5/1/06 12:01:52 PM On the issue of Paul's dispute with the early Christian church on the application of Jewish Law to the Gentiles (non-Jews)
Copyright © 1989-2006 Mel West. All rights reserved.
by Mel West
Table of Contents
2006 Internet edition
This book was published in September 1989 in a limited edition. I recently found myself referring to it in an editorial note, Maravot News 4.13.06 having to do with a statement Libya's Qadafi made during an Arab / Moslem conference that date. Qadafi made what appeared to be an absurd remark on the surface, "that Christians and Jews should be allowed to worship in Mecca." He argued that this should be allowed since they are "pure" and questioned the leaders at the conference, how it is that they can do business with Christians and Jews and not eat with them. This is the exact question Paul posed with the early Christian Church in Jerusalem which then enforced Jewish Law (Law of Moses) for all Christians . Paul was in an odd situation, believing that his mission was to minister to non-Jews (the Gentile), and discerning that non-Jews were reluctant to join the church when they would have to change their eating habits (give up pork, shellfish, etc.) and get circumcised. These two issues were too hard for those wishing to join the church. Recognizing that his ministry was on the rocks if he didn't find another route to the solution, Paul began to argue to both the Jews and Gentiles that the law had been voided by Jesus Christ and through him via Paul's Gospel a new Law had been set. This infuriated the Saints of the Church in Jerusalem and they ultimately called Paul to task, bringing him to trial before King Agrippa, who sent him off to Rome for final judgment. Paul was executed.
The Koran is based upon both the Old Testament and New Testament teachings, and in may places states that it was written to confirm that the Jewish Scriptures are true (See "Philistia triumph thou because of me"). Mohammed asks in the Koran why the Jews would not accept the book when it even confirms their own scriptures. It honored the Law of Moses, with its feasts and rites of not eating pork and circumcision, for instance. Moslem feasts are, however, called by another name and the date and time of the feasts may not coincide with those of practicing Jews.
Imagine the same argument between Qadafi today, and Paul 2,000 years ago, both questioning the "Law" and saying that everyone who believes in the same God should be accepted at the dining table and at the shrines, in Islam the chief shrine being the Kabba at Mecca.
I have not revisited "The Tempting" since 1989, and in view of the historical changes that have taken place, being now in the throes of an era we can call the Bush Crusade, some changes are being made.
The original view of the book was to argue the case from the point of view of Jesus who was raised a Jew, claiming to be the Son of David, and was very conservative in his arguments, defending the Law of Moses and criticizing the priests for departing from the law. For instance, He overthrew the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple, according to one gospel, and the act was in a synagogue, according to another. (He may have done it in both places.) It was against the Law of Moses for priests to raise money (through changing money) by any other means than the specified tithe listed in the Old Testament.
I began the book with a letter to Hyam Maccoby in Jerusalem who had written a book with a similar argument on the conflict Paul had with the early Christian church. I never received a response from Mr. Maccoby.
April 14, 2006
(With editorial changes, 2006)
Few Christians, as myself, would think to question the faith that has been handed down to them. Jews have been questioning this faith for the past two thousand years, ever since it was created.
No one can avoid the fact that the letters of Paul are permeated with his concerns about those who question the faith. His concerns and admonitions, even to the extent of cursing others, focused primarily upon those who are circumcised. In railing against the Circumcised, he was referring to Peter and the Elders in Jerusalem, who were practicing Jews believing in Christ (this is not a contradiction); and to other Jews as well. A footnote in history, however, shows that his railing against Circumcision was for naught, since Circumcision, until just recently, seems to have been the prevailing practice among the Western World, being of Christians, and even long before Abraham, since the Egyptians and others were practicing Circumcision. An excellent paper on Egyptian Circumcision is at nocirc.org, "Religious Traditions and Circumcision," by Gerald Larue.
Because of Paul's adamant position in the matter, it is no wonder that there would be those who would question him in his own time and that questioning would continue even to this day. Unknowingly, I fell into the category of those who had done the same before me: putting questions to the ministry which the ministry felt justified, through Paul's direction, in ignoring. This process, and the questions which perhaps were put to Paul and the church through time, are probably fairly represented in a companion work to this book called "Hidden Pavilions." At this writing, I wonder whether, had I known I could be cursed by Paul and his church for questioning the doctrine (seeking answers to questions, that is to say), I would have pursued this work. In any event, through a bit of ignorance and naivety I thought to ask questions, for no other reason but to further my understanding of the Bible.
"Hidden Pavilions' represents itself as an inquiry into the faith. The inquiry had limitations, being confined to the comparison of the Modern Ministry's Precepts to Biblical Precepts. Its conclusions were that there are substantial differences between what is seemingly being taught and what the Bible actually says. When discussing my understanding with others, it seems that a common reaction always came in answer: that the Bible is a book subject to interpretation. Always those responding to my questions would answer, "Well, that's your interpretation; I have mine." I wondered how God could write a book, which is unclear; to me, a Book of Interpretation cannot be written by God, for I should think His purpose is to lead, through clarity of direction, and not to mislead. An unclear book is misleading.
"Hidden Pavilions" nevertheless pursued its inquiry, evolving over a period of nine years or so. At the end of it there were many questions, which we confined to the Modern Church of Christ, Catholics and non-Catholics. The book thought to be concerned with the Modern View and limited itself, in regard to its questions, to this issue. Seeing major conflicts between the Modern Church doctrine and the Bible, "Hidden Pavilions' ended itself with an overriding question, "Who authorized you to do these things?" It did not seek of itself to determine that answer, being content with leaving things in the past in the past and, most importantly, leaving Paul out of the questions at hand, though Paul seemed to be the source of many problems in doctrine and prophesy. Accordingly, "Hidden Pavilions" neither inquired of Paul nor thought to charge him with regard to the issues of this present book.
About a week ago I read a book called "The Myth-Maker, Paul and the Invention of Christianity,' by Hyam Maccoby, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1986. Admittedly, I was slow to getting around to reading this book; perhaps, however, it will be seen that it was a good thing that I had not read it until finishing my work "Hidden Pavilions." For the two works are independent assessments leading to the same conclusions which were derived through different processes of inquiry.
Maccoby's work brought our suspicions to the foreground; and following in the path of "Hidden Pavilions," we thought that Maccoby had issued a well-founded call warranting the investigation of Paul. More than that, since Maccoby charges Paul with creating a false religion, being the very same religion practiced by Christians all around the world, it was a charge that had to be answered. And its answer could not be caught up in arguments over Jesus the Christ, being the True Messiah; but rather focused upon the real issue at hand: whether Paul was a true apostle of Jesus or had created a religion all of his own, having more to do with Paul's Doctrine than Jesus.
Maccoby's charge can perhaps be best summed on the differences between Peter the Apostle, anointed by Jesus, and confirmed by the witness of other Apostles who knew Jesus; and Paul the Apostle who claims he was anointed by Jesus, but has no other witness to prove it. Paul's witness of his anointing claims Jesus alone, speaking to him from Heaven, anointed him. Paul's Testimony admits he never met Jesus in person. But he argues that He was anointed by Jesus to go and preach the Gospel to all the nations, which is further justified by fulfilling prophesy, both that of Jesus and the Old Testament Prophets.
Maccoby reveals a battle between Paul and Peter. An investigation of the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul and Peter's letters, shows that a battle was going on. And that battle resolved into two issues: 1) Circumcision versus Uncircumcision and 2) one is justified by Faith alone without works; as opposed to Peter's issue that Faith without works is unjustified. Concerning these two issues, Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, were in accord that Circumcision and the Law still apply. They are believers in Jesus, and they are still practicing Jews, in the synagogue and the Temple. Paul took the opposite position, perhaps believing that the Gentile would never come to the faith if they had to be circumcised. In doing so, he had to justify his position which, in turn, resulted in the creation of a quite complex doctrine eventually attacking everything in Judaism, the Law, the Prophets, and the Testimony, and capping it with the conclusion that one's Faith alone leads to Salvation; one is not justified by his works. And The Bible, once The Word of God, had now become a book of inspired writing, subject to interpretation.
