Imagine No Interpolations

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by Neil Godfrey

What if the Testimonium Flavianum, the passage about Jesus and his followers, in Antiquities by Josephus was written in full (or maybe with the exception of no more than 3 words) by Josephus? I know that would raise many questions about the nature of the rest of our sources but let’s imagine the authenticity of the passage in isolation from everything else for now.

What if the passage about Christ in Tacitus was indeed written by Tacitus? Ditto about that raising more questions as above, but the same.

What if even the author attribution studies that have demonstrated the very strong likelihood that Pliny’s letter about Christians to Trajan was not written by Pliny were wrong after all?

What if that “pocket gospel” in the early part of chapter 11 of the Ascension of Isaiah were original to the text and not a subsequent addition? (I think that the most recent scholarly commentary by Enrico Norelli on the Ascension of Isaiah does actually suggest that scenario but I have not read any of the justifications if that is the case.)

What if 2 Thessalonians 2:13-16 which has Paul saying the Jews themselves killed Jesus in Judea was indeed written by Paul thus adding one more inconsistency of Paul’s thought to the already high pile?

What if, contrary to what has been argued in a work opposing (sic) the Christ Myth hypothesis, the passage about Paul meeting James the brother of the Lord was originally penned by Paul after all?

Would the above Imagine scenarios collectively remove any reason to question the assertion that Christianity began ultimately with a historical Jesus?

I don’t think so.

Firstly, the grounds for questioning the claims that our earliest evidence is best explained by some sort of rationalization of the gospel narrative are not based on a handful of proof texts that can be supposedly met by setting up opposing proof texts. The arguments are rather more complex, more sophisticated than that, and involve serious questions of a priori assumptions, logical validity and research methods.

Secondly, and I suppose this point is really a product that derives from the first, think about each one:

The Testimonium Flavianum does not appear until at least 64 years after the date usually assigned for the death of Jesus. Josephus does not tell us the source of his information. Now assess that fact in the context of what modern historians (I’m talking about professional historians in history departments, not in seminaries or departments of theology) grant as evidence that is strong enough to confirm the historicity of an event: see, for example, the discussions of Carr, Elton and Evans in my recent post on how historians decide or confirm the historicity of a reported event; another historian, Garraghan, would be even more strict with his criteria as discussed in a post with a title reference to Hiawatha.

As for the passage in Tacitus, the same as above applies. Except that here we can add that some modern historians even question whether Boudicca actually was a historical figure despite Tacitus’s account. Are we being “hypercritical” to raise questions about his Jesus reference or simply following standard procedures outside the world of divine and privileged suppositions in so many quarters of biblical studies?

Pliny the Younger (not unlike Tacitus, actually) does not even mention the name of Jesus so again we have no clear ties between his letter and purported historical events in Judea 80 to 90 years earlier.

And that “pocket gospel” in the Ascension of Isaiah? It has precious little in common with anything we read in the canonical gospels. Mary is pregnant two months and then suddenly sees a baby in front of her: the baby appears to have just popped out through the wall of her belly. Now that could well be more consistent with the details (“made” from (“passed through”) a woman, not “born”) of Galatians 4:4 than anything in the Gospels of Matthew or Luke.

Then 2 Thessalonians 2:13-16 and the Jews in Judea killing Jesus would follow, if the Asc. Isa. pocket gospel above or something similar to it had been known to Paul. That pocket gospel speaks of the demons stirring up envy among the Jews to kill Jesus, thus evidently holding the demons themselves, those “rulers of the age”, responsible. Among other beliefs that surfaced (and we don’t know when it started) was one that had Jesus being magically swapped for Simon Magus on his way to the cross. It is nonsense to suggest that any story with an earthly setting and human characters must by some default “hermeneutic of charity” be assumed historical until compelling evidence to the contrary arises.

