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Paul as a Problem in History and Culture: The Apostle and His Critics through the Centuries[Kindle Edition $18.14][Click title to purchase at Amazon] 
By: Patrick Gray [2016]

 

Book Review by Bro. Doug

This is a book from the Christian publishing house "Baker publishing" that anyone who makes a serious study of Paul must acquire. It purports to be a comprehensive historical review of those critical of Paul throughout the centuries -- a review of "those who regard him as a problem." (Kindle 252,285.) It has found endorsement as a "versatile volume" to be used in the "classroom or for personal reading." (Exploring Church History.) "It is a handy resource for scholars or anyone else who wishes to track down original sources that reflect anti-Paulinism."  (Lutheran Quarterly Vol. 30, No. 4 (Winter 2016).

The author, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College, appears to aid Paul's defense but he never is too out in the open about doing so. Hence, on the surface it is mostly an objective presentation. Thus, for what it does discuss, it is typically a useful overview. 

However, Gray never acknowledges there is a legitimate Bible-based reason to reject the writings of Paul. He instead implies most of the time that only those who "despise Paul" reject Paul or his writings. The criticism of Paul is attributed by Gray to a non-stop stream of hate, not recognizing anyone ever having done so to seriously defend Yahweh / God / Jesus with the sole exception of Kierkegaard.

Shockingly, Gray omits entirely any serious mention of the early orthodox Christian critic of Paul's authority from 207 AD -- Tertullian -- a grand omission. Gray also omits where those critiques can be found in Tertullian's writings, as I discuss below.

 

Holmes-Gore Omission

Gray also surprisingly omits mention at all of the reputable Reverand Vincent Holmes-Gore who wrote Christ or Paul? (C. Daniels 1946). In it, this well published Christian said Christ's doctrines are "opposed to the Pauline Gospel as light is opposed to darkness." See link. He said Christ's words in MATT 7:21-23 "fit Paul" because Christ warned many who called on Him as "Lord" and did miracles and prophecies in His name, Jesus will tell "I never knew you, you workers of Lawlessness." What is Lawlessness? Well, Paul abrogated the entire Mosaic Law in Romans 7:1-11 titled "Free from the Law" in the NKJV.  Thus, this passage in Matthew truly "fits Paul," as Holmes-Gore said.

Holmes-Gore could have made the point stronger, but did not elaborate on the translation in Greek of "anomia" as Lawlessness. This word literally means negation of the Mosaic Law. In the Septuagint Greek translation of 257 BC, anomia translates the Hebrew verb for "apostasy" (turn away) -- from the Law given Moses -- but as a generalized noun form of the word for "turn away" used in Deuteronomy 13:5-10. See Theo A.W. van der Louw, Transformations in the Septuagint (Peeters Publishers 2007) at 173-174.

Thus, Anomia is well-understood in that time as apostasy from the Law -- the proof that the speaker is a "false prophet" under Deut 13:1-10 even if they have true prophecy and signs and wonders. See this link. So Holmes-Gore was correct that Jesus very much had Paul in view in Matt 7:21-23 - a clear paraphrase of Deut 13:1-10. Jesus says He will tell anyone who teaches as Paul does that "I never knew you" because such teaching works anomia. Nothing surprising is suggested by this deduction as nearly all evangelical Christianity besides post 325 AD Roman Catholicism defend that Paul entirely abrogated God's Law given Moses.

Incidentally, this anti-law position of Paul is quite unlike early predominant Christianity prior to the Nicene council of 325 AD. Pre-Nicene Christianity other than Paul endorsed Jesus' view that the Law would continue until the "heavens and earth pass away." See link. This was in line with the decision of James, bishop of Jerusalem in Acts 15 and 21 who makes clear (1) Gentiles had 4 fundamental rules from the Law they must initially follow (not including circumcision for salvation, as some insisted in Acts 15:2, as that law applies only to "sons of Israel" in Lev 12:1-3) and the rest they would learn gradually by hearing the Law read weekly at Sabbath congregation meetings; and (2) there is nothing subtracted from the Law applicable to the sons of Israel who became Christians. See Law Applicable to Gentiles.

 

Thus, how can Gray not have searched for this book by Holmes-Gore, especially as Holmes-Gore's criticism validly applies our Lord's words to prove Paul's teachings are, by the Bible's standard, as a "false prophet."  Vincent Holmes-Gore was not a hater of Paul, but rather an obedient lover and follower of our Lord Jesus. How could Gray have overlooked this well-know Christian critic of Paul? Is Gray truly trying to be comprehensive? Or is Gray instead trying to skew how "anti-Paulinists" are perceived so they appear to be simply haters, misfits, sin-defenders, or enemies of Christ, whose views at all times are unsupported by any legitimate Christian voices?

Complete Omission of Jesus' Book of Revelation by John in List of Canonical Anti-Paul Works

Gray discusses whether certain works in canon are anti-Pauline, such as James and Jude. But Gray omits from this list any mention that Apostle John's Book of Revelation is a canonical book that is "anti-Pauline." Ernest Renan, a Christian scholar and defender of Paul, in St. Paul (G.W. Carleton 1869) at 220 explains why it is anti-Pauline: 

The second and third chapters of the Apocalypse [i.e., Revelation written in 68 AD] are a cry of hatred against Paul and his friends. ...This church of Ephesus... is praised for having tried those who say they are apostles and are not, for having found them liars. [Cf. first, Acts 19 depicts an Ephesian synagogue that was adopting Paul's preaching over several months about Jesus but then suddenly expels him; and second, Renan recognizes as valid the grounds that Tertullian and modern scholars use as proof that Paul's claim to being an apostle of Jesus is entirely a self-serving one] .... "But I have a few things against you," the divine voice says to Pergamos, "because thou has there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam ... to eat things sacrificed to idols."

Renan recognizes that Jesus in Revelation ch. 2 criticizes an uncorroborated claim that one is an apostle, which points right at Paul because he is the only source to prove Paul is an apostle on par with the twelve. Also, Paul multiple times says there is nothing wrong inherently in eating meat sacrificed to idols (link) and thus the target of Apostle John (quoting Jesus) in this passage is obvious. In fact, Jesus' comments to Thyatira even quote Paul from 1 Corinthians 2:10, directly disparaging Paul's "deeper" thoughts to justify eating meat sacrificed to idols. See "Revelation & Paul." Renan attributed the anti-Paul aspect of Revelation to hate -- an old smear tactic of defenders of Paul who cannot grapple with the theological issues raised by true Christians or even by Christ himself.  

So did Gray inadvertently miss Apostle John's Revelation as an Anti-Pauline work too? Well, Gray says he is cataloguing the "Anti-Paulinism" remarks in history that are critical, whether Christian or not. (Kindle 252, 271.)

Had Gray simply searched the word "Anti-Pauline" -- his subject matter, Gray would have found the following: "Anti-Pauline" appears on pages 125 and 131 of the work by Christian professor Ezra Palmer Gould entitled The Biblical Theology of the New Testament (MacMillan 1900).  In Gould's work we read that he accepts the same conclusion as put forth earlier by Renan although he claims without proof there must be anti-Paulinist tampering with Revelation. Gould says:

"The Apocalypse [i.e., Revelation of John] ... represents an unqualified opposition to Paul....The Apocalypse [is] anti-Pauline." [Page 125.] "[Revelation is] a writing distinctly anti-Pauline." [Page 131.]