The Keystone of Judaic belief, on the other hand, as reflected in Peter and James, is that one's works are the criteria of Salvation, and that God did not inspire Moses and the Prophets, but spoke to Moses and the prophets directly and with clarity of mission; i.e., The Word of God is without error.
These may seem a quarrel of no importance to a practicing Christian today who believes he is reborn through the blood of Jesus and saved from sin. But Peter and James thought otherwise. They were critical issues to the guidance of the Faith. And anyone can read in their epistles and also the epistles of their disciple, Clement, the first Pope, that one is not justified by his Faith (that he is reborn in Jesus). One's Salvation is dependent upon the fact that one's works must reflect that rebirth. In sum, you cannot sin and go to confession to absolve your sins. If your Faith is true to Christ, your works will show it. Ultimately you will be judged according to your works, some to purgatory and others to Glory. For those interested, I was not writing this work in a vacuum, for I had been taking up this matter with Wm. F. Buckley Jr., and, beginning with Against Leviathan, through several exchanges of correspondence and many books later, I received this statement from Mr. Buckley on faith with regard to this problem involving Paul and.in the context of America's failures. (See "Rooting out his faith"):
October 6, 1993
In my faith, righteousness right behavior good works is not the gate; it is a consequence, a fruit, of redemption. In practice, it ought to work out to much the same behavior; but it's worth preserving the distinction in the interest of understanding each other.
If I understand your reproach, you find me reluctant to blame the wealthy. It is true; I blame the statists, of all ranks and stations. But I've never hesitated to blame Lowell Weicker more than the working man who votes Democrat.
Happy new year.
Wm. F. Buckley Jr.
The issue is not as simple as it seems. For now we have Peter telling the church a doctrine running counter to Paul, which must lead to the conclusion that the practice of Confession before taking mass is, according to Peter, of no importance to Salvation. What Peter may have thought about the act of Confession is anyone's guess. We suspect, perhaps, he viewed it similarly to Paul: i.e., the Apostles had the power to forgive sin, being vested with that power by Jesus. Confession to an anointed minister becomes a way to receive Christ's forgiveness; and probably it was as important to Peter as to Paul that one go to partake of mass free from guilt; thus justifying Confession before Mass to remove guilt.
It would be helpful if we had some more data from Peter, concerning his views on Repentance and Confession. The Bible's view of Repentance seems to be that anyone who repents God will redeem unto Himself. Presumably, there must be a limit on how many times God will tolerate you to commit the same sin and repent. For the Confession appears to be a display, a work, of repentance. If not, what good is it to man's justification? As concerning this issue we have the precedence of David and Saul who sinned before God. Saul ignored a specific direction of God concerning a sacrifice and lost his crown for it; David was an adulterer and a murderer; but did not lose his crown; nor, as it appears in prophesy, his inheritance. God forgave David whereas He did not forgive Saul. And Saul's sin would seem to me to be much less than David's. By comparison, however, we know that the issue of Saul was not following God's Orders; David, on the other hand, disobeyed God's Commandments but seemed always faithful to God's direction. If God told him to carry out a task, David carried it out faithfully.
Perhaps the issue ultimately comes down to Testing or Tempting God. Confession ought to show a contrite heart full of repentance and when confession comes without one's works backing it up, there has to be a point where one falls into the category of Testing God. Only He can determine how much He will permit you to test Him. The message in David and Saul seems clear; one ought not to Test God. The Law says, "Tempt not thy God." Concerning this, we see that if the priest is ministering Confession, he being God's or Christ's representative on earth, he also must be restrained with limits on how much forgiveness he may apply. Paul goes into a considerable amount of detail on how a minister is to apply these criteria: i.e., under what circumstances one is thrown out of the church (and condemned).
One of the Sins in the Judaic Law, which Peter acknowledged, is the sin of eating forbidden food. Just as Adam was forbidden to eat a certain fruit, so have the Jews been forbidden to eat certain forbidden food. One food, in particular, which happens to be on the shelves of most Gentile markets, is pork. Pork has always been forbidden to the Jews, Peter, James (and Christ) included. Paul says it is okay to eat anything you want. The fact is, the Gentile were as dependent upon pork as their principal meat source, along with lamb, chicken, and goats, then as they are today. Today, pork is a major, inexpensive meat source in our food chain.
To justify the eating of Pork, which probably was to Paul a major item in preaching his faith, since the Gentile would presumably not have anything to do with him if they were forbidden to eat pork, he created a complex doctrine of justification. The doctrine eventually surfaced in Paul's letters as a doctrine condemning all of the Jewish beliefs, including the Jews themselves. Not being content with this, it further transferred the name Chosen People of God, and their inheritance, from the Jew to the Gentile. The transfer of the title and the condemnation of the Jews went hand in hand.
Having condemned, or negated, everything that existed in the Jewish Faith prior to Jesus Christ, Paul continued on his path of condemnation to require that all of his followers not answer to questions concerning his doctrine; he even went so far as to urge his followers to stop the mouths of those who question him.
In our investigation of this matter, we found that Maccoby had just touched the surface of the issue. It is easy for one to denounce another, calling him a charlatan, and a mythmaker, for instance. Those kinds of charges circulate among all faiths, one against another. It is, in reflection, the same kind of charge that Paul made of Peter and the Circumcised church in Jerusalem. And we see, in reflection, that charges and counter charges produce no good effect without a fair hearing. Not willing to follow in the footsteps of Paul, who cut off any chance of a fair hearing of the Jews' questions, we thought in this book to present as fair a case as possible, letting both sides of the issue come out in the open as best we can.
Though this was our hope, we found right away that the issue, from the standpoint of Biblical Testimony from Paul and Peter (and James) was, in fact, already a one sided issue, favoring Paul. It clearly favored Paul.
We cannot call Paul and Peter to the bench to explain their sides of the issue at hand, which we can boil down to Circumcision versus Uncircumcision. All that we can call to the bench are the documents, which voice their position, and only these can be used for their Testimony. As concerning this procedure we realize a terrible thing: Peter's documents are missing. For we know that He wrote more documents than the Two Epistles recorded in the New Testament. Clement mentions that Mark had gathered up Peter's notes to amend his Gospel; other ancient church historians, etc. mention books of Peter. Significantly, Origen mentions a book called The Doctrine of Peter, a book, which would certainly put light on our discussion.
It is very difficult to imagine that Peter, being anointed by Jesus, as head of the church, according to Matthew, had not written more things than just two letters. The same is true with James. And we lament in this book that other works of Peter and James did exist but seem now to be lost. Rather than calling them lost, we would suggest that they have been hidden. We would further suggest, after reviewing the extant Testimony on these men's writings, that Paul's church hid them. And until Paul coughs them up, the Testimony will continue to be one sided, seeking to justify Paul against Peter and James.
Notwithstanding this complaint, you are going to see many charges against Paul, not without suspicion, and with good, viable testimony acceptable in any court of Law. We say they are acceptable in any court of Law because we know that the followers of Paul would have maintained his documents in a fashion faithful to Paul; the followers of Peter and James would have done the same. Any tampering of the documents, it is clear, from the apparent purging of Peter's Testimony, would have had to be done by the Paulists. And any documents, which have survived, such as Peter's Two Epistles, though perhaps tampered with, are still good Testimony offered by Paul. The evidence, then, requires us to judge Paul according to his own works. For we have little of Peter's side of the argument.
As one reads this work, we hope that the charge of Paul being a charlatan is viewed in the real framework of the thing Paul created. He created a church, through which the world has seen the Wisdom of the full Bible. For Paul could not present his part of the Bible without the other. This is the redeeming quality of Paul's Work.
It is the intent of "Hidden Pavilions" and this book, being allied in principle to Maccoby's work, to provide a path of Unity, bringing all the faiths issued out of the Bible into one unified faith. In doing so one can mitigate many of the reasons why Jews, Christians, and Moslems are killing each other. The precept of our work is to provide a path towards Peace, and this begins with Jerusalem. If we cannot promote Peace in Jerusalem, we cannot promote peace elsewhere, since all the roots of discord in the world have now surfaced in Jerusalem. In fact, Jerusalem seems to be the rock over which the world powers seem to be focused in their fight. For now it seems that the world is pitched to do battle over Jerusalem, which thing was long ago prophesied in the Bible.
