I have been approaching the relationship of Jesus and Paul from only one angle, to this point – viz., did they represent fundamentally the same religion or not? But there is a second, equally interesting question. How much did Paul actually know about the historical Jesus? In an earlier iteration of my Introduction to the NT class, this was what I had my students debate. I never could figure out a good way to word the resolution, but most of the time I gave it as this: “Resolved: Paul Knew Next To Nothing About the Historical Jesus.” The problem with that resolution is that it asserts a negative, so that the affirmative team is arguing for a negative resolution. Not good. But I couldn’t come up with anything I liked better, and so went with it.
Most students are surprised to find that if they simply make a list of what Paul says about Jesus between the time of his birth and the time of his death, they don’t need much more than a 3×5 card. I’ll devote a couple of posts to what it is Paul says about the historical Jesus, and then at least one post, possibly more, to the question of why he doesn’t say more.
I have taken the following discussion from my book Did Jesus Exist. So, what does Paul tell us about the historical man Jesus?
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