Before we continue our research into Paul and the problems connected with Paul as he is portrayed in the New Testament, I think it is beneficial to give a synopsis of what our research has confirmed.
The leading ideas of Paul's Epistles are far removed from Pharisaic Judaism. Paul's elevation of Yeshua to divine status was, for the Pharisees and for other Jews who believed the Jewish Bible, a reversion to paganism. Judaism had steadfastly refused to attribute divine status even to its greatest prophet, Moses, whose human failings are emphasized in scripture. Judaism had encountered a succession of human-divine figures throughout its history, from the deified Pharaohs of Egypt to the deified emperors of Greece and Rome, and had always found such worship to be associated with oppression and slavery. The Jews regarded their own anointed kings as mere human beings, whose actions were closely scrutinized and, if need be, criticized; so that the elevation of a Messiah ('anointed one') to divine status aroused in them not only their scorn of idolatry, but also deep political feelings of outrage at the usurpation of a position of power beyond the normal processes of criticism and constitutional opposition. While the Jews looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, they did not think that he would be a divine figure and thus beyond criticism; on the contrary, the Messiah would be accompanied by a prophet, who, like Elijah, would not hesitate to reprimand the anointed king if he failed in his duties or if he ignored the words of Deuteronomy "that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren" (Deuteronomy 17:20).
Paul's use of the term 'Christ' (the Greek term for the Hebrew 'Messiah') as a divine title has thus no precedent in Judaism, and would be felt by any Jew to be a complete departure from Jewish thinking about the Messiah. Further, the idea of 'being in Christ', which occurs frequently in Paul's letters, is entirely without parallel in Jewish literature, whether of the Pharisees or of any other sects. The concept of "being in a God" originated in Egypt. "Being in a God," in this case, means a kind of unity with, or sinking of the individuality into, the divine personality of Yeshua, and a sharing of his experience of crucifixion and resurrection as Paul speak about in Gal. 2:20. This is no different from the original concept of "being in Osiris" and "becoming Osiris" as taught in Egyptian Religion.
Gal 2:20 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV)
Rom 6:3-6 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (KJV)
Notice that in these two concepts which Paul taught to Gentiles, and not Jews, that we have the whole ball of wax. This original concept comes from belief that when one dies he hopes to "become Osiris" and "become in him and he in them." I guess it is time that you you do serious study into Egyptian sun-worship in order to see these non-Jewish concepts for yourself!
Apart from the implied elevation of Yeshua to divine status, this concept involves a relationship to the Divine that is alien to Judaism, in which the autonomy of the individual human personality is respected and guaranteed. The idea of 'being in Christ', however, can be paralleled without difficulty in the religion of Egypt and the later mystery cults.
Even more shocking to Jewish religious susceptibilities is Paul's use of the term 'Lord' (Greek, kurios) as a title of the deified Yeshua. This is the term used in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, to translate the Tetragrammaton or holy name of God Almighty (YHVH), Creator of Heaven and Earth. To apply the name "kurios" or Lord in its divine sense to a human being who had recently lived and died on Earth would have seemed to any Pharisee or other Jew sheer blasphemy. However, to the recipients of Paul's letters, the use of the term "Lord" for Yeshua would not have seemed shocking at all, for this was the regular term for the deities of the mystery cults, those salvation gods with whom the devotees united their souls in communal dying and resurrection as just mentioned above. This presentation of Jesus in the writings of Paul amounts to the paganizing of Jesus for his Gentile audience to make not only him, the messenger, but the message more acceptable. Coupled with that one must realize that Paul was fresh from being rejected by the Sadducean High Priest and had not found the reception he expected from the Pharisees because of his prior harassment and imprisonment of many of them. Paul was desperately seeking "acceptance" in order to build a name for himself and this compromise whereby he moulded Jesus in the form of the already popular Gentile concepts of their gods and godmen was a stroke of genius for Paul. He simply would present Jesus in the fashion of the pagan godmen his audiences were already familiar, and since they were polytheistic, one more Godman would not be a problem. It was similar to "collecting baseball cards" if you catch my drift; one more won't hurt.
The religious outlook of Paul's letters was thus shocking to Jews, but familiar to non-Jewish members of the Hellenistic culture. Paul, though, must have known that, in applying such ideas to a person who had lived in a Jewish context, he was doing something new and shocking - indeed he explicitly says that he is aware of this.
We must remember that a "scholar" knows "his stuff," but other scholars "know different stuff." What I mean is that no two people always know exactly what the other does. That is why there is so much knowledge to learn and life is a pilgrimage through this knowledge where different people are at different levels of learning. I, and other scholar familiar with what I write, don't always know everything about everything, but one thing is for sure, I sure know Christianity because I grew up as one and studied it intently for over 20 years. However, along the way I studied Judaism and a host of related disciplines. Things just did not add up and too much conflicting "beliefs" led to further analysis and study.
