The intent of this essay is for the reader who has not had much knowledge into the workings of the time period of the men we know as Jesus and Saul of Tarsus also better known as Saint Paul, who should be attributed the founder of Christianity. I have done much research into the historical time period of these two men as they have influenced the modern world as we know it with the Christian faith. As there has been much wars and strife over religion no matter the faith, Christianity has come out on top as the one “true” faith that has committed the most hanus crimes we have known in humanity, all in a god’s name. This is known by most. What is not known is what really was happening in the time period these two fathers of the Christian faith lived. What the real historical evidence tells us of this time period and not what Christians accept because of what they have read in the New Testament.
I have read many different versions of the “historical” Jesus by such Authors as Bruce Chilton, Lomas & Knight, and many more, whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic or be it Agnostics and Atheists, many of them do not really cover the historical times and events that happened in those days, but merely touch on them or past them in haste, and as I have had heard from others in discussion, they feel often like they are missing something. I would like to take this opportunity to explain this with a short but detailed historical version of the times and how they contradict the New Testament and what would have really happened. As an atheist I do not always agree with other atheists, as many others experience the same, yet I tend to keep an open and objective mind and read every sides “facts” and compare them to accepted historical facts we know to be trusted and true. There will be those who disagree with me with my working hypothesis and yes this is what it is as there is not enough evidence or proof on the Christian side to verify their claim. I base my hypothesis on the known history and what we can take as known fact from the New Testament and history when compared side by side. I hope all enjoy and that this may spark some debate. Debate is healthy and helps one fact find to verify and lead to more understanding. Enjoy.
The Atheist Apostate.
Christian history is based on the working of the New Testament and what it claims happened in a small remote corner of the world in the Middle East. It bases its events on writings of tribal and illiterate men who treated women like property and disputed laws on when cattle should or should not be grazing, and on which day of the week. Christianity claims that the events in the New Testament to be completely true and without fault as they are the words of “god”. What we have is a culture that bases their lives off of myths and superstitions, who were splintered into dozens of different sects within its own religion and under oppression from a Roman government that was foreign to them, and according to their messianic prophesies they awaited a messiah to deliver them from Roman rule. Here is where our two histories meet, the history of the New Testament and the history of accepted society via historians and scholars we can prove existed, and have left personal writings of actual events recorded by other sources.
I will start with the New Testament version of the history for the time period that the man Jesus lived which was Israel, as it is the better known version of what most people have had told to them, one way or another. I will cover briefly what the New Testament says as I will show its error with the Historical time of Jesus, and then I will compare the teachings of Jesus to those of Paul’s.
A) Jesus: The New Testament account.
According to the Book of Matthew 1: 1-17, Jesus was born into the House of David, the royal blood line of Israel, thus being one of the Messianic requirements for the Messiah that is found in Jeremiah 33:17. According to the Book of Luke, Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem, a humble birth and showered with gifts from three wise men. He was born of a virgin named Mary who had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit. This story is well known to most Christians so I will not get into much detail other then it states that they had travelled there for a mandatory census called by Rome. We are told that after Jesus’s birth the King of Israel at the time Herod the Great called for all newborn male children up to the age of four to be killed because he heard a new King was born, one who would replace him and wanted to eliminate that new threat. Joseph and Mary fled into Egypt and then reappear back in Jerusalem. We are not told much of Jesus’s youth and resume again with him along with his family at the Temple of Salomon, where he gets lost and is found by his mother Mary. Jesus we are told is found debating with the Rabbis on the word of god and what the Torah meant on law. Mary asks what he is doing and Jesus rebukes her saying he is at his father’s work. We then lose track of Jesus again until his thirtieth year or so, according to the New Testament.
In Jesus’s 30th year he starts his ministry and we receive his instruction or as the Jewish faith would have called it, his Torah’s. These instructions are laid out in the Synoptic Gospels and directly deal with the living ministry. He teaches radical new ideas (or so we are being told) and incurs the wrath of Rome and the Jewish authorities. The bible tells us that Jesus was taken to Pilot and tried, with crucifixion as his sentence. We are told that the curtains of the Holy of Hollies was rent in two, that there was a great earth quake, and that the dead were risen and walked the streets.
B) Jesus: The historical time period.
1. There was no historical census at the time period of the claimed birth of the supposed Jesus. We are told above in Matthew that the birth was during the time of Herod the Great, but Herod died in 4C.E. and the only recorded census was in either 6/7C.E., 2 to 3 years after the death of Herod, this time frame is way out of line for a possible birth of Jesus. As well, we know from Josephus that the census was taken in Jerusalem and not Bethlehem.