James the Brother of the Lord has generated so much wasted discussion, in my opinion. I don’t believe the passage was original (for reasons set out here) but let’s suppose I am wrong. Richard Carrier also granted this passage the status of being very strong evidence for the historicity of Jesus. Be that as it may, the passage simply does not refer to Jesus at all, certainly not explicitly. The Lord, when used alone, is usually a reference to God, not Jesus, I thought, in Paul’s writings. Given that context it is surely reasonable to keep a back door ajar to allow room for questions to enter. It would certainly be perverse dogmatics worthy, I suppose I have to admit, of graduates of seminaries and theology departments, to insist there can be no room for doubt of any kind about the passage. But once we allow permission to ask a question about a passage we have firmly decided cannot be an interpolation, then my reasons for believing the passage to be an interpolation can be modified easily enough to demonstrate that it is very unlikely in the extreme to refer to a literal sibling of Jesus.

Much nonsense (read falsehoods) has been levelled at those who argue for the gospels and references in Paul’s letters being best explained by something other than a gospel-like narrative about a historical figure. Most of those who argue that viewpoint come across to me as bending over backwards to limit the number of interpolations they concede, and those they do admit are only done so with permission of a substantial body of the reputable scholarship. As you can tell, I think they are far too strict. But then if I were trying to argue a case a fortiori as they are then I would probably do the same.

But here I have played the devil’s advocate and hope I have helped in the process to show that he is not such a terribly bad chap to work for after all.



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53 thoughts on “Imagine No Interpolations”

  1. “But here I have played the devil’s advocate and hope I have helped in the process to show that he is not such a terribly bad chap to work for after all.”

    I agree. We can stipulate the whole bunch, and there is still plenty of reasonable doubt about Jesus’ historicity.

  2. If the Testimonium Flavianum had actually been written by Josephus, it might cause as many problems for HJ scholars as it purports to solve. The HJ scholars, as we always point out, and as everyone knows, are not in pursuit of the JC of faith, but of someone else–an itinerant preacher, somebody who may or may not have preached the Beatitudes but certainly was crucified, so they say. But this is not the person in the Testimonium. The TF is about the “wonder-worker,” the faith healer, the magician–in short, the NON-historical Jesus.

    As for Tacitus, he does not even refer to Jesus. Shouldn’t that be a problem for those who cite the passage as evidence of the HJ? Why hasn’t Tacitus heard that Chrestus, the leader of the Christians, has a name?

      1. Tacitus might very well have known that Christus had a name, and might even have known what it was. However it wasn’t relevant for his purposes. The only reason he mentioned “Christus” at all was to explain the etymology of the term “Christian.” For that purpose the name on the birth certificate didn’t matter. (I am assuming for the moment that he really did mean to refer to “Christians” and “Christus” rather than “Chrestians” and “Chrestus.”)

        1. That is all possible but we have no evidence to support it, unfortunately. We need to go with the evidence we have. And if we treat one small piece of data as “relevant for his purpose” then we should be consistent and treat every piece of data as “relevant to an identifiable purpose” of his. I think if we try doing that we will soon find our attempt to explain “Christus” breaks down as ad hoc.

          1. I don’t mean to suggest that we have any evidence the Tacitus knew the name “Jesus” — just that the fact that he didn’t mention it is not evidence that he didn’t know it. He wasn’t writing about Jesus, after all, he was writing what amounted to a brief footnote to a story about Nero. There would have been no reason to bring up such an extraneous detail even if he knew it. So it’s not meaningful to ask why Tacitus didn’t know it; maybe he did.

            1. Yes, I understand and accept that you were not suggesting that we have evidence that Tacitus knew the name “Jesus”.

              At the same time I apologize for overstating my point. I was writing from memory and I was wrong in some of what I said. I take your point and revise what I initially wrote.

              I limit my problem with your proposal to the failure of Tacitus (or whoever wrote that passage) to explain the meaning of Christian by simply referring to Christ. The world Christian itself suggests the people are followers in some sense of some Christ, but the word itself is not explained. If Tacitus thought people did not know the origin of the word then he has not helped very much by failing to explain what that term meant to Jews or Christians themselves.

