The Gospel Conundrum

One of the things about the New Testament that I was unaware of when I first began doing a little amateur biblical research was the fact that the Canon is not assembled in correct chronological order.

It looks as if it is, but this is simply clever redaction from the compilers at Bible Are Us;  an attempt to show continuity to the story.

Now, though, I know that Paul’s “letters” were the first New Testament writings. Although I’ll wager there are still plenty of people that do not know!

Read as compiled the Canon apparently displays a natural progression, from Gospels to Acts through to the Epistles etc … until  Revelation, the fantastical Doomsday Finale that  was debated for a considerable time as to whether it was genuine and should be included in the compilation. They decided to chuck it in.

And Acts is now regarded as largely historical fiction. And if you haven’t read it … you really should.

And of course, Mark is the first gospel not Matthew as was originally thought. So, there’s another mistake. Divine inspiration? Hmmm.

So discovering that it was Paul who wrote first raised a Red Flag. Why does Paul mention the Apostles, but the gospel writers make absolutely no mention of Paul?

Oh, there are some cute apologetic answers and I am sure most of my readers along with most other people who are reasonably savvy with Christian Apologetics will have heard the answers.

Yet, considering the supposed impact Paul caused and the enmity displayed by Paul towards Peter, for example, and  as the forerunner and likely  ”Father” of Christianity as we know it, it seems bizarre that the gospel writers never mentioned him once!

Now, I know that any Christian reading along will be likely be smirking and thinking ”Conspiracy Theory”, but that really isn’t my bag. I am just pointing out what is already known and stating what I would think would be the obvious: That the gospel writers would have made mention of Paul and for the sake of accuracy and honesty and … er …. truth? the Epistles should have been placed before the gospels.

But then, anyone reading it this way, would almost certainly have thought, how bizarre, the gospel writers have not mentioned Paul.

Furthermore, it is believed by certain scholars – don’t know how many – that it was Marcion who discovered and collected the letters of Paul and handed them over  to the church.  I would like confirmation of this by any reader a bit more clued up on Marcion than I am. Tim Stepping Out, maybe? 

It is also believed ( according to my encyclopedia) that it was Marcion’s bible that prompted the Church to  get its backside in gear and come out with a version of the bible of its own. Which it did, of course, and soon declared Marcion a heretic  and his writings heresy.

For the record, briefly, Marcion rejected the Old Testament god, Yahweh, who he said was not a nice fellow at all (astute of him) considered Jesus a new god, took the Gospel of Luke as his basis and removed as much ”Jewishness” as possible. That’s the theory, more or less.

Some believe that it was Marcion who penned the epistles of Paul. You can find all this stuff on the internet and on respectable sites  as well. Or maybe it be under biblical history in an up to date encyclopedia?

And many biblical scholars consider the writer of Luke used Jewish historian, Josephus as the basis for some of the material.

Oh, and outside of the bible there is not a single  known verifiable reference to Paul either. Considering all the people he met on his travels,  including many supposed great and powerful, Kings and what have you, you would think he would have been mentioned somewhere. Alas … another wall of silence.

According to Wiki …..http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Paul_of_Tarsus

Historicity of Paul[edit]

There is no evidence for Paul outside the New Testament. No records of him ever visiting the kings and other powerful authority figures he supposedly held audiences with, no Jewish records of a Christian-hunter gone rogue, etc. Even the usual suspects brought up in defense of a historical JesusJosephusTacitus, etc, have nothing to say on Paul. That said, seven of the documents attributed to Paul do appear from textual analysis to be written by the same person. This is considered reasonable evidence that some single individual performed the role, and we may as well call him Paul, as does the author of Acts, thought by scholars to have also written the Gospel of Luke. Even proof of the common authorship of some of these books, though, does not prove that Paul ever met Jesus[note 2]nor that Jesus ever existed.

Confused yet?

Yes, me too!

If you can figure it out …. be my guest.

 

Ark.

