Was Julius Caesar the real Jesus Christ?

Don Genaro

Jedi Council Member
I found this book whilst browsing around on Archive.org: The Worship of Augustus Caesar: Amazon.co.uk: Alexander Delmar: 9781162581101: Books

There's only one comment summing it up:

This is an extensively researched analysis of the relationships between astronomical cycles, religious mythology, and the political use of such by leaders, who were set up as gods in ancient times, with mythological alter-egos to fit. Del Mar's research found that these mythologies to be very ancient, adopted far and wide, and typically of a form that would be very recognizable to anybody familiar with Christianity.

These culminated with the great imperial cult of Augustus Caesar, upon which the title is based. As unearthed by Del Mar's research, the mythology and symbolism of the Augustan cult (which itself had been borrowed) had evidently been co-opted by Christianity, almost to a "T".

This is so scholarly and packed with information it can be tedious to take in from start to finish, and may be best read as a "bathroom read," in bits and pieces, especially the chronology of Aeras, in which fascinating facts and abound, peppered with dryly humorous observations about the absurdity of religious cult behavior.

Once enough people "connect the dots," the great importance and prescience of this work will be better known, as will the reason for its having been buried, as well as the need for the Christian disclaimer at the beginning, which may well have been inserted by Del Mar to save his skin.

Religious history buffs, prepare to have your mind blown.

You can read it for free online here as it was printed in 1900 and is out of copyright. You can download a pdf here.

The preface gives an overview of the work. Not sure how it fits the current state of research as I'm not up to speed. I included the "Christian disclaimer" because it was mentioned in the comment quoted by Don Genaro.





THE collection of data contained in this work was originally in-
tended as a guide to the author's studies of " Monetary Sys-
tems." It was therefore undertaken with the sole object of estab-
lishing with precision the dates of ancient history.

It soon appeared that many of the dates were astrological. They
were grafted upon the Ecliptical Cycle and the imaginary incarnations
of the Sun.
Such is the case with both the Indian, Chaldean, Egyptian,
Greek and Hebrew dates of remote antiquity. Even the epochs used
by the astronomers, which were in India equal to B. C. 3102, in Baby-
lon B. C. 747 and in Greece B. C. 884, form no exception to this rule.
They are all astrological.

This discovery entirely changed the author's plans. Hitherto the
work had been designed merely as an accessory to other studies: it
now assumed an interest and importance of its own. The employ-
ment of the Ecliptical Cycle for computing the lapse of time fur-
nished a key to the history and progress of ancient astronomy
, which
it was hoped might unlock at least one door to the remote past.
It proved to be capable of unlocking many. Meanwhile the author's
attention was drawn to researches of a more practical nature. He
brought the statistical method to bear upon a comparison of dates
from ancient sources, of which he now made a more extensive collec-
tion. The result was the disclosure that the Roman chronology had
been altered, first, to the extent of 78 years (sunk) by Augustus, and
afterwards to the extent of 15 years (restored) by the Latin Sacred
College. It was also perceived that Augustus had changed the Olym-
piads from five-year to four-year intervals, and had thus altered many
Greek and other dates to the extent of 108 years.

He next found that the number of civil months in the year, and
therefore also the number of days in the months and weeks, were al-
tered. The year had been anciently divided into ten months, each
of 36 days, and the months into weeks of nine days.
Such was the
case, not only in Rome, but also in the other states of the ancient
world. In Rome, the alteration was made by the Decemvirs; in the
other states it had been made previously. Everywhere it had marked
a revolution in government and religion.

It was at this point that the author resolved to devote himself to
the serious task of tracing the alterations of the calendar and collect-
ing such materials as might enable others to reconstruct the shat-
tered edifice of ancient history. What he saw about him was nothing
but ruins, but beneath those ruins there were evidently building mate-
rials, many of which have since been brought to light

The subject that next engaged his attention was the Jovian cycle
and worship, which could not be confidently traced backward in the
Occident further than the 11th or 12th century before our aera, nor
in the Orient further backward than the 15th century. It followed
that the duodecimal and sexagessimal cycles and institutes which
had been drawn from the orbital period of this planet, were not nearly
so old as had been pretended. A like examination of the progress
of discovery concerning the moon's node and the precession of the
equinoxes yielded analogous results : both were known very anciently,
but not nearly so anciently as had been assumed.

Strengthened by these astronomical aids to research, the entire
series of chronological data were now recast, condensing them as
much as seemed consistent with exhibiting their significance and mu-
tual relations, and afterwards arranging the principal ones in clusters,
with the view to discover their origin and bearing.

The result was the conviction that the basis of all ancient dates is
to be found in the religions of the Orient; and that these religions lie
at the foundation of all the religions of the Occident. In a word, that
religion was never a special creation, but on the contrary, has been
the product of Evolution; an evolution which, beginning in India,
still goes on and will go on forever.

The worship of Augustus has been admitted by so many eminent crit-
ics that there can be no longer any doubt about the fact. Its religious
significance lies in the inferences that are to be drawn from it. With
these, the author has no present concern. His object has been not
to make theological deductions, but to recognize an Historical Truth,
whose admission must, in his belief, precede all attempts to compile
a satisfactory account of the Roman Empire, or of the Middle Ages.

It will be shown upon ample evidences that after the submission of
the Oriental provinces and consolidation of the empire, Augustus
Caesar set himself up for that Son of God whose advent, according
to Indian chronology, synchronised with the reappearance of the
Oriental Messiah; the date being A. U. 691 (B.C. 63) the alleged
year of Augustus' birth;
that this claim and assumption appears in
the literature of his age, was engraved upon his monuments and
stamped upon his coins; that it was universally admitted and ac-
cepted throughout the Roman empire as valid and legitimate, both
according to Indian and Roman chronology, astrology, prophesy and
tradition; that his actual worship as such Son of God — DivusFilius —
was enjoined and enforced by the laws of the empire, accepted by
the priesthood and practised by the people ; and that both de jure and
de facto it constituted the fundamental article of the Roman imperial
and ecclesiastical Constitution.

Unless these evidences and conclusions are overthrown it will fol-
low that an entirely new view of the empire, its history, its laws and
its institutes, including the important one of feudalism, will demand
the consideration of historians and students. Hitherto the worship
of Augustus has been kept in the background of Roman antiquities.
It must now either be explained away, or accorded a more prominent
position in the history and constitution of that great empire from
whose womb has issued all the states of the modern world.



The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm maybe a third through Philip Freeman's Julius Caesar, and it is exhausting following all the political maneuvering. I'm surprised that Caesar pimped out his own daughter to Pompeius. The only context I had of Pompeius prior to starting the book was that he was Caesar's nemesis in the civil war.


FOTCM Member
Don't know if this will interest anyone, but I've been putting arguments together for the upcoming book(s) and here are some of my notes.

John Knox’s Methodological principle: In cases of conflict, priority must be given to Paul’s letters against Acts.

St Jerome said Paul was from Galilee. (From Origen most likely)

BeDuhn, p. 43, says Marcion’s prologues to Pauls’ letter indicate Paul was in prison in Ephesus & was transported to Rome from there. (Not from Jerusalem as Acts says.)

The Didache appears to be one source for some of the material in Matthew & Luke, but not Mark.

Polycarp as author of Luke?