This being so explains why some scholars are not familiar with this information that I and others present. They simply have not seen it in their studies. This fact explains why some scholars have tried to solve the problem of Paul's adoption of utterly un-Jewish ideas in "his gospel" by seeking a continuity between Judaism and Paul's ideas. Even those scholars, however, who have admitted an unbridgeable gulf between Paul's ideas and Judaism have insisted, nevertheless, that Paul began his religious life as a Pharisee, and we have seen that such is simply not true. You see many of them have not seen what you have seen since you read these few articles. They are then faced with the problem of how Paul, assumed to be by them a trained and convinced Pharisee, was able to make such an extraordinary transition to ideas so far removed from Pharisaism.
Answer for yourself: How do they account for the un-Jewish ideas of Paul in his writings as applied to Jesus?
The solution is found in the nature of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus: this was no gradual development, but a shattering revelation in which all previous ideas and doctrines were swept away; consequently, there is no need to find continuity between Paul's Christology and his previous religious standpoint, which stood at an opposite pole. What these "scholars" want us to believe is that 4000 years of God leading and directing and preparing His people for their ultimate salvation and redemption thorough God's "anointed agent," the "one like unto Moses who was to come," was in a second totally wiped away and discarded and "plan B" was implemented and the only one who knew about this change of plans was one man...Saul the Sadducee! This is too impossible to believe!
Isa 42:9 9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. (KJV)
Now listen up. God has promised to tell His people of the things He does before He does them simply in order that they and He can walk in unity. Now we are expected to believe that God is changing everything that He has spoken concerning His "salvation" as promised to his people through many messengers for thousands of years and He only tells one person out of nation of millions.
When God wanted to make things known, at Sinai for instance, He appeared on the mountain in sight of millions. God continually sent representative of Himself over and over with the "same message" as chronicled in the Prophets and sages in the history of Israel and their message was the "same" over and over again. Now, we are expected, according to the New Testament, that God is giving "one man," a Gentile convert who was a Sadducee until he fell out of their graces, with a supreme revelation that will alter and change everything that God has previously said and prepared his people for during the span of 4000 years. We are expected to believe that this God who "changes not" evidently scrapped everything He had done previously concerning His Messiah and how He had planned to ultimately redeem His people and in one second instituted "plan B" which was modeled after the Gentile's sun-worship and their solar-saviors and gave this "new plan B" not to again many messengers as had been His prior approach, but only to one man; a man who had been a murderer of God's people no less. Yet even this approach has to acknowledge that Paul, after his conversion and "special revelation of Jesus fashioned in the form of Gentile sun-godman, was still the same person as he was before and was not able to obliterate all traces of his upbringing and education. This education that he received while growing up in Tarsus, a city with few Jews and which is known to be the center for Mithra worship in Asia Minor, consisted of indoctrination in the pagan mystery religions. It is not surprising that this "revelation concerning Jesus" that is taught by Paul has so much in common with his prior training in the "mysteries." That explains dear ones why his revelation of Jesus is of a "mystical" and "cosmic" Jesus and not an earthly Jesus and also goes a long way to explain why Paul is not concerned with the human Jesus and his teachings or what he believed (only referenced only 2 teachings in 2 sentences that Jesus taught).
Paul is touted to be a "Pharisee of Pharisees."
Answer for yourself: If that is really true than one should expect that Paul would be familiar with Rabbinical methods of hermeneutics or Biblical interpretation would we not?
Answer for yourself: What are some of these methods of Rabbinical interpretation of Jewish writings which all Rabbis and Pharisees held strict adherence to in analysis of the texts?
There are "Four" methods of interpretation of Biblical texts according to the teaching of the Jewish sages, there are four different ways in which any passage of Scripture may be understood. All four methods are said to be valid, and all four may produce somewhat different conclusions. This may seem confusing to those of us who have been educated in the culture of Western Civilization, where it is common to believe that communication can and should have only one meaning. This is not the case with the Hebrew mind set, where different meanings are not only accepted, but diligent searches are sometimes made to locate those differences. The four methods of interpretation are listed below, from the simplest to the most complex:
1) PASHAT is the literal or surface meaning of the text. All students of the Scriptures are expected to learn the "pashat" thoroughly before delving into the other meanings. Thus, a passage of Biblical history, such as the story of Joseph in Egypt, is to be understood in its simplest (literal) fashion before one begins to draw lessons from it. By the way, "pashat" is the `safest' method of interpreting the Scriptures.
2) REMEZ is sometimes called the `esoteric' meaning of the Scriptures. In other words, it is a meaning which is not apparent from the surface or "pashat" meaning. Often it involves the connecting of different Scriptures together, based upon key words or concepts. This is what commonly takes place when Bible students do word studies by searching out all of the uses of a word in Scripture in order to better understand its full meaning. However, this method can also be used to connect differing concepts concerning the same subject, such referring back to prior passages which shed light upon the passage under current study. Simply said this is "referring back to what has already been said" on the same topic or subject by different writers.
3) DRASH from which comes the Hebrew word Midrash, are the moral lessons to be learned from the various stories and parables found in Scripture. In Yeshua's day the Rabbis tended to be divided into two different types of teachers; those who taught the law, and those who taught moral lessons based on the law, through stories and examples. The former method was called HALACHA (the way one walk), while the latter was called AGGADAH. Yeshua was primarily an "aggadic" teacher, as witnessed by his many parables.
