Famous Quotes On Paul
FESTUS, 59 A.D.
"Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad." (Acts 26:24, Festus.)
MACARIUS MAGNES, ca. 300
"[Paul] says, ‘As many as are under the Law are under a curse’ (Gal 3:10). The man who writes to the Romans, ‘The Law is spiritual’ (7:14), and again, ‘The Law is holy and the commandment holy and just’ (7:12), places under a curse those who obey that which is holy!... In his Epistles … he praises virginity (I-Tim 4:1, I-Cor 7:25), and then turns round and writes, ‘In the latter times some shall depart from the faith,... forbidding to marry’ (I-Tim 4:1-3).... And in the Epistle to the Corinthians he says, ‘But concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord’ (I-Cor 7:25). (Apocriticus III, 30-36.)
FRENCH FOLK-TALES: THE CHURL WHO WON PARADISE, 1200 AD
Saint Michael the Archaengel ...was baring a soul with great joy into Paradise.
"Soul," quoth Saint Paul, "who brought you hither, and wherein have you done such righteousness that the gate should be open to you. Get you out of Paradise, you false churl."
[The churl /soul replies]: "How is this, Don Paul of the bald pate, are you now so wrathful who formerly was so fell a tyrant? Never will there be another so cruel; Saint Stephen paid dear for it when you had him stoned to death. Well I know the story of your life; thru you many a brave man died, but in the end God gave you a good big blow. Have we not had to pay for the bargain and the buffet? Ha, what a divine and what a saint! Do you think I know you not?" Then had Saint Paul great sorrow. (Tales of the Old French (trans. Isabel Butler)(2004) at 69-70.)
CARLSTADT, co-founder in 1517 of Reformation with Luther (who later pushed him out)
"It is necessary in fact to preserve compliance to the Lord, and as the Spirit of the Apostles is not a guide equal or greater than the Lord, thus also the heart of Paul within his letters does not have as much authority as has Christ." (Carlstadt, Canonicis Scripturis (1520), quoted in Charles Beard's Martin Luther and the Reformation in Germany (1899) at 278, discussed in our page Carlstadt Research.
THERESA OF AVILA, 1571 AD
Carole Slade introduces the quote below: "When detractors used Titus 2:5, where Paul specifies that women's activity should be confined to the home, against her proposed foundations" that Theresa explains what happened:
"It seemed to me that, concerning what St. Paul says about the confinement of women—which has been stated to me recently, and even previously I had heard that this would be the will of God—[the Lord] said to me: ‘Tell them not to follow only one part of the Scripture, to look at others, and [see] if they will perchance be able to tie my hands." (Spiritual Testimony at XVI quoted in Carole Slade, St. Teresa of Avila (Regents of California: 1995) at 47.)
JOHN LOCKE, 1696, physician, wrote commentaries on Scripture, evangelist in Reasonableness of Christianity and famous political theorist who influenced US Constitution.
"It is not in the epistles we are to learn what are the fundamental articles of faith, where they are promiscuously and without distinction mixed with other truths.... We shall find and discern those great and necessary points best in the preaching of our Savior and the apostles ... out of the history of the evangelists [i.e., the four gospels].... If all, or most of the truths declared in the epistles, were to be received and believed as fundamental articles, what then became of those Christians who were fallen asleep (as St. Paul witnesses in his first to the Corinthians, many were) before these things in the epistles were revealed to them? Most of the epistles not being written till above twenty years after our Saviour’s ascension, and some after thirty.... Nobody can add to these fundamental articles of faith." (John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity (1696) at 154 (emphasizing Jesus in the Gospels, and not the epistles of Paul, etc.) For more, see our "Locke -Jesus Over Epistles."
MATTHEW HENRY, 1721
"Paul took [Timothy] and circumcised him, or ordered it to be done (Acts 16:1-3). This was strange. Had not Paul opposed those with all his might that were for imposing circumcision upon the Gentile converts? Had he not at this time the decrees of the council at Jerusalem with him, which witnessed against it? He had, and yet circumcised Timothy." (Matthew Henry, Exposition of the New Testament (1721) Vol. 3 at 833 - Ch. 16 #6.)
THOMAS MORGAN, 1740, used Paul to destroy both Original and New Testament
"I have proved that if the Apostles made any such claim [to infallibility], their differences and divisions among themselves, both in doctrine and practice, must have confuted and convicted them. Peter and Paul with respect to Jews and Gentiles preached two different Gospels...." (Thomas Morgan, Moral Philosopher (1740) at 325.) [Morgan used Paul's self-serving claim to being an apostle to undermine all of the OT and NT as fallible because Paul denigrated the Law and conflicted with Peter. For full discussion, see our webpage on Morgan.]
"We should never finish, were we to relate all the contradictions which are to be found in the writings attributed to St. Paul.... Generally speaking it is St. Paul ... that ought to be regarded as the true founder of Christian theology,... which from its foundation has been incessantly agitated by quarrels [and] divisions." (Boulanger and Peter Annet, Critical Examination of the Life of St. Paul (letter to Gilbert West, 1746).) For discussion of this book, see our discussion at this link. For a discussion of this work elsewhere, see link.
