Friday, May 27, 2011

The Apostle Paul Never Converted to Christianity

The Apostle Paul never converted to Christianity, and he did not change his name from Saul to Paul upon his supposed Damascus Road conversion.


Before you scream "Blasphemy!" read what the scriptures say.


Saul's name (Sha'uwl in Hebrew) was not changed to Paul (Paulos or Paulus in Greek) upon his Damascus Road experience of the risen Christ in Acts 9. In chapters 9, 10, 11, 12, and part of 13, Saul's name is still Saul, even though he is now a changed man and an Apostle of Jesus. So when and why did he change Saul to Paul?


In Acts 13:9 for the first time he's using the Greek name Paulus rather than the Hebrew name Sha'uwl. Why? Look at the context.


He's on the first stop of his first missionary journey to speak to Greek-speaking gentiles. He's on the island of Cyprus. He preached to the Jews there first and no doubt introduced himself by his Hebrew name Saul. (Acts 13:5). But then he goes to see the proconsul of the island, a Greek-speaking Roman official named---get this now---Sergius Paulus. This man would have been unfamiliar both with Saul's Hebrew language and Hebrew name.


After his meeting with Sergius Paulus, probably noticing close similarity between the names Saul and Paul, Saul begins going by the Greek nickname Paulus when speaking with Greek-speakers throughout the Roman world he has now entered. He may have gotten the idea to change his name to Paulus from his first encounter with a Roman ruler who bore that very name.Pardon me for a bit of speculation: Paulus means "small or little." If Paul were a man small of stature, as is often assumed about him, it might have made his new "nickname" both appropriate and easy to remember.


Paul never converted to Christianity. It's a biblical fact. "I am a Jew," the Apostle Paul insisted in Acts 21:39 and again in Acts 22:3. "I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees," he said in Acts 23:6. Look at these two quotes:


Romans 11:1 I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.




2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.


And again Paul writes of himself:


YLT Philippians 3:5 circumcision on the eighth day! of the race of Israel! of the tribe of Benjamin! a Hebrew of Hebrews! according to law a Pharisee!


Paul never renounced his Hebrew heritage, his Jewish faith, or his credentials as a Pharisee. He was a Hebrew Pharisee practicing Judaism to his death. One thing, however, made him an unusual Jew at the time. He was a Hebrew Pharisee practicing Judaism who believed that Jesus, a rabbi from Nazareth, was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophesies and the promised Messiah of God.


Paul was not a Jew who converted to Christianity. He was a Jewish Christian.

For more on the Apostle Paul see my blogs Paul Didn't Go To HeavenPorneia, and The Soul Doesn't Leave the Body at Death.




23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you serious?

You do know that being Jewish and Christian can be co-morbid "conditions" and it's not a mutually exclusive sorta deal?

I'm an American Indian/Swedish. if I say that I come from them and that they are my people..... then that automatically means that I can't be included as a christian? You do know why Jesus came right? He didn't give us a new Race Folks! If you're white, you stay white, if you're a jew, you stay a jew, if yo black you stay black.... you just become a christian... What in the world are you saying??? I really can't believe you wrote that :) LOL......

Study Jesus,

Read the teachings of Paul. Nothing but Love here, but do some research, so you can have better arguments. These are weak :)

Bert Gary said...

I don't think I've written a clearer or more biblically straightforward blog than this one. It's your right to disagree, but it’s not your right to come to "my home" to be snide. I don't block people for disagreeing with me. I block people for disrespectfulness.

Anonymous said...

"Paul was not a Jew who converted to Christianity. He was a Jewish Christian."

-Exactly!, I grew up in a Church going family for most of my life and it wasn't until I met my fiance and started attending Temple that I saw the whole picture. Like what a "Messiah" is, how the Torah and Yeshua are tied together and how he fulfills it. And how the high holy days are God's fests. I'm still learning and growing in my faith.

I've tried to explain to people exactly what you posted but could never get the words out right. Thanks for posting.

Clint Heacock said...

