Tuesday 29 October 2013

Pauline Conspiracy: Examining the claims of Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal

This article is going to be the first of a few looking at some of the claims of Yisroel Blumenthal and some of the points he makes about Christianity being invented by Paul and not being consistant with Jesus. Although I have written on the subject of Acts 21 to refute Blumenthal's claims, I want to examine some of the points he claims in his treatise, Supplement to Contra Brown. Any quotes from scripture, Blumenthal and other sources shall be placed in bold.

IV. 11. Objection 5.26
Here Brown attempts to address the argument that it was Paul who invented Christianity as it is known today and not Jesus. Brown responds with the claim that Paul’s teachings are in complete harmony with the teachings of Jesus. Brown states: “The consistent testimony of the New Testament … affirms this point”. This statement is incredible.

The most common conspiracy is trying to pit Jesus against Paul and vice versa, or Jamed and Paul and vice versa. I have seen this tactic among Muslims and Atheists and it's a shame that some of the Rabbinic communities are resorting to this.
You need to read the NT as a whole to see the consistent message running all the way through the books of the NT, which we may get into later.

A simple reading of Paul’s words reveals that Paul himself claimed to be the inventor of Christianity. Christians who want to believe that there was a smooth progression from the Jewish following of Jesus to the gentile following of Paul will find that there is no basis to their belief.

Really? Or is it Rabbi the fact you are not willing to reconcile the "contradictions"? One thing I can say is I can play the same game with the TANAKH, For example God instituted sacrifice, which became a staple part of the Law of Moses, yet if I were take Hosea 3:3-5, 14:1-2, Micah 6:6, Jeremiah 7:22 out of context and say "Well the prophets are contradicting Moses and they invented Judaism", I am sure BLumenthal will say "You have to read in context". If that's the case, thank you I return the complement.

Let us allow Paul to speak for himself. “For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through revelation of Jesus Christ.”(Galatians 1:11,12). Paul is telling us that the gospel that he preached was not taught to him by the disciples of Jesus. Paul is admitting that his gospel was revealed to him in a vision by the deceased Jesus. Paul takes his point a step further. “But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth not man`s person)– they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me: but contrariwise, when they saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with [the gospel] of the circumcision (for he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles); and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision; only [they would] that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do. But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation.” (Galatians 2:6-13).
Let us understand what Paul is saying here. He is telling us that “those of repute” imparted nothing to him. Who are these people “of repute”? Paul tells us in verse 9 that these people of repute were James, Peter (Cephas) and John. In other words the disciples of Jesus taught Paul nothing.

Where do you get that from the text Mr Blumenthal? The apostles were not teaching Paul "nothing", You can read the chapters here:

In the contexts, Paul goes to the apostles to confirm his Revelation to see if what he had said was accurate and sure enough the apostles not adding to his message would indicate that they declared his message to be reliable and accurate.

Paul takes this a step further by drawing a distinct boundary between himself and the Jewish disciples of Jesus. He tells us that he and they were charged with two different missions. They (the Jewish disciples) were charged to minister to the Jewish people (“unto the circumcision”), while he (Paul) was charged to minister to the gentiles. This means that the teaching that Jesus imparted to his Jewish disciples in his lifetime was meant for the Jewish people, while the teaching that the deceased Jesus imparted to Paul was meant for the gentiles. What this implies is that the disciples of Jesus could teach Paul nothing because they were entrusted with a mission that was apart from his own.

Being sent to the uncircumcised or the circumcised simply refers to whom they were to be ministers to, not to what messages they are to bring with respect the Gospel. The apostles checked Paul's message to be reliable teaching and sent him to the Gentiles, While they themselves administered to the Jews, taking THE SAME message to both.

Paul claims that the Jewish disciples of Jesus acknowledged this division in the gospel. He then criticizes Peter and the Jewish followers of Jesus for violating this accepted boundary. He tells us that Peter and other believers from Jerusalem were trying to influence the gentiles to follow the teachings that were meant for the Jews.

Peter was not handling the Gospel accurately because of the men who approached him. In the book of Acts, Peter is shown a vision from Jesus (Wonder why Blumethal doesn't go after Peter for this), to show that not only certain foods are clean, but Gentiles are also clean. Peter later retracts from the Gentiles to which Paul rebukes him, because he was not handling the Gospel accurately. The men who came to Peter were Judaizers trying to put Gentiles under the Law of Moses, something the Jerusalem Council told not to do, including James funnily enough. Feel free to also check out the following commentaries as well regarding the men from James: http://biblehub.com/galatians/2-12.htm

We can now understand the opening verses in the book of Galatians. “Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead),and all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father: to whom [be] the glory for ever and ever. Amen. I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another [gospel] only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:1-9).
Paul is surprised that the gentile church of Galatia has so quickly abandoned his teachings. He is informing them that no man or angel has a right to disagree with him because his is the true teaching. Now who were these people that were trying to influence the people in Galatia to disobey Paul? It is clear that these would have been the Jewish disciples of Jesus, whom Paul accuses of duplicity (again – Paul claims that to his face they acknowledged that he had been appointed by the dead Jesus as an emissary to the gentiles, but behind his back they tried to influence the gentiles to follow their own version of the gospel. Remember, Paul accuses Peter; “…how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Galatians 2:14). Paul does not hide the fact that his teachings were considered false by people who were very influential in the early Church (1Corinthians 9:2, 2Corinthians 11:13).

