DCHindley wrote:Since I've come to the oh-must-be-so-wrong conclusion that all the Christology in all the letters represent redactive strata (inserted in letters having nothing to do with Jesus Christ at a time when the largely rural Jesus movement had become a mystery cult and crossed paths with the remnants of Paul's "gentile brother" movement).
Do you have any examples that are easy to show? (I'm just curious, not being adversarial or anything.)
Sorry to take so long. As the author of 2 Peter says of Paul's letters: "3:15 ... So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures." I'm not suggesting that the author or 2 Peter was actually Peter, but am suggesting that even in his day (probably 2nd century CE if the experts are correct) the Pauline corpus was hard to interpret.
By "hard" I mean "choppy" as in "spaghetti code." He'd be happily explaining something nice and simple and then suddenly take you on a tangent that seldom made any sense in relation to what he had been explaining so plainly. Finally, several verses later you might pick up on the original theme, but by then you are struggling to figure out what the digression meant and can no longer connect to the original theme.
So started my experiments (bwoo-ha-ha) to see if I could logically connect those simple lines of reasoning by bypassing the "tangents" in the letters. I thought, oh so naively, that if I could just get the gist of his simple arguments, the tangents would all fall neatly into place. Boy was I wrong!!
What I eventually come to recognize was that "Paul" had a thing for gentile god-fearers. He was Jewish and proud of it, although he may have been the son of a freedman who reconnected with his ancestral roots. Even so, this would mean that Paul was a fully Jewish man with all the rights that came with it. But one day, he says by revelation, he became convinced that it was his mission in life to bring faithful gentiles into full fellowship with natural born Jews.
The basics of his position are in Romans 4:
4:1 What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2a For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, 2b [...].
3 For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." (Gen 15:6)
4 Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. 5 And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the unGodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.
6 So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom (the) LORD will not reckon his sin." (Ps 32:1-2)
9 Is this blessing pronounced only upon the circumcised, or also upon the uncircumcised? We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness. (Gen 15:6) 10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
11 He received circumcision as a sign or seal of the righteousness which he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, 12 and likewise the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but also follow the example of the faith which our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants--not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all,
17a as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations" (Gen 17:5) 17b [...]. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, "So shall your descendants be." (Gen 15:5)
19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was "reckoned to him as righteousness." (Gen 15:6) 23 - 25 [...].
He was here explaining to Roman Jews why he was teaching that faithful gentiles could inherit the promises made by God to Abraham just as much as natural born Jews. While Paul thought this was "good news" (for gentiles) there were many natural born Jews who thought it would be "bad news" for them.
Mainly through the efforts of Herod the Great, Jews had come to enjoy many privileges granted by the Roman emperors, such as right to assemble in their own associations (synagogues), set up law courts to try their own kind, be exempt from military service and from social obligations that would compromise their religious laws and ancestral traditions.
If gentiles could be part of the people of God merely by faith, they felt it cheapened what it meant to be a "Jew". This all had absolutely nothing to do with Jesus or his death on a cross. It was all about faithful gentiles being justified before God on the basis of the same kind of faith that Abraham had.
The passages I have ever so artfully excised are the following:
2b but not before God
17b --in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist
23 But the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone,
24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,
25 who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification
So what's with this stuff? How did Jesus horn in on the action? It is not so bad here, but these are examples of the kind of "tangents" that I originally found so annoying.
The other major account of this faith of Abraham occurs in Galatians, but the "tangents" are much more frequent and intense.
3:1a O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, 3:6 Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." (Gen 15:6) 3:7 So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the good news beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." (Gen 12:3) 3:9 So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.
3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them." (Deu 27:26) 3:11 Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for "He who through faith is righteous shall live"; (Hab 2:4) 3:12 but the law does not rest on faith, for "He who does them shall live by them." (Lev 18:5) 3:14a that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, 3:14c that the *promise* 3:14e we might receive through faith.
3:15 To give a human example, brethren: no one annuls even a man's will, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. 3:16a Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. 3:17a This is what I mean: Given a covenant previously ratified by *God,* 3:17b then that which came four hundred and thirty years (Exo 12:40) afterward, the Law, does not annul it so as to make the promise void. 3:18 For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
3:19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, 3:19c and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. 3:20 Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one.
3:21 Is the law then against the promises *of God*? 3:21b Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 3:22a But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that the promise 3:22c might be given to those who believe.
I set apart the following:
3:1b before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
3:2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?
3:4 Did you experience so many things in vain? -- if it really is in vain.
3:5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, "Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree" -- (Deu 21:23)
3:14b in *Christ Jesus*
3:14d of the Spirit
3:16b It does not say, "And to offsprings (pl)," referring to many; but, referring to one, "And to your offspring (sg)," (Gen 12:7; 13:15; 17:7; 24:7) which is Christ.
3:19b till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made;
3:22b out of faith in Jesus Christ
3:23 Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed.
3:24 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.
3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian;
3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
3:28 There is neither Judean nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
It sounds like the "tangents" are setting up a counter theology, in which the simple faith that Abraham had in God's promise to him could also justify gentiles and make them equally sons of Abraham, are replaced by faith in Jesus Christ. The Law, which Paul has been explaining came after the promises to those who believe like Abraham did (i.e., gentiles) and does not invalidate it, is vilified as almost punishment against the Jews! That is not "Paul" talking any more.
It gets worse a little later:
4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under law, do you not hear the law? 4:22a For it is written that Abraham had two sons, 4:22b one by a slave (Gen 16:15) 4:22c and one by a free woman (Gen 21:2) [Isaac].
4:23a But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, 4:23b the son of the free woman through promise. 4:28 *Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.*
Pretty simple, based on uncomplicated interpretation of passages from Jewish scripture. But look at the counter narrative!
4:24a Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. 4:24b One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; 4:24c she is Hagar. 4:25a the 4:25b *but Hagar (represents) Sinai* 4:25c mountain in Arabia; 4:25d she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 4:26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
4:27 For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married" (Isa 54:1).
4:29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. 4:30 But what does the scripture say? "Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son (Gen 21:10) of the free woman." 4:31 So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
WTF? This man is raging
against the Jews and their Law. He even turns the simple story of Abraham being justified by believing Gods promise that he would be father through his wife, which also justifies those who also believe in the blessed age, into a lesson about the evils of the Jews who are really children of Hagar
the slave and not children of Sarah
the free wife. Well, if the natural born children of Abraham are not really children of Sarah
, then who is? Oh yes, those who believe in Jesus.
Right there it tells us that the person(s) who came up with this counter theology had taken on Jewish Law, likely as converts, but had come to feel betrayed by Jews and their Law, and abandoned it. They have rationalized their faith in Jesus' "mission" on the cross by the fact Jerusalem and its people are in "slavery," suggesting a time after the Jewish War of 66-74 CE.
Most of us who have been Christians in the past, and many non-believers whoi have been brought up in the Christian west, have been taught since birth that these two narratives flow together like milk and honey, and it takes a little time to detach oneself from this kind of muddled thinking.
I can go through every book of the Pauline corpus and demonstrate this kind of double message.
Damn, is it time for bed again? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
PS: Revised to correct formatting problems.