On Bart Ehrman’s Claim Jews “Would Not Make Up” a Crucified Messiah

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by Neil Godfrey

This post is a response to a question in the comments section. The indented colour-coded section are Bart Ehrman’s claims; all links are to other Vridar posts where I have discussed topics more fully and presented evidence for the statements made here.

The earliest followers of Jesus were convinced that he was the messiah. How do we know? Because they called him this, repeatedly, constantly, all over the map. As I have explained, the word “messiah” comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed one.” In Greek, “messiah” gets translated as “christ.” So anyone who says Jesus Christ is saying Jesus the Messiah.

We have late gospel stories about Jesus being understood by a handful of followers as the messiah. The authors tell us nothing about their actual sources for any specific detail they narrate; nor do the authors explain why they change certain accounts of other authors writing about the same sorts of things. The stories are told as “tall tales” by our standards. Yes, other Greco-Roman historians also spoke of miracles but as a rule they did not present those miracles as “facts”, but in virtually all cases explained why they were repeating such unnatural events associated with historical figures and explained why readers should or should not believe the tales. A good number of New Testament scholars and Classicists have been able to identify the sources of many of the stories told about Jesus and they are adapted from other literary tales (not handed down via oral tradition).

And what we have are stories written near the end of the first century or early second about a Jesus called Christ. We have no independent corroborating evidence to give us grounds for thinking that the stories are true.

“Christ” was early and universally (by Christians) applied to Jesus. They called him the messiah so much that it became Jesus’ second name. You find this already in the writings of the New Testament – in fact, in our earliest author, Paul, who refers to him as Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, or just Christ, as a name. For Christians, Jesus was the messiah.

It is old scholarship that still claims Christ was used as a second name for Jesus among the earliest Christians. But that detail aside, yes, of course our earliest sources call Jesus the Christ. It is begging the question to say “you find this already in the writings of the NT” because we have no evidence for anyone calling Jesus the Christ before any of the NT writings.

This claims is what made the Christian message both laughable and infuriating for non-Christian Jews. Most Jews knew full well that Jesus could not be the messiah. Jesus was just the opposite of what the messiah was supposed to be. The messiah was supposed to be the powerful ruler (earthly or heavenly) who destroyed God’s enemies and set up a kingdom on earth. Was that who Jesus was? Is that what Jesus did?

Again, Ehrman’s claims here are based on a conventional view of old scholarship, of undergraduate scholarship at that. There was no single view that the messiah had to be a conquering king in this world. I have attempted to present in many posts the evidence that Jews were not united in their belief of any particular kind of messiah. One of the foremost Jewish historians today, Daniel Boyarim, argues that the raw material for the Christian messiah — the idea that the messiah was to die and be resurrected — was one of the extant pre-Christian Jewish ideas. I have posted further evidence that plausibly points to the same view not so long ago. The Second Temple Psalm of Solomon is sometimes used as evidence of the Jewish belief in a conquering messiah, but those who advance that psalm as evidence appear not to realize that that same psalm is drawn from the canonical Psalm 2 that presents the messiah as suffering rejection by the world.

The notion of Davidic messiah itself expresses the concept of a messiah who suffers, who is persecuted, yet who in the end is raised by God over his enemies. That’s the gospel Jesus, too. That’s the messiah of the psalms.

Jesus was not at all “just the opposite” because the earliest Christian teaching is that Jesus conquered a kingdom far more powerful than the human one and that he now sits beside God in heaven, continuing to scatter the powers of demons, and advancing his kingdom. I think Ehrman did not mean to say what he actually said in the above quote where he appears to admit that among Jews it was believed that the messiah was to be a powerful ruler earthly or heavenly. Heavenly is just what he became as a messiah, and the conquering of the kingdom of demons who ruled this world was nothing to be sniffed at.

We have no evidence for the claim that all Jews believed that the messiah’s kingdom was going to be set up on earth. We have numerous indications of the contrary. The fact that Christianity emerged out of Judaism is one of the pieces of evidence itself.

Precisely the opposite. Jesus was an obscure and virtually unknown rural preacher who was arrested as a criminal, humiliated, and tortured to death by the Roman authorities. It’s no wonder that most Jews found the Christian claims ludicrous.

From http://jewishatheist.tumblr.com/post/32262109582/prayer-messiah-fail

Yes, this is partly what the gospel narrative story says. But what evidence is there that it is based on historical events? None, as I have pointed out many times. We only have to follow normative methods of ancient historians to see that the story has no more support than the story of the Exodus or Jonah.

All the gospels, including the first, that of Mark, speak of Jesus having a great following from Syria and beyond Jordan and to Jerusalem. Historical Jesus scholars know that is not plausible in reality so they construct an alternative Jesus that fits what they think would be a plausible scenario. But there is simply no evidence to support their reconstructions. (Crossan and others have also demonstrated from what we know of Roman executions that none of Jesus’ followers would have been present at Jesus’ execution, by the way, so it is further unfounded elaboration to say that the Romans “tortured” Jesus to death.)

A careful reading of what did offend the Jews was not the crucifixion of Jesus per se, but what Paul claimed to be the significance of that event for the Law. Again, we have posted about this several times now. If we accept that the earliest church was Jewish then it follows that significant numbers of Jews were NOT offended by the idea of a messiah being crucified. Obviously the crucifixion was not an obstacle to their belief in Jesus’ messiahship. Were not Paul, Peter, James, John and the first converts all Jews?

Ehrman says “most Jews” were not persuaded. True, and most gentiles have not been persuaded since, either. But that does not mean we need to close our eyes to the obviously true fact that enough Jews were not offended or thinking the claims ludicrous.

And this is a powerful argument that the earliest Christians – all of them Jews – did not invent Jesus. They didn’t make him up. If they had made him up, a Jesus they called the Christ, they absolutely would not have made up a messiah who got crucified. That’s the opposite of what they would have made up. There were no Jews that we know of who expected that the messiah would suffer and die. If Christians were to make up a messiah, it would not be a crucified criminal. But Jesus was a crucified criminal. Whom his followers called the messiah. Rather than make the idea up they had to explain the idea away.

Yes, it is an argument, but it is not evidence, certainly not historical evidence. But how does one conclude that the earliest converts did not “invent” Jesus? If they really believed a crucified person could not, by definition, be a messiah, then obviously they did make up the idea that a crucified man could be the messiah at some point. Many Jewish martyrs were crucified and Jews looked upon them with great respect and honour, not shame.

Would Jews not have made up a story of Isaac being “near” sacrificed by his father? We know that some Jews did make up the idea that Isaac really did die at Abraham’s hand and that his blood atoned for the sins of all generations of Jews. We know that Jews “made up the idea” that the blood of Jewish martyrs had an atoning power for the sins of others. And it is clearly obvious that some Jews (the earliest Christians) did indeed make up the idea that a crucified man could, after all, be a messiah. Of course they also claimed that his victory over death and rule in heaven was the real qualification — so he was not all that different from other ideas of the messiah anyway.

I don’t see a single statement in the New Testament that could be understood as early Christians trying to “explain away” the idea of a crucifixion. I see instead boasts in the crucifixion, narrative focus on the details of a glorifying crucifixion, and read accounts of Jews being divided, some believing and other disbelieving.

Historical evidence is not produced by appealing to the informal fallacy of incredulity.

Christians spent considerable time and effort trying to convince fellow Jews that Jesus was the messiah despite the fact that he had been crucified. Paul claims this message was the major “stumbling block for the Jews” (1 Corinthians 1:23). It was the one thing that kept Jews from becoming followers of Jesus.

As an aside — 1 Corinthians 1:23 is even evidence that Paul did not believe in a miracle-working Jesus.

If the message of a crucified messiah is precisely the thing that made belief in Jesus impossible for Jews, then it is not a message that would have been made up to convince Jews. If you wanted to make up a Jesus who was the messiah, what would you say about him? Possibly that he is now sitting on the throne in Jerusalem ruling the Jewish people. Why didn’t anyone make that kind of Jesus up? Because everyone knew full well that there wasn’t a Jesus sitting on the throne in Jerusalem ruling his people. Everyone knew, in contrast, that Jesus was a crucified criminal. As a result, his followers had to reconcile their faith (Jesus is the messiah) with historical reality (he had been crucified).

But the message of a crucified messiah was not “impossible” for Jews to accept, was it! It was Jewish acceptance of the gospel that got the church started. Most Jews didn’t accept it, but a critical mass obviously did.

But Ehrman’s second paragraph is an own goal against him. Obviously no-one, Jew or gentile, would believe a made-up story that could well be seen and known to all to be a lie. Such a religion could not possibly have got started.

