Paul and Christianity

Paul the Jew As Founder of Christianity?

by James Tabor

In Paul’s thinking, instead of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations” which is the classic understanding of Judaism, we have “Israel “after the flesh” (i.e., the Jewish people), non-Jews whom he calls “the nations,” (i.e., Gentiles) and a new people called “the church of God” made of all those whom he designates as “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:32).

The notion that Christianity depends on “grace” and Judaism on “works” is a terribly unfortunate misunderstanding of Judaism. What divides Paul from Judaism is his insistence that God’s justifying forgiveness is only extended to those who accept his Christ faith.

Untitled-1 copyOne thing historians of religions often emphasize is that no religious tradition is a static monolithic entity. Whether we are talking about Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam, the varieties and diversity within each tradition are rich and complex. Judaism is no exception. In the time of Jesus, which historians often refer to as the “late 2nd Temple period” we find within the varieties of emergent Judaism multiple interpretations of almost every subject imaginable–the nature of God, the coming of the Messiah, free will and determinism, and explanations for the causes of sin, suffering, and evil. At the center of it all was the practical matter of how one is to observe and follow the Torah, or what was believed to have been the revelation of God to the people of Israel through Moses at Mt. Sinai. One of the things we most emphasize in courses on the “Judaisms” of this period is this matter of diversity as we see it reflected in the so-called Pseudepigrapha literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, the Mishnah, and other rabbinic writings.

For a general overview of Judaism/s of this period I would recommend a few basic books: Shaye Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah James Vanderkam, An Introduction to Early Judaism Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society: 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E And most recently, Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, which questions whether even the adoration and heavenly status that Jesus’ first followers gave to him as heavenly “Lord and Christ” was particularly “un-Jewish.” I maintain that Jesus was and remained a Jew and never entertained the establishment of a new religion.

In contrast, it was Paul who might actually be called the “founder” of Christianity, with its distinctive theological doctrines. Even though Jews disagreed on how one might reflect and live out all the teachings and commandments of the Sinai revelation, especially regarding what came to be called halacha (literally “the way” or “the walk”), that is how to fulfill the various commandments, in general religious Jews, who took seriously the revelation of Torah, agreed on the obvious point that Israelites of all persuasions were obligated to live according to the commandments in order to be faithful to the Covenant. Historians and scholars seem to be in almost universal agreement that what is called “the Jesus movement,” as represented by the teachings of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, was a movement within the various Judaism/s of its time and is most properly understood in this way, rather than as a “new” religion, separate from the mother faith.

Likewise, I think there is general agreement, as far as I am aware, that James the brother of Jesus, leader of the Jesus movement after Jesus’ death, remained an observant Jew himself, based on all our early sources. I offer an overview of the important historical place of James in my book The Jesus Dynasty (chapters 15-17). The basic historical documents are masterfully surveyed here. I also want to note that Robert Eisenman has just issued in both print and e-book format new “reader” editions of his masterful study, James the Brother of Jesus, which I highly recommend. To be “observant” in this broader context does not so much imply a uniform “orthodoxy” such as later developed within Rabbinic Judaism, but that whatever one’s halachic view, one remained “in the camp” in terms of covenantal identity with the Jewish people and a concerted attempt to embody the teaching and commandments of the Sinai revelation.

Judaism, as it developed, was understood as a religion, a people, and a culture, so matters of “definition” could be quite complex, i.e., you could have one who was born as a Jew, spurning the religion, or living immorally, or even turning to another faith, and yet, technically, remaining “Jewish.” In the same way non-Jews might take up Jewish customs and observances and still, nonetheless, not be considered “Jews” in a formal sense. E. P. Sanders, in his book Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People, is one of the best summaries of this entire matter. He exhaustively explores the various “Judaisms” of the period, showing ways in which they differed, but also what gave them their essential identity, something he terms “covenantal nomism.” Non-Jews, in most of these forms of emerging Judaism, were not expected to “convert” to Judaism in order to have a spiritual relationship with God. They could function within the more universal “Noahite” covenant, and the existence of the “righteous Gentiles” or the “God-fearers” has been extensively documented during the late Roman empire, particularly by my teacher Louis Feldman’s in his Jew and Gentile in the Roman World.

One way of putting this was the adage “The righteous of all the nations will have a place in the world to come.” Jesus appears to share this openness to the non-Jew and the messianic vision of the Prophets that all nations would learn to walk in the light of the Torah’s essential ethical teachings.