4) SOD is the deeper meaning of Scripture. It is often associated with the Kabbalistic teachings of medieval Jewish mysticism. "Sod" includes various methods of addressing Scripture text from a completely non-literal position. For example, Gematria is a common form of "sod." This is where a different meaning, of a word or passage, is derived based on the numerical values of the Hebrew letters. "Sod," in some of its forms, can be a dangerous form of study because it can lead the student down wrong paths of understanding. The `"New Age" form of Judaism falls into the category of "sod" study. By using these four different methods of interpretation, the Sages were able to understand that many of the Scriptures, which seemed to have been written in a very literal fashion, also contained layers of more profound meanings. As a result of this viewpoint, many orthodox Rabbis might say that all of the Hebrew Scriptures, right down to the letter level, teach in some way about the Messiah and how he is to come to redeem Israel and the world.
Most likely having grown up in church your whole lives, and hearing that Paul was a Pharisee, then it should be expected that Paul's writings will show strong traces of his Pharisee education: that Paul, though thinking quite differently from when he was a Pharisee, would have continued to use techniques of expression and argument characteristic of Pharisaism, and could not have done otherwise, any more than a person can obliterate his own fingerprints.
Answer for yourself: Do Paul's letters and epistles exhibit characteristics of these 4 levels of Rabbinical methods of interpretation and writing techniques? If it can be shown that they do not adhere to these 4 levels or Rabbinic hermeneutics then what can be said for them or their author concerning his Pharisaical background where these techniques were to be mastered?
The facts of the matter speak for themselves. Paul's letters show un-Pharisaic ideas expressed in a Pharisaic style, a confirmation of the New Testament account of Paul's early life. This again is testimony to the fact, as the early testimony of the Ebionites attest, that Paul was a non-Jew who converted to Sadducean Judaism in order to purse a love interest for the High Priests daughter.
Answer for yourself: Has any Christians noted this same fact as pointed out by the Jews themselves concerning Paul? Yes there has been some who have noticed the non-Pharisaical mode of Paul's thinking and writing.
Believe it or not, this is the testimony of the early church historian Epiphanius Against Heresies, chapter XXX, sec. 16. In this our own church historian comments on Pauls radical conversion. The alleged cause of Pauls sudden conversion and the transference of his hatred from Christianity to Judaism is questioned. The story of the apparition will not account for it. A genuine change of belief is not usually effected suddenly. Men sometimes change their religion for gain or revenge. It has been charged by our own Church Historian Epiphanius that Paul twice changed his religious affiliation, the first time for the hope of gain, and the second from a desire for revenge.
It has been charged by our own Church Historian Epiphanius that Paul twice changed his religious affiliation, the first time for the hope of gain, and the second from a desire for revenge.
Answer for yourself: What else does this "honest" Gentile Church Historian tell us about Paul?
Epiphanius tells us that the Ebionites, one of the earliest of the Jewish Christian early sects, records for us that Paul was originally a Gentile, that becoming infatuated with the daughter of the High Priest he became a convert to Judaism for the purpose of winning her for a wife, but being rejected (not allowed to marry her), he renounced the Jewish faith and became a vehement opponent of the law, the Sabbath, and circumcision (Epiphanius Against Heresies, xxx, sec 16).
Answer for yourself: Did you catch that? Did you notice that this was not a Jewish attack upon Paul but a Christian historian no less, one of our "boys," that tells us that! Now you know what kind of truths you can get from reading lots of early Church and Jewish history....you find the truth long buried for theological advantage by various parties.
Answer for yourself: Now did you make the connection that was made in earlier articles that Paul was originally a Sadducee and this fits well in the overall scheme of his ability to be close to the High Priest and surely would have been acquainted with his daughter, but being a converted Gentile "dog" was seen by the High Priest not good enough for his daughter. Paul was good enough to imprison and kill Messianic Pharisees for the High Priest but not good enough to marry his daughter (THINK).
I challenge you to listen to your own early church historians who give you a more clear picture of the times than what we have inherited today by the purging and re-writing of this period of history by the Roman Church. Now back to the article.
Though many Christian authors confidently assert that Paul's Epistles are full of Pharisaic expressions and arguments, few authors have made a serious attempt to substantiate this by giving examples. When they do (e.g. Schoeps or Klausner) it is quite startling to see how unconvincing they are. In fact, it may safely be said that if people had not already been convinced that Paul was a Pharisee (because of his own claim, and that made for him in Acts), no one would have thought of calling him a Pharisee or a person of 'rabbinic' cast of mind simply from a study of the Epistles. Instead of being a Pharisee writer, Paul would have been regarded as a Hellenistic writer, deeply imbued with the Greek translation of the Bible, like Philo, but not familiar with the characteristic approach of the Pharisee rabbis.