But if you say Jesus is a spirit in heaven and he has conquered the rulers of this world and now reigns in heaven, advancing his kingdom with a few chosen Jews and a few chosen gentiles — then that is more credible. And the crucifixion idea is the ingredient that makes it all work because then the messiah walks in the steps and outdoes the earlier heroes of Jews whose deaths and shed blood saved others, and who followed in the footsteps of a persecuted and rejected David.

If the earliest followers were just as convinced as Ehrman says they were that a messiah could not be crucified, then it logically follows that they should have disbelieved that Jesus was the messiah. That’s a reasonable conclusion. But that didn’t happen, and the only way to explain that is by appealing to some “mystery” or something we can’t understand today — the power of the “easter experiences” on those first followers. That’s an appeal to a miracle. I rather think the claim is a late and invented story. What other religion has ever started by the focus of worship experiencing something that it was strongly believed impossible for him to experience? It makes no sense — unless we appeal to a miracle and divine revelation as realities.

The idea of a crucified messiah was NEW. It was an idea forced upon Christians by the clash between what they expected and what had happened. They didn’t invent the idea of Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah was crucified.

In short, the fact that Jesus was completely unlike anything anyone expected of a messiah is a compelling proof that the man Jesus was not an invention of his early followers. He was a real person. Who was really crucified. His followers had to make sense of that as well as they could. And the result is Christianity.

If they could invent the idea that the messiah was crucified then it is simply not true that Jews could not accept belief in a crucified messiah. Obviously, by the fact that they invented the idea, they could believe it.

We know from early Jewish literature, both from the second temple era and early rabbinic, that Jesus was simply NOT “completely unlike anything anyone expected a messiah” to be. We know that Jews could and did believe in a heavenly messiah ruling from heaven, that a messiah could die and would die, that the blood of a righteous martyr, even crucified ones, had atoning power.

What is even more unlikely is that the rabbis in late antiquity copied from Christians the idea that a messiah could suffer and die before being resurrected again. That is an absurd proposition and one of the reasons even some Jewish scholars will acknowledge that that idea of a messiah was a Jewish one which the Christians adapted.



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81 thoughts on “On Bart Ehrman’s Claim Jews “Would Not Make Up” a Crucified Messiah”

  1. Bart Ehrman wrote

    “Christ” was early and universally (by Christians) applied to Jesus.”

    “Christ” was applied to notions of celestial saviour entities, such as the Gnostic ones; and there are references to Christ-Helios and Christ-Sol (there is a mosaic of one under in the tomb of the Julii under St. Peter’s Basilica); and mystery cult gods such as Serapis are said to have been called ‘Christ Serapis’ or even just ‘Christ’ (and followers referred to as Christians).

  2. “If they really believed a crucified person could not, by definition, be a messiah, then obviously they did make up the idea that a crucified man could be the messiah at some point. Many Jewish martyrs were crucified and Jews looked upon them with great respect and honour, not shame.” …….

    “If the earliest followers were just as convinced as Ehrman says they were that a messiah could not be crucified, then it logically follows that they should have disbelieved that Jesus was the messiah. That’s a reasonable conclusion. But that didn’t happen…..”

    Two excellent arguments. We often forget or neglect to fully appreciate, the extent to which mythicism has sheer logic on its side.

    1. In my experience many of the arguments proffered by vociferous partisans on the Historical Jesus are self-refuting.

      ‘Jews wouldn’t invent a suffering savior – except these Jews did’ is a good example of this behavior.

      1. Yes, they re-interpreted OT passages to claim that the crucified Jesus was a suffering messiah, but did they invent the claim that Jesus existed and was crucified, that is the issue. What must be determined is: Is there good evidence that any Second Temple Jews believed in a dying Messiah. All the Jewish sites I have read say an emphatic “no!”. Neil references a Jewish historian above who allegedly says otherwise. I will read Neil’s link, but I would like to know: How are his views received among other Jewish scholars? Anyone know? Does he represent a significant minority of Jewish scholars or is he a single statistical aberration?

        1. From Jews for Judiasm:

          “Jesus supposedly taught the disciples to understand the Scriptures as referring to himself as the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, who was to arise from the dead after dying as an atonement for mankind’s sins. Teaching about a suffering messianic figure who dies for other people’s sins some Christian’s claim was standard Jewish interpretation until the rabbis supposedly corrupted the true teaching to hide that Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53.

          However, when Jesus “was teaching his disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered up into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he has been killed, he will rise again three days later” (Mark 9:31) we are told “they did not understand this statement” (Mark 9:32). This was obviously a concept that was unfamiliar to them.

          The news of Jesus’ death brings a reaction of “mourning and weeping” (Mark 16:10) from Jesus’ disciples. “And when they heard that he was alive . . . they refused to believe it” (Mark 16:11). John explains, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). The disciples reaction is not what would be expected if they saw events as fulfillment of Isaiah 53.

          One would expect that if there were any first century C.E. Jews who were familiar with the interpretation of Isaiah 53 espoused by present-day Christians, that it would have been Jesus and his followers. Yes, there are New Testament anachronisms that attribute such teachings to Jesus. Yet, we find instances where Jesus and/or his followers express themselves in a manner that runs counter to this new Christian interpretation.

          It is apparent from the Gospels that before and for sometime after the crucifixion Jesus’ own disciples didn’t view Isaiah 53 as referring to a suffering messiah who would die for the sins of the people and then be resurrected. It was only in the post-crucifixion period that these notions developed among the followers of Jesus. There is simply no evidence that this was a Jewish interpretation of the passage. The Question remains as to who are the Jews contemporary with Jesus that supposedly held to what has become the present Christian understanding of the meaning of Isaiah 53? They simply cannot be identified because they never existed.”

          1. Hey Gary:

            One “potential” hiccup I see with your argument involving Isaiah 53 is that we know of Targum Jonathan, a possibly pre-Christian Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53 in messianic terms, and it accomplishes this by making it the enemies of the messiah who suffer. While this isn’t a direct nod in favor of interpreting Jesus as the suffering servant, it does show that Jews were interpreting Isaiah 53 in messianic terms, so it is not much of a stretch to imagine some Jews deviating from the more mainline Targum Jonathan interpretation and also interpreting Isaiah 53 in messianic terms, but with the messiah being the one that suffered.

            That said, I think your citation you quote from “Jews for Judaism” that the disciples didn’t think Jesus should suffer is a HUGE point, especially as Mark 4:11 says the disciples had the inner information about what Jesus was teaching.

        2. Here are some comments by Jews regarding the Jewish scholar, Boyarin, who Neil references:

          “Regarding Boyarin, as an individual, he is certainly not a traditional scholar. Although he identifies himself as Orthodox, the positions he suggests are far from Orthodox. I can anecdotally attest that the average traditional Jew has never heard of Boyarin. More significantly, it is clear that the average believing Jew would not consider the positions that he suggests were held by Jews at the turn of the first millennium, to be acceptable. They are certainly not accepted today as traditional, and indeed, for millennia traditional Jews have wholly rejected Christianity as heresy, even at the price of death. The idea of a corporeal God was soundly rejected by Rav Saadya Gaon (Maamar 2), Hovot Halevavot (Shaar HaYihud: 10), Rambam (Hilkot Teshuva 3:7), and numerous others. Furthermore, while not all Jews always espoused correct beliefs, including scholars (cf. Raavad’s animadversions to Hilkhot Teshuva there), I am not aware of any scholars who dispute the principle of God’s uniqueness, or would tolerate a divine messianic human.”

          1. “BOYARIN’S BOOK concludes with a chapter about “The Suffering Christ as a Midrash on Daniel.” It basically contends that Jesus’s vicarious suffering and death is informed not only by the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, which can be taken for granted, but also by Boyarin’s strange reading of Daniel’s vision. It also claims that the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah was common among the rabbis, relying mainly on a single passage in the Jerusalem Talmud that refers to the mourning over the Messiah’s death (Boyarin’s reading of it is by no means as certain as he pretends it is), and on the famous passage in the Babylonian Talmud about the leper of the house of David (quoting Isaiah 53), and on another passage that is preserved only in Raimundo Martini’s medieval Pugio Fidei and may or may not go back to a fourth-century midrash. This is not much.

            …BOYARIN’S BOOK leaves the reader irritated and sad. It has very little that is new to offer—and what appears to be new is wildly speculative and highly idiosyncratic. Even judged by its commendable intentions—to win over dogmatic defenders of the perfect uniqueness of Christianity or Judaism—it is disappointing. As the younger Talmud professor in the acclaimed Israeli movie Footnote says to his hapless student, “There are many correct and new aspects in your paper—only what is new isn’t correct and what is correct isn’t new.”

