No doubt many readers have already been alerted to Richard Carrier latest blog post: The Historicity of Paul the Apostle.
Our Kiwi friend at Otagosh has also posted an alert to this post with his own commentary.
I am traveling and it’s too awkward to elaborate with my own response at the moment. In sum, I do accept Paul as a historical figure but exactly who or what he was behind the letters is not entirely clear. Roger Parvus also raises interesting questions, as many of us know.
Skimming Richard’s arguments my first impression is that some are more solid than others (as with most things); some strike me as discussion starters more than conclusions. Some, such as the argument regarding style, I cannot comment on because I lack the skills in the language. That aspect is an open question for me: are Galatians and Romans really similar styles? do not some of the apparent contradictions speak to alternative styles and is it not something of a circular argument to suggest Paul’s style could be erratic (as some claim)? Besides, are questions of interpolations, style, persecution-career, really decisive when the question is the historicity of Paul? But no doubt we all have our own perspectives on these questions and Richard’s post surely adds additional fuel for thought.
Carrier would hardly be Carrier without a provocative element and he does fire a bluntly over-honest shot at McGrath. Speaking of whom — not long ago this Paul was not a Conservative Christian appeared. McGrath who gets very cross if you suggest he takes the position of an apologist here wants us all to believe that Paul was a liberal Christian just like he and his modern scholarly peers. No doubt were he alive today he’d be the outspoken leader calling for the ordination of women and full acceptance of gays into the body of Christ. Of course he would.
And that it follows that this gives us reason to revere the Bible as a book of the utmost contemporary relevance today is an entirely innocent side-effect of this argument.