Did Gray truly know nothing about either Jesus or an apostle of Jesus criticizing Paul's claims to being a true apostle as solely self-serving and hence invalid? Or criticizing Paul for repeating the error of the false prophet Balaam in the OT by saying it is ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols? One must wonder.

Gray did have some minimal notice, even mentioning in his discussion of Bauer as anti-Paul that Bauer had a theory "that Revelation is one of the earliest documents in the NT and that it was written in part to combat Pauline teaching." (Loc 1896.) Gray gives us no guts of Bauer's argument, so we end up never asking ourselves whether Jesus or John truly spoke against Paul in Revelation. If you listen to Renan and Gould, there is no doubt Revelation is anti-Paul. Gray should have done more digging, and realized Revelation had to be discussed in the list Gray made of canonical works that are potentially Anti-Pauline.

At minimum, this all shows we cannot entirely rely upon Gray's work as useful to know Christian criticisms of Paul, including the most important which are those that appear in canon.

Complete Downplaying Second Peter As Canonical Anti-Paul Criticism

Gray in an extremely odd fashion completely downplays Second Peter -- the most famous of all anti-Paul criticisms in or out of the NT. See Kindle Loc 506.

Gray makes 2 Peter 3:15-17 all about a criticism supposedly coming from the "ignorant and unstable" who fall into their own "destruction" after reading Paul's writings. Gray places no attention or focus upon that it is Peter in Second Peter who is perceived as giving an anti-Paul message. No other scholar except Gray has ever been concerned whether the "ignorant" and "unstable" readers of Paul are Paul's critics in this passage. Gray pays no attention to the significance that Second Peter clearly says Paul's words sometimes are "hard to understand" (2 Peter 3:16) - a significant criticism, especially when the "ignorant" and "unstable" fall thereby into "destruction," according to Second Peter 3:18.

All Gray focuses upon, instead, is the readers of Paul and whether they slander Paul. Here is the entire discussion of 2 Peter 3:15-17 in Gray's work:

Outside Acts and the Pauline writings there is little evidence of animus toward Paul in the pages of the NT. The author of 2 Peter (3:15-16) states that Paul's letters are on occassion "hard to understand," leading the "ignorant and unstable [to] twist [them] to their own destruction." Nothing in this remark necessarily means that these readers are intending to slander Paul. With "friends" who so badly mangle his teachings, the author of 2 Peter might ask, who needs enemies? (Kindle loc. 506).

That's all Gray has to say in his entire book about the most famous and well-known anti-Paul remark in all history. Gray states the source of perceived criticism in this passage comes from the "ignorant and unstable" readers. This becomes a straw-man argument which then Gray easily dismisses because he finds there is no perceived slander by Paul's readers in Peter's remark. True enough. But this means Gray is oblivious, so he seems to portray himself, that the criticism of Paul in Second Peter is by Peter of Paul's writings for being "hard to understand." This remark is what everyone else has noticed contains a sting of criticism of Paul by Apostle Peter. No one has ever suggested before Gray that the "ignorant and unstable" readers of Paul are the critics of Paul in this passage, allegedly slandering Paul in the process.

Could Gray truly not know Apostle Peter was the perceived source of this most famous criticism of Paul in Church history? Is it merely a faux paus that led Gray to ask the wrong question? 

Please note again that Gray quotes the passage of 2 Peter 3:15-16, and then observes only that there is "nothing in this remark necessarily" that "means these readers are intending to slander Paul." There is astonishingly no discussion by Gray that the words "difficult to understand" in 2 Peter 3:16 have ever been viewed as a criticism of Paul in church history.

But where in church history does the anti-Paul perception of this passage truly arise? From Peter? Or from the Paul readers?

The first reason this passage is recognized as Anti-Paul, as explained below, has to do with the fact Second Peter says Paul's words are DYSNOETAS in Greek. This is 2 Peter 3:16.

In Greek, DYS - is NOT, and NOETAS is SENSIBLE. See Francis E. Peter, Greek Philosophical Terms: An Historical Lexicon (1967) at 130 ("logoi noeton" = "sensible things"); 128 (noeton = "intelligible") Cf. NOETA = thought.

Hence, DYSNOETAS means "nonsensical." It is clear the problem is Paul's fault by the word DYSNOETAS used by Apostle Peter, according to its traditional authorship.  Some of Paul's writings are said to suffer from DYSNOETAS. What does that convey?

In the Latin Vulgate of 2 Peter 3:16 from the early 400s, it is translated as "difficulty in intelligence" -- a Latin expression meaning similar to the Greek that the writer has a deficiency in making intelligent sense. If the reader misunderstands, the mistake began initially with the writer. Hence, Second Peter is a criticism of Paul's content - his writing is sometimes lacking sense, with grave consequences -- a lawless life and personal destruction of Paul's reader.

It is true that Second Peter then blames the readers in part for having an unstable ignorance, likely of Jesus' words. This then leads them to accept their understanding of Paul's unintelligible words, and adopt "lawless" principles, so says Second Peter, "to their own destruction," and thereby lose their "steadfastness in Christ." (2 Peter 3:17-18.)  

Peter thus lays at Paul's feet PART OF THE BLAME for the loss of stedfastness in Christ and falling into a lawless and destructive life of error. 

Second Peter explains this clearly. It says that many construe Paul's DYSNOETAS -- nonsense -- in his writings to support the "error of the lawless" and thereby "fall away from their steadfastness in Christ." (2 Peter 3:18.) These LISTENERS are criticized for a different fault than Paul's fault; the listeners' fault which leads them away from Christ's teaching when reading Paul's writings is they are "ignorant and unstable," and this results in them "perverting" the truth to support "lawless" teaching to their own "destruction."

Why did these listeners to Paul end up there? What exactly is their contributing fault? For being "unlearned" and "unstable" -- they are not firmly rooted in Jesus' words. For had they been STABLE and STUDIED Jesus' words -- "stedfast in Christ" as Peter explains, Paul's nonsensical words would not have thrown them off, causing them to lose their "steadfastness in Christ." Hence, Paul's words contribute to their loss of salvation, but Peter's message is we can protect ourselves from Paul's "nonsense" by not being "ignorant" or "unstable." Instead, Peter implies we must endeavor with a greater effort than these destroyed brothers to keep "stedfast" in Christ - obviously remaining in Jesus' teachings. This will protect us from Paul's nonsense.

Was this hard for Gray to discover? No. This analysis was given by Calvin, one of the founders of the Reformation in a famous and blunt way. I have had Calvin's discussion set forth in an online article on 2 Peter 3:16 for over six years. See link. Gray somehow overlooked that Calvin in the 1500s saw Second Peter as highly critical of Paul in saying Paul's writings are hard to understand. Calvin concluded that Second Peter 3:16-17 was an anti-Paul remark and this alone justified rejecting Second Peter as canonical. Calvin explained that Apostle Peter would never speak this way about Paul's writings, i.e., calling them DYSNOETAS, and hence Calvin concluded that Second Peter was not authentically written or reviewed by Apostle Peter. See link

Second Peter Critique of Faith Alone in Paul.

