Wednesday 30 October 2013

Pauline Conspiracy: Examining the claims of Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal 2

Well folks here is some more responding to the claims of Yisroel Blumenthal again, let's take a look at them shall we?

"The book of Acts was written by a follower of Paul. It is clear that he was motivated to present a picture in which Paul and the Jewish followers of Jesus agreed on the fundamental issues. The story that the book of Acts relates is quite different than Paul’s version of the events."

To those who have been reading my responses to Blumenthal, Didn't he already claim that Acts 21 has the Jewish Believers and James telling Paul to repudiate the idea that Jesus was a final sacrifice? Now he saying the writer presented a picture of Paul and the Jewish followers agreeing on the fundamentals. He has completely shot his own thesis in the foot. Question, Did the writer make it seem Paul was in agreement? or is the text clear Paul's teaching was wrong? You can't have it both ways.

"When Paul speaks of his own conversion, he finds it important to tell us that “straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up toJerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days” (Galatians 1:16,17,18).
But when the book of Acts describes the same events we get an entirely different picture. No word is mentioned of a trip to Arabia. Paul spends time with the disciples in Damascus, then he preaches in Damascus. It is then told that he arrives in Jerusalem where the Christians were not convinced of the sincerity of Paul’s conversion to the degree that they were afraid of him. (This gives the impression that it was much less than three years between Paul’s conversion and his arrival in Jerusalem.) But Barnabas reassures the apostles and Paul was “with them going in and going out at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:28)."

The trip to Arabia was probably not a relevant point when Luke was writing his book. Paul is speaking of his own testimony in his letter to the Galatians and what he did when Jesus came to him. Blumenthal does admit this "contradiction" can be reconciled, but in the next paragraph he asks his audience regarding the bigger picture.

"I am well aware that all of these contradictions can be reconciled by agile minds. But there is a deeper question to be asked. Why the differences? Why does Paul consider it of utmost importance to tell us of his trip to Arabia, of the three-year period that elapses before he comes to Jerusalem, and of the fact that he saw none of the apostles aside from Peter and James? Why does Paul start out his post-conversion story by telling us that “he conferred not with flesh and blood”? And why does the author of Acts regard these same facts to be so insignificant that the picture he paints leaves us with the opposite impression?"

For the reasons I gave above, It is not something that Luke was concerned with. Luke doesn't need to record everything that Paul did. In fact Paul's later execution is not recorded in the Book of Acts either.

"It is clear that the author of the book of Acts was motivated to present Paul’s preaching as a smooth progression from the preaching of the other apostles. Paul, on the other hand, was motivated to show that his preaching is from a source that is superior to the preaching of the other apostles. It was not important to Paul to show a smooth progression. It was enough for Paul to tell us of a begrudging acknowledgment of his preaching by the apostles who saw the live Jesus."

Where is Blumenthal getting this conspiracy from? Luke is not claiming any superiority of Paul or supremacy of him. Also, Why would Luke be motivated to present a false view of Paul if he knew that Paul was a fraud? The conspiracy theory doesn't work. As I mentioned in my previous paper, Ignatius and Polycarp would not side with Paul if they knew he was a false apostle, it's the same thing with Luke. Why would they invent this story if they knew in their hearts that Paul was some uspurper of the church? This isn't Shabbatai Tsvi we are dealing with, this is the apostles of Christ we are tackling. In fact ha-Yakini was guilty of forging a document to try and prove the Messiahship of Tszi

For info about this incident with ha-Yakini, read here the following article:

"The story that Paul tells us in Galatians 2;7-9 is also roundly contradicted by the author of Acts. Paul claims that the leaders of the JerusalemChurch “saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with [the gospel] of the circumcision”. Paul is claiming that these men recognized that the dead Jesus had spoken to him and authorized him to teach just as the live Jesus had spoken to Peter and authorized Peter to preach in his name.
The book of Acts tells us that no such acknowledgment ever took place. In chapter 15 of the book of Acts we are told that when a question arose concerning gentile observance of the Law, Peter and James speak and present their understanding of the matter. If, as Paul claimed, Peter and James truly acknowledged Paul’s apostleship, they should have simply said; Jesus appointed Paul as an apostle to the gentiles, let us obey him. According to the book of Acts, they did nothing of the sort. Furthermore, the book of Acts describes the last meeting between James and Paul, and again the issue of gentile observance comes up, and again James makes reference to the previous decision of the Jerusalem Church and says not a word about Paul’s apostleship (Acts 21:25)."