"The Encratites and the Sevenians adopted neither the Acts nor the Epistles of Paul." (Boulanger and Peter Annet, Critical Examination of the Life of St. Paul (reprint 1823) quoted in Paine, Age of Reason (1794) at 159.)
THOMAS PAINE, 1794
"That manufacturer of quibbles, St. Paul,... [wrote] a collection of letters under the name of epistles.... Out of the matters contained in those books,... the church has set up a system of religion very contradictory to the character of the person whose name it bears. It has set up a religion of pomp and of revenue, in pretended imitation of a person whose life was humility and poverty." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794) at 24.)
“Paul’s writing is no better than the jargon of a conjurer who picks up phrases he does not understand to confound the credulous people who come to have their fortunes told." (Age of Reason)
THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1820
"Of this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus." (Thomas Jefferson Letter of April 13, 1820 in Writings of Thomas Jefferson Vol. XV (1904) at 245, available at this link.)
WILLIAM PALEY, d. 1805, famous Christian preacher
"He, the Apostle, could not mean to say this [i.e., salvation is by faith alone]; because if he did, he would say what is expressly and positively contradicted by other texts of at least equal authority with his own; he would say what is contradicted by the very drift and design of the Christian constitution; and would say, lastly, what is expressly denied and contradicted by himself. ...[He also] would say what is contradicted by the very highest authority...Our Savior's own [words]." (William Paley, Sermon 209, The Works of William Paley (1825) Vol. 6 at 214 or Sermons (1830) at 44.)
JEREMY BENTHAM, 1826, philosopher and attorney
"One thorn still remain[s] to be plucked out of the side of this so much injured religion,—and that [is], the addition made to it by Saul of Tarsus: by that Saul, who, under the name of Paul, has—(as will be seen) without warrant from, and even in the teeth of, the history of Jesus, as delivered by his companions and biographers the four evangelists,—been dignified with the title of his apostle...." (Jeremy Bentham, Not Paul But Jesus (1826) at iv.)
"If, by the removal of an incongruous appendage [i.e., Paul], acceptance should be obtained for what is good in the religion commonly ascribed to Jesus;— obtained at the hands of any man, much more of many, to whom at present it is an object of aversion;—if, in any one of these several ways, much more if in all of them, the labours of the author should be crowned with success,—good service will, so far, and on all hands, be allowed to have been rendered to mankind." (Jeremy Bentham, Not Paul But Jesus (1826) at vii.)
"Whosoever, putting aside all prepossessions, feels strong enough in mind, to look steadily at the originals, and from them to take his conceptions of the matter, not from the discourses of others,—whosoever has this command over himself, will recognise, if the author does not much deceive himself, that by the two persons in question, as represented in the two sources of information—the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles,— two quite different, if not opposite, religions are inculcated: and that, in the religion of Jesus may be found all the good that has ever been the result of the compound so incongruously and unhappily made,—in the religion of Paul, all the mischief, which, in such disastrous abundance, has so indisputably flowed from it." (Jeremy Bentham, Not Paul But Jesus (1826) at vii.)
DR. FERDINAND CHRISTIAN BAUR, 1831, theologian
“What kind of authority can there be for an ‘Apostle’ who, unlike the other Apostles, had never been prepared for the Apostolic office in Jesus’ own school but had only later dared to claim the Apostolic office on the basis of his own authority?” (Bauer, The Christ Party in the Corinthian Church, the Opposition between Petrine and Pauline Christianity in the Ancient Church, and the Apostle Peter in Rome (1831).)
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, 1832, last sermon as pastor at Second Church
"It does not appear that the opinion of St. Paul, all things considered, ought to alter our opinion derived from the evangelists." (Emerson, "Last Supper," Works of Emerson Vol. 11 at 15.)
DR. FERDINAND CHRISTIAN BAUR, 1853, theologian
"The only question comes to be how the Apostle Paul appears in his Epistles to be so indifferent to the historical facts of the life of Jesus.... He bears himself but little like a disciple who has received the doctrines and the principles which he preaches from the Master whose name he bears." (Baur, The Church History of the First Three Centuries (1853, reprint 1878) I at 50.)
"What kind of authority can there be for an 'Apostle' who, unlike the other Apostles, had never been prepared for the Apostolic office in Jesus' own school but had only later dared to claim the Apostolic office on the basis of his own authority? The only question comes to be how the apostle Paul appears in his Epistles to be so indifferent to the historical facts of the life of Jesus....He bears himself but little like a disciple who has received the doctrines and the principles which he preaches from the Master whose name he bears." (Baur, The Church History of the First Three Centuries (1853).)
"from the time of his conversion the apostle Paul went his own independent way, and avoided intentionally and on principle all contact with the older apostles. Id., at 48. ...the apostle takes up an attitude of so great freedom and independence not only towards the older apostles, but towards the person of Jesus himself, that one might be inclined to ask whether a view of his relation to the person of Christ can be the right one which would make the apostle Paul the originator and first exponent of that which constitutes the essence of Christianity as distinguished from Judaism. Is there not too great a distance between the founder of Christianity and one who made his first appearance altogether outside thecircle of the first apostles? Id., at 49.
