Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity
James D. Tabor
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In this “compulsively readable exploration of the tangled world of Christian origins” (Publishers Weekly), religious historian James Tabor illuminates the earliest years of Jesus’ teachings before Paul shaped them into the religion we know today.
This fascinating examination of the earliest years of Christianity reveals how the man we call St. Paul shaped Christianity as we know it today.
Historians know almost nothing about the two decades following the crucifixion of Jesus, when his followers regrouped and began to spread his message. During this time Paul joined the movement and began to preach to the gentiles. Using the oldest Christian documents that we have—the letters of Paul—as well as other early Christian sources, historian and scholar James Tabor reconstructs the origins of Christianity. Tabor shows how Paul separated himself from Peter and James to introduce his own version of Christianity, which would continue to develop independently of the message that Jesus, James, and Peter preached.
Paul and Jesus illuminates the fascinating period of history when Christianity was born out of Judaism.
marginalization in, 31–32, 87 Jesus’ resurrection teaching in, 58, 88, 116–17 Jesus sightings in, 31, 73, 78, 81, 85, 86, 87, 88 Last Supper in, 146, 147, 148–50, 252, 258 Mark as source for, 30, 78, 147, 234, 255 Paul’s centrality in, 7, 12, 15, 30, 32, 38, 147, 148 Paul’s de-radicalization in, 234 pro-Roman bias of, 31 Q source material in, 41, 73 resurrection account in, 12, 89, 255 “Sermon on the Plain” in, 41, 44 Luke, works attributed to, 7–8 Luther, Martin, 20, 109 1
majority lack any historical authenticity. But this tomb of Paul seems different. It does indeed appear possible that these skeletal remains are those of Paul. For me that possibility cast this particular holy place in an entirely different light. My visit to the tomb of Paul late that May afternoon was profoundly meaningful to me. I exited the B-line at the metro stop marked “Basilica San Paolo” and walked down the Via Ostiense, the modern street that traces the route of the ancient Roman road,
gospel. For I did not receive it from a man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). Paul doesn’t say how long he stayed in Arabia, but he does note that it was three years after his vision of Christ when he finally went up to Jerusalem to meet Peter and James (Galatians 1:18). That visit appears to have been a clandestine one, in that he swears he did not meet any of the other apostles, only these two leaders. One must assume he wanted to convey
belonging to Philemon and whom he had converted to Christianity. Roman law required that runaway slaves be sent back to their owners and anyone aiding such a fugitive could be liable for damages. Paul writes from prison that he is sending Onesimus back, and subtly hints, but does not demand, that Philemon free him to serve Paul. He even offers to pay any damages Onesimus might owe. Paul suggests that perhaps Onesimus’s running away was for some greater purpose, so that Philemon could “have him
was I for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14). He lived strictly as a Pharisee and he says that when it came to the Torah and its observance he was “blameless” (Philippians 3:5–6). Paul would have valued the various markers of Israelite distinction and identity, setting the Jews apart from the nations, whether by circumcision, dietary laws, observance of Sabbaths and festivals, or laws of ritual purity. Once Paul received his revelation from Christ, accepting Jesus as cosmic Lord,