A Working Timeline for How Modern Christianity Strayed From Its Origins: Part 1

by Joshua Tilghman on December 23, 2015

Gnostic PaulSince it’s the Holiday season and I’m now off work for a few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the Early Church. I’ve been trying to piece together how early Christianity morphed to provide the framework for today’s Christianity. I’ve wrote about Gnostics and true early Christianity before, but I thought it would be fun to dig in and provide the larger picture for how Christianity started and progressed to what it is today. Of course I’m no scholar, and I’m sure there are a lot of things I will get wrong. But I hope I can provide an interesting timeline with some reasonable evidence to point to a working theory.

I also thought this would be fun to do because readers could interject where they think I am right or wrong. I welcome both viewpoints. Don’t look at this as a post to prove one viewpoint over another, but rather as online discussion for those interested in early Christianity and how the Early Church developed. Maybe together we can get some really good discussions that will broaden all of our perspectives. I’ll be focusing on such things like Paul, which of his letters are authentic, Gnosticism, many of the early church fathers, the Roman Empire, Synods and councils, and the different beliefs and movements that have developed because of these events, especially in the Early Church.

I think this series of posts—they may turn out quite long if we get enough discussion—will be unique. Most scholarly works on the Early Church look at the small picture. They focus on particular time periods and events and never get into the bigger picture of how we got to where we are today as it concerns Christianity. This is understandable because it’s an immense topic that no one book could ever cover very thoroughly. But this blog isn’t meant to be scholarly and I think the broad topic can be tackled with some good results from mostly laymen writing (and some scholarly interjections).

I’ll start this post off in the series with a little bit of information and then pose questions to you, the reader. I hope to get some good feedback before the next post on your thoughts. Who knows? Maybe some of you will get me thinking in a direction I’ve never been down before. Perhaps we’ll get some reasonable arguments together that will help us to piece together a timeline that will make sense to the esoteric community and maybe even some believers in more traditional Christianity who are searching out problems with the traditional timeline, which clearly has some issues by the way.

I realize I’ve been inactive on the blog for a while, but hopefully this will jumpstart some good conversation again at SOS.

The Problem of Paul’s Works

I am going to start this series with Paul. I believe we have to look at Paul first for two reasons:

  1. Paul (or the person who took that name) wrote most of the New Testament. The distribution of his works is responsible for giving Christianity its start.
  2. Paul’s letters were the first books of the New Testament written. They were penned before any of the Gospels.

That being said, there are a few additional points that should be made. Almost all scholars agree that the seven epistles listed below were definitely written by Paul:

Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

There is a huge lack of scholarly consensus on the other six. They are:

Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.

My personal opinion is that Ephesians and Colossians are also Pauline. But perhaps most importantly, MOST critical scholars (and myself) reject 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus as Pauline. I say perhaps most importantly because the latter three are known as the Pastoral Epistles, which deal directly with the structure of the Early Church. By structure I mean its leaders and the way certain issues should be handled. Why is this so important?

If most modern scholars reject the Epistles that deal with Church Structure, we have to ask the question: Is it possible that these Epistles were written at a much later date to advance Early Christianity in a direction that the original writer of the first 7 or 9 Epistles didn’t intend? I believe YES, absolutely.

Below I will lay this case out in more detail. We will come back to the above questions much later, so keep it in the back of your mind. For now, we’ll stick to Paul mostly.

Will The True Jesus of Paul Stand Up?

Who was the true Jesus of Paul? The traditional view is that Paul believed in a historical Jesus. But in the past few decades that consensus has begun to change. While most scholars still believe Paul preached a historical Jesus, I wouldn’t be surprised if that tide completely turns in the next twenty to thirty years.

I have come to the conclusion that Paul’s Jesus was a mythical one. I also believe that Paul’s Jesus was a spiritual power from the Old Testament, the same revelation of messiah that mystical Jews and Gnostics would have embraced. The greatest Gnostic teachers of antiquity such as Valentinus stated that Paul was their teacher. This is odd since later church fathers stated that Paul was anti-Gnostic, which is why I believe that most critical scholars can now say with complete confidence that the Pastoral Epistles were never penned by Paul.

