Jesus of History Weblog




Installment six

Resurrection: Establishing Paul’s Credentials
The initial description of the resurrection comes to us from Paul’s letters (Corinthians, Thessalonians, Galatians, and so on.), not from the Gospels. Once again, this is critical simply because Paul wrote decades prior to any of the Gospels had been written, so if we want to know what the Apostles believed, what they believed had transpired with Jesus proper right after he died, and how men and women perceived him inside the initial handful of decades, Paul’s opinions and know-how of events should really prove invaluable. Since Paul met with Peter and James (Jesus’ brother) roughly three years right after Jesus died, his writings let us to see and hear what the Apostles believed and felt about the resurrection prior to any of our current Gospels had been written.
This early understanding about Jesus and his death not only applies to the Gospels, this applies to the book of Acts as properly, which was likely the final of the initial century documents that we have. The purpose that this is critical is that Acts purports to be an correct record of Paul, his travels, his thoughts, and his interaction with the disciples, the apostles, and the Jerusalem church (realizing that there seriously is no “church” throughout the years that Paul was preaching and teaching, just in-house meetings). If you attempt to fill in the gaps in Paul’s life, or interpret Paul’s thoughts, intentions and teachings by reading the book of Acts, you cannot. It does not stand up to important scrutiny as to timelines and historical accuracy.
That is critical to note simply because most biblical scholars now believe that we shouldn’t rely on the book of Acts to inform us precisely what Paul mentioned or did, exactly where he went and when, or even why which is all pretty strange simply because the author of Acts likely had copies of Paul’s letters in front of him when he wrote, but then selectively changed history to make it sound a lot more like Paul and the Jerusalem church had been absolutely in alignment, which they weren’t.
The author of the Gospel of Luke, and the book of Acts, had been 1 and the exact same. As he wrote this second letter to a “dear pal who loves God” he attempted to fill in the blanks and make a story in maintaining with his (or his group’s) agenda to remake Paul into a thing that was a lot more in line with the increasing church’s concept of what was politically expedient in the Roman empire some 70 yrs. right after Jesus had died. See timeline to the left.
By the time that Acts was written it is a new and absolutely unique globe. By this time there is a church and there is a need to bring as quite a few diverse components of faith as attainable into a unified complete. It is very clear that the author desires to portray Paul and the Jerusalem church to be in total harmony in all matters of faith from the pretty starting, but I think Paul when he says that he stood up to Peter and the rest of the disciples and other folks from the Jerusalem church that dogged his ministry each and every step of the way. I believe that it is very clear that Paul parted approaches shortly right after he had his dust-up in Antioch with Peter, James (Jesus’ brother), and other folks that had been sent from the Jerusalem church to hold tabs on Paul and bring him a lot more in line with the Jesus that they intimately knew and loved. He was angry right after this confrontation, and thereafter struck out on his personal, with his personal vision of Jesus and his location in God’s program for humanity.
No wonder Paul was generally fighting a rear-guard action. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he tends to make it clear that he considers himself above the Apostles, above the original disciples, above even heaven itself when it comes to understanding Jesus and God.
Listen to Paul’s words and judge for oneself. Gal. 1: 1-two addresses the Galatians by saying: “[I am] Paul, an envoy, not appointed by any human authorities nor by any person but by Jesus, God’s Anointed, and by God, Creator and Benefactor, who raised Jesus from amongst the dead.” Gal. 1: eight, “Even if 1 of us, or for that matter a messenger from heaven had been to advocate a message unique from the 1 we [meaning, Paul] delivered—they should be rejected and shunned!” Gal. 1: 11-12, “Let me make it clear, mates, the message I announced does not conform to human expectation. I say this simply because it was not transmitted to me by any one nor did any one teach it to me [he means the original disciples of Jesus]. Rather, it came to me as an insight [vision?] from God about Jesus as God’s Anointed.” [Quotes and translations from the letters of Paul are from The Authentic Letters of Paul by Dewey, Hoover, McGaughy and Schmidt]
That is very a claim. You can envision how that may possibly have gone more than with the Apostles and disciples that knew Jesus personally. It would be like me telling Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or Ralph Abernathy that I had a vision of Martin Luther King Jr., and my interpretation of his words and deeds had been in truth the Truth (with a capital ‘T’). How do you believe that that would go more than? I assume that if we met at a gathering, that there may possibly be words exchanged involving us—just like what occurred with Paul in Antioch.
All we have to go on are Paul’s recollections and interpretations of events and situations surrounding his disagreement with the Jerusalem church. We have no record of what Peter, James or any other Apostle or disciple believed about the confrontations with Paul, or his theology. The closest we come is identified in the book of Acts, and as I explained, that likely is a whitewash to present a harmonious and unified front to later believers—because it is diametrically opposed to what Paul bluntly says in his personal letters to his followers.
The writing of Acts has been normally assigned to the later portion of the 1st Century, but now historical detectives have perceived the writings of Josephus’ from his book entitled, Antiquities of the Jews. Since we know that this well-known Jewish historian wrote Antiquities of the Jews in Rome late in the 1st century (93-94 CE), some scholars have moved the date of Acts more than the lip and into the starting years of the 2nd century, primarily simply because it would have taken a decade or two prior to Josephus’ book could have been hand copied and distributed extensively sufficient to have turn out to be readily available to the author of Luke/Acts.
So, now we know the players, and their location in history, let’s subsequent appear at what Paul believed about the resurrection and what that meant to him, and thereafter to the following generations.
To be continued with Installment 7 


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