The Great Omission, Mk 6:45-8:26, not in Luke. Polycarp excluded this whole block from his edition; it includes walking on water (disciples as dense), the second miracle of bread and fish, and mention of disciples as having unwashed hands.

Did Polycarp only know Mark via Marcion’s gospel, and not in the original? So, who extracted/redacted early Luke from Mark?

There is early evidence that the copy of Mark’s gospel that first became known and copied was already damaged; wit: the opening and ending with several unusual variants: Mk 1:41, angry or compassionate?

Both Matthew and Luke only had the damaged/shorter form which was the basis of the Western text tradition, while an early Greek copy survived with little or no damage & became the basis for the majority of readings.

Re: Mark 11:11 ff: Perhaps the Marcion version w/no triumphal entry and no temple cleansing was original to Mark? The “Cleansing” added later to “harmonize.” Temple cleansing was a story idea based on actions of Judas the Galilean in Josephus and the triumphal entry is based on the bio of Caesar (See Weinstock). Alternatively, could something of the triumphal entry have been in original Mk and removed for Marcion’s version, with editorial cut left evident in 11:11a & 11:11b?

If one operates on the assumption that Luke only knew Marcion’s gospel, then many double & triple agreements must be due to later additions in all 3, i.e. after Polycarp, at least. That’s too much editing.

The added endings of Mark were apparently created before Mt./Luke/John/Acts were written, but the abrupt end must have been what was in Marcion’s gospel, redacted from Mark at a still earlier time. OR, a stripped down version of the longer ending was present in Marcion’s gospel, with minor parallels in both Mt & Lk. This longer ending in Marcion’s gospel was added to Mark at a later time.

In the scene of the crucifixion in Mark, Margaret Froelich points out: “Verse 8:35 is the epitome of Jesus’s paradoxical message, one that he demonstrates in full at the end of the gospel. After all, the resurrection, that cornerstone of Pauline Christology, would be impossible without the crucifixion.

“The epitome of the scene’s extended irony is the declaration of the centurion,. It is generally, though by no means universally, assumed that this ‘confession’ is in earnest and that the centurion, in Collins’ words, ‘saw rightly in contrast to the other bystanders mentioned in vv. 35-36.” Froelich, “Christian Origins and the NT in the Greco-Roman Context (2016), Claremont, quoting Collins, A. Y, “Mark”, p. 766.

The centurion represents Rome, the only ones who “got it.”


The fact that Mark’s post-resurrection section is so truncated is highly suggestive of a controversial ending.

Biblical scholars, as a rule, appear to be woefully uneducated in terms of ancient practices and methods of mimesis.

The Romans accused Jews of being anti-social “haters of humanity.” Thus, the Christians accused of the fire in Rome must have been Messianic/Jerusalem type Christians, not Pauline type.

When evidence contradicts a theory, science requires the discarding of the theory. Time and again, biblical scholars have been shown to discard or twist the evidence so as to preserve their pre-conceived assumptions or confessional bias.


1. A man named Judas the Galilean was a teacher w/followers in early 1st century Palestine.

2. After inciting his followers to “cleanse the temple” in about 6 AD, many of them were captured and executed, possibly including Judas, or NOT – did he escape? If he was executed, was it a son of his later executed by Pilate? Or, did Josephus or a later redacter put the “temple cleansing” episode back in time to cover up what actually happened in 19 AD?

3. Whichever: following his death, many of his followers began having dreams about him returning as the Messiah to save Israel from Rome. They shared these dreams with others. People began having visions & declared Judas had “risen from the dead” to speak to them, announcing his new name: Joshua, i.e. savior.

4. His followers formed a community to await his return, at which time he & an angelic army would defeat the Romans. The requirement imposed on the followers was to convert Israel to full, lawful righteousness in order to “prepare the way” for the coming.

5. Thus, his followers sought to win others to their cause, to believe that he was god’s messiah/son of man, and to be ready to fight the Romans when the time came.

Thus was born Jerusalem Christianity.

Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-22; 5:1-23, used by Paul? Or Mark?

Mark 12:35-37a: Rejection of the appellation “Son of David” as the Christ/Messiah is the obvious intention of Jesus here where he cites psalm 110:1. That is, Jesus indicates that the Christ cannot be the son of David. See: 10:47; 11:10; Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3.

Fact is, in pre-Christian context, “son of David” as qualification to be messiah is markedly infrequent. See only: Psalms of Solomon 17:21.

This suggests to me that the claim made in Romans, the only text above cited to be earlier than Mark, and it is clear that Mark was using Paul, did NOT contain this statement, and it was added only later.

Jesus, in Mark, points to Divine sonship, NOT the consummation of the hope for a coming King or revolutionary.

The view that the Christ is the Son of David is attributed to the scribes who have just been excoriated.

Brandon: Jesus & the Zealots

Brandon points out that Mark’s gospel was written in response to a need or under the pressure of a specific situation. The consensus of the experts is that Mark was written between 65-75 AD for the Christian Community at Rome. Thus, it could not have been written in Aramaic as some proposed in the past.

I would suggest that Mark was actually in dialogue with Josephus who had painted all messiah types as rebels and against Rome. He probably had a specific passage about the execution of Judas the Galilean and how he was said by his followers to be returning with God’s angels to destroy the Romans. But this was redacted in favor of the TF.

It became necessary for the Roman Christians to dig out and dust off the Pauline Jesus and overlay him on Judas the Galilean in an effort to convince authorities that they were in no way connected to those violent rebels and, further, they outdid themselves blaming the Jews and painting the Romans as innocent AND aware. (Centurion at the crucifixion.)

Obviously, Paul’s letters had to be handled carefully.

Paul recognized that his version of Christianity was NOT that of the James gang. He tells us that his gospel was repudiated and his authority as an apostle was rejected by them.

The fact that Paul believed that God had chosen him to preach to the Gentiles means that he believed God’s intervention in this way was an act initiating something that had not hitherto existed. Therefore, the distinction that Paul makes between his gospel and that of the James Gang must have much greater significance than that mere fact that Paul was preaching to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews.

The nature of Paul’s gospel shows how un-Jewish it was and how much it depended on Greco-Roman religious concepts.

The great irony is that it is largely Paul’s gospel that has survived, though “brought down to Earth” and historicized, while the gospel of the Jerusalem Christians (AKA Zealots) can only be inferred from Paul’s references to it.

The triumph of Pauls version – or at least the triumph of the bastardization of Paul’s gospel – is due entirely to the war between the Jews & Rome and the total destruction of Jerusalem and the earliest Christians headquartered there.

The Roman Christians, evangelized first by the James Gang, found it necessary and politick to bring Paul back online and overlay his gospel on the life and doings of Judas the Galilean, renaming him Jesus in the process and using the name Judas as that of the arch-betrayer in order to further conceal the identity and relationships of the earliest Christians who were, in fact, Zealots.

Obviously, at the times the gospels were written, there still existed documents of early Christian activity which were later destroyed and/or abandoned to decay. A shrewd and rational assessment of the historical situation, as far as it can be recovered, might permit – even assist – some recovery of actual historical information from the Gospels and Acts. This recovery can only be limited because the complete absence of earlier documents attests to the fact of a total revision of history by the authors of the gospels and Acts, and thus their motivations are strongly in question and their writings must be queried as hostile witnesses.