              And what would be the point of explaining the meaning of the term that everyone supposedly knew and used to label that group of despised persons?

              We can speculate that Tacitus merely wanted to explain the origin of the word “Christian” by reading the text naively at face value but then when we do that more questions begin to arise to take the place of the one our spec has just answered.

              So that brings us back to the absence of the name Jesus in what Tacitus wrote. Would that not have been more meaningful, or at least it would have been minimally meaningful if he had said that Christian originated as the name for those who attached loyalty to a “chrested” or “anointed” king of the Jews.

              Either way, though, we have no secure grounds according to the fundamental rules of historical evidence (as per historians I have discussed several times now, e.g. the ancient historian M.I. Finley) to take the passage in Tacitus (even if original) as evidence of events in Palestine two to three generations earlier. It can at best be evidence for what was believed by people of Tacitus’s time. If we had some evidence that Tacitus derived his information ultimately from much earlier sources that would have been a different thing.

  3. Yes, CO is exactly right about the TF. This is why HJ advocates all create sanitized reconstructions of the TF. If the TF is fully authentic then it is clear that the TF is influenced by the Gospels, that’s all. In order for the TF to support HJ it needs to be independent of the Gospel, which the current Tf clearly is not. So a fully authentic TF provides no challenge to MJ at all, it’s just one more post-Gospel writing that was influenced by the Gospels in that scenario.

    The letter from Tacitus I assume is legit in my book and show that even if it is it isn’t proof of HJ.

    The Letters from Pliny 2 again poses no challenge to MJ. In my book I simply assume that it is authentic, and show that the content of the letter does nothing to support the existence of any real person, it’s just talking about beliefs of the Christians.

    I assume Ascension of Isaiah is an authentic work, its just a post-Gospel legendary tale is all.

    2 Thess would be a little bit more problematic for MJ if it were authentic, but the case against authenticity is strong. I think if that were not an interpolation it would be a point in favor of HJ.

    I assume in my book that the “Lord’s brother” passage is authentic and show why it still can’t possibly mean that James was a literal brother of Jesus. I agree with you that it’s possible it was a later interpolation, but I think its also possible it wasn’t. But even if it it authentic there are a dozen points of evidence that no one thought James was a brother of Jesus until the late 2nd century and not one single point of evidence in support of the idea of James being a brother of Jesus.

    So, authentic or not, it’s clear that James wasn’t a brother of Jesus.

    1. I assume in my book that the “Lord’s brother” passage is authentic and show why it still can’t possibly mean that James was a literal brother of Jesus.

      Little snippet? Personally, I think that if it is authentic, that it refers to James as “The brother of the Lord” as a way to distinguish Cephus, who is the head of the group.

    2. I assume Ascension of Isaiah is an authentic work, its just a post-Gospel legendary tale is all.

      I don’t know what links there are in the direction from the gospels of Matthew and Luke to the “pocket gospel”. I have difficulty imagining how an author familiar with the former would move from there to the latter.

      I find a simpler explanation lies in the pocket gospel being one of perhaps a number of very early variants, more likely than not preceding our canonical versions.

      I think it is a mistake to assume only one likely direction of borrowing whenever we encounter different versions of a story. Sometimes a writing found in later manuscripts contains evidence that its content is older than the narrative found in earlier manuscripts

      1. Another example:

        Justin writes that one of the proofs that Jesus was the messiah was that he had no known genealogy. (No-one knew his origin — in “fulfilment” of an OT passage.) Yet that has to be reconciled in his view with a Davidic descent, so he says Mary is the descendant of David.

        I fail to see how Justin could possibly have known of our canonical versions of Matthew or Luke and still have written that.

        1. True, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t influenced by Matthew. It just shows that it’s not likely that he had read a copy of Matthew himself. But Matthew could already have been written and influenced the spread of oral legends or other written works that in turn influenced Martyr.