Gray also overlooked a second aspect of Second Peter that is Anti-Paul. Second Peter contradicts the faith alone doctrine taught by Paul. Could Gray have easily found this out too? It seems so. For Gray also overlooked that Augustine said in 413 AD that Second Peter was part of a systematic effort of the early church to correct Paul's doctrine on faith alone as understood by many in the church. Augustine in 413 AD said the "Apostolic Epistles of [Second] Peter, John, James and Jude direct their aim chiefly against it" [i.e., faith alone doctrine from Paul's "difficult to understand" words] so as to maintain with vehemance that faith without works profits not."  (Augustine, Faith and Works (republished 1847) at 57.)

Thus, Second Peter, according to Augustine in 413 AD, was part of a systematic response of several apostles and three bishops of the church -- Peter, John, James and Jude -- to attack the doctrine of faith alone found in Paul's writings. It was a systematic criticism by the leaders of the church on how Paul had been construed. Augustine admitted the meaning of Paul's words on faith alone cannot be disputed by himself.  (Augustine, Faith & Works, para. 27, page 62 ("I confess on this point I would rather hear men of more learning and understanding than myself speak.")

Instead, Augustine says all he knows is that Apostle Peter says that Paul says many "obscure" things that are difficult to "understand" which the "ignorant and unstable" misunderstand. This means Apostle Peter directs us to look carefully beyond the words in Paul that we might think support "faith alone" in Paul's writings.

See Faith and Works, page 57 ("rather obscure sentences" in Paul led some to believe he meant grace abounds the more we sin, and thus to enjoy more grace we should sin more); page 59 ("hence clearly Peter in his second epistle ...knowing that certain rather obscure sentences of the Apostle Paul certain unrighteous men had taken [advantage of to be] careless about a good life, secure of the salvation which is in faith, made mention that there are certain difficult to understand things in the Epistles [of Paul].....")

Augustine says the "difficult to understand" criticism in 2 Peter 3:16 means that Peter instructs us that Paul's words cannot be taken at face value that faith alone saves permanently. When compared to other passages of Paul which we must read to gain clarity over the "obscure" in Paul, Paul must mean only that faith initiates salvation.  Paul's other words require avoiding sin thereafter and having works, or otherwise losing one's salvation. That is, Paul teaches that one can be "justified by faith although the works of the Law have not gone before" (Augustine's paraphrase), but Paul teaches "faith working through love" [Gal. 5:6] must follow; otherwise, Christians who stay in or fall into sin "do not inherit the kingdom," Paul twice clearly says to believers in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Gal. 5:19-21. Augustine quotes those passages from Paul to prove that obviously Peter intends us to conclude that Paul's "faith alone" passages are hard to understand. They only can be cleared up by reading all that Paul writes on salvation. 

Augustine then concludes that Second Peter, First John, James and Jude were written to destroy this misunderstanding that Paul's faith alone doctrine means salvation is final and permanent upon faith alone.  (Augustine, id. at 57 & 59.)

Hence, Augustine made it appear a campaign of the early church was to criticize the faith alone doctrine in Paul. Today, Gray would say such teachers that criticize Paul's writing ability as nonsense that results in believing faith alone saves without obedience ever again to God's law, thereby leading many to fall away from Christ, are Anti-Paul. Thus, it was incumbent upon Gray to have included Second Peter's anti-faith alone statements which Augustine famously rebuffed with the aid of the criticism in 2 Peter 3:16.

 

Please note that the author of Second Peter is also clearly not a Paul-hater. Such an Anti-Paul work in canon does not match the stereotype of Paul critics as haters. Gray's list of critics normally supports that only Paul haters or lawless sinners or anti-Christians dislike Paul's words. Clearly Second Peter does not fit such a stereotype. Second Peter calls Paul a "brother (although not an apostle), and says Paul speaks with "God's wisdom" (although not by inspiration), and thus Second Peter is kindly towards Paul. Hence, Second Peter is Anti-Paul while also being loving and respectful to Paul. 

Hence, had Gray found Peter in Second Peter as a critic, Gray would have had a more rounded perception of what he identifies as Anti-Paul critics. Unfortunately, Peter's critique went right over his head, entirely unseen. Otherwise Gray would have learned that Christian critics of Paul's writings have no less love for Paul than anyone else. But those Christians, like Peter, serve Christ, not Paul. They are loyal to Christ, but do not love Paul less. Sadly, Gray's missing the issue in Second Peter caused him to miss this important insight into the diversity of individual animus behind what he labels as Anti-Paul critics.

Finally, whatever explains how Gray misidentified that anyone thinks the critique in this passage was coming from Paul readers, instead of Peter, Gray's treatment of Second Peter underscores a problem. It proves again that Gray's book cannot be relied upon to give us an accurate list of Paul critics who are true Christians. This is especially the case when those criticisms are found in our own New Testament. 

Quick Dismissals of Canonical Sources: James & Jude

In Gray's list of canonical sources of Anti-Paulinism, Gray mentions there are two other possible canonical critics of Paul -- namely James and Jude. (Kindle Loc. 506-08.) But as to James, he quickly marshals those who focus on the faith-alone verse in James 2:14 only, and who dismiss whether that verse is really addressing Paul. But it is obvious that all of James' epistle addresses Paul. For James not only takes on Paul's claim of faith alone, and crushes it, but also he takes on Paul's assertion Abraham was justified by faith alone, and crushes it too. In fact, there are over 11 topic areas that James refutes Paul. See James versus Paul. Gray's treatment of whether James is truly Anti-Paul gives undue weight to dismissive views that are simply not credible.

The same defect applies to his treatment of Jude. Gray again solely focuses upon a single verse in Jude. This isolated verse is about an "ungodly person" who has perverted God's "grace" to open a door for "licentiousness." (Kindle Loc. 544.) But Gray quickly dismisses its importance to proving Jude is aimed at Paul, ignoring the clear evidence that in multiple verses in Jude we can recognize Paul is the obvious target. For example, Jude equates a "wolf in sheep's" clothing who penetrated Christianity with a lawless doctrine that twists God's "grace" into "licentiousness," and who shares the lessons of Balaam. The latter aspect clearly refers to Paul because Paul taught Balaam's doctrine which Jesus references and then condemned in Rev. 2:14 --- that it was inherently ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols although not expedient when around a brother who thinks it wrong. Thus, George Reber, a Paul defender, in The Christ of Paul (1876) defensively said: "The Epistle of Jude is nothing but a bolt hurled at the head of Paul." (Link.) If you want to see how Jude's proofs apply to Paul and his principles, see this link.

Thus, Gray too quickly dismisses these canonical sources of Jude and James as not truly Anti-Pauline, i.e., criticizing Paul's doctrines.  

In fact, as we saw in our discussion above of Second Peter, Augustine in 413 AD said that Second Peter, James and Jude were written systematically to criticize the faith alone doctrine in Paul's writings. This was an error Paul did not intend, Peter says (per Augustine), but due to the lack of intelligibility in Paul's writings, the ignorant and unstable interpret Paul as saying we do not lose salvation once we have faith.  What James and Jude intended against Paul's writings is obvious, and only Paulinists blind themselves to it. 

Omits Mention What Makes Matthew 5:17-19 Clearly Anti-Paul

Finally, Gray omits any serious mention that the most important canonical work of Anti-Paulinism is actually the book of Matthew -- which means either Jesus or Matthew are critics of Paul. It has to be one or the other. Gray tepidly introduces the topic, saying that Matthew's Gospel has "attracted attention" as Anti-Pauline. (Kindle Loc. 544.)