Brandon, p. 200: The fact that “Jesus” included a Zealot among his disciples and is never recorded to have condemned the zealots, is a fact of great importance. For the silence regarding the zealots – a most active group, historically speaking – must be compared to the multiple explicit condemnations of the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians.

There is a similarly curious silence about the Qumran sectarians. It could not have been due to ignorance. The silence of the NT docs about Qumran is damning. Whatever may have been the relations of the primitive Christians movement with the Qumran community, the complete absence of any reference to them in the Christian documents that survived attests to the fact that these documents – the Gospels and Acts – provide only a revisionist, redacted history of the origins of Christianity.

If it is true that the Qumran sectarians and the Zealots were one and the same, the silence of the Gospels and Acts is doubly damning.

Before the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem were obliterated in 66-73 AD, the Mother Church at Jerusalem was the unchallenged source of faith and authority.

However, it appears that a few survivors in Palestine (not necessarily from Jerusalem) may have been the founders of the Ebionites. They continued to maintain the faith of James and Peter and violently repudiated Paul.

Meanwhile, as a consequence of the destruction of Jerusalem and the resulting rise of anti-Semitic feeling throughout the Empire, the Gospel of Paul was revivied, saved from oblivion, and became the source of Catholic Christianity (with serious modifications). Judas/Jesus, the Messiah of the Jews was metamorphosed into the Divine Savior of all mankind. Whereas, according to Paul, his Jesus was NOT the same as the Jesus of the James Gang!

The surviving remnants of Jewish Christianity sank into oblivion and became reviled by Gentile Christians as heretics.

The beliefs of the Ebionites, as far as can be determined, were wholly adoptionist. The Baptism and Resurrection of Judas/Jesus are what determined and established the role and status of Jesus. The crucifixion had no soteriological significance. J. Danielou has discerned a continuance of Zealot Christianity in the teaching of Cerinthus. (Danielou & Marrou, “The Christian Centuries”, 1, 18-19.


FOTCM Member
With the above background, I'm working on a more sustained argument:

Watson: Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles:

It seems to me that Paul did not understand the STO principle that may have been revealed to him in his visions or scriptural insights. Paul contrasted his gospel, wherein everything is ascribed to God, including salvation by Grace, with Judaism wherein all things are said to lie within the power of the individual (saved by Works.)

The principle of STO suggests that it is only via and within a network that humans can grow and graduate, i.e. that the Christ spirit can manifest. Does allegiance to a template (Caesar/Jesus) facilitate this networking? If so, perhaps Paul did understand.

Paul’s antithesis arises from an essential and explicitly “sectarian” re-reading of scripture.

When Paul says that “by works of the law shall no flesh be justified,” (Rom 3:20), he means that the practice of the law of Moses within the Jewish community is NOT the divinely ordained way of living that obtains righteousness before God. (p. 19)

Paul was a Jew arguing with his contemporaries about the true meaning of the scriptures. His communities were intended to be sharply separated from Jewish communities. This separation was justified by an ideology that explained to the group why this separation was necessary. He created this ideology using the same texts that the Jews used. This separation in the form of the ongoing argument about the interpretation of scripture, was intended to show the TRUE meaning of scripture, thereby justifying why the texts actually belonged to the Paulines and not the Jews, whether traditional or Christian.

For Paul, Judaizing Christianity was a monstrosity. But did he feel this way at the beginning, right after his conversion, or did it grow over time?

The Lutherans believed that Paul’s preaching about faith vs works was an attack on the idea that righteousness can be achieved by one’s own efforts in any context or milieu.

Ferdinand Christian Baur thought that Paul’s point was to lay down expressly Christian universalism as opposed to Jewish particularism – to do away with Jewish exclusiveness – that Judaism as a “Way” is null and void.

The doctrine of justification by faith was hammered out by Paul for the very specific and limited purpose of defending the rights of Gentile converts to be full and genuine heirs to the promises of God to Israel (p. 45)

H. Raisanen argues that Paul’s statements about the law are so full of contradictions as to be completely incoherent. (p. 49)

Paul’s appeal to his divine calling (Gal 1:15-17) does not provide a sufficient explanation of the origins of his Gentile mission. (p. 58)

Paul’s Gentile mission long pre-dates the extant texts.

The contingent historical factors that occasioned Pauline Gentile mission are elusive and hard to identify since adequate evidence is not forthcoming. (p. 61)

Study of the story of the conversion of Cornelius the Centurion (Acts 10:1-11:18) for possible clues as to the origin of the Gentile mission. (p. 61)

Many Jews obviously accepted the gospel of the James Gang – witness Josephus and the participation of Zealots in the Jewish rebellion against Rome. But Jews and Jewish Christians clearly rejected Paul’s version. Thus, Romans 9-11 MUST be an interpolation. Question is: WAS this written by Paul? (see Watson p. 81)

On the surface, Paul MAY have taught the James’ Gang party line that Jesus was the name of the messiah who was coming to destroy the Romans, but it seems almost certain that he identified HIS Jesus with an entirely different historical person than Judas the Galilean who was the Jewish Messiah.

-> Paul’s vision “14 years ago”? 3rd heaven and all that? When was this in his timeline? Do we assume it was his initial conversion?

29 – Conversion in 15th year of Tiberius (10 years after execution of Judas)

32 – escape from Damascus, 1st visit to Jerusalem, visit Peter.

43 – “14 years ago” vision? 2 Cor 12:2

46 – 14 years after 1st visit, 2nd visit to Jerusalem? Hand of fellowship, collection.

If the above is correct, this would date the writing of 2 Cor 1-9 which was one letter distinct from 2 Cor 10-13 and would also give some idea of the itinerary of Paul at that time. That is, 1 and 2 Thess and 1 and 2 and a 3rd Corinthians must have been written between 43 and 46. But why, then, does he speak of the collection in 1 Cor 16:1-2, where he also references the directions he gave to the churches in Galatia where the very negative events were to happen which were assuredly AFTER the 2nd visit. That means he evangelized Galatia early too, contrary to Watson. And also means that the Corinthian letters are either later, or have been redacted to give the appearance of the ongoing collection activity. Needs study.

This means that Paul may have begun his mission proclaiming Jesus/Judas, but a crucial shift took place between his 1st and 2nd visit to Jerusalem. That also means that he concealed what he was teaching from the James Gang at the time of the 2nd visit.

Jewish messianism was resisted initially by the Jewish elite because they were concerned about their standing with Rome, the source of their wealth & power. See Josephus. Could Paul have been aligned with this elite and that is why he said he “persecuted” the Church?

But Roman brutality eventually turned almost all Jews against Rome and when the rebellion actually began, even the elite came over, hoping to retain their status in the event the rebellion succeeded. (Josephus).

So, basically, it can be said that the Jews DID accept the James Gang’s gospel of Judas the Galilean as Messiah, but their messiah never showed up!

Thus, Paul was vindicated later. If Paul had been preaching the SAME MESSIAH, he would have gone into oblivion along with the Jerusalem Church.

It was Mark who amalgamated the two Messiahs, indicating that he was NOT a Pauline insider and did NOT know the real scoop about Paul’s Messiah. Plus, this suggests that Paul’s letters must have alredy been edited somewhat by the time Mark saw them. Either that, or he fully understood Paul’s version, but combined it with the Jewish messiah deliberately and fraudulently for his own purposes, or the purposes of his group.

