimed supernatural powers. So Jesus was literally rich but gave it all away. This isn’t in the gospels at all and he contradicts them so they are false.
 
So Paul did deny that we should be interested in Jesus’ pre-resurrection life or indeed that the Church was interested when he made his declaration that we know Christ no more according to the flesh. The life of Christ as a man and the life of Christians as human beings is to be forgotten. What is to be remembered is what they are now, transformed and holy beings full of God’s life and presence. You may ask that if Paul asked them to remember a rich Jesus who became poor for them then how can I say he had no interest in the life of Jesus? He may have been told this by Jesus in an apparition. A Paul whose only interest in the life of Jesus is what he is told in apparitions is no different from one that ignores the Jesus of history for he is still ignoring him. Such a Paul makes it no less of a fact that he doesn’t want anybody worrying about the history of Jesus. He wouldn’t even let people get married for the coming of Christ was thought to be imminent so investigating Jesus would have been discouraged as a distraction. He only let people marry if they couldn’t do without sex (1 Corinthians 7). Again, if one shouldn’t marry except as a last resort to avoid fornication but prepare for the return of Jesus instead this doesn’t fit the gospels. In this view, people marry just to make sure they won’t be fornicating when the Lord comes back so its not about love or closeness and making babies and a happy home.
 
The gospel Jesus spoke of marriage a few times and warned that it was for life and said he came to restore its true meaning which had been lost among the Jews. Jesus said that a man must leave his parents and cleave to his wife so that they become one not two. Jesus then didn’t agree with Paul’s cold advice on marrying to avoid fornication. Jesus had the idea of sex and also closeness between husband and wife in mind. Jesus saw marriage as hard and long work for the husband and wife. Paul and Jesus mostly agreed that marriage was for life but Jesus would hold that marriage would be a preparation for the second coming for it’s a good work and not a distraction. For if you cannot prepare for the second coming by good works you are not preparing at all. The way Paul speaks of marriage indicates that he doesn’t regard it as a part of the purification and preparation for the second coming. The Bible therefore denies the Catholic doctrine that marriage is a sacrament.
 
Paul by implication is showing that the Church never heard of a Jesus giving such teachings. The teachings of Jesus about marriage made the apostles say that it was better not to marry at all when he was that strict. The gospels even invented the more insalubrious teachings of Jesus.
 
Back to our verse where Paul says we know nobody by the flesh any more and though we knew Jesus by the flesh we know him that way no more. Then why did Paul say we for the Corinthians knew nothing of the earthly Jesus who never even left Palestine and who focused on ministering to Jews?
 
Who is “we”?
 
We is the people Paul had just said Jesus died for and he said that we know them according to the flesh or the ordinary secular way no more either. Just like Jesus they have been made into new holy creatures and nothing is the same anymore. He does not mean people who would have known Jesus or about what he was like as a man at all. What he means is every person who was saved by Jesus in past centuries or the present or the future so Jesus could have lived twenty centuries previous. Therefore Paul cannot mean: “We knew Jesus personally as a man but he is more than that to us now.” So whatever we think about Paul’s statement, he is not saying Jesus lived in the first century. Many of his converts would have been born since Jesus died. The Corinthians did not know Jesus personally when he was on earth so Paul is not saying here that anybody did know him personally.
 
So Paul said we used to see Jesus as an ordinary man but not any more. You could say the same of Victor Hugo though he died long before your time. For the early Church, the important thing was the risen Jesus. The earthly Jesus was to be ignored. Interest in him is refusing to keep the correct focus.
 