            —Peter Schäfer is Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies at Princeton University and the author, most recently, of The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other (Princeton University Press).

            1. So it appears that Boyarin’s position on this issue lies at the extreme fringe of Jewish scholarship. I suggest that it is just as unwise for we non-experts to jump on the bandwagon of a fringe Jewish expert as it is for fundamentalist Christians to jump on the bandwagon of a fringe Christian expert, such as Gary Habermas. Stick with majority expert consensus!

              Majority expert opinion matters! BIG time! Advanced, industrial societies can only function if the population trusts consensus expert opinion! When the experts are distrusted and everyone becomes his own expert, society falls into disarray.

              The overwhelming majority of Jewish scholars say that there was NO concept of a dead messiah in the Hebrew Bible in Second Temple Judaism. If they are correct, no Jew would have imagined a messiah who is crucified as a criminal. Could someone have invented this wild tale? Sure! Anything is possible. But it is far more probable that the “dead Messiah” concept developed AFTER a potential messiah suddenly died, by crucifixion, and his band of followers, suffering cognitive dissonance, created a new version of “messiah” to keep their hopes and dreams alive.

              That’s what the evidence suggests.

              1. This is probably why Christianity didn’t initially spread among Jews. It initially spread much faster among the surrounding Pagans. There are still Jews because Jews didnt widely accept it.

              2. I advise other readers here that I have added Gary to our spam filter. His arguments, it turns out, are “race-based” and “religion-based”. He has no interest or respect for genuinely disinterested scholarship at all. I did wonder why out of a dozen or so scholars that I listed he zeroed in on the Daniel Boyarim mention. It appears to me he considers Boyarim a “self-hating Jew” and that was all he could focus on at the expense of all other scholarship and research.

        3. Per Carrier (15 June 2012). “The Dying Messiah Redux”. Richard Carrier Blogs.

          [Per the Jonathan Targum] anyone who read his Targum, and then the Hebrew (or Greek), could put two and two together: “this servant is the messiah” + “this servant dies and is buried and then exalted” = “the messiah dies and is buried and then exalted,” the very doctrine we see in the Talmud (as discussed above), which just happens to be the same doctrine adopted by Christians.

  3. How it is possible to claim that Jews could not believe in something that their priests claimed to be true?
    We have the book of Daniel for example, it is one of the latest additions in the Hebrew Bible yet we find that Jews believed in it.
    We have first, second, third Isaiah, those are just additions to the lore of their religion, yet we find that Jews just believed what their priests said.
    We have thousands of years that all people under any of the abrahamic religions tied to believe what their priests had to say, and somehow someone just says that Jews had an opinion over those matters!!!
    We have Sabbatai Zevi who claimed to be the messiah and he was followed by the Jews in masses yet he was humiliated and yet his followers (Donmeh) still exist!!

    This claim it is just created out of the Hebrew Bible, the “stiff-necked people”, the claim is just a myth and nothing more.

  4. maybe the question should be what sort of Jew WOULD make up a Jesus. How about Jews who were thrown out of the Temple just before the invention of Jesus (Zadokites and other northern Israelites). Jews who wanted to divorce themselves from the old religion after it was forced on them starting in 150 BC, and start a new one (those in the north were also forced to practice circumcision).

    Taking advantage of the final Roman conquer and resulting diaspora to make the claim that the Judeans had rejected (criminalized) and murdered the true Messiah. To put another blight on Ehrman’s (lack of) reasoning, say the authorities had let Jesus alone might he have survived to bring about all those things expected of the Messiah? He had half his life left to satisfy these things. The murder of Jesus was political, he was a threat to their power. Plenty of stuff here for an anti-Judean Jew to hang their hat on.

    Among the Dead Sea Scrolls is a document called The Last (or Final) Jubilee. Because of its content it’s ascribed to Zadokites or other northern Israelite/pre-Judean influence sects. Tradition has it that the scrolls were buried at Qumran after the last Roman conquest, so somewhere around 130 AD. Notoriously there is no mention of Jesus in any of this material.

    However The Last Jubilee can be called a “blueprint” for someone who ends up very like Jesus, and this blueprint Messiah is ferociously displayed as anti-Judean. It says the Messiah will come from the priestly line of Melchizedek (which for our purposes is the anti-Judean line). So who among the northern Israelites may have decided it would be a very good idea to “come up” with such a personage? Are these the authors of the much-referred source texts, who mostly stole and re-fashioned quotes from other religious figures and stole ideas especially from the Greek (during the Diaspora Alexandria became as much as 2/3 Jewish, we can suspect most weren’t your standard southern/rigid Judaists).

    By way of the Last Jubilee document there is a means of connecting that document to the New Testament but no one has taken advantage of it for 2000 years and for good reason. In the New Testament “Paul” twice ascribes Jesus to the priestly line of Melchizedek (is “Paul” aware of the Last Jubilee document?). Hooray proof of Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls! Then a big OOPS. Why bury a blueprint 100 years after the death of Jesus and not talk about Jesus himself. Especially given the authors were of sects who would have welcomed an anti-Judean rebel such as Jesus and would have written reams about him had he truly existed before 130 AD (thus truly documenting his literal existence). I could go on belaboring the point, but the main thing here is this could have been the beginning of the original invention of a Jesus, and what followed was the arguments about what he was (or should be).

    Justin Martyr quoted extensively from the Old Testament to “prove” that (a historical man born of woman) Jesus was the Messiah. Suspiciously he doesn’t mention the four major gospels at all but may refer to a text that the others were later extrapolated from. If as late as 130 AD Justin Martyr (died 160 AD) is ignorant of Mark John Luke Matthew especially the supposedly seminal Mark, that means the supposedly seminal Mark came far later than 66 AD (as late as 130 AD as some argue). Justin was born in Samaria (whoops Northern Israel again) and converted by a Syrian Christian (whoops Northern Israel again). Justin lived and wrote in Rome and mentions the Gospel of Peter, but never acclaims Peter as the “rock” of the church. This seems to be more evidence that the four major gospels weren’t published until “after” Justin. To claim they were just “not well known at the time” goes against the obvious lie of Christianity sweeping the known world (based on Mark and then the others) directly after the crucifixion. Christians do their best to have it both ways, ya know!

    Justin’s antagonist was the very rich Marcion of Pontus (Syria, whoops, ancient Northern Israel again). Marcion was the shipping Onassis of his time. His father converted to Christianity and was a bishop. Marcion appears to rebel against his father’s version of the religion (and in rebelling who is Marcion talking to, he can’t come up with all this on his own) and becomes the mouthpiece for a form of gnosticism.

    In 130 AD Marcion publishes in three languages the first NT, called the Gospel of the Lord and including 10 Pauline epistles. Some claim that we originally have the Pauline epistles through Marcion (an anti-historical gnostic!). It’s pretty notorious by now that even traditional historians accept that “Paul” didn’t write all the epistles, and that even the six accepted as “his” were susceptible to later historicizing (Jesus a man born of woman) alterations. Anybody reading this or on this forum is probably also aware that once all these forged historicizing elements are stripped out of Paul, Paul becomes very gnostic in flavor. Then the question becomes, why does it become so important to historize Paul?

    Marcion claimed to have found the Pauline epistles at the Jesus School in Antioch (modern-day Turkey). Some alternative historians accuse him of writing some or all of the original 10 epistles that he published. If Marcion the Gnostic did originate Paul, that certainly explains the gnostic flavor that later had to be historicized. However what we may be looking at here is merely the fact that after publication of his Testament, Marcionism probably became very popular and maybe even brought about the very first well-established string of Christian churches. Now the historical (Jesus was a man born of woman) sects just had to fight that much harder to ascend. Is that when we finally see the authoring of what became the four major gospels to strengthen the argument that Jesus was a man born of woman?

    We don’t even know who these authors were, all we know is that they were writing to influence four individual sects and were later brought together (despite their many problems and inconsistencies and outright lies) in the New Testament to satisfy those individual sects and others in forming the new cohesive religion (4th century AD). So . . . far from representing an established religion, the four major gospels are just arguments which show that by 160 AD and even far beyond the arguments were still raging about what Jesus was (or in terms of the intelligentsia, should be).

    Who (what) was Marcion’s Jesus? the later historical church destroyed every scrap of his publications and writings, but historians have just lately even pieced together what Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord would have looked like based on the arguments against Marcionism by his historical opponents. Marcion died in 160 AD following which the historical church(es, whatever power they had) declared Marcionism heretical. The vicious destroying of the sect and the feverish arguments against it from the time again demonstrates that it must have been popular.

