Paul, the lesser Christ

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Joseph D. L.
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by Joseph D. L. » Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:45 pm

davidmartin wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:17 pm
If so then his opponents might well have had a deified response. I've long suspected Paul to be the original figure behind the Gnostic demiurge, and their strange silence on Paul. Although the demiurge was not a new idea at all, he was the one that fitted into that role. Take the epithets of the demiurge 'fool', exactly what Paul's opponents called him. Also the demiurge's refrain "I am God and no-one else is beside me" - that sums up Paul's own exclusive claims to represent Christ. The demiurge's Mother would have been a person also originally.
There's also veiled oppositional references against a Paul-like figure in non-Gnostic sources, such as the infancy gospel (which I mentioned in another thread) and possibly even the gospels, in the figure of Judas Iscariot.
I don't know if I can agree with that assessment, though I can definitely get behind being seen as a god-like figure, in the same way Simon Magnus, Apollonius, and Peregrinus (all of whom I suspect may be analogous to Paul and Marcion) were thought of as gods. I guess some leeway can be given as certain gnostics held Pilate as representing a lower god, and I think Pilate is a proxy for Paul/Marcion. The question becomes, I suppose, is what makes a god?

Judas Iscariot is a proxy for James. This becomes clearer when you unravel the confusion in the Gospels over "Judas" Iscariot, and Dydimus "Judas" Thomas. It's just John and James bar Zebedee, the Boanerges.

Giuseppe's thread about the Mother really boiled by blood. The Mother is not an antagonist in the gnostic traditions; only in the Jewish tradition. Nor do I think the passages typically pointed to where Jesus seemingly rejects his mother as clear or as obvious as is thought.

davidmartin
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by davidmartin » Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:26 am

this sure is covering a lot of ground!
Books like Titus in the NT sure could line up with a 'divine Paul' concept that perhaps endured for a while, there's something very 'pagan' like in feel to it. I do have certain reasons to suspect him as the inspiration for gnostic demiurge but its got a lot of component pieces to write them all down
It does tie in with the Mother though very much, and I too disagreed with Guiseppe on that one

Here is how I would put it. I'd separate out the higher Mother figure as another subject that is always esteemed in Gnostic traditions

The position of Sophia as Mother of the demiurge varies in the Gnostic traditions with some antagonistic and blaming her and some the opposite and declaring her innocence. I believe Sophia is a cypher for Mary Magdalene, and all the Gnostic myth was inspired by literal people
In the case of Mary I suspect her group/church was the one from which Paul emerged as an oppositional figure and from which the 'imitation church' sprang which is what the Gnostic accounts call the orthodox church, hence she is said to 'give birth' to the demiurge, aka Paul
That is why some Gnostic accounts blame Sophia/Mary on account of her theology or desire to create a church being at fault, and that she acted without approval. After all, who was the first Christian of orthodoxy - Mary, when she went out saying Jesus was alive! She is there at the beginning of both Gnostic and orthodox traditions

Other Gnostic accounts hold her blameless and an innocent victim and that she had approval
Either way, these accounts of Sophia sound more like a person than a divine aeon and I think the Gnostic myth does contain historic information

Joseph D. L.
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by Joseph D. L. » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:56 am

davidmartin wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:26 am
this sure is covering a lot of ground!
Books like Titus in the NT sure could line up with a 'divine Paul' concept that perhaps endured for a while, there's something very 'pagan' like in feel to it.
When Paul describes himself as being crucified with Christ in Galatians, this is a blatant reference to the mysteries wherein the initiate had to undergo the same trials as the head god.
I do have certain reasons to suspect him as the inspiration for gnostic demiurge but its got a lot of component pieces to write them all down
The demiurge concept goes back long before Paul, though. Ptah was a demiurge of sorts. Plato imagined the creator as a demiurge. I can't remember but I think Philo said that YHWH was a demiurge too, but don't quote me on that! Demiurge just means a fashioner, an artisan, or anyone who worked with their hands. So how the word was applied is important to look at.