And this could not escape Gray's attention because he actually found the following major scholarly article with the words "Anti-Paulinism" in the title on this topic: 

Matthew’s anti-Paulinism: A neglected feature of Matthean studies by David C Sim

School of Theology, Australian Catholic University Research Associate: Department of New Testament Studies University of Pretoria   HTS 58(2) 2002.

In this work, Sim concludes: "The presence of anti-Pauline texts in [Matthew's] Gospel, point inevitably towards the conclusion that the evangelist himself [sic: we who trust the inspiration of Matthew would say 'Jesus himself'] was anti-Pauline." HTS 58(2)(2002) at 780. 

Gray, however, discusses only one Anti-Paul passage among a long list that Sim found in Matthew. See our list of anti-Pauline passages based upon Sim's article at this link.

Then taking just one passage which Sim identified, and which Gray decided to expand upon, Gray still did not explore it adequately. This is Matthew 5:17-19. For there is a 100% certain critique of Paul in Matthew 5:17-19. Jesus actually uses a Greek word elicthos to identify the Lawless teacher whom Jesus condemns by his personal name, translated as "least" in English. This turns out to be Jesus calling out Paul by name once you are informed elicthos in Greek means the same as Paul's Latin name of Paulus in its non-contracted form of "pauxillulus" meaning "least." (See link.)

Rather than spot the main issue, Gray simply says the connection between Matthew 5:17-19 and Paul is between Paul's "self-identification" of himself as "least" (elicthos in Greek) in 1 Cor. 15:9 and Jesus condemning the Law-negating teacher as "least" (elicthos) in Matthew 5:17-19. (Kindle Loc. 556.) Gray made it appear just a matter of coincidence between the false law-negator teacher who is called ELICTHOS and the "self-identification" as ELICTHOS by Paul. Gray did not point his reader to the fact Jesus was calling out Paul by the word-meaning of Paul's Latin name to which Paul was alluding by his self-identification as "least." Thus, Gray leaves us to think Jesus' words are not truly aimed at Paul because the link relies upon a mere self-description of Paul as the "least" among others.

But Gray's link to a so-called self-identification obscures the issue. Jesus is saying the Law-negating teacher will be "called" -- have the name -- of ELICTHOS -- meaning least. Thus, the important fact is that Paulus, a Latin name, is a contracton of pauxillulus which means least. This was only explained by the Latin church who alone were familiar with Latin enough two or more centuries after Christ to spot the connection. Augustine said in the 300s that Paul was playing on the LATIN meaning of Paul's own name in 1 Cor. 15:9 -- "I am the least of the apostles." Augustine knew the non-contracted form of Paulus is "pauxillulus" -- which in Latin means "least." As a name, "pauxillulus" contracted into Paulus in Latin, like Joseph becomes Joe. Augustine did not take the implication further other than to explain why Paul calls himself "least" in 1 Corinthians 15:9.  Paul was playing on the fact his name -- Pauxillulus - aka Paulus -- means "least."

However,  Christian scholars in the early 1900s took it further, and easily connected it to Matthew 5:17-19. Jesus said the Law-negating teacher to avoid would be "called" by the name ELICTHOS -- least in Greek, and PAUXILLULUS in Latin. Paulus, or Paul, for short. This is what Sim was referencing. This explanation of Sim's references has also all been set forth since 2011, with scholar references, in the online article Jesus Prophesied of Paulus which in Latin Means Least.

By the way, this is a highly prophetic proof of Jesus' foreknowledge. Only Jesus could have known Paul's name appears in Matthew 5:17-19. Jesus devised a means of veiling this so centuries later we can know Jesus' identified Paul by name as the Law-negating teacher to avoid, hidden in plain view in Matthew 5:17-19. It was only discoverable when those who spoke Latin began reading the Gospels in Latin in the 200s and 300s, and linked pauxillulus to elicthos in 1 Cor 15:9. Then modern Christian scholars linked pauxillulus aka Paul directly to Matthew 5:17-19, literally translated as "least" which in Greek is elicthos. Thus, Jesus clearly condemned Paul by name -- elicthos = pauxillulus -- as the anti-law teacher of Matthew 5:17-19. He did so in a way that Matthew -- Jesus' inspired recorder -- would utterly be oblivious to.

Hence, clearly Gray did not include a meaningful discussion of the most important and certain criticism of Paul by the most important voice of all -- our Lord in Matthew.  

Omits Early Canon's Apocalypse of Peter Has Jesus Give Negative Prophecy about Paul

Gray omits any mention of one part of the early Christian canon -- the Apocalypse of Peter --- even though it had a somewhat famous negative prophecy by Jesus transparently about Paul. Wikipedia records:

"The Muratorian fragment from the 200s states canon included it, saying 'The Apocalypses also of John and Peter only do we receive, which some among us would not have read in church.'" ("Apocalypse of Peter," Wikipedia.)  

The once canonical work has a prophecy by Jesus about Paul that is both obvious and negative: 

"And they will cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure. But they will become greatly defiled and they will fall into a name of error, and into the hand of an evil, cunning man and a manifold dogma, and they will be ruled without law." Id.

Besides this work being in the Muratorian canon from the 2d century, Wikipedia records:

Clement of Alexandria appears to have considered the Apocalypse of Peter to be holy scripture. EusebiusHistoria Ecclesiae (VI.14.1), describes a lost work of Clement's, the Hypotyposes (Outlines), that gave "abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures, not even omitting those that are disputed, I mean the book of Jude and the other general epistles. Also the Epistle of Barnabas and that called the Revelation of Peter."[10] So the work must have existed in the first half of the 2nd century, which is also the commonly accepted date of the canonic Second Epistle of Peter.[11] Although the numerous references to it attest to its being once in wide circulation, the Apocalypse of Peter was ultimately not accepted into the Christian canon.

This means that in the next copy of the canon -- the Sinaiticus from about 340 AD -- we for the first time do not see Apocalypse of Peter included.

So in Gray's review of canon as it originally existed, the Apocalypse of Peter should have been mentioned. This writing, even though it did not end up in canon, may have helped the early church ignore Paul. This is because it provided a better understanding of apparently the earlier more naive view of Peter about Paul in Second Peter. For the Apocalypse of Peter closely aligns with 2 Peter 3:18. Each addresses Paul as a person whose words can be described as not only DYSNOETAS but also as CUNNING. If Paul defended using cunning and guile to cloak his views to avoid the ability to clearly refute him, as we shall see below, then Jesus provided another prophecy here to confirm Second Peter's earlier remarks, and attribute deliberateness to the DYSNOETAS, and hence recognize Paul as a false prophet.

Whether DYSNOETAS or CUNNING was Paul's design, Peter in both Second Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter warns about Paul as someone who leads Christians into a "lawless" life. The result is they will "lose their stedfastness in Christ," because they are now ruled "without law." Read together, Second Peter teaches the believer to prevent that bad outcome by counteracting their own "ignorance and instability" with the truth (Second Peter 3:17-18). That truth referenced in Second Peter may actually have included this prophecy of Jesus which the early church thought Peter relayed in the Apocalypse of Peter. Thus, any serious review of anti-Paul critiques in canon or early canon necessarily must have included this quote from the Apocalypse of Peter.