  4. Personally, I think that if it is authentic, that it refers to James as “The brother of the Lord” as a way to distinguish Cephus, who is the head of the group.

    Why was it necessary to distinguish two people with different names?

    And wasn’t it James who was supposed to be the head of the Jerusalem church?

    1. Paul is supposed to be going to see the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, right? He’s going to meet Cephas and James, but what station do they hold and why them? I think this answers that question. He wouldn’t make the trip to Jeurusalem for just anybody, so he goes to see Cephas, and James, who is a brother, apparently of some repute as he is mentioned again.

  5. Would like to add here a resource perhaps not read or known by the bloggers here.

    I am still upset about the young death of H. Detering who did write the following book connected with this recent blog entry…

    Falsche Zeugen: Außerchristliche Jesuszeugnisse auf dem Prüfstand (2011). He is quite convinced that there is next to nothing to support a historical Jesus

    My german is not as good as it used to be… but it could be translated like this

    False Witnesses: Extra-Christian Testimony to Jesus

    I am working through this stuff by Detering at the moment. … I have no comments yet regarding his comments on Josephus..

    Now, if you are going to deal with scholarship in this field you must take this into account. Many of the best arguments against much of the Christian worldview can be viewed by working through German texts in theology, etc.

    When I taught I used to tell my students…”Theology is conceived in Germany, and then “corrected” in Scotland and England, and then eventually “corrupted” in North America.! There is more than an ounce of truth in that statement.

    Thanks Neil for the info here.

    Good luck everyone in your research. Btw I notice that even atheist/agnostic readers of the the texts get nit picky with each other, just like Bible believers.

    How interesting it is that these texts have raised our blood pressure at so many points? Why?

    Why do you think so my friends? And why is it important to believe or disbelieve in a historical Jesus?

    I would like my fellow bloggers to share what they think of Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 5:16. Neil, this is a crucial text to give orientation to these discussions. It would be great to begin a discussion of Paul’s prima facie comments regarding his own text on a “flesh-based” Jesus vs. a “spirit-based” see 2 Cor. 3 and 4.

    I don’t mind hearing about the extra-biblical sources and all that is very important, but what are we to make of Paul’s perspective about the historical Jesus versus the non-physical Jesus.

    So what kind of Jesus did Paul meet and talk with… a human Jesus or some kind of “hybrid” Jesus, both flesh and spirit?

    And would it really matter?

    So why do modern Christians or even atheists, like Tim O’Neill NEED Jesus to be a real human being in history since it means nothing to him anyway as an atheist?

    Got to go now my friends..

    Enjoy the weekend.

    1. 2 Cor. 5:16 sets up Paul to be an anti-witness to the “historical Jesus”.

      My own view is that we have no evidence to present even a prima facie case for the existence of a historical Jesus. The fundamentals of historical methods as deployed among the more critical historians of ancient times and persons do not set out any reason for thinking there was such a Jesus. On the other hand we see many literary reasons to view the Jesus we do have as a theological and literary construct. I have never set out a detailed argument for nonhistoricity myself. On the other hand I do not think we have enough basic raw material to even provisionally infer such a historical figure. The idea of a historical Jesus is simply a non-starter for me. I don’t have any strong interest in trying to prove Jesus was not historical when I cannot see any grounds for asserting his historicity to begin with.

      Having said that, I am quite prepared to work and discuss within the expectations and assumptions of potential readers who do assume there was a historical Jesus. I know most are unaware of the basics of critical historical inquiry outside what they’ve read by theologians and their loyal token atheists, and that theologians or theology is not something that is considered all that respectable a field among a good number of other academics though they won’t make life difficult for themselves by making a big song and dance about it.

      I suspect Tim O’Neill somehow craves identification with what he sees as the relevant scholarly field to assure himself (and others) of his good intellectual standing. He lacks depth, and the length of his posts are not long by means of expounding depth of any argument. His research and background reading is relatively superficial. He finds what he is looking for and that’s all he needs on the whole. He is about justifying and identifying with those he and his fellows see as the “intellectual pillars” of the topic. A little more confidence justified by a more thorough and deeper investigation into methods, critical reviews from all sides (not just from a majority big names in the public arena) would potentially open his mind up to the faults in the position he is now defending. But why would he go that far when he has already found what he wants and needs? That’s my assessment, for whatever it is worth.