 

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11 thoughts on “The Gospel Conundrum

  1. Now you’re catching on, Ark. 😀

    All that you’ve written has been questioned by numerous bible scholars and historians … so you’re in a good crowd. Of course, the Christians will have none of it because God wrote it — which means it’s all inspired and thus above the pay grade of mere humans. Just ask ColorStorm.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. To borrow an unrelated quote from Winston Churchill, I see the Bible thusly: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Therefore, I don’t give it much credence other than as a historical artifact.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great mental wrestlings and questions Ark. Where on Earth should a person start, huh? 😉

    Maybe one decent starting point would be the sociopolitical culture of the Roman Empire and its Provincial governing, like in Judaea and Syria during the 1st century BCE thru the 4th century CE. After all, that is the contextual background for Yeshua’s birth, life, controversial ministry, and death, followed by the earliest The Way followers and Early Church, followed by papyrus gospels and epistles of many sorts. This journey and study for me took over 10-years. Hahaha. I don’t recommend it for any suffering from adult ADD.

    I am very happy you mentioned that there are no extant INDEPENDENT verifications of Saul of Tarsus/Paul outside of the Christian New Testament and early 2nd – 3rd generation Church Fathers. This is a profound revelation, if I may borrow the word. Also, there are no secular extant INDEPEDENT verifications of key New Testament characters, including Yeshua/Jesus, in for example Roman records or Samarian records, both intimately surrounding earliest Christian events! Some modern Christian apologists claim Josephus and Tacitus as “independent” verification, but Josephus’ mentions were indeed tampered with and modified by the 1st & 2nd century Church, and those by Tacitus only authenticate the Christ-movement, not the person Yeshua/Jesus. Thus, the Tacitus account cannot be used to authenticate teachings or theology. The same can be easily argued about Josephus’ brief mentions. This conundrum is what drove me — and should drive any and all reasonable Undecided faith-choosers — to at the very least learn extensively what all plausibly took place, with and by whom, and why.

    But alas, not even modern Christian seminaries, much less church congregations, want to do this sort of leg-work. But they damn sure want any doubters to do it, huh!? Only to not be judged by that same standard. Hahaha. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Professor, if they did the “leg work” it might upset the apple cart and they would finally see without their rose-colored glasses. So for them to do such research? “God Forbid!”

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks for the positive feedback, Ark! ❤

          Individuals on both sides of the religious aisle can become derisive (not pointing any fingers!).

          From the non-believer side, I think we find it difficult to understand how people can be so deluded. From the believer’s side, they seem to feel we are simply being defiant against the obvious “truth” of “God’s Word.”

          Truly, it’s a merry-go-round of perspectives.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Oh, point away … no probs! 🙂
            The main difference between an atheist like myself and former Christians such as you who were knee-deep in it is that you know all the arguments people like Mel use, all the smokescreens and manipulations and most important, all the reasons why people such as Mel convert in the first place.
            I believe it is this that is the key to aiding others to deconvert and more importantly why people like Mel and Unklee etc really don’t want to engage you or others from the same background at any serious level, and also why, forgive me, gentle souls(sic) like you are unwilling to push.

            Liked by 3 people

      1. I cannot argue that Nan. Perhaps for those who HAVE done the “leg-work” with a concerted effort for reasonable impartiality, if that’s possible, those learned souls are the UNindoctrinated, the DEconverted, or simply those who no longer view this life with such paralyzing deluding fear of death and a mythlical Satan. Very relaxed? Stable? Not so extreme or hyper-judgemental? 😉

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  4. You have not seen Paul’s letters to Seneca? Or is it the other way? I have heard or rather read of something like that.
    Me confused, nah. Who wrote what is the least of my worries. Can they prove inspiration? Can they demonstrate miracles? If not, those books are useless

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure this out but it is a fool’s errand. Most of this stuff was just made up and then larded with enough historical comment to provide some “authenticity.” Awkwardly, many of the NT writings have their geography off, with Jesus walking miles and miles out of his way for an overnight stop and then walking miles and miles back. (Character in the wrong place … move him!)

    The lack of references to any of these characters outside of church writings is telling. Unfortunately Christians aren’t in a position to “tell” on these mistakes as it would cost them their community. (Attack the Faith and you are out!) So, there is a lot of humming with one’s ears covered to avoid being put in that position.

    The “making up” aspect continues today as apologists regularly make up stuff. (Notice how the banana was designed to fit the human hand? … Uh, not really and that is a man-made banana.) All to protect … what? Being a Christian is just like being a member of a political party. You just have to say you are one and you are in! Instant belonging (and salvation if you play your cards right!). Don’t ask what they are being saved from because … (Hint: It is their “savior” who is the threat.)

    Liked by 1 person

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