The teaching of Jesus was to be found nearest its source with them [i.e., the older apostles], and if he wished to have the best and most trustworthy information on the subject he should have frequented their company. Now Gal. i. 11, sq., shows us distinctly that he recognised no obligations to the older apostles with regard to his gospel. Id., 51 n.2.
[In Galatians thus] the apostle has placed the law and the promise in such direct opposition to each other, that he is obliged to ask what the law is, what purpose it serves, when, owing to its want of power to give life, righteousness could not come by it. The answer which he gives to this question is that the law was interposed between the promise and the time when faith should come, because of transgressions, not to prevent them, but that in them sin might attain to its full manifestation and reality. [NOTE: a blasphemy of God!] This was the interval of the schoolmastership of the law, when mankind, being concluded under sin, was to be detained in ward till it had become of full age, being set free from the law to receive the sonship of God through faith in Christ. [NOTE: Apostasy from God as defined in Deut. 13:1-5!] Thus Judaism is nothing more than the religion of the law in contradistinction to Christianity, which is the religion of the spirit. Both its position in the world and its inner constitution declare that the function of Judaism is that of effecting a transition, of filling up an interval. so surely does Christianity stand high above Judaism; and it can only be regarded as an irrational inversion of the relation which God has ordained, to fall back from Christianity into Judaism. ...So lofty is the standpoint on which the apostle here appears to us when we see him for the first time setting forth in logical order the arguments with which he resisted the claims of his Judaising opponents!" Id. at 58.
"If one may be allowed to speak rather pointedly, the Apostle Paul was the only Arch-Heretic known to the apostolic age." (Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity.)
KIERKEGAARD, 1855, independent theologian and philosopher
"Protestantism is altogether untenable. It is a revolution brought on by proclaiming 'the Apostle Paul' at the expense of the Master (Christ). If there is to be any question of retaining Protestantism...we confess that this teaching is a mitigation of Christianity which we humans have allowed ourselves, appealing to God to put up with it. And instead Protestantism is blazoned forth as an advance in Christianity! No, it is perhaps the most profound concession to the numerical...this numerality that wants to be Christian but wants rid of ideality or to have it downgraded, and insists upon being such and such a number." (Kierkegaard, Papers and Journals (1996)[orig. ca. 1855] at 629 -- books.google link to original.)
"[I]t is of great importance, especially in Protestantism, to correct the enormous confusion Luther caused by inverting the relation and actually criticizing Christ by means of Paul, the Master by means of a follower." (Kierkegaard, "My Task" (1855)," inThe Essential Kierkegaard (ed. Edward H. & Edna Hong)(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000) at 446 fn.)
"As early as the Apostle [Paul], the scaling down process begins, and it seems as if the natural man gets off a little easier in becoming a Christian....[N]owadays whole countries and kingdoms are called Christian, and millions of natural men are disguised as Christians." (Kierkegaard, Journals [ca. 1855] 3:2921 quoted in David McCracken, The scandal of the Gospels: Jesus, story, and offense (1994) at 65 -books.google.)
"Only the God-man [i.e., Jesus] would be able to endure...the propogation of the doctrine by proclaimnig it, even if he did not gain one single follower. The apostle still has some selfish urge for the alleviation, aquiring adherents, become many, something the God-man does not have [to do]. He does not selfishly crave adherents and therefore has only the market price of eternity, not the market price [of the world which is cheap]." (Kierkegaard, "What Do I Want?" (1855)," inThe Essential Kierkegaard (ed. Edward H. & Edna Hong)(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000) at 433.)
"Paul made Christianity the religion of Paul, not of Christ. Paul threw the Christianity of Christ away, completely turning it upside down, making it just the opposite of the original proclamation of Christ." (Kierkegaard, The Journals ca. 1855)
JOHN STUART MILL, 1859, philosopher
"The Gospel always refers to a pre-existing morality,... the Old Testament.... St. Paul, a declared enemy to this Judaical mode of interpreting the doctrine ... of his Master, equally assumes a pre-existing morality, namely that of the Greeks and Romans; and his advice to Christians is in a great measure a system of accomodation of that, even to the extent of giving an apparent sanction to slavery." (Mill, On Liberty (1859) at 88.)
PAUL RENAN, 1869, independent theologian, both pro-Paul and anti-Paul,
"It is vain for Paul to talk ; He is inferior to the other apostles. He has not seen Jesus ; He has not heard his word. The divine logia and the parables are scarcely known to him. The Christ who gives him personal revelations, is his own phantom, — it is himself he hears,while thinking he hears Jesus." (Paul Renan, Saint Paul (G.W. Carleton, 1869) or (1875) at 326.)
"True Christianity, which will last forever, comes from the gospels, — not from the epistles of Paul. The writings of Paul have been a danger and a hidden rock, — the causes of the principal defects of Christian theology. Paul is the father of the subtle Augustine, of the unfruitful Thomas Aquinas, of the gloomy Calvinist, of the peevish Jansenist, of the fierce theology which damns and predestinates to damnation. Jesus is the father of all those who seek repose for their souls in dreams of the ideal. What makes Christianity live, is the little that we know of the word and person of Jesus. The ideal man, the divine poet, the great artist, alone defy time and revolutions. They alone are seated at the right hand of God the Father for ever more." (Paul Renan, Saint Paul (G.W. Carleton, 1869) or (1875) at 329.)