      (It stems partly from a comment I ready by him quite some years back in which I have always recalled him expressing some degree of embarrassment about being associated with atheists who don’t conform to the conventional wisdoms.)

  6. btw I forgot to note that this “hybrid” Jesus is in my opinion what Bart Ehrman believes, though he hasn’t seen his problem yet…He believes Jesus was both a real living breathing historical human being on one hand but also an angel on the other!! What!!!????

    Does anyone see the problem here? I have much respect for Dr. Ehrman (and have learned much from him,,,,but,,,but…)…

    He introduces his thesis for an “Angelmorphic” Christ in his book on Jesus being made god!

    But this angel theory (and I have studied this for a long time)clearly suggests he was “god” prior to being human (Phil. 2…). this starts to give credence to Earl Doherty’s first thrust into this area… And if the Apoc. is quite early (which is reasonable) it is full of Angelomorphic Christology.


    1. My recollection of Ehrman’s claim is that Jesus was only thought to be an angel or angelic type of figure by his followers after his reception back in heaven after the resurrection. From that point it was a small step to coming to believe that he had pre-existed his earthly appearance as an angelic figure. Or am I misunderstanding something?

      1. For what it’s worth Neil, I don’t think you are misunderstanding anything; but I also think Martin is onto something in (unconsciously?) anticipating Ehrman’s thinking morphing into just what Martin writes. I’m also more than half-expecting, unless death intervenes, his thinking will mutate into full-blown mythicism while still denying Wells, Doherty, Carrier, yourself, or anyone else having either legitimacy or anything to do with his changed thinking at all.

  7. On the angel thing Neil, yes , there is an ambiguity which Ehrman hasn’t really explained yet..and it is a hot item among many Second Temple scholars and NT specialists. Gods appearing as men…..sounds like Euhemerization to me…. see Acts 14!!!1 which I have been reading recently…

    Good intuition and wisdom there Neil, egarding your comments…We can’t jump onto this or that point or theory too impatiently…

    Every blogger should read what you just entered here Neil, in reference to my early invitation and enquiries here by bloggers re the historical or mythical Jesus.

    Yes, 2 Cor. 5:16 doesn’t support either but it has such a “feel” in its language which seems so dismissive that can’t be dissolved or ignored with some appeal to either Greek or theology!

    It all seems very polemic to me in my own readings of Cor. and Galatians . Someone else is asserting the importance of their physical contact with Jesus….and Paul is not too impressed or compelled by such rhetoric so gives out his own rhetoric blasts against them….Again, Christians fighting against themselves…!!!! I wish the apologists would leave us alone….

    Leave us alone… your books don’t really have us in mind… Beat up on each other as you always have……!!!

    This is all difficult as we recognize….agnosticism about this issue is quite strong ….

    Again, why do we even need a historical physical Jesus to give Christianity any credibility.???..Paul seems to me to think otherwise. Christianity doesn’t need a historical Christ to make it alive? He had not met the physical Jesus ever and talks like he has a more intimate relationship to Jesus than the Twelve!!!! No wonder he goes on and on about his qualifications as an apostle ….

    Via the spirit of Christ,,not the physical Christ …many were experiencing the spirit or breath of Jesus via Paul’s teachings….etc.. ministry…..He believed he was the most free apostle of all!!!!..

    These are simply some of my critical, exegetical, and hermeneutical thoughts I am only sharing here…on a big controversy as we all know…


    1. Martin!
      When we read the word “Christ” in Paul’s letters, we are automatically thinking of Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that Paul too.
      I think when Paul says “Christ”, not thinking of Jesus. The formula looks like this, according to Paul:
      Jesus= Son of God
      Son of God is not equal to Christ.
      So when Paul says Christ, we should not think of Jesus. This makes it easier to understand Paul’s communication.

      with big respect

      1. Let me tell you (and the blog readers) something. I’ve noticed it long ago, that the Paulian leaves, controversially used a variety of names. The interpolations and false translations complicate the picture.

