(Stevan Davies, On the Odes of Solomon as Evidence for a Pre-Christianity, in Spirit Possession and the Origins of Christianity, p. 281-282, my red)I propose that the following occurred:
A: Before 25 C.E. there was a network of communities stretching from Jerusalem to Damascus whose religious ideas are to some degree preserved for us through some of the hymns they chanted, the Odes of Solomon. Those communities believed that humans could be transformed into Christ or the Son of God through an experience understood in terms of the Spirit that we can understand in terms of the generic category of spirit possession.
B: Jesus of Nazareth was affiliated with or influenced by one of those communities. He came to understand himself as one transformed into Son of God and Christ through an experience understood in terms of the Spirit. He was rather widely regarded as one transformed into Son of God or the Holy Hone of God and thereby was able to have a brief but very successful career as an exorcist-healer and to gather a cadre of associates who regarded him as being, uniquely, Christ and Son of God.
C: The communities of Odes Judaism were persecuted through Judean police power and Paul carried out such persecution. However, Paul, to his surprise, spontaneously experienced what those communities advocated, believed that the Son of God had been revealed in him, and he began to spread their form of religion into Gentile areas. Paul understood the Odes religion in reference to the much more public career of Jesus of Nazareth, whose associates identified him as crucified and risen Christ. Paul conflated the Odes religion with the idea that Jesus is Christ to produce a form of Christianity that offered people the possibility of identification through the Spirit with Jesus Christ crucified.
D: Jesus' associates, who eventually came to understand him to have been the unique Son of God and to have been the only Christ, initially had ''pentecostal'' experiences of Spirit possession that were thought to derive from Jesus Christ now in heaven with God. The success of Christianity in spreading throughout the Roman Empire was based largely on the success of Christian missionaries in inducing Spirit possession in people in diverse areas, presumably through methods similar to those that are utilized by Pentecostal missionaries today.
E: Johannine Christians believed that possession by the spirit Paralcete would transform them so that they might believe that Jesus dwells in them and that they can speak words of the Spirit, understood to be Jesus'words recalled to them. Their experiences meant to them that they are now the presence of the Son of God, Jesus, on the earth; it is possible that some of the communities of Odes Judaism became JOhannine Christian Churches. The Johannine community may be the principal form in which Odes Judaism continued to exist after the rise of Christianity oriented to Jesus of Nazareth.
I see that Gordon Rylands shared the same ideas of Stevan Davies about the Odes of Solomon and the origins of Johannine communities (more in general, of the Christian gnosticism).
Where they diverge is in the part put by me in red.
You can replace it, for a good understanding of Rylands's view, with the following words of Robert M. Price:
(Robert M. Price, The Amazing Colossal Apostle, p.152, note 57)Does not the phenomenon of the Ebionites demand that there had been an historical Jesus? They speak of Jesus as the True Prophet, lately come to reveal the false pericopae of the Torah. Was he not, then, a recent figure? It is always possible that they envisioned him as speaking prophetically through their own teacher of righteousness, not incarnate as a separate individual. But essentially, ”Jesus” functioned for them as a personification of the “law-reviser,” the new exegesis of their sect, just as Moses had long functioned (fictively) as Law personified for other Jews. Why the name “Jesus,” then? I cannot help suspecting that their “Jesus” was originally supposed to be Joshua, immediate successor of Moses, whom the Book of Joshua shows making a covenant for Israel, not merely making a copy of the old one (24:25-26). He would have made his own Torah shortly after Moses. The “Jesus” of the Ebionites would, then, have been the Old Testament Joshua, successor to Moses. Subsequently, at the point of federating with the other sects of the Gnostic Jordan Schwärmerei, they simply identified their “Jesus” with that of their Christian brethren. In fact, what the heresiologists say of the ostensible/inferred founder, “Ebion,” may have been true of the one they claimed as their founder, Jesus! He didn’t exist but was just a name for a new set of scriptural exegeses.
Under a mythicist paradigm, the Pillars were the first ones to identify the mythical suffering Christ of the so-called (by Davies) ''Odes Judaism'' (named ''pre-christian gnosticism'' by Rylands) with the name Joshua (in honour of the biblical Joshua, on the vawe of the popular myth of (the victorious) Joshua redivivus behind the military hopes of the various Theudas, the Egyptian Prophet, etc).
In this sense the Pillars were already starting the gradual process of euhemerization of the original Christ myth, by dubbing that Christ as ''Joshua''.
This would explain why Paul was at the same time before and after the Pillars.
Paul was before the Pillars because he hallucinated originally only a mythical Christ (the same one of the Odes Judaism), maybe even before the Pillars's hallucination of Joshua Christ.
But Paul was after the Pillars because he coopted from them the idea that the Christ is (the biblical) Joshua.
Therefore the Pillars could claim priority on Paul only regarding the naming of Christ as Joshua, but not regarding the hallucination of the suffering Christ (of the Odes Judaism), a Christ whom Paul could ''see'' entirely alone without the help of the Pillars.
In some way, the Pillars were able to make Paul believe that his gnostic Christ was the same Joshua Christ preached by them.