Before we get into the scriptures I want to reiterate that Paul’s epistles were written BEFORE the Gospels. The Gospels are responsible for providing the historical framework for Jesus when interpreted literally. But we MUST remember that Paul was writing BEFORE any historical narrative of a literal Christ was put to parchment. In fact, no historical narrative of Jesus was penned until after Paul’s death. In today’s Christianity that fact almost seems backwards thinking, but it’s been firmly established by scholars. Why is this so important?

As I have discussed on this site before, Paul never mentions a virgin birth, a mother of Jesus by the name of Mary, or a father by the name of Joseph. His omission of such important events is a great clue as to who Paul’s Jesus really was. Could it be that his Jesus wasn’t the historical Jesus of the Gospels?

Whenever Paul does mention a seemingly historical point about Jesus, it’s cryptic instead of using language that would establish a definite link. In the next post I’ll show you why I think even the references that seem to point to a historical Jesus are not references to the same historical Jesus we know through the Gospels.

Paul claims that he has his own Gospel

Consider the scripture below;

“Now to him that is power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets…” (Gal. 25-26).

Galatians is the least disputed Epistle when it comes to Pauline authorship, and the above scripture shows that Paul had a personal gospel. What does that mean? He gives us the answer in Gal. 1:12:

“For I neither received it [the Gospel of Christ] of man, neither was I taught it…”

Hmm? Paul’s gospel is from no man. Not a man named Jesus, nor the apostles that supposedly walked with him, or any eyewitness accounts. How does any human learn of the historical Jesus? They are taught it through the reading of the New Testament Gospels and by other men who are relying on the New Testament Gospels. Paul, on the other hand, received his gospel through direct revelation. The only scriptures Paul had was the Old Testament, and his Jesus Christ would have to align with the spiritual understanding of messiah that can be gleaned from there. I think this point is often missed. Remember that the best Jewish scholars of the Old Testament reject that Isaiah prophesied about a future virgin birth for their future messiah. The translation of Isaiah’s prophecy does not match the language or context of a future virgin birth as presented in Matthew and Luke. Since the New Testament Gospels were constructed much later than Paul’s writings, we shouldn’t impose anything that they say into Paul’s belief system. This is only logical. Why? Because Paul himself states that he learned HIS gospel only from direct revelation.

Furthermore, the messiah that Paul speaks of above that is rooted in the Old Testament (his Jesus Christ), is veiled in symbolism and allegory. This site is all about that, so I won’t get into that here. But we should look at what Paul himself says.

That being said, let’s return to Galatians:

“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was born of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory…” (Gal. 4:22-24).

The Greek word for allegory there means fable. Fables are meant to teach us lessons, but they are not literal nor real. It is rather the spiritual understanding that’s important, not the literal interpretation, just like Aesop’s Fables. Why would Paul call the story of Abraham’s offspring a fable? Paul gives us the answer to this question in 2 Corinthians, a definite authentic Pauline passage:

 “…for the letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:6).

By “letter of the law” Paul is speaking of the written Torah. He seems to be saying then that the spiritual, or lesson taught through the allegory or fable is what speaks to the spirit, and that the literal interpretation of the fable kills. Why does it kill? Because the literal interpretation of myth causes us to focus on the physical aspect instead of the spiritual aspect.

That is the key to Paul’s Jesus—it is a spiritual power raised within that has nothing to do with belief in a historical man.

Christians who state Paul’s Jesus was the historical Jesus of the Gospels will often use Galatians 4:4, which states:

“But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law…”

That scripture does not back up the traditional argument. In fact, just the opposite. When Galatians four is taken in context, Paul is using metaphor to discuss his theology. Remember Galatians 4:24, where the two covenants is allegory? Galatians 4:4 and in fact the entire chapter is no different. The women represents the flesh, and the law is the sin and corruption of that flesh. However, Paul says it is the SPIRIT of the Son that is sent into the heart.

Consider more of Galatians below:

“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the SPIRIT of his son into your hearts…” (Gal. 4-6).

Continuing with Galatians, Paul states that once we have this spiritual revelation, we shouldn’t again turn to the beggarly elements, where we observe days, and months, and times and years. (Gal 4: 10). In other words, how can you follow the letter of the law (any type of literal interpretation) and think that is what makes you spiritual?