        So. The difference is between the (historical?) Jesus and Paul’s Christ is: the Christ regardless of historical age and time anyone can “see” him, (see the 1Cor15, where more than 500 people “saw”; here the “SAW” is a revelation, a spiritual moment), while only a few (12?) saw (here the “SAW” means real vision) the historical Jesus.

        At Paul, Christ is not a certain person, but also a revelation, a spiritual moment, a secret, the secret of God.

        1. This is what I think, because I think Mark is a Paul analogy/allegory. Relatively primitive, but is a Paul analogy/allegory, where the death of Jesus (the Man or Son of God), that reveals the Christ. In the Mark, it is forbidden to believe until the death of Jesus (like Son of God), that Jesus is the Christ.
          Look the MarkInteresting, however, that after Peter uses the term “messiah”, Jesus forbids Peter to speak of his faith, and he start talking about the “son of man”. Then when Peter began to rebuke him, that is, Peter continues to insist on his faith, Jesus calls him the Satan.
          It seems to me, that Jesus wants to draw Peter’s attention to, that he (Jesus) is not the Christ whom Peter is waiting for, or whom Peter believes.
          This whole story, it is placed in the context of blindness and vision. Jesus / Mark wanted to teach something. Jesus / Mark wanted to teach something through the person of Peter, about the faith (and about the fals faith).
          When Jesus Heals the Blind, then he does not expect the faith. When Jesus Heals the Blind, then he does not wait for the Christ- faith. It doesn’t heal the blind to see Jesus like the warrior king, as the literates like see the Christ, but because, to see a “son of man”.
          Unlike many scientists, I think Mark’s not talking here, that Jesus (whom they see) is other type Christ. Not another type Christ, but also NOT the Christ.

          1. Dear Balivi

            There is much of interest in your comments.

            Your attempts to separate terms or titles.. Jesus, Christ, Lord, son of God, etc. reflect a good attempt to clarify things…These issues are still troubling…

            The eg. being drawn upon here re Gal. 1 .. I met James….”the brother of the Lord” Well, this is another example where many scholars take “Lord” to be a sort of nickname for “Jesus”. Jesus and the Lord are the same… I am very curious why and how Paul uses different terms and also changes them around as well. eg. Christ Jesus,,,,then Jesus Christ…and so on and so on.

            Morover, Paul clearly calls his Jesus “the Lord” the spirit. Wow! It is hard to get around that one! (2 cor. 3-40

            I consider this unsubstantiated . It is clearly theological as well. If Paul meant God by the term Lord, this would mean Paul is saying that James is the par excellent brother of the Lord God among the other “brethren” That is he is singled out (using the definite article) as quite a favored leader. But as you know this is the proof-text for Jesus’ historical existence.

            I am still not sure what to do with that conclusion. All this talk of I shook the hand of the man who shook the hand of the man stuff is quite bothersome to me. Moreover, I have no clue how Paul could actually call this James the brother of the Lord and at the same time accuse James of being a false brother since he sent spies among Paul’s converts…

            Paul’s pissed off with the whole bunch…. even “the Lord’s brother!! Really!!!

            There is a lot more work we need to do on the use of titles. eg. Paul knows nothing about Jesus as “son of man”. The term is not found in his works.

            I hope we get a breakthrough sometime re the Gal. 1 text.

            In any case thanks for some of your ideas presented here.


            1. Dear Martin! Thanx for your reply. just a few ideas:
              “why and how Paul uses different terms and also changes them”

              I think this is determined by the context. When Paul writes: “Lord Jesus Christ”, so together, usually refers to the resurrected person, who is the head of the body (the church) of Christ.