2. Next we have problems with the claims of Herod the Great killing new born male babies at the time of the supposed birth of Jesus. We find only ONE account of this, and again this is in Matthew. There is no recorded historical evidence of this ever happening, and no Roman-Jewish historian recorded such events. Prominent scholars such as Geza Vermes, E.P. Sanders, Robert Eisenman and the majority of religious scholars do not believe this event ever took place.
3. We do have outside sources of the life of the supposed Jesus from the Nag Hammadi scrolls, which do give an account of Jesus’s childhood and youth, and do not portray him as a deity.
4. When we are reintroduced to Jesus at the temple we are told that he is found debating the Rabbi’s. This leads us to a MAJOR problem within the Judaic faith.
Jesus was what was known as a “Mamzer”, otherwise known as a “bastard”. The bible claims that Jesus has no mortal father, and was conceived by immaculate conception. By Judaic law Jesus would not be allowed in or on the temple grounds, nor allowed in a synagogue, for he had no father, hence he could not be counted as a Jewish male, in fact Jesus would not even be allowed to be circumcised. Historically this event could never have taken place due to Judaic Laws.
5. There are no outside sources from either Roman or Judaic historians, for the claimed crucifixion of the supposed Jesus. There are no recorded accounts from any Jewish historian of the curtains of the Holy of Hollies being rent in two. There are zero historical accounts or evidence that there ever was an earthquake in or around Jerusalem at the claimed death of Jesus, nor do we have any other outside accounts from the New Testament of the dead rising from their grave and walking the streets. One must ask themselves why is it there are no other historical accounts of such extraordinary claims other than the bible, which was written by 2nd, 3rd and 4th hand witnesses, and not one book written by an eye witness?
The movement of the supposed Jesus was far from the only messianic movement of the time. In 4C.E. Simon of Peraea was killed by the Romans for rebellion in a messianic movement. Athrongs a shepherd in 3C.E., Menaham ben Judah (possible son of Judas of Galilee who was another Messianic leader), and as late as Simon bar Kokhba in 135C.E. That is only within Judaism’s period around the early Christian movement’s era. We also know that at the time of the ministry of Jesus that there were such messianic sects as the Sicarii, the Zealots and the Essenes. The Jesus movement was far from the only messianic claim in town, yet the New Testament does not mention these other leaders. Check out Bruce Chilton’s and Lomas and Knight’s research on Barabbas of the New Testament and one will discover that there was a Zealot leader named Joshua bar Abba (Joshua the son of God) who may have been killed by the Romans for rebellion at the time of the supposed Jesus. It would seem to lead one to think that the Catholic church has airbrushed a contender of their Jesus as a common criminal and eliminate him from the story, keeping their followers unaware.
I will now give a brief history on Paul before moving on to two different theologies.
Saul of Tarsus:
Saul of Tarsus was born of Jewish parents who moved to the Roman ruled city Tarsus in Cilicia, an island in the Mediterranean Sea near to Crete. His family had assimilated into the local society and Saul grew up more Roman then Judaic Jewish, and was in fact a Hellenistic Jew. Not much is known of Saul’s early life except he was educated, he may have been a Rabbi as he was a claimed student of Gamaliel, a disciple of Hiliel, both famous Rabbis in their time. It is also debated that he may have been a Pharisee… according to Paul himself. Most of what we know comes from Paul or followers of Paul, not much is available on Paul outside the bible.
We meet Saul four years AFTER the death of Jesus on the Damascus road heading to Judah. His purpose of his travels was to kill those known as “Christians” we are told in the Book of Romans. Christians were the followers of Jesus, also known as the Nazarene Movement. The term Christian was used as an insult at the time and not as a promoting term. The followers of the supposed Jesus were not called Christians, but were known as The Church of Jerusalem, a messianic Jewish sect. Paul’s teachings are not the teachings of Jesus and the Church of Jerusalem, but his own views on what those teachings meant, and I will show this simply and plainly.
The teachings of Jesus vs Paul.
The teachings of Jesus in the Synoptic gospels vs the teachings of Paul in the Post Synoptic gospels is where the confusion we have today stems from. Jesus was killed three years into his ministry and four years later Saul of Tarsus enters the scene and the birth of a new religion was born.
