NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Bernard Muller
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by Bernard Muller »

I don't agree vith Crossan's vision: it's not quite minimal but keeps some excessive baggage and assumptions.
A NTJ does not eliminate a very minimal Jesus who, by circumstances, and the immediate historical & religious context of his time, unintentionally triggered the start of Christianity (by others like Paul) after his death:

From: http://historical-jesus.info/digest.html

1) Right after Pilate took over as procurator (and/or prefect) in Judea (fall of 26CE), there is an unprecedented series of events in Jerusalem & Cesarea (Josephus' Wars II, IX, 2-3 & Ant., XVIII, III, 1), with exceptionally good outcomes, inviting the Jews to think God is back looking after them. Also, this episode weakens Pilate's rule, allowing for John the Baptist (JtB) and the many Jews going to him (and later a certain royal welcome near Jerusalem) (HJ-1b).

2) JtB attracts large crowds for a few months (spring of 27CE), preaching God's Kingdom (of the old prophecies) is near, better to be "cleansed" in order to avoid the accompanying God's wrath (HJ-1b).

3) Jesus enters here, so far as a lower class, uneducated, rural Jew from Galilee (HJ-1a).
He stays around JtB, among others (HJ-1b).

4) Jesus goes to Capernaum right after JtB's arrest. Then two small successive events happen on Sabbath day, creating a short-lived hysteria around Jesus' alleged healing power (HJ-2a).

5) After Jesus is credited to have healed a man with skin disease (in the nearby villages), another hysteria takes hold and gets known all the way to Jerusalem (80 miles away) and beyond (HJ-2a).

6) Peripherally, Jesus talks about a (down to earth) message well adapted to the times (right after JtB's one: "Kingdom to come") and his milieu (rural Galilee): the Kingdom is coming soon (on earth) and it will benefit only the poor (Jews) (HJ-2b).

7) At that time, JtB, rumored to be the future (human) ruler (king) of the Kingdom (HJ-1b), is executed by Herod Antipas (HJ-3a).

8) Then, some Judean/Hellenist activist Jews interpret the healings by Jesus as a Sign; and he is thought to be the One, replacing (or possessed by) JtB (that's not a leap of faith, this part is multi-documented in GMark) (HJ-3a).

9) So, next spring, Jesus gets a "royalish" welcome by some near Jerusalem, days before the Passover (HJ-3a).

10) He feels encouraged enough to do the disturbance ("cleansing" in the temple) (HJ-3a).

11) Because of that (and the welcome), he is soon arrested (abandoned by the Galileans) and crucified (without trials and as a deterrent) with a mocking sign, "the king of the Jews" (spring of 28CE) (HJ-3a).

12) Later, another event (Josephus' Wars II, IX, 4 & Ant., XVIII, III, 2) will make most Jews doubt the Kingdom (to come soon) and re-establish Roman full authority (and fear) over Judea. But some hellenized Jews will keep the hope alive by looking at certain recent events, the Scriptures, Pharisaic beliefs, Philo of Alexandria's writings, etc. ... (see HJ-3b for the post-crucifixion beginning of Christianity)

Evidence about that HJ starts in Paul's epistles:

From http://historical-jesus.info/

When eyewitnesses were still alive, Paul wrote about a minimal Jesus (but also, for Paul, pre/post-existent as a heavenly deity) who, from "Israelites, ... whose [are] the fathers, and of whom [is] the Christ, according to the flesh ..." (Ro9:4-5 YLT) and "come of a woman, come under law" (Gal4:4 YLT) (as a descendant of (allegedly) Abraham (Gal3:16), Jesse (Ro15:12) & David (Ro1:3)), "found in appearance as a man" (Php2:8) "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Ro8:3), "the one man, Jesus Christ" (Ro5:15) (who had brothers (1Co9:5), one of them called "James", whom Paul met (Gal1:19)), "humbled himself" (Php2:8) in "poverty" (2Co8:9) as "servant of the Jews" (Ro15:8) and "was crucified in weakness" (2Co13:4) in "Zion" (Ro9:31-33 & Ro11:26-27).

No wonder Paul kept away from that real HJ and concentrated on "Christ crucified" and his theology/christology on the (alleged and invented) heavenly Jesus prior to his incarnation and mostly after his alleged resurrection. That the hoax part, started by others earlier ones and then amplified by Paul and 'Hebrews' & his author. King of the Jews was replaced by Christ (there is considerable overlap in the OT about these two titles) which was acceptable for Gentiles.

And evidence from non-Christians comes from Josephus' Antiquities (about James, the brother of Jesus called Christ) and Tacitus' Annals.

