23rd November 2011

“By the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs. Paul was a literary and imaginative genius of the first order who has probably had more influence on the history of the world than any other human being, Jesus certainly included.”

Philip Pullman

9 Responses to “23rd November 2011”

  1. RJ Says:

    oh, i dont know if i’d call paul a genius……but i guess

    i’d have to go along with ”imaginative”…….’cause he was

    that, all right.

    but, as to his being the most influential person on the history

    OF THE WORLD……………. i dont agree.

    what about


    watson and crick


    andres segovia


    the muppets

    john crapper

    steve jobs


    ayatollah komeni

    bin laden




    just to name a few guys who’ve had a little influence

    on world history, too !!

  2. Angelo Says:

    Or Paul was a conman of the first order. He heard and witnessed auditory as well visionary delusions, so may even have been a schizoid. Some schizophrenics are ordinarily very intelligent, and the illness in no way effects this.

  3. Dan Says:

    Schizophrenia doesn’t fit for Paul. Auditory and visual delusions, combined with sudden development of extreme religiosity, are symptomatic of temporal lobe epilepsy.


  4. holysmokes Says:

    Stating that Paul transformed the story of Jesus into something altogether new is an assumption. Where are the facts to support this claim? As an atheist, I prefer to stick with facts, not speculation. We do not even know if Jesus was a real person. It seems to me that one must establish this claim first with a reasonable amount of certainty before commenting about ancient writings regarding his life. Garbage in, garbage out.

  5. The Heretic Says:

    I agree. The Romans kept meticulous notes on everything, yet not much (nothing?) was mentioned of these persons. The only (nearly) writings on Paul or Jesus are found in the Bible. As to who wrote about them —

    “Matthew and John were two of Jesus Christ’s Twelve Disciples. Luke was not one of the disciples, but a gentile who accompanied Paul on some of his travels.

    Mark was a Jew who converted to Christianity and evangelized with Paul, Barnabus, Timothy and others.

    Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – Never met Jesus.

    All four Gospels are anonymous in the sense that none mentions the author’s name. The traditional names – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – did not become associated with these writings until the second century. Whether or not these men were the actual authors is very controversial.” –Answers.com

    Basically it is all unsubstantiated at best.

  6. Atheist MC Says:

    This kind of follows the discussion with Xhim yesterday so in that spirit…
    Jesus would not have been called Jesus, he would have been Joshua, as I understand it Jesus is a corruption via the Greek.
    References to Christ, Crestus, Cristus et al would not necessarily indicate Jesus. It’s an honorific meaning “annointed” as in annointed king.

    Actually I think Paul is important, in the sense that christianity as we now have it is almost exclusively down to Paul. He is the one for the most part who interprets Jesus as divine, which three centuries later was the version Constantine liked and got enshrined at Nicea. That’s why Paul all but monopolises the NT once the Mathew Mark Luke and John are out of the way.

  7. Jeff Says:

    M, M, L & J have all been linguistically traced to a single source, which among biblical scholars (both secular and religious) is known as the Q document. Having followed the arguments concerning this attribution during the late 60’s and early 70’s (when I was converting from my birth religion), I personally find the evidence overwhelming that:

    1. None of the writers of the Gospels knew Jesus personally.

    2. None of the writers witnessed any of the events described.

    It is even possible that Paul himself was the author of the Q document, but this is WILDLY debatable, and not subject to linguistic analysis due to the fact that no copy of the Q document has surfaced for comparison to the Pauline letters.

    Yep, Paul, the misogynistic bastard, is REALLY important to the foundations of western civilization. Bad news for us, but the problem is not that he was a man of his times, it is that his claim to divine inspiration has been accepted by so many that his (by any modern standard) UNCIVILIZED times of accepted slavery for some men and all women are used by his followers as the basis for judgement of our times.

    Even the bulk of modern Christian theologians recognize the problems of basing their teaching upon the writings of this man – but without revoking his claim of inspiration, there’s not a whole bunch they can do. SO – the poor shall always be with us, and sending a criminal to oblivion is accompanied with the pious hope that “God will have mercy upon your soul”.

  8. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    What are the chances that Paul was actually seeing the Tabor Light, or hearing the Bat Kol. What are the chances that he was experiencing divine grace.

    What are the chances that Paul’s conversion experience, is as Dan has noted in the Wikipedia link?

    We aren’t able to speak to facts that have been lost to history, but we can certainly speak to possibilities.

    Without any examples of walkers upon water, or atmospheric bread production, the healing touch that sights the blind and raises up the cripple but leaves the amputee in his chair, the invisible hand that parts the sea, are we really needing facts to dismiss these things?

    In this forum we often get bogged down in a reliance of facts and while I love facts when you got em, do we really have to have them for some ideas to be debunked?

    I loved the way Jeff handled xhim yesterday, but if facts and a lack of them are extremes and our discourse and direction lies between those points aren’t we closer to truth than the aburdists that try and equate a spiritual (in the religious sense) world with the temporal world in which we actually live?

  9. Atheist MC Says:

    Interestingly, and forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before, but if you read Paul first, without reference to the gospels, it is hard to find any reference to Jesus the man, It’s all typically Romanic godman/sol invictus/mithras archetype with no reference to earthly miracles. When you realise that the gospels followed Paul in terms of authorship, but precede him biblically, the manipulation is apparent.