Possible the original Pauline letters never mentioned Jesus?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
rgprice
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Re: Possible the original Pauline letters never mentioned Jesus?

Post by rgprice »

According to the link on p46, it is believed that p46 preserves the older form of the names, with the names later being truncated to just two letters.
lclapshaw
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Re: Possible the original Pauline letters never mentioned Jesus?

Post by lclapshaw »

rgprice wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 7:57 am According to the link on p46, it is believed that p46 preserves the older form of the names, with the names later being truncated to just two letters.
How many examples of KYC or Theta EC have you found?
lclapshaw
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Re: Possible the original Pauline letters never mentioned Jesus?

Post by lclapshaw »

Also, Neil brings up an interesting point. How much time needs to elapse to make it so that the original meaning in Paul's letters is no longer know to the reader? 20-50? Longer? If so, how much longer?
gryan
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Re: Possible the original Pauline letters never mentioned Jesus?

Post by gryan »

rgprice wrote: Tue Sep 13, 2022 10:43 am
These are also tricky:

2 Cor 4:
"4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."

"Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."

Later revisions, or was there some other name there? Or did this writer somehow arrive as "Jesus" as the name for the Lord Yahweh?

2 Cor 4 is interesting in many ways. Who is the "god of this age"? Is this a Marcionite interpolation? Is 2 Cor 4 filled with Marcionite interpolation? Clearly v14 requires a name. But is the whole passage secondary?
I'm looking for a good reason to disagree with your no-"Jesus"-in-authentic-Paul hypothesis, and so far, the above passages are my favorite.

2 Cor 4:5
"...as your servants because of Jesus" (διὰ Ἰησοῦν, with accusative, διὰ means "because of").

Paul identifies "service" to his audience as something he does "because of" Jesus.
This usage is attested in Ben's reconstruction of Marcion. So you could argue that Marcion changed some other name to "Jesus" and none of his critics (in their writings that we now have) disapproved. For my part, I would say that they most likely go back to Paul.

2 Cor 4:14
"...the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself."

This whole verse is not attested in Ben's reconstruction of Marcion. I could hypothesize that the statement goes back to Paul, they pre-existed Marcion's canon, and they were not a bone of contention between Marcion and his critics (so far as we know). I don't know enough about Marcion's tendencies to know how strong this hypothesis is.
rgprice
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Re: Possible the original Pauline letters never mentioned Jesus?

Post by rgprice »

@lclapshaw
Yes and no maybe..... The biggest issue perhaps is that there are other references to Paul and Paul's letters that are at least currently dated to the late first or early second century, such as 1 Clement. I'm not sure time necessarily matters if the original version of the letters never got much circulation.

@gryan
Its very difficult dealing with these letters in general.

#1 I'm absolutely certain that the letters as we have them now contain numerous changes and revisions. I do believe that changes were made to the letters by Gnostics/Marcionites. Marcion may not have directly revised the letters but someone with a Marcionite type of view made some changes to the letters and I believe those changes are present in the orthodox version that we have today. Quite obviously, Ephesians and Colossians are Gnostic/Marcionite letters that were added to the collection. Those letters are not orthodox in origin. Whoever wrote those letters may well have edited the other letters as well. And again, the Pastorals are obviously orthodox fabrications. Again, whoever wrote those likely also edited the others. The letter to the Romans and Galatians both contain numerous orthodox changes. I am inclined to believe that the entire discussion about Abraham in Romans and Galatians is orthodox revision, and that's a major part of the supposed theology of the letters. I don't think any of that is original.

So, there is great difficulty in even trying to address any passage about "Jesus" because I think there is a significant possibility that any given passage was not original.

#2 There are multiple possibilities relating to how the original author could have referred to the figure he was writing about. In The Great Angel Barker states:

The earliest statements of their [Jewish-Christian] faith was ‘Jesus is Lord’, and ‘Lord’ must have meant in this context what it already meant to these people. If it meant, ‘Jesus is the manifestation of Yahweh’, then all of the beginnings of Christology can be explained. The quotations from the Old Testament will not have been applied to Jesus with a whole series of mental caveats and theological scruples; the texts about Yahweh were about Jesus. … Philo can be seen as relevant to our understanding of the Judaism of Christian origins, and not as the exponent of a remote and degenerate form of Judaism. … The worship of Jesus and his designation as God is no longer a problem if the Christians were proclaiming him to be the manifestation of Yahweh.



Barker's work has heavily influenced me and I completely agree with her essential thesis. The more I research both Judaism and the Pauline letters, the more I am certain that whoever wrote the original letters was talking about a "manifestation of Yahweh". That person may not have conceived of it in exactly those terms, but the Lord they were describing was the Lord known from scripture. It is possible that they used the name "Jesus", and somehow equated the name Jesus to "the manifestation of Yahweh". But, given that there were so many complexities around the name of the Lord during the "Second Temple" period, and the fact that all of the writings as we have them refer to Jesus not by explicit name, but by the nomina sacra, it seems to me that there is a very high likelihood that the actual name "Ἰησοῦν" never existed in these letters and that whatever name or symbols were being used to represent the name of the Lord originally, they were either misunderstood by some later reader who revised them or the name was inserted where no name originally existed at all.

It is also notable that Vision of Isaiah (minus the pocket gospel) does not name Jesus. VoI describes the descent of "the Beloved". The way that Jesus is described in the Pauline letters matches more closely to the narrative in VoI than anything else. I believe that whoever wrote the original Pauline letters was aware of a narrative very similar to VoI and conceived of the figure they were worshiping as being the figure described in the VoI narrative. I think it is likely that this figure was conceived of as a manifestation of the Lord, something similar to the "angel of Yahweh" or the manifestation of the Word or something along those lines.

The Pauline letters identify the Lord as Christ, which seems to indicate that the writer viewed the Lord of the scriptures as the Messiah, not a real person. They were preaching a heavenly messiah who would descend from heaven to redeem the world. They were saying, "The Lord is our Messiah. The Lord has prepared himself to come into and reclaim the material world by first overcoming death. Now we await his coming to redeem his true followers."

I do think that some "name" was likely present in the original letters, because it seems that the writer considered calling on the name of the Lord to be important. Indeed that may be one of the important features of the cult. If Jews at this time were forbidden from speaking the name of the Lord what "Paul" was preaching was that you should "call on the name of the Lord". Just as Paul denied the importance of circumcision and denied that it was necessary to follow Jewish law, Paul believed that, in contradiction to Jewish teaching, you should same the Lord's name.

But why is the name that we find in the letters "Jesus"? Is that really what the original writer claimed it was? If so, why did he think that was the Lord's name?
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