How did it take place that the way Jesus came into the planet, and how he left—Christmas and Easter—came to define Christianity itself?
I have spent my forty-year profession as a scholar of Christian Origins investigating the silence among two back-to-back statements of the Apostles’ Creed, namely that Jesus was: “Conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary,”and that he “Was crucified, dead and buried, and on the third day He rose once more from the dead.”1
Is it not striking that this oldest and most foundational Christian creed jumps from Jesus’ birth to his death and resurrection, completely skipping more than his life?
How did it take place that the way Jesus came into the planet, and how he left—Christmas and Easter—came to define Christianity itself? Right here Catholics, mainstream Protestants, and Evangelicals all agree. To be a Christian is to think in the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ, and hence to participate in the salvation Christ brought to the planet as God-in-the-flesh. Exactly where did this emphasis on the “entrance” and “exit” points of Jesus’ heavenly existence come from, and how did it obtain such centrality—even above that of Jesus’ life and teachings?
In 2012 I published my book titled My Paul and Jesus. It continues to look steadily immediately after seven years! Paul and Jesus is a historical investigation of the origins of this distinct way of defining and understanding Christianity. As we shall see, such an understanding of the Christian faith, confessed by millions every week in church solutions all more than the planet, originates from the experiences and concepts of one particular man—Saul of Tarsus, far better identified as the apostle Paul—notfrom Jesus himself, or from Peter, John, or James, or any of the original apostles that Jesus chose in his lifetime. And additional, I sustain that there was a version of “Christianity prior to Paul,” affirmed by each Jesus and his original followers, with tenets and affirmations fairly opposite to these of Paul. This is the lost and forgotten Christianity of James, the brother of Jesus, leader of the movement following Jesus’ death, as effectively as Peter and all the apostles. In other words, the message of Paul, that developed Christianity as we know it, and the message of the historical Jesus and his earliest followers, have been sharply opposed to one particular one more with small in frequent beyond the name “Jesus” itself. Discovering how such a state of affairs came about has been the quest, as effectively as the adventure, of my life.
I started my initially critical encounter with the apostle Paul more than forty-5 years ago as a college student. I took a Greek reading course named “The Letters of Paul.”two That course introduced me to Paul and his planet in such a profound way that I was under no circumstances the identical. Day-by-day, phrase-by-phrase, we study by means of Paul’s writings in the original Greek in a smaller seminar setting. We discussed each aspect of Paul’s letters, their concepts, and their background. I became “hooked for life” on Paul and that college course marked the starting of my life-extended spiritual and intellectual quest to realize Paul and his location in the formation of Christianity. Like Jacob wrestling the angel at the river Jabbok, I lay hold on Paul and swore that I would not let go till I understood his complicated concepts and probed his mysterious depths. In this book I share with my readers what I have found more than the previous forty-5 years.
More than the span of my academic profession I have taught a course basically titled “Paul”—and I half-jokingly inform the students the initially day that Paul is one particular of these people today for whom a final name is not essential, substantially like Elvis or Madonna. From my viewpoint, my class on Paul is the most effective of a half dozen I frequently teach. I am positive the course is fairly distinct nowadays from my initially try, but every time I have begun the course I have introduced it with what I intend to be a startling assertion: Paul is the most influential individual in human history, and recognize it or not, he has shaped virtually all we feel about anything. I have in thoughts, of course, the West in distinct, but because Christian culture has had such a worldwide spread in our time I feel my somewhat extravagant language about “human history” can be justified. As we will see in this book, the foundations of Western civilization—from our assumptions about reality to our societal and private ethics—rest in a most singular way upon the heavenly visions and apparitions of a single man—the apostle Paul. We are all cultural heirs of Paul, with the effectively-established doctrines and traditions of mainstream Christianity so deeply entrenched in our culture. In contrast, Jesus as a historical figure, that is a Jewish Messiah of his personal time who sought to see the kingdom of God established on earth, has been largely lost to our culture.three
I think quite a few of my readers have been on their personal lifelong quest to realize the historical Jesus, the history and origins of Christianity, and how items shifted from an emphasis on the human figure of Jesus to a heavenly Savior God. Paul and Jesus gives a readable but thorough evaluation of the method and the vital function that the Apostle Paul played in the creation of the new religion of Christianity. It is now only $15.29 on Amazon for a high-quality paperback and it is obtainable in all common e-Book formats and on CD Audio. If you have not but, give it a study. Let me know what you feel at [email protected]