As concerning this expressed sentiment of finding a path of unity, we find that Paul and his church are a stumbling stone in the path of it. Paul's Testimony alone shows the extent to which he is that stumbling stone. And this work has concluded, perhaps unfairly, but based upon the Testimony, that in order to promote unity we must remove Paul from his position of power. To put it bluntly, he is in the way of founding a Peace the Bible clearly promised. We say he is in the way of Peace, because his doctrine is the main obstacle to reconciling the Christians, Peter, the Jews, and the Moslems in one faith of God. In this we perceived that if the Christians will follow Peter, taking Maccoby at his word that the Jews have no complaint against Peter, who is a Jew, then the Moslems will also follow in the alliance. For in most respects, Mohammed and Peter are in agreement; Mohammed and Paul, on the other hand, are in bitter conflict. So the Promise of Unity comes easiest through Peter.1
We admit that this hope is perhaps far beyond anyone's reach, because there are other issues involved in reconciling people towards World Peace. But we, in our naivety, thought that if one can remove the legitimacy of killing for God, or lying for God, accepting that we are all Chosen People of God, one has taken a large step forward to Peace. Critical to taking that step is the abrogation of the practice of condemning others. And Paul, by his Testimony alone, is in the way of that step: because his Faith is dependent upon condemning those who do not obey his doctrine. And this becomes the main issue of our thesis: that the real charge against Paul, if there is any at all, is the fact that he condemned others to justify his own faith. All other charges, it seems, pale in regard to this issue.
We admit that a Unified Faith of God seems perhaps far beyond us. Certainly, considering this idea, we must face the same issue Paul faced in his day: The Law concerning forbidden food. While the Jews and Moslems obey the Law, we have the problem of the Gentile eating pork. To conform to the Law, and be accepted in the eyes of the Jews and Moslems, one must give up eating pork. This would be a demand, which would seemingly never be obeyed by the Gentile World. To compromise on the issue is thus a great temptation. Like Paul, I think for the sake of Unity, I am tempted to think there must be a compromise on the eating of pork. Counting all of the Moslems in the world, particularly those in Indonesia, etc., who were once dependent upon pork, we must also observe, to the contrary, that through the Koran a good part of the world stopped eating forbidden foods, namely pork. So this problem concerning the ban against pork may seem to be insurmountable, but the Koran overcame it. And while we see that Paul was tempted into compromising on the Law, concerning pork, others have shown that the compromise is not necessary.
Why God put a ban on pork is a mystery to me. Perhaps it will be shown one day that pork will become the source of another terrible disease, like Aids, for instance; or perhaps the reason is that pork was in ancient times a real source of infection from worms, justifying its classification as unclean food.
The Law says donıt eat pork. In addressing the problem of conforming to this Law, we cannot condemn the Law; neither can we interpret the Law out of existence or condemn those who obey the Law. Those who obey the Law are faithful to the Law.
In reflecting on this issue, as it applies to us today, we must also recognize that the Precept of God is that He is not only the creator of the Law, but also the Supreme Judge of the Law. That Law cannot be changed until He come whose right it is to change it. Since Christians believe that Christ is He, the Messiah, they must also recognize that Christ is their only authority for changing the Law. Jesus Christ never changed any part of the Law. He said, in fact, that not one jot or tittle of the Law shall go unfulfilled. Therefore, Jesus never changed the Law or intended it to be changed. Those faithful to Jesus must do as Jesus did: obey the Law.
As concerning Paul's claim that Jesus gave him his doctrine (and justification to change the Law) by way of visions, etc., we have to ask how it is that Jesus, who in his lifetime clearly did not intend the Law to be changed, would now, through a vision of Paul, suddenly repent of His position on the Law. And in the final analyses we suddenly conclude that the essence of the Law is consistency, being a reflection of God, who has to be consistent. If He is not consistent, creating changing laws, then Judgment of the Law becomes inconsistent, leaving us with shifting doctrine, allowing some to disobey the Law while demanding that others obey it. Such a vehicle of governing becomes inequitable and unfair with respect to persons, and even unfair to itself. For once one part of the Law is justified to be broken, then all other parts of the Law need not be respected, justifying their being broken as well.
Peter and Paul agree that God judges without respect to persons. They both agree that God's Judgment is fair, that we are all equal before the Law. While Peter and Paul are in agreement on this we see Peter's doctrine following with the comment: obey the Law. For the Law to be fair, it must apply to all men not with respect to persons. Paul, claiming to be inspired by Jesus, suddenly departs from this the point of view that God judges without respect to persons to a doctrine that now says the Law is void and superceded by a new Law, we may call the "Law of Faith in Jesus."
The Keystone of Paul's doctrine now becomes a matter of Faith in Jesus alone, justifying the nullification of the original Law. Then, confusing the matter, since Faith in Jesus ought to also mean, obey the Law, which is a demonstration of faith, Paul then says that since the Law, which is a measure of works, no longer applies, works themselves have no affect on your demonstration of Faith. He arrives at this conclusion in a circuitous manner. For he recognizes the conflict of measuring faith without works. Without a Law to measure faith by, we have no measure. Somehow, to place a measure of Faith upon man, Paul concluded that Christ is a measure of your faith and the only thing required in that measure is that you believe that Christ died for the atonement of your sins, including all past sin and sin to come. If He died for the atonement of your sins, then he asks how it is that your daily sins or works can become an item of Judgment. For the doctrine of Atonement of Sin presupposes that oneıs bad works are already forgiven before they are committed. Therefore, the Law is no longer necessary; nor would your conformance to the Laws of Christ presumably be necessary.
We see the problem in understanding Paul's new doctrine, or Covenant, with man. It promotes confusion. He uses Christ as a vehicle of moving man away from sin, by measuring up to Christ's Model, but has difficulty justifying how even Christ's Model is not relevant to your Salvation. The only thing relevant is that He died on the cross, for your Salvation, and was resurrected. The conclusion is that all you need believe in this New Faith is that if you symbolically die with Jesus on the cross, you will also, like him, be resurrected or reborn in a New Being like Jesus or in the Model of Jesus. So "to be reborn again" became the major issue of the New Faith of Paul, and those reborn again become called "The Body of Christ." And this new body recognizes that we all come short of perfection in the eyes of God, for we are all sinners. Recognizing we are all sinners our only Salvation is that we believe that the blood of Jesus has already atoned for our sins and because we believe that precept we will be saved in the Last Day, the Day of Judgment (also called the Day of Resurrection).2 This becomes the final measure of Faith, that whosoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life.
Supporting this thesis, Paul draws another conclusion, that all the Law and the Prophets were dedicated to the formation of Jesus, even that Jesus existed before them and they were created to lead to Jesus. Once Jesus the Messiah is seen in the world, all those things leading to Him now fall into a new category of the faith: being now called types and shadows of things to come, who is Jesus. Now Jesus becomes the fulfillment of all things in the Word of God. This ultimately brings us back again, after negating the Law and the Prophets, or reducing them to a matter for edification only and not Direction, to the matter of the Word of Jesus. How is His Word to be obeyed? We conclude in following Paul's path that the only thing in the Word of Jesus, which affects our Salvation, is the fact that He died for the Atonement of our Sins, and this is Now our New Covenant, that if we believe our Sins are now passed away, Jesus, who is the final judge, who resurrects you in the Last Day, will redeem you to God, thus bringing about your Salvation. Now how will Jesus judge you?
Paul brings us back to Faith. You will be judged by your Faith and it will not involve your works. He has to return to the precept that your sins pass away when you die with Jesus on the cross; and these sins being dead now allow you to be reborn without sin. A demonstration of this rebirth is through Baptism.
