Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity
Written By: James Tabor
Book Review: Bob Brinsmead
Good scholars now recognize that the hardened sola scriptura stance that developed in the second generation of the Reformation bore a remarkable resemblance to Rabbinic Judaism that succeeded in kicking out the Jewish Christians who wanted the future of Judaism to be centered in a Person rather than a book. (That is in large measure the theme of the fourth Gospel – the Word of God is not the Torah (which in its broader meaning meant the Jewish Scripture -which was the only Scripture that existed when the NT was being written) and Torah/Scripture was not the Agent by which God made the world, was not the bread that fed Israel, was not the shepherd and light of the world, etc etc.) The Word was manifested in a living Person so that everything the Rabbinics claimed for the book, the Jewish Christians claimed for Jesus – and got kicked out of the Synogogues about 90 AD/
The enlightenment that came to me when I wrote Sabbatarianism Re-examined was an understanding of the two wings of the early Jesus movement – Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. It completely clarified for me the whole nonsense of the Sabbatarian debate. It gave me a whole new way of reading Romans especially – the central issue was not how can I get right with God (faith and keeping Torah etc) but on what basis can one group of believers accept another group of believers who don’t observe what we think ought to be observed.
I have continued my study on this question of Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians and now see quite clearly that they became two different, even mutually hostile religions, not after the apostles were dead, but while they were still alive. The material that has been unearthed on Jewish Christianity, James the brother of Jesus as leader of the Jerusalem church, the family of Jesus…. there is so much information that has been unearthed. The bottom line is that we have many times more information about Jewish Christianity than was known even in the Second or third Centuries. Since about the time archeology found an ossuary (bone box) from the first century marked, James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus, there have been major studies, epic works, done on James – such as Jefferey J. Butz, The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity, Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus (over 1,000 pages of research). Historically, we know more about James than Jesus. The most direct proof of Jesus’ existence is not as easy as one might think, but no one can question the basic history of James and how he died, even by Josephus – and James is known as “the brother of Jesus.”
The easiest entre into this vital history is a new book out by James Tabor which is called Paul and Jesus. It is a blinder. This NT scholar and archeologist does not push his opinion at all, he just lets the history speak for itself. He uncovers that silent 20 years of Jewish Christianity from the D/R event to the writing of the first NT literature by Paul. Tom, I have checked out this history from so many sources, even going back to a very early 1st century document called The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache) which was written to express the faith of the Jewish Christians.
It has been well said that the Victors get to write up the history – and in this case it certainly was not the Jewish Christians who never belonged or were even allowed to participate in the great Gentile church. The original Jewish church, the founders of the Jesus movement were left behind, locked out and finally persecuted by the church. What they were on about and what the great church came to be on about were two very different religions.
I am just asking you, Are you willing to look at what James and all the original Jewish Christians believed and what they were on about? Don’t assume that you know. You will be shocked to your eye-teeth. Then at least understand how Paul became the arch-enemy of the original Christians. The history is now unveiled. It is not complicated. It is extremely simple.
I urge you to read Paul and Jesus – the author does not push was he thinks, he just tells you the facts of the great split in the Jesus movement – and while Paul and James were still alive.