    According to later church father Tertullian (died 240 AD, after himself leaving the slowly establishing church to form his own offshoot) Marcion’s Jesus was:

    “Not a man, not a Jew, not even born of woman, but came down fully formed at Capernaum to argue against the (Judean) law”

    (the gnostics did not accept that the son of god would occupy despicable flesh. So call him an avatar or ghost or what you will. They also believed Jesus came from a god distinct and different from the one portrayed in the Old Testament, their “good” God vs. the evil God of the Jews. However this anti-semitism did not pertain to all gnostic sects. Marcion thought it was especially dangerous to blame the death of Jesus on the Jews, and he turned out mightily correct)

  5. The proper conclusion is that the earliest church was distinctly not Jewish, and that the Christ was invented as a bait for the Judaized Roman society.

    1. The consensus opinion of experts is that Christianity was initially JEWISH. Yes, by the end of the first century it had become almost entirely Gentile, but that is not how it started.

      1. It might be helpful for you to read Carrier’s “Not the impossible Faith.” In it he talks about a lot of this stuff, with copious footnotes, as it were.

      2. Consensus is irrelevant, as most so-called NT experts are excessively naive and inert. First-century christianity belongs wholesale into the realms of faerie-tales, dogmatic fiction, and hallucinations.

      3. Marcion invented something new. In the literary environment of the Roman Empire as described, nothing was more natural than to write a Greek-language “biography” as a founding document for a new religious network. Marcion’s opponents reacted immediately with a weighty intellectual exchange of the sort that a metropolis like Rome made possible; and, as was usual in historiography, they reacted with competing versions. Such a quick riposte was presumably possible (and I cannot conceal the hypothetical character of this reconstruction that locates decisive steps of an evolving Christianity in a religiously innovative capital) because Marcion’s competitors were in fact also active in Rome, and, moreover, adopted substantial parts of his model.

        The author of the text that most plagiarized Marcion was identified a little later, by Marcion himself, as Luke, in an edition that featured the gospel along with some of Paul’s letters. It concentrated on correcting Marcion’s fundamental break with Judaism. With their narratives of Jesus’s childhood, both Luke and Matthew demonstrate how familiar the biographical character of the template was, and also how scant the source background was as soon as one wanted to move beyond that template. Marcion, for his part, criticized their compositions (and that of Mark) as lying close to his own text.

        Writings competing with Marcion’s edition of the 140s AD, which was prefaced by his “Antitheses,” could now only continue to accumulate. AD 160 saw a counter-edition that established the core of the future New Testament. The late addition of Luke’s Acts of the Apostles rescued the philosophical core represented by Paul and took a direction that, while no longer avoiding the gray zones of Jewishness, also provided this orientation with a patron. Within the same movement, however, spokesmen such as Luke (in Acts of the Apostles) and Justin (in his Apology)—and perhaps earlier the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas—persisted with the genealogy of exclusion, insisting that the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 was a consequence of the crucifixion of the “anointed one.” Still others in this same period, such as the author of the Gospel of Peter, did not shrink from obvious anti-Judaism and fawning to the Roman authorities. For intellectuals in this area of Judaism, such schismatic polemics would remain a critical source of friction over the coming centuries, providing a forum where agendas of inclusion and exclusion could be exchanged. The polemic propagated by [emerging] Christian positions against the “gnosticism” of clearly anti-Judaic stances demonstrates the complexity that was emerging at the margins of a developing tradition.

        … And the new gospels gave rise to no text-based communities. The only exception was Marcion’s group, founded by a typical, religious, small-scale entrepreneur: a well-travelled merchant, an organizer, an arriviste (at least by virtue of his move to Rome), and more successful with his money than with his writings. Beyond this group and the intellectual conversation circles (in which Marcion, at least since Justin’s attack on him, was fully involved at a literary level), “God’s people’s assembly” (ekklēsia) had no lasting institutional basis: no one precisely knew where Peter and Paul had died, to say nothing of where their graves might be. The rituals that would, in subsequent centuries, be claimed by various groups as representing the core of a particular tradition that dated back to the founder were practiced only by a few individuals.

        In short, to speak of Jews and Christians in the second century AD as distinct groups would be anachronistic … There was nothing like this yet in Jewish Rome. Christianity had thus been invented historiographically [in the 2nd century] by means of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles complemented by collections of letters. There was as yet no actual community.

        Jörg Rüpke (2018) Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion (pp. 356-358). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

        1. to speak of Jews and Christians in the second century AD as distinct groups would be anachronistic

          I think this means that while Christianity was schismatic from Judaism, there was initially coexistence and cooperation between the two. And that an outsider might see them as the same.

          1. Many Gnostic and Gnostic-like scholars are pretty sure the first Gnosticism (aka Sethian Gnosticism) started within Jewish communities in Egypt and that Vzelntinianism and the Basilidean cults derived from that. So, there may have been Jewish-Gnostic sects first, and [some] early Jewish-Christian Could well have been more gnostic or ‘docetic’ than ‘gospel- [or proto-gospel-] aware’.

            1. Initially how schismatic from Judaism were they, would an outsider see them as the same? Was there coexistence and cooperation between the two, or was it a complete split from day one?

        2. referring back to my post, and regarding the initial invention of Jesus there had to be some initial group who during the end stage of the Roman destruction of Israel decided this is our shot to contest and take over Judaism. Perhaps represented by the author(s) of the Last Jubilee scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran.

          The primary suspects are those actually not-by-choice jewish sects (Zadokites etc) thrown out by the Judeans, and the Last Jubilee scroll claims the Messiah (to come! by 130 AD he had not arrived yet, if he had there would be no point in burying the scroll) would defeat both the Romans and the Judeans. The hatred of Judeans is thus very explicit, but this blueprint Messiah is also portrayed within a jewish framework.

          After the invasion of 150 BC and Judean occupation of the north, the priestly line of Melchizedek was subordinated to the Judean line, and as mentioned eventually thrown out of the temple altogether . . . and a very short period of time after they were thrown out, Jesus is invented to inhabit the shambles of the Diaspora where no one could prove either for or against his actual existence.

          I have even read that the schism between the Judeans (south) and those conquered by them (north) continues even to the present day in Israel, played out by their descendants.

          What I mean by “actually not-by-choice jewish sects” is that previous to the invasion what we now call the Israelites or Canaanites revered gods like Moloch and Bel through the priestly line of Melchizedek and practiced human sacrifice (which endured in some parts of Israel until the Romans finally stamped it out in the early second century AD).

          How strange is it that in two epistles “Paul” (also an invention and some accuse Marcion of Pontus being his original inventor, to be later modified by others) echoes the Last Jubilee scroll by ascribing Jesus to the priestly line of Melchizedek. So according to “Paul” (or yet another forger), Jesus occupies the not only by-then fiercely anti-Judean line, but also the line that previously presided over human sacrifice.

          One also has to take into account the Hellenization (Greekification) of the northern areas between 334 BC and 70 AD. This led to what amounts to the attempted reformation of Judaism which of course is reflected in the New Testament. So this initial core of Jesus inventors probably by then located in Alexandria (2/3 Jewish at the height of the Diaspora) cast a wide net among various cultures for their invention, literally lifting quotes from past savior gods and ideas especially from the Greek (Plato, et al). Are these the people who are “Q”, are these the people whose texts are vaguely referred to by Justin Martyr?

          The confusion comes when Jesus gets thrown into the mix outside of Judaism (attempted reform or otherwise), and merely becomes one of the many savior god figures competing in the area for dominance (not to mention priestly influence/wealth) . . . Krishna, Mithras, the newly revitalized Horus now made son of Osiris, and then there’s good ol Egyptian god Serapis who in demeanor was very like the image eventually portrayed for Jesus. The reason archeologists are now finding decidedly odd religious items under the Vatican is because it was previously and well-acknowledged historically to be a site dedicated to Mithras (instead of admitting such, the nonsense just continues as Catholics claim they are relics of the “earliest Christians”)

          It’s thanks to Serapis that we have another example where the Christian version of history falls apart. In a society as advanced as the Romans, it is unthinkable that each succeeding Roman emperor after Nero would exhibit any confusion about the Christians. Yet we have this very case in Hadrian (died 138 AD). The Emperor Hadrian wrote in a letter that worshipers of Serapis called themselves Christians. He is not even aware of the actual figurehead of the religion that Nero supposedly acted against 72 years earlier. (Thus Hadrian also supplies ammunition against the 15th century AD forgery called Annals of Tacitus).