Paul redefined the people of Israel, those he calls the “true Israel” and the “true circumcision” as those who had faith in the heavenly Christ, thus excluding those he called “Israel after the flesh” from his new covenant (Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:3). He also held the view that the Torah given to Moses was valid “until Christ came,” so that even Jews are no longer “under the Torah,” nor obligated to follow the commandments or mitzvot as given to Moses (Galatians 3-4). They now have a new “Torah of Christ” that replaces the old Sinai covenant mediated by Moses with a new “Torah of Christ” (2 Corinthians 3; 1 Corinthians 9:19-21; Galatians 6:2). Most historians have agreed that we are not merely dealing with a movement “within Judaism,” but the makings of a “new religion” that comes to be called Christianity. This is not to deny Paul’s “Jewishness,” in the cultural sense of that term. He surely believes in the God of Israel, Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, and the Torah and Prophets as Scripture.

But in Paul’s thinking, instead of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations” which is the classic understanding of Judaism, we have “Israel “after the flesh” (i.e., the Jewish people), non-Jews whom he calls “the nations,” (i.e., Gentiles) and a new people called “the church of God” made of all those whom he designates as “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:32).

This does not mean that Paul advocated immoral living, he surely did not. In all his letters he takes pains to enforce and reinforce the essential ethics revealed in the Torah as applicable to Gentiles upon his followers. The rub comes for Jews–if it is now okay for a Jew who is “in Christ” and thus part of this new spiritual Israel, to fail to circumcise his or her children, to ignore observance of the Sabbath and the festivals, to eat anything set before them, and to generally “live as a Gentile” in terms of observing such marks of Torah observance then Paul’s position takes him outside of “Judaism” or observant Torah faith. Such a view implicitly leads to the abolition/replacement of the mother faith. It was upon that basis that the entire super-sessionist/replacement idea that became so current in Christianity developed. Paul takes the position in Romans 9 that any Jew who does not share his faith in Christ is “lost” and cut off from God, no matter what might be his or her spiritual devotion, Torah observance, or even reliance upon the grace of God.

In recent times Lloyd Gaston, John Gager, and Krister Stendahl have argued that Paul’s “abolition of the Torah” was only directed to those in the Jesus movement who sought to force Gentiles to convert to Judaism. I am convinced that they are wrong. The late Alan Segal, in his important study, Paul the Covert: Apostle or Apostate, successfully demonstrates that Paul’s message does indeed represent a departure from any standard from of what might properly be called “Judaism.” Boyarin and others are certainly correct to question whether there was a “religion” called “Judaism” in this period, prior to “Christianity” over against which it came to be defined, but certainly one can speak of Jews and the Jewish people on a sociological level, which includes aspects of Jewish cultural identity and observance of Jewish customs associated with the Torah.

Then there is the more “theological” the matter of “justification by faith.” Judaism in all its forms has taught that all humans are sinners and can only be accepted in God’s eyes through repentance and faith. Psalm 51 would be the most classic expression of this, the Thanksgiving Hymns in the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect the same for the Qumran community, as strict was they were in their legal interpretations, and Rabbinic literature reflects the same. As a Jew Jesus expressed these very ideas when he speaks of the two men praying in the Temple, one of them a “sinner” who smites his breast and turns to God, and is thereby “justified,” and the other self-righteousness, thinking he had no need of justification (Luke 18:9-14).

E.P. Sanders’ study on Paul make it clear that the notion that Christianity depends on “grace” and Judaism on “works” is a terribly unfortunate misunderstanding of Judaism. What divides Paul from Judaism is his insistence that this grace bringing justification is only extended to those who accept his Christ faith. With these three elements based on Paul’s perceptions and heavenly visions: a new definition of Israel, the abrogation of the Sinai covenant, and the restriction of God’s grace to those who “accept Christ as savior,” we truly have a “new religion” and by no theological, cultural, or historical definition could it properly be called “Judaism.” And certainly Christians until our more recent ecumenical times would say “and rightly so!” Historic Christianity of all stripes and descriptions has embraced its replacement theology with pride and a head held high.

Paul is truly the hero of this way of thinking and only in recent times have scholars tried to “redeem” him from his own words in an effort to make him more politically correct vis-a-vis notions of ecumenism and tolerance. Countless books have been written in the past hundred years arguing that Paul is the “founder” of Christianity, sharply distinguishing him from Jesus. Joseph Klausner’s, From Jesus to Paul is one of the first and is still worth a close study, but many others come to mind, Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of the Paul the Apostle, Gerd Lüdemann, Paul the Founder of Christianity, Hugh Schonfield, Those Incredible Christians, and Barrie Wilson, How Jesus Became Christian, to name a few. My own new book, Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity explores these and many related questions. Most important, I see to place Paul in the broader spectrum of the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world as systems of divinization against the background of a dualistic Hellenistic cosmology.