How did Gray miss the Apocalypse of Peter?  The quotations from it have been on my website for years, and are well-known in the study of the canon's formation. Whatever the explanation, this underscores another example where Gray's book cannot be relied upon by Christians as a reliable review of the most important Christian critiques of Paul that were canonized at the earliest point, or those that remain so.

 

Gray Also Omits Jerome's Most Stinging Critique

Gray mentions that Jerome -- the translator of the Vulgate Bible in the late 300s --  translated "thorn" in 2 Cor. 12:7 as "stimulus' in Latin. Gray states this was a "provocative" translation, implying a hateful animus by Jerome toward Paul. (Kindle loc. 273.) For Gray says it now reads that Satan gave Paul a "stimulus of the flesh" -- which Gray implies supposedly means some kind of sexual sin.

However, Jerome translated the Greek 100% correctly, and it did not remotely imply what Gray suggested. In Greek, the word SKOLOPS was not "thorn" (as typically innocently mistranslated in English), but simply means a "stinger" as from a scorpion; "anything pointed." See link.

The Douay-Rheims ("sting") and Latin Vulgate ("sting") get this correctly.

However, the word for "thorn" in Greek is spelled similarly yet is distinctly different: SKOLOS. See link. Hence, a translation error in English of "sting" as "thorn" is seemingly how Gray is judging Jerome's fairness and animus in translating Paul. But Jerome was correct. In Latin, "stimulus" is a "goad," "prick" or "sting." (See link.) Yet Gray, apparently unaware that both the Greek and Latin words involved mean "stinger" and "sting," respectively, and thus are synonymous, thought Jerome had a deliberately provocative anti-Paul translation.

Due to Gray's mistake, you already want to hate Jerome as a salascious slanderer when and if you ever found out Jerome's true well-known criticism. But Gray never tells you Jerome's true and well-founded criticism of Paul. So all that results is that you are conditioned to resent Jerome if you ever learn of the true criticism Jerome had.

We will next see that Gray missed one of the best known criticisms of Paul in church history - the famous one by Jerome.  Jerome was the most well-versed man in Hebrew and Latin of his day, and spent literally decades translating the Bible into Latin.

Jerome's criticism of Paul revolves primarily around Paul's response to bishop James' inquiry in Acts 21:21 about whether Paul was guilty of "apostasia." James asks Paul to prove the rumours are false that Paul has become apostate -- having thrown off the Mosaic Law entirely from God's people. To disprove the rumours, Paul is asked by James to honor a vow from chapter 6 of Numbers in the Mosaic Law. Paul agrees and performs the vow, Luke records. This vow requires Paul to shave his head (Nu 6:15), and is completed after about 7 days of regular Temple appearances by Paul. (See Acts 21:27 "when the seven days were almost completed.") James was trying to make sure Paul's Law-compliant behavior was visible to all Paul's critics, so as to silence them.

But that silence was broken by Jerome three centuries later. For Jerome knows that Paul's Epistles are completely contrary to Paul's actions in Acts 21, e.g., Romans 7:1-11. So Jerome says Paul was clearly a hypocrite, and misleading Bishop James as well as the 12 apostles. Jerome wrote:

"Oh...Paul...why then did you cause Timothy to be circumcised [Acts 16:3] contrary to your own convictions?...I ask you again Paul, why did you shave your head? [Acts 21, nazarite vow; cf. Numbers 6:15, must shave head] ....We have thus seen that for fear of the Jews...Paul pretended that [he] observed the precepts of the Law." (Quoted in Agenor Etienne Gasparin, The Concessions of the Apostle Paul, and the Claims of Truth (1854) at 57.)

As a result, Jerome was stating facts that implied Paul fooled not only James but also Luke by pretense. For Luke is assuming Paul's taking the vow for a month is a good thing to show about Paul, and not an act of hypocrisy. Had Luke known this was a deception by Paul, as Jerome points out, Luke would not have compounded this deception by recording Paul's equally misleading statement in Court that he endorses all the Law, saying to the judge: "I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets...." (Acts 24:14 NIV.)

Jerome's criticism thereby has very serious repercussions  on the entire validity of Paul. It undermines the use of Acts by Paul defenders. For by Jerome putting 2 and 2 together, this means Luke was duped into writing a favorable biography of Paul. Paul cloaked his true views from Luke, and not only from James.

For example, even Paul's Gospel was "hid" from Luke and the twelve. Luke records that Paul says in his final court appearance in Acts 26:20 (ASV) that he "declared [his gospel] both to them of Damascus first and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance."

Faith and works? Is that the gospel of the Paul you and I read in his Epistles? Absolutely not.  

Truly Gray should have included this quote from Jerome that Paul hypocritically misled James and impliedly Luke too. Jerome' remark is one of the most mentioned criticisms of Paul thereafter in theological writings, e.g. Abelard, Aquinas, etc.

Omitting Paul's Epistles Are A Legitimate Target for True Christians' Anti-Paulinism, or To Conclude Paul Was Tampered With

Sometimes Paul says things that are so evil and immoral that sometimes you have to consider whether Paul himself is anti-Paul! In other words, either Paul's Epistles were edited to make him look bad or Paul was indeed so incredibly evil, blasphemous, as well as boastful, and his followers so deceived, that they cannot see it. Paul's epistles thereby are evidence of Anti-Pauline statements, either self-destructively (corruption by Satan?) or by tampering to undermine Paul's validity. Here are a few things to consider. 

Paul says in 2 Cor. 12:16, which we would be revulsed if Jesus had said it:

But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, being crafty, I caught you with guile. (2 Cor. 12:16, ASV.)

A similar justification of lying for the gospel is found here: "For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” Romans 3:7 KJV.

Paul thus teaches God's truth was spread by "my lie" for his glory, then there can be no sin in that lie. Really?

There is no mistaking it because when others lie for the gospel, Paul sees progress: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:18.

Paul similarly taught us to act hypocritically - a false face -- in evangelism to act like Gentiles when around Gentiles and to act like a Jew around Jews -- to make it appear you agree with their morality although you don't.

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law as without law... that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." 1Corinthians 9:19-22

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." 1Corinthians 10:31-33

But Jesus' words immediately come to mind. 

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and unrighteousness. (Matt 23:25 WEB.)

These pretensions by Paul extended to eating meat sacrificed to idols. Thus, there is little doubt that either Paul's words are his own and revulsive (reflected in Jesus' condemnation in Revelation), or his words have been tampered with by an Anti-Paul person to make him look worse than he truly was.

For Paul said if you are eating meat sacrificed to idols at a pagan temple, and a Christian brother who thinks doing so is wrong sees you, and will be tempted to go against his "weak" conscience which believes it is wrong to eat such meat, then and only then must you refrain from eating such meat in front of that brother. Otherwise, you will embolden him to violate his conscience even though your brother errs in thinking it is wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

Please notice in this quote below, Paul is not concerned about you being at a pagan temple eating; he is only concerned someone sees you doing so who thinks eating such meat is wrong. Here it is in the KJV in 1 Cor. 8:4-12.   

“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world & that there is none other God but one...but meat commendeth us not to God: for neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols: & through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren & wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.”  KJV

Paul repeats this in 1 Cor. 10:28-29 which reads in KJV:

28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?