By appearance Baptism seems to fall into the category of works, and knowing we are not judged by our works we have to ask why Baptism is important to Salvation. We conclude that Baptism is the means by which another important item in Salvation comes to man. And that thing is The Holy Ghost. Just as the Holy Ghost joined Jesus through Baptism, so too are we, reborn in the Faith of Christ's Atonement, also to be Baptized so to receive the Holy Spirit. And once the Holy Spirit joins you, you are now a complete Being in the Body of Christ. This is described as the "Mystery of Salvation." For it is a mystery how man symbolically removes his earthly flesh through Baptism to put on a new flesh washed with the Blood of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit.
With these two things, Paul concludes you will be properly guided by the Holy Spirit and free from the bonds of sin and condemnation. He likens this to a "New Spirit free from spot."
Once reborn, knowing that there can be no condemnation, having been saved, we must ask how it is that the body continues to sin. The answer is that the Wicked One, who is Satan, is constantly tempting man into sin. And we, still being of the flesh, are easily tempted by the spirit of sin. And though the body is reborn in a new spirit, it is still handicapped by its flesh. So here we reach the end of the thesis: recognizing that your works may in fact reflect sin, your only hope is that when Christ comes to Judge He will see you without spot and take you back up to heaven with Him. Now what kind of perfection is necessary to assure that you are without spot?
Paul uses himself as an example. If you try to be like Paul you will be seen closer unto perfection and hopefully be offered up without spot. Paul, drawing the example of himself, recognizes that many cannot live as he, who lived like a eunuch; so he offers guidance to those who partake of marriage. Ultimately, after creating a considerable expanse of doctrine to match up to his perfection, he tells you to put on the "armor of Salvation," so that one is protected from the attacks of the Wicked One. Again, to be fully clothed in this armor, one ought to be like Paul who abstains from all temptation of the flesh. What are the main temptations of the flesh? The answer brings us back, making the full circuit, to works. He names the works of the flesh which tempt you, repeating those things against which Christ spoke: namely, adultery, robbery, lying, fornication, etc.; further, the works of the flesh will even tempt you into falling away from the doctrine in general. And then, having set us on a path to Salvation, Paul reminds us quite frequently that we will be judged according to our works!
The Modern Ministry recognizes that the judgment of works once again comes into play, even though Paul took pain to eliminate them through justification of the cross. Though seemingly a contradiction, they conclude there is no contradiction. For the Judgment of Christ as pertaining to Christians does not involve condemnation, since a Christian cannot be condemned. Rather, Christ's Judgment becomes a judgment of reward, how one Christian will be rewarded a crown, for instance, and others just a pat on the back and the complement, "Well done O obedient and Faithful Servant." And somehow works according to the Law become relevant again, not for punishment but for reward and a good seat in Heaven. Here we see Paul concluding that He most certainly will receive a crown, and not only he, but also all the Faithful who believe that Christ justified them by His Blood.
This brings us to another demonstration of Faith not to partake unworthily. For incremental in the practice of the Faith is Confession. And Paul says that no man can partake of Mass without having prior gone to Confession. And the Confession must be made openly to another; it is not just a matter of a quiet confession between you and God. This is a work, of course. But it does not seem to have anything to do with Salvation. Rather, it relates to the Lord's Table. When you break bread and eat it, being the mystery of his body, and when you drink the wine, being the mystery of his blood, you, by eating of Him, become one with Him. You acquire His Spirit and Wisdom.
Now Paul says you cannot partake of the Mass unworthily. Dr. Gene Scott, a Television Minister, got caught up on this issue. Accepting that your works have no affect on Salvation, he concludes that what Paul meant is that you should not partake of mass disrespectfully. Presumably, though you come to mass without Confession, you can still partake of it as long as you do it respectfully. In other words, you partake of mass with Christ Jesus in a manner that shows your respect for the Mass. This new doctrine, of course, might cause Paul to turn over in his grave, for Paul was quite explicit that one must go to confession prior to partaking of the mass. If you come to mass without having gone to confession first, you will be partaking of the mass unworthily. You should be free from guilt during mass.
How is your guilt removed in confession? The answer gets back to the charge Jesus gave his disciples, that they, being anointed by Jesus, now have all the powers Jesus had. They can cure and they can heal; they can also forgive sin. Then Jesus said, whatsoever you bind so shall be bound in Heaven; whatsoever you loose so also shall be loosed in Heaven. Jesus will see that the acts of his Apostles, and disciples, whatsoever they do, are confirmed in Heaven.
Paul globs onto this anointing and concludes his doctrine with the statement that He knows that Jesus will confirm His Gospel when He returns to judge the quick and the dead. He further claims that His Gospel will be used as the Criteria of Judgment. He has now, in this claim, professed that He is above all the other Apostles, including Peter and James. For now it is His Gospel, or Doctrine, which becomes the True Measure of Faith; and all other Gospels, including even Peter's, is not confirmed unless confirmed by Paul's Gospel. Extending this we can see him really saying, "To follow the Truth follow Paul and not Peter, for Peter obviously cannot have the Truth, since he does not agree with Paul's Gospel." Paul is not content with this statement and even goes one step further, warning the congregation to not listen to any other Gospel of Jesus. "Anyone coming preaching another Jesus must be ignored completely," he said. Certainly he recognized that others were preaching another Jesus, but only his Jesus was True.
Now Peter must have seen this in Paul's Doctrine; and if Peter had been personally anointed by Jesus, in the witness of other Apostles as the Head of the Church, the rock upon which His Church would be built, then it follows that Peter would have laid challenge to Paul's claim of being the Doctrine by which Judgment ensues. As concerning this we have but one observation surviving in the Epistles of Peter: "Paul's Doctrine is confusing and anyone who is not learned, to inquire of that Doctrine, could be led to their own destruction." This statement of Peter shows that Peter did not buy Paul's doctrine, where breaking the Law is justified and Faith is not dependent upon works. We see them at battle, in fact, and a distinct separation taking place between the Circumcised church in Jerusalem and Paul's Uncircumcised Church of the Gentile. Since Peter's documentation of his Position is missing, we have no knowledge of the extent to which the battle grew. We can only measure it by Paul's Testimony. And that measure is a continuing appeal for unity, conformance to his doctrine, as opposed to Peter's, or the Circumcised Church, and a gradual escalation in the argument to condemn the Jews and the Circumcised Church. The argument proceeds to the point that it now condemns those who do not follow Paul's Doctrine and it focuses upon repeated attacks upon all of Judaism. The Doctrine of Paul suddenly, through the revelation of His own Epistles, loses not only the simple message Christ brought into the world but also transforms Jesus from a forgiving man who preached loving one another to a Jesus who is guiding Paul in the Condemnation of the Jews. And the more one gets into Paul's letters the more abundant are Paul's works of Condemning the Jews; and the Justification of His Faith seems to slide from Christ Jesus to a myriad of arguments explaining why the Jews lost their inheritance, being transferred to Paul's church, and why the Jews can no longer be called the Chosen People of God.
Recognizing that the real charge against Paul is His Condemnation, it behooves us that we not follow in Paul's footsteps and seek to condemn him; rather, let us all acknowledge the World that Paul prepared and go forward to change that world into a better World, not built upon the condemnation of others, but of Peace.
A final note on the format of this book: We thought to follow the format of "Hidden Pavilions," which is a book of letters to specific individuals. The premise all along was to make the work as personalized as possible. The work should be dedicated to people and not created as expositions of thought which are thrown into the air. This book, following the example, is formatted as a letter to Dr. Maccoby. And as all letters are written with the forethought that an answer will be received, so is the spirit of our work.
(Edited April 16, 2006)
Attn: Hyam Maccoby
Dear Dr. Maccoby,
I recently read your book, "The Mythmaker Paul and the Invention of Christianity," of which I was glad to see, as it is substantially in agreement with a book I have written, called Hidden Pavilions. I was glad to see your book, not because it agreed with my observations, but because the two books were written from two different perspectives and reached many common conclusions. However, there are some conclusions on which we differ.
Both books have the same cause, I suspect. And because their cause is the same, I would hope that you would find them friends of one another. In this hope, I would impose upon you to give me some of your thoughts as concerning the things of my book, whether they be of good foundation or not. If you could consent to review it and respond to it, prior to its publication, I would be greatly indebted to you.