Watson states that it is because of his experiences of Jewish rejection of the gospel and the gentile openness to it that caused Paul to reflect on the law of Moses in a polemic way – the law being the foundational document for the Jews and the gospel. Watson says that the Jews rejected the claim that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

However, as noted above, the real history shows that, in fact, the vast majority of Jews actually DID accept the preaching of the Zealot James Gang – witness the Revolt Against Rome.

Thus, if Paul experienced early rejection by Jews, it had to be because he was preaching more than a different goepel, but a different messiah altogether. Only after 70 AD was Jesus of Nazareth created by amalgamating Paul’s Jesus with an emasculated, stripped down version of Judas the Galilean. (See Watson, p. 99)

Regarding Paul’s 2nd visit to Jerusalem where he proclaimed his successful missions, and received “the hand of fellowship”, the James Gang were “more interested in the Gentile converts’ financial resources than in their foreskins…” (Watson, 106)

But somehow, things got ugly fast after Paul’s 2nd visit to Jerusalem, in Galatia in particular.

From Watson:

‘”The theological argument of Galatians is characterized by its frequent use of antitheses, especially the fundamental antithesis between “faith” and “works” that has played such an important part in Western theology since the Reformation. According to the Reformation tradition, this antithesis portrays two possible human responses to God. The way of “work” is the way of morality and/or religious observance, in which one tries to pleas God and earn salvation by scrupulous obedience to God’s commandments. The way of “faith” is the way of submission to God’s grace, which comes to us as a sheer gift, quite apart from all moral attainment.

“…key points in this theology are not there in Paul at all. For Paul, the expression “works (of law): refer not to morality in general but to the practice of the law within ghe Jewish community; and the expression “faith (of Jesus Christ)” refers not to a willingness to receive God’s grace as a free gift and to renounce reliance on one’s own achievements, but to the Christian confession of Jesus as the Messiah and the social reorientation that this entails (Gal. 2:16). …

“The antithesis between faith and works does not express a general theoretical opposition between two incompatible views of the divine-human relationship. Rather, it articulates the Pauline conviction that the church should be separate and distinct from the Jewish community.

“The faith/works antithesis thus has only a limited function… For Pau, faith includes within itself a commitment to Christian norms of behavior. From a sociological perspective, “faith” represents a radical social reorientation. It entails a breach with characteristic norms and beliefs of one’s previous social environment, and the adoption of new norms and beliefs within a new social environment. The transition from the old to the new takes place in baptism. For Paul, faith is inconceivable without, for example, the abandonment of participation in idolatry (1 Thess 1:9) or the practice of “love, i.e. commitment ot the new community and its members. It is not simply that these things follow from faith, so that one could theretically distinguish them from faith. On the contrary, faith is the abandonment of old norms and beliefs and the adoption of new ones.


“Faith for Paul is thus essentially active – an action enabled by the kerygma. There is no question of an antithesis between a passive reception of the gift of salvation followed by secondary active consequences. Paul can therefore state quite consistently that certain prohibited forms of conduct prevent people from entering the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21) and warn: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatsoever a person sows, that he will also reap. For one who sows the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but one who sows to the spirit will from the spirit reap eternal life. (Gal 6:7-8).

“Paul is not contradicting himself when he makes salvation dependent here on one’s behavior and elsewhere on the faith generated by God’s saving act in Christ, for Christian conduct is integral to faith. The faith/works antithesis is not an antithesis between faith and morality-in-general but an antithesis between life as a Christian, with its distinctive beliefs and practices, and life as an observant Jew.” (Watson, pp. 121-123, exc.)

Paul does not separate faith from ethics. Nor does he separate works from the context of the divine covenant with Israel.

And this could only be the case if Paul’s Christ was founded on a different historical basis/person. Because certainly, the whole concept of the James’ Gang/Zealot preaching/gospel was that Jews had to become righteous Jews AS Jews in order to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah/son of man with his legions of angels to destroy Rome and restore the Jews autonomy, or even domination over all the nations.

For Paul, FAITH stands for the reorientation in its totality – a reorientation grounded in a prior divine action that is recognized by the individual, and accepted as true.

“Faith” and “works” stand as synecdoches for mutually exclusive cosmic schemes and human responses to same. Paul never meant Faith as it was interpreted by the Reformation.

Some have said that Paul opposed “works” as “external religious rites, sacramentalism, etc; but that cannot be the case because he instituted his own sacraments: the Eucharist and Baptism. Thus it can be seen that Paul opposed circumcision because it represented entry and continuing membership in the Jewish religious community.

Watson: “Divine grace operates rather differently in the two ‘patterns of religion’, and the divergent views correspond to the fact that membership of the Jewish community is dependent primarily on birth, whereas membership of a Pauline community is dependent on conversion. Any religious group that declares the necessity of conversion is likely to emphasize the distinction between the old life and the new. The old life is characterized by sin, ignorance, and death, and against this dark background the nature of the new life as a miraculous divine gift will shine out all the more brightly. Romans 5:12 - 6:23 is perhaps the clearest Pauline exposition of this viewpoint which might also be illustrated from the Qumran Hodayoth… such groups take a dynamic view of God’s grace in contrast to the more static view of grace in groups where membership is determined by birth and upbringing. But this is by no means the same as the alleged Pauline contrast between salvation as a pure gift and salvation as human achievement. Even if in some passages, Paul does stress the idea of the miraculous divine gift, in others he stresses the human activity through which the gift is appropriated. The first group of passages has the function of reinforcing the community’s belief that it originates in a supreme act of creative and gracious divine agency. The second group of passages has the function of reinforcing the norms of conduct that give the group its identity.


“It is therefore correct to say, as E. P. Sanders does, that Paul opposes Judaism not because of any inherent errors such as “self-righteousness” or “legalism”, but simply because it is not Christianity.

“The opposition of faith and works is contingent rather than necessary, concrete rather than abstract.” (pp. 124-126, exc.)

All of the above strongly implies – even demands – that Paul was not preaching the Jewish messiah, Judas the Galilean as Jesus, but was preaching a very different Jesus anchored to a different historical personage.

It is interesting also to note that Paul identifies the Galatian agitators as Christian Jews, yet his theological argument is directed against Judaism which suggests that the line between the two was almost non-existent and that the gospel of the James Gang was more widely accepted among Jews than is usually thought by theologians who have not studied the historical and sociological context. Paul does not, apparently, regard the distinction between Christian and non-Christian Judaism as significant.

The Reorientation to a new life is enabled by Paul’s gospel message that there IS a savior for all humanity.

“Faith, though undeniably a human action, is fundamentally oriented toward the divine action that it acknowledges.” (p. 129)

Re: the above, see Engborg-Pederson.