That's a lot of pieces of evidence for a mythicist to eliminate, without calling for a big plot theory.

Cordially, Bernard
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MrMacSon
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by MrMacSon »

Peter Kirby wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:03 pm This is me trying to be civil, actually.
No it's not Peter, it's you leading someone down the garden path for a gotcha ...

What I was saying probably doesn't not fully apply to Crossan. I was just silly enough to try to play your silly game.
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by Peter Kirby »

MrMacSon wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:24 pm What I was saying probably doesn't not fully apply to Crossan
Okay, I think that answers the question to my satisfaction. I can leave it be.
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by mlinssen »

I wonder why people even bother to wish for a minimal Jesus who did virtually nothing of that which the Churchian Jesus allegedly did

What's the point, so one can at least be just a tiny little bit right?

A hoax is a hoax, whether there's a core of truth to it or not. There usually is a core of truth to a good hoax, yes. There is a story underlying the story, there always is
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Peter Kirby
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by Peter Kirby »

mlinssen wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:25 pm A hoax is a hoax, whether there's a core of truth to it or not. There usually is a core of truth to a good hoax, yes. There is a story underlying the story, there always is
This tends to be why the idea that there was no core of truth is initially surprising, and reasonable people disagree about it.

I think David Friedrich Strauss already had the last laugh on whether the New Testament Jesus is accepted as such. It's now widely believed that the apostles didn't write the gospels of Matthew and John, that the narratives pulled details from the Old Testament, and that in general the Jesus can be understood as a man in a naturalistic way (regardless of whether one privately regards Jesus to be divine in a leap of faith).

So much of what's left to squabble over is whether there was such a man, and if so, what can we say about what he is like.

Yes, I do believe that people find it important to know whether Jesus existed. There exists a kind of spirituality, within and outside Christianity, that finds some measure of comfort in the idea. One winking reference to this comes from Douglas Adams:
"And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything. "
For some people, underneath the myth and the dross, behind the theology and the dogma, the historicity of Jesus is an affirmation of a core goodness and a basic truth at stake in the story. Yes, naturally, there is a bit of projection going on here, as Schweitzer argued to devastating effect.

But as long as the historicity of Jesus is a premise for some people, they can try to build on that premise. Some attempt to reverse the course of all argument and find their way back to an empty tomb and risen Christ. Some do a version of the Jefferson Bible. And a great many more, especially among the most versed in theology, find it indispensable to the dogma of the Incarnation -- while the details may not need to be sweated, for them, the man himself must have lived and died. I've pointed that out here:

https://peterkirby.com/theology.html
it is also easy to see that there are some theological concerns in Christianity for which the historicity of Jesus (some might call it the incarnation) is at the center.
Perhaps no better evidence of the relevance of the historicity of Jesus is the persistence of mythicists and the vituperation of many who oppose them.
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by mlinssen »

Peter Kirby wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:48 pm
mlinssen wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:25 pm A hoax is a hoax, whether there's a core of truth to it or not. There usually is a core of truth to a good hoax, yes. There is a story underlying the story, there always is
This tends to be why the idea that there was no core of truth is initially surprising, and reasonable people disagree about it.

I think David Friedrich Strauss already had the last laugh on whether the New Testament Jesus is accepted as such. It's now widely believed that the apostles didn't write the gospels of Matthew and John, that the narratives pulled details from the Old Testament, and that in general the Jesus can be understood as a man in a naturalistic way (regardless of whether one privately regards Jesus to be divine in a leap of faith).

So much of what's left to squabble over is whether there was such a man, and if so, what can we say about what he is like.

Yes, I do believe that people find it important to know whether Jesus existed. There exists a kind of spirituality, within and outside Christianity, that finds some measure of comfort in the idea. One winking reference to this comes from Douglas Adams:
"And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything. "
For some people, underneath the myth and the dross, behind the theology and the dogma, the historicity of Jesus is an affirmation of a core goodness and a basic truth at stake in the story. Yes, naturally, there is a bit of projection going on here, as Schweitzer argued to devastating effect.