If we free ourselves from the corrupted texts in the New Testament and the implanted assumption that Paul was a Pharisee, and up to now in the previous articles I have proven that, then we are not compelled to identify the style of Paul's Epistles with that of Pharisaism, and can allot them their due place in Hellenistic literature. The attempts by scholars, both Christian and Jewish, to find Pharisaic fingerprints in the Epistles can be dismissed as one of the whims of scholarship, which will always make the attempt to find in a text what is previously believed, for extraneous reasons, to be there, whether the text itself gives support to the enterprise or not. There is a term for this: eisegeis; where we read into a text what we already believe regardless if that concept is in the text or not.
Let us then examine some of the examples usually given, by those who bother to give examples at all, to show how Pharisaic Paul's mind was. We may begin with an example of exegetical logic that is fundamental to Pharisaic thought.
One of the most important tools of Pharisaic reasoning was what was known as the qal va-homer argument. This is known in Western culture as the argument a fortiori, but it plays a far less important role in Western thinking, based on the logic of Aristotle, than it does in the thinking of the Pharisees and the Talmud. T
This is known in Western culture as the argument a fortiori, but it plays a far less important role in Western thinking, based on the logic of Aristotle, than it does in the thinking of the Pharisees and the Talmud. The qal va-homer (literally, 'light and heavy') goes like this: if something is known about one thing which has a certain quality in a relatively 'light' form, then it must be true 'all the more so' of some other thing that has the same quality in a relatively 'heavy' form.
A typical example is found in the Bible: where the Lord says to Moses, after Miriam has offended by her criticisms and has been punished with leprosy, and Moses prays that she may be healed: "If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? Let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again" (Numbers 12:14). This example is actually cited in the rabbinical writings as a paradigm for a reason that will prove important in our argument about Paul. The argument may be paraphrased as follows: if offending a father (a relatively light thing) is punished with banishment for seven days, offending God (a relatively heavy thing) should all the more receive such a punishment and therefore Miriam should not be forgiven immediately.
To give a more easily comprehensible example from modern life: if a person should not drive a car after drinking a given quantity of beer, then all the more should he not drive after drinking the same quantity of whiskey.
Now Paul, in his Epistles, is quite fond of using the a fortiori argument, and this has been regarded, by some, as incontrovertible proof of his Pharisee training, which gave him a taste for arguing in this way even when he was arguing for a doctrine of which the Pharisees would have disapproved strongly.
Answer for yourself: But is this a correct assessment? No. Let us continue and show you why.
Examples of Paul's use of the qal va-homer are the following:
Answer for yourself: Out of the above 4 examples cited by some of Paul's rabbinical writing style, how many truly can be classified as qal va-homer? Only 3.
Out of these four qal va-homer arguments in Romans, three are invalid arguments by the canons of Pharisee logic, for it is a basic principle of that logic that in a qal va-homer argument, the conclusion cannot validly go beyond what is contained in the premise. This is known as the principle of dayo.
To explain this principle, we may return to our first example, the biblical argument used about Miriam. It would be invalid, in Pharisee logic, to argue as follows: if offending a father deserves seven days banishment, then offending God deserves fourteen days banishment. Such an argument has no precision about it, for how do we know how much to add to the data given in the premise in order to arrive at the conclusion? The only precise form of the argument is this: if offending a father deserves seven days banishment, then all the more so does offending God deserve seven days banishment. This is the form of the argument actually found in the Bible, as the Pharisees pointed out to support their analysis.
In the four arguments quoted from Romans above, only the fourth one conforms to the correct pattern of a qal va-homer argument, the others going far beyond the conclusion warranted by their premise.
If one looks to these examples listed above from the pen of Paul one must conclude that Paul had no idea of the conditions of validity of this a qal-va-homes of argument; one correct argument out of four shows only a random success. This is evidence against Paul being a Pharisee and not conducive to support such a contention.
The qal va-homer argument is a Jewish form of analogy, and in Greek logic the analogy was never regarded as capable of logical form or precision. Hellenistic writers, on the other hand, often used afortiori reasoning, but only in a loose, rhetorical way, without regard for precision or formal validity. This is just the way that Paul uses such arguments, and this stamps him as someone who has never received a Pharisee's training. A trained Pharisee could never forget his education to such an extent as to produce fuzzy, imprecise reasoning in a field where the Pharisees prided themselves on their precision. Paul's use of afortiori arguments has often been cited to show that he was a Pharisee by education, but in fact this attempted proof rebounds on itself.
Nothing could display more clearly Paul's lack of Pharisee scholarship than his use of the afortiori argument, which he employs in a rhetorical style that can be paralleled from the popular Stoic preachers of the Hellenistic world. But understand this is not how Rabbis were taught to teach or write....this is not a Jewish mode of writing or teaching; such betrays Paul's lack of Pharisee training and brings in doubt that he ever studied with Gamaliel.
For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5: 10)
Remembering that qal va-homer is an argument in a Jewish form like an analogy, a Pharisee would not contrast "being an enemy with God" with "being saved by his life" when coupled with the effects of the death of his Son. If this were a true qal va-homer "saved by his life" would have to parallel the same theme as "enemy of God." It does not, thus betraying that this is not an instance of qal va-homer.