          Along those lines how about Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews pub. 94 AD) somehow missing both Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents and Nero’s 66 AD persecution of a supposedly by then well established proto-jewish sect called Christians? If these two things had occurred they would have persisted in public memory and Josephus along with his reputation would have been called out on them. There is, of course, no evidence of such calling out. All we have is the notoriously vilified paragraph about the Christians (which had they existed by such degree by 94 AD, Josephus would and should have written so much more), though lately the overall modern mood has shifted to “Josephus did write something about the earliest Christians modified later likely by Eusebius”

          If Jesus as a competitor really only starts appearing on the stage beginning near 130 AD (perhaps after Hadrian’s letter, and in 130 AD Marcion appears to be the first to publish a cohesive text), then it would seem the gnostic vs. historic (jesus born of a woman) arguments were raging from the beginning. What that really comes down to is that the historicizers wanted to blame the Jews for murdering the Messiah, which gives points to the idea that they now wanted a religion distinct from and antagonistic to Judaism.

          It’s worth repeating that Marcion’s Jesus was not born of woman and came down fully formed to argue against the Judean law. Marcionism was just one of what the Christians like to call gnostic offshoots that weren’t really finally eliminated until the extermination of the Cathars and later the Templars. Marcion’s father was a converted Christian and a bishop, so there is at last a 20 to 30 year period for Marcion to rebel against his father’s church historicized view. So just as in the Christians colonizing Nazareth (a place unknown to Josephus in 94 AD, even though Josephus stayed in nearby Japha for a time), we have these varying stories only emerging into public consciousness around 100 AD.

          I personally find it unimaginable that Marcion could come up with such a differing view of Jesus all on his own. Thus there must have been competing ideas from the very beginning, perhaps originating with the Judean-haters and then others who tried to moderate their view, all fully conscious that they were talking about a fabricated individual, not what he WAS, what he SHOULD BE (especially if Marcion is the inventor of Paul, who became too important for historicizers to be able to entirely scrap later). Marcion appears to be of the latter camp, because he writes separately that blaming the jews for murdering jesus was a very dangerous proposition. Perhaps he could foreshadow the persecution to come of whichever side eventually “lost” and to this day we have not seen the end of the ravages of that.

  6. re

    Justin’s antagonist was the very rich Marcion of Pontus

    In his 2014 book, Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels, Markus Vinzent says that Justin Martyr and Marcion were in dialogue early on, with Martyr having penned a now-lost work called To Marcion (a short extract is preserved in Irenaeus’Adv. Haers. IV 6,2)).

    Vinzent cites a range of other relatively Marcion-friendly early texts, eg. Rhodo, To Marcion’s School, & Dionysius of Corinth, Letter To Nicomedia.

    (n.b. Pontus was a region on the southern to south-western shores of the Black Sea.)


    what we may be looking at here is merely the fact that after publication of his [Marcion’s] Testament, Marcionism probably became very popular and maybe even brought about the very first well-established string of Christian churches.

    That’s essentially what Jörg Rüpke says in his recently published book, Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion. He says Marcionite collections & texts and texts such as the Shepherd of Hermas became popular; and the associated, more elaborate gospel texts offered new dimensions.

    Stories of a crucified messianic visionary were attractive. As was the idea of a heavenly high priest, entirely on a par with the earthly Augustus and pontifex maximus, but available to the individual.

    1. My interpretation,

      Per Justin:
      1. Second-god is Jesus, the son of First-god.
      2. Second-god (“the Architect”) made the world.
      3. Second-god was born via a Jewish mother and died while incarnate on Earth.

      Per Marcion (as attested by Justin):
      1. A demon made the world.
      2. Marcion is deceiving people and is opposed to Second-god.

      1. Cheers, db. That is interesting as it provides, albeit in abstract form, a path from Gnostic texts to/via Marcion to the orthodox Christian texts (albeit perhaps by way for reaction or opposition) – the situation needed a second saviour god (who ended up being reified/ personified/ anthropomorphised). I have often wondered if Justin Martyr was just a preliminary step/ stepping-stone in such a path.

  7. Just a side note: In the paragraph quoted from Ehrman about 1 Corinthians 1:23 there may be a typographical error?

    “As a restule, his followers had to reconcile their faith (Jesus is the messiah) with historical reality (he had been crucified).”

    Perhaps should read ‘As a result…’?

  8. Per Ehrman (8 November 2015). “Jesus and the Messianic Prophecies”. The Bart Ehrman Blog.

    The reality is that the so-called “messianic prophecies” that are said to point to Jesus [are] never taken to be messianic prophecies by Jews prior to the Christians who saw Jesus as the messiah. The Old Testament in fact never says that the messiah will be born of a virgin, that he will be executed by his enemies, and that he will be raised from the dead.
    [Per passages like Isaiah 7:14 (virgin birth) and Isaiah 53 (execution and resurrection)] These passages are not talking about the messiah. The messiah is never mentioned in them. Anyone who thinks they *are* talking about the messiah, has to import the messiah into the passages, because he simply isn’t there. I should stress that no one prior to Christianity took these passages to refer to a future messiah.

    Later comment by Bart—November 11, 2015:

    [Per Daniel Boyarin ap. Neil Godfrey (26 August 2015). “Suffering Messiah Is a Very Jewish Idea”. Vridar.]

    Yes, Danny Boyarin does make arguments like these!

    Per Ehrman (9 November 2015). “Another Problem with Calling Jesus the Messiah”. The Bart Ehrman Blog.

    Paul gives us another even more specific hint of why Jesus, in particular, could not be the messiah – at least as he [Paul, a Jew] thought prior to becoming a follower of Jesus. The hint comes in his exposition of his gospel message in his letter to the Galatians.

    1. • Latter comment by Bart—November 12, 2016 [now formatted] per “Mythicists, Jesus, and the Messiah”. The Bart Ehrman Blog.

      Doing history is a matter of considering the evidence. If I want to claim that something happened in history, I need evidence of it.
      • If I want to say that Jews interpreted the messiah as a future king, . . . I can.
      • If I want to say that Jews interpreted Daniel 9 as a reference to a dying messiah, . . . I cannot.

      • Latter comment by Bart—November 12, 2016 per “Mythicists and the Crucified Messiah”. The Bart Ehrman Blog.

      The point is that you would not call the one crucified specifically the “messiah.” You might call him something else — the “sacrifice for sins,” the “savior,” or something else — but not “messiah.”

  9. Late to this party. Many people have already hit several nails on the head.

    But its also possible that Ehrman is right, Jews wouldn’t invent such a messiah… Paul did.

    When we look at the full spectrum is earliest writings about Jesus, we have those from James and Jude, as well as other non-canonical writings such as Didache and various others (can’t recall off the top of my head), make make no reference to a crucified Jesus.

    It’s possible that a non-crucified Jesus was being worshiped by some groups, and that it was really just Paul to invented and advocated this crucified version of Jesus. The writer of Mark used Paul’s version as the star in his story, thus then pushing Paul’s Jesus to fame. But as I’ve argued, the Jesus of Mark is already a Gentile friendly Jesus who is fully rejected by Jews. The Jesus of the Gospels indeed wouldn’t have been worshiped by Jews. The Jesus of the Gospels is Paul’s Gentile Jesus that he was preaching to the mystery religion loving Gentile of Greece and Rome.

    1. • Stating the obvious:

      Given: The word “invent” is loaded, a more neutral term is advocate.

      Statement A: A Jew would not advocate a “crucified Jewish messiah”.

      Statement ‘A’ is falsified by the following proof.
      i. Paul was a Jew
      ii. Paul advocated a “crucified Jewish messiah”
      Thus statement ‘A’ is false.

      • r.g.price writes: “It’s possible that a non-crucified Jesus was being worshiped by some groups, and that it was really just Paul who invented and advocated this crucified version of Jesus.”

      Yes it is possible, even Carrier holds that it possible that a sect worshiping a non-crucified Jesus existed, and was later transformed (or split off) by novel personal revelation of a “crucified Jewish messiah” and thus advocating the new/novel foundational creed of Paul′s sect.

    2. The Didiche is an interesting example, since the Catholic Church likes to use it as a very early example of their traditions to support their faith. But if you read it, it really doesn’t say what they would like it to say.