So Paul's conscience is ok eating such meat, but for the sake of the "weak conscience" of your brother who knows you know it is such meat, do not eat in front of him. But Jesus condemns unequivocally eating meat sacrificed to idols in Revelation 3x (see Revelation ch. 2). The 12 Apostles likewise decreed the same in Acts 15 2x.

More important, Jesus condemns such hypocrisy in Matt 23:25 quoted above. Paul approves what Jesus condemns -- Paul saying it is ok to give an outside righteous appearance to obey Laws that Paul believes are dead and gone so as to gain followers for Christ. The Pharisees to gain pupils likewise put on a false face. The result is this prevented them from revealing their unrighteous beliefs and behaviors - what Jesus called "dead men's bones." They were deceptive teachers, using guile by delaying openly professing their doctrines that "neglected" the law other than tithing. (Matt 23:23.). Paul likewise hid from view his own corrupt beliefs on right and wrong (unless he is being tampered with to look bad). Jesus warns that such hypocrisy is self-destructive, for it prevents correction of one's errors. It also means your teacher is being deceptive, capable thereby of slyly and slowly introducing false doctrine.   

Gasparin in the 1800s said if these principles from Paul are true, and from God, they destroy all of the Bible. Gasparin wrote in 1854 in The Concessions of Apostle Paul:

"If the apostles habitually gave themselves the license of appearing different from what they really were, and if they taught the distinction between those truths which it was necessary to maintain and those which may be sacrificed or disguised, it follows that God Himself sanctions two principles, against which His whole revelation protests, namely, that the claims of truth are not absolute, and that we may do evil that good may come!" Id. at 60.

So who added them? A deranged Paul? or an evil tamperer to sabotage Paul? Unless you deliberately blind yourself from the moral evil in such statements, these principles destroy Paul's validity all by themselves - either his works were tampered with (rendering everything in Paul's writings as unreliable), or he sincerely said these evil things.

But Paul's followers defend this deception. In the Catholic church in the era of Aquinas, it built an entire doctrine called the "pious fraud" doctrine that lies for a pious purpose are no sin -- based upon these verses in Paul! Many Paulinists beginning in the Reformation until now defend the same deceptive principles, citing these verses from Paul. See our article Guile in Paul.

This is why we need the Law and prophets. Without them, we end up in a pit of hell with no way out.

In Proverbs 12:10 (NIV), it says "the LORD condemns a crafty man."

We read similarly in Psalm 5:6: " deceitful men the LORD abhors."

And finally, “Cursed is he who doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully.” Jeremiah 48:10.

Cf. Rev. 14:5: "And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."

Hence, as Christians, we must consider the possibility that we do not have the original Paul. And that Paul was edited to make his words revulsive to any person of good conscience who has the Holy Spirit. That is, Paul's writings possibly reflect deliberate corruption by an Anti-Paulinist who made Paul appear to be full of guile, hypocrisy, and self-contradiction. The goal would be to destroy Paul's true teachings by mixing them with such toxic passages.

If true, Paul's own writings belong in a list of potentially Anti-Paul works. If true, however, this still does not speak well for Paul's place in canon. We would have to reject Paul's writings anyway as they were deliberately distorted to embarass Paul. At this point, there is no way to repair the situation except to retain Acts as the sole repository of Paul's legitimate teachings. We have found no more original manuscript of Paul's letters than P46 from about 200 AD. They are essentially the same as today. Hence, we cannot use what remains in the epistles to reconstruct them unless they are words consistent with Acts. There we do find that Paul fully endorses the Law (Acts 24:14) and Jesus' Gospel with the same terminology as Jesus used, e.g., Paul says he taught a Gospel of "works worthy of repentance." See Acts 26:20 (ASV).

On the other hand, if such evil immoral principles were truly Paul speaking, as the evidence supports as the true case, why did God allow this? God explains in Deut 13:1-10 that He allows prophets with true prophecy and signs and wonders as a test whether you love the Lord Your God with your whole heart, mind and soul, when they teach APOSTASIA also called ANOMIA. See Matthew 5:17-19. 

Either way, Gray should have presented a synopsis of the case that as Christians we may have to reject Paul because his principles are evil, and apostate, or were tampered with by an Anti-Paulinist to deliberately make it look that way.

I am not saying that Gray necessarily should have recognized this issue based upon my articles available online for years in this topic area. However, I do think Gray should have mentioned that Paul's own words are his own worst enemies, and  that the criticisms he receives, and will always receive from Holy Spirit filled Christians, are at least, if truly Paul's words, then primarily Paul's own self-inflicted wounds. Paul is thereby a legitimate source of anti-Paul fodder, either self-inflicted or due to tampering.

Instead of my having to raise this in a review, I wish that Gray had instead found my website, and pointed out that Paul's letters are potential evidence of Anti-Paul critics or a legitimate basis for true Christians to question Paul's inspiration. I have had for years several articles on these issues in the following: Blasphemy and Paul; Guile and Paul; Immoral Teachings in Paul; Did Paul Have an Enormous Ego? and "Was Paul Tampered With?".   

 

Only One Non-Hater Christian Is Anti-Paul But Supposedly Not Really: Kierkegaard

Having ignored or dismissed any canonical source as truly Anti-Paul, Gray next moves onto what is supposedly the only legitimate Christian who ever seriously criticized Paul who was not a hater in Gray's research: Kierkegaard. But then Gray portrays Kierkegaard as someone whose criticisms of Paul's influence are outweighed by his supposedly positive statements about Paul. (Kindle loc. 2169.)

Hence, Gray implies we need not explore too deeply what Kierkegaard's concerns were all about -- what Paul's doctrines did to Jesus' gospel. The way Gray leaves the lone figure of Kierkegaard whom Gray acknowledges was anti-Paul from purely spiritual motives and not from any hatred is such that we have a complete gap of understanding what fuss was raised by Kierkegaard.

But Kierkegaard was scathing against Paulinism if you pay attention. Gray even quotes Kierkegaard saying Protestantism is "completely untenable" because it is "a revolution brought about by proclaiming 'the Apostle' (Paul) at the expense of the Master (Christ)." (Kindle loc 172.) At the same time, Gray does not cite nor quote any of the supposedly positive statements by Kierkegaard about Paul or Paul's influence that "outweigh" such negatives he expressed about Paul or Paulinism. Thus, we are left to simply accept Gray's hand-waive that makes all Kierkegaard's negative comments go away. These positive remarks must be amazing if they do away with Kierkegaard's most radical rejection of Pauline Christianity as not truly Christian at all. 

Thus, Gray leaves us, subject to that one primary exception, to see the anti-Paul critiques he tracks are motivated most often by a hate of Paul. These haters are what Gray a couple of times describes as "Paul despisers." (Kindle loc. 5478; see also 1733, 1916.)