But as long as the historicity of Jesus is a premise for some people, they can try to build on that premise. Some attempt to reverse the course of all argument and find their way back to an empty tomb and risen Christ. Some do a version of the Jefferson Bible. And a great many more, especially among the most versed in theology, find it indispensable to the dogma of the Incarnation -- while the details may not need to be sweated, for them, the man himself must have lived and died. I've pointed that out here:

https://peterkirby.com/theology.html
it is also easy to see that there are some theological concerns in Christianity for which the historicity of Jesus (some might call it the incarnation) is at the center.
Perhaps no better evidence of the relevance of the historicity of Jesus is the persistence of mythicists and the vituperation of many who oppose them.
Somehow I can relate to that. I move mostly in Thomas circles, so to say, and it is surprising to see how even the fiercest believers in "the new Jesus", those who resemble Stevan Davies in his unsubstantiated folly, so to say - get deeply moved by watching the Matthäus-Passion, by the suffering, the alleged self sacrifice

I like the kind, benevolent and benign Jesus of the NT. I get physically sick when reading Matthew. I love to read John.
Even though I am convinced that it all started with Thomas, that the Jesus of the NT never existed at all, and not even a a person in any way

But that is simply inconceivable to those who have believed. Talk to "heathens" and they'll smirk at the entire idea

But Jesus sticks to you from some point in life, it would seem that there is some point of no return after which at least some shred of him must exist.
It is like, or even worse, with John the Baptist. Regardless of the fact that his script in Mark is only a handful of verses, and that he is the lamest prophet in the history of an religions taken together: it is inconceivable that he didn't exist

What is that? I accept that it is, but how and why?
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by lsayre »

Peter Kirby wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:05 pm Again, more specifically:

At what point does a portrayal of the historical Jesus become "vastly or even completely different to" the NT Jesus? For example, have Crossan and J. P. Meier and E. P. Sanders and Gerd Theissen crossed the line into presenting one that is "vastly or even completely different to" the NT Jesus? I don't know what authors you've read. Maybe just point out who you have read that do or do not cross that line for you.

And once it crosses that line, how do you know that a necessary consequence is that, therefore, there is no "shred of evidence. Nil. None. Nada. Zip." Surely I can't just take your word for it. Can you demonstrate why this is necessarily true?
Would the portrayal of miracles be a dividing line between a historical and non-historical Jesus?
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Would the portrayal of miracles be a dividing line between a historical and non-historical Jesus?
Since it seems that a remark of mine sparked this thread, perhaps it would help if I better defined the distinction that I mentioned.

These are not my categories, but rather distinctions I have encountered in the course of many discussions about Jesus and whether he was a real person who actually lived. Based on that experience, I venture that there are no globally applicable defintions of any of the three terms historical Jesus, Gospel Jesus, or Jesus of Faith. Participants in any specific discussion negotiate among themselves the definitions of what they are discussing. However, these three terms are often convenient shorthand for some of the most popular kinds of discussions.

With broad brushstrokes, then:

The terms are usually nested when the context of the discussion is interest in Christianity: historical Jesus exists when Gospel Jesus exists, who exists when Jesus of Faith exists. As is usual in classification exercises, there are difficult cases (e.g. is Jesus of the Jefferson Bible "Gospel" or historical?).

Gospel Jesus is accepted as real just when the canonical Gospels (or New Testament) are accepted as substantially accurate sources of information about Jesus's natural life. Allowance is usually made for exaggerations or for the possibility that a given event really occurred but was misinterpreted. How much allowance is the prerogative of the discussants.

To that, Jesus of Faith adds additional fact claims about Jesus beyond his natural biography. These, too, may be found in the canonical Gospels, but typically religions include matters that go beyond clear canonical Gospel or New Testament fact claims (e.g. whether the Arian "heresy" is factually false).

Like Jesus of Faith, the term historical Jesus doesn't mean "unrelated to the canonical Gospels." Historical Jesus means a Jesus who is identified while excluding a substantial portion of the canonical Gospels' fact claims. Which of those fact claims appear in the definition is the prerogative of the discussants.

On a point arising, many proponents of a historical Jesus will seek admission into evidence for extra-biblical sources such as Josephus or Tacitus as received. Non-proponents may discount such sources, but accepting their admission may be the price of continued discussion.

A frequent "minimal" historical Jesus defintion would consist of the few Gospel elements that are also mentioned in received Josephus or received Tacitus. (Thus, e.g. "Jesus is a single specific Jewish teacher who was crucified in First Century Palestine whose followers saw him alive again afterward, and they promoted a cult focused on him.") Of course, just because someone accepts a definition doesn't obligate them to accept that the definition refers to anything that really existed or happened.

I hope that helps.
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by maryhelena »

lsayre wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 2:42 am
Peter Kirby wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:05 pm Again, more specifically:

At what point does a portrayal of the historical Jesus become "vastly or even completely different to" the NT Jesus? For example, have Crossan and J. P. Meier and E. P. Sanders and Gerd Theissen crossed the line into presenting one that is "vastly or even completely different to" the NT Jesus? I don't know what authors you've read. Maybe just point out who you have read that do or do not cross that line for you.