5 thoughts on “Paul and Christianity

  1. Very good thought provoking points. However, I just a small question about a subtle change which makes a major difference. Paul held the view that the Jews (and Gentiles) were no longer under the covenant of the law. The law itself was still valid but it cannot save, only condemn. It cannot create a new person. This new covenant was predicted by the prophets. For example, Jeremiah 31:33, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Hosea wrote, 1:10 “…it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, you are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, you are the sons of the living God.”

    Where in the covenant of the law do we see God’s law put in the “inward parts” and written on the hearts, and enabling them to become the direct creations or children (bene Elohim/ huios theos ) of God? We don’t.
    Where we see that accomplished is in the New(er) Testament. Paul is describing that change. It is profoundly true that Jesus did not bring a new religion, he brought a new and direct, one on one, relationship with a loving Father. Thus giving the “old” Religion a new and clear meaning.

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  2. The problem is that in a present age of G-d “putting the law in their inner parts” robs people of their free will. This however, does not diminish that in this present age that a person by their own free will can choose to confirm their will to the will of G-d (i.e. the Torah). The notion that a person cannot do the law and/ or the law can only condemn is a Pauline invention which contradicts what is read in Torah and in Psalms:

    11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. Deut 30

    7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
    The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
    8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
    The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
    9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
    The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous. Psalm 19

    The contradictory nature of Paul’s thesis also lies in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus. In a strange paradox there are parts of the New Testament which appear to have missed the efforts of the redactors of the New Testament. The strange paradox seems to re-affirm what might be labelled classical Abrahamic faith:

    28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12

    25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10

    Perhaps the thoughtful Christian or messianic may possibly wish to consider how quickly even Paul himself has rejected the definitive content of these New Testament declarations of Jesus? Perhaps the thoughtful Christian or messianic may possibly wish to consider the extent to which their text has been redacted and corrupted? Perhaps thoughtful Christians or messianics may possibly consider the Jesus who was stripped and still is stripped of his most basic identity as a Jew who affirmed the oneness of G-d and who upheld the commandments of the Torah as the way to eternal life?

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  3. If I understand what you are saying it is that under the the current covenant (the one you accept as true) it would be taking away free will. But wasn’t Jeremiah (not a 2nd Testament writer) describing a new covenant? (31:32-33) “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; my covenant which they broke, although I was a husband unto them, says the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
    Also, from my own investigation of all the evidence the 2nd Testament is as trustworthy as the Tanakh. I have dealt with many who claim that “redactors” changed it to make it Jewish. I see “redactors” that try to tell me that the Church has replaced Israel. But I doubt we see the same “redactors” at work.
    King David, a man God described, “David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart” committed murder and adultery breaking these laws that YHVH and Jesus stated. Where did David get the mercy or grace to be forgiven? From an animal sacrifice? No, but from confessing his sins to God and from trusting Him for forgiveness. Right? He believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. Or are you saying that true believing Jews do not sin, and consequently do not have to deal with that issue?
    I suppose I am saying that as Paul has only identified the source of grace as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, so I see nothing in Paul’s writing that is contrary to the words of Jesus.
    The Hebraic thinking of Jesus and of the all the writers of the 2nd Testament (the new covenant) is apparent even through the Greek to English translation.
    The testimony of an empty tomb is the seal of God’s approval on the 2nd Testament. All of Jesus’ disciples went to their deaths needlessly if this tomb was not empty, for they all knew the truth. It was not a matter of faith but a mater of fact. If the tomb was empty they died knowing they were living and dying for a lie.
    Shalom

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  4. Free will is taken away if G-d puts the law in the inner parts of a person. A feature of the messianic age when the new covenant is put in to the hearts of the people of the houses of Judah and Israel will be the reduction of free will and / or merit for the performance of the law. In the present age it is the people who by their own free will, can choose to confirm their will to the will of G-d. A person by their own free will in this present age choosing to confirm their will to the will of G-d still exists right up to the time when the redeemer comes:

    20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the Lord. Isaiah 59:20 NKJV

    The redacted same verse quoted by Paul says the opposite under his pretext that the messianic age has come:

    26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Rom 11 NKJV

    See how Paul is saying that its the redeemer who turns ungodliness from Jacob, whereas Isaiah says that the redeemer comes to people who have themselves turned from transgression in Jacob.