              And there may be interpolations.

              “Paul knows nothing about Jesus as “son of man”.
              Yes that’s true, but Paul knows, the Son of God was “in the likeness of sinful flesh” and he “likeness of (son of) men.

              1. it looks nice here:

                “Who, being in very nature[a] God (like in angel?), did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

                rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (like Son of God, after the baptism).

                And being found in appearance as a man (as antropos; the Christ, who is, Jesus (Son of God) given by God into the hands of death) he humbled himself”

            2. Maybe this will help understand,  who is the one he considers to be Christ:

              “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.”

  8. My syntax at one point is a bit problematic. When I said “I consider this unsubstantiated.” I meant it in relation to the Gal. text, not the 2 cor. 3- reference to Jesus,,the Lord, the spirit.

  9. So Balivi

    Is it strange that “Paul” in that Phil 2 proem would not simply come out and say he came as a “flesh” being…period. Why would he say “in the likeness” of flesh???. Simply weird….

    By the way,,, there is no resurrection in that poem but “exaltation” which could well be one way of describing the Christic exaltation or resurrection. He does not say the mind of Jesus but the mind of Christ.

    Philippians in my view has a lot of Stoic ideas…phronesis, spirit…virtue, etc.

    The Christic mind to the writer is a transcendental or superior “mind” and the Phillipians must engage in mimesis of that mind…proof again of the Stoic Philosophical framework, which has been “Christianized”!

    Moreover, the text says the name given to the Christ after this process of leaving the pleroma and made a transition to the kenoma…was given the name Jesus, having accomplished the perceived work of a Messiah. The text has gnostic tinges….

    btw I just finished my translation of the NT (a six year process and product) and I translate the term Christ everywhere as simply “anointed (with any capitals) or the anointed one.

    Hope these comments shed a little more light on all these high and deep-minded discussions.


    1. Paul was a crazy. But there is logic in madness. It is better to understand the logic of madness, like following the madness. I hope, we can in this to help.

      all the best

      1. There is no such thing as Paul, and no such thing as madness. The writings falsely assigned to that imaginary Paul are composed of incompatible strata of dogmatic fiction; therefore, what is seen as madness by naive readers is iterated editorial fatigue.

        1. Yes, I understand this, but well, I do not know… I am currently experiencing, that according to naive readers Paul not imaginary, and many are following him.

        2. There is no such thing as Paul

          Somebody wrote those texts. Maybe his name wasn’t really Paul, but it’s what he called himself, and we don’t have any other name to refer to him by.

          The writings falsely assigned to that imaginary Paul are composed of incompatible strata of dogmatic fiction

          The “imaginary Paul” was invented after the letters came to be considered authoritative. The inconsistencies are evidence that the documents as we now have them contain a lot of material not in the originals, but somebody had to produce the originals, and he apparently called himself Paul.

      2. Not “crazy”, balavi. Schizotypal is probably a better term to use about Paul, and by extension the other apostles he mentions. Paul projects onto the outside world what is probably an experience in/of his own mind. An internal reality that is a part of his mental self mistaken as an exterior reality that is a part of the world, or breaking into the world from the outside.

        Can you clarify something? Are you distinguishing Paul’s Christ from the Markan Jesus and does the Markan Jesus distiguish himself as Christ from the Markan Peter’s understanding of Christ? Thanks.

        1. If I understand the question well, then both 🙂

          “Are you distinguishing Paul’s Christ from the Markan Jesus..” YES
          “…and does the Markan Jesus distiguish himself as Christ from the Markan Peter’s understanding of Christ?” YES, but Jesus distiguish himself not just that, the Markan Peter’s understanding of Christ. Mark said: Jesus not the Christ. Not another type Christ, what was in Peter’s mind, but also not the Christ.

          Schizo? I dont think so. dissociative personality disorder rather. My term: christiofrenia:-)

          1. It’s hard to understand the logic of madness. Until there isn’t teh Christ faith, there isn’t faith in son of god. The gospel of Paul “from faith for faith” understandable. There is no one without the other. Only “from faith for faith”.