And once it crosses that line, how do you know that a necessary consequence is that, therefore, there is no "shred of evidence. Nil. None. Nada. Zip." Surely I can't just take your word for it. Can you demonstrate why this is necessarily true?
Would the portrayal of miracles be a dividing line between a historical and non-historical Jesus?
A dividing line between a historical Jesus and a non-historical Jesus?

Taking the non-historical Jesus as being the gospel Jesus - then there is no dividing line. There is a void. The gospel Jesus is a bit like that Emperor with his invisible clothes - underneath the miraculous clothes he is naked.

What that means is not that one has to go searching for a naked historical Jesus......it means that you have no way to identify any one individual as the historical Jesus. The Jewish gospel writers were sticking to their guns here - no Jewish man is going to be deified. (a point further observed in Josephus with his many Jesus figures....)

Thus, searching for a no-name, naked, Jesus is a pointless waste of time. It's not even a needle in a haystack - there is no needle...

There is one major historical claim in the gospel story. Roman agents crucified a 'king of the Jews'. The question is when did Rome do that? Yes, the gospel story is set in the time of Pilate - but that gospel story also includes references to King Herod (40 b.c. and to Lysanaus (40 b.c.) - indicating that the time of Pilate is not the beginning but the end of the story the gospel writers are articulating. A story that began 70 years earlier.

1. Antigonus entered and seized Jerusalem forcefully in 40 BCE - Jesus is depicted as triumphantly entering Jerusalem in the passion

2. Antigonus cuts off the ears of his uncle - Jesus repairs the severed ear of the sentry

3. Antigonus had a 3 year reign - Jesus had a 3 year ministry

4. Antigonus is the crucified king of the Jews.

5. Antigonus was executed in Antioch - "....The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch". Acts 11.25.

Of course, there is more to the gospel Jesus story than the crucifixion - but that cross has become the very symbol of Christianity. I would suggest that it is the Roman execution of a King of the Jews that became the model for the gospel writers for their Jesus crucifixion story.

''Dion Cassius says, 'Antony now gave the Kingdom to a certain Herod, and having stretched Antigonus on the cross and scourged him, which had never been done before to a king by the Romans, he put him to death'. The sympathies of the masses for the crucified king of Judah, the heroic son of so many heroic ancestors, and the legends growing, in time, out of this historical nucleus, became, perhaps, the source from which Paul and the evangelists preached Jesus as the crucified king of Judea.'' (History of the Hebrew's Second Commonwealth, 1880, Cincinnati, page 206)

Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900), scholar and novelist



Antiquities book 15. ch.2

]When Antony had taken Antigonus prisoner, he decided to keep him for his triumph, but when he heard how the nation was still rebellious and in their hatred for Herod, still favoured Antigonus, he decided to behead him in Antioch, for in no other way could the Jews be pacified. Strabo of Cappadocia supports me in this, when he says: "Antony had Antigonus the Jew brought to Antioch and beheaded there. I believe he was the first Roman to behead a king, thinking there was no other way to change the mind of the Jews to receive Herod, whom he had set in his place, for even tortures could not force them to acknowledge him as king. With their great fondness for their former king, he felt that this disgrace would diminish his memory and also lessen their hatred of Herod." Such is Strabo's account.

To turn the Jews away from Antigonus in order to diminish his memory - beheading won't do that - but a dishonorable element of his execution could do that. Hanging him on a cross/stake and flogging him. A curse to the Jews (Gal.3.13) An event best forgotten. But Paul turned the cross around - from being a curse to being the instrument of salvation. Obviously, not by upholding physical crucifixion - rather to move away from such anti-humanitarian concepts and place value in spiritual sacrifices - intellectual or philosophical 'sacrifices'.

(I've often wondered about the OT curse of hanging on a cross/stake/tree - maybe it's about the evil doer/criminal being removed from terra-firma - feet above the ground. Feet removed from the sacred ground, feet no longer able to dishonor or bring shame to the sacred ground, feet no longer able to defile the sacred ground)
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Re: NTJ != HJ, ∴ no evidence of HJ?

Post by Jax »

maryhelena wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 6:52 am
lsayre wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 2:42 am
Peter Kirby wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:05 pm Again, more specifically:

At what point does a portrayal of the historical Jesus become "vastly or even completely different to" the NT Jesus? For example, have Crossan and J. P. Meier and E. P. Sanders and Gerd Theissen crossed the line into presenting one that is "vastly or even completely different to" the NT Jesus? I don't know what authors you've read. Maybe just point out who you have read that do or do not cross that line for you.