GEORGE REBER, 1876, pro-Paul writer
"No man of any age suffered so much abuse, nor was there ever one whose memory labored under such a weight of obloquy as that of Paul—first from the followers of Apollos; and afterwards from the Catholics of the second century, when the mother of God rose like a new star in the heavens. The first half of the Acts was written, as will be shown, expressly to exalt Peter over him and degrade him [i.e., Paul] from the rank of an Apostle. The Revelation ascribed to St. John is nothing but a bitter tirade of denunciation against Paul and his followers. He is called a liar, "the false prophet," who with the beast was cast alive into a lake of burning fire. He is the great red dragon who stood before the woman ready to devour the child Jesus as soon as he was born, and who warred with Michael and the angels." (George Reber, The Christ of Paul (1876) at page 54.)
The epistle of Jude is nothing but a bolt hurled at the head of Paul, from the hand of one who assumed the name of an apostle.(Id., at page 235.)
LEO TOLSTOY, 1884, famous writer, Christian
"The separation between the doctrine of life and the explanation of life began with the preaching of Paul who knew not the ethical teachings set forth in the Gospel of Matthew, and who preached a metaphisico-cabalistic theory entirely foreign to Christ; and this separation was perfected in the time of Constantine, when it was found possible to clothe the whole pagan organization of life in a Christian dress, and without changing it to call it Christianity." (Leo Tolstoy, My Religion (1884) at 219.)
"But since Christ's time, and down to ours, we find a deviation of doctrine from the foundations laid by Christ.
"This deviation begins at the time of the apostles, especially with that lover of teaching, Paul: and the wider Christianity extends, the more it deviates and appropriates the methods of that very external worship and dogmatism the denial of which was so positively expressed by Christ." (Tolstoy, Church and State (1891).)
HANS WENDT, 1894 scholar
"We know it to be certain that the teachings of Jesus, if it is only grasped and preached in its original strength, can and will exert in a yet higher measure vital and ennobling influences upon the further development of Christendom than have proceeded so far from the teaching of Paul." (Hans Hinrich Wendt of Jena 1894 "Die Lehre des Paulus verglichen mit der Lehre Jesu," ZTK 4 1-78, at 78, quoted in Wedderburn: 20.)
WILLIAM WREDE, 1904, Christian scholar
"The obvious contradictions in the three accounts [of Paul's conversion in Act 9 & 22 & 26] are enough to arouse distrust of all that goes beyond this kernel.... The moral majesty of Jesus, his purity and piety, his ministry among his people, his manner as a prophet, the whole concrete ethical-religious content of his earthly life, signifies for Paul's Christology--nothing whatever.... If we do not wish to deprive both figures of all historical distinctness, the name 'disciple of Jesus' has little applicability to Paul.... Jesus or Paul: this alternative characterizes, at least in part, the religious and theological warfare of the present day." (Wrede, Paul (1904).)
FREDERICK WATSON, 1906, Christian scholar
"In particular, in the case of St. Paul's Epistles, we can also see that they all arose out of historical events which can never occur again. We observe in them not only his circumstances and the circumstances of the Church to which He was writing, but also himself— his personal feelings, human passions, zeal, indignation, love, sorrow, and the like. These are not always of the highest morality." (Watson, Inspiration (London: 1906) at 156.)
ALBERT SCHWEITZER, 1906-1931 utterly Pauline-Christian, believed Paul's dispensation replaced that of Jesus of the Gospels
"Paul ... did not desire to know Christ after the flesh.... Those who want to find a way from the preaching of Jesus to early Christianity are conscious of the peculiar difficulties raised.... Paul shows us with what complete indifference the earthly life of Jesus was regarded by primary Christianity." (Albert Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus (1906) at 2.)
"The system of the Apostle of the Gentiles stands over against the teaching of Jesus as something of an entirely different character, and does not create the impression of having arisen out of it.... It is impossible for a Hellenized Paulinism to subsist alongside of a primitive Christianity which shared the Jewish eschatological expectations.... To the problem of Paulinism belong ... questions which have not yet found a solution:... the relation of the Apostle to the historical Jesus ... and towards the [Mosaic] Law.... He does not appeal to the Master even where it might seem inevitable to do so.... It is as though he held that between the present world-period and that in which Jesus lived and taught there exists no link of connection.... What Jesus thought about the matter is ... indifferent to him.... Critics [have] demanded of theology proof that the canonical Paul and his Epistles belonged to early Christianity; and the demand was justified." (Albert Schweitzer Paul and His Interpreters (1912) at 245.)
"The differences and oppositions...reveal themselves between the teaching of Jesus and that of Paul...." (Albert Schweitzer Paul and His Interpreters (1912) at 154.
"[T]he rapid diffusion of Paul's ideas can be attributed to his belief that the death of Christ signified the end of the [Mosaic] Law. In the course of one or two generations this concept became the common property of the Christian faith, although it stood in contradiction to the tradition teaching represented by the Apostles at Jerusalem." (Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought (1931) at 121.)