Giuseppe throws the word around so much that it's become almost devoid of meaning now.
It does tie in with the Mother though very much, and I too disagreed with Guiseppe on that one

Here is how I would put it. I'd separate out the higher Mother figure as another subject that is always esteemed in Gnostic traditions

The position of Sophia as Mother of the demiurge varies in the Gnostic traditions with some antagonistic and blaming her and some the opposite and declaring her innocence. I believe Sophia is a cypher for Mary Magdalene, and all the Gnostic myth was inspired by literal people
In the case of Mary I suspect her group/church was the one from which Paul emerged as an oppositional figure and from which the 'imitation church' sprang which is what the Gnostic accounts call the orthodox church, hence she is said to 'give birth' to the demiurge, aka Paul
That is why some Gnostic accounts blame Sophia/Mary on account of her theology or desire to create a church being at fault, and that she acted without approval. After all, who was the first Christian of orthodoxy - Mary, when she went out saying Jesus was alive! She is there at the beginning of both Gnostic and orthodox traditions

Other Gnostic accounts hold her blameless and an innocent victim and that she had approval
Either way, these accounts of Sophia sound more like a person than a divine aeon and I think the Gnostic myth does contain historic information
There is a push-pull effort between the orthodox Jewish (or Jamesian) communities, and the more secterian (Pauline) communities.

How Paul describes his revelation in Galatians 1, and how it's later re-imagined in Apocalypse of Paul, the Mother was originally associated with him. What I think happened was Paul claimed to have been (re)born of a [celestial] virgin to gain support from those who saw this as a sign of leadership. You see this is Gospel of Thomas, wherein the one not born from a woman will lead them. However, after Paul's banishment, this was carried over to Jesus himself (Protoevangelion of James. Before Jesus was not believed to have been born of a virgin, because that person would come after him. However certain members of the community rejected this as blasphemous against their leader, and so abandoned the community. Thus the division between Ebionites and Nazareans is born (no pun intended) out of the virgin birth.

Mary Magdalene is a proxy for the divine Mother/Sophia. The problem is that over time these traditions became so divergent that you couldn't tell which was authentic and which wasn't. So the proto-Orthodoxy just said screw it and reconciled what they thought was authentic and jettisoned what they thought wasn't.

davidmartin
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by davidmartin » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:12 am

When Paul describes himself as being crucified with Christ in Galatians, this is a blatant reference to the mysteries wherein the initiate had to undergo the same trials as the head god
Yes, he mysteriously carries 'the marks of Christ', undergoes trials, the accounts of his arrest are somewhat similar to those of Jesus
The demiurge concept goes back long before Paul, though
I concur for sure, it goes way back
But I think the demiurge being born from Sophia is kind of unique
It made me suspect the first Gnostics pulled together the demiurge of Plato and opposition to YHWH from a triggering event, which was Paul preaching the old timey YHWH (which he does, making the God of Christ a wrathful YHWH). This goes down like a sexist joke at a feminists convention
A conflation between YHYH and Paul at work in the myth
This permits a historic interpretation with Paul being born/associated with/kicked out of a 'female' pre-existing church headed by Mary as the first leader (ie pope!)
I think the Gnostics did *try* to explain their church history in their myths, they are dual purpose
There is a push-pull effort between the orthodox Jewish (or Jamesian) communities, and the more secterian (Pauline) communities.
I think there were two James. The one associated with the more orthodox Jewish community and one closer to Jesus
Maybe those on the outer parameter of the Jesus movement were not initiated into all the mysteries but followed in a more traditional way, I think that's where the traditional figures came from, they were not in the inner circle but lots of people had the same names making it appear those disciples were all originally quite traditional
It never made sense to me that Jesus in the gospels is relaxed about strict observances, then we're supposed to believe his apostles were strict, then Paul came along and loosened some of them. That's crazy. The real apostles knew what they were about I don't believe this nonsensical narrative