I've just read this post with interest, as I'm currently teaching a class on Pauline evangelism and we've just covered the call/conversion debate. I hear what you are saying, but maybe the issue is that our word 'conversion' doesn't adequately do justice to what happened to Saul/Paul on the Damascus Road. While he clearly affirmed himself as Jewish throughout his lifetime, on the other hand he states that he no longer viewed Christ 'from a human perspective' (2 Cor. 5.17). There is no doubt that following his Damascus Road experience he underwent a radical reorientation in his understanding of the Messiah, and also his vocation: from persecutor of the church to missionary and church planter. I think however that the position that he regarded Christianity as a new, and alternative religion to Judaism, is an extreme position. He definitely saw Jesus--and the gospel to the Gentiles--as fulfillments of the Old Testament promises given generations beforehand.

Bert Gary said...

Thanks, Clint. You sound like a good teacher. I don't know of a "debate" on this matter or who the debaters might be! But I can't think of another way to look at this issue other than by trying to do good exegesis on the passage and see if the English word "conversion" fits. I think I showed that it doesn't fit well. I appreciate that you see my point though you apparently can't fully embrace it.

We seem to agree there's not a perfect fit between the word conversion and what Scripture reveals about Paul in Acts and his epistles. We agree that Paul never renounced his Hebrew lineage, faith, and credentials. I agree with you and have written elsewhere about his "radical reorientation." And I agree with your last sentence; he went from Damascus to Arabia for a long time to, I believe, process the experience and rethink the Hebrew Scriptures in light of his revelation--all in preparation for his mission.

And concerning your next-to-the-last sentence, I agree that Paul didn't regard Christianity as a new, alternative religion to Judaism. That position would be more than extreme, it seems to me; I see no support of it in Scripture. My position on Paul is that he was a Hebrew Pharisee who came to believe that Jesus was the crucified and resurrected messiah of Hebrew scriptural hope.

The extreme position I see is the one prevalent today that Paul converted from Judaism to Christianity. Conversion, by any dictionary definition, involves switching from one religion to another. Many if not most English translations of the Bible introduce the Acts 9 story as "The Conversion of the Apostle Paul," or something similar. This prevalent view reinforced by Bible translators neither takes into account the fact that almost all of the first believers were Hebrews and remained Hebrews, nor the fact that the first major controversy in the church was whether you could be a Christian at all if you weren't a Hebrew first too! It also doesn't take into account what I outlined in the blog, that Paul never renounced his identity as a Hebrew, a Benjaminite, and a Pharisee. Jesus re-framed the faith he never left or lost.

My best to you, and good luck with your class.

---Bert

Martin said...

The Apostle Paul Never Converted to Christianity...really?

I believe these above verses are taken out of their context. (Anyone can take a few verses in isolation to 'prove' whatever they want). Elsewhere he claims to be a Roman citizen - but does nationality or citizenship rule out the possibility of a very real conversion to Christ? I don't believe the two are incompatible.

So let's scrutinise your arguments...

You say, "Paul never converted to Christianity. It's a biblical fact. "I am a Jew," the Apostle Paul insisted in Acts 21:39 and again in Acts 22:3. "I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees," he said in Acts 23:6."

No argument. Historically he was indeed a Jew by birth and even brought up as a strict Pharisee at the feet of Gamaliel - why would he deny it? In the context he is speaking to Jews and trying to build bridges with his audience.

However read on - but how does the passage end?

15 "For you will be His [i.e Christ's] witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" i.e. Paul DID convert to Christianity and became a follower [convert] of Christ, eventually turning away from his fellow Jews and going out as 'the apostle to the Gentiles'.


Romans 11:1 I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Again, historical fact...doesn't infer that he didn't later convert to Christ.


2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.

Again more historical facts but he then goes on to establish that not only has he converted to Christ he is now an Apostle (sent one/messenger)for the cause of Christ.


And again Paul writes of himself:

Martin said...

continued.../

YLT Philippians 3:5 circumcision on the eighth day! of the race of Israel! of the tribe of Benjamin! a Hebrew of Hebrews! according to law a Pharisee!