Gal 5:2-12: “Paul grounds here his insistence on the incompatibility of allegiance to Christ with membership of the Jewish community not on further theological argumentation, but on his own apostolic authority: the two things are incompatible because he says they are. Once again, it is clear that Pauline antithesis asserts the separation of the church from the synagogue, but does not explain theologically why such a separation is necessary. Theological arguments for the church’s distinct existence occur not in Paul’s antitheses per se but in his reinterpretations of scriptural traditions.” (p. 131)

“The [Galatian] agitator appear to have claimed that the promises of salvation were originally bestowed on Abraham and his seed and that the seed or children of Abraham are those who are circumcised and law observant. … Thus their understanding of Christ is set in the framework of the Jewish community as a whole. For them, although no longer for Paul, Jesus is still a thoroughly and exclusively Jewish messiah.” (p. 131)

That is, Judas the Galilean as Jesus, who is coming post haste to destroy the Romans and establish the rule of the Jews over all nations. “If you want to get in on the ground floor as a world ruler and judge, get your circumcision now!”

Paul then reinterprets the scriptures, the question being “who is the seed of Abraham?”

There seems to me to be something missing between Gal. 3:5 and 6 so that 6 appears to interrupt the flow. Vs. 8 says “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Godpel beforehand to Abraham saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” Vs. 10 appears to pick up where v. 5 left off; so either we have an interpolation here, or a chunk is missing between 5 and 6 that describes exactly what Paul meant in v. 8. I would expect it to be some other scriptural references such as those known to refer to Cyrus in Isaiah such as 42:1, 5-8; 45: 1-25; 51:2-6; because it seems certain that Paul saw particular passages in Isaiah as applying to himself, such as Isaiah 49:1-6; 52:7, 13-15; 53:1-12, and so on. The “Suffering Servant” chapter of Isaiah has long been assumed to be one of the models for the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth (i.e. the mythical Jesus), but based on many remarks made by Paul, it might be said that he took this as his own template.

In any event, even lacking a more sustained argument which appears to have been redacted from between Gal 3:5 and 6, Paul states that “seed” refers not to the Jewish people, but to those who are “in Christ”. That is, Paul, in one stroke of the pen, disinherits the Jews. Scripture is reinterpreted to show that Gentile believers share in the “blessing of Abraham” while the Jews are under a curse because they received the Law hundreds of years after Abraham which basically nullified their previous promise when they accepted the “new rules”. Not only that, but the law consists of two parts: Blessings and Curses and the entire subsequent history of Israel stands under the shadow of the curse.

This, of course, makes one wonder about the scene of the stoning of Stephen in Acts. Paul states at one point that he had been stoned (obviously not to the point of death), and Stephen is an otherwise unknown individual apparently just created out of thin air by the Lukan author; and Stephen delivers a stunning take-down of the Jews just before being stoned with the future apostle Paul supposedly in attendance.

Several features of this story are borrowed from Mark’s account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. But, notice this: Stephen’s speech begins with Abraham (Acts 7:2-5). This is followed by a lot of Lukan padding. Then, the topic of the rebellion against Moses is brought in at v. 39 followed by a quote from Amos 5:25-27. Then more Lukan padding until v. 48 where this very Pauline diatribe is delivered:

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says, 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?' "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it." (through v. 53)

It is now becoming more widely accepted that the Lukan author (probably Polycarp) not only used Josephus and other texts to compose his gospel and Acts, he also had access to Paul’s letters.

So, my question is: is it possible that a few bits of what seems to be missing between Gal. 3: 5 and 6, made it into Stephen’s speech, that Stephen himself was partly modeled on Paul, and that the relationship clue is in the proximity of the fictional Paul of Acts to Stephen in this dramatic scene?

It seems certain that the persecution of Christians by Jews as depicted in Acts never occurred. That doesn’t mean that Zealots were not hunted down by the Romans, or betrayed by the Jewish elite when it suited their purposes, so the model for this scenario could have been the action of Tiberius Alexander against Zealots and other rebels.

Getting back to Paul’s argument as to who are really the heirs of Abraham: Paul argues that the law has nothing to do with the promise ot Abraham because it was impossible for the Divine Will to change or be altered by the introduction of new stipulations. (Gal 3:15-18). Again, Paul’s arguments are grounded in scripture: 1) the contrast between what was said to Abraham and what was said at Sinai; 2) the unconditional promise to Abraham is said by Paul not to be related to the salvation of Jews, but an unconditional salvation tied to the coming of Christ, the TRUE SEED of Abraham. Again, how he concludes this must have been prefaced in that place where something appears to be missing.

Paul additionally states that the law was a temporary phase and it has to give way in order for the unconditional promise of salvation to be realized for all.

Paul certainly concedes the law is the possession of the Jews but he grounds the necessary separation of his church from the Jews in the fact that those who live under the law inevitably fall under its curses.

Paul’s radical reinterpretation of the traditional views of Abraham are solely designed to justify the separation of the Pauline congregations from the Jewish community.

Regarding Paul’s opponents in Galatia: It is clear that they are Christians and that their church exists wholly within the larger community of Jews and, for them, Jerusalem is the place of the “pillars” of the church and the Jewish people as a whole. It is clear that Paul was arguing against a form of Christianity (the Jerusalem James Gang) that was founded on continuous participation in the community of Jews, that it was seeking to reform Judaism by evangelizing its version of the Messiah.

Paul’s critique of this group is focused on the incompatibility between faith in Paul’s Jesus and the Jesus of the Jerusalem Christians; the two forms of Christianity were clearly two entirely different conceptions.

In Galatians, Paul repeatedly asserts that circumcision and the law are utterly opposed to the Cross of Christ. In Phil 3:1819, he says that there are many “of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”

Watson sees Philippians as having been written from prison in Ephesus and prompted by the Galatian crisis and its aftermath. Was the Galatian crisis part of a multi-pronged attack against Paul and his work that resulted in his being imprisoned? Watson suggests that Philippians was written to warn the congregation of what had happened and that they, too, might be visited by such agitators. In other words, there is not an actual “situation” there yet, but the James Gang people could arrive at any moment!

In Philippians, Paul refers to his opponents as “dogs”, a pejorative Jewish term for Gentiles. Watson suggests that he is reversing the application : he, and his communities, are the “new circumcision of the heart” and the Jewish Christians headed up by the Jerusalem Church are the “Dogs.”

At Phil 2:5-11, Paul introduces what many have taken to be a hymn or a liturgical formula which actually is something of a chiasmus, though I’m no expert on that:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death--even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Now, in chapter 45 of Isaiah, the chapter where God speaks to his anointed, Cyrus the Persian, it says (v. 4) “I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me.. (v.9) Does the clay say to him who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles.’ (v. 11) Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands? (v 22-23)…Turn to me and be saed all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”

Verbal and conceptual echoes of the Isaiah passage quoted above are found in several places in Paul’s writing and, as noted before, Isaiah was heavy with Paul. It appears now that there is a concentration of Isaianic thought in the liturgical passage from Philippians quoted above, that gives the strong impression that Paul used just this material from Isaiah as justification for his “Jesus”.

Paul’s liturgical text has strong echoes of the Descent of Ishtar, as well as incorporating ideas of the New Adam who did not yield to temptation and sin. What the passage also makes clear is that Paul’s Christ was not originally named Jesus/Joshua as a man, but something else altogether. The name “Jesus/Joshua”, or “savior”, was given to him only after his death and resurrection. It also seems clear that Paul’s idea of resurrection probably did not include bodily resurrection at all.