Think about Paul’s next statements:

“And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus…” (Gal. 4:14).

Huh? Even AS Christ Jesus? Could an Apostle who knew of the historical Jesus of the Gospels say such things? If so, it’d be a little strange unless his Jesus was the mythical Jesus received in the heart, such as Paul discusses in Gal. 4:19:

“My little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed IN YOU…

Again, it is the Jesus that is birthed IN YOU, not the belief in a historical Jesus story, that is important to Paul.

I realize that all my of above assertions will make much more sense if I can show where all other proof texts traditionalists use to say Paul’s Jesus was historical can be refuted, or at least given a reasonable alternative. That will be the focus of the next post.

The Forgery of the Pastoral Epistles and the succession of Mark, John, Mathew and Luke

If most critical scholars are correct and the Pastoral epistles were never penned by Paul, then things might begin to make some sense when discussing Paul’s mythical Christ. Perhaps these Epistles were written much later to impose a certain religious viewpoint that was developing during a time when the Roman Empire was going through many changes.

Consider this. Many figures in the Early Church stated that the Gospel of Matthew was penned first. This would support their cause, because this Gospel includes a genealogy of Christ that shows him to be a historical figure. The problem is that most scholars, including those that support the traditional Christian view, say that Mark was actually penned first. Furthermore, Mark contains no record of the Virgin Birth or genealogy narrative. Isn’t it odd that the first Gospel would omit this account? Scholars believe that Matthew and Luke were written from two independent sources, Mark and Q. Additionally, the Gospel of John, which also doesn’t mention the Virgin Birth, was written independently from all three and is sometimes cited as having Gnostic themes. Richard Carrier, the foremost scholar that believes Paul’s Christ was mythical, states that Matthew was written as a redaction Mark’s Gospel. In others words, let’s write a Gospel connecting Jesus Christ to a valid Jewish heritage with historical background. Recent scholarship on the dates and the themes of the Gospels make this a possibility.

Thus far we have covered the following points:

  1. Paul wrote his epistles before any historical account of Jesus was penned.
  2. Paul had his own gospel that he learned from no man, including Jesus or any eyewitness account of a historical Jesus
  3. Paul believed that the Old Testament story of Abraham’s offspring was allegory. This and the first two points have huge implications when considered collectively.
  4. Paul believed that the literal interpretation of the scriptures kills, whereas the spiritual revelation of them gives life. In my view, I believe this applies to the entire Old Testament.
  5. Paul preached a Christ that was birthed WITHIN you, through personal revelation.
  6. Most scholars agree that the pastoral epistles were never penned by Paul. This will become crucial in future post when we tackle the development of the Catholic Church.

I understand that these points in no way prove that Paul’s Jesus wasn’t the historical figure we have been taught through mainstream Christianity. The point may never be proven. But then the point that Jesus WAS a historical figure can’t be proven either. So let’s keep an open mind. My only motivation was to lay some groundwork that gives us a different picture than what we may have been traditionally taught.

In the next post I am going to get into the most widely used scriptures that traditionalist say support that Paul believed in a historical Jesus. We will dissect them one by one and give alternative viewpoints which support the mythical Gnostic Jesus instead of a historical one. I’ll be using Elaine Pagels and other scholar’s viewpoints, as well as some of my own thoughts.

I am traveling tomorrow to my wife’s parents for the rest of the Holidays, so I can’t say when I will get to it, but it will be in the next week or two. I think this works out good anyway because it will give plenty of time for discussion in between should any of you decide to participate. I would love to hear your thoughts! I only ask that you be civil if you disagree. Blessings!

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

Derrick December 23, 2015 at 8:33 pm

What are your thoughts on the apostles dying for their faith, i.e. Peter being crucified upside down, Paul and James being beheaded, Andrew being crucified sideways, etc.? What about the saints who were tortured and killed for their faith in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs? Do you believe that all the early disciples that died for their faith died for a mythical Jesus and not a historical Jesus? Thanks for your input.