This is perhaps the worst example of ripping verses out of their context. Read the opening verses, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation![ie the Jews who sought to circumcise physically] 3 For we are the [true] circumcision [i.e whose hearts were 'spiritually circumcised'], who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,"

Compare his even more direct comments in Gal 5 12 "I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves."(lit. I wish the knife would slip and they'd castrate themselves!)Hardly an orthodox Jewish position!

Indeed Paul's whole confrontation with Peter in Gal 2 concerns this whole issue of whether Titus and other Gentile believers should submit to the Jewish faith and it's traditions such as circumcision. For Paul, the answer was a very clear NO - why? Because he had moved on from his Jewish faith which was bound by keeping the law and was now converted to Christianity and living under grace.

Again you claim that "Paul never renounced his Hebrew heritage, his Jewish faith, or his credentials as a Pharisee. He was a Hebrew Pharisee practicing Judaism to his death."

Really? Again read on just a few verses...
Philippians 3:8
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but DUNG [i.e.all my Jewish heritage and Pharisaical training are all worthless crap in comparison], that I may win Christ,

"One thing, however, made him an unusual Jew at the time. He was a Hebrew Pharisee practicing Judaism who believed that Jesus, a rabbi from Nazareth, was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophesies and the promised Messiah of God."

The NT clearly shows that as his faith in Christ grew and his understanding grew, his 'Jewish traditions' became less and less important. I agree that his Christian faith was inseparably linked to the Jewish faith. "The NT is in the OT concealed: the OT is in the NT revealed!" Jesus the rabbi from Nazareth was indeed the promised Messiah and fulfillment of the Hebrew prophesies BUT, as Paul later discovered, there was a lot more to Christ than he had first bargained for. Judaism could no longer contain Him (c.f the old wineskins of the Old Covenant and the new wineskins of the New (you can't pour new wine into old wineskins which have already been stretched otherwise the new wine as it ferments will cause the old wineskins to split! The old wineskins of Judaism cannot contain Him and eventually have to make way for new wineskins of Christianity)

"Paul was not a Jew who converted to Christianity. He was a Jewish Christian."

If by that last statement you mean he was a Jew by birth who was converted to Christ by new (spiritual) birth - then your first sentence makes no sense whatsoever.

Bert Gary said...

Martin, "conversion," by any dictionary definition, involves switching from one religion to another. Many if not most English translations of the Bible introduce the Acts 9 story as "The Conversion of the Apostle Paul," or something similar. This prevalent view reinforced by Bible translators neither takes into account the fact that almost all of the first Christian believers were Hebrews and remained Hebrews, nor the fact that the first major controversy in the church was whether you could be a Christian at all if you weren't a Hebrew proselyte first too! It also doesn't take into account what I outlined in the blog, that Paul never renounced his identity as a Hebrew, a Benjaminite, and a Pharisee. Jesus re-framed the [Hebrew] faith he never left or lost.

Your disagreement with this blog seems based on your conviction that if the word "conversion" cannot be applied to Paul, then the blog must be arguing that Paul cannot have become a Christian. You seem to hold that conversion is necessary to become a Christian. That is a position I can't find support for biblically, especially in the case of Paul, which is the point of the blog.

I did not say, though I think you accuse me of saying it, that "Paul never became a Christian." That's both a false and ridiculous statement, and on that I hope we agree.

Concerning Paul's various criticisms of "Judaizers," I don't think it's fair to argue that because of this Paul was somehow shedding his Jewishness over time. The point of his attacks was not about Hebrews' self-perceptions as Hebrews, but about certain Hebrew Christians who were imposing certain Hebrew practices on Gentile converts to Christianity (who indeed were converting from pagan religions to Christianity).

There's the distinction I'm making! To claim that pagans converted to Christianity is an appropriate use of "conversion" terminology. To apply that terminology to the first Hebrew believers in Jesus, however, is not appropriate. If Paul had converted from Judaism, how could he claim that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah?

Martin, I appreciate your passion, and I sense that we agree on a lot. I hope your defense of the term "conversion" hasn't led you to conclude that I'm being disingenuous exegetically or that I'm calling Paul's Christian faith and identity into question. ---Bert

Anonymous said...

