# Did Paul create Jesus?

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
The earliest evidence we have for Christianity is Paul's letters which have been dated to about 50 CE. Unlike the Gospel writers, Paul says almost nothing about a Jesus living on earth. Paul's Jesus only speaks in visions and revelations. Could it be that Paul created a celestial Jesus only to have the Gospel writers historicize Jesus decades later? Obviously, if Jesus never existed as a real man, then somebody else had to set the wheels of Christianity in motion. Paul, I submit, is the most likely candidate as the creator of Christ and Christianity.

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
I think Jesus was based on a real person.

1 Corinthians 15:3b-8
Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. 4 He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. 5 He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the 12 apostles. 6 After that, he appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. 7 He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me. I was like someone who wasn’t born at the right time.
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity - after all a similar thing happened involving thousands of people:
About 6,000 worshippers at Muslim Village, Kawangware, Nairobi, believe they saw Jesus Christ, in broad daylight last week. It may be hard to believe, but nothing will move them, because “Jesus” addressed them and assured them of a come-back, very soon.
Note that it doesn't say where the 500 people were or when it happened.
I also think most/all of the sightings of Jesus after his death were mistaken identity.
e.g. Mark 6:14-16 Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead. While some believe Jesus is Elijah raised from the dead. And people can have trouble recognising Jesus after he supposedly rose from the dead (and someone thought he was a gardener).

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
About a "mass hallucination" - this seems to be claimed by the atheist Richard Carrier:

On the topic of a celestial Jesus:

This says the living proponents are Robert M. Price and Richard Carrier..... though there are over a dozen early and later proponents....

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#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
I think Jesus was based on a real person.
Would you say that Paul's epistles are good evidence for a historical Jesus? His Jesus looks darned unreal to me, and yet Paul is the only New Testament writer whom we can identify. Paul's letters are also decades earlier than the Gospels, and they constitute the oldest evidence we have for Christianity. Somebody needed to create Christianity, and the best evidence for that creator is that it was Paul.
1 Corinthians 15:3b-8
Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. 4 He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. 5 He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the 12 apostles. 6 After that, he appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. 7 He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me. I was like someone who wasn’t born at the right time.
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity - after all a similar thing happened involving thousands of people:
About 6,000 worshippers at Muslim Village, Kawangware, Nairobi, believe they saw Jesus Christ, in broad daylight last week. It may be hard to believe, but nothing will move them, because “Jesus” addressed them and assured them of a come-back, very soon.
Note that it doesn't say where the 500 people were or when it happened.
I also think most/all of the sightings of Jesus after his death were mistaken identity.
e.g. Mark 6:14-16 Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead. While some believe Jesus is Elijah raised from the dead. And people can have trouble recognising Jesus after he supposedly rose from the dead (and someone thought he was a gardener).
What does any of this have to do with Paul creating Christianity?

#### atrib

##### Veteran Member
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity
Or the story is a fabrication. While we cannot rule out the mass hallucination and mistaken identity hypothesis, assuming that the story is a work of fiction is considerably simpler, and thus more probable.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
What does any of this have to do with Paul creating Christianity?

I don't think Paul created Christianity, per se. I think he didn't know much about historical Jesus. He transplanted the best of the "Jesus Movement" outside of Judea. The communitarian ethics and culture, which were popular.(sorta)

Then the Greco-Roman culture finished destroying the world Jesus lived in. Within a few decades, even the Temple was destroyed. Nearly all traces of historical Jesus died along with Judea.

What survived and thrived was the Greco-Roman version of the Jesus Legend. Unsurprisingly, it developed into a Greek style epic myth. The setting of Judea gave it exotic flavor, but it's still more like a Greek myth than Jewish myth. That worked much better in the Greco-Roman world than Jewish asceticism, like the real Jesus. "Water into wine! Yay!"... Circumcision? What the fuck?"

Demigod and Trinitarian Pantheon, sure. Failed Jewish Messiah, who cares? Jewish guy dodges Pilates death sentence, Smart. We'll call it Resurrected. Then go to His party.

Yeah. Yeah. I remember His Ascension to Heaven like it was yesterday...

Tom

ETA ~In a very real sense I think Paul(and people like him) created Christianity as we know it. But not the Jesus Movement that started the whole thing.~

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity
Or the story is a fabrication. While we cannot rule out the mass hallucination and mistaken identity hypothesis, assuming that the story is a work of fiction is considerably simpler, and thus more probable.
Even though Richard Carrier thinks Jesus was a myth he seems to think the 500 seems to be a real event...
Also the idea that Jesus is just a myth might be simpler too but the Wikipedia article says that theory has two notable living proponents...