Stereotyping: Paul-Haters and Unchristian Anti-Paulinists

Thus, Gray describes the "anti-Paulinist" as someone you "know when you see it" (Kindle 272) -- an implied toxicly foul nature. Such an expression was made famous by a Supreme Court decision that said as to illicit obscenity, "you know it when you see it." The implied foul nature supposedly of all Anti-Paulinism emerges when the list is typically described by Gray as "despisers" of Paul. The names and figures Gray cites leave nothing in doubt: they range from those who either suffered from clinical insanity (Nietzche), or are anti-Semites because Paul was a Jew while giving Jesus a pass (Hitler), or were defending homosexuality from Paul's verses against it, or are women liberationists who despise Paul for his supposed "hatred" of "women in particular" (Kindle 2865), or who are Muslims in al Queda who support Bin Laden who think Paul is licentious, etc. (Kindle 216.)

The lesson Gray leaves without much effort to bury in his academic prose is that anti-Paulinists are a strange bunch of predominantly Paul haters or anti-Christians or sin-defenders. As a Christian reading Gray's work, you would want to run away as far as you can from even a Christian who criticizes Paul or his doctrines as generally taught. Such Christian voices if they emerge to gain attention around Gray's virtual blackout of their voice have been pre-smeared by Gray's predominant list of Anti-Paul voices. Christians will typically have their minds closed if they are Gray's readers although every Christian voice so far I reviewed above had a Bible-based valid reason for being critical of Paul.

Again, all this makes me wish Gray would give us a clue whether anyone ever had a Bible-based reason to reject Paul's writings as works of a false prophet. Even what Kierkegaard's theological problem was with Paul - Paul is construed typically to support cheap grace without repentance, that is faith-alone -- is not expressly articulated by Gray. (See Kindle Loc. 2164, Gray's closest quote is K.'s soft statement that with Paul "man gets off a litle easier in becoming a Christian.") So we are left starving for knowledge of what Christians who are true Christians have ever thought are substantive  Bible-based criticisms about Paul, especially his writings, let alone what our savior thought about Paul.

 

Gray's Ironic Confirmation-Bias Closing Comment

Gray also has very little effort in his final chapter at finding any meaning in all this hard work. I am sure he had an observation that could have been more helpful than to warn solely about "confirmation bias." That is, he says that those who pit Jesus versus Paul have a confirmation bias potentially that they "know" what Jesus says, and that proves Paul is wrong, when the real problem can be that we don't know what Jesus truly said.  Gray at Kindle Loc. 5244 says some unidentied anti-Paul voices rely upon Jesus to criticize Paul who are "oblivious to the effects of confirmation bias" -- a bias "that the existing body of knowledge about Jesus is sufficiently complete as to permit authoritative and incontrovertible repudiation of Pauline teaching."

Please note in this quote of Gray how Paul gets a pass based on probability unless the proof from Jesus is an "incontrovertible repudiation" of Paul. Even in that case, Gray still believes such proof is hardly enough to disprove Paul's validity because supposedly we cannot be iron-clad sure what Jesus means. This represents a fallacy of special pleading -- one low burden of proof for the Pauline defender to push Paul's perceived doctrines, but an extreme and virtually impossible burden for the Jesus defender to push back with Jesus' doctrines, no matter how seemingly clear Jesus' words may be.

Thus, this final point about "confirmation bias" by Gray has little value. In fact, it backfires on Mr. Gray.

First, the term "confirmation bias" is not an identification of a fallacy, but it means you may distrust the thoroughness of a work if you can see signs that the author sought out only evidence to support the view he or she preferred. The author ignored contrary evidence.

While Gray does not identify anyone guilty of confirmation bias in the Anti-Paul camp, does Gray have a beam in his own eye? For when you read Gray's work, do you see any confirmation bias? Where is Tertullian? Where is Vincent Holmes-Gore? Where is Apostle John and Jesus' words in the Book of Revelation? 

Mr. Gray should not fault others as biased when he has omitted so many Christian Paul-critics who do not match the stereotype his book fosters that Paul-critics are predominantly Paul haters who have no apparent Bible-based justification to reject Paul.

Criticisms of What Gray's Book Does Cover

That said, I do have some criticisms of how Gray explains what Gray admits is anti-Paul in the Christian community. In that respect, I believe Gray's summary of the Ebionites is appallingly shallow. He never quotes the early church's actual summary of the Ebionite words of criticism about Paul despite quoting a snippet at least from everyone else who has something to say negative about Paul or his writings. He also never explains what their conclusion that Paul was "apostate" meant in terms of a Bible-justification.

Why is this important? The Ebionites are the main focal point for Christians to consider after canonical sources are considered like Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19; Revelation 2; Second Peter, James; and Jude. The Ebionites represent the earliest rejection of Paul's writings from within the Christian church.  As Uhlhorn and others note, Ebionites was the name of the earliest Christian church. See link.

The Ebionite criticism of Paul as an "apostate from the Law" as Gray summarizes should have been first linked by Gray to the earliest church's identical concern about Paul in the Book of Acts. James at Jerusalem asks Paul in Acts 21:21 whether rumors that Paul is guilty of "apostasy" -- using that very word in Greek -- are true.

Gray next should have explained what apostasy means. Apostasy means someone who advocates throwing off the Mosaic Law from God's people. How is this term used in the Bible? This word appears in the Greek Septuagint of Deuteronomy 13:1-10 in 257 BC that identifies one as a false prophet if they are guilty of "apostasia."  This term in Greek translates the Hebrew of Deut 13:10 when it identifies a false prophet as including one with true signs and wonders and prophecy but who "seduces you from following the Law" and thus "turns you away" from Yahweh.

 

Bible-Principles on Apostasy Prove Paul A False Prophet

How is this a legitimate Bible-based concern? If you look up the word apostasy, you find it comes from the Greek translation of Deuteronomy 13:1-10. This is why the New King James labels this passage "PUNISHMENT OF APOSTATES." This passage defines a type of false prophet with "signs and wonders" whose prophecies actually "come to pass." Normally, they would be true prophets. However, because they "seduce you from following the Law," they are false.

Jesus warned repeatedly of false prophets coming with signs and wonders to seduce, if possible, the elect, into law-lessness. Thus, Christians are commanded not to add "false prophets" to Holy Scripture which should include Paul's writings when they are clearly apostate as to the Mosaic Law. God's word says in Deut 13:1-10 we must reject such writings by Paul because they reflect a "seduction" against following the Law. God says He allows such prophets to "test" whether we love Him with our whole mind, heart and soul. Deut 13:1-10.

This passage from Deuteronomy is repeated by Jesus in Matt 7:21-23 if one pays close attention to the words "signs and wonders" -- a verbatim parallel to Deut 13:1-10. Jesus says we must ignore such miracles / signs if the ones with such powers also work "ANOMIA" -- a word in Greek meaning negation of law. What Law?

Jesus had in mind the Mosaic law -- always called NOMOS throughout the New Testament. The negative prefix A in Greek means NEGATIVE what follows -- NOMOS. Anomia is a noun substitute for apostasy, both meaning an anti-Mosaic Law doctrine. (See article on anomia's meaning.) This makes Matthew 7:21-23 a clear parallel of Deut 13:1-10 which says the false prophet has true prophecy and signs and wonders but you know they are a false prophet which God allows to "test" you because they try to "seduce you from following the Law given you here today" -- into Apostasy also called ANOMIA.

That's why Gray should have set forth these early church quotes about the Ebionites with the Bible-context so Christians can see that there is something for us to consider in a review of all the criticisms of Paul. We are the main readers of such Christian-book publisher books. We don't care that much about Neitzche, or Muslim writers, or G.B. Shaw. But we do dearly care about what James, Jude, the Ebionites, Tertullian, Kierkegaard, Vincent Holmes-Gore and apostles John and Matthew, and, of course, Jesus all say. But that's all softened, or not quoted, or hand-waived away, so we don't see how strong is this problem in Christian history.