"What is the significance for our faith and for our religious life, of the fact that the Gospel of Paul is different from the Gospel of Jesus?... The attitude which Paul himself takes up towards the Gospel of Jesus is that he does not repeat it in the words of Jesus, and does not appeal to its authority.... The fateful thing is that the Greek, the Catholic and the Protestant theologies all contain the Gospel of Paul in a form which does not continue the Gospel of Jesus, but displaces it." (Albert Schweitzer The Mysticism of St. Paul (1931) at 391.)
"Where possible he (Paul) avoids quoting the teaching of Jesus, in fact even mentioning it. If we had to rely on Paul, we should not know that Jesus taught in parables, had delivered the sermon on the mount, and had taught His disciples the 'Our Father.' Even where they are specially relevant, Paul passes over the words of the Lord." (Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, at 171.)
GERALD FRIEDLANDER, 1911, Jewish "Minister of the West London Synagogue"
"Paul has surely nothing to do with the Sermon on the Mount.... The Sermon says: 'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves' (Matt.vii.15). This is generally understood as a warning against untrustworthy leaders in religion.... Does the verse express the experience of the primitive Church? Might it not be a warning against Paul and his followers?" (Gerald Friedlander, The Jewish Sources of the Sermon on the Mount (1911) at 250.)
JAMES ORR, 1915, Christian scholar
"It is the same fallacy which underlies the contrast frequently sought to be drawn between the religious standpoints of Christ and Paul. Paul never for an instant dreamt of putting himself on the same plane with Christ. Paul was sinner; Christ was Saviour. Paul was disciple; Christ was Lord. Paul was weak, struggling man; Christ was Son of God. Jesus achieved redemption; Paul appropriated it. These things involved the widest contrasts in attitude and speech." (James Orr, "Christianity, ISBE Vol. I (1915), at 625.)
H.G. WELLS, 1921, historian
"But it is equally a fact in history that St. Paul and his successors added to or completed orimposed upon or substituted another doctrine for—as you may prefer to think— the plain and profoundly revolutionary teachings of Jesus by expounding a subtle and complex theory of salvation, a salvation which could be attained very largely by belief and formalities, without any serious disturbance of the believer's ordinary habits and occupations, and that this Pauline teaching did involve very definite beliefs about the history of the world and man. It is not the business of the historian to controvert or explain these matters; the question of their ultimate significance depends upon the theologian; the historian's concern is merely with the fact that official Christianity throughout the world adopted St. Paul's view so plainly expressed in his epistiles  and so untraceable in the gospels, that the meaning of religion lay not in the future, but in the past, and that Jesus was not so much a teacher of wonderful new things, as a predestinate divine blood sacrifice of deep mystery and sacredness made in atonement of a particular historical act of disobedience to the Creator committed by our first parents, Adam and Eve, in response to the temptation of a serpent in the Garden of Eden. (H.G. Wells, The Outline of History (1921) at 952-953.)
RUDOLPH BULTMANN, theologian 1926
"Jesus did not attack the Law, but assumed its authority and interpreted it... It was some time after his death when Paul and other Hellenistic missionaries preached to the Gentiles a gospel apart from the Law.... Jesus desires no ... sexual asceticism. The ideal of celibacy indeed entered Christianity early; we find it already in the churches of Paul. But it is entirely foreign to Jesus."
OSWALD SPENGLER, 1928, social historian
"Paul had for the Jesus-communities of Jerusalem a scarcely veiled contempt.... 'Jesus is the Redeemer and Paul is his Prophet'--this is the whole content of his message." The Decline of the West (1928) at 289, 291.
WALTER BAUER, 1934
"The name of Paul is nowhere mentioned by Justin;… not only is his name lacking, but also any congruence with his epistles…. If one may be allowed to speak rather pointedly, the apostle Paul was the only arch-heretic known to the apostolic age…. We must look to the circle of the twelve apostles to find the guardians of the most primitive information about the life and preaching of the Lord…. This treasure lies hidden in the synoptic gospels.” Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (1934).
LUDWIG WITTENSTEIN, 1937, distinguished philosopher
"The spring which flows gently and limpidly in the Gospels seems to have froth on it in Paul's Epistles.... To me it's as though I saw human passion here [i.e., in Paul], something like pride or anger, which is not in tune with the humility of the Gospels. It's as though he is insisting here on his own person, and doing so moreover as a religious gesture, which is foreign to the Gospel. I want to ask--and may this be no blasphemy--'What might Christ have said to Paul?'... In the Gospels--as it seems to me--everything is less pretentious, humbler, simpler. There you find huts; in Paul a church. There all men are equal and God himself is a man; in Paul there is already something like a hierarchy, honours and official positions." (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (1980, notes from 1937) at 30.)
WIL DURANT, 1944, historian
"Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of Christ.... Through these interpretations Paul could neglect the actual life and sayings of Jesus, which he had not directly known.... He had replaced conduct with creed as the test of virtue. It was a tragic change." (W. Durant, Caesar and Christ (1944) at 588 (vaguest warrant); 589 (neglect); 592 (tragic change).)