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
I think Jesus was based on a real person.
Would you say that Paul's epistles are good evidence for a historical Jesus? His Jesus looks darned unreal to me, and yet Paul is the only New Testament writer whom we can identify. Paul's letters are also decades earlier than the Gospels, and they constitute the oldest evidence we have for Christianity. Somebody needed to create Christianity, and the best evidence for that creator is that it was Paul.
So you're saying that Jesus was not based on a real person? What is he based on? Some kind of dying and rising god?
1 Corinthians 15:3b-8
Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. 4 He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. 5 He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the 12 apostles. 6 After that, he appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. 7 He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me. I was like someone who wasn’t born at the right time.
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity - after all a similar thing happened involving thousands of people:
About 6,000 worshippers at Muslim Village, Kawangware, Nairobi, believe they saw Jesus Christ, in broad daylight last week. It may be hard to believe, but nothing will move them, because “Jesus” addressed them and assured them of a come-back, very soon.
Note that it doesn't say where the 500 people were or when it happened.
I also think most/all of the sightings of Jesus after his death were mistaken identity.
e.g. Mark 6:14-16 Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead. While some believe Jesus is Elijah raised from the dead. And people can have trouble recognising Jesus after he supposedly rose from the dead (and someone thought he was a gardener).
What does any of this have to do with Paul creating Christianity?
The 1 Corinthians 15 passage seems to say Jesus was either a real person or he was a hallucination.... and it involves Paul being the first to talk about that.

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
I think Jesus was based on a real person.
Would you say that Paul's epistles are good evidence for a historical Jesus? His Jesus looks darned unreal to me, and yet Paul is the only New Testament writer whom we can identify. Paul's letters are also decades earlier than the Gospels, and they constitute the oldest evidence we have for Christianity. Somebody needed to create Christianity, and the best evidence for that creator is that it was Paul.
So you're saying that Jesus was not based on a real person? What is he based on? Some kind of dying and rising god?
1 Corinthians 15:3b-8
Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. 4 He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. 5 He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the 12 apostles. 6 After that, he appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. 7 He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me. I was like someone who wasn’t born at the right time.
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity - after all a similar thing happened involving thousands of people:
About 6,000 worshippers at Muslim Village, Kawangware, Nairobi, believe they saw Jesus Christ, in broad daylight last week. It may be hard to believe, but nothing will move them, because “Jesus” addressed them and assured them of a come-back, very soon.
Note that it doesn't say where the 500 people were or when it happened.
I also think most/all of the sightings of Jesus after his death were mistaken identity.
e.g. Mark 6:14-16 Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead. While some believe Jesus is Elijah raised from the dead. And people can have trouble recognising Jesus after he supposedly rose from the dead (and someone thought he was a gardener).
What does any of this have to do with Paul creating Christianity?
The 1 Corinthians 15 passage seems to say Jesus was either a real person or he was a hallucination.... and it involves Paul being the first to talk about that.
I don't see anything in that passage that suggests that anybody was hallucinating.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
Even though Richard Carrier thinks Jesus was a myth he seems to think the 500 seems to be a real event...
Also the idea that Jesus is just a myth might be simpler too but the Wikipedia article says that theory has two notable living proponents...

Here's something I can't help but notice.

You argue like a religionist. You commonly refer to the opinions of famous people as though they are more authoritative than others, even though they haven't any more evidence than anybody else.

That's something I've noticed about religious apologists. They tend to use arguments from authority. "An important human said..." seems to carry more weight than solid arguments from unimportant people. It's like the people who keep referring to Darwinism, despite modern people recognizing that Darwin was a primitive 19th century biologist and didn't understand modern science. Then talking about abiogenisis and superior races as though Darwin's primitive biology had anything to do with any of that thing.
Tom

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
The 1 Corinthians 15 passage seems to say Jesus was either a real person or he was a hallucination.... and it involves Paul being the first to talk about that.
I don't see anything in that passage that suggests that anybody was hallucinating.
Well the main two people who promote the kind of celestial Jesus you're talking about are Robert M. Price and Richard Carrier and it seems you don't think Richard Carrier has good arguments regarding key writings of Paul and the 500.
BTW in verse 8 Paul says that Jesus appeared to him.... most people believe that involved a hallucination....

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
Even though Richard Carrier thinks Jesus was a myth he seems to think the 500 seems to be a real event...
Also the idea that Jesus is just a myth might be simpler too but the Wikipedia article says that theory has two notable living proponents...

Here's something I can't help but notice.

You argue like a religionist. You commonly refer to the opinions of famous people as though they are more authoritative than others, even though they haven't any more evidence than anybody else.

That's something I've noticed about religious apologists. They tend to use arguments from authority. "An important human said..." seems to carry more weight than solid arguments from unimportant people. It's like the people who keep referring to Darwinism, despite modern people recognizing that Darwin was a primitive 19th century biologist and didn't understand modern science. Then talking about abiogenisis and superior races as though Darwin's primitive biology had anything to do with any of that thing.
Tom
I'm saying that those two people aren't particularly authoritative. I mean Wikipedia is saying there are TWO notable living proponents (though there are over a dozen early and later proponents). I mean even YEC has way more notable supporters... (maybe some poor reasoning there but my point is I'm not saying they're authoritative)

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#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
I'm saying that those two people aren't authoritative. I mean Wikipedia is saying there are TWO living proponents (though there are over a dozen early and later proponents). I mean even YEC has way more notable supporters..
This entire post is yet more about human authority.

If you've got opinions post them. Back them up. Discuss them.

I will, I definitely have opinions. You can as well. Just do it.
Tom

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
What does any of this have to do with Paul creating Christianity?

I don't think Paul created Christianity, per se.
If Paul didn't create Christianity, then there could have been a Jesus who created Christianity. Paul is much more likely the creator, though, because we have conclusive evidence that Paul existed but no such evidence for Jesus.
I think he didn't know much about historical Jesus.
That's correct, but there are some passages in Paul's epistles where he seems to suggest that Jesus did spend some time as a real man on earth. The aforementioned 1 Corinthians 15, for example.
Then the Greco-Roman culture finished destroying the world Jesus lived in. Within a few decades, even the Temple was destroyed. Nearly all traces of historical Jesus died along with Judea.
If all that evidence for Jesus was destroyed by the Romans, then how do you know it ever existed?
What survived and thrived was the Greco-Roman version of the Jesus Legend. Unsurprisingly, it developed into a Greek style epic myth. The setting of Judea gave it exotic flavor, but it's still more like a Greek myth than Jewish myth. That worked much better in the Greco-Roman world than Jewish asceticism, like the real Jesus.
There's no doubt that the New Testament is Hellenized. John 1, for existence, swipes the logos myth from the Greeks. If the New Testament writers were borrowing pagan myths left and right, then it seems odd that those same documents are used as a basis for a historical Jesus. Do those propagandists suddenly become credible when they spoke of a real Jesus?
ETA ~In a very real sense I think Paul(and people like him) created Christianity as we know it. But not the Jesus Movement that started the whole thing.~
Who started the "Jesus movement" and why rule out Paul as its inventor?

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
I'm saying that those two people aren't authoritative. I mean Wikipedia is saying there are TWO living proponents (though there are over a dozen early and later proponents). I mean even YEC has way more notable supporters..
This entire post is yet more about human authority.

If you've got opinions post them. Back them up. Discuss them.

I will, I definitely have opinions. You can as well. Just do it.
Tom
I'm saying that Christ myth theory doesn't make a good case. I have already shared the opinions I wanted to share (see my first post). I'm not interested in trying to argue why Christ myth theory has problems.
The Wikipedia article also mentions many of the flaws with the theory:
BTW when I looked at the Wikipedia article more carefully it seems like there are quite a few more living proponents than two.... (which goes against my side of the argument)

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#### atrib

##### Veteran Member
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity
Or the story is a fabrication. While we cannot rule out the mass hallucination and mistaken identity hypothesis, assuming that the story is a work of fiction is considerably simpler, and thus more probable.
Even though Richard Carrier thinks Jesus was a myth he seems to think the 500 seems to be a real event...
Why would Carrier believe a story about 500 people meeting Jesus after his alleged resurrection when he doesn't believe that Jesus existed? Can you explain how this makes any sense to you?

Also the idea that Jesus is just a myth might be simpler too but the Wikipedia article says that theory has two notable living proponents...
So what? You are once again making an argument from authority, and such arguments are unreliable. Also, I am not claiming that the entire Jesus mythology is fictional, just that the story of the 500 people meeting a dead and risen person is likely a fabrication. Do you disagree? Do you have any original thoughts on the matter?

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
Some atheists say the appearance to the 500 involved a mass hallucination. I think it was a case of mistaken identity
Or the story is a fabrication. While we cannot rule out the mass hallucination and mistaken identity hypothesis, assuming that the story is a work of fiction is considerably simpler, and thus more probable.
Even though Richard Carrier thinks Jesus was a myth he seems to think the 500 seems to be a real event...
Why would Carrier believe a story about 500 people meeting Jesus after his alleged resurrection when he doesn't believe that Jesus existed? Can you explain how this makes any sense to you?
He believes in a celestial Jesus that people originally saw in visions.
Also the idea that Jesus is just a myth might be simpler too but the Wikipedia article says that theory has two notable living proponents...
So what? You are once again making an argument from authority, and such arguments are unreliable.
I'm talking about a poor case of authority. I'm saying only two notable living proponents is disappointing compared to how many people including atheists don't think Jesus was a complete myth.
Also, I am not claiming that the entire Jesus mythology is fictional, just that the story of the 500 people meeting a dead and risen person is likely a fabrication. Do you disagree? Do you have any original thoughts on the matter?
What about the case of the 6000 I mentioned? (which as far as I know is an original thought when applied to Jesus - same with my theory about the mistaken identities in the gospels - without Jesus having an identical twin) Do you have a single example of a similar situation being a fabrication? In my example it actually happened rather than it being hypothetical.

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#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
That's something I've noticed about religious apologists. They tend to use arguments from authority. "An important human said..." seems to carry more weight than solid arguments from unimportant people.
Those who argue for a historical Jesus use appeals to majority and authority. It very often starts out: "The vast, overwhelming consensus of Jesus experts have no doubt at all that Jesus was a historical person." This bluster is met with cheers from Christians regardless of what Jesus is actually being referred to or what that consensus really has to back up its claim. This enthusiasm on the part of Christians for the expert majority is conspicuously absent when those experts are evolutionary biologists.

When heaven is on the line, jump at whatever you think will get you there.

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
That's something I've noticed about religious apologists. They tend to use arguments from authority. "An important human said..." seems to carry more weight than solid arguments from unimportant people.
Those who argue for a historical Jesus use appeals to majority and authority. It very often starts out: "The vast, overwhelming consensus of Jesus experts have no doubt at all that Jesus was a historical person."
There's Bart Ehrman who is apparently an atheist....
Here he debates the mythicist Robert Price:

And here he debates Richard Carrier:

#### DBT

##### Contributor
If it's true that Saul was persecuting Christians before his conversion...doesn't this suggests that there was a charismatic Rabbi/miracle worker called Yesuah Ben Joseph upon whom the myth had already begun to be built?

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
If it's true that Saul was persecuting Christians before his conversion...doesn't this suggests that there was a charismatic Rabbi/miracle worker called Yesuah Ben Joseph upon whom the myth had already begun to be built?
Maybe mythicists like Richard Carrier would say that Jesus was a mythical dying and rising god that some believers hallucinated (including Paul himself).

#### DBT

##### Contributor
If it's true that Saul was persecuting Christians before his conversion...doesn't this suggests that there was a charismatic Rabbi/miracle worker called Yesuah Ben Joseph upon whom the myth had already begun to be built?
Maybe mythicists like Richard Carrier would say that Jesus was a mythical dying and rising god that some believers hallucinated (including Paul himself).

Apparently there was not a shortage of preachers and miracle workers getting around at the time, so it's not a stretch to assume that one of them stood out.

#### atrib

##### Veteran Member
Apparently there was not a shortage of preachers and miracle workers getting around at the time, so it's not a stretch to assume that one of them stood out.
Please don't say things like that. You're just going to trigger Lumpy into posting a couple of dozen more walls of text that say nothing.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
If Paul didn't create Christianity, then there could have been a Jesus who created Christianity. Paul is much more likely the creator, though, because we have conclusive evidence that Paul existed but no such evidence for Jesus.
I don't see conclusive evidence that Paul existed. I see conclusive evidence that the bottle of grapefruit juice in my hand exists, Paul not so much.

I'm confident he did exist as a individual. It's far and away the most plausible explanation for what we do have solid evidence about. But it's possible that Paul was an invention.

That's correct, but there are some passages in Paul's epistles where he seems to suggest that Jesus did spend some time as a real man on earth. The aforementioned 1 Corinthians 15, for example.
Again, this is all a matter of plausibility. The most plausible explanation, to me, is that an unusually charismatic individual named Jesus inspired something that grew. Paul discovered it for himself, and flipped from persecutor to proselytizer. With the fervor of a convert Paul started spreading the Good News. He spread it far enough to prevent it from destruction by the Romans. He probably elaborated on it and helped it start becoming the epic myth it eventually became.

If all that evidence for Jesus was destroyed by the Romans, then how do you know it ever existed?
I don't claim to know much of any of this. I'm describing what I find most plausible and why. I know that the Romans bulldozed Jesus's world within a few decades of His life. Whatever authentic information concerning His life existed probably only as an oral tradition.

Also important is that Jesus was a convicted criminal, according to the Romans. Convicted of treason against Rome. Neither He nor anyone who claimed to revere Him could ever talk openly about the historical Jesus. Or they might wind up on a cross too. That would make it both easy and needful to start creating a legend around Him.

Who started the "Jesus movement" and why rule out Paul as its inventor?
I'm not ruling out much of anything.
I also doubt that the Jesus Movement and Christianity had much in common. A generation or two of inter-cultural "whisper telephone" turned the Jesus Movement into Christianity. I don't think Jesus would recognize, much less own, the Greco-Roman epic myth Christianity revolved around.
Tom

DBT

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
If it's true that Saul was persecuting Christians before his conversion...
The story of Saul persecuting Christians seems unlikely to me to be historical. The Romans would probably not have allowed a gang of armed Jewish thugs to run around Judea attacking people.
...doesn't this suggests that there was a charismatic Rabbi/miracle worker called Yesuah Ben Joseph upon whom the myth had already begun to be built?
Not necessarily. Even if the story of Saul attacking Christians prior to his conversion is historical, then all that proves is that Saul was not the first Christian. Yes, somebody else would have founded Christianity, but we don't know who.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
The story of Saul persecuting Christians seems unlikely to me to be historical. The Romans would probably not have allowed a gang of armed Jewish thugs to run around Judea attacking people.
This makes no sense. Of course the Romans didn't allow gangs of armed Jewish thugs to run around Judea attacking people. It happened a lot and when the Romans caught them they crucified them in the most literal sense.

That's why I think that Jesus was more like Osama bin Laden than a peacenik.
But the Apostles couldn't tell Paul that, so they only told Paul about the ethical teachings. Because he was a known persecutor of people like the historical Jesus.
Tom

DBT

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
If Paul didn't create Christianity, then there could have been a Jesus who created Christianity. Paul is much more likely the creator, though, because we have conclusive evidence that Paul existed but no such evidence for Jesus.
I don't see conclusive evidence that Paul existed. I see conclusive evidence that the bottle of grapefruit juice in my hand exists, Paul not so much.
I presume you have complete confidence I exist, yet you've never held me in your hand. (Not that you would want to.) Why do you know I exist? Because you are reading what I've written. You know that my posts need a real person to write them. We have the same evidence for Paul: his written letters.
I'm confident he did exist as a individual. It's far and away the most plausible explanation for what we do have solid evidence about. But it's possible that Paul was an invention.
I think that the Saul/Paul we read about in Acts is an invention. His story there seems unlikely to be true. So to sum up, the Paul who wrote Romans was a real guy, but the Paul of Acts is not likely to be historical.
That's correct, but there are some passages in Paul's epistles where he seems to suggest that Jesus did spend some time as a real man on earth. The aforementioned 1 Corinthians 15, for example.
Again, this is all a matter of plausibility. The most plausible explanation, to me, is that an unusually charismatic individual named Jesus inspired something that grew. Paul discovered it for himself, and flipped from persecutor to proselytizer. With the fervor of a convert Paul started spreading the Good News. He spread it far enough to prevent it from destruction by the Romans. He probably elaborated on it and helped it start becoming the epic myth it eventually became.
That's very possible, but why add the extra assumption that Jesus existed when Paul is quite adequate to be the man who initiated Christianity?
If all that evidence for Jesus was destroyed by the Romans, then how do you know it ever existed?
I know that the Romans bulldozed Jesus's world within a few decades of His life. Whatever authentic information concerning His life existed probably only as an oral tradition.
I'm not familiar with that hypothesis. I see no reason why the Romans would deliberately destroy written evidence for Jesus. The Romans wanted to put down the Jewish rebellion in 70 CE. Doing so wouldn't require them to wipe out religious documents.
Also important is that Jesus was a convicted criminal, according to the Romans.
It was according to the Christians who wrote the Gospels, not the Romans. We have no evidence from the Romans that they convicted Jesus as a criminal.
Convicted of treason against Rome. Neither He nor anyone who claimed to revere Him could ever talk openly about the historical Jesus. Or they might wind up on a cross too. That would make it both easy and needful to start creating a legend around Him.
Merely speaking of Jesus probably wouldn't have stirred up the Romans. They would be unlikely to know whom you're talking about.
Who started the "Jesus movement" and why rule out Paul as its inventor?
I'm not ruling out much of anything.
I also doubt that the Jesus Movement and Christianity had much in common. A generation or two of inter-cultural "whisper telephone" turned the Jesus Movement into Christianity. I don't think Jesus would recognize, much less own, the Greco-Roman epic myth Christianity revolved around.
If Jesus existed, then he would have been as Hellenized as as much as most Jews of his day. He is presented that way in the Gospels.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
I presume you have complete confidence I exist, yet you've never held me in your hand.
You are wrong.

I'm quite confident that you exist, but not as confident that you exist as some other things in my life, like the juice bottle I was drinking from earlier.
All you are, in an absolute sense, is little black marks on a phone. Rather like all Paul is, to me, is the character in a few ancient stories. More plausible than Resurrected Jesus, less plausible than Alexander the Great.

None of my opinions here are expressed with complete confidence. Some more than others. I've got better evidence for AtG than I have for you.
Tom

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
I think that the Saul/Paul we read about in Acts is an invention. His story there seems unlikely to be true. So to sum up, the Paul who wrote Romans was a real guy, but the Paul of Acts is not likely to be historical.
This is the kind of statement that makes the conversation difficult to follow.

I'm also quite confident that Acts includes some embroidered legend. But I think that Paul existed and wrote(more or less) his Epistles. So I don't understand what you mean by :
"Paul who wrote Romans was a real guy, but the Paul of Acts is not likely to be historical.".
Different people? Acts wasn't entirely accurate? Paul didn't exist, somebody else wrote the Epistles and attributed them to Paul? Any of those, and other possibilities, could be true. I'm not sure what you're talking about here.

What I see as most plausible I described upthread.
Tom

#### DBT

##### Contributor
Apparently there was not a shortage of preachers and miracle workers getting around at the time, so it's not a stretch to assume that one of them stood out.
Please don't say things like that. You're just going to trigger Lumpy into posting a couple of dozen more walls of text that say nothing.

Yeah, that could be a problem, especially when I didn't mean actual miracles.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Why do you know I exist? Because you are reading what I've written. You know that my posts need a real person to write them. We have the same evidence for Paul: his written letters.
By the same reasoning, we know that Jane Eyre was a real person, as we have her letters to Rochester.

#### excreationist

##### Married mouth-breather
The earliest evidence we have for Christianity is Paul's letters which have been dated to about 50 CE. Unlike the Gospel writers, Paul says almost nothing about a Jesus living on earth. Paul's Jesus only speaks in visions and revelations. Could it be that Paul created a celestial Jesus only to have the Gospel writers historicize Jesus decades later? Obviously, if Jesus never existed as a real man, then somebody else had to set the wheels of Christianity in motion. Paul, I submit, is the most likely candidate as the creator of Christ and Christianity.
You seem to be considering the Christ myth theory. The two main proponents are Robert Price and Richard Carrier. In post #19 I had videos of the atheist Bart Ehrman debating both of those people. So that's a chance for you to see some of the best arguments on both sides - and see if you still think mythicism is a good theory.

#### Eldarion Lathria

##### Member
I also think there was a real Yehoshua bar Yosef who had legends attached to him.

Eldarion Lathria

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
I'm not familiar with that hypothesis. I see no reason why the Romans would deliberately destroy written evidence for Jesus. The Romans wanted to put down the Jewish rebellion in 70 CE. Doing so wouldn't require them to wipe out religious documents.

I don't see it as an hypothesis so much as an observation. I'm comparing what is well known about the situation in Judea with the NT story as told and looking for the most plausible explanation.

My guess is that the early judean church was a small group inspired by Jesus. It was unimportant in the big picture. Probably no written records at all. It wasn't targeted specifically by the Romans, it wasn't that important. It may well have simply died out on it's own, because the failed messiah it was inspired by failed to return or show any signs of Messiahood. It may have petered out along with the people who actually knew Jesus when He was alive. Who knows?

Tom

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
All you are, in an absolute sense, is little black marks on a phone.
Is it correct to conclude that you're not serious here?

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
I think that the Saul/Paul we read about in Acts is an invention. His story there seems unlikely to be true. So to sum up, the Paul who wrote Romans was a real guy, but the Paul of Acts is not likely to be historical.
This is the kind of statement that makes the conversation difficult to follow.

I'm also quite confident that Acts includes some embroidered legend. But I think that Paul existed and wrote(more or less) his Epistles.
I think that's true.
So I don't understand what you mean by :
"Paul who wrote Romans was a real guy, but the Paul of Acts is not likely to be historical.".
Different people?
Yes. Note that Paul wrote his epistles, of course, but Acts was written by somebody else. The story of Paul in Acts is probably not the story of the "real" Paul.
Acts wasn't entirely accurate?
Yes. It's largely a work of fiction created by the early church to portray Paul as an amazing convert who heroically preached the Gospel under difficult circumstances. Paul in Acts is in a sense following in the footsteps of the Gospel Jesus. So Acts "connects the dots" between Paul preaching a celestial Christ and a Paul affected by a historical Christ.
Paul didn't exist, somebody else wrote the Epistles and attributed them to Paul?
Paul wrote some of those epistles while the others are seen to be forgeries.
Any of those, and other possibilities, could be true. I'm not sure what you're talking about here.
I don't know where the confusion lies.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
All you are, in an absolute sense, is little black marks on a phone.
Is it correct to conclude that you're not serious here?
No, I meant it.
I was trying to draw a contrast between "completely confident" and "quite confident". That's what that post was about.
You're existence, as an individual, is not as concrete as many of the other things and people around me. In the absolute sense, to me you're little black marks on a screen.
Tom

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
I don't know where the confusion lies.
You described Paul as both "a real guy" and "not likely to be historical". I think I understand, but it's confusing. You could start by explaining why you think that.

I once heard a theory proposed by some scholar. Christianity was concocted entirely after the Jewish Diaspora(~100ce). Somebody concocted a fake Greek epic myth and set it in Judea. The setting was Judea because Judea was exotic and defunct, so nobody could check the accuracy of anything more than Pilate, Nazareth, the Temple, stuff like that. All the important characters were made up whole cloth.
Kinda like Joseph Smith and Angel Moroni.
Neither I nor anyone else can positively disprove that hypothesis. To me, that would be a mythical Jesus.

Tom

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
Why do you know I exist? Because you are reading what I've written. You know that my posts need a real person to write them. We have the same evidence for Paul: his written letters.
By the same reasoning, we know that Jane Eyre was a real person, as we have her letters to Rochester.
That's not the same reasoning. Jane Eyre's letters to Rochester are imaginary and only appear in a work of fiction. Paul's letters, by contrast, are quite real. They were written by a real person, of course. Paul.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Why do you know I exist? Because you are reading what I've written. You know that my posts need a real person to write them. We have the same evidence for Paul: his written letters.
By the same reasoning, we know that Jane Eyre was a real person, as we have her letters to Rochester.
That's not the same reasoning. Jane Eyre's letters to Rochester are imaginary and only appear in a work of fiction. Paul's letters, by contrast, are quite real. They were written by a real person, of course. Paul.
Code:
10 How do you know that Paul was a real person?

20 We have his letters.

30 How do you know that those letters aren't fiction?

40 Paul was a real person.

50 GOTO 10

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
Code:
10 How do you know that Paul was a real person?

20 We have his letters.

30 How do you know that those letters aren't fiction?

40 Paul was a real person.

50 GOTO 10
This is a strawman argument. I never said that Paul's letters "aren't fiction," whatever that means. This is what I'm actually arguing:

We have some letters included in the canon of the New Testament. One of those letters is Romans. Scholars have determined that Romans was written by Paul of Tarsus because among other things he identifies himself as the writer in 1:1. Therefore, Paul of Tarsus in all probability existed because somebody, who says he is Paul, must have written Romans--letters don't come about any other way.

There is no circle there.

You don't seem to be aware that some of the strongest historical evidence we can have for a real person is something that that person wrote in which the writer identifies himself. We have that evidence for Paul.

Last edited:

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
In the absolute sense, to me you're little black marks on a screen.
Sheesh--I never cease to be amazed at what I read in these forums. You sincerely don't understand that those "little black marks on a screen" need to be created by a real person.

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
I don't know where the confusion lies.
You described Paul as both "a real guy" and "not likely to be historical". I think I understand, but it's confusing. You could start by explaining why you think that.
I said that the Paul in the Acts of the Apostles is not likely historical. The letter-writing Paul, on the other hand, must have existed.
I once heard a theory proposed by some scholar. Christianity was concocted entirely after the Jewish Diaspora(~100ce). Somebody concocted a fake Greek epic myth and set it in Judea. The setting was Judea because Judea was exotic and defunct, so nobody could check the accuracy of anything more than Pilate, Nazareth, the Temple, stuff like that. All the important characters were made up whole cloth.
Kinda like Joseph Smith and Angel Moroni.
Neither I nor anyone else can positively disprove that hypothesis. To me, that would be a mythical Jesus.
OK. What's your point? Does that hypothesis have something to do with Paul?

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Code:
10 How do you know that Paul was a real person?

20 We have his letters.

30 How do you know that those letters aren't fiction?

40 Paul was a real person.

50 GOTO 10
This is a strawman argument. I never said that Paul's letters "aren't fiction," whatever that means. This is what I'm actually arguing:

We have some letters included in the canon of the New Testament. One of those letters is Romans. Scholars have determined that Romans was written by Paul of Tarsus because among other things he identifies himself as the writer in 1:1. Therefore, Paul of Tarsus in all probability existed because somebody, who says he is Paul, must have written Romans--letters don't come about any other way.

There is no circle there.

You don't seem to be aware that some of the strongest historical evidence we can have for a real person is something that that person wrote in which the writer identifies himself. We have that evidence for Paul.
Nonsense.

Fiction can and does include anything that can be written. It's impossible to tell whether ANY piece of text is fictional or not, solely by examining text.

Your "evidence" for Paul is of the exact same kind and quality as the evidence that Jane Eyre was a real person.

To determine whether or not a piece of text is fiction, we must have non-textual evidence; Archaeological, physical, observational.

The existence of multiple texts that are plausibly independent and that don't contain known errors of fact can increase our confidence that a given text is nonfiction, but cannot possibly prove that hypothesis.

Absent incredible and astonishing advances in archaeology, any claim that any person described in the Bible, but of whom there is no physical nor independent historical evidence, is or is not a real person, is pure speculation and has no solid basis whatsoever.

We don't know. We DO know that we cannot know.