      1. When I read the Didiche I can’t help but think I am reading G.Mt without the plot. Q might just be staring us in the face – and Goodacre (Farrier and Goulder too, mind) has me convinced there is no Q! 🙂

    3. Per Carrier (25 April 2016). “Bart Ehrman Just Can’t Do Truth or Logic”. Richard Carrier Blogs.

      Ehrman then wraps up with a series of non sequiturs…

      So, if you’re going to invent a Jesus who’s the messiah in fulfillment of expectation, what would that person be like? He’d be the king of Jerusalem! But they didn’t invent that Jesus. They invented—allegedly—they invented a Jesus who got crucified, a Christ that got crucified, but nobody expected a Christ to be crucified. So if you’re inventing somebody in order to meet some kind of public demand for a messiah figure, instead of a messiah who is a great military leader—you invent somebody who is squashed by the enemy, who’s tortured to death—that it was such a problematic category that most Jews absolutely rejected it as a ludicrous idea. So why would you invent a ludicrous idea, if you wanted to convince people? Wouldn’t you invent an idea that made sense to people? Why didn’t they invent the idea that Jesus was a messiah who was a king of Jerusalem? Because everybody knew he wasn’t the king of Jerusalem! There’s no Jesus who was the king of Jerusalem! Why did they invent the idea that the messiah got crucified? Because they knew that Jesus got crucified! They thought he was the messiah; and the big task for them is going ‘How can he be the messiah!?’ if he got crucified. And so, they had to explain that, and Paul, the Apostle Paul, our first author, says it’s the major stumbling block for the Jews. That Jesus got crucified.

      That’s not an argument. That’s a hypothesis. A common logical error he and many historians make is to say “My theory explains the evidence, therefore my theory is true!” They forget to ask if an alternative explanation also explains the same evidence just as well (or even better). See OHJ, pp. 512-14. And here, Ehrman isn’t even testing the mythicist thesis. He doesn’t even seem to know what the mythicist explanation of this fact is. And someone who is wholly ignorant of the thesis they are rejecting, is not qualified to have an opinion on that thesis.

      • See also: Carrier (15 June 2012). “The Dying Messiah Redux”. Richard Carrier Blogs. “The evidence from the Talmud and the Jonathan Targum”

      • See also: Carrier (28 October 2016). “The Ehrman-Price Debate“. Richard Carrier Blogs. “Argument 18: The Jews would never invent a messiah who gets killed.”

      1. “and Paul, the Apostle Paul, our first author, says it’s the major stumbling block for the Jews. That Jesus got crucified.”

        Yes, but only then, if they (the Jews) believe, that Jesus is the Christ. But they (the Jews) didn’t believe it. Not because was beaten him (Paul), becuse Paul preached Jesus got crucified, but because Paul preached the Christ is cursed. Certainly. It was the scandal of the cross, and not that Jesus got crucified.

        This is a very important difference, you need to see.

      2. A bit too much hamburger helper in that post, not enough hamburger. Mostly, yet more crowing along the lines of “I end all rational debate” vein.

        ”Ehrman also is betraying his incompetence as a historian by falsely thinking religions never make up scandalous, ludicrous, difficult-to-believe ideas.”

        Does Ehrman really think that? Carrier neglects to provide a quote to that effect.


        “Because Ehrman continues to ignore, and never honestly conveys (much less ever rebuts), what peer reviewed mythicism actually says, he has no valid opinion in this debate.”

        Bear in mind, that whenever Carrier utters “peer reviewed”, he means his two books — which, in fact, were not peer reviewed. Note also that the validity of an opinion hinges entirely on whether it relies on OHJ & PH.


        ”Dying-then-triumphant heroes were ubiquitous among the very savior cults of the time that Christianity most resembled….”

        It’s a bit droll to see Carrier channeling Murdoch channeling Massey. But it’s also not a persuasive counter to Ehrman’s point: that the Jews wouldn’t create that sort of storyline for their messiah. The Egyptians who invented Attis, for example, surely had a much different agenda.


        ”… a lot of his colleagues have debated me.… So the claim that it is ‘not debated’ among his colleagues is false.”

        I don’t think Carrier knows the definition of ‘among.’ Anyway, if Carrier could’ve resisted tooting his own horn for once, he might simply have noted Ehrman’s fallacious argumentum ad populum.


        ’There are seven fully qualified scholars on the record who doubt the historicity of Jesus. Not “a couple.”’

        In the link Carrier names: Arthur Droge, Kurt Noll, Thomas Brodie, Robert Price, Thomas Thompson, Hector Avalos, Raphael Lataster, (plus himself as an eighth).

        Are we just talking living scholars here? If so, then lucky for Carrier, who continually proves himself dismissive or ignorant of the work of the Tübingen School and Dutch Radicals. Carrier seems to hold Wrede in low esteem, but the old man might have lent some help in this instance.

        But even among the quick, Carrier’s omissions are glaring. (Though perhaps he only counts the ‘Jesus was killed in outer space’ position as ‘mythicism’.) He’s previously admitted his ignorance of Hermann Detering’s credentials, but what of Gerd Lüdemann or John Shelby Spong? The latter’s Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy was published but a few months before the post, so perhaps Carrier hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. A pity, as Spong’s delightful prose could’ve offered a few powerful ripostes to Ehrman’s blather & bluster. Instead, we got more blather & bluster.

  10. At Paul, “the Christ” denotes a state of consciousness, not a certain person. He also calls “the end of the law.”
    According to Paul, “the Christ” is the revealing, unveiling secret of God as a solution to sin. Being in Christ doesn’t mean being in Jesus 🙂 This is nonsense. Paul didn’t think so.

    After “baptism into the Christ”, anyone can see him (the Christ), only need a mirror. Really:

    “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2Cor10:12)

    “You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do.” (2Cor10:7)

    “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;/we see vaguely” (because the Christ hid the inner man) (1Cor13:12.)

    The Gospel of Paul “from faith for faith”. “From the visible”, “to the not visible”. Visible the Christ, not visible the Son of God. So simple. The secret is Christ himself.

    1. Doherty, Earl (2000). “The Higher Critical Review: Robert M. Price, Deconstructing Jesus“. Journal of Higher Criticism. 7 (1): 126–140.

      [Per the descending Redeemer of gnostic-style myth] Price sees the Pauline Christ in this same category . . . Inherent in such a (proto-) gnostic type of outlook is the idea that Christ inhabits the believer, and the apostle who preaches him possesses a highly developed sense of the Christ/Redeemer within himself. Paul, with his “Christ in you” and “all are members of the body of Christ,” falls into that line of thinking.

      Neil Godfrey (28 December 2018). “Addressing S. Gathercole’s Case: “Born from a Woman” (#3)”. Vridar.

      In the previous post we concluded with Earl Doherty stressing what he sees as the importance of keeping in mind the distinction between

      • Christ’s sacrifice (the time and place of this are never specified – a point that is argued elsewhere) that enabled freedom from the law (Galatians 3:13)


      • the application of that freedom that comes subsequently by the act of God who revealed the gospel and the acts of apostles in preaching and hearers believing.

      [image: God sends “Spirit of Son” to believers]

      1. The inner man is the Son of God. Paul, the outer man is dead. Along with Christ. “Because you are his sons…” Gal4:6
        The adoption is at the price.

      2. One time Paul speaks of being “like” to Jesus’ death (“…becoming like him in his death.” Phil. 3:10). Does this mean he want to die on the cross? Obviously not, because we already know (from Ehrman exegezis) what he meant in Jesus’ (as Son of God) death. Paul wants to get in that death, which was got of Jesus, by god. Why? To benefit from the resurrection of the dead. Paul lived only by/in faith. When the inner man (son of god) dies, then it becomes similar to Jesus’ death. From this time, the life is possible only through faith.

  11. Ehrman commit a mistake. He don’t see, that Paul is not talking about “Jesus is the Christ”. In the expression, what Paul uses: “Jesus Christ”, or “Lord Jesus Christ”, Christ is not a title, but names of a individual. Paul makes/gets a name, from the title.
    Paul use three expression: 1. Son of God (in Rom 8:3; Fil2:6-8 as spiritual entity), 2. Christ (in itself mostly in the sense:IN…), and 3. Jesus Christ, or Lord Jesus Christ (most when he speek about the resurrection).
    Four Torah Death Penalty: stoning, burning, strangulation and sword, the execution mode itself. Not including wood suspension (crucifixion), because it was forbidden, like execution. In some cases, after the death penalty has been a dead body that was hanged. (Deut21:22-23) The hanging is not a way of execution, but a means of deterrence after the death penalty. The curse covered to the dead, and to the hanged. The “scandal of the cross” was among diaspora Jews, that “Christ is cursed”, and not that he died. But according to Paul, no one can call Jesus (as Son of God, or Son of God) cursed. (1Cor12:3) Why?
    Because according to Paul, Jesus handed to death, by God. On the night before his execution, before his crucifixion. (in1Cor 11:23-24).

    In this verse, the key concept for us is the statement that “the Lord Jesus is on the night he was betrayed,”. It’s not about the betrayal of Judas. In “The Lost Gospel of Iskarioti Judas”, Ehrman explains this nicely (page25-28). This mean (1Cor11:23-24) , Jesus (as spiritual Son of God) handed to death, by God. On the night before his execution.

    In summary: the expression, what Paul uses: (“Jesus Christ, or Lord Jesus Christ”), in the absence of the title, a name. This is expression (Jesus Christ) not a creed. Two different things. At Paul Son of God (Jesus), and Christ not the same person.