              1. Anyway interesting, that before Judas reveals Jesus, what’s happening:

                “She poured perfume on my body (soma;σῶμά) beforehand to prepare for my burial.” (Mark14:8)

                well then let’s look at… The word “soma” in written form first appeared in Homer’s work. In Homer’s terminology the word “soma” means the human deadbody or animal deadbody; In the most famous Greek stage authors (for example, Pindaras and Euripids) dramas, soma as an interpretation of the body without life functions.

                Many scientists say, Judas sin were, to betray the messianic secret. What was this secret?

              2. According to the Apostle Paul, the life of Jesus (like son of god), must be manifested in our bodies. (soma, 2Kor. 4, 10)
                At the same time, Paul also speaks, he wants to be likeness the death of Jesus (Fil3:10). Does that mean, he want to die on the cross? I don’t think so. Paul wants to get in that death, in which the son of God, by God, on that night, when God gave his son into the hands of death (1Cor 11:23).

  10. Klaus Schillings comments are interesting re the imaginary Paul. I remember when I first started hearing a lot about the fact that Paul supported a “historical” Jesus in Galatians 1 and even though that phrase “the brother of the Lord” seems straightforward enough I remember saying to myself, the only way I could get around this phrase was to ask myself …perhaps there was a historical Jesus, but what if I responded and said perhaps there was no historical Paul either and that would blow everything out of the water.

    I still hold back on that conclusion for some reason. But I couldn’t care less either since I am no longer trying to defend the canon of the NT like I used to.

    Based on my own reading of Paul for years now I get haunted by the spectre left of him throughout the NT which seems superficial to me many times.

    So Paul would be a fabrication as well and not just Jesus. Hyam Macoby has shown the unlikelihood of Paul’s picture presented to us at many points in his writings and the historical context. Luke ‘s portrayal is highly suspect re: his unauthorized autobiography of Paul.

    I am also suspect of the so-called real Peter as well. Peter….a “fisherman” ??? Really now!! Why should I take Acts seriously that he was an unlearned man….read I Peter or 2 Pet. and the doubts come about..

    Peter was perhaps a priest and a highly educated writer to write such things and to teach and preach from the texts he does… and so on and so on. I thought Jesus had made them all priests!!

    There is a lot of convoluted stuff in all these texts. Also “Peter” (can’t be him in 2 Pet.) says that “Paul the wisdom teacher (not an apostle) and his letters are “convoluted” (“hard to understand” is too weak a translation of the word “dysnoeta”–which interestingly Lucian uses to describe Alexander the Quack prophet!

    And the diverse portraits of Paul in Acts and elsewhere are quite fanciful as well.

    Mr. Schilling , what are your reasons for thinking Paul was perhaps an elaborate falsification?

    If you can shed more light on that it would be interesting.


    1. There seem to be multiple “Peters”; but, apart from the Gospel/Acts depiction, they all appear to be literate and learned. Even the Gospel/Acts “Peter” seems to behave literate and learned even if he is described as otherwise and in G.Mark made to appear “dense” for the purposes of the tale. G.Mark is not at all realistic as to the behaviour of these “fishermen”, just to drop everything to follow some no-mark that says one word to them? As if.

    2. Nothing new here. Most of what I could say has already been written about a century agao by G.A. van den Bergh van Eysinga and others (Naber, Pierson, Steck) in the region of Amsterdam. Detering stored some of their works on radikalkritik.de, and he quoted repeatedly from them. At least one of them appeared translated by Darrel Doughty in Robert Price’s journal around the millennial turn.

  11. And might I add not only foils for the story ,but foils, set-ups for conflicting theologies run amok among the apostles!!! We have the texts in front us which need no interpretation to notice this but only observation… like on a crime scene…you simply observe what is there before getting into heavy interpretations and sophisticated readings beyond…. though it is fun to imagine different story scenarios…

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