And once it crosses that line, how do you know that a necessary consequence is that, therefore, there is no "shred of evidence. Nil. None. Nada. Zip." Surely I can't just take your word for it. Can you demonstrate why this is necessarily true?
Would the portrayal of miracles be a dividing line between a historical and non-historical Jesus?
A dividing line between a historical Jesus and a non-historical Jesus?

Taking the non-historical Jesus as being the gospel Jesus - then there is no dividing line. There is a void. The gospel Jesus is a bit like that Emperor with his invisible clothes - underneath the miraculous clothes he is naked.

What that means is not that one has to go searching for a naked historical Jesus......it means that you have no way to identify any one individual as the historical Jesus. The Jewish gospel writers were sticking to their guns here - no Jewish man is going to be deified. (a point further observed in Josephus with his many Jesus figures....)

Thus, searching for a no-name, naked, Jesus is a pointless waste of time. It's not even a needle in a haystack - there is no needle...

There is one major historical claim in the gospel story. Roman agents crucified a 'king of the Jews'. The question is when did Rome do that? Yes, the gospel story is set in the time of Pilate - but that gospel story also includes references to King Herod (40 b.c. and to Lysanaus (40 b.c.) - indicating that the time of Pilate is not the beginning but the end of the story the gospel writers are articulating. A story that began 70 years earlier.

1. Antigonus entered and seized Jerusalem forcefully in 40 BCE - Jesus is depicted as triumphantly entering Jerusalem in the passion

2. Antigonus cuts off the ears of his uncle - Jesus repairs the severed ear of the sentry

3. Antigonus had a 3 year reign - Jesus had a 3 year ministry

4. Antigonus is the crucified king of the Jews.

5. Antigonus was executed in Antioch - "....The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch". Acts 11.25.

Of course, there is more to the gospel Jesus story than the crucifixion - but that cross has become the very symbol of Christianity. I would suggest that it is the Roman execution of a King of the Jews that became the model for the gospel writers for their Jesus crucifixion story.

''Dion Cassius says, 'Antony now gave the Kingdom to a certain Herod, and having stretched Antigonus on the cross and scourged him, which had never been done before to a king by the Romans, he put him to death'. The sympathies of the masses for the crucified king of Judah, the heroic son of so many heroic ancestors, and the legends growing, in time, out of this historical nucleus, became, perhaps, the source from which Paul and the evangelists preached Jesus as the crucified king of Judea.'' (History of the Hebrew's Second Commonwealth, 1880, Cincinnati, page 206)

Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900), scholar and novelist



Antiquities book 15. ch.2

]When Antony had taken Antigonus prisoner, he decided to keep him for his triumph, but when he heard how the nation was still rebellious and in their hatred for Herod, still favoured Antigonus, he decided to behead him in Antioch, for in no other way could the Jews be pacified. Strabo of Cappadocia supports me in this, when he says: "Antony had Antigonus the Jew brought to Antioch and beheaded there. I believe he was the first Roman to behead a king, thinking there was no other way to change the mind of the Jews to receive Herod, whom he had set in his place, for even tortures could not force them to acknowledge him as king. With their great fondness for their former king, he felt that this disgrace would diminish his memory and also lessen their hatred of Herod." Such is Strabo's account.

To turn the Jews away from Antigonus in order to diminish his memory - beheading won't do that - but a dishonorable element of his execution could do that. Hanging him on a cross/stake and flogging him. A curse to the Jews (Gal.3.13) An event best forgotten. But Paul turned the cross around - from being a curse to being the instrument of salvation. Obviously, not by upholding physical crucifixion - rather to move away from such anti-humanitarian concepts and place value in spiritual sacrifices - intellectual or philosophical 'sacrifices'.

(I've often wondered about the OT curse of hanging on a cross/stake/tree - maybe it's about the evil doer/criminal being removed from terra-firma - feet above the ground. Feet removed from the sacred ground, feet no longer able to dishonor or bring shame to the sacred ground, feet no longer able to defile the sacred ground)
I have long enjoyed Antigonus as a likely suspect for the Christ cult passion account. Timeline fits well as well, for me anyway, as this helps support an early Paul, for at least some of the letter fragments. The only thing that bothers me now is how well does it fit with the views of Marcion?

That said, I now have Galatians (apparently 'found' by Marcion) and 2 Corinthians (seemingly not known by the earliest Christian writers) in my crosshairs as possibly being spurious, at least in part, to the original Pauline corpus.
As it sits now I am leaning towards the compiled letters of Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and 1 Corinthians, in collected letter form, and a core of Romans being original to an early Paul with the rest of the letters being added over time to support an evolving orthodox Christianity with the bulk added in the second century.
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