1. The biggest and foremost issue we come across and yet most over looked is what Jesus and Paul each say about the Mosaic Laws, and how big those implications are. Matthew 5:17-19 has the supposed Jesus stating that he did not come to do away with the Laws of Moses and that those laws would be forever binding, but he came to add to them.
Jesus: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
See Ephesians 2:15, Colossians 2:14, 2 Cor. 3:11-17, Romans 7:1-3, and Galatians 3:19 for Paul’s full teachings.
Paul: the Law’s bonds between the husband (God of Sinai) and wife (God’s people) has henceforth made the “law dead to us.” (Romans 7:4.)”. The Law is “abolished,” “done away with,” “nailed to a tree,” “has faded away,’ and was “only ordained by angels…who are no gods.”
“in Romans 7:1-6, Paul claims when Jesus died, the husband died and this dissolved. Paul said that Jesus came to fulfill the law and that law was void, Jesus had replaced it with a higher law.
Paul completely changes the teaching of Jesus, that the law is to never be broken and is forever. With Paul stating the law is nullified, and the Christians no longer under its yoke, and by doing so he did away with the Ten Commandments, which are Mosaic Law. Most Christians believe in the Ten Commandments and cite them as their beliefs, but in fact Paul had done away with them when he rejected the Laws.
2. With doing away with the Laws of Moses, Paul said circumcision was no longer required. Circumcision was an eternal covenant with the Judaic god, and what marked his chosen people from the rest. Never once did the supposed Jesus teach that with his ministry that circumcision was no longer needed. It was a major part of being Jewish!
3. Jesus taught that salvation is by repentance from sin and following the commandments of the father. Paul teaches that salvation is not through repentance, but from belief in Jesus only. Romans 3:28 is a perfect example, “man is justified by faith apart from observing the law””.
4. Jesus never taught that a sinner would go to hell, in fact he never taught that anyone would go to hell. He told the chief priests and Pharisees they were destined to enter the Kingdom of god, the same men that are claimed to have wanted him killed.
Matthew 21:31, Luke 23:34, John 12:32-33 are just a few examples of where Jesus does not preach a hell, and why is that? Jesus would not have had believed in a hell, as hell is not a Jewish concept. The Judaic faith believes all will go back to heaven (not one sheep shall be lost), that each person must go through a refiners fire (purgatory) and according to ones sins on earth dictates how long one must suffer for their sins before entering heaven.
Hell is a concept Paul and Christianity introduces us to in a new way. Paul had taken the Greco-Roman Hades and combined it with Judaic purgatory and came up with what we now know as the Christian hell of eternal suffering, where one is cut off from god eternally.
As one can see this is a major issue in theology.
These are part a few of the many contradictions between Paul and Jesus when it comes to theology. As stated before, we have Paul on numerous occasions flat out fighting with the original members of the Church of Jerusalem in theological teachings. OFTEN Paul is cited in the post Synoptic Gospels clearing stating that according to “him” what “Christ’s” theology was. I highly suggest that one does research on Paul, his accounts compared to Jesus and see just how different the two theologies are.
The supposed man Jesus did not come to start a new religion; he was one of many Messianic leaders of one of many Messianic sects of the day. The movement did not make as much of a splash as we have been lead to believe and would have remained a local movement if not for one Saul of Tarsus.
Paul came about four years later and heard of the teachings of the man Jesus. They were familiar to him as a Jew, but strange to him as well as he was not a Judaic Jew, but Romanized. Paul knew he had something on his hands, but also knew that it would not take with is fellow Greco-Roman citizens. Paul had no intentions of staying in a poor Roman province and as he moved on he took his views of what he either thought the supposed Jesus meant, or he intentionally started his own religion based on not understanding his native Judaic religion, and incorporating Greco-Roman theology into the mix. It became much more attractive to share with none Jews.
We have outside historical records of the same movement as the Jesus movement from the Nag Hammadi scrolls showing a completely human view of the supposed Jesus. There are no doubts in scholars opinions that the two records are about the same group of people, and the same Jesus, yet we see two completely different stories, and only one story claiming Jesus was the son of god, and god here on earth in the person.
What we have in the Nag Hammadi scrolls is a militant Jewish Messianic leader and his followers, one of many Messianic sects. The claims of the Nag Hammadi Scrolls, a more simple religious claim, one that did not involve a new religion that we have seen Christianity grow into.
We in fact do not have Christians and followers of Jesus, what we have is Paulism and the followers of Saul of Tarsus, creator of the Christian faith and the sole father.
-SBN – The Atheist Apostate.