Homer December 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

Has anyone who checks in on this blog ever heard of the term Chrestian as opposed to the term Christian. There is a difference. One may want to check the following as well as other web sites: http://sanctification.com/studies/christians-chrestians

I ask Derrick, is it possible that the Chrestians were martyred rather than the Christians? Is it possible the word was changed by the “authority” of the times, that is, the Roman religious system in order to control the masses? The Roman religious system was very good at being Nicolaitans, as in Rev 2:6 and Rev 2:15. BTW “Nicolaitanes” is a transliterated Greek word which means; Nico – victory, and laitan – common folk, or one might say “conqueror of the people”; possibly physically but more importantly, mentally. There is so much we assume to be fact which is not fact at all, but is the tradition of those who went before us. Joshua Tilghman is giving us food for thought. Do we check it out or reject it because of our traditions? Not only does Gal 4:22-24 state the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar is “allegory” but IMO the entire Bible is allegory, parable, metaphor and “dark sayings” as stated in Psa 78:2 and Prov 1:6. Although names of actual places and people are given, the meanings of the examples given are not to be considered as literal but as allegory, parable, metaphor and “dark sayings” to offer a better way to understand the deeper meaning of the things written. Do we really know the things we profess to know? There is so very much to unlearn in order to really learn what the Bible has to offer.

Derrick December 24, 2015 at 6:06 am

Thanks for the link, Homer. It’s interesting. BTW, I have been reading Joshua’s articles for a few months now and have been empowered by much of what I’ve read. I would agree with you wholeheartedly when you say he’s giving us food for thought. I’m a little confused by your inference that I am rejecting what he’s saying because of my tradition…I just asked him a question that has been on my mind. Thank you for your feedback.

Homer December 24, 2015 at 11:06 pm

Derrick, I apologize if I inferred that you as an individual were rejecting what Joshua wrote. That was not my intent at all. If you will notice my comment was in reference to “us” and “we” and “our” with what I wrote pertaining to tradition. That includes me as well. Most of us have had some very strong traditions from the past. I certainly did for many, many years until about 11 years ago. The past 11 years has been a journey of putting aside those traditions and thinking with logic and reason without having those traditions as a base for understanding. That journey has not been an easy road to follow. I am still in the unlearning/learning mode.

It is not just Joshua who gives us food for thought, but many others like him who for many years have begun to realize the traditions we have held so strongly are from those who have gone before us. IMO we have been taught those “traditions of men” which is not the intent of what is written in the book we hold as a guide to live by. We have had “teachers” as opposed to “educators.” There is a big difference. Teachers teach by rote with an agenda in mind, whereas “educators” draw from what is within the student. Based on this, the things we need to understand is already within us, we just don’t understand what they are because of the things we have been taught. A quote from Galileo, “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.”

IMO the Bible is not a history book but it is about us as individuals and our relationship with the source of all that exists. Is it possible the men you speak of being martyred did not exist as we have been lead to believe? Could they be examples of the allegory, metaphor, parable and dark sayings mentioned before? Were those men literal or allegory with a different meaning or understanding?

It is realized that what I have written is no where near complete. There is way too much to cover with the few words written here. We may want to keep in mind another quote from Galileo, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Homer December 25, 2015 at 1:50 am

Derrick, I’ve been thinking again about your question. It is suggested to read from the following posts by Joshua Tilghman from 3 years ago.

http://www.spiritofthescripture.com/idcategory/the-bible-and-astrology

After opening on the above link, a list of several articles will be shown. It is recommended to start with the last of the list, The Bible, Jesus, and the Zodiac written August 29, 2012. After reading that one, work your way up the list and read the next two. These articles may answer your question concerning the apostles.

Derrick December 25, 2015 at 9:11 am

Thanks, Homer. I’ll do just that. Bless you.

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Homer, I have heard of these differences, but have never looked into it. Thank you for the link, I will check it out. Maybe there will be something there of use to us all.

Homer December 26, 2015 at 11:05 am

Joshua, I have been aware of the possibility of the change from “Chrestian” to “Christian” in some early manuscripts for several years but have not completely studied the subject. I do not, however, dismiss the possibility because many of my traditional understandings have been proven to be questionable as well. I am including a few other links which cover this subject. There are many more.

http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2008/11/07/a-quick-backtrack/

https://jayraskin.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/294/

http://historum.com/ancient-history/64617-sources-chrestian-christian-antiquity.html

I came across your blog a few years ago and appreciate the opportunity to voice an opinion now and then without fear of being ridiculed by you, although some strongly disagree with you and attempt to prove you totally in error. As stated previously, tradition plays a very important part in our understanding, whether it be correct or in error.

