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Old 04-18-2001, 06:53 AM   #21
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Originally posted by Polycarp:
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You’re saying Paul was a paid agent of the High Priest’s police force and that he actively persecuted Christians while in this role.</font>
In the book of Acts, on the Road to Damascus, Paul is said to have been carrying papers signed by the High Priest authorizing him to arrest people. This does sound like someone working in some sort of official police capacity.

However, it should be noted that if Paul did have such a job, it was at most a second occupation. His main occupation was "tent maker." So, if he had been working for the high priest, perhaps it was only a temporary job, and perhaps he might have intended to quit that job anyway when the tentmaking business picked up?

Anyhow, Maccoby's area of expertise is the history of the Talmud, not New Testament history per se. Maccoby's main argument, on the basis of his Talmud expertise, is that Paul could not have been quite the scholarly Pharisee he claims to have been, for two reasons:
[list=1][*]The way Paul reasons in the book of Romans. Maccoby objects not merely to the content of Paul's theology, but also to Paul's seeming ignorance of rules of logic that were accepted as basic by the rabbis. For this and other reasons, Maccoby regards Paul as apparently ignorant of the teachings of has Pharisee rabbinic contemporaries.[*]A Pharisee would not have been collaborating so closely with the High Priest, whether in a paid or volunteer capacity. The High Priest was a Sadducee and a Roman quisling. The Pharisees mistrusted the high priest, according to Maccoby.[/list=a]

Maccoby hypothesizes that, before his conversion, Paul wanted to be a Pharisee rabbi and tried to pass himself off one, but that he would have to have been rejected by the Pharisess because of his ignorance of rabbinic logic and his close association with the High Priest. Also, if Paul were a Roman citizen before his conversion, that too would have been a reason for Pharisees to mistrust him. (Maccoby speculates that Paul might actually have obtained his Roman citizenship later.)

Anyhow, regardless of whether Paul persecuted Christians as a paid agent or strictly as a volunteer, it is not necessary to assume he was knowledgeable about the actual teachings of of the Jerusalem and Damascus Christians before his conversion. He would have been familiar with the High Priest's anti-Christian propaganda, which may or may not have been accurate.

Maccoby believes that Paul was dishonest about a number of things, including his Pharisee background. Nevertheless, Maccoby hypothesizes that Paul did have a sincere religious conversion, based on his vision on the road to Damascus.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">There is absolutely NO evidence to indicate Christianity was a political or nationalistic movement. If you’ll provide some, then we can discuss it.</font>
Maccoby's main evidence is simply the extreme unlikelihood of any but the most Hellenized Jews entertaining the possibility that a human being could also be God. Also, he argues that not all Jews perceived that the earliest Christians had such a belief. For example, in the Book of Acts, there is an account of a Sanhedrin meeting at which none less than Gamaliel, the leader of the Pharisees and one of the most respected rabbis of all time, opposes the persecution of Christians on grounds that the movement might be "of God." According to Maccoby, Gamaliel could not possibly have held such an opinion of a sect which believed that a human being was God incarnate. Rather, it seems that Gamaliel saw the Christians as just another Messianic (hence nationalistic) movement, toward which the proper attitude was "wait and see."

Note that "nationalistic movement" does not necessarily mean "armed revolutionary movement." According to Maccoby, some Messianic movements believed that the Romans would be overthrown by a miracle of God, with no need for an armed revolt.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In addition to the above details, you’re saying that all of the early Christians changed their beliefs because of Paul.</font>
No, that's not what Maccoby was saying. Rather, Maccoby says that, in most of the major cities of the Roman empire, most of the Christians were converts of Paul's. Thus, after a certain point, the original followers of Jesus and their students became a small minority, vastly outnumbered by the Pauline Christians. And then, after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the original followers of Jesus were scattered and their teachings dismissed as heresy by the followers of Paul.

Since I know very little about the Talmud myself, I'm in no position to evaluate Maccoby's hypothesis, which hinges on the question of what the Pharisee rabbis actually taught at that time. I'm just mentioning it as one alternative hypothesis. I'm in no position to defend it, really.

P.S.: In a separate thread Anyone here knowledgeable about the Talmud?, I have asked for the comments of such people on this matter.


[This message has been edited by Kate Long (edited April 18, 2001).]
 
Old 04-18-2001, 07:29 AM   #22
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Here is J.P. Holding's review of Maccaboy's Mythmaker in which he discusses Maccaboy's references to the Talmud and Paul's alleged fibs concerning his status as a Pharisee:

http://www.tektonics.org/JPH_MUM.html

SecWebLurker

 
Old 04-18-2001, 10:19 AM   #23
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kate Long:
Since I know very little about the Talmud myself, I'm in no position to evaluate Maccoby's hypothesis, which hinges on the question of what the Pharisee rabbis actually taught at that time. I'm just mentioning it as one alternative hypothesis. I'm in no position to defend it, really.
Quote:
</font>
Kate,

Thanks for addressing the issue. I think the main points I made earlier still stand unchallenged. In addition to my previous points, I would add a few. The theory you are espousing can not overcome these massive obstacles.

1.Christianity was not a nationalistic movement.

2.There is no hint of Roman opposition to the earliest Christians. However, there is several pieces of evidence indicating Christianity was an offshoot of Judaism and that their main opponents were fellow Jews who believed Christians to be blasphemers. The main opponents of the first Christians were opposing them due to religious differences.

3.The theory you give treats the sources as very reliable when it suits its needs, but then is forced to claim that evidence which directly contradicts it was fabricated. This is done for no good reason. If a source is reliable on Paul being a tent maker or experiencing visions, then it should also be reliable in other areas related to Paul unless we have direct evidence which contradicts it. There is no such thing in the theory you are giving. This is simply not the way history should be done. You know very well that we don’t make up a theory, gather little pieces of evidence to support it, and then ignore MASSIVE chunks of evidence which directly refute the theory. This is question-begging. Maccoby is irresponsible for using this tactic.

4.Its simply outrageoius to claim that Paul could not have been a Pharisee. Paul’s conversion experience would obviously have led to changes in some of his beliefs. Josephus was a Pharisee and he eventually reached the conclusion that Vespasian (the Roman emperor) was the long promised world ruler found in the Hebrew Scriptures. You can bet the traditional Pharisees would have NEVER done such a thing. They would have reacted to Josephus in the same way the Jewish leaders did to the first Christians – by charging blasphemy ! So when you said, “Maccoby's main evidence is simply the extreme unlikelihood of any but the most Hellenized Jews entertaining the possibility that a human being could also be God” it was obviously wrong. Josephus proves the complete emptiness of this argument. If this part of Maccoby’s argument fails, then the rest of it crumbles, too.

5.The theory ignores the numerous direct pieces of evidence which indicate Paul taught the same basic message as the other early Christians. Acts, Paul’s letters, Clement, Irenaeus, Justin, and on and on all clearly indicate that Paul’s message was the same as the other disciples. Paul’s letter to the Romans is a perfect example. He is writing to Rome in about 57 CE, but he’s never been to Rome. In addition, he presupposes common beliefs with the Christians in Rome even though he didn’t establish the church. How is this possible according to your theory? It is clear that the other early Christian missionaries were preaching the same basic message as Paul. The differences between early Christians (including Paul) related to how the Mosaic Law should be applied to Gentiles. “Did they have to first become Jews before becoming a Christisn?”, etc.

6. The Talmud dates from around 200 CE, or later. It is not considered to be a reliable source for information in the pre 70 CE era. Any theory that relies primarily on the Talmud for information on pre-70 Judaism is not sound. This isn't my opinion, but that of Jewish scholars such as Vermes, Neusner, or Klausner. No reputable Jewish scholar believes the Talmud gives an accurate portrayal of pre-70 CE conditions.

Peace,

Polycarp
 
Old 04-18-2001, 11:00 AM   #24
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Originally posted by SecWebLurker:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Here is J.P. Holding's review of Maccaboy's Mythmaker in which he discusses Maccaboy's references to the Talmud and Paul's alleged fibs concerning his status as a Pharisee:

http://www.tektonics.org/JPH_MUM.html
</font>
I've replied in the separate thread Anyone here knowledgeable about the Talmud?.

I'll reply to Polycarp later.

P.S.: I have replied to Polycarp in the thread Paul in Rome? (attn: Polycarp).


[This message has been edited by Kate Long (edited April 22, 2001).]
 
 

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