Friday, February 26, 2021

On Medium: Paul’s Epistles: Epitomes of Christian Obnoxiousness

A case against the the pseudo philosophy in Paul’s Letter to the Romans.


  1. My heart sank the first time I read Romans all the way through. I was a teen searching for an alternative take on Christianity that would suit my newly acquired very humanistic, very un-Christian values; but Paul's epistle just confirmed my doubts while vindicating the fundamentalist theology I so detested. Even the doctrine of election, which many Christians erroneously attribute to John Calvin, is spelled out there by Paul in the plainest language possible. It could be said, without any exaggeration, that 90% of all subsequent theology was an attempt to either evade or, failing that, sugar coat the appalling message of Romans. Paul makes Schopenhauer look like a starry-eyed Pollyanna by comparison!

    Paul himself is an intriguing albeit repulsive character. Christians are too dazzled by his redemptive cover story to realize what he really was: a zealot who murdered the true Christians - the Jews who actually practiced what Jesus preached - but finally realized that martyrdom only added fuel to the fire. So he undergoes a phony conversion & lo 'n behold, the archenemy of Christ becomes his most indefatigable champion! Never mind that his conversion story changes with each retelling. Never mind his preoccupation with the minutia of rabbinical hair-splitting while ignoring the the actual law that Jesus had maintained must not be reduced by a jot or tittle (Men mustn't let their forelocks grow out, but circumcision is now optional? What?!). Did anyone ever question why he felt so compelled to share the gospel with the gentiles while neglecting Jesus' own people? What better way to neutralize Jesus' message than by selling it to a bunch of goyim as an exotic novelty, a dumbed-down, watered-down, culturally appropriated mishmash of Judaism, Zoroastrianism & Greek mysticism? I wish Paul had lived long enough to see how thoroughly his disgusting scheme backfired. If there were a Hell, Saul of Tarsus would occupy the innermost circle.

    1. Paul's the model also for the later Christians' witness tale of how Christianity saved them from their lowest state. It's like the superhero that has to have a miraculous origin story. Christianity's powerful because you can convert to it as Paul did and end your life of sin.

      The whole thing may be a fraud from top to bottom, not just the plagiarized epistles. Robert Price has an interesting theory that Paul was none other than the Gnostic Simon Magus whose life and writings were whitewashed and coopted by the catholicizers.

      I came to write on Romans here as a result of a suggestion by the Christian I recently debated over email. (I posted our exchange on Medium.) He boasted that I could clear up my atheistic confusions simply by reading the epistle to the Romans. I refreshed my memory and did so, and was of course appalled (pun intended). Moreover, I saw how Paul's sanctimony and small-mindedness seemed to have rubbed off on this much later Christian.

    2. The bait of instant, effortless redemption is a powerful temptation. It tempts those who would like the public (not God) to forget their misdeeds, but it also tempts the sincere who struggle with their baser instincts every day & just want to be at peace. But of course it is scam. You are what you are, no magic formula will change that. The only thing Christianity absolves its followers from is the hard work of character building. Works, not faith, make the man.

      That's an interesting theory about Simon Magus. I heard another one that speculates that Paul actually was Jesus -- that he faked his death & then returned decades later as Paul. I think that one is rubbish, but the Simon Magus theory could be true.

      Yeah, it's insidious the way the personality of a man who's been dust for over a thousand years can still impress itself upon the psyches of the living. This kind of thing happens frequently in cults, but in that case the leader is still alive & interacts with his followers on a daily basis. In his letter to the Galations, Paul avers that the fruitage of the spirit is '', joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.'' To this list he ought to have added: ''bigotry, hypocrisy, & self-righteousness''.

    3. Price wrote a long book on his Paul-Magus theory, called "The Amazing Colossal Apostle." It's based on F.C. Bauer's work from the nineteenth century. I don't know if the theory holds up in every respect, but Price certainly made the case. A big question is when the epistles were written.

    4. Well, in-universe the epistles date between roughly 50-65 CE, but that's about as meaningful as saying that Harry Potter was born in 1981. All we can really know is that epistle x dates to some time between Jesus' death & the first time it is mentioned or cited by some document that historians CAN reliably date. Reflecting on it, it's strange that Paul would not have dated his letters, especially given how slowly mail traveled in those pre-industrial times. Wouldn't he have wanted his readers to know when he wrote something so that they could appreciate his words in context?

      In any case, it's unlikely that all the epistles attributed to Paul were written by him & hence within his lifetime. Of the 14 canonical epistles, only half are regarded by most Bible scholars as indisputably authentic. The forgeries would have been written after Paul's death & even the earliest copies extent date only to sometime in the 2nd century. If well educated scholars can't agree, then we'll likely never know.