I tend to think there was a belief Jesus was born from the virgin Spirit, and Paul sort of tries to go along with this but kind of bales out. His conversion is a bit 'birth like' with being blinded like a new born and he occasionally uses birth language, but i think that's about it.
But the gospel of Hebrews has the Spirit Mother... maybe they believed in a spiritual birth from the Spirit but not the physical one from Mary, whereas the emerging orthodox church wanted it the other way around and it did cause a split, sure that's possible
Mary Magdalene is a proxy for the divine Mother/Sophia.
Yep, for sure she is. I want to go further and have the mythological story of Sophia tie back to Mary's life in some way and a connection with Paul as a demiurge proxy in the evolution of the movement they are connected, which is where Sophia gets to be blamed in certain versions of the myth, as I think she wasn't gnostic enough for them, more pantheistic. She was almost God-like herself

Charles Wilson
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by Charles Wilson » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:27 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:12 am
Am I the only one who thinks that Metatron sounds like the name of a Saturday morning cartoon robot or some such?
https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=1519

lsayre
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by lsayre » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:26 am

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by Joseph D. L. » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:54 pm

davidmartin wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:12 am


I concur for sure, it goes way back
But I think the demiurge being born from Sophia is kind of unique
It made me suspect the first Gnostics pulled together the demiurge of Plato and opposition to YHWH from a triggering event, which was Paul preaching the old timey YHWH (which he does, making the God of Christ a wrathful YHWH). This goes down like a sexist joke at a feminists convention
A conflation between YHYH and Paul at work in the myth
This permits a historic interpretation with Paul being born/associated with/kicked out of a 'female' pre-existing church headed by Mary as the first leader (ie pope!)
I think the Gnostics did *try* to explain their church history in their myths, they are dual purpose
If this is the case then I would chalk it up to a later period. My interest is in the earlier tradition wherein Paul is just seen as the Paraclete.

Also, I'm suspicious as to how far Marcion held YHWH as a wrathful god. Everything that he says seems to indicate that YHWH to him is a "just" god, though subsidiary to a higher god.

The first leader/pope was Marcion himself, since he was the Apostle par excellence. Mary/Priscilla was just a follower of his. (Maybe common-law wife, but that's not immediately obvious).

I think there were two James. The one associated with the more orthodox Jewish community and one closer to Jesus
Maybe those on the outer parameter of the Jesus movement were not initiated into all the mysteries but followed in a more traditional way, I think that's where the traditional figures came from, they were not in the inner circle but lots of people had the same names making it appear those disciples were all originally quite traditional
It never made sense to me that Jesus in the gospels is relaxed about strict observances, then we're supposed to believe his apostles were strict, then Paul came along and loosened some of them. That's crazy. The real apostles knew what they were about I don't believe this nonsensical narrative
I agree with there being two James'. I keep James bar Zebedee and the James in Paul's epistles separate. Pappus and r. Akiva are my number one candidates.

The same goes for the other disciples too. Peter and Andrew; Judas and Thomas; James and John, etc... all appear to duplicates of one another.
I tend to think there was a belief Jesus was born from the virgin Spirit, and Paul sort of tries to go along with this but kind of bales out. His conversion is a bit 'birth like' with being blinded like a new born and he occasionally uses birth language, but i think that's about it.
But the gospel of Hebrews has the Spirit Mother... maybe they believed in a spiritual birth from the Spirit but not the physical one from Mary, whereas the emerging orthodox church wanted it the other way around and it did cause a split, sure that's possible
Jesus couldn't have been born from a virgin as both John and Thomas view it as an event that is to come. Paul, on the other hand, does fit with both prerequisites, and there's an event that happened right after the Kitos revolt that may have inspired it. It was only after Paul had been excommunicated that the virgin birth was applied to Jesus to prevent someone else from claiming the title of leader. Hence the division between the Nazareans and Ebionites, and possibly why Paul(!) was said to be the "ringleader" of the Nazareans.