    The name: “Jesus Christ”, name of the resurrected son of God. In the unification of Jesus (Son of God, who is spiritual, not visible) and Christ (who is material, visible).

    1. No one thinks anyone but the Romans were immediate agents of the crucifixion – properly translated ‘staking’ – supposing it happened.

      Crucifixion was certainly used on the living by Jewish authorities when they had the power. In Josephus, Antiquities 13:14:2 – in 88 BCE it is said of Alexander Jannaeus

      “As he was feasting with his concubines, in the sight of all the city, he ordered about eight hundred of them to be crucified; and while they were living, he ordered the throats of their children and wives to be cut before their eyes.”

      The theory that in Paul ‘Christ’ is a name is an academic vogue of yesteryear. The Novenson’s critique is basically just a restatement of forgotten grounds. ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’ are completely unremarkable royal attributes, both used in e.g. the royal psalm 2.

      1. I’m not talking about what happened historically or in reality. I’m talking about what was Paul’s (or who wrote the letters) idea. The history is not the past. But if I were, who wrote the Pauline letters, I would have written, what I believe, and not what happened.
        Paul doesen’t believe what happened realy, but he believe in his revalation, and what he read, in the scripture. But what happened, confirmed his faith. Which in turn happened in reality (Jesus was executed in the cross, and doesn’t God handed to death him, on the night before his execution) that doesen’t confirm Paul’s faith.

      2. The theory that in Paul ‘Christ’ is a name is an academic vogue of yesteryear. The Novenson’s critique is basically just a restatement of forgotten grounds. ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’ are completely unremarkable royal attributes, both used in e.g. the royal psalm 2.

        You don’t appear to know Novenson’s argument (you seem to just come here and make up things when you comment — we try to be a bit more serious about the need for evidence and being informed here) but I’m wondering what your reference to here is all about? Who/what are you responding to?

        No one thinks anyone but the Romans were immediate agents of the crucifixion – properly translated ‘staking’ – supposing it happened.

        Can you explain the relevance of this assertion to anything posted or commented on here?

        1. Do you know Ehrman’s exegezis, about 1Cor11:23-24? If you know, do you understand? This is the key to
          to understand the gospel of Paul.

          If Matthew Novenson’s argument that Paul’s concept of Christ was entirely consistent with “the formal conventions of ancient Jewish Messiah language” is true, then you have to explain these parts in the scripture: 2Cor11:24; Gal5:11; 1Cor1:23. Interpolation? This is not argument for everything, what we do not understand.

          1. Per Price, Robert M. (2018). Bart Ehrman Interpreted. Pitchstone Publishing. ISBN 9781634311595.

            We can’t be sure Paul does not mean he has a historical Jesus quote on hand, but if mine is even a plausible suggestion it is not fair to simply assert Paul is quoting Jesus. The same applies to 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, where Paul quotes the Words of Institution of the eucharist. Bart, like all conservative apologists, contends that the words, “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you,” imply that Paul is repeating an account given him by his apostolic predecessors, an account of Jesus’ Last Supper. The “received, delivered” language is familiar from Rabbinic tradition. But, especially in Paul, it can just as easily mean the opposite. “I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel that was preached by me is not according to man. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). Note the similarity to “I received from the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 11:23. Why doesn’t it denote in 1 Corinthians what it most certainly does in Galatians? —(p. 101)

            1. Not what I meant. Price here right. I think, Paul wasn’t received anything, from the historical Jesus. But “The Lost Gospel of Iskarioti Judas”, Ehrman explains this nicely (page25-28).

              1. “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed,” (1Cor11:23)

                When Paul said: “betrayed”, he used the ‘paradidomi’, which literally means: “to give someone or something to someone else”.

                Paul in every case, when he use the ‘paradidomi’ about Jesus, in every case refers to the act of God, who gave Jesus to the hand of death. In every case. In this verse, “that night, when he took bread.”

                This was Paul’s revalation. Let’s read Luk22:44. No word about, that Son of God died on the cross. Not the damn one who dies on a tree, (son of god doesn’t die on the tree), but who is hanged (already dead) on the tree.

                That’s what Paul says exactly. This is Ehrman’s exegezis.

              2. Per Ehrman (12 November 2016) [now formatted]. “Does Paul Know that Judas Betrayed Jesus?“. The Bart Ehrman Blog.

                I think . . . Paul makes no definitive reference to Judas or the betrayal. So that’s why I don’t include it in my list of things that we know that Paul knew. I wish I *could* include it, since it would lengthen my list, and the more we can say that Paul knew about the historical man Jesus the more we can be certain that he knew about the historical man Jesus,
                • a matter of some importance when dealing with those who claim that Paul did not even know there was such a man.
                But my view is that we should not accept claims or data simply because they are convenient to our arguments!

                Latter comment by Bart—November 13, 2016:

                [Do you still think Judas betraying Jesus or handing him over is a real historical event?]

                Yes, I think Judas betrayed him. I explain the whole business in my book The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot.

                See: Ehrman, Bart D. (2006). The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed. Oxford University Press. pp. 25–28. ISBN 978-0-19-534351-9.

              3. “Yes, I think Judas betrayed him.” said Ehrman. Yes, he think, despite what Paul NOT says.Paul not says: Judas betrayed Jesus. Paul said, wath he wrote: God, who gave Jesus to the hand of death, and not Judas betrayed him. It’s clear!

              4. balivi, do you agree with Lüdemann?

                Lüdemann, Gerd (2010). “Paul as a Witness to the Historical Jesus”. in R. Joseph Hoffmann. Sources of the Jesus Tradition: Separating History from Myth. Prometheus Books. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-61614-189-9.

                In short, Paul cannot be considered a reliable witness to either the teachings, the life, or the historical existence of Jesus.

              5. “Paul cannot be considered a reliable witness to either the teachings, the life, or the historical existence of Jesus.”

                Yes, I agree.

              6. I think it is possible. But I have a problem with the author, not with time. A Simonian Origin for Christianity by Parvus, its possible.

              7. Hi balivi, welcome!

                What do you mean by “I don’t know the Jewish author (to this day), to whom has a problem with the law.”? Thanks.

              8. Hi!
                Maybe I’m wrong, but an orthodox Jew’s interpretation of law completely different, as Paul does. We can see in the Paul’s letters, difference in interpretation, between Paul and the Judeo-Christian rivals.

            2. balivi, is your problem with Detering, & if so, in what way?

              Detering & Parvus’ theses are compatible. Eisenman, too, lends much support, though he does not go so far as to identify Paul with Simon Magus.

              1. hi!

                I mean, I have problem with the author of letters (Paul, the Pharisee). I don’t know the Jewish author (to this day), to whom has a problem with the law.

  12. Godfrey, Neil (6 June 2008). “Could Jews never have imagined a crucified Messiah?”. Vridar.

    If the Jews of the Second Temple period could imagine . . .

    1. their father Isaac saving their nation by his blood,
    2. by offering himself as a willing sacrifice that atoned for the sins of his descendants;
    3. and if they could identify with him as the archtypical martyr so that they could also face death, with hope of a resurrection;
    4. and if their historical narratives spoke of other favoured and beloved only sons, also fated for real or symbolic deaths,

    — who were disbelieved and betrayed by their own brethren,

    — but only as part of a divine plan to bring them through humiliation into exaltation and authority

    . . . if Second Temple Jews (who were by no means as monolithic as they became in rabbinical times) could construct such a saving theology of Isaac and the Beloved Son, then some of them were definitely not far removed from a crucified messiah concept at all.

    Not only do we have a plausible matrix for the Jesus theology, but even for the narrative of the blind and failing disciples who from the first gospel accompanied it.

    Godfrey, Neil (26 June 2008). “Jesus supplants Isaac — the contribution of Paul”. Vridar.

    Paul not only identified Jesus with the Passover lamb, but also with Isaac
    Once Jesus has displaced Isaac, it follows that the promises and blessings associated with Isaac, “the beloved son”, must also be transferred to Jesus and become available through him.

    Godfrey, Neil (9 July 2008). “The Isaac and Joseph Christologies; & rivalry for Scripture & Father”. Vridar.

    I’ve done nothing more in these posts than present some key parts of [Jon D.] Levenson’s argument. I have not discussed it in relation to other studies or possible implications for certain other hypotheses for Christian origins.

  13. Does Ehrman ever address the argument made by many — including some of his fellow historicists — that Judas is a fictional character designed to shift blame from the Romans to the Jews, as evidenced, inter alia, by the character’s name and growth over the course of the gospels?