Why should he mention Paul's apostleship? It wasn't even an issue that James raised in Acts 21 to begin with. Acts 14 already shows Paul was accepted by the apostles, Again, I ask, Did the writer make it seem Paul was in agreement? or is the text clear Paul's teaching was wrong? Which is it? Blumenthal is going back and forth between these options judging by what I am reading. I am amazed. Anyway, there is no contradiction, it's simply Blumenthal forcing something onto the text that is simply not there.

"Another revealing episode is described in chapter 21 of the book of Acts. Paul arrives in Jerusalem and is informed by James that “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of them that have believed; and they are all zealous for the law. and they have been informed concerning thee, that thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs.What is it therefore? They will certainly hear that thou art come.” (Acts 21:20-22).
According to James, all the Jewish Christians are zealous for the law. The word that James uses (zealous), implies ardor, enthusiasm, passion and excitement. Is this Pauline Christianity? Which Christian denomination encourages Jewish people to be “zealous for the law”?"

Er.. Gentiles were not required to keep certain ordinances of the Torah, only the moral minus the death penalty. I have already covered this issue of what laws Gentiles follow in this article:

There is no question that the Jewish Christians kept the Torah, I have no problem with this personally. If a Messianic Jew wants to keep the Torah because they believe it pleases the Lord and they are convinced in their conscience, then that's ok. It's only if they have the attitude of the Judaizers I have a problem because they are forcing it on others. If they keep it to themselves that's fine. Romans 14 speaks on this issue of food, as does Colossians 2:16, I am NOT to act as their judge if they feel that keeping certain ordinances honors their Messiah. As long as they are not Judaizers, I will not confront them.

"According to James, it is not the JerusalemChurch that oversteps its boundaries by trying to influence the gentiles (as per Galatians 2:14), but it is Paul who is overstepping his boundaries in trying to influence the Jews. The author of the book of Acts gives us the impression that this was a false accusation that was not accepted by James, but he does acknowledge that all the Jewish believers believed this accusation.
The author of the book of Acts does not explicitly tell us how the members of the JerusalemChurch felt about this accusation. But from the little he says, we can understand that this was no friendly misunderstanding. The words “they will certainly hear that thou art come”, imply that the mere fact of Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem will stir up agitation amongst the Jewish Christians. This agitation was not something that could have been settled by James reassuring his following that this was an innocent misunderstanding, and that Paul was truly loyal to the law. The conflict was so deep that a verbal explanation on Paul’s part would also not put the issue to rest. It is clear that the Jewish Christians did not trust Paul’s words."

Where is Blumenthal getting this "overstepping the boundaries" from? Paul was rebuking Peter for not handling the Gospel correctly, Peter was mistaken and CORRECTED by Paul, that's first an foremost. Second, As I pointed out in my article where I respond to Blumenthal on Acts 21, Rumours were spreading about Paul that he was telling the Jews to abandon the Torah, but James told Paul to demonstrate to the Jewish believers that he is NOT abandoning the Law of Moses and put down the rumours. You can find the article here:

"The only way James could end the conflict was by telling Paul; “Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men that have a vow on them; these take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges for them, that they may shave their heads: and all shall know that there is no truth in the things whereof they have been informed concerning thee; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, keeping the law.” (Acts 21:23,24).
The author of the book of Acts would have us believe that this action on Paul’s part would serve as a declaration of Paul’s true beliefs. Paul’s participation in the Temple rites, would demonstrate to one and all that he was truly loyal to the law of Moses. This explanation fits with the inclination of the author of Acts to minimize the conflict between Paul and the JerusalemChurch. But this explanation is highly unlikely. If this conflict could not be settled through a verbal declaration on Paul’s part, why would a public performance put the accusations to rest? If the Jewish Christians suspected Paul of lying with his mouth, why would they be so naive to think that he could he not lie with his actions?"

They would be satisfied with his actions, not because of naivety but because of Paul proving his very actions. Also the apostles already approved of Paul in the very book Blumenthal quotes. If Blumenthal is going to nitpick the text, there isn't much I can say to persuade him regarding the apostleship of Paul.

If the Lord Wills, more articles regarding this Pauline Conspiracy written by Blumenthal, may put his
arguments to rest.

Answering Judaism.

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