Your title is misleading, but I guess that was the attention getting intent.
Out of context verses can also be misleading. If you read a little bit more in your verses you gave you'll see his credentials were of no value to him once he knew Jesus.

All the 1st Christians (followers of Christ) were Jewish. It was considered a sect of Judaism originally referred to as "The Way". (Acts 9:2) You can be both Christian and Jewish they are not opposites or mutually exclusive. Many refer to themselves today as Messianic Jews, Jewish people who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah (aka Christ). They are as Christian as any Gentile believer.

I do agree Saul's name didn't change because he accepted Jesus as the Christ and began to follow Him. He was always both Saul & Paul. Depending on which group he was in one or the other was more applicable. The changing or not changing of his name has nothing to do with his conversion to Christianity.

Saul/Paul indeed did become a Christian (follower of Christ). There was an obvious change from persecutor to follower of Jesus. The reaction to him by others who rejected Jesus as the Messiah (like trying to kill him etc.) should be historical evidence enough that Saul/Paul was no longer only following Judaism but now too was a follower of Christ.

One of the early questions for the 1st Christians was whether Gentiles could be Christians or if you had to 1st convert to Judaism then be saved. God showed them that his plan for salvation was for all nations as he promised many times in the Old Testament. (Acts 10:15, 11:18, 15:23-29)

Paul brilliantly bridges Judaism and Christianity showing that Jesus did not eliminate the Law but was the ultimate fulfillment of it. Paul's logic in Romans is rock solid and demonstrates that All can come to Christ Gentile or Jewish.
The distinction is not relevant for we are all unified and equal in Christ as Paul/Saul said: Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Bert Gary said...

I can't keep all the Anonymouses straight. This reply is to the Sept 15 Anonymous comment immediately above.

I agree with everything you wrote. As I wrote in responses to others above, however, saying that Paul didn't "convert" from one religion to another is NOT to say that he wasn't a Christian. Paul and, as you pointed out, modern Messianic Jews, are examples of Jewish Christians who didn't "convert," by the definition of that word, from one religion to another. Thanks for your comment.

---Bert

Anonymous said...

A person does not convert to the Way (Christianity) if he is a Jew. He awakens. The only conversions are of those gentiles (pagan, heathens) who are grafted into the True Vine. A Jew, like Saul (Paul), is already part of the Vine. Both original and grafted branches, though, can come to produce no fruit and be cut off and cast into the fire.

Anonymous said...

Romans 1:1 New Living Translation (©2007)
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.

Bert Gary said...

This is in reply to anonymous' quoting of Romans 1:1 immediately above. Is the point of Romans quote to prove that Paul converted from Judaism to Christianity? Please consider the definition of conversion. As I wrote in responses to others above, saying that Paul didn't "convert" from one religion to another is NOT to say that he wasn't a Christian. He became a Jewish Christian, remaining a Jew, believing Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. If he converted from one religion to another, what religion did he reject when he became a Christian. He certainly did not reject Judaism as my blog shows.

thesourcerer5901@gmail.com said...