It was once said in a sermon, “We have men who have studied all these things, [in the Bible] just believe what we tell you.” That statement was and is in complete disagreement with the instructions such as Acts 17:11, 1Thess 5:21, Phil 2:12 and others. We have an individual obligation to correctly understand, not a traditional religious obligation.

Joshua Tilghman December 26, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Homer,

The fact that you can recognize that tradition forms our judgments and opinions puts you a step ahead. Finding the truth of the early church is difficult because there are so many contradictory views and writings and accusations early on. People who go into the subject matter with any bias tend to follow whatever party agrees most with what they currently believe. They feel they are finding the truth because they are looking at early works or Christian fathers, but that doesn’t work. We have to divest ourselves of everything and follow the trail logically. Even then it’s hard.

I do always want this blog to be open for anyone’s opinions. I will never criticize anyone’s opinion, even if I strongly disagree. Blessings.

Marcellus December 24, 2015 at 8:06 am

I guess many religions and different types of believers have died for their beliefs. Some even died for believing that the emperor of Japan was a god, others for believing Hitlers views.

Many of those in Foxes book of martyrs had widely differing versions of Christian belief i’m not sure if any mentioned in that Book were Roman Catholic!

It is fascinating to think that there can be something worth laying your life down for but isn’t necessarily any indication that what you believe is right . But it is worth checking why these people including the Apostles did. Incidentally the ways that you mentioned they died don’t have a great deal of evidence but rather are bases on tradition.

Derrick December 24, 2015 at 11:43 am

Thanks for your feedback. So my question again is did the Christian martyrs lay down their lives for a mythical Jesus or a historical Jesus?

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Good points, Marcellus. One of my original questions was what exactly did the Christians that Fox talks about believe? I have never read his book, but Christianity was so varied in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries that even sects who were more of a mystic than a literalist also were persecuted.

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Derrick,

Good question. First I would say that Peter being crucified upside down and Andrew being crucified sideways, etc., were all made up. These types of stories are no different than Constantine seeing a Cross magically appear in the sky and deciding to conqueror by it and therefore became a Christian. They are politically motivated. However, there were a great many early Christians that died horrible deaths for their faith in the Roman arena. They were persecuted by many emperors. As far as dying for a mythical Jesus, this is a tough question to answer. This post deals with the fact that Paul taught the mythical Jesus, which I firmly believe he did. And the more I study, the more I have come to accept the mythical Jesus as the true origin of the movement known as Christianity. It began as mystical Christianity, and quickly turned into something literal. This process is what I am going to explore in the future, so I won’t go too much into it here. I understand what you and others (including myself) have asked: why would someone give their life for a myth if Jesus wasn’t real. But the answer is more complicated than that, and as I think we’ll see, that question cannot be justified if we look at the way Christianity evolved in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries.

Ramiro December 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Very good breakdown of the Gospel of Paul. I would have to say that after Paul preached the Gospel to the Gentiles and returned to the Apostles, he said that he wanted to make sure that his Gospel wasn’t against that of the Apostles because he didn’t want to work in vain. But when he saw Peter showing favortism to the Jews over the Gentiles, He rebuked Peter.

So in essence, Paul never changed his Gospel, the Apostles did. This involved circumcision as a law requirement for salvation to cease. Paul’s Gospel is perfect and has stood the test of time. That’s why he oppened the letter with “Cursed is any man or angel that preaches a Gospel that I didn’t preach”.

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Ramiro, good points. In addition Paul’s use of the word Jew and Gentile were Gnostic code words that I might get into in future posts. It shed’s much additional light on the subject.

Shawn December 24, 2015 at 2:18 am

paul wrote them all that is why his holy kiss greeting is there. Grace unto you and peace from God our father and the lord jesus christ. The whole Bible is shew between law or death, ir grace and truth. Choose one. There are 2 godos one is Lord law, the other is God grace. Also divise jesus who brought division not peace, is not Christ who is our peace. Either all are saved or none. If law is served none will see the promised land. If grace is to all then all is life eternally. Thats why Paul wrote epistles,not letters for the letter,or law killith but the spirit is life. To mix even a little law with grace is death to all. Thats why the church is dead and people leave it. Christs victory can never be in force until we stop serving law and count it as dung as Paul the one time pharisee did. Grace and truth is always junto all not some true God is no respector of persons.