For if by the wrongdoing of that one man death established its reign, through a single sinner, much more shall those who receive in far greater measure God's grace, and his gift of righteousness, live and reign through the one man, Yeshua Christ. (Romans 5: 17)
Again we see the "wrongdoing of one man that brought death" cannot be paralleled with "grace of God that is a gift of righteousness". Again this is not an example of qal va-homer.
For if their rejection has meant the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean? Nothing less than life from the dead! (Romans 11: 15)
Lastly, "rejection" cannot be paralleled with "acceptance" and qualify as a qal va-homer.
The above examples are strong evidence to the contrary and weakens the position that Paul was writing like Pharisees and Rabbis. This information, which is of a somewhat technical nature, is especially important for us since we are instructed in the New Testament that Paul was trained by Gamaliel. Paul's used of Rabbinical techniques of "writing" and "thinking" betray his lack of understanding and training in Rabbinical methods of hermeneutics. To suggest, as did the writer of Luke, that Paul was trained under Gamaliel is a discredit to Gamaliel for evidently he was a poor teacher because Paul, if he were a pupil, learned absolutely nothing. He must have gotten an "F" in Gamaliel's class. In reality to suggest that Paul was even a student of Gamaliel is preposterous because his writings betray he knows little if anything about Rabbinical hermeneutics and writing. Nothing could be farther from the truth that Paul, a Gentile convert, being a student of the highly respected Gamaliel.
Well we just say how Paul cannot use the simple technique of Qal-va-homer (Jewish analogy).
Now let us turn to see how Paul, a supposed Pharisee of Pharisees, uses Jewish midrash or biblical exegesis to reinforce his arguments. Maybe we can find evidence of Rabbinical training in this. An example often cited by Christian writers to show Paul's rabbinical style is the following: "Christ bought us freedom from the curse of the law by becoming for our sake an accursed thing; for Scripture says, 'A curse is on everyone who is hanged on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13).
Answer for yourself: Is the above statement in Galatians 3:13 true?
Here Paul offers a verse from Deuteronomy in order to explain how great the sacrifice of Yeshua was: he voluntarily took upon himself a curse by the manner of his death so that mankind would be freed from the curse of sin. Traditional Christianity uses this verse as a foundational stone to their religious belief system.
It has been assumed by most scholars that Paul's interpretation of the verse in Deuteronomy (i.e. that anyone hanged on a tree is under a curse) was part of contemporary Pharisee exegesis of that verse, and that consequently Paul took his basis for argument from the Pharisee stock, though he developed it in his own way. This, however, is an serious error.
The idea that anyone hanged on a tree is under a curse was entirely alien to Pharisee thought, and the Pharisee teachers did not interpret the verse in Deuteronomy in this way. Many highly respected members of the Pharisee movement were crucified by the Romans, just like Yeshua, and, far from being regarded as under a curse because of the manner of their death, they were regarded as martyrs. The idea that an innocent man would incur a curse from God just because he had been unfortunate enough to die an agonizing death on the cross was never part of Pharisee thinking, and only a deep contempt for the Judaism of the Pharisees has led so many scholars to assume that it was. The Pharisees never thought that God was either stupid or unjust, and He would have to be both to put a curse on an innocent victim.
Even if the hanged person was guilty of a capital crime, he was not regarded as being under a curse, but, on the contrary, as having expiated and atoned for his crime by undergoing execution. The verse in question (Deuteronomy 21:23) was interpreted by the rabbis as follows: an executed criminal's corpse was to be suspended on a pole for a short period, but the corpse (his body which was created in the image of God) must then be taken down and not left to hang overnight, for to do this (to leave hanging overnight) would incur a curse from God; in other words, the curse was placed NOT on the executed person, but on the people responsible for subjecting the corpse to indignity by leaving in the corpse exposed in such an undignified manner overnight). One interpretation was that it is cursing God, or blasphemy, to allow the corpse of an executed criminal to hang overnight, for the human body was made in the image of God.
The New English Bible translates the verse, "When a man is convicted of a capital offense and is put to death, you shall hang him on a tree; but his body shall not remain on the tree overnight; you shall bury it on the same day, for a hanged man is offensive in the sight of God." This is in accordance with the Pharisee interpretation of the passage, which was a correct reflection of the meaning of the original Hebrew.
Answer for yourself: Should we blame the Holy Spirit for inspiring Paul to write this write and record this passage from Deuteronomy so incorrectly and get the true meaning of the passage absolutely backwards? Paul's inability to understand this passage and to convey it correctly does not say much for Gamaliel's training nor for Paul's ability to comprehend the Jewish faith. When one considers that Paul was an adult convert to Judaism as attested in the Ebionite letter and that most likely he never attended one lecture of Gamaliel then much of these errors and problems of Paul are easily explained.
Answer for yourself: Does Paul not know any better his own Jewish Scriptures and could this explain why he cannot relate, quote, or interpret correctly the Jewish Scriptures?
Answer for yourself: Or does this once again show the thinking believer that Paul was not well familiar with the Jewish Scriptures which again is evidence of his Gentile background and conversion to a faith which was new for him?
Paul's interpretation was thus not taken from any Pharisee source, but was his own personal reaction to the rather ambiguous translation given in the Greek Septuagint. Far from providing an example of Pharisee midrash, Paul shows himself in this passage in Galatians to be far removed from the spirit of the midrashic interpretations common to all Pharisees.
Vague concepts, such as being under a posthumous curse because of the baleful magical effect of the manner of one's death (died on a cross), belongs to Gentile paganism, not to Judaism, much less Pharisaic Judaism, which regarded the manner of one's life as the decisive means of obtaining the favor or God or incurring the displeasure of God. Judaism teaches, and always has, that it is not the manner of one's death that displeases God, especially when the the method of one's death was not under one's control. God is concerned with how we live and not how we die. Again this theology as espoused in many of Pauline epistles is evidence of the influence of Pauls Gentile background before converting to Judaism and his lack of Rabbinical training. It might be said by Paul's friends that he studied under Gamaliel (Luke in Acts) but Paul never said he did and without a doubt Paul's writings show beyond a doubt that he does not "think" like a Rabbinical Pharisee not writes like one.
As for the idea that Yeshua removed a curse from other people by taking a curse upon himself, this too is alien to Jewish thinking, but this, of course, belongs to Paul's central theology, not to his style of argument, and will dealt with later in future articles.
Answer for yourself: So why have we misunderstood Paul by his depiction in the New Testament and have come to believe him to be a Pharisee among Pharisees when the truth of matter is that nothing could be further from the truth. Such is the fruit of reediting of the New Testament by anti-Semitic agendas and millions read and believe these lies never knowing them to be so.
For the most part we are New Testament Christians and not Old Testament Christians. If we had been taught the Old Testament before the New Testament then we would have easily seen when and how the "theological train" jumps the track in the New Testament. When all is said and done it comes down to this; namely, it is our unfamiliarity with Biblical Judaism and a Jewish Jesus that is the reason we have fallen for the multitude of deceptions in the New Testament.
Matt 24:24 24 For there shall arise false Christs (anointed ones), and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (KJV)
Many supposedly "anointed ones" with revelations from God have come in the name of God with "this" and "that" special revelation and in the end all that they have done is deceive the "elect" and the children of God. Paul is just one in a long line of them. You are beginning to see this as we look at Paul's inability to interpret the Jewish passages correctly let alone to think and write in traditional Jewish Rabbinical methods. Some passages in Paul's Epistles have been thought to be typically Pharisaic simply because their argument has a legalistic air. When these passages are critically examined, however, the superficiality of the legal coloring soon appears, and it is apparent that the use of illustrations from law is merely a vague, rhetorical device, without any real legal precision, such as is found in the Pharisaic writings even when the legal style is used for homiletic biblical exegesis.
Christians for centuries have considered the Book of Romans the zenith of the literary expressions of Paul. Let us examine the following passages and inspect it for traces of Rabbinical training or the absence of it:
You cannot be unaware, my friends - I am speaking to those who have some knowledge of law - that a person is subject to the law so long as he is alive, and no longer. For example, a married woman is by law bound to her husband while he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the obligations of the marriage-law. If, therefore, in her husband's lifetime she consorts with another man, she will incur the charge of adultery; but if her husband dies she is free of the law, and she does not commit adultery by consorting with another man. So you, my friends, have died to the law by becoming identified with the body of Christ, and accordingly you have found another husband in him who rose from the dead, so that we may bear fruit for God. While we lived on the level of our lower nature, the sinful passions evoked by the law worked in our bodies, to bear fruit for death. But now, having died to that which held us bound, we are discharged from the law, to serve God in a new way, the way of the spirit, in contrast to the old way, the way of a written code. (Romans 7: 1-6).
Answer for yourself: Did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write anything, let alone this passage? Let us investigate.
It will surprise you, especially in light of all the sermons you have heard preached on this where you have been taught that the symbolism employed by Paul is to convey that the Old Covenant familiar to Jesus has been passed away away and replaced by another....the New Covenant. What you will find when you slowly analyze the passage is that the above passage is remarkably muddle-headed. Paul is trying to compare the abrogation of the Torah and the advent of the new covenant of Christianity with a second marriage contracted by a widow. He is saying that the "first marriage" of God with His people at Sinai is now replaced with a "second marriage" with Gentile Christianity.
What I am about to show you is the inability of Paul to keep his thoughts straight in the following comparisons. What you will see will be astounding and will absolutely take your breath away when you realize the haphazard juxtaposition of concepts and ideas which on the surface you have taken for granted most of our lives. We will see that Paul is unable to keep clearly in his mind "who" it is that corresponds to the "wife" and "who" corresponds to the "husband" - or even "who is supposed to have died, the husband or the wife."
The passage in Romans 7:1-6, which reflects Paul's religious beliefs, is intended to to convey the following ideas:
Now pay close attention. Paul tells us that a wife is released by the death of her husband to marry a new husband. There is no problem yet. Based on this idea of Paul and his "special revelation" the passage should read, therefore, in the comparison, that the Church was freed, by the death of the Torah, to marry Christ.
Instead, if you follow the messed up Pauline reasoning, it is the wife-Church that dies ('you, my friends, have died to the law by becoming identified with the body of Christ') and there is even some play with the idea that the new husband, Christ, has died.
Answer for yourself: Is such confusion indicative that Paul was a learned Rabbi and Pharisee and a master of reason which was a staple of Pharisee exegesis? Not at all.
Paul's lack of Pharisee training, understanding of Rabbinical methods of teaching and writing, and his overall lack of expertise in handling the simple understandings of the Jewish Scriptures (curse/tree for example) overwhelming demonstrates for us that the NT characterization of Paul as a Pharisee of Pharisees is untrue
The only term in the comparison from Romans 7 that is not mentioned as having "died" is the Torah; yet this is the only thing that would make the comparison valid and Paul missed it!
On the other hand, there is also present in the Romans 7 passage an entirely different idea: that a person becomes free of legal obligations after his or her own death. This indeed seems to be the theme first announced: "that a person is subject to the law so long as he is alive, and no longer." The theme of the widow being free to marry after the death of her first husband is quite incompatible with this; yet Paul confuses the two themes throughout - so much so that at one point he even seems to be talking about a widow and a husband who are free to marry each other and have acceptable children because both widow and new husband are dead. (THINK)! Confusion cannot be worse confounded than this.
Dearly beloved... this is the man to whom Gentile Christianity has trusted for their salvation message one who cannot keep a clear thought, cannot understand the simplest Jewish Scriptures, and who demonstrates repeatedly in the NT his inability to think and write in a Rabbinical manner...who cannot understand and use Rabbinical methods of teaching and interpretation, and who was a Sadducee...a bitter enemy of Jesus and all that he stood for....! Incredible!!!!!!
Thus what we have here is a case of someone trying to construct a legal analogy and failing miserably because of his inability to think in the logical manner one expects of a legal expert like the Rabbis and Pharisees. The passage thus does not prove that Paul had Pharisee training, but just the contrary. What we can say, however, is that Paul is here trying to sound like a trained Pharisee...which multiple evidence prove he was not! To those who know better the deception is easily apparent. To those who don't know of these things the deceptions is not so easily seen. It is we who grew up in Gentile churches who do not know Hebrew, who are unfamiliar with the truth about Pharisees, their literature and ways of writing, their methods of interpretation, the reediting of the New Testament, and the Pauline alteration of the Jewish Messianic idea, who find ourselves misled...and we never know it...that is until we die and God informs us of our sin and our mistakes.
Let us never forget Paul was writing to non-Jews, Gentiles, like you and me, who did not know or understand the Pharisees or the diligence necessary to be a master of Holy Scripture. Little has changed when reading Paul by the contemporary Christian Church. Basically the Protestant church has followed in the legacy of its mother (the Catholic Church) and failed to understand Biblical Judaism. That being the case we are relegated to reading the NT as if it is "correct" and without the knowledge that comes from Biblical Judaism we are unequipped to discern and notice the many lies and deceptions within this book; many of which are of Pauline creation which when preached today receive "amens" instead of being exposed as lies and untruths.
Paul goes on in this Romans 7 passage to announce in a somewhat portentous way that what he is going to say will be understood only by those who "have some knowledge of law" and he is clearly intending to display legal expertise. It is only natural that Paul, having claimed so often to have been trained as a Pharisee, should occasionally attempt to play the part, especially when speaking or writing for the Gentile peoples of the world who would not be able to detect any shortcomings in his performance due to their unfamiliarity with Biblical Judaism (just like the Christian Churches today). When all is said and done , Paul has produced a ludicrous travesty of Pharisee thinking. In the whole of Pharisee literature, there is nothing to parallel such an exhibition of lame reasoning.
What Paul is saying, in a general way, is that death dissolves legal ties. Therefore, the death of Yeshua and the symbolic death of members of the Church by identifying themselves with Yeshua's death all contribute to a loosening of ties with the old covenant. This general theme is clear enough; it is only when Paul tries to work out a kind of legal conceit or parable, based on the law of marriage and remarriage, that he ties himself in knots. Thus Paul loses effectiveness just where a Pharisee training, if he had ever had one, would have asserted itself; once more, he is shown to have the rhetorical style of the Hellenistic preachers of popular Stoicism, not the terse logic of the Pharisees and the rabbis.
This brings us back to the most obvious thing about Paul's writings, from a stylistic viewpoint, that they are written in Greek. Obvious as it is, this fact often seems to be ignored by those laboring to prove that Paul wrote and thought like a rabbi. Paul's Greek is that of one who is a native speaker of the language. It is not, of course, classical Greek or even literary Greek, but the living spoken language (known as koine) of the time, in both vocabulary and rhythm. He is so naturally at home in the Hellenistic world that he even quotes Menander at one point and a contemporary tragic poet at another. No such writing exists from the pen of any rabbi of the Pharisee movement who quotes pagan writers, so if Paul was a Pharisee, he was unique in this regard.
The question arises whether Paul even had sufficient grasp of the Hebrew language to have engaged in studies at a Pharisee academy. We know that he could speak Aramaic (Acts 21:40), but this did not require any study on his part, for that language was spoken as the common vernacular in his home city of Tarsus, where Greek was the language of commerce and government. But Hebrew is a different matter. This was the language of scholarship, both in its classical form as found in the Hebrew Bible and in its neo-Hebrew form as found in the Mishnah. The study of the Bible in the original Hebrew was the basis for all Pharisee studies. A knowledge of the Hebrew of the Bible was relatively rare in Paul's time, as is shown by the existence of the Targum, the translation of the Bible into Aramaic that was made for the benefit of the ordinary Jews who could not understand the Bible in Hebrew.
The indications from Paul's writings are that he knew very little Hebrew. His quotations from the Bible (which number about 160) are from the Greek translation, the Septuagint, not from the original Hebrew. It is not my intent to discuss it here, but not only did Paul not quote from the Hebrew Bible, but the vast majority of his quotations are misquotations of the original text and the intended meaning of the original author (http://www.faithofyeshua.faithweb.com). Not only that but Paul often quotes in the New Testament a passage which cannot be found in any Jewish literature to date. One must wonder if Paul made some stuff up. This charge against Paul of "creative literary invention" is true but another answer is that often he is writing and quoting from liturgies and rituals from various types of Gentile paganisms that find their origin in sun-worship (http://paganizingfaithofyeshua.netfirms.com). If you diligently study and cover the above websites you will be amazed to see how much mistranslations and misquotations of the Jewish Scriptures, as used by Paul in the New Testament (instead of the true and correct passages as taken from the Jewish Masoretic text) have played in creating a new religion called Gentile Christianity today. Ask and we will see you get the information. But back to our main point. As stated above, Paul quoted continuously from the Greek translation of Old Testament Scriptures and not the Hebrew Bible. This is shown by the fact that wherever the text of the Hebrew Bible differs from that of the Greek, Paul always quotes the text found in the Greek, not that found in the Hebrew.
Answer for yourself: Why does the text of the Greek translation differ from the Hebrew Bile in the first place in so many special "messianic positions"?
Answer for yourself: If Paul was as a Pharisee of the Pharisees and familiar with the Tanakh and as learned as we are led to believe by the New Testament they would he not know that the source he was quoting from (the Greek Old Testament) was full of purposeful mistranslations and misquotations when compared to the original Hebrew?
Answer for yourself: Since the Rabbis and Pharisees in Palestine did not use this corrupted Greek translation of their Jewish Scriptures then why does Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, uses only this?
Answer for yourself: You should ask yourself an even more troubling question, if that is possible: Given that Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, was aware that the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible contained mistranslations and misquotations, why did Paul knowingly use a flawed translation for his quotes when writing his epistles?
Answer for yourself: Was Paul not concerned for truth or was his rejection by the Sadducees and Pharisees constraining him to build himself a following and reputation in a "sour grapes" response to those in Jerusalem that rejected him? And did Paul see that the shortest way to build such a ministry is preaching "Jesus" in the same theology that his audiences already believed about their other Godmen which they arrived at from sun-worship?
Answer for yourself: Did the Gentile's unfamiliarity with the Jewish Scriptures matter to Paul, and would such Biblical ignorance on the part of the non-Jew aid Paul in the presentation of his agenda and his compromised "gospel message" regardless that the Jewish Scriptures would not support such belief?
Answer for yourself: Was truth not important to Paul, and was he more concerned at validating his personal authority and apostleship and building up a following among the Gentiles to promote himself, especially in light of his rejection by the High Priest and the Jerusalem church? These are tough questions that have tough historical answers.
For example, there is the famous Pauline quotation as found in I Corinthians 15:55:
"O death, where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting?"
This comes from the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures called the Septuagint, in particular from Hosea 13:14.
Answer for yourself: Are you aware that the Hebrew text has a different reading entirely?
The Hebrew of Hosea 13:14 as taken from the Stone Edition of the Tanakh:
'Oh for your plagues, O death! Oh for your sting, O grave!'
It is most unlikely that any Pharisee would adopt a policy of quoting from the Septuagint rather than from the Hebrew Bible, which was regarded as the only truly canonical version by the Pharisee movement.
Thus there is nothing in Paul's writings to prove that he was a Pharisee, and much to prove that he was not. Great play has been made with certain references to legendary material in Paul's letters; it is claimed that this must have come from a Pharisaic source, but in fact this material was widely known throughout the Jewish world including the Greek-speaking Jewish areas of the Diaspora, and proves nothing. For example, Paul refers at one point to a legend about the miraculous well that followed the Israelites in their wanderings in the wilderness (I Corinthians l0:4). But this legend was by no means confined to the Pharisaic movement, being found in the compilation known as Biblical Antiquities (or Pseudo-Philo) which is extant now only in a Latin translation, but is known to have existed in a Greek version in the first century. Paul could quite easily have come across this legend in a Greek book or even more probably from common conversation with the unlearned, just as a child today may be acquainted with one of Aesop's fables without having studied the Greek classics.
If you have followed this article closely, then you must conclude, therefore, that the allegedly profound Pharisaic style and atmosphere of Paul's writings, which the New Testament writers insinuate, is itself a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts and an outright lie.