VINCENT HOLMES-GORE, 1947, pastor, theologian
The Christianity which the nations claim to follow is the religion of Paul, who is admittedly the chief and almost the only theologian that the Church recognizes. Because of his betrayal of the Master's teachings, the vision of true Christianity has been so dimmed that men have been able to defend war and a host of other evils, such as flesh eating and slavery, on the authority of the Bible." [From Paulianity v. Christianity]
THOMAS FROST, 1947, poet
"Paul: he’s in the Bible too. He is the fellow who theologized Christ almost out of Christianity. Look out for him." (Robert Frost, A Masque of Mercy, 1947)
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, 1950 writer, playright
"There is not one word of Pauline Christianity in the characteristic utterances of Jesus.... There has really never been a more monstrous imposition perpetrated than the imposition of Paul's soul upon the soul of Jesus.... It is now easy to understand how the Christianity of Jesus... was suppressed by the police and the Church, while Paulinism overran the whole western civilized world, which was at that time the Roman Empire, and was adopted by it as its official faith" [from Paulianity v. Christianity]
MARTIN BUBER, 1951, Jewish theologian
"The Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount is completely opposed to Paul." (Buber, Two Types of Faith, 1951)
HERBERT J. MULLER, 1952
"Saul of Tarsus, who became St. Paul,... knew Jesus only by hearsay, and rarely referred to his human life.... Paul preached a gospel about Jesus that was not taught by the Jesus of the synoptic Gospels.... Setting himself against [the] other disciples,... he was largely responsible for the violent break with Judaism.... He contributed a radical dualism of flesh and spirit unwarranted by the teachings of Jesus." (Muller, Uses of the Past (Oxford University, 1952) at 157 (hearsay, not taught by Jesus); 160 (unwarranted).)
W.D. DAVIES, 1958
"Jewish-Christians [opposing Paul] ... must have been a very strong, widespread element in the earliest days of the Church.... They took for granted that the gospel was continuous with Judaism.... According to some scholars, they must have been so strong that right up to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 they were the dominant element in the Christian movement." W.D. Davies, 'Paul and Jewish Christianity', in J. Daniélou (ed.), Théologie du Judéo-Chriantianisme (Paris: 1958)
HANS JOACHIM SCHOEPS, 1961
"[Drawing a] stark contrast between the religion of the law and the religion of grace,... Paul had lost all understanding of the character of the Hebraic berith [covenant] as a partnership involving mutual obligations, [and thus] he failed to grasp the inner meaning of the Mosaic law." (Hans Joachim Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History (English translation 1961).)
AMMON HENNACY, 1970 Christian pacifist and anarchist
"Paul spoiled the message of Christ." (Hennacy, "Paul and the Churches,"The Book of Ammon (1970) at 475, quoted in "Pauline Christianity," Wikipedia.
PAUL JOHNSON, English historian
“Writings by Christian Jews of the decade of the 50’s AD present Paul as the Antichrist and the prime heretic. The Christology of Paul, which later became the substance of the universal Christian faith, was predicated by an external personage whom many members of the Jerusalem Church absolutely did not recognize as an Apostle.” (History of Christianity.)
MARTIN LARSON, 1977, populist author on Essenes
"Paul declares that... the Elect may even eat meat sacrificed to idols.... Whereas Jesus honored women and found in them His most devoted followers, Paul never tires of proclaiming their inferiority. He declares that man is the head of the woman and she must always submit to his will.... Whereas the Essenes proclaimed equality among the Brethren [and the Essenes were the first people on earth to condemn and forbid the practice of slavery], Paul repeatedly declares that Christian slaves must be obedient to their Christian masters." (Martin Larson, The Story of Christian Origins (1977).)
PAUL BRUNTON, 1981, British spiritualist
When pure religion descends upon the earth and makes its way among men, two things will happen. It will dissolve the false belief of the populace that they already possess it, and it will receive the opposition of religious institutions with pretensions to represent it. It was Saint Paul who started Christianity on the road which turned it into Churchianity. But he derived his Christian knowledge at second hand. He knew less about the work which Jesus sought to do on this earth than about the work which he himself sought to do. He is the true founder of the Christian Church, its first great propagator, but he is not the truest interpreter of Jesus' message. It is the Church's personal self-interest, however unconsciously present, which has made the apostle Paul the most praised Christian teacher and the most frequently mentioned one in all the sermons and writing of the clergy. Never having met Jesus, he should not be blamed for never having fully understood Jesus' teaching. The grave consequences of this misunderstanding appeared later in the form of obstacles which interposed themselves between Jesus and his true work, and which succeeded in diverting and distorting it. They were organization, dogma, hierarchy, and literalness. Where Jesus tried to create Christian individuals, Saint Paul tried to create Christian groups. This opened the door to hypocrisy, externalism, materialism, ritualism, priestcraft, persecution, and deterioration. The realizable kingdom of heaven within man had to give way to an unrealizable kingdom of God on earth. The way back to true religion must therefore lie through making a fresh start ... (Notebooks of Paul Brunton (1984-1988).)
HOLGER KERSTEN, 1987, German investigator
"Paul taught that the whole function of Jesus centred on his death which released the faithful from the burden of their sins, their misery and the power of Satan. In fact not a single word Paul wrote in the Epistles gives the actual teaching of Jesus, nor does he mention even one of his parables; instead he spreads his own philosophy and his own ideas. ***
"The point comes home best when one considers Paul's explicit statement that the human individual can do nothing himself to secure salvation, "Cf. Rom. 3,24; 3,28; 9,11; 9,16; 1.Cor. 1,29; Gal. 2,16). For according to Paul salvation depends solely on the Grace of God." (Eph. 2, 8-9).