RUDOLPH BULTMANN
 
The famous German theologian, Rudolph Bultmann took Paul’s assertion as proof that the gospels were full of mythology, not lies but just fables intended to teach a religious or spiritual moral. He took it as evidence that Paul steered the Church in that direction and the culmination was the gospels which are absurd if taken as literally true. Bultmann believed Paul meant that Jesus was to be ignored as a historical person and now he was to be seen in symbolic and spiritual terms as explicated by mythology. Indeed, Paul goes further than that. He says his followers are ignoring and have ignored that Jesus of history whether there is a history available for him or not. They are not going to worry about him. Surely Jesus must have lived in recent times if the Corinthians are to forget his earthly life? Not necessarily. Paul does not want anybody to be curious about Jesus’ earthly life and the reason for that can only be this one: that there was no point for nothing can be known for definite if anything at all can be found out about it.
 
What supports Bultmann is what Paul said that if we once knew Jesus according to the flesh we don’t anymore. That can be interpreted as saying it is what Jesus does for us now in our souls for he is with us since his resurrection that matters and the past should be forgotten. When Paul showed no interest in Jesus’ earthly life and when he could be interpreted that way that is the way he should be interpreted. If Paul had meant that we don’t see Jesus as an ordinary man any more then why didn’t he write that? That would have been clearer. We know how many in Corinth wanted to forget that Jesus was a man so he would have been clear in case he would encourage them. So he did mean what Bultmann said he meant. Even if Jesus lived a mundane life, it would be good to investigate it if possible. But Paul thinks that Jesus’ life has been lost to history because God wants the focus on the resurrected Jesus and what he is doing for people and in their hearts now.
 
Paul said that we view no man according to the flesh for they are not in it any more being new creations of God which demands a complete break and forgetfulness of the past (5:17,18). He says Jesus is to be focused on what he is now as well and not on the past. But each person will have a different idea of how to do this so Paul is exalting the human imagination as a tool of learning the incomprehensible truths that God stands for. So the Christian is to create myths out of Jesus.
 
Paul’s assertion says nothing about when Jesus lived for all he is claiming is that the Jesus we know in our hearts is not an ordinary human being and to be forgotten as one. It is the story of what Jesus does in your soul now that matters not the story of the earthly Jesus.
 
It is interesting that Paul says we are forced to love Christ by the fact that if he died for us then we died with him. Many systems of belief at the time were sort of pantheistic with many people being believed to be the one deity and Paul often talks strongly in this pantheistic vein. There is no evidence for saying he thought we metaphorically perished with Christ. That makes it possible that the deity Jesus is really a collection of people who die and when the deity resurrects he comes back as one person. And it is more than possible – it is likely. You would expect Paul to be careful not to suggest deities that were archetypes of humans and one with them or some of them but he did not despite such semi-pantheism being a major fashion of the time.
 
Indeed, such an interpretation as the Christians have would be impossible. They say us dying with Christ means we stop our lives of sin when Jesus’ death takes them away by paying for them so that we metaphorically die with him. But to say we are forced to love Christ by dying with him metaphorically makes no sense. It is like saying you are forced to turn away from sin when you repent but that is a tautology. You are not forced by repentance to repent.
 
It is interesting that he also says we are compelled to love Christ because he died and rose so that we might not live for ourselves but for him. But how could you love a man just because he wants you to live for him and love him? You can if you are that man in some sense – this is the pantheistic element again. Paul’s Jesus was a pagan God not a historical person. He was a divine force and an archetype that was believed to manifest as several people. To pagans when a man died the horned God died for man was his manifestation and the man realises when he dies that he was not his own person at all but was one with the deity who was acting as if he was that person and other men. Silly? Yes but all religion is ridiculous.

Proof that there was nothing known about the earthly life of Jesus is in the fact that Paul wrote: “If there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you” (Philippians 4:8,9).

Paul would not have dared to put himself forward as a good example if there was a Jesus whose life they could have learned from for he knew to be wary of boasting and here he is really bombastic. Why put the messenger before the Son of God himself? Christians explain that Paul meant that they had to see how Jesus would live through him for they had never met Jesus. But Paul was still boasting. The Philippians had leaders who Paul could recommend as examples and who would have been better for they lived with the people and Paul didn’t. So Paul did not leave out Jesus because they didn’t see just for they didn’t see much of Paul either to know him very well. The correct picture we get from all this is that Paul though he tried to avoid bragging felt forced to do it here and in his pride he forgot to recommend the religious leaders of the Philippians and as for Jesus, the obvious good exemplar, nobody knew what his example was like for he was only known through apparitions. There was no known earthly Jesus to model your virtues on.
 