  14. I Cor. 11 seems to suggest that someone handed over Jesus to his destined fate but it is never stated explicitly in my reading of the text. We must be careful of the ever present tyranny of the Gospels which loom over the Pauline material. Important details are missing. Paul could have easily mentioned Judas if he really knew it was Judas.

    Moreover, I think that many readers jump on the verb paradidomi and think it means “betrayed”..for the most part it does not!!! It is more likely given Paul’s use of paradidomi in his canon of usage that it means “handed-over”. It doesn’t say he was handed over to anyone in the text. I Cor. 2 (the archons might fit the object of the verb, but the verb has no object here in I Cor. 11.

    So note this: In Romans 8:32 we have a very clear indicator as to “who” had “handed-over” Jesus — Here is my translation of Romans 8:32:

    “If it is indeed the case that God himself did not spare his very own son from suffering and death but rather handed him over (paredokan) our behalf, then how shall he not also give to us his grace to share all things with his son?” (from my forthcoming translation of the NT called “SCRIBE”).

    The NRSV translation stinks in my view… paradidomi should not be translated there as “gave up his son”. If anyone assumes it means “betray” then God betrayed his son..But it is also clear that God destined his son to be murdered by “rulers” (what kind of rulers is not explicitly stated -human or demonic is not stated- Neil has done a whole series of blogs on this. Check them out)

    I hope this might open up some possibilities for viewing such texts in different ways.

    plus, where on earth did Paul get this revelation from but from the Lord as he says….

    I am aware as well that Paul is using the words paralambano and paradidomi in collocation there in I cor.11 vs.23. He uses the same expressions in I cor. 15 regarding the so-called “creed” received from (whom? -not stated). The apologist’s assume it was “the pillars”. But not stated as I said. Moreover, paradosis as I have already noted doesn’t necessarily mean the handing on of a “tradition”. Paul received “revelation”(an important word and concept for Paul everywhere in his writings. So he got his “revelations” (of which he had many) from “the Lord”, not from human beings (including Jesus himself as a human being).

    Interestingly, I have wondered how the Lord could communicate “historically verified info” as indicated in I Cor. 15. So did the Lord give Paul history via revelations.? I don’t believe it for one minute but Carrier thinks he didn’t get that stuff from the pillars but from Jesus the spirit and btw Paul calls “the Lord” the “spirit” in 2 Cor. 3. Pretty explicit to me.

    I haven’t read Carrier’s historicity book but I would be curious to know that if he believes Paul received this “info” directly from the Lord then it is clear Jesus was handing on historical info of what happened in history. Is such possible? I doubt it but if Carrie goes with that view he has not carefully given the implications of that view. How could Paul check out any of these revelations anyway? Who gets “history” from supposed “revelations” from above?

    I think both texts I cor. 11 and 15 are highly problematic . If Jesus was giving Paul hallucinations (I think this is a bad word to use and I should say that “visions” in the Bible are nothing like so-called hallucinations. Moreover, saying I received a revelation or was in the spirit, etc. could well be rhetorical techniques to give a hearing for one’s “revelational” experiences which simply try to bolster one’s perceived authority by God or whoever!

    I have been a student and scholar of the scriptures for a long time now and I must say that this field could well make one give up the ghost. It is all fascinating but the blood and ink spilled over such matters is most disconcerting and bad on the health of our minds and bodies.

    Moreover, let me remark here that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs or opinions, but no one is entitled to their own facts.

    I am totally tired of all the minimal facts approaches dreamed up by scholars and apologists today.

    In any case my blogging friends. Keep up the good work here. Nice to be among thoughtful collegues, at least some of you:)

    Marty Lewadny

  15. To Balivi (and whoever is listening in)

    I posted my own take on the text at hand at the end of all these discussions without reading your comments. It appears you share some of my observations or vice versa. In any case, we are trying to be as honest as we can with what we can glean from the texts.

    Let me say something here. I made my way out of various forms of the Christian Cult by making a decision, not to somehow “disbelieve” the Bible or theology as such. The Bible and theology raise so many interesting stories and ideas, and ideals (both good and bad). It is quite interesting and pardon me!!! relevant in so many respects to the human condition, but that is a different discussion which can be fruitful. I am not talking about some mechanical application of the Bible to the human condition.

    I am hoping to post an essay by the late Philip Davies who recently died. I am so sad that such a great scholar can no longer continue keeping us all honest in the flesh..so we draw on his past work that he left to us. In my view,if immortality exists then Davies has left a piece of his immortal life to us… His stuff will live on!!! even when so many scholars keep making the same stupid mistakes in their work and life. I made a courageous choice to start being “honest” with the nature of my hermeneutical approaches to texts many years ago already–whether ancient or modern.

    Let’s never forget that much of this stuff is so difficult to understand and articulate.

    It is all human to me!!! Let some of us among these humans do our best to become “godlike” and try to transcend the biblical , historical, and scientific bullshit that plagues everyone of us.

    Your honesty can cost you, but be courageous in your confidence and conflict, either with yourself or with someone or something else.

    I see this site as an opportunity to gain courage to be honest as much as we can.

    Marty Lewadny

      1. Your most welcome balivi!

        So poetically…..I would say

        To all that is “transcendent” or superior in knowledge, love, truth,skills, etc within us to help all of us in times so very difficult and to experience “humanness” in so many ways possible.

        Humans have overcome terrible odds , with and without any specific god or religious cult. The biblical god keeps getting human more and more as I read the Bible. I would encourage everyone to read the work of Jaco Gericke with respect to this. We all fall in love with characters in a story but you will find yourself a widow in another erotic reading of biblical texts where you really get into them mind , soul, body, etc. It is not a good thing in many ways to give your total fidelity to a character in old stories. It is easy to do, like so many fall in love with stars and soap opera or dramas. It is common. Mimesis is everywhere!

        No doubt I am a romanticist — an idealist , (I like mimesis) the most humanist,,,etc. and ….I hope that hope still exists in our lives as we deal with apparent finalities…claimed by others or even ourselves.. The NT context struggled with their own situations —even Jesus himself as a character in the story!!!. Paul created a “rapture” theory just to help his own “children” he gave birth to in the faith… come on now!!!! His own children and others were in the worst kind of existential angst that one could imagine…the face of death….. One feels so compelled to come up with a final answer where easy answers come by a “word of the Lord” which Paul used to receive regularly…..to solve his pastoral problems….His prophetic words failed as well …. and then later the gospels where it is creating a real problem for others as the end still keeps getting deferred. And Paul connects the “meal”with the end of things in I cor.

        and since this site talks about the Jesus-Myth or Christ-Myth theories….

        Christ Mythers of any sort are being made fun of and the attacks are coming from everywhere right now….and why is all this so important when “Paul” says he is not too much interested in a fleshy Jesus who did this or said that….Paul is in touch with the Living Breath of Jesus,,he trumps the last words of Jesus to the pillars. Paul believes is is Jesus breath which is breathing in him ==a pneumatic man possessed by a spirit called Jesus.
        Bart Ehrman has never clearly come out and said that the Jesus of the NT is a myth. Yet he believes that many of the things said re Jesus in the NT are myth. What criteria is being used? It is getting so confusing that many are getting more dogmatic more and more and it it getting messier and messier!.

        It is clear to humanity, whether you are a Christian or Non-Christian,that we are in a very precarious position these days at many levels of a reality that we are all sharing.

        There is no one right now in control of anything. One can claim there is this final authority or that final authority. We must put on the clothes of intelligent inquiry and gain every skill so we can to hold back the tide of anti-scientific and anti-historical and anti-empirical lives.

        At the present time there doesn’t seem anyone else around actively aware of what is going on in the large shit-holes on this planet, and this is coming from someone who is well-informed in the fields we talk about here, and has struggled with all of the controversy and conflict throughout my life, in both the so-called secular and sacred realms…god-dammit– I wish the apologists (including a cloud of NT scholars, who realize their alleged commitment to NT scholarship and its vast pedantic productions have not seemed to have a real bearing on the so-called “layperson” in the pews or even their pastors.

        Many “christians” go to church and before they enter they screw-off their heads and leave them on the door-steps of the church, whether in person or via Internet..as they go into church they are dumbed-down by pastors that have no time or interest in getting them into issues that will test their own integrity and intelligence in these areas.

        What a mess! I don’t regret getting into such difficult areas of education. I have learned much and loved much through it all. We are here now dealing with lack of evidence, lots of evidence, and waiting for more. Let it be. Let it be.


  16. Oh My! I forgive myself for many of my grammatical errors in my last posts. :))) Oh well!

    Please forgive me readers for those grammatical mistakes. 🙂 I was aiming at content and honesty. I hope you got the gist of my words and spirit.

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