I only saw this article today the 5th Feb 2013. I have been asking myself(of late);Did the Apostle Paul renounce Judaism? together with your answer above I conclude that the answer is an emphatic 'NO'. He continued to respect and maintain and observe the Jewish rules, customs, regulations and Feast days(There is more than ample evidence of this in the Book of Acts) but after his conversion experience with a completely different motive - he had been set free from trying to earn salvation / peace with God through obedience to the Law and had entered God's Sabbath rest which excluded the need to try and attain a righteous position with God through obedience to the Law as the means to attain righteousness with God. In the Person and Work of Jesus Christ the Apostle Paul knew that he had a righteousness imputed to him(Christ's perfect righteousness 2 Cor 5 verse 21) and had thus gained acceptance and forgiveness with God of all his sins, past, present and future. In continuing to be observant as a Jew there wasn't any conflict since he saw in them (The Old Covenant which was the type) of the anti-type or Jesus Christ which was promised in the Law and the prophets. Thus the Apostle Paul could continue to be observant as a Jew because he saw the foreshadowing of what God had purposed to do in the Person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul understood the symbolism under the Old Covenant which pointed forward to the Messiah and after his conversion experience he could also then fully realise what God had accomplished for him as a sinner in the New Covenant through the work of His Son. Although to us as 'Gentile(s)' largely ignorant because we lack(Greatly in part due to the predominance of replacement theology coupled with ignorance on our part)it appears on a cursory study of the Bible that Paul renounced Judaism. In closing, please do not get me wrong, I am not advocating that Gentile believers convert to Judaism from my above line of reasoning, but I do not personally see Paul making himself guilty of the charge of abandoning his Jewish heritage and roots and cultural observances. After his conversion experience he did so with a completely different motive - he could see the fulfillment of the Work of Jesus Christ under the New Covenant which was promised in the Old Covenant that SET HIM FREE FROM ATTEMPTING TO GAIN FAVOUR WITH GOD AND A RIGHTEOUS POSITION WITH GOD ON THE BASIS OF OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW and thus he could write in Romans 10 verses 1-2;Brethren, my hearts desire and my prayer to God is for their(Paul's fellow brethren the Israelites / Jews - refer back to Romans chapter 9)salvation. 2 For not knowing about God's righteousness AND SEEKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN, (Through obedience to the Law as as a means to obtain righteousness with God rather than on relying on the perfect imputed righteousness of the perfect sacrifice of God's beloved Son and the promised Messiah)they did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God.

Anonymous said...

you do realize that those verses you used are taken completely out of context right? Paul was being cynical!His point was just the opposite of what you think. He was saying that if anyone should be able to rely on their heritage and religious works it would be himself... but he goes on to explain that all is under sin and none can rely on this argument... we have to rely on only faith in Christ! read those verses in context! please i challenge you to do so... He says if you rely on the law your faith is made void! no flesh will be justified by the law, being a Jew was his argument, not for the religion of Christianity or Judaism... but for faith and reliance in Christ.

Bert Gary said...

Anonymous:

I don't disagree with you. Paul does dismiss all titles and achievements as dung, if he can only have Christ (Phi 3:8). but this is not an either/or thing. He claims his heritage AND he subordinates it all to what he gains in Christ. If the point of my blog were Paul's perspective on Christ's worth compared to all else, I suppose you would have been correct in your "out of context" accusation. But my exegesis is primarily on Acts, which you made no reference to, and it made the point that the word "conversion" is inappropriate to apply to Paul, on which you made no comment.

And, to address your comment's tone, would you have written these words to a friend? Did you want to begin a dialogue or just slap me for exegetical incompetence? Since you demonstrate no relational tact, presumably to make yourself feel superior, I'll join you and stoop to engage in some tackiness of my own:

Anonymity makes judgmental arrogance so much safer and easier, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

He's a member of the body of Christ Christ is in him. He's a messianic Jew who believed on and received Christ. He's a Christian bro. What more could I ask or want? conversion does not = salvation. Paul was saved and saved by the blood of Christ, that much i know. Did you define conversion?

Gary said...

And his disciples took him by night and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket. And when he had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples but they are all afraid of him for they did not believe he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him. And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea and set him off to Tarsus. (Acts 9:25-30)

And (Ananias) . . .said, The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Just One and to hear a voice from his mouth; and you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now, why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name. When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple I fell into a trance and saw him saying to me, 'Make haste and get quickly out of Jerusalem, because they will not accept your testimony about me. And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in very synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in thee. And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by and approving, and keeping the garments of those who killed him.' And he said to me, 'Depart; for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' (Acts 22:14-21)

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and I still was not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea; they only heard it said, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. (Galatians 1:15-23)

My conclusion: Paul either had a very poor memory, was mentally ill, or lied about what he did in the weeks, months, and first few years after his conversion experience on the Damascus Road. Yet, Christians base their belief in the Resurrection, the pinnacle event of their faith, on this man's testimony, which in his own words, was a "heavenly vision" of a talking, bright light...along with the writings of four anonymous first century authors, writing decades after the alleged event, in a foreign language, in far away foreign lands, for purposes we do not and will never know.

That isn't evidence, folks. That is speculation, superstition, and fantasy.

Bert Gary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bert Gary said...

Gary, thanks for reading and commenting.