I hope that you would agree with me and the rabbis before me, that by quoting a master we give life to the master. In this Spirit, then, I write to you. Not to condemn, nor to bless, but to understand how this thing, the Christian Religion, came to be, to answer, as best we can, what was intended in it and what it is now. Let us jointly be in this Spirit of the Rabbis, even Jesus, and pursue this cause fairly and diligently. And let us recall what Jesus is reported to have said in the Gospel of Thomas:
Gospel of Thomas (108) Jesus said, "He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him."
I am indebted to you for yet another reason, for you have given me much food for thought concerning this issue of Paul, which is mentioned somewhat in my book but not dealt with in depth. Thus, I have thought to write a more direct response concerning your main conclusion that Paul was a charlatan and mythmaker, being not a true follower of Jesus, but rather a maker of his own religion.
As you are well aware, such a charge cannot be taken lightly. For the cause to promote this cause would be a cause to destroy Christianity as we know it today. And if it should be determined that Modern Christianity is a false religion, being false not according to the Judgments of men, but to Jesus Christ Himself, it follows that we, who ask this question, have the greater responsibility of presenting any charges, and examining them, with the utmost diligence and fairness; and we must do it without respect to persons and without prejudice. Above all we should not do it grudgingly.
And before we go any further, I would like to say that we cannot explore such things by examining this cause to promote another's interests. If we condemn another in order to justify another we do service to neither cause. We cannot, for example, condemn Christianity (the Paulists and the Modern Church) as a method of justifying the innocence of the Jews in putting Jesus Christ to death. They involve two separate matters, and they must be dealt with separately. By stirring them together one loses the credibility that is so necessary to the exploration of your question; one loses the perception of fairness; and one loses the ability to be told, "Well done O faithful servant." And in this we have the admonition that by attempting to judge others we also put ourselves in judgment. We will all have to stand up to the Judgment of the future, just as Paul must face the same, which is now your accusation requiring Judgment. Let us, then, pursue your complaint in the Spirit of Peter, who said in his First Epistle:
1 Peter 3.8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
3.9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
3.11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
4.17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
5.2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
5.3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
James 3.13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
3.14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
3.15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
3.16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
3.17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
3.18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
3.10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
3.11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the Law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
3.12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
4.17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is a sin.
Although I was sharply critical of Paul and the Modern Church, I did not condemn him in my book. By comparison, as I understand you, your book seeks to condemn him and his church. And because you have put forth the accusation, with no light evidence, it is necessary that we together examine all the evidence we can find concerning the matter. No matter what results occur from this venture, one thing is for certain: From thorough deliberation come followers. And followers have a tendency to change the world, which is, as I perceive your work, an objective: to change the world, breaking down Christianity, and restoring Judaism and Christianity as Peter and James taught it. With regard to this, by comparison, my book does not have this as an objective. It seeks One Common Language of God, as it applies to the original Jewish Scriptures, but it is tolerant to the other religions, saying, in effect, "How you choose to worship in your several and distinct places of worship makes no difference to the cause of my book." I fully explain this perception in my book and need not go into it here.
In my book, I concluded somewhat as you, that Paul had made a substantial deviation from Jesusı and the Apostle's Faith, but I arrived at this conclusion through different sources and reasons than you had employed. And the first reason was by measure of the modern Christian Church, which I found to be quite contrary in structure and spirit to that voiced by Jesus Christ (as we know Him through the New Testament works). Seeing this contrariness, I asked by which cause had the perversion occurred. And at first glance it led to Paul. My book addresses this perversion in considerable detail.
I also was chagrined, as you, when I saw Paul referring to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as My Gospel. This also became a stumbling block for me, in understanding Paul. In truth, with regard to my book, "Hidden Pavilions," I opted to put him aside and examine him later. And it is through your book that my thoughts and objections to Paul became focused, now being elucidated here.
Another problem I had with Paul, as discussed abundantly in my book, is the seeming contrariness to the Promise of the Bible: the Restoration and Redemption of Israel. His prophesy of the rapture simply did not fit in with the overwhelming number of prophesies which speak of the founding of a Kingdom of God in earth as it is in Heaven, in the Last Days, under an Anointed One raised up unto David, who would rule in Jerusalem and usher in a World at Peace. And these prophesies, I might add, clearly pertain to a day after which Israel had been desolated, leaving nothing but briers and thorns where there were a thousand silverlings on a thousand vines, and scattered to all the nations, with the children being burned (melted as one refines silver and gold), leaving but a remnant for eventual redemption and restoration back to their Promised land. Peter and James, in contrast to Paul, seemed to understand this Promise and preached it. We say this with some reservation, however, since very little of their works has survived. We can see, for instance in Peter's Epistles an awareness of this Promise:
Peter II.1.4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
1.10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
1.11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
1.20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
1.21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2.9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished.
3.2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
3.3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
3.4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
3.5 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
3.6 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
3.9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
3.10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
3.13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
James 5.7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain.
2.5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He that promised to them that love Him?
5.8 Be ye also patient; stablish you hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
1.22 But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
5.19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
5.20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
Peter and James both were aware of the Promised Kingdom (the Latter Rain) and knew that it would not come with perception; though they expected it could come any time, they also knew the seeding of the Gospel was part of it. We can recall from the Gospel of Thomas Christ's view on the matter:
Gospel of Thomas (99) The disciples said to Him, "Your brothers and your mother are standing outside." He said to them. "Those here who do the will of my Father are my brothers and my mother. It is they who will enter the Kingdom of My Father."
(109) Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a man who had a hidden treasure in his field without knowing it. And after he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know about the treasure. He inherited the field and sold it. And the one who bought it went plowing and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished."
(113) His disciples said to him, "When will the Kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying, 'Here it is' or "There it is.' Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
(96) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the Father is like a certain woman. She took a little leaven, concealed it in some doubt, and made it into large loaves. Let him who has ears hear."
(97) Jesus said, "The Kingdom of the Father is like a certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking on a road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and the meal emptied out behind her on the road. She did not realize it; she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house, she set the jar down and found it empty."
(98) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the Father is like a certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry through. Then he slew the powerful man."
(57) Jesus said, "The Kingdom of the Father is like a man who had good seed. His enemy came by night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The man did not allow them to pull up the weeds; he said to them, 'I am afraid that you will go intending to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them.' For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be plainly visible, and they will be pulled up and burned."
(22) Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, "These infants being suckled are like those who enter the Kingdom."
They said to him, "Shall we then, as children, enter the Kingdom?"
Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female; and when you fashion eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the Kingdom."
Peter and James had to have been aware of these sayings, as they relate just as the parable of the Mustard Seed to the precept that the Kingdom of God comes without perception and rather, as seed, which is sown, sprouts up like grass. Suddenly it appears, though it had been in place all the time. As for the parable of the Strong Man, we can see some application here to the cause in which we are caught. For it is a truth that your inquiry is a test of strength of sorts. A strong man is not afraid to take his own sword and stab the walls of his own house to test his sword. For if the sword breaks upon his own walls, how, then, could he hope to destroy the other strong man who is his enemy? Understanding this, then, we have the question, "Will my sword break as I thrust it into the walls of my own church: will it break as it pierces the Walls of Paul?" Perhaps you can understand me, then, as we explore this matter and understand my effort to thrust my sword as deeply into the Walls of Paul as I possibly can. If Paul's walls hold up and my sword does not break, I am confident, then, that the other, whom I am about to destroy, will not be able to stand up to me.
Paul, being apparently contrary to this Promise of a Kingdom and the establishment of New Heavens and a New Earth, has further aggravated the situation by his apparent contrariness to the very scriptures themselves, saying that they no longer apply since the Messiah has come; and He [Christ], according to Paul, seems to have waved all previous law issued from God. And a good part of this Law includes the Prophets, whose prophesies focused more on these Last Days than the day in which Israel would be turned into briers and thorns. In a sense, my book saw Paul as an obstacle to the very fulfillment of the Word of God, which is the Bible as we have received it. And today I see Israel restored (or being restored, depending upon your point of view) after the dispersion; I wonder how it is that Christians ignore this fact and don't seem to care a whit that the Children of Israel are now anticipating not only a Great Promise to be fulfilled, but also fulfillment of the Latter Day prophesies along with it. In this apparent ignorance of prophecy, concerning the Promised Kingdom, I felt alone, as a lone voyager in a Christian Sea.