Further, Paul’s repeated assertions that the Jewish Christian’s antagonism to the “Cross of Christ” (Gal 2: 21; 3:1; 5:11; 6:12-14; Phil 3:18), was part and parcel of their gospel, suggests: 1) their Jesus died on a cross but his death was given no soteriological value; OR 2) their Jesus did not die on a cross at all and their entire gospel was based on a promise that a Sky man would come and restore Israel by destroying the Romans; OR 3) their Jesus died some other way than on a cross, but who would quibble over that point?; 4) The Jerusalem Christians found Paul’s gospel of the cross highly offensive for some other reason that the texts no longer can reveal due to redaction.


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Paul not only calls the James Gang “Dogs” he says that they have “minds set on earthly things” (Phil 3:19) in contrast to Pauline communities where “citizenship is in heaven” (v. 20). He excoriates them by saying “Their god is in their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Watson points out that “shame” used in this context is a euphemism for genitals and that the “god is in their belly” remark is a similar euphemism alluding to phallic cults that practiced various forms of genital mutilation and castration. In Gal 5:11, Paul links circumcision with castration and forms of mutilation practiced by pagans, and here in Philippians, he is identifying circumcision with phallic worship. In other words, Paul is coming right out and saying that circumcision, signifying male membership in the Jewish community, is nothing other than castration, mutilation, and phallic worship!

By means of these polemic attacks on Jewish Christianity, Paul is reinforcing Gentile stereotypes about Jews and circumcision that were common throughout the empire at the time. He was working to create an unbridgeable gulf between the Jerusalem Christians and his own congregations. Watson writes: “He is probably referring to the same people who caused the Galatian crisis. Just as he had warned the Galatians during his first visit to beware of such people (Gal 1:9), so he her indicates that he had repeatedly warned the Philippians of the possibility of their arrival.” (p. 146)

Philippians 3:2-11 is designed to show that Jewish Christianity and Paul’s Christianity are mutually exclusive. In Philippians, Paul emphasizes that his own life as a righteous Jew was worthless. Watson points out that this is not a contrast between two mutally exclusive pirnciples (active achievement/works vs passive submission/grace), but between two different communities. It strongly suggests two different conceptions of Christ, at the very least, and most likely, to different anchoring historical personages.

In Phil 2:12, Paul writes: “Work your own salvation with fear and trembling” and then goes on to say (v. 13) “God is at work in you.” That is, to Paul, concurrent human and divine work are both necessary to bring about salvation. Paul would have never countenanced the idea that faith alone saves. For Paul, “faith” means believing in HIS Christ and what that Christ stands for which is the adoption of a new way of life exemplified by that Christ, and the social reorientation that such a change entails. Faith oriented toward Christ is not renunciation of self-work and personal spiritual achievement. Both are still required.

Righteousness and Paul

In Jewish usage, the righteous are those who are approved by God. There are very few of them and they are always sharply contrasted against a multitude of the unrighteous. This is because there are so many laws to keep, and righteousness is determined by how many of them a person can keep, how consistently, and well. Obviously, it is a real burden that no one can carry. In this system, Divine agency is present only in the form of the gifts of the covenant and the law, the means by which God, long ago, established the possibility of righteousness for a community whose membership is dependent on birth. The emphasis is on human praxis, the response of obedience to a static situation.

Paul had a dynamic view of righteousness. Divine agency is powerfully present and operative in the life of the person who has accepted that possibility as real via the exemplary agent of Christ. In this dynamic interaction, the person who stives to conform to the norms of the Christian life is brought from the darkness of their former life into the experience of salvation. Thus, in Paul’s statement “The righteousness from God that depends on faith,” righteousness is not human conduct, but the reaching down of Divine grace to draw up and transform the person’s life in the process of transformation from sin and darkness and death to salvation, light and live. Active Righteousness from God is concurrent with the active human participation of faith, i.e. accepting the exemplar of Christ and conforming to the Christian norms. Paul is emphatic about this process: “Not that I have already attained or am already perfected, but I press on to lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of me. My brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have already laid hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining towards what lies ahead, I press on to the finishing line, for the prize of Go’s upward call in Christ Jesjs.” (Phil 3:12-14) -> Engborg-Pedersen here.

Faith is strenuous activity and isn’t just “believing”. The role of Divine agency as the complement to human agency is far more emphatically asserted in Paul’s Christianity, thus its total incompatibility with Judaism.

It is clear that the Pauline Jesus is a very different personage from every angle, than the messiah of the Jerusalem/Jewish Christians.

Watson’s order of the Epistles based on his interpretation of the internal evidence:

  • 1st Thessalonians – written from Athens or Corinth
  • Galatians – Corinth
  • 1st Corinthians – Ephesus
  • Philemon – Ephesus
  • Philippians – Ephesus, in prison
  • 2nd Corinthians 10-13 – Ephesus
  • 2nd Corinthians 1-9 – Macedonia
  • Romans – Corinth
Obviously, there are big problems with the above order.

Recapping timeline from above, with added notes:

-> Paul’s vision “14 years ago”? 3rd heaven and all that? When was this in his timeline? Do we assume it was his initial conversion? If so…:

29 AD – Conversion in 15th year of Tiberius (10 years after execution of Judas)

Gal 1:15-17 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

32 AD – escape from Damascus, 1st visit to Jerusalem, visit Peter. (FIRM because of King Aretas in Damascus window)

2Co 11:32-33 In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Gal 1:18-19 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother.

Gal 1:21-23 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy."

39/40 AD – 1st Thessalonians written (pos 2nd, also), referencing Caligula and his plans to erect statue in Temple.

43 AD – “14 years ago” vision = conversion experience?

2Co 12:2-4 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows-- was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.

This would mean that the Corinthian kerfuffle occurred before the second visit to Jerusalem if this letter is dated to 14 years after conversion and the second visit occurred 14 years after the first visit which was three years after conversion. So how to explain the references to the collection in 1 an 2nd Corinthians, before the agreement to collect was made?

1st Corinthians written from Ephesus; mentions Cephas in a friendly way; Barnabas is with Paul (9:6); main focus is danger of reversion to idolatry and orderly conduct. But then, at the end:

1Co 16:1-3
Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem.

It seems to me that the topics of 1 Corinthians as a whole do not mesh well with chapter 16 at all. But things get even stranger with 2 Cor. In this letter, chapters 10-13, there are opponents who are Jewish Christians, but apparently not from Jerusalem. Paul speaks about false apostles and Watson argues that this group of attackers is Apollos and his companions. Nothing is said about the problem of circumcision or submitting to the law.

2Co 8:1-21 2Co 9:1 -14
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints-- and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you--so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something-- now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has--not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, "The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little."
But thanks be to God who put in the heart of Titus the same eagerness for you that I myself have. For he not only accepted our appeal, but since he is more eager than ever, he is going to you of his own accord. With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good news; and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of others.
Now it is not necessary for me to write you about the ministry to the saints, for I know your eagerness, which is the subject of my boasting about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them.
But I am sending the brothers
in order that our boasting about you may not prove to have been empty in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be; otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated--to say nothing of you--in this undertaking. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you, and arrange in advance for this bountiful gift that you have promised, so that it may be ready as a voluntary gift and not as an extortion.
The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

The above two chapters from 2 Corinthians contradict each other and cannot possibly belong to the same letter. How can Paul have told the Macedonians that the Corinthians collection has been ready since the previous year when he has just told them to finish what they started? His comments about Macedonia in the two chapters are also bizarre when juxtaposed.