Yep, for sure she is. I want to go further and have the mythological story of Sophia tie back to Mary's life in some way and a connection with Paul as a demiurge proxy in the evolution of the movement they are connected, which is where Sophia gets to be blamed in certain versions of the myth, as I think she wasn't gnostic enough for them, more pantheistic. She was almost God-like herself
The closest we get to a detailed "Acts of Mary" is Protoevangelion of James. There is something gnostic-like in that text, as Jesus is born as a light in a cave--the cave being the gnostic imagining of the universe.

I think Mary/Miriam was the mother of Lukuas.

davidmartin
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by davidmartin » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:18 am

f this is the case then I would chalk it up to a later period. My interest is in the earlier tradition wherein Paul is just seen as the Paraclete.
Hmm yes he might well be seen as a Paraclete in his own churches i can see what you mean by that.. he'd have been one among many though saying the same thing of themselves, but he still sort of is one in practise i guess in orthodox tradition

wasn't really thinking of Marcion
Just the scenario where there is the conjectured pre-Paul churches that I believe were not Gnostic, but taught that God is love (that YHWH is love). Then there is strong persecution and out comes Paul preaching 'God's wrath', out of step with prior views of God's nature. This causes wild swings in theology, sows the seeds of the later Gnostics. I think this was a big deal
That's how i see it going down. Paul would have been a massive divisive figure but in later times would come to be the Apostle par excellence in the narrative of those later times (eg by the time of composition of Acts)
The same goes for the other disciples too. Peter and Andrew; Judas and Thomas; James and John, etc... all appear to duplicates of one another.
Yes. I came to same conclusion, various factions had their own favoured set of apostles and at some point they all got fitted together as best they could when proto-orthodoxy began to merge together. there's an anti-apostle narrative in the gospels too as if there was a set with close ties to Jesus that wasn't playing ball

I think the Gnostics took a dim view of all of this and went off into dualistic anti-YHWH territory which wasn't original, cooking up the myth of Sophia and Demiurge to try and explain these events.
BTW I don't think Sophia is the virgin Mary, but Mary Magdalene

Joseph D. L.
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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:30 am

Paul's apotheosis is similar to Peregrinus Proteus.

Proteus was a god who could assume a multitude of forms and shapes. Peregrinus adopted the name as an honourific title to himself (not unlike how Christ is used). Lucian describes him as thus

After turning into everything for the sake of notoriety and achieving any number of transformations, here at last he has turned into fire.

This remark is striking compared to what Paul says of himself in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

What bluster! Notwithstanding Paul's comments that he too suffered crucifixion in Christ in Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Just like Peregrinus's immolation was to fulfill his own apotheosis to become like Hercules, Paul's "crucifixion" was his apotheosis. What this crucifixion was, I suspect, was the eclipse of 118 ad, which was visible in Northern Turkey, and the constellations Ophiuchus and Cygnus were present, with the eclipse itself taking place in Virgo (the mother).

For myself, I have long held to the possibility that Paul, Marcion, and Peregrinus Proteus, were all one and the same (long before I discovered Detering's article on this, so take that as you will). Nevertheless, the important detail to take away here is that Paul is confirming that he was indeed a "lesser Christ", not just an Apostle, but one who had been given the power of Christ. In other words, Paul was Christ on earth, just, for example, how the Egyptian Horus-King was Osiris on earth.

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Re: Paul, the lesser Christ

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:45 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:30 am
For myself, I have long held to the possibility that Paul, Marcion, and Peregrinus Proteus, were all one and the same (long before I discovered Detering's article on this, so take that as you will).
How would Ignatius of Antioch fit in?

(Do you have a link for Detering's article?)
Nevertheless, the important detail to take away here is that Paul is confirming that he was indeed a "lesser Christ", not just an Apostle, but one who had been given the power of Christ. In other words, Paul was Christ on earth, just, for example, how the Egyptian Horus-King was Osiris on earth.
This reminds me of the following:

1 Corinthians 1.12: 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”

Are these cults of personality treating Paul, Apollos, and Cephas as if they were each a "Christ" of their own coterie?
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