I wondered who it was that told the modern ministry today to ignore these prophesies and promises which are as much a part of the Law as the Ten Commandments (Certainly it was neither James nor Peter). For it is through prophecy that we have been given the Law; and the Law, it is claimed, will eventually be proven through the complete fulfillment of the prophecies. As concerning this, the Bible says, if a prophet's prophesy is not fulfilled, he is a false prophet. God confirms the word of his servants (Isaiah 44.26). So the Law is dependent upon the fulfillment of all prophecy, most particularly those prophesies upon which the Law is grounded. I asked the ministry, as evidenced in my book, "Hidden Pavilions," concerning these things and received no answer. Not one of them thought to answer me: no not one. I must modify this, not to mislead you, since after contacting many of the ministry one did respond, whose letter is in my book; another much later responded, but did not address the concerns of my book. And I wondered who it was who had ordered the Ministry to avoid questions from the flock; and who it was that had authorized them to evade discussions of doctrine, which seemingly question Christian thinking. And the more I delved into this matter, the more I found myself becoming a Witness against them. For by Jesusı word alone, they ought to have answered me and if I were in error set me aright. Little did they know, however, that this would blossom into a book?
There are many discoveries in the book concerning both past things and modern things. The most alarming discovery, as recorded in the book, is that I had to find out on my own that I am a Jew! In retrospect, taking some of your thoughts in mind, I am more like Peter in that I am a Jew who has been convinced that Jesus had to be the Suffering Messiah called for by the prophets. The evidence for the conclusion did not, unfortunately, come from the Ministry, but through my own resources. I thought this to be an odd thing and how terrible it is that my book has become a record against a slovenly church. I am harsh towards the Ministry in my book not so much because of what the Ministry preach, but rather that they do not practice what they preach. And my book is proof of it. Like Piers the Plowman, in many ways, it exposes hypocrisy. For I saw myself as a bleating sheep outside the flock and no one answered. I came to fully appreciate the instruction from Jesus, how important it is to leave the flock to go after one lost sheep. This is His illustration of what a Good Shepherd ought to be. And had Just One Good Shepherd answered me, my book could not exist in its present form. I wrote hundreds in the Ministry. "Paul is becoming an exceeding aggravation," I thought.
Knowing these things, then you can see how my book ought to be quite sympathetic to the Jews.
Were not the Jews given a Great Promise, to be experienced, after their complete dispersion to all the nations (with its longsuffering) and have not Christians seemed to have rewritten it? To confront them on this issue my book asks them who gave them the authority to rewrite the Bible, ignoring God's previous prophesies and promises. Again, receiving no answer, it seemed more and more that Paul had done it (authorized the Ministry to rewrite the Bible, that is).
I was particularly pleased to see your attitude in your investigation. Though you may not be a Christian, which makes no matter to me, and though your bias is apparently to the Jews, because you defended them, I respect your zealousy in attempting to get at the roots of the faith to enquire openly and sincerely whether Christianity is based upon Truth. And you used as the opening argument for examining the Truth the assumption that Jesus was the Messiah and further offered the distinction between the Jews' concept of the Messiah and that being propagated by the church. I had not, myself, realized that distinction, which we shall see in the ensuing argument lays at the roots of distinguishing whether the Church of Christ is Faithful to God or not. For the purpose of the investigation, in both your book and mine, was not to Prove Christ but rather to Prove His Church against the things He required of it. If, as the rabbis say, a master lives through those who quote him, it is sufficient for me to accept this precept as a measure of determining whether Jesus still lives. And in my book, as so appears with yours, I became ever more concerned that the thing that lives, in this regard, is more Paul than Jesus Christ.
My thesis is perhaps similar to yours in its desire to see the Two Religions bonded together as one, as the Bible most certainly intended. And you very aptly pointed out that the early Christian Church in Jerusalem was not a separate church from the Jewish Religion. For certain Peter and the elders at Jerusalem continued observing the Laws, the Testimony, and the Prophets, worshipping in the Temple, being indistinct from any other Jew except they believed the Messiah had already come. And that Messiah, as we have seen recorded above, had no desire that they forsake the Jewish religion, its laws and its prophets, and create another religion. So taking this into consideration, my book intends to lead a path towards making the Two one as best it can. Perhaps it may be seen one day as a bridge to cover the gulf between the two separate and distinct religions. And I am reminded of Clement's comment (from the Gospel of Thomas, which is no longer in the Christian Bible) concerning Christ's statement "When the Two are One.. is the time when God's Kingdom will come" (II Clement v.1).
In another, perhaps more important aspect concerning our two books, you have arrived at the same approach as I: You asked, "What would Jesus say about such and such?" From the beginning of its conception, my book also took this stance. But it stepped out a little further, to answer the question; and without malice towards anyone or any one thing concluded that in order to answer such a question one must try to walk in The Messiah's Shoes. So I put on the shoes of the Messiah and tried, in my best similitude, to understand what He would see and hear in the world and I simply reported it. This is what "Hidden Pavilions" is about. But I must make this clarification: The Messiah goes well beyond what Jesus was in His Day. The Messiah embodies all the prophecies, which set forth His Members. And to give a sincere rendering of that Thing, I addressed all the prophesies, not to fulfill them, but to understand them; to comprehend what the Messiah, Himself, must see, hear, be and do. And when He must be it.
At the end of all this, my book, which is a book of remembrance of what we (Jews, Christians, and Moslems) were told, includes an index of epitaphs and phrases known among all the prophets. The index sort of reflects a language of God; and the conclusion of my work is that the Prophets were well aware of this language and used it consistently. Once again I became chagrined, in examining Paul, because he seemed to be creating a new language, which seemingly had little in common with the language I had come to know through the Prophets. As concerning this, comparing him to the rabbis of the past, even Peter and James, he seemed only slightly informed on the Oral Torah and its dialectics.
Having these concerns and more, which took 720 pages to express, I realized that the Promise of the Bible couldnıt be realized until the problems of scripture are resolved. And the ultimate resolution, I suppose, is a bonding of the Christians, Jews, and Moslems back into One Faith of God, which, incidentally, as mentioned, is a major Promise in Prophesy. For Prophesy claims that all knees will bow down unto the One God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Furthermore, it says that in the Latter Days we will understand God perfectly and all call upon Him with one language and one consent. Needless to say, we are all far away from realizing this Promise. And we all seem to be drifting further away. My book concludes even that these religions of today are not leading us to Peace and the Promised Full Knowledge of the Lord but instead to the Pit. We are all closer to the Pit than any generation before us. I am speaking of a burning Pit every bit like the Pit used for burning outside the walls of Jerusalem. What makes this conclusion striking is that I doubt there is anyone alive today who can disagree with it. For we all live in a Temple of Doom, and the missiles lay armed, ready to strike from above at any moment. And if this is not gloomy enough, the book concludes (another conclusion which most men seem to carry) that our desolation of the planet alone seems to be an axe threatening our very roots. We now need not fear just the fire and brimstone of our missiles; the abomination of our pollution alone will cause us to wither and die. In this we can see where this generation is not fruitful to the cause of God. And God may very well be justified in seeing out His Curse upon us all, which is not to take His Wrath out on the earth or its beasts, but upon man's cities and high towers. Are we not any different than those who built the Tower of Babel? I wonder if there is an analogy here. For they erected their Tower, trying to be on the same level as God, even competing with Him, and their tongues, according to the story, were confused because of it. We, on the other hand, have all raised our own Towers, attempting to tell God what is Law, but it seems that our condition has not changed from the old storyline; for we are all still babbling in total confusion.
But there are those who are attempting to sort through all the confusion, and I am indebted to them. While each man may have his own method, like Paul, for sorting out the confusion, we must all recognize that no one man has, or has had, all the answers blessed within Him. Even Jesus, who is supposed to be as God, as Moses was before Him, did not have all the answers in Him. Otherwise He would have mentioned them. But He did say, in all fairness to Him, "There are many things I could tell you but you are not ready to hear them." So Jesus has this small covering: He may have known the answers, as He says in the Testimony, but He declined to mention certain things. In reflection, I suspect it was a prudent thing to do, recognizing that the Prophesies address Two Anointed Ones, among other things, which certainly would be confusing to those who believed in Him alone.