    A feature of Paul’s theology and the redacted portions of the latterly redacted gospels [no doubt borrowing from the earlier writings of Paul] which establishes the NT version of the ‘new covenant’ is the notion of universal vicarious human atonement for sin “the lamb of god who takes away the sins of the world”. The earliest expression of a vicarious substitution for universal sin ONLY occurs within New Testament[Romans 5:18; John 1:29 and 1 John 2:2.] and not within the Hebrew Bible. In contrast the Hebrew bible clearly shows an individual’s responsibility for their own sins [see Gen 4:7, Ezekiel 18] and their own mastery over them!

    A further distortion is the idea that Jesus is the passover lamb [taking away the sins of the world]. The lamb in the context of the Passover story was a god (amongst many) for the Egyptians. Indeed some of the ten plagues were with respect to the other idols of the Egyptians (frogs, river Nile, wild animals for example). Tellingly, the lamb, a sign of fertility, was killed in the middle of the month of Nisan (Aries in the zodiac corresponds to the time of Nisan and has the sign of the sheep) and the blood of the lamb placed on the door lintels of the Israelites’ dwellings. A biblical proof that the lamb was a god of the Egyptians is by consideration of Exodus 8 which concerns Moshe’s request of pharaoh to allow a sacrifice in the desert. Considering verse 22:

    22 And Moses said: ‘It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God; lo, if we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? Exodus 8

    A question may be asked if the sacrifice (lamb/ sheep) was an abomination to the Israelites or the Egyptians. The answer to the rhetorical question asked by Moshe causes us to consider what would the basis be for the Egyptians to stone the Israelites, if not for Israelites sacrificing the god of the Egyptians?

    In contradistinction, the actions and thoughts behind the actions of the Israelites with respect to (but not only) slaying of the Passover lamb, where saving actions and thoughts by virtue of the Israelites choosing the G-d of Israel over the lamb god of the Egyptians! The Passover Lamb was a sacrifice to show ones’ allegiance to the G-d of Israel and NOT a sin offering!

    Obedience to the word of G-d is more valuable to G-d than sacrifice [1 Sam 15:22, Jer 7:23 & Amos 5:25]. And where one does need to bring a sacrifice for sin as commanded in the Torah, a primary prerequisite is teshuva or in the not so accurate English term repentance. Judaism considers the prerequisite teshuva or repentance to achieve atonement and not the idea of a penal human substitutionary atonement which the Jewish scriptures clearly teach against [Ezekiel 20:20, 21, Deut 12:31].

    Without teshuva any sacrifice for sin is worthless otherwise! With the prerequisites of teshuva in place and obedience to the word of G-d being preferable than sacrifice, the sacrificial sacrifice aspect of Torah is placed in its proper context. Without the sacrificial sacrifice aspect of Torah in its proper context, Christianity makes sacrifice for atonement alone the sole basis of its religion without any reference to a personal effort to get closer to G-d.

    However, with Passover we are talking about something altogether different. Passover is a sacrifice of allegiance not a sacrifice of atonement.

    Human Sacrifice

    Given a wider understanding of what sacrifice achieves and what it does not, one may already conclude in the case of Passover, that the Passover sacrifice draws us closer to G-d and each other by virtue of eating the sacrifice. Here also in the Passover sacrifice a vehicle is provided to express mans’ desire to forsake idols, enslavement and choose G-d exclusively.

    Understanding the context of sacrifices and the wider understanding of what sacrifice achieves and what it does not helps us to understand the dangers of other non-Israelite and/ or Christian ideas, with respect to sacrifices. A danger being that of idolatry by worship of created things instead of the creator by making the sacrifice and ‘the blood’ the sole object of worship. The Jewish scriptures clearly teach against the idea of a substitutionary atonement and instead, stress the importance of an individual’s and a nation’s responsibility for sin and taking appropriate action.

    20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. 21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked (?), declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezek 18:20-22

    The major foundational component of atonement that is missing from Christianity is how Teshuvah (repentance) is initiated at least by the death and/ or suffering of someone else or even a nation. Suffering of someone else or a nation to initiate Teshuvah is never vicarious or substitutionary, however! Teshuvah of the Kings of nations, as with case of Isaiah 52 for example, is elicited by virtue of the Kings witnessing the death and/ or suffering of the servant nation Israel. Therefore, in God’s plan, Israel’s sufferings have been to the benefit of the other nations at least in part to an acknowledgment by the nations that Israel has been the true servant of God all along!