Shawn December 24, 2015 at 2:38 am

Also note in Genesis true God wanted two of every kind for life,unity,and grace. Lord law wanted 7 of every kind for a sacrifice. The bible is a allegory a shew between 2 things. The lord of law who needs a sacrifice, and the true God who never wanted any. The beauty of the God of all grace is life transforming! In true God there is no division! In hinduism his name is Krishna! I love in the gita where Krishna says just surrender unto me! When we do no effert is required other than resting is his grace knowing he alone can save where are works fail. If it is by works and sacrifice it will always fall short. Grace alone is sufficient.

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Shawn, Good points that I will discuss in the future of this series. Paul did believe in two Gods which we can break down.

Dangerous Christian December 24, 2015 at 11:55 am

This has been a discussion in Christianity since time immemorial. We know that Paul started his writings in the 50s CE; whereas the first penned Gospel was a over a generation later (when Paul was long dead). It appears that more and more the Gospels are allegory, not history (despite the use of historical figures).

As always Joshua, great post. Looking forward to Part 2.

Have a blessed Holiday!

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. Part 2 will be fun to write.

Tommy December 25, 2015 at 10:19 am

“I’ve been trying to piece together how early Christianity morphed to provide the framework for today’s Christianity.”

Greetings, Josh!

The biggest turning point in my life happened when I became obsessed with this question nearly 10 years ago. By the Grace of God what began as an intellectual exercise morphed into an authentic spiritual awakening.

I found it easy to get lost in the weeds. I found that trying to settle on the historicity of the many Gospels, be they canonical, Gnostic or otherwise, misses the point. I began to make more progress once I moved away from that approach.

This is going to be a fun discussion. In that spirit, I’m offering this. Understand the identity of “666” in The Revelation and you’ll have the answer to what happened to the Christian movement of the Gospel period. It’s the ultimate surprise ending!

Peace profound on earth, for today Christ is born!

Tommy

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Tommy,

I hear you on that one. I often had to put down my studies in the past to understand the early church out of frustration. Just when you think you are on to something, something else pops up to cause you to go back to square one. I took a graduate course on the first seven church councils and it did NOTHING to help me to get to the truth, only filled my head with a lot of useless facts. Actually, I did learn from it but not what I wanted. I believe I have gained a lot of knowledge on the subject since then and am further in my quest, although there will always be more to learn.

Frank Funaro December 25, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Josh,

I am glad that you have time to write some new articles. You said that you are “no scholar,” but I would like to say that your wisdom and brilliant insights into the esoteric sets you apart from the intellectual zombies of the religious world. I would rather read your material than a “bible scholar” who has no clue about the hidden meanings of the bible. Because Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees blind guides, I would like to suggest that He would also call a lot of modern “biblical scholars” blind guides. Let me remind your readers what Jesus said to Nicodemus… John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Most Bible scholars come from the University of Nicodemus… they are masters of the written word but have never unlocked the mysteries of the kingdom.

In order to understand Paul and see the divisions in the early church, one must cut the umbilical cord to the literalist bible scholars. For hundreds of years, mainstream teaching has presented the early church as unified and sharing the same statement of faith. One would think that Peter and Paul were intimate friends. The exact opposite is far more accurate. There are numerous verses in the New Testament that highlight this intense rivalry between the two groups. Pastors cleverly hide this division but the scripture clearly reveals that there was no love between the two groups. If you have not seen this for yourself here are some verses.

2Co_11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2Pe_1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

2Co_11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

Scripture tells us that there were two distinct and incompatible gospels circulating in the early church. I will call the first…the gospel of Jesus Christ and the second…the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the literal interpretation of the historical Jesus. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the mystical interpretation of the Christ within. Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven numerous times and instructed his apostles to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. He said the kingdom of heaven is within. The “other” gospel that Paul writes about is the literal Gospel of Jesus Christ based on the historical Jesus.