In 2 Cor chapters 1-9, we see a different letter, but still puzzling if it is supposed to be a follow up to the letter that is said to consist of chapters 10-13; but it does not appear that way to me at all. It seems that what Paul is referring to is the condemnation of an individual from within their congregation and NOT about any “opponents” as a group.

2Co 1:8-10 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2Co 1:15-16 Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favor; I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea.

2Co 2:1-13 So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent--not to exaggerate it--to all of you. This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia.

2Co 6:3-11 We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see--we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you.

2Co 7:2-12 Make room in your hearts for us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way--disputes without and fears within. But God, who consoles the downcast, consoled us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was consoled about you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only briefly). Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. So although I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong, nor on account of the one who was wronged, but in order that your zeal for us might be made known to you before God.

Clearly, the above letter refers to a previous letter of reproof of a particular individual. Was this the case of incest that was referred to in 1 Cor where a man was living with his father’s wife and the Corinthians were told to expel him from their community?

1 Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you? For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

So, there is clearly a letter still missing, and it also seems highly likely that redactional efforts are much of the cause of the confusing sequences. It appears to be quite possible that the “collection” chapters were tacked onto letters where they did not belong at all, that the reference was inserted about going to Judea, simply to confirm the idea that Paul was totally “in” with the Jerusalem church. Are the collection chapters and references even original to Paul, or have they been “cooked up” to make it look like things were all hunky dory even after the bust up in Antioch following the second Jerusalem visit?

46 AD – 14 years after 1st visit, 2nd visit to Jerusalem? Hand of fellowship, collection.

Gal 2:1-14
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us-- we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)--those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

The above is written as though Peter came to Antioch very shortly after the 2nd Jerusalem meeting and was getting on like a house afire with Paul and the gang until people came from James, spoiled the party, and Peter probably went back with his tail between his legs.

46 AD – Antioch, confrontation with Peter?

47 AD - James and Simon (Peter?) sons of Judas the Galilean executed by Tiberius Alexander (Josephus). It seems extremely likely that this James and Simon were the same James and Simon of the Jerusalem Church. If they were both executed in this year, there are powerful reasons for the later church to alter documents to cover up this fact and completely remove the history of the early church from that of the Zealots and Rebels against Rome.

48 AD – Galatians crisis. Galatians written. Notice that James, Cephas and John are written about in the past tense: “were”.

Gal 2:9-10 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

So it seems likely that, after the reprisals against the Zealots/Christians by Tiberius Alexander, two things must have happened:
1) Representatives from the Jerusalem church scattered, probably traveling around to all the various churches to drum up more support, including Paul’s congregations, thereby creating the situation that caused Paul to write Galatians.
2) The authorities were also after the Zealots and Paul may have been caught in the net and that would explain why he was in prison when he wrote Philippians which has strong echoes of the Galatians agitation and Paul is strongly warning his community to NOT get involved with those people!

Was Marcion’s prologue correct and Paul was transferred from prison in Ephesus to Rome? Is that what prompted him to write to the Romans, in hopes that he would be released there and preparing a reception? How does Philemon fit into this scenario? Was Philemon written from Ephesus or Rome?

49/50 AD – Paul in Rome.

All of the above is, as you can see, a thorny mess and a tedious process to sort it out, but I do see glimmers of the idea that Caesar was, indeed, Paul's Messiah and people back then knew it, and the gospel of Mark covered it up.


FOTCM Member
I've "watched" a few videos by a certain Ralph Ellis who goes on some speculations about the historical commander of the Jewish revolt over whom the Jesus story was partly contructed. He makes it clear that the christianity we have is that of Paul, not that of this "Jesus" and overall is in accord to what has been described here in the broad lines. However, one additional point he makes that could be interesting if true, is that the Nazarene revolt was perhaps broader is scope and that it involved foreign powers related to the royals of Edessa related to queen Helena of Adiabene (Adiabene according to Ellis is used to conceal the more likely Edessa, which is a buffer kingdom between Rome and Parthia). He argues that behind the aliases names of Josephus is a certain would be king of the Jews Izates (and would explains why Muslims, in contrast with christian Arabs call Jesus "Issa") that lost a proxy war against the Romans. I thought it was interesting as a hypothesis.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Don't know if this will interest anyone, but I've been putting arguments together for the upcoming book(s) and here are some of my notes.
Thank you for presenting your analysis. Being optimistic, there will be many people interested, including people who initially gave up on Christianity, because there was so much that was garbled.
Biblical scholars, as a rule, appear to be woefully uneducated in terms of ancient practices and methods of mimesis.

The Romans accused Jews of being anti-social “haters of humanity.” Thus, the Christians accused of the fire in Rome must have been Messianic/Jerusalem type Christians, not Pauline type.

When evidence contradicts a theory, science requires the discarding of the theory. Time and again, biblical scholars have been shown to discard or twist the evidence so as to preserve their pre-conceived assumptions or confessional bias.
The rigidness found among a good number of scholars and theologians has over time, along with other developments, had consequences for what Christianity has become. Materialism, including improbable ideas of "evolution" and postmodern trends have taken their toll, as have the changes that are being forced on many previously Christian societies. At the same time it would not surprise if some of these tensions have been motivating factors that inspired interest and new research.
All of the above is, as you can see, a thorny mess and a tedious process to sort it out, but I do see glimmers of the idea that Caesar was, indeed, Paul's Messiah and people back then knew it, and the gospel of Mark covered it up.
In a certain way the muddled story is not only a thorny mess, but it is like thorny crown on the message inspired by the example of Caesar that Paul wanted to tell. Thank you for making great efforts to explain that the mess is there, for making readers aware that alternatives do exist and which ones are more likely. Some of the thorns can be removed by explanations, and other thorns the readers contemplating the explanations might discover will disappear through their own internal efforts to understand and through the sharing with others.


FOTCM Member
I've "watched" a few videos by a certain Ralph Ellis who goes on some speculations about the historical commander of the Jewish revolt over whom the Jesus story was partly contructed. He makes it clear that the christianity we have is that of Paul, not that of this "Jesus" and overall is in accord to what has been described here in the broad lines. However, one additional point he makes that could be interesting if true, is that the Nazarene revolt was perhaps broader is scope and that it involved foreign powers related to the royals of Edessa related to queen Helena of Adiabene (Adiabene according to Ellis is used to conceal the more likely Edessa, which is a buffer kingdom between Rome and Parthia). He argues that behind the aliases names of Josephus is a certain would be king of the Jews Izates (and would explains why Muslims, in contrast with christian Arabs call Jesus "Issa") that lost a proxy war against the Romans. I thought it was interesting as a hypothesis.

Yes, the story of the conversion of Izates in Josephus was apparently used by the Lukan author as a model for the story of the conversion of the Egyptian eunuch. Wonder if Polycarp had his tongue in cheek on that one?