    Animal sacrifice has always been permitted and post Sinai only under extremely limited and controlled circumstances as to time, place and intention as detailed by the Torah. Certain sacrifices are brought purely for the purpose of communing with God and becoming closer to Him. Others are brought for the purpose of expressing thanks, love, or gratitude to God. Others are used to cleanse a person of ritual impurity (which does not necessarily have anything to do with sin). And yes, some sacrifices are brought for purposes of atonement. The messianic era does have sacrifices if Jer 33:15-18 is considered.

    So what about human sacrifice?

    1 Thus says the LORD: The heaven is My Throne, and the earth is My Footstool, where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? 2 For all These things has My hand made, and so all These things Came to be, says the LORD, But on this man will I look, even on Him That is poor and of a Contrite Spirit, and Trembleth at My word. 3 He That Kills an ox is as if he slew a man, he That Sacrifices a lamb, as if he broke a dog’s neck, he That Offers a meal-Offering, as if he Offered swine’s blood, he That makes a memorial-Offering of frankincense, as if he blessed an idol; according as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;

    Isaiah 66 is talking primarily about sacrifices without repentance and chapter 66 resonates with the opening chapter 1 of Isaiah.

    You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity with assembly. (Isaiah 1:13)

    Without proper and sincere repentance it is as if one has killed a man, offered swine’s blood and blesses an idol (see Isaiah 66:3 above) all of which have always have been and always will be unacceptable at any time or place!

    Their is no hint or the slightest suggestion in the Hebrew scriptures that the new covenant is predicated on a divine/ human vicarious substitutionary sacrifice.

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  5. Thank you for discussing this with me. I appreciate your tough but respectful arguments. Concerning your last paragraph, a divine/ human vicarious substitution sacrifice.
    It seems to me that the entire Levitical sacrificial system, including the design of the tabernacle, and the divine furniture in the Temple or tabernacle speaks, the High Feast days, the Feast of Firstfruits (Jesus’ Resurrection Day), The scapegoat, the Passover lamb whose blood was sprinkled on the door posts to keep away death for both Israelites and any Egyptians who also obeyed, the bronze serpent lifted up in the wilderness, so very many things, I’m sure you can think of many more than I, in the Tanakh speak to aspects of the substitutionary sacrifice that you might be having trouble seeing the “forest for the trees.”

    Are you saying that mere repentance is enough by itself to get forgiveness? Can there be true repentance without faith in the God as your savior? Especially if He has presented Himself to you as Messiah, the Passover Lamb whose blood saves from spiritual death, and who brings in the new covenant promised by Jeremiah, and has been rejected?

    By saying a vicarious sacrifice is not necessary because we are all responsible for our own sin, you clearly and entirely miss the point. Jesus as the Lamb was not responsible for our sin, he paid the price for it. He being the only God/human is the only one who has the credentials, the lineage, and the ability to take away sin and rule on King David’s throne. He was the perfect, spotless Lamb who entered Jerusalem on, or just before the 10th of Nisan and was crucified on the 14th just as the prophetic foreshadowing described in Exodus 12 indicated. Was this not also acted out by Abraham and Isaac on the same mountain on which Messiah was crucified a couple thousand years later? God shall provide Himself a sacrifice.

    You keep emphasizing Jewish Scriptures as opposed to the “redacted” Christian Scriptures. I have yet to see a difference worth arguing about. I’m sure you know that the LXX predates the Masoretic, and was used by the early Jewish followers of The WAY that later became 2.3 billion followers of Jesus and called Christians – most of whom have clearly forgotten their very Jewish roots, sadly.

    The Masoretic text that is has been used in the Christian Bible of the modern era was not finished until about 800 AD. So I’m confused as to why do you have to have those Christians who follow someone who claimed to be the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE be liars and imagine that they redact scripture to make their points? It seems to be enough room for honest people to disagree, just not enough room for both to be correct.

    Even when you quote St. Paul’s “redaction” above you fail to take into account a few different considerations. First he was as dedicated to truth as anyone ever was. He died at the at the hands of the Nero government and all he had to do was deny Jesus to be Lord. St. Paul’s scripture had no chapter or verse references. When he wrote “it is written” he was combining the thinking of a few different complimentary passages. If he had used footnotes he could have listed a few different verses. I don’t know when footnotes or their equivalent were invented. Mostly people just quoted a partial verse to remind people of the entire passage. This is what Paul was doing.

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