In my last post I started giving the principal options, as I see them, for why Paul did not mention more about the historical Jesus. Below are two other leading options. As I’ve indicated, there are probably others, and if some occur to you, feel free to comment!

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Option Two: Paul knew more of the traditions of Jesus, but considered them irrelevant to his mission. This option relates closely to the one preceding, with a major difference. In this case, Paul did not himself teach his congregations many of the traditions about Jesus that he knew, nor did he refer to them extensively either in person or in writing — not because he had no occasion to (since he clearly did) but because he chose not to. Why would he choose not to? Perhaps because he considered the traditions about Jesus’ words and deeds to be irrelevant to his message of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Support for this view can come from a passage like 1 Cor 2:2, where Paul insists that the only thing that mattered to him during his entire stay among the Corinthians was “Christ, and him crucified” (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5). That is to say, what Jesus said and did prior to his death was of little relevance; what mattered was that he died on the cross and that this brought about a right standing before God (as evidenced in his resurrection). If this in fact was Paul’s view, then he didn’t cite the words and deeds of Jesus simply because he didn’t think that they were important.

 

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