Blumenthal fails to inform the audience that those who attacked Paul in 1 Corinhtians and 2 Corinthians were false teachers, false brethen, that is evident from the contexts.

1 Corinthians 9:1-6 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas[a]? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

2 Corinthians 11: 11 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”[a] 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

The apostles as I have already established approved of Paul's message, thus I can boldly say that those in the context of the 2 Corinthian letters that the people going after Paul were false Christians. The Galatians were swayed by the Judaizers into their false teachings and Paul made it clear that if ANY man was not preaching the Gospel of Christ or perverted it, they would be accursed. It is not Paul VS the Apostles at all, that's simply Blumenthal's fantasy, Just as it is the fantasy of Muslim apologists such as Shabir Ali, Osama Abdallah, Sami Zaatari, Bassam Zawadi, Nadir Ahmed, Gerald Dirks, Paul Williams, Ijaz Ahmad and many others. Not to mention it is the fantasy of heretics such as the Ebionites and modern day heretic and false prophet Sherry Shriner.

It should be noted that the writings of the Christian scriptures as we have them today were redacted by the gentile followers of Paul. The original Hebrew (or Aramaic) version of Matthew was destroyed by the gentile followers of Paul. Still, even the Pauline redactors had a difficult job attributing Pauline Christianity to Jesus. In the three Synoptic Gospels there is perhaps one statement attributed to Jesus that is a clear Pauline teaching (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20). The origin of this statement is highly questionable. The last supper of Jesus is the onearea where Paul comments on Jesus’ lifetime activities. Paul explicitly states that he received this teaching directly from the dead Jesus (1Corinthians 11:23). The Pauline redactors of the gospels had what they considered a “reliable” source for this story. There is no reason to assume that there was any other source for this story. When this story is removed from the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is no longer a Christian.

The last point regarding Jesus not being a Christian is a non argument. Paul may of gotten the message from the Lord regarding the Supper and confirmed it with the apostles or he got it directly from the apostles, Either way, this wouldn't detract from the fact the apostles were on close terms with Paul from Acts 14 onwards. As for a supposed Hebrew or Aramaic version of Matthew, there is not a shred of evidence that Paul or ANY of his followers EVER destroyed either.

Another thing to consider is the attitudes of the Church Fathers, which I shall provide in this article.

Ignatius Letter to the Romans Chapter 4:
4:3 I do not enjoin you, as Peter and Paul did. They
were Apostles, I am a convict; they were free, but I
am a slave to this very hour. Yet if I shall suffer,
then am I a freed-man of Jesus Christ, and I shall
rise free in Him. Now I am learning in my bonds to put
away every desire.

Ignatius Letter to the Ephesians Chapter 12:
12:1 I know who I am and to whom I write. I am a
convict, ye have received mercy: I am in peril, ye are
12:2 Ye are the high-road of those that are on their
way to die unto God. Ye are associates in the
mysteries with Paul, who was sanctified, who obtained
a good report, who is worthy of all felicitation; in
whose foot-steps I would fain be found treading, when
I shall attain unto God; who in every letter maketh
mention of you in Christ Jesus.

Ignatius was a student of the apostle John. Since John got his teaching from Jesus, Ignatius would of been aware of what Jesus taught, even as a Gentile. If Ignatius was convinced that Paul was a usurper and a false brother, he would of warned the apostles themselves, or confront Paul directly. Accusing Ignatius of a conspiracy, as well as Polycarp, also John's pupil, will not work, considering both were willing to go to the grave while acknowledging Paul was a true apostle of Jesus Christ.

Polycarp was also familiar with the Gospel that John presented. If Polycarp was convinced Paul was false, he would take the same actions that Ignatius would of taken as I have mentioned above.

Polycarp says the following in his letter to the Philippians:
Polycarp Letter to the Philippians 3:
Polycarp 3:2
For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the
wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you
taught face to face with the men of that day the word which
concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent,
wrote a letter unto you, into the which if ye look diligently, ye
shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you,

Polycarp 3:3
which is the mother of us all, while hope followeth after and love
goeth before--love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbor. For
if any man be occupied with these, he hath fulfilled the commandment
of righteousness; for he that hath love is far from all sin.

Polycarp 11:2
But he who cannot govern himself in these things, how doth he enjoin
this upon another? If a man refrain not from covetousness, he shall
be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the Gentiles
who know not the judgment of the Lord, Nay, know we not, that the
saints shall judge the world, as Paul teacheth?

Polycarp 11:3
But I have not found any such thing in you, neither have heard
thereof, among whom the blessed Paul labored, who were his 
letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those
churches which alone at that time knew God; for we knew Him not as

Polycarp 12:1
For I am persuaded that ye are well trained in the sacred writings,
and nothing is hidden from you. But to myself this is not granted.
Only, as it is said in these scriptures, Be ye angry and sin not,
and Let not the sun set on your wrath. Blessed is he that
remembereth this; and I trust that this is in you.

I could present more quotes, but I think that pretty much somes up what some of the early fathers think of Paul.

If the Lord Wills, I may address more of Blumenthal's conspiracy against Paul in future articles.

Answering Judaism.

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