"Thus the Pauline doctrine makes salvation a one-sided matter for God; people on earth have their hands bound (cf. Rom. 3,24; 4,16; Eph. 2,5; 2,8-9; 2. Tim. 1,9; Tit. 3,5-7). What Paul says here is of course quite attractive, because it is comfortable. By joining the fold, salvation ensues "automatically". No effort on one's own part is then necessary to arrive at the goal of life, for every Christian is saved once and for all by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross at Golgotha.
"It means that one has only to sign up with this 'institution', pay the membership fee', and (lo and behold!) everything is settled for securing a seat in paradise for all eternity. Naturally such a teaching attracted many supporters and spread rapidly. After all it is easier to believe in something that can be had safely and comfortably.
Simply by the simple act of conversion a person is then redeemed, saved, made a child of God, and becomes a completely new person. According to this teaching, every attempt on one's own part to work towards salvation plays down Jesus' role, is even a deadly sin. And conversely, every person, however exemplary and good his or her life may have been, is declared by his teaching to be lost if he or she does not gratefully acknowledge the sacrifice of the cross as constituting their entire personal salvation.
"Most Christians think the greatness and uniqueness of Christianity stands and falls with the truth of his teaching. On closer inspection, however, it is found to be a fabrication, far removed from the real ideas of Jesus. There is no hint of the so called Christian doctrine of salvation in the gospels, either in the sermon on the mount - the quintessence of Jesus' message - or in the Our Father, or the traditional parables of Jesus!
"Jesus did not supply theories to be ground in the mills of academia, about his path and message -- he just lived his teaching!" (Holger Kersten, Jesus Lived in India (1987) - review; excerpt quotation.)
HELMUT KOESTER, 1990, scholar on Paul
"Paul stands in the twilight zone of heresy...." (Helmut Koester, "The Theological Aspects of Primitive Christian Heresy," in James Robinson (ed.), The Future of our Religious Past (N.Y.: Harper & Row, 1971).
"One immediately encounters a major difficulty. Whatever Jesus had preached did not become the content of the missionary proclamation of Paul, nor of the churches from which his proclamation took its origin...." (Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels (1990) at 51.)
"Sayings of Jesus do not play a role in Paul's understanding of the event of salvation.... The Epistle of James also shares with the Sermon on the Mount the rejection of the Pauline thesis that Christ is the end of the [Mosaic] law. || Paul did not care at all what Jesus had said.... Had Paul been completely successful, very little of the sayings of Jesus would have survived." (Helmut Koester with Stephen Patterson, "The Gospel of Thomas: Does It Contain Authentic Sayings of Jesus?," Bible Review (April 1990) Vol. 6 No. 2 at 28-39).
MICHAEL BAIGENT & RICHARD LEIGH, 1991, historians / authors
"Paul is in effect the first Christian heretic, and his teachings, which become the foundation of later Christianity, are a flagrant deviation from the 'Original' or 'pure' form extolled by the leadership. Whether James, the 'Lord's brother,' was literally Jesus' blood kin or not (and everything suggests he was), it is clear that he knew Jesus...personally. So did most of the other members of the community or 'early Church,' in Jerusalem, including of course, Peter. When they spoke, they did so with first hand authority. Paul had never had such personal acquaintance with the figure he'd begun to regard as his 'Saviour.' He had only his quasi-mystical experience in the desert and the sound of a disembodied voice. For him to arrogate authority to himself on this basis is, to say the least, presumptuous. It also leads him to distort Jesus' teachings beyond recognition, to formulate, in fact, his own highly individual and idiosyncratic theology, and then to legitimise it by spuriously ascribing it to Jesus."
"As things transpired, however, the mainstream of the new movement gradually coalesced, during the next three centuries, around Paul and his teachings. Thus, to the undoubted posthumous horror of James and his associates, an entirely new religion was indeed born, a religion that came to have less and less to do with its supposed founder." (Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (London: 1991), excerpted here.)
.... Paul knows full well what he is doing. He understands... the techniques of religious propaganda...."Startling though the suggestion may be, it does seem... that Paul was some species of Roman 'agent'. Eisenman was led to this conclusion by the scrolls themselves, then found the references in the New Testament to support it.... Does Paul, then, belong in the company of history's 'secret agents'? Of history's informers?.... But in any case... the movement entrusted to the 'early Church' and the Qumran community was effectively hijacked and converted into something that could no longer accommodate its progenitors."
"While in Caesarea, he [Paul] hobnobs in congenial and intimate fashion with the Roman procurator... he is also intimate with the procurator's brother-in-law, Herod Agrippa II and with the king's sister -- later the mistress of Titus, the Roman commander who will destroy Jerusalem and eventually become emperor.
"These are not the only suspicious elements looming in the background of Paul 's biography. From the very beginning, his apparent wealth, his Roman citizenship and his easy familiarity with the presiding establishment have differentiated him from... other members of the 'early church'. Obviously, he has influential connections with the ruling elite. How else could so young a man have become the high priest's hatchet man? In his letter to the Romans (16:11), moreover, he speaks of a companion strikingly named 'Herodian' -- a name obviously associated with the ruling dynasty.... And Acts 13:1 refers to one of Paul's companions in Antioch as 'Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch'....
"Paul's heavily escorted departure from the city, his sojourn in luxury at Caesarea, his mysterious and utter disappearance... these things find a curious echo in our own era. One is reminded of beneficiaries of the 'Witness Protection Program'.... He consents to give evidence and testify.... Having cooperated with the authorities, he would then be given a 'new identity' and... resettled somewhere.... Does Paul, then, belong in the company of history's 'secret agents'? Of histories informers?"
BART EHRMAN, 1993, scholar
"What did the historical Jesus teach in comparison with what the historical Paul taught?… Jesus taught that to escape judgment a person must keep the central teachings of the Jewish Law as he, Jesus himself, interpreted them. Paul, interestingly enough, never mentions Jesus’ interpretation of the [Mosaic] Law, and Paul was quite insistent that keeping the Law would never bring Salvation. The only way to be saved, for Paul, was to trust Jesus’ death and resurrection… Paul transformed the religion of Jesus into a religion about Jesus." (Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 1993.)
KERSTEN & GRUBER, 1994, religious writer / parapsychologist
"What we today refer to as Christianity is a misinterpretation and twisting by Paul of the true teaching of Jesus." (Kersten & Gruber, The Jesus Conspiracy (Barnes & Noble: 1994).
EDGAR JONES, 2013, host of Voice of Jesus
Martin Luther, inspired by Paul, concluded that the Epistle of James was "an epistle of straw." I, inspired by Jesus and James, have finally concluded that Paul was an apostle of straw. ("Sources," Paul the Stranger (2013)
REVELATIONS.ORG.ZA, 2007, leading website on critique of Paulinism
Paulinism with its many implications has become a real heresy. The natural result of this warped system will undoubtedly be to discount the Words of God, abolish the underlying true essence of the Message of the Kingdom for this age, and present seeking believers with another Gospel, which is called the "Gospel of Grace." No greater lie has ever been foisted upon the people of God than this terrible misrepresentation of the True Purpose and Plan of the Creator God for man - as embodied in the so-called "New Gospel of Grace," which is accredited to the apostle Paul according to his interpretation.
Countless "tares" are being sifted out of today's "wheat" by means of the misinterpretation of the writings of our good Brother Paul. Bear in mind that the man's words are good, but they are put in such a fashion that when they are not interpreted in the light of what Messiah has said in other writings, they can become a snare and a delusion. This is the secret for understanding these epistles which Peter called "things hard to be understood" (2 Peter 3:16).
("The Apostle Paul, Man of Like Passions" 2007.)
DAVID BERCOT, 1992-2010, Evangelical Attorney from Texas, author of many Christian books, 2010
"Second century Christians...continued to recognize that the teachings of Jesus--not Paul--were the central tenets of Christianity." (Bercot,Theologians (2010) at 51.)
"But if we must focus on Paul's letters to establish the Christian faith, then truly the servant has become greater than his Master." (Bercot,Theologians (2010) at 40.)
"Jesus said 'A disciple is not above his teacher.' (Matt. 10:24.) Yet we make Paul, the disciple, greater than the teacher." (Bercot, Common Sense, 1992)
"Christians get sidetracked. They begin with Paul, not Jesus." (Bercot, Common Sense, 1992)
"The early Christians didn’t put Paul’s lettersto the Romans and Galatians upon a pedestal above the teachings of Jesus and the other apostles. They read Paul’s words about gracein conjunctionwith...Scriptures [where Jesus requires endurance for salvation, Matt. 24:13, doing the will of God for salvation, Matt. 7:21, the resurrected will be those who have done good, John 5:28, 29, etc.]." (Bercot,Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up(Texas: Scroll Publishing, 1999) at63.)
When searching for the truths of Christianity, this means going back to the words of Jesus himself. This is a rather obvious principle, yet here the majority of evangelical Christians get sidetracked. They begin with Paul, not Jesus. Many evangelicals virtually ignore Jesus' teachings— claiming they apply to an earlier dispensation, or to the ‘kingdom age.’ Others reshape Jesus’ words to fit Paul’s words.
How strange. Jesus said “A disciple is not about his teacher.” (Matt. 10:24.) Yet we make Paul, the disciple, greater than the teacher. We subordinate Jesus to Paul. We understand Jesus’ words only in the context of Paul's writings. In sharp contrast, the early Christians understood Paul in the context of Jesus’ teachings. Their gospel was above all the gospel of Jesus.
Principle #2: Start at the beginning with the teachings of Jesus.
Our upside down approach to Scripture is a fairly new tradition. It began with Martin Luther who said that the Book of Romans is “the chief part of the New Testament.” We may not use his exact words, but in practice we follow in his footsteps. However, a common sense approach to Scripture requires us to begin with the Author of Christianity, Jesus Christ— not with Paul. In our illustration of discovering what Scripture teaches about salvation, it means that we begin with the four gospels. (Bercot, Common Sense: A New Approach to Understanding Scripture (1992) at 21-22.)
Partial credit for some of these quotes goes to Metalog whose quote collection now is only preserved at Paul Paradox.
See also an unformatted collection of famous quotes on Paul at this subpage.