Bultmann was right.
 
EUCHARIST DOES NOT PROVE A JESUS OF HISTORY 
 
Paul had no interest in the earthly Jesus the one that existed before the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 11, he even said that he received the Eucharist story from the risen Jesus and passed it on so even the story that the earthly Jesus took bread and wine and made them emblems of his body and blood and was betrayed had to come through visions. It is certain that Paul had no interest in the earthly Jesus apart from the bare fact that he was crucified which is virtually the same has having no interest at all for he did not look at the Jesus story and learn about it or from it. He laid all his attention on visions. Even if this is wrong it is still important that we cannot prove that Paul cared for the earthly Lord. Paul said the bread was the body and the cup the blood of the Lord but that means that is what they are reminders of and does not mean that the words, “This is my blood,” were said over the cup in the Church. You don’t need to with reminders. When Paul said that the cup was the blood and his Jesus did not use the word blood in the consecration but said that the cup was a new covenant in his blood he clearly denied that his Jesus did that. The blood was Paul’s interpretation of the cup which is a sign that the Eucharist had recently been invented because it would have been thought out better had it had an earlier origin.

So the Jesus in Paul says the cup and we are not even told that it was wine was stated by Jesus to be the new covenant contradicting the gospels which say it was the blood of the covenant. It is more simple to say it is the covenant than that it is the blood and legends get more complicated over time and eventually the cup was stated to be the blood of the Lord in the words of consecration.

The book, St Saul, makes the point that when Paul was saying he received the Eucharist rite off the Lord that he was stressing that he knew it really did happen historically (page 218). He was kind of saying, “I swear this is true on the Lord’s honour.” But would Paul swear if he could verify the Eucharist happened? It is wrong to swear unless you have to. And if the people were not believing in him for Corinth was full of Christians who did not take Paul seriously, swearing would be no help. So rather than swearing he would have been sending them some evidence or telling them where to get it. If Paul felt the need to swear that is admitting that a major rite in Jesus’ life could not be historically verified and people had to just take his word for it. Though his saying he got it from the Lord is not an oath it is clear that he is still trying to pressure people to believe in him just as he would be if he did swear. This is a sign of desperation. It is also, more importantly, a sign that he had only revealed the Eucharist later in his career as a missionary and prophet. It means that the original apostles and Paul himself initially did not think of the Eucharist. Paul had a vision or a revelation telling him about it and so he started the rite not Jesus.
 
St Saul also tells us that Jesus according to Paul did not do the Last Supper at Passover but at one of several meals he had with his disciples so there was nothing unique about the meal (page 218). I see no evidence for this apart from the fact that the Christians in Corinth were having regular meals together at which they took bread and drink in memory of Jesus. If St Saul is right then it follows that the gospels are lying when they plot the Last Supper during Passover time.
 
Some would object that Jesus could have done one big meal at Passover and had the Last Supper and Christians just decided to imitate the last supper at every meal they had in common. The evidence against this is that the Christian meals often led to trouble as Paul said so there must have been a serious reason for having them. They must have been done to imitate Jesus. Another piece of evidence is that Paul and Jesus wanted bread and drink taken in memory of the body and blood of Jesus but it was never said that the words saying this is my body or my blood had to be said. You took the bread and drink as memorials of Jesus but not as symbols. They signified communion with the body and blood of Christ but they did not signify the body and blood of Christ. This is my body could mean the same as saying a picture is your son. The picture is not your son or a symbol of your son but the memorial of your son. Overall, this would mean that Christians had to have regular meals of bread and drink together in memory of the body and blood of Jesus and do it often in memory of his many meals. Paul does not even say the cup was wine and wine was on the Passover table so it seems the meal was not a Passover meal. He would have said when he talked as if he was talking to ignorant people. If Jesus was betrayed on the night he did what Paul says with bread and drink that means Jesus was not crucified when the gospels say he was at all for they say he died the day after the Passover meal.
 
