To this point in the thread I have been talking about Paul’s “religion” – specifically, what he thought was important in a person’s relationship with God. He expressed his views in a variety of ways – I have talked about his judicial and his participationist understandings of salvation, and have made brief comments on yet other “models” that he used to express his view about the act of salvation that God had achieved through Christ. In all of these models, it was the death and resurrection of Jesus that was of paramount importance. It was that, nothing else, that brought about salvation.
And what did Jesus himself think?
This is arguably the most important point to consider about early Christianity. Did the best known apostle of Christ proclaim the same, or very similar message, to Jesus himself? Or not? In my New Testament class every semester I have my students debate, in class, a resolution dealing with the issue: “Resolved: Paul and Jesus represented fundamentally different religions.”
Students are surprised by the topic. Until they do their research.
I will not devote a large series of posts to the question of what Jesus taught. For anyone who wantsa fuller scoop, see my book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. For here, I will simply give the outline, without giving the details or the evidence.
When you read our earliest Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – and apply to them the sensible historical criteria that historians of antiquity have devised for looking at such things, it is quite clear that Jesus’ overarching message was that
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