WHERE IS TERTULLIAN?

I have one final criticism. Where is Tertullian's scathing criticism of Paul's authority as an alleged apostle of Jesus in Tertullian's book Against Marcion from 207 AD? Or Tertullian's comment that Paul's words fit what Jesus warned about coming from a false prophet? What about Tertullian's many Biblical proofs that Paul's claim in Galatians to being an apostle of Jesus was an invalid self-serving one -- unconfirmed anywhere in the Gospels and disproved by the events in Acts 15 where Paul had to visit the 12 to approve his doctrine on circumcision? Gray certainly at least should have quoted Tertullian's most blunt conclusion, after laying out those proofs, where Tertullian tells Marcion: 

If there is one that makes a false claim to be Christ, much more can there be one who professes that he is an apostle of Christ.... [L]et the apostle [Paul], belong to your other god [i.e the NT God Marcion said justifies a new dispensation of faith alone with no more Law].... (Tertullian, Against Marcion (Oxford University Press, 1972) at 509, 511.)

See also two of our many articles on Tertullian: 

 

How could Gray write this book and not know about any of this?

Gray mentions scholarly titles on Marcion seventeen times. Gray has apparently read enough of Against Marcion to cite book 5, paragraph 21 to demonstrate Marcion "esteems Paul above all other authorities...." (Kindle loc. 683.) Yet, no mention is made of Tertullian's scathing criticisms, nor that they are present somewhere in Against Marcion.

At the same time, it is not a secret that Tertullian called Paul in Against Marcion the "apostle of the heretics" -- in Latin haereticorum apostolos. It is not just in my book and on my website. One of the foremost Christian Protestant writers -- Hans Lietzmann -- cites Tertullian from 207 AD, and says about Paul that "the writings of Paul --- the haereticorum apostolos of Tertullian ---  were regarded suspiciously at Rome." (Hans Lietzmann,The Lord's Supper (Brill: 1979) at 282.)  

 

Despite Tertullian saying that nothing corroborates Paul was chosen as an apostle of Jesus, and Paul fits a false prophet as predicted by Jesus (see link) -- quoted in my book at length -- what does Gray have to say? Gray mentions "wariness" of Paul by Tertullian exists, but never cites where wariness in its strongest demonstrable form appears in Tertullian's works -- in Against Marcion.  Yet, Gray says the "wariness of writers like Tertullian does not reflect any rebuke of Paul." (Gray, loc. 682 in Kindle edition.) How so?

Gray offers no synopsis of Tertullian's critiques that he knows expressed any level of "wariness" to prove that no rebuke is intended. Gray does not even cite Against Marcion as a place that a reader could find the most serious expressions of "wariness" that Tertullian had. Instead, Gray processes that Tertullian has a wariness about Paul without complete identification where this could be found, or its basis. Gray does so for your benefit so you don't have to read the negative sources, know what they represent, or even know the title of the most relevant work to look up. Yet, we must trust that whatever "wariness" Tertullian expressed is supposedly simply no rebuke at all. Really?

Lietzenmann quoting Against Marcion says Tertullian viewed Paul as the "apostle of the heretics," in line with a negative "suspicion" about Paul at Rome. But Gray knows there is supposedly "no rebuke" of Paul by Tertullian based upon some unexplained means. Amazing!

 

Conclusion

urge everyone to buy this book to see what it dares not talk about. If left uncorrected, a book like Gray's will purge from historical attention that Paul is criticized by Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19 and 7:21-23, and by Jesus again in Revelation chapter two, and by Apostle Peter in Second Peter, as well as by James and Jude in their epistles, and of course by the Ebionites, Tertullian, Jerome, Kierkegaard, and Reverand Holmes-Gore. For in Gray's world, these negatives about Paul, especially about his writings, disappear into greyness and oblivion. These critics of Paul's validity from within the Christian camp including by Jesus, Apostle Peter, James, and Jude, apparently don't need to be taken seriously at all. They don't have to be dealt with, or quoted meaningfully, or explained, or rebutted as of any weight by more than broad-brush strokes and hand-waives. And in the case of Jesus' words in Revelation chapter two as well as Reverand Holmes-Gore's book Christ or Paul, you don't have to even make any mention of them at all!

But for the true Christian, they are the primary part of Gray's book which we need to pay attention to. By doing so, we will realize what is being OMITTED or DOWNPLAYED is the most important lesson to take away from Gray's book. Our Christian sources of criticism of Paul are to be marginalized by not being taken seriously or not being mentioned, or barely and weakly so, in a book supposedly devoted to a summary of all critical statements about Paul in history. This way, the most important points in the history of criticism of Paul from a Christian perspective are simply to be silently overlooked.

If Paul-defenders' history presented as supposedly neutral and comprehensive wins out, then Christian-based criticism of Paul is to be forgotten and never mentioned seriously again. 

 

Jesus, however, cannot be defeated by such means. For Gray's work cannot convince the devoted disciples of Jesus that a true and complete picture was given of Paul critics through all time. This strengthens our confidence even more that Pauline Christianity is crumbling. It cannot face the whole truth. It must hide it or dismiss it, or defame it, or marginalize it, or try to crush it by its academic authority, or simply look away with a blind eye. But it no longer can entirely ignore it.  

Thus, true original Jesus-centric Christianity, defended by our Lord's words in Matthew 5:17-19 and the Ebionite finding of apostasy in Paul's writings pursuant to Deut 13:1-10, is rising. One day, we all must resolve personally whether Jesus warned of Paul in Matthew 5:17-19. One day, we must all resolve personally whether the Ebionite finding to exclude Paul from Holy Scripture as an apostate is justified. If we each take this step, we can look forward to a joyous personal reconnection with our Lord Jesus Christ, and His words. And we pray, a full commendation as a "good and faithful" steward.

Blessings, Doug

PS Gray does mention one other Christian who was a critic of Paul for theological reasons -- William Wrede. However, Gray does not place Wrede in the list of critics, and does not quote Wrede's major criticisms; he includes only one cryptic critical reference. Rather, Gray discusses Wrede on the unrelated issue of whether Paul or Jesus was the true founder of Christianity. See Kindle loc 2402. Wrede is narrowly identified as someone who said Paul turned Christianity into a religion of redemption, rather than one based upon Jesus' ethical teachings. Wrede says this makes Paul the "second founder of Christianity." (Kindle loc. 2402.) Gray then drops in a criticial quote of Wrede about Paul that this "second founder of Christianity has even, compared with the first, exercised beyond all doubt the stronger -- not the better -- influence." (Kindle Loc. 2402.)

But the surrounding context in Gray's discussion is all involved in whether Jesus or Paul is the primary influence over the church. So this is a very slight indication of what was a major critique of Paul by Wrede, a Lutheran seminary student. What was Wrede's critique that Gray never mentions? Wrede's work Paul (1901) said that Paul never quotes Jesus but once or twice, and thus was not a true disciple. If we want to be Christian, we have to return to Christ, so says Wrede. As a result, Wrede's work led to the "back to Jesus from Paul" movement in the decades following. Rudