Paul's character

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.
-Charles Darwin

More than anything else, what defines Christianity is the idea that Jesus came to atone for the sins of humankind because the first man's sin tainted the human race. If Jesus was God, then surely we should have learned that from him-but we don't. He said he expected to die, but that was because he knew he had enemies. A man who wanted to die for a cause would not call his accuser a betrayer. And certainly, his enemies didn't crucify him to atone for human sin.

42"He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. (Matt. 27:42)

What are we left with? What becomes clear is that Jesus died because of his guilt. The reasons were bound up in the politics of the time and had nothing to do with atonement. His crucifixion wasn't just, but it had nothing to do with Gentiles.

24"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. 15:24)

The jump from the gospel narratives to Christian interpretation of the events would be like arguing that Lincoln died to free the slaves. While it is true Lincoln's career was related to his death, he did not conduct a war with plans on getting killed.

The man who conceived this great hoax was Paul. No other person has had more influence on Christian thinking than Paul, not Jesus, not Augustine, not Thomas Aquinas. Paul was the true godfather of modern Christianity.

What the evidence points to is that Paul laid the groundwork from which the Gospels were written. There was no living Jesus before him. So the Gospels were conceived as a way to make it appear as if there was. By way of example, Paul argued that Jesus' failure to rescue Jews was necessary until Gentiles came into the fold. Then Israel can be saved.

25Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, (Rom. 11:25)

He quotes from Hebrew Scripture as saying that the Deliverer will come from Zion to banish ungodliness from Jacob. There will be a new covenant when he takes away their sins.

26and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";
"and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Rom. 11:26-27)

Bible footnotes reference Isaiah 59:20-21 which says something entirely different: The Redeemer offered a covenant to Jews who turn from transgression. -The burden was on Jews to repent. In the OT, it was unthinkable to incorporate Gentiles.

20"And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the LORD.
"And as for me, this is my covenant with them, say the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my word which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children's children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore." (Isaiah 59:20-21)

Paul is first mentioned in Acts 8:1, when he approved of Stephen's stoning.

8:1aAnd Saul was consenting to his death. (Acts 8.1a)

Acts 8:3 tells us he "was ravaging the church by entering house after house, dragging off both men and women and committing them to prison." The man had the mentality of a Gestapo policeman.

3But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (Acts. 8:3)

Still breathing threats and murder against Christians, he went to the high priest for authority to look for Christians in Damascus (Syria) so he could bring them back to Jerusalem.

1But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)

10And I did so in Jerusalem; I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, by authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.
11And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme; and in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. (Acts 26:10-11)

On the way to Damascus, Acts tells us, Paul met Jesus as a result of a flash of light from heaven and Jesus' voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me." What is fishy about this is that it is reminiscent of when Moses met the burning bush.

3Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him.
4And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:3-4)

Before he knew whose voice it was, he addressed Jesus as Lord. The voice told him he is to enter the city to be told what to do. His companions heard the voice but saw no one. Paul was blinded and neither ate or drank for three days.

5And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting;
6but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
8Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:5-9)

On the third day, he was approached by Ananias, a follower of Jesus, who brought back his eyesight (Acts 9:9-18).

"Saul increased more in strength and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah" (Acts 9:22). "After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him" (Acts 9:23). The writer was suggesting that the Jews hated him for advocating Jesus. Let it be noticed that there were others preaching in the name of Jesus without having their lives threatened. One reason he was hated was for saying Roman authority was appointed by God to punish resisters.

1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Rom. 13:1)

When he tried to join the apostles, at first they were afraid of him (Acts 9:26), but eventually they accepted him into the fellowship (Gal. 2:9). It was a naive gesture which they later regretted. (See Paul's Schism)

In Acts 9:27-28, he spoke "boldly" in the name of Jesus. In 9:29, "He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him." Hellenists were Greek speaking Jewish Christians. This brings us to a second reason why Jews hated him.

Personalities don't change that much. A Jew who would persecute Christians with Gestapo zeal would carry the same animosity towards Jews when he switched to the Christian side. This passage from Romans should clarify why there is so much anti-Semitism in the Gospels.

17But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God
18and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law,
19and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
20a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-
21you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?
22You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
23You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
24For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you. (Rom. 2:17-24)

As I argue throughout this chapter on Paul, there wasn't a living Jesus to inspire Paul. It was Paul who inspired the gospel writers. In this passage the Jesus character mimics Paul's hostile attitude towards Jews.

13"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.
15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matt. 23:13-15)

He was an admitted liar and a thief

Without need of further explanation, we learn about the ruthlessness and lack of integrity from this egoist in his own words.

He speaks falsehoods.

7But if through my falsehood God's truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? (Rom. 3:7)

He does not understand his own actions. Nothing good dwells within him. He does evil.

15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.
17So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.
19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Rom. 7:15-19)

He preached that foolishness was necessary so that no one might boast in the presence of god -Further down he said he would rather die than be deprived from boasting.

26For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth;
27but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong,
28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:26-29)

He sentenced a misdoer to be killed.

5you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Cor. 5:5)

He was in it for the money. -Of course he claims the Lord commanded it.

14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14)

He would rather die than be deprived from boasting.

15But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have any one deprive me of my ground for boasting.
16For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor. 9:15-16)

He was a panderer. -For the sake of his cause, he'll say anything.

19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law-though not being myself under the law-that I might win those under the law.
21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law-not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ-that I might win those outside the law.
22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor. 9:19-23)

The more generous you are towards Paul, the more abundance you will receive from God.

6The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. (2 Cor. 9:6-8)

He robbed other churches so it would look as if he was serving for free. -The Corinthians were mad at him for telling them he wasn't in it for the money

7Did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel without cost to you?
8I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.
9And when I was with you and was in want, I did not burden any one, for my needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. (2 Cor. 11:7-9)

He's crafty and cunning. -In other words he was dishonest.

16But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. (2 Cor. 12:16)

He can be severe in his authority when he has too.

10I write this while I am away from you, in order that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority which the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. (2 Cor. 13:10)

He profited more by promoting the Church then by trying to destroy it.

13For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it;
14and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. (Gal. 1:13-14)

God sends them a strong delusion to make them believe what is false, so they may be condemned.

11Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false,
12so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thes. 2:11-12)

Glorifies ignorance and foolishness

In Orwellian fashion, wisdom comes through foolishness; knowledge is anathema to faith and strength comes through weakness. Unfortunately, there is some truth to this: Irrationality boosts self-confidence.

He doesn't understand his own actions. He doesn't do what he wants. Nothing good dwells in his flesh.

15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.
17So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.
19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.
20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. (Rom. 7:15-20)

He was a wretched man with a penis at war with his mind.

23but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.
24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:23-24)

Creation was subject to futility to subject it in hope. -God intended for his creation to fall into sin.

20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; (Rom. 8:20)

He preaches the gospel without wisdom. -He shunned secular knowledge.

17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Cor. 1:17)

God made foolish the wisdom of the world. -Worldly knowledge was foolish.

20.Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Cor. 1:20)

God's foolishness is wiser than man and his weakness is stronger than men.

25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor. 1:25)

God chose the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong. He chose the low and despised and things that are not to bring things that are.

27but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong,
28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, (1 Cor. 1:27-28)

Faith does not rest on wisdom, but in the power of God.

5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:5)

Reject wisdom; it is futile. One becomes wise by becoming a fool.

18Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
19For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness,"
20and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." (1 Cor. 3:18-20)

God makes his apostles a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. He makes them weak so believers may be strong.

9For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men.
10We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. (1 Cor. 4:9-10)

Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.

1Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." "Knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Cor. 8:1)

Love doesn't care for facts or proofs, no matter what the suffering. -He lends credence to the saying about love being blind.

7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:7)

God blinds the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the gospel.

4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. (2 Cor. 4:4)

He boasts of being a fool who doesn't speak with God's authority

16I repeat, let no one think me foolish; but even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.
17(What I am saying I say not with the Lord's authority but as a fool, in this boastful confidence;
since many boast of worldly things, I too will boast.)
19For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! (2 Cor. 11:16-19)

The Jesus character almost mimics Paul's personality.

