I stumbled across an interesting Biblical theory the other day, one that somehow I have missed in my entire faith journey and deconversion. Not once did I read anything about this, but once I searched for it, found that it was actually well-documented.
Paul was unaware of anything from the gospels except for the death and resurrection story.
No way, was my first thought. After all, Paul came after Jesus' time on earth. How can you establish a religion that grows the way it did without knowing about the miracles of Jesus or the circumstances of his birth? So wasn't I a bit surprised when I went looking through Paul's various epistles searching for references to Jesus' life and finding none. As far as Paul is concerned there was no virgin birth, no escape to Egypt, no wise men, no John the Baptist, no walking on water or feeding the five thousand. There isn't even a good Lazarus story or leper. There are a few places where it seems Paul may be quoting one of the gospels, but it seems that in those instances, both places are actually quoting something from the Old Testament, which were the only holy books available to Paul at the time.
Now, if Paul is unaware of all this and we know that some of the earliest gospels didn't appear until after Paul, we are now running into some dangerous territory. Up until this point I have always believed that Jesus probably did exist, but the miracles attributed to him were lies that were created by his apostles and he was either a crazy guy who actually believed he was God and convinced a bunch of people that he was OR he was a conniving liar with quite a few people in on his tricks. I had never jumped on the legend bandwagon, because that seemed like something that atheists often said to just disregard the entire Jesus story in an offhanded way. But what if he was just a legend? What if the reason there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus are because he wasn't a contemporary?
What if it was a few "apostles" and Paul who started a religion that began by telling people about a God who died for their sins and then later, as the religion spread, someone...or four someones...decided to chronicle the tale? It would explain the weird ways in which they tried to fulfill scripture, like a census that never took place. It would explain why no one from the time period, not a single scholar, historian, or religious leader wrote about him. It would explain why Paul knew little detail about the life of the supposed Messiah.
Paul knows full well (1 Corinthians 1:22-23) not having miracles is a stumbling block issue for Jews and yet can't produce any through action or story to satiate that need. Looking at the order that the gospels are written in Jesus goes from being divine through baptism in Mark, to divine by birth in Matthew and Luke, and finally divine from the beginning of time in John. Perhaps there is something to this whole legend thing after all? It is a mind-blowing theory to me, one that deserves further analysis. One that would turn most of the New Testament into exactly what the Old Testament is for me--a big fat myth.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.