I share Josh’s conclusion that Paul’s Jesus was a mystical one. Paul was a Gnostic and had a clear understanding that the kingdom of heaven was within and that the Jerusalem church was perverting the path to salvation by promoting the false teaching of a historical Jesus.

Frank

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Frank,

Thanks for your kind words. And you are correct about the two Gospels, just as a shawn mentioned two Gods. We’ll get into that. Blessings.

Charles Cartwright December 26, 2015 at 8:26 pm

Wholeness Josh and thank you for bring up some cognitive qnostic thoughts. I concor with your finding since I have been on this pathway learning etymology as well the next four steps for inner thinking. My thoughts is that all religions is a metaphor about the body spirit ( breath) is the meaning. I will continue reading your posting to assist me in breaking down the whole book many say holy bible

Wholeness and Balanced Vibartions my brother

Joshua Tilghman December 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

Thanks for commenting, Charles!

Ronald December 27, 2015 at 5:38 am

Joshua,

Came across your blog in summer 2015. I have been involved in different religions in my search for truth. I stopped going to church because I couldn’t believe what I was being taught.
I had always read the Bible from a literal point of view that got me nowhere. I came upon Emmet Fox about 2 years ago and his writings have changed the way I see the Bible; not as literal historical events but as allegory and parables for understanding of spiritual states of consciousness.

I’m new to this truth and your blog is helping me on the unfolding of my spiritual nature. My understanding at this point of my development is that Jesus was a real physical person who taught spiritual truths and did all the miracles that were written about him. I know that Jesus’ last name was not Christ; but that “Christ” is a state of consciousness that Jesus had attained and taught that all men could attain. Are you saying that this Jesus written about in the gospels, who had 12 apostles and many disciples didn’t really physically exist? I’m confused.

Joshua Tilghman December 27, 2015 at 9:57 am

Ronald,

Thanks for commenting and your question. Yes, I do believe the Jesus of the Gospels is more myth than truth. I have said in the past that the character of Jesus may have been based off of someone or a group of spiritual leaders, but the more I studied the question the more I began leaning towards Jesus as a myth. This series deals with this.

If someone would have told me what I just replied to you many years ago, I would have been a little shocked and wholeheartedly disagreed. But slowly I began to see too many holes in the historical Jesus narrative. I am aware that most scholars believe Jesus was a historical person, but I bet that won’t be true in the next few decades.

That being said, I have great respect for the idea that he could have been a historical figure. It is possible, but at this stage in my studies it makes more sense to me if he is mythical as it lines up with some of the scriptures better.

Paul K January 19, 2016 at 11:46 am

Josh,

I think Paul’s Jesus can be explained by the appearance of the Holy Spirit (aka Christ Spirit) directly to him. It’s the same Christ Spirit (or Holy Ghost) that has appeared in various ways to all the Manifestations of God, progressively, over the centuries. These include Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, The Bab (Persian for “Gate”) and Baha’u’llah (Persian for “Glory of God”). These were the founders of the world’s major monotheistic religions of their times (Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Islam, Babi and, for our time, Bahai).

If God is understood as infinite, omniscient and essentially unknowable to man except through His Manifestations, the appearance of the Holy Spirit can be compared to inspiration or “light” from God being reflected in a perfect “mirror,” or Manifestation in the form of a man. The intensity of the reflected light is dependent upon the clarity of the mirror. In Paul’s case, his “intensity” is not that of Jesus but he certainly reflects at least some of God’s “light” (inspiration).

More information on this concept can be gleaned from the website of the Bahai Faith. (www.bahai.org)

Robert January 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Josh,

Your interpretation of Paul’s use of “my Gospel” as his personally invented account of the good news lacks agreement with everything else we know about Paul, that his message was approved by the Jerusalem church by James, John, and Peter, disciples who directty knew Jesus. They sent him out to the Gentiles with their blessings and their decision to instruct Paul not to require that the Gentiles convert to Judaism in order to receive the Gospel. This was not a decision Paul made on his own, but in cooperation with the Jerusalem council. More likely Paul’s use of “my Gospel” was to distinguish his message from the Judaizers who were interfering with Paul’s mission, demanding conversion to Judaism first.

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