Paul stated that many Corinthians were falling ill and dying as God took revenge on them for eating the bread of communion and drinking the cup without recognising the body and blood of the Lord. These were taking the communion unworthily. The view that he meant people were taking communion and not believing that it was the body and blood of the Lord is nonsense. That interpretation is way over the top. To eat the bread and drink the cup when they were pictures of the body and blood while not believing that Jesus really had a body and blood would also be a sin. This is the sin Paul had in mind. The Church had an epidemic number of people who did not believe that Jesus was a man and who had had a spiritual experience like a vision or whatever that made them willing to take on the stigma of being a Christian and associating with Paul’s Church. Their supernatural experiences would be the only explanation. Paul had to try and scare them with threats about divine vengeance to get them to believe. He was desperate all right. It is clear then that many knowledgable believers did not believe that Jesus instituted the Eucharist and did not believe in his humanity. It was clear that for many Jesus was an angel or something but certainly not a man that lived recently for they could not deny that so soon after his death and life on earth assuming the gospels were telling even a quarter of the truth about that earthly existence. Paul had nothing to say to them apart from dubious threats – why does everybody take communion in sin these days and live happily? The material about unworthy communion is clear evidence that there was no real evidence for a man called Jesus living in the first century.
 
Paul doesn’t say anybody living knew Jesus personally or even who was present at the Last Supper. Paul complained that there were factions at the supper and some were getting drunk on wine at it and were freezing out the poor who were with them. They were obviously disrespecting the supper of the Lord and had to be reminded on what authority the supper was instituted. But whose authority does Paul give for the supper? His own. He says he received the institution of the supper as a revelation from the Lord. He could not give Jesus’ authority any other way. The best he could do was say he was told by Jesus about the supper. Paul had already asserted his authority before for he gave them the ritual of the Lord’s Supper. All he does when it is sneered at is reiterate it which is a sure indication that it was all he could do. He could not appeal to the Jerusalem apostles or traditions about Jesus to help him. Paul invented the Eucharist or got a revelation – perhaps a dream? - telling him that it happened. He denies the historicity of one of the chief things that Jesus did which is a strong indication that Jesus was known purely through visions and was not a man of whom a verifiable biography could be devised.

The gospels say Jesus started the Lord’s Supper at his Passover meal. When the Christians were bringing so much wine to the supper that they got drunk that shows that the Lord’s Supper was being divorced from the Passover meal which forbade too much wine to be present for it was a sad meal not a party. Or perhaps the original story never thought of Jesus starting the Eucharist at the Passover?
 
Christians contend that when Paul wrote that he received the facts about the Lord’s Supper from the Lord he meant through tradition. This is incorrect for the epistle was written to people whose knowledge of the faith was pretty bad and they were visionary mad and would have liked to use the excuse of there being secret tradition to believe what they wanted so he would have chosen his words carefully and wrote what he meant. He would have preferred to stress concrete history as the source instead of using language that could give the impression the source was a vision.

 

1 CORINTHIANS 13

 

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 

The meaning is you have to do good to others the hard mundane way.  That is love. Miracle short-cuts and knowing even all that God knows means nothing without love.  If a story about Jesus that matches the gospel where he talks nasty to people, won't do anything good for them and cheats by doing miracles for them was appearing then Paul is trying to quash it.  The gospel version of Jesus is condemned.
 
CONCLUSION
 
There is no evidence against the belief that for Paul, Jesus was not a person who could be verified through history. He was a Jesus of faith. There is evidence that Jesus was a Jesus of faith for Paul.