Jesus and Paul: Similarities and Differences

In my previous post I raised the question of whether Jesus and Paul represent fundamentally the same religion or not.  Here I continue the discussion by pointing out what seem to me to be the main similarities and differences between them, as I spelled it out in a post several years ago:

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I have been talking about the relationship of Jesus’ proclamation of the coming Kingdom of God to Paul’s preaching about the importance of the death and resurrection ...

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Paul’s Views of Women

In this week’s mailbag I take up a very interesting question about whether there are other passages in the New Testament that are found in all of our manuscripts but that appear not to have been originally written by the author.  That is, they were (possibly) passages inserted by a later editor, before any of our surviving manuscripts were made, so that they are universally attested, but probably not original.  That is what I argued for 2 Corinthians 6:14 (it’s ...

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More Cutting and Pasting? Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

I have been discussing instances in the New Testament where letters appear to have been cut-and-pasted together.  The key example is 2 Corinthians, but one could make the case (and many have!) that something similar is true of Philippians.  Here is how I explain it in my book The New Testament:  A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.

 

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The Unity of the Letter

The first two chapters of Philippians sound very much like a friendship letter written by Paul ...

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Paul’s Exalted Self-Image: The Fulfillment of Ancient Prophecy

I am off today to Boston for a week of various professional activities.  Tomorrow morning I will be filming a documentary with an independent film maker on some aspect of the New Testament.  After that I’ll be having lunch with about a dozen members of the blog, and then dinner with three or four.   Following that, on Friday, I will be giving a talk at the Biblical Archaeology Society FEST (a gathering of interested lay folk to hear lectures by ...

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Paul on Trial for the Resurrection

In previous posts I have discussed the different Jewish sects that we know about from the first century, at the dawn of Christianity (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Fourth Philosophy) in order to show that (a) there were different understandings of the afterlife among them, but (b) there was a belief in a future resurrection of the dead attested in at least two of the groups: the Pharisees and Essenes.   We don’t know what the eschatological views of the Fourth Philosophy were; ...

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Did Paul Think Jesus’ Body Remained in the Grave? Mailbag July 14, 2017

 

I will address two very different questions in this edition of the Readers’ Mailbag.  If you have a question you would like me to address, ask away, and I’ll add it to the list.

 

QUESTION:

I just finished reading scholar Gregory Riley’s Resurrection Reconsidered. He presents the position that people in the Greco-Roman world had a very different perception about spirits (ghosts) than we do today. Riley states that people living in the first century Roman Empire believed that dead people frequently ...

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How Can Paul Say that Jesus Appeared to “The Twelve”?

Here is an interesting question from my Readers’ Mailbag connected to the tradition that Judas Iscariot killed himself soon after Jesus’ death, leaving only eleven disciples.  Did Paul know about this tradition?  Why does he seem to think there were still twelve disciples after the resurrection?

 

QUESTION:

What do you think about Paul saying that Jesus appeared to the “twelve” (Apostles) after his resurrection? (1 Cor. 15:5) I find this to be a big mistake; given the multiple gospel stories about Judas’s ...

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Was Cephas Peter? The Rest of the Argument

I have received a number of emails asking me about the Cephas and Peter article I started giving a couple of posts ago, and most of the questions, as it turns out, are answered in the *second* half of the article, which I had originally planned not to provide here on the blog.  So now I’ve decided, well—why not?

And so here is the rest of the article for anyone who is interested.  For those not interested in all the convoluted ...

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Cephas and Peter in the Writings of Paul (Who Knew Them)

In my previous post I gave the evidence that in the early church there were writers who maintained that Cephas and Peter were *not* the same person, despite what is explicitly said in John 1:42.  As some readers have noted to me, that differentiation *may* have been driven by a very clear and certain reason: in Galatians 2 Paul confronts “Cephas” and blasts him for not understanding the Gospel.  Could there have been a major rift between the two most ...

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Are Cephas and Peter Two Different People?

QUESTION:

I remember your saying that you once – wrongly – entertained a theory about “Cephas” and “Peter” being two different people. I *don’t* remember your explaining why you’d thought that, and what convinced you the theory was wrong. I’d still like to know!

 

RESPONSE:

I get asked this question on occasion and I’ve decided to do something unusual (for the blog) to answer it.  Years ago I wrote a controversial article on the topic for an academic journal.  Here I thought it ...

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