How then, can we sort out the confusion? Certainly it cannot stop with your work, or with mine, or anotherıs. In the case of your work we can certainly see food for thought; and though it may not fill the stomach, and to Christian Paulists be bitter, it assuredly is something that is a small offering to the Jews' table. And in this sense you may find my book an addition to that offering, and hopefully it can bridge a gap your work, as it stands, cannot pass over. That gap, once again, is the separation between the modern Christian Church, which dominates the world, and the Jews. Your work, as it stands, can only produce grudging and bitterness, for it appears to be a justification for one at the expense of another. So I am disposed to add to your inquiry with the hope that we can remove this perception and be received not with bitterness but with righteousness.
In itself my book is not enough to make this bridge, so I have been prompted, by your well thought out work, to add to it. If you will permit me, then, I would like to address this thing called Christianity a little bit more, not with forethought to debase it or confirm it, but to understand it in terms of the Law I had mentioned earlier: the Law of Prophesy and its fulfillment. And in this, though my book addresses these things quite thoroughly, I will focus upon Paul, whose works are not considered in detail in my book. Accordingly, I hope that you will find this more food for thought and, additionally, honor me in reviewing my book ("Hidden Pavilions").
Following the signs of Prophesy
I am of a faith that demands one to listen to the Words of another point of view and consider them. I am particularly attentive to the masters. Once again, I believe by quoting them one gives them life.
If it appears that one's Words could come from God, I am also of a nature to want to have faith in them. For in God there is but One Word, and things that are wrought in that language ought not be cast aside or treated lightly. Thus, for starters, I have faith that the Prophets will be confirmed by God alone. And the Prophets upon whom I rely are those Prophets whose Word has, at least in part, already been confirmed. Among these are Isaiah and Zechariah, to name a few. Once again, as relating to Christ, He has to be completely consistent with that Word.
Since I have dealt with the Prophets in considerable detail in my book, and cited all references to which I will now refer, forgive me if I address them summarily and not in the detail already covered. You will find that my book backs me up on the details and more. But give me this, that I write not to persuade you to one point of view or another, but rather to understand the view, which has already been written.
Events & Signs of God
The entire purpose of the Bible can be summarized as occurring between Two Major Events. The First Event is the Diaspora. The Second Event is the Gathering back of the Children of Israel to the Holy Land after the dispersion. These are the Two Major Signs of God having to do with the founding of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. I hope you would agree with me on this.
As concerning the First Event, that of the Diaspora, Isaiah gives us a very profound Sign: that of the Virgin. He says, answering to the Jews praying for a sign from God, " I will give you a sign. Behold, a Virgin shall give birth to a son and His name shall be called Immanuel," meaning God is with us. Then He goes on to say, "In that day where there were a thousand silverlings on a thousand vines it shall be even for briers and thorns...for men shall come thither with fire and swords and turn the land into briers and thorns." [Isaiah 4.14>>] It is clear, the Virgin is a Sign of God and Her Sign is more than just the bearing of a Son called Immanuel, but also the Sign of the desolation of Israel. That Sign of Desolation, incidentally, has its corresponding Sign in the Latter Day Gathering process, for in That Day An Anointed One shall stand up to inherit the Desolate Heritages. And in this alone we have the Promise of Two Anointed Ones (or the same one resurrected; it's really not important because if they are two separate Messiahs they still have to be of the same Word or Spirit).
The Son that is born of the Virgin, before the Diaspora, not only has the name of God, but also further on Isaiah speaks of the Anointed One as being God in the Flesh, Wonderful, Counselor, etc. So Prophesy here anticipated that the Jews would see a man who would be As God on earth. And this is where we must begin, if we are serious about understanding God's Prophesy. Here we must acknowledge three points of fact:
l. The Diaspora has already taken place; and the Gathering has already started.
2. Because of the first point of fact, the Virgin and Her Son, being linked to the process of dispersion, must have already happened. Otherwise, the entire prophesy is false.
3. The Messiah the Jews should have expected is God in the flesh a man, but as close to representing God in the flesh as possible.
Hence, from these three points another can be gathered:
Israel today would be foolish to be watching for the Sign of the Virgin.
As concerning the Christian view of this thing, it is easy, looking back, to see the logic in their assessment of Jesus, whom they claimed to be the Messiah. We can all say, in terms of the fact, that Jesus came at the right time (for every prophesy is couched in a certain time). Further, we can all say, in terms of the fact, that Jesus answered to a specific group of Messianic prophesies which we can call the Suffering Messiah: a Messiah who is despised, scorned, scourged, and killed; and His killing is described by Isaiah as the Atonement of Sin. In this, coupled with the earlier drawn facts, we can draw another fact:
The Messiah who is killed is as God in the flesh.
Because Jesus answered to these facts, not considering others, we can, looking back, now examine the legitimacy of the Christian claim, which is eventually voiced through Paul. And in responding to their claim, we have to first begin with the Sign of the Virgin.
The first fact we have to consider, concerning the Virgin Mary, who lays claim to this Sign of God, is that the Testimony by Jesus does not make the claim. The claim that He was born of that Sign of the Virgin actually comes through His disciples and apostles. And we see here that to either confirm or deny Jesus as Her Son, the Son of the Sign of the Virgin, we have no basis of fact, with the exception of the testimonies of several men who tell the story of Mary getting pregnant before she is wedded to Joseph.
In the Masoretic Bible the word, Virgin, is not used, but rather that Sign of God is called a Maiden. A maiden, according to Webster's Dictionary, is an unmarried girl or virgin. Anyone speaking of an unwedded girl would normally understand the sign as a virgin. The truth of the matter, whether she is Virgin or not, is that the Prophesy calls for an unmarried girl to give birth to a son. It is perfectly clear and, as it is said,
In the Latter Days you shall consider it perfectly (Jeremiah 23.20).
There are few signs of God mentioned in Prophesy. The Sign of the Virgin happens to be one of the Major Signs of God, that He exists. His entire Proof of Himself rests upon it. So it is important that it be considered perfectly. And we are to come to Perfection, not avoid it. If we cannot reach this point, all other points become superfluous. I hope that you would agree with me.
As concerning these things, no one can prove one way or another that Mary was that Sign of the Virgin, or, if you prefer, the Sign of the Maiden who gives birth to a Son called "God is with us." We must admit, however, using the Jewish rendering, it is easier for her to fulfill the prophesy of a maiden. For the Testimony says she was unmarried and pregnant with Jesus. The part concerning Immaculate Conception becomes incidental to the main issue, that an unmarried girl conceives a son, who is the Messiah called "God is with us." And she conceives and gives birth to Him before the Diaspora.
From this we can gather another point of fact:
Those who believed Jesus was the Messiah must also believe that His mother was unmarried when she conceived Him and also that the Land would be put to the torch and the people scattered when She appears.
Coupled with the Suffering Messiah arguments, we can now gather another point of fact:
Those who believed Jesus was the Son of the Virgin must also accept Him as "God with us" and they must accept His Death as Atonement of Sin. In Sum, they must believe that He is God's Salvation. And because they must believe this, they must also believe that He is God's Salvation unto the ends of the earth (and time). Further, they must also believe, because prophecy calls for it, that all knees shall one day bow down unto Him (Isaiah 62.23 ; 45.23).
From this another fact can be gathered:
The Messiah's Word is Law. All of those who believed that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of the Virgin, must also obey Him.
From this we can also derive an important fact:
Since the Messiah is created in prophesy, by the Law, being part of it and owing His Existence to it, He cannot nullify any part of that in which He is created, except as that law may have already provided.
From this we must derive another fact:
The exceptions the Messiah can make to the Law must be thoroughly defined in prophesy and by Him. For He, being created in Prophesy, is as much a part of the exceptions to the law as the exceptions are a part of Him. In a sense, His Members are thoroughly defined (Psalm 139.16) and He is incomplete until all of His Members are seen and Witnessed.