I'm unclear about what specifically causes you to conclude that Paul "had a very poor memory, was mentally ill, or lied about what he did in the weeks, months, and first few years after his conversion experience on the Damascus Road," or what this has to do with the blog entry's topic.

In the quote you use the word "conversion," the focus of this blog entry, without any comment. Can you define what happened to Paul as conversion? What religion did he leave when he "converted" to Christianity?

Also, Paul's experience on the Damascus road is unique in the NT. However, it does not preclude Paul having had and having referred to a bodily visit from the risen Jesus on another occasion, an event mentioned but not described. If so, Paul had contact from the risen Jesus bodily the same way that Jesus appeared to Peter and Jesus' brother James, two men who also are said to have had individual visits from Jesus, neither of which are described, nor are the words spoken between them recorded. Why Jesus might have appeared to these three individually is as interesting a question as why the NT writers did not record the circumstances and words spoken during these three private encounters.

Luke 24:34 - 34 They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!"

1 Corinthians 15:5, 7-8 - 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Gary said...

"However, it does not preclude Paul having had and having referred to a bodily visit from the risen Jesus on another occasion, an event mentioned but not described."

Paul never says anywhere in any of his epistles that he saw a risen body. In I Corinthians he says, "Have I not seen the Christ" and in Acts chapter 26 he states that, in a "vision", he saw a bright light which spoke to him, which said it was Jesus.

If I believed that I had been stopped in the middle of a highway by a bright light which blinded me and then spoke to me, telling me it was Jesus Christ, I would probably also conclude that I had "seen" the bodily resurrected Jesus even though I had never actually seen a body.

Christians make a huge ASSUMPTION in believing that just because Paul believed Jesus had been bodily resurrected that this automatically means that Paul saw a body. Again...Paul NEVER says that he saw a body.

"Paul had contact from the risen Jesus bodily the same way that Jesus appeared to Peter and Jesus' brother James, two men who also are said to have had individual visits from Jesus..."

Again, Bert, you are making assumptions. Paul never says that he discussed the "Jesus" that he saw on the Damascus Road with Peter and James. You assume that Paul told Peter and James that he saw a body on the Damascus Road and compared this body to that of the Jesus these two men knew. But for some odd reason, Paul leaves these details out. (If you look at the above passage, there might be a good explanation why Paul left these details out: his stories as told by "Luke" in Acts do not match his story in Galatians. Maybe Paul never met with Peter and James. Maybe his statement that he did is a continuation of his "poor recollection" of the weeks, months, and couple of years after his "vision" on the Damascus Road. There is no way you can reconcile/harmonize the statements in the above three passages without bending yourself into a pretzel.

Also, you are assuming that Peter and James believed that there had been an empty tomb and post-resurrection appearances to them in the upper room, the seashore in Galilee, the mountain in Galilee, and the mount in Bethany. But this information does NOT come from Peter and James (who say nothing of these events in their own epistles) but from four anonymous writers, writing decades after the alleged event, in a foreign language, in far off lands, for purposes we do not know.

And, Paul tells us almost nothing about the historical Jesus in any of his epistles nor in Acts. He mentions that Jesus was born of a woman in Galatians and repeats the Words of Institution for the Lord's Supper in I Corinthians. But, not one detail of Jesus birth, birthplace, hometown, or any other details of his life. Not one parable. Not one miracle. It is if the "Christ" that Paul believes appeared to him in a bright light on the Damascus Road is a completely different Jesus than the one described by the four anonymous gospel writers.

Very, very strange, Bert.

Clyde said...

I can only find 3 times when the word christian appears in the Bible and none of them ever refer to any apostles ever calling themselves or the disciples christians. Peter was the closest to it when he said; 1Pe 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. It sounds more like Peter is telling the correspondent not to be upset if someone calls you names. The word christian originated with the pagan idol worshipers at Antioch as a derogatory insult to the disciples of Christ. When Paul was defending himself, Agrippa said Paul was trying to make him a christian, Paul said I only wish you were like me but Paul only called himself and the other apostles ambassadors of Christ; 2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Bert Gary said...

Cool, Clyde