25 "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; (Matt. 11:25)

The Imposter

Paul claimed to be a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin and trained in the law of Pharisee

4Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, (Philippians 3:4-5)

For several reasons, he had to be lying for the sake of giving an impression of credibility. Pharisees were held in the highest repute among Jews.

1. By the first century, all tribal connections were lost. Jews were known by their sect of which the Pharisees were one of many.

2. A Pharisee would have understood Jesus as a human figure from Jewish royalty. Paul reinterpreted "Christ" as a divine title. Such a notion smacked of paganism. To Paul, genealogies were worthless.

4nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; (1 Tim. 1:4)

3. The early Christians believed in Christ from within Jewish tradition. In his early days, Paul was one of their chief persecutors. For more detail see Paul's Schism.

9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Cor. 15:9)

4. Jewish hostility towards the Romans was well documented, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Paul held that Roman authorities were appointed by God.

2Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:2)

5. Readers familiar with the Gospels might see a paradox. How is it that Jesus was always arguing with the Pharisees when Paul calls himself a Pharisee? The Gospels convey the impression that the Pharisees persecuted Jesus, when it was another sect, the Sadducees who were high priests and members of the council in the service of the Romans. The two sects were not on friendly terms with each other.

55Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none.
56For many bore false witness against him, and their witness did not agree. (Mark 14:55-56)

Paul was no more a legitimate Pharisee than I am a Christian. Strictly speaking I could claim to be a Christian because I was baptized when I was too young to know better.

6. In his letters, Paul avoids telling his readers he was from Tarsus in Cilicia, located in southern Turkey. Tarsus is so far from Jerusalem that his chances of being trained by Pharisees were remote. It would not have given him credibility because Tarsus was a pagan city. However, when Paul was on trial in Jerusalem, he told the Romans we was from Tarsus and taught in the law by Gamaliel in Jerusalem.

3"I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as you all are this day. (Acts 22:3)

A person on trial for his life is bound to say anything. The only honest thing he said was being born in Tarsus, because it automatically proved his Roman citizenship. He was on trial for treason, so as a citizen he would be judged on those grounds. To strengthen his position, he reminds the authorities how he persecuted Jewish Christians.

4I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women,
5as the high priest and the whole council of elders bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brethren, and I journeyed to Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. (Acts 22:4-5)

If Paul was truly educated in the law by Gamaliel, then he used everything he learned against what Gamaliel stood for. In this verse below, he called the law a curse for those who rely on it.

10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them." (Gal. 3:10)

7. Whenever Paul quotes Jewish Scripture, many bibles footnote his source. Sprinkled throughout is the term LXX, which denotes the Septuagint, the first Greek translation of Hebrew Scripture. A true Pharisee would have quoted directly from Hebrew Scripture. Paul wasn't fluent in Hebrew, so he quoted from the Septuagint which had so many errors in it that Bible revisionists were forced to distinguish it from canonized Hebrew.

8. According to the New International Version, he spoke Aramaic. Other bibles mislead when the say he spoke in Hebrew because the Greek hebrais is ambiguous. Paul would not have talked to the crowd in Hebrew because they would not have understood him.

40Having received the commander's permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic (Acts 21:40 NIV)

To sort this out, I'm paraphrasing my source: "Paul the Mythmaker" by Hyam Maccoby.

A study of the Bible in the original Hebrew was the basis for all Pharisee studies. Knowledge of the Hebrew of the Bible was relatively rare in Paul's time; it was the language of scholarship. Aramaic was the common vernacular in Paul's hometown of Tarsus, while Greek was the language of commerce and government.

These are only few of the reasons why Paul was a weasel and an imposter. The evidence bespeaks of a former pagan with knowledge of Hellenized Judaism. It explains why the Gospels contain a blend of Judaism, Hellenism and paganism.

Final thought

Many times Paul swore he was telling the truth.

1I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, (Rom. 9:1)

But given what you know now, would you buy a used car off this man?

Related reading

Paul the Mythmaker

Readers will have to click through Amazon's offerings to find Maccoby's book, but any of their suggestions are worth reading.

The Mythmaker by Hyan Maccoby