From this we have another fact:
Jesus was incomplete. He did not fulfill an abundant number of prophecies, which describe the Messiah's members and times.
From this we must derive another fact:
Jesus, to be the Legitimate Messiah, has to fulfill all the remaining prophesies (in their individual times). In a nutshell, He has to appear in the Latter Days to fulfill the Gathering Event prophesies, which are many, which my book describes in considerable detail. And this involves the Promise of the Latter Day Resurrection, which also must be believed.
Jesusı Charge to Paul
To examine Paul's works, in all fairness to Him, we have to examine Him not only in the scheme of things, as the Jews may have seen him during his day, but as we now see him and the thing he built. And to examine him, whether he was faithful and true to the thing he represented, we must first begin with Jesusı view of the Law and the Prophets and His charge to His Disciples.
In Luke He says:
Luke 16.17 It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
18.20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.
18.21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
Matthew 5.17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
5.18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Luke 18.31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
18.32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
18.33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
18.34 And they understood none of these things...
Mark 8.27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
8.28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, one of the prophets.
8.29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. (See also Luke; John does not mention this authority)
Matthew 16.14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
16.15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16.16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
16.17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.
16.18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
16.19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Only in Matthew is Peter given the Keys and charged with the authority to lead the church. Later, speaking to the Apostles He says:
Matthew 18.18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
18.19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
18.20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
In the Gospel of Thomas we have a statement placing all authority in James (an authority, as leader of the church, confirmed in the Book of Acts):
(12) The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?"
Jesus said to them, "Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."
And in the Gospel of Thomas we have this clear representation of who Jesus thought He was:
(77) Jesus said, "It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the All. From me did the All come forth, and unto me did the All extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
Of all these things several facts can be gathered:
l. Jesus acknowledged that He is the Messiah.
2. Jesus acknowledged that the Messiah He represented would be put to death in Jerusalem as per prophecy.
3. Jesus neither abrogated the Law nor the Prophets, and, to the contrary, emphasized that neither the Law nor the Prophets shall go unfulfilled.
4. Jesus claimed that the Prophesies would be fulfilled in Him. Further, as His Testimony is rendered, it suggests that He thought all of the Prophesy would be fulfilled through His Death, or at the time of His Death. But speaking of the future, where He prophesies of the Latter Days, it is apparent that He knew that certain prophesies had to be reserved unto those days. He could not have thought that Latter Day Prophesies would be fulfilled in His Day. The important point here, though, is that He fully supported the validity of the Law and the Prophets. Concerning the Commandments, He said He broke none of them.
5. Based upon Matthew alone we can say that Jesus passed on His (Divine) authority to Peter. Basically, in questions of dispute concerning doctrine, it is to Peter that He gave the Keys "of Heaven" and founded his church.. And beyond Peter, He said that whatsoever two or three men resolve as touching upon His Gospel, as they agree so will it be. For He said that He will be between them. We note, however, that Peter's Keys to the Kingdom are mentioned in Matthew, not Mark, which is curious, because Mark was apparently close to Peter. In the "Secret Gospel of Mark" Clement records, "As for Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord's doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge....Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in 1, verso Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries."
From this we have a record that Mark possessed certain notes (and documents?) of Peter and should have known whether Peter held the Keys or not. Why it is not recorded in Mark but rather in Matthew is a mystery, though we must consider that Matthew is considered by Biblical scholars to be closer to the "Q" or source Gospel than the other Gospels. The Gospel of Thomas, though thrown out of the Bible, is also ranked by modern scholars as being with Matthew in proximity to the "Q" source. And the Gospel of Thomas changes the delegation of authority to James.
Nevertheless, concerning this issue, as you so aptly pointed out, James was the leader of the church out of Jerusalem and Peter reigned beside him. We see in Acts Paul going to Jerusalem to account to James and Peter and the elders. By historical fact, James and Peter were the leaders of the church. We also know that Peter's disciple, Clement, became Bishop of Rome and afterwards Rome became the seat of Christ's Government, with the Papacy being passed down from Peter through Clement and eventually to Ignatius whom we shall mention shortly. So by the facts of precedence Peter was officially recognized as the Head of the Church of Christ; thus confirming the appointment mentioned in Matthew.
With these things in mind, we have yet another fact:
To judge Paul we must look to Peter, for Peter Holds the Keys to the Kingdom. Being conservative we shall also include James in the Judgment.
From this comes a Terrible Fact:
Very little has survived of either James' or Peter's sayings. And since Peter is appointed Head of the Church, it is a curious anomaly that His sayings have not been passed down to us.
From this comes another Terrible Fact:
The Paulists did not remember Peter and James. And the New Testament, apart from Jesus, remembers only Paul. What little is brought forth on Peter and James is a travesty. For if Jesus, His Christ, were to confront Paul on this issue, I am sure He would be asked, "Where are Peter and James?"
From this we can bring forth an accusation: There is a strong indication that the Paulists sought to suppress Peter and James. The suspicion is supported by reviewing the list of Apocryphal works, not now extant, which are mentioned by writers in the first four centuries of Christ. Of approximately 69 works, four of them relate specifically to Paul. Eight others are of, or attributed to, Peter. And they include:
The Preaching of Paul and Peter.
The Acts of Peter
The Doctrine of Peter
The Gospel of Peter
The Judgment of Peter
The Preaching of Peter
The Revelation of Peter
Miscellaneous books under the name of Peter
A book of James is also missing, as well as three books attributed to Thomas.
We cannot forthwith claim in our accusation that the censoring of books relating to Peter and James, or even Thomas, was done intentionally. Rather, I suspect that it was done this way: Peter, James and Thomas were not in agreement with Paul and his followers. Therefore, Paul's followers would have quoted Paul at length and allowed any manuscripts by Peter, James, and Thomas and their disciples to gather dust in some lost corner of their archives. The manuscripts, which were remembered of these men, can be attributed to the probability that the arguments in them reinforced the Paulist position. I say this with some hesitation, however, since, if it were true that some kind of censoring of these men was going on, I am surprised that the following comment in II Peter has survived:
II Peter 3.15 And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
3.16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
We see in these verses that they first of all acknowledge Paul in some sort of an endorsement. But it is a qualified endorsement, because Peter then shows a concern that Paul's teaching is confusing, particularly to those who are not learned or are unstable in their faith; and the confusion, which Paul is creating, is to their destruction if they listen to him. Who is he referring to when he mentions the unlearned? It is obvious! He is referring to the Gentile. If we add to this concern Peter's charge to Paul, concerning Paul's preaching of uncircumcision and disregard for the law to the Jews, where Peter warns that the Jews are out for his head, we see a picture of great concern in Peter's mind that Paul isn't following the party line. Nevertheless, Peter tolerated Paul. Why he was tolerated, is suggested by two facts:
l.Paul was experiencing tremendous successes in converting the Gentile.
2. Paul's successes were being evidenced in tremendous hordes of money being sent on to the Poor, the Church in Jerusalem.
The fact is, as you so rightly pointed out, there was a spiritual war going on between the Circumcised Church and the Uncircumcised Church. Peter's Epistles reflect this war and we see that they are written not so much for the church in Jerusalem but the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, i.e., Paul's territory of the Gentile. We see, in fact, from these Epistles, that they are every much written in the same vein as even many of Paul's Epistles and, later, Clement's Epistles. They are all concerned about divisions in the church and are written to plead for unity and Oneness of Spirit. They are reminders of the need for Unity and how to achieve it. It seems, in terms of the early divisions of the church, between Peter / James and Paul, the Uncircumcised Church, the Church of the Gentile under Paul, won the battle.
1) This was written before Al-Qaeda forced its way of death and destruction upon the world, where a renewed hatred of Jews and Israel among Islamists decries their extermination, as well as those (i.e., the United States) who support them.
2) "The Day of Resurrection" became a major focus of the Koran (See "Philistia triumph thou because of me." and "Hidden Pavilions" notes to Letter C. )
3) April 18 update includes verse references and some editorial corrections, for clarity.
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