Warning this is a very long post but I hope interesting, and I hope you read on to the end to see my point.
I have a, what if, purely fictional idea, a little story. It is most probably going to offend some people but I’m going to pose the thought anyway. It needs a little preface first.
As you may or may not know our Christian new testament that we know today is not by any means the whole body of writings that exist about Jesus and his life and teachings. It is a group of books, letters, writings,.. that the church fathers felt best conveyed the story, and the message of Christianity. These were chosen and grouped as “canonized” books over a long period of time within the early church, from about 180ad to 450ad. Among these writings are the first four books, the gospels. The gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but by their respective churches. And they were written probably after the apostles died. The church of Matthew’s followers would have had their best writers write the Gospel according to (the teachings of) Matthew, (about his teacher Jesus). The same for the other three. Actually Mark was probably written first then Matthew, Luke and lastly John. There are other gospels.. the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Peter are just a few that were not accepted into the canonized Bible.
These early writers borrowed much of their stories from each others writings, and from other non-gospel references. The letters of St. Paul were the first writings recording information about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. So consequently much was taken from Paul’s writings. One little problem here, Paul never knew Jesus. After Jesus’ death and the very early Christian churches were forming, Saul was trying to bring the Christians down, when he had a conversion experience and felt the presence of Christ. A short time later the scales fell from his eyes he changed his name to Paul and began preaching Jesus’ teachings as he understood them. And as adamant as he was before against them he was just as adamant for them. He was a charismatic, educated, leader, and many followed his “interpretation” of what he thought Jesus had taught. Paul was well versed in many Greek philosophies and even Egyptian and other ancient teachings. Paul was also a man with his own issues. I personally think, and am not alone here, that he had a low opinion of women. He also had much to say about homosexuality, and the Greeks practices of such. He seemed to be quite the perfectionist. One today might say, and here is where I will offend, that he was a woman hating, closeted gay, anal retentive, homophobe… by the way, what he had to say about homosexuality was never even addressed by Jesus.
Paul’s teachings seem very close to the philosophy of Plato. Plato thought that the body and soul were at enmity. The soul sought a perfect place of transcendence and the physical world distracted from it. Only when a soul reached, in it’s physical life and body, a state of true perfection would it transcend to an afterlife of eternal perfection. Sound a little like, ..If you are very good you go to heaven when you die? So much Christian teachings (of Paul’s ideas) tells us we must repent our wrong doings and strive for perfection to be worthy of God’s love. That this world is just a place of misery, of sin and strife, for our soul to be perfected for the eternal reward in Heaven when we die……Funny thing…that’s not what Jesus said. Jesus went to the dredges of society, prostitutes, tax collectors…etc. and he told them that God was like a loving parent and loved them just as they were at that moment. And that by realizing the love of God they could move past cycles of guilt and shame and become happier more whole people, who in turn usually become better people to their fellow humanity. "You are forgiven, go and sin no more."
And now for my final point, the fiction…what if…Paul had been discovered to be a fraud who made up the whole road to Damascus conversion story, (sort of like those today who die and came back, and write a book telling us everything that God is all about, because now that they’ve been there (to heaven) they know). What if the discovery of Paul's fraud came about in say 200ad.
What if Paul and his teachings were reexamined and the un-canonized and canonized books were re-looked at all removing Paul’s influence and just reflecting the teachings of the man Christians are supposed to follow. Jesus Christ. What if.? . How different would Christianity look? How different would our lives be here in a predominately Christian nation? How different would…WWJD actually be?
There is a Bible called a Red Letter Bible. In the new testament written in red letters are all the things that most scholars deduce could have been said by Jesus himself, looking at his body of teachings, the culture at the time, and more. Written in black letters is the rest attributed to him but probably not said by him. They even have one with pink and grey lettering. Red most probably Jesus’ words, pink maybe, grey probably not, and black absolutely not. Buy one or go to the library and see if they have one…read through it,.. it’s enlightening. Thanx for reading my article.
Blessings, M. Pierre
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