To claim even that Paul (or Jesus) might more plausibly have existed than not is to exceed the limits of the evidence.

"Nobody knows" is a perfectly good answer, and is demonstrably a better answer than any other in this case.

Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one, and they are full of shit.

#### atrib

##### Veteran Member
In the absolute sense, to me you're little black marks on a screen.
Sheesh--I never cease to be amazed at what I read in these forums. You sincerely don't understand that those "little black marks on a screen" need to be created by a real person.
Or by a bot.

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
Nonsense.

Fiction can and does include anything that can be written. It's impossible to tell whether ANY piece of text is fictional or not, solely by examining text.
I don't know what this has to do with knowing that a writer of a document existed.
Your "evidence" for Paul is of the exact same kind and quality as the evidence that Jane Eyre was a real person.
I already rebutted this claim. It is incorrect.
To determine whether or not a piece of text is fiction, we must have non-textual evidence; Archaeological, physical, observational.
Again, this is irrelevant to knowing that a real person wrote a document. The issue isn't knowing that a written document is fact or fiction but knowing that its writer existed.
To claim even that Paul (or Jesus) might more plausibly have existed than not is to exceed the limits of the evidence.
No. We have Paul's epistles. Therefore, Paul existed. Yes, we might not know who exactly Paul was or what Paul did or what he was like, but we know there was an epistle-writing Paul.
"Nobody knows" is a perfectly good answer, and is demonstrably a better answer than any other in this case.
But we do know.
Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one, and they are full of shit.
Yes. I see that.

#### Unknown Soldier

##### Senior Member
In the absolute sense, to me you're little black marks on a screen.
Sheesh--I never cease to be amazed at what I read in these forums. You sincerely don't understand that those "little black marks on a screen" need to be created by a real person.
Or by a bot.
That's right. I'm a bot. Isn't AI amazing these days? And even AI in the first century--I'm the bot who wrote the epistles.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Nonsense.

Fiction can and does include anything that can be written. It's impossible to tell whether ANY piece of text is fictional or not, solely by examining text.
I don't know what this has to do with knowing that a writer of a document existed.
Your "evidence" for Paul is of the exact same kind and quality as the evidence that Jane Eyre was a real person.
I already rebutted this claim. It is incorrect.
To determine whether or not a piece of text is fiction, we must have non-textual evidence; Archaeological, physical, observational.
Again, this is irrelevant to knowing that a real person wrote a document. The issue isn't knowing that a written document is fact or fiction but knowing that its writer existed.
To claim even that Paul (or Jesus) might more plausibly have existed than not is to exceed the limits of the evidence.
No. We have Paul's epistles. Therefore, Paul existed. Yes, we might not know who exactly Paul was or what Paul did or what he was like, but we know there was an epistle-writing Paul.
"Nobody knows" is a perfectly good answer, and is demonstrably a better answer than any other in this case.
But we do know.
Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one, and they are full of shit.
Yes. I see that.
We know there was a letter writing Jane Eyre, for the exact same reasons you have given to know that there was a letter writing Paul.

But we also know that Jane Eyre was a fictional character; So it is quite possible that Paul too is a fictional character, and the existence of "his letters" is no more evidence of his existing than the existence of Miss Eyre's letters are evidence of her existence.

Your refusal to consider this obvious and simple argument doesn't constitute a rebuttal of it.

#### TomC

##### Celestial Highness
In the absolute sense, to me you're little black marks on a screen.
Sheesh--I never cease to be amazed at what I read in these forums. You sincerely don't understand that those "little black marks on a screen" need to be created by a real person.
Sheesh, you never seem to read the rest of those posts.
What I'm getting at is that there are possibilities that might not seem obvious but are true. You could be a sock puppet of another poster, a group of friends sharing an IIDB account, a bot...
I don't find any of those very plausible, I've never actually questioned your existence an individual poster.

The subject we're talking about here, the reality of ancient stories with a zillion possible reasons for people to be less than completely accurate, makes it nearly all a matter of opinions. Then there's the additional confusion caused by primitive literary standards and conventions. The ephemeral nature of the written word. Translation issues.
The list of reasons to remain in doubt is nearly endless.

Tom

#### steve_bank

##### Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
I think Paul created his own version of Jesus. He took the Jewish out of Jesus.

Somewhere he references ohters teaching Jesus who he declared to be false. That would imply by the time of Paul peole were creating theri own versions, for fun and profit. Just like today.

If I were still driving and drove around Seattle I would see numerous small independent churches. Some in store fronts. Some meet in homes.

I was raid sed Catholic and went to Catholic schools. I wored at a place in the 80s with a Chrtian. He siad his church was hirng a minister. Knowing little about region then, it seemed odd to me compared to the RCC. His church adervtised for a minitser with certain qualifications.

Independent churches hire ministers who align with their views.