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Yes, the story of the conversion of Izates in Josephus was apparently used by the Lukan author as a model for the story of the conversion of the Egyptian eunuch. Wonder if Polycarp had his tongue in cheek on that one?
That might be:
Izates II
(Ἰζάτης), son of Monobaz (Μονόβαζος), or Izates bar Monobaz (also known as Izaates, Persian: ایزد‎ or Hebrew: זוטוס בן מונבז) (ca. 1-55 CE). Izates was a king of the Parthian client kingdom of Adiabene who became a proselyte to Judaism. He was the son of Queen Helena of Adiabene and King Monobazus I of Adiabene. Queen Helena was also said to be the wife of King Abgarus of Edessa and thus the queen of Edessa too.[1]

During his youth Izates was sent by his father to the court of King Abinergaos I of Characene in Charax Spasinu. While in Charax Izates became acquainted with a Jewish merchant named Ananias, who familiarized him with the tenets of the Jewish religion, in which he became deeply interested. Izates married King Abinergaos' daughter Symacho who had been converted to Judaism through the efforts of Ananias. His mother had been previously won over to Judaism without his knowledge. On returning home and ascending the throne on the death of his father (c. 31 CE), Izates discovered the conversion of his mother; and he himself intended to adopt Judaism, and even to submit to circumcision. He was, however, dissuaded from this step both by his teacher Ananias and by his mother, but was ultimately persuaded thereto by another Jew, Eleazar.[2][3]

For some time Izates enjoyed peace; and he was so highly respected that he was chosen as arbitrator between the Parthian king Artabanus III and his rebellious nobles (c. 39 CE). But when several of Izates' relatives openly acknowledged their conversion to Judaism, some of the nobles of Adiabene secretly induced Abia, an Arab king, to declare war against him. Izates defeated his enemy, who in despair committed suicide. The nobles then conspired with Vologases, King of Parthia, but the latter was at the last moment prevented from carrying out his plans, and Izates continued to reign undisturbed for a total of twenty-four years.

Izates died around 55 CE. His mother Helena survived him for only a short time. He left twenty-four sons and twenty-four daughters. Izates was succeeded by his older brother Monobaz II, who sent Izates' remains and those of Queen Helena to Jerusalem for burial.
Helena and Izates were originally Zoroastrians.


The Force is Strong With This One
(Adiabene according to Ellis is used to conceal the more likely Edessa, which is a buffer kingdom between Rome and Parthia). He argues that behind the aliases names of Josephus is a certain would be king of the Jews Izates (and would explains why Muslims, in contrast with christian Arabs call Jesus "Issa") that lost a proxy war against the Romans. I thought it was interesting as a hypothesis.

Thank you mkrnhr for this interesting suggestion.
I propose another origin of Issa in the context of my research on Islam and the Koran but which is not incompatible with yours. I think it is useful to compare the different traditions around Jesus.

Jesus is the most quoted prophet in the Koran (36 times), either by the name Issa or by the Messiah ("Al-Masih"), Jesus son of Mary ("ʿĪsā ibn Maryam"). I was interested in the origin of this name, which remains a mystery to many historians. It is a mystery because Christian Arabs call Yasū'a, Yasou or Yazu.

The name of a Syrian monastery in the 6th century was ʿĪsāniyya. According to some authors, like Neal Robinson, Isa would result from another Syriac form of Jesus, "Isho".
This is very interesting because I share the ideas of Laura and others that there is a strong Syriac influence in the writing of the Koran. It is accepted that the Koran was "compiled" by Othman, under the caliphate of the Umayyads.
The origin of the name Issa seems to me to be a significant proof of this hypothesis: the influence of Syrian authors in the writing of the "Vulgate of the Quran".
Let's take a little trip back in time. Issa is a saint still venerated in India, especially in the Kashmir region, known as "Yuz Asaf" (but also "Hazrat Isa sahib", his eminence Master Isa). A tomb bearing his name is famous: The Roza Bal.

According to Hindu/Tibetan tradition, Yuz Asaf was a prince of Palestinian origin who lived in the 1st century. Persecuted, he would have gone to India to study Buddhist philosophy and become a highly respected and sacred lama. The cult of St Issa is linked to the Christians of St Thomas because the apostle Thomas would have brought Christianity to India. For historians, the cult of St Thomas is linked to the influence of the Syrian church around the 2nd or 3rd century. Missionaries attached to the Church of Alexandria, such as Pantene of Alexandria, followers of Nestorianism (a doctrine very present in the Koran), reportedly evangelized Indians. Moreover, the Indian government still refers to these members of the community as "Christians of Syria".
They are also known, especially locally, as the Nasrani, a term that means "Christian" to them (note that in the Koran, Christians are called "nassârrâ").

In the other sense, several texts written in Syriac, Persian and then Arabic report this tradition: Jesus reportedly sent Thomas to Nusaybin, near Edessa, (the city is known to have been a centre of influence of Syrian Christianity), then Jesus left alone, calling himself Yuz Asaf, to go to Kashmir. All this is also related to Henana d'Adiabène.
Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit between the 2nd and 4th centuries and texts circulating in Syria and Badgad. For example, we have the story of Balaam and Jehoshaphat. Generally, it is said to be a Christianized version of a Buddhist text "life of the Bodhisattva". Wouldn't it be the other way around? Or maybe mutual influences. An Arabic version was written in Badgad in the 8th century.

In the Christian version, King Abenner or Avenier of India persecuted the Church founded in his kingdom by the apostle Thomas. When astrologers predicted that his own son would one day be a Christian, Abenner took the young prince Ioasaf (Josaphat) and isolated him from any outside contact. Despite this imprisonment, Jehoshaphat met the hermit Saint Barlaam and converted to Christianity.
There are other examples but it would be too long and boring to detail.


The Force is Strong With This One
I will add this text to create other connections. A Persian text written in the 15th century by Mir Muhammad ben Khawand still reports this tradition. Jesus would have traveled and been to Nusaybin:
"Jesus (peace be upon him) was called "the Messiah" because he was a great traveler. He wore a wool scarf on his head and a wool coat on his body. »

This refers us to the Sufis (one of the etymological hypotheses comes from the Arabic word wool "sûf"). According to Arab tradition, Muhamad wore a coat during sessions of divine inspiration, which according to the descriptions resemble "shamanic transes" (it became a relic for Muslims). In these details we can find Christian and Jewish influences at most from Muhamad (cf. Elijah's mantle because the mantle, in the Bible, participates in man's power with divine contact).

Moreover, according to Orthodox Muslim accounts, a Nestorian Christian monk recognized the "mark of prophecy" between Muhamad's two shoulder blades when he was between 9 and 12 years old and accompanying his uncle Abu Talib to Bosra in Syria. Then there is Khadija's cousin, Muhamad's first wife: Waraqa ibn Nawfal. He was according to Arab accounts a Nestorian priest. Other studies suggest that he was from the Judeo-Nazarene sect. Waraqa played an important role in Muhamad's "instruction".
Sorry for these digressions, I hope this text will be useful for some of you.

So there seem to be interesting connections between Issa/Jesus and a sacred lama at the tibet and in India, probably a complex mixture between the spread of Eastern Christianity and a real character. There is also this group around the apostle Thomas who moved with his beliefs.

I'll end with this C's session:

October 09, 1994
Q: (L) Who was St. Issa of India.
A: Lama Kirtanah.
Q: (L) Where was he from?
A: Palestine.
Q: (L) When was he in India?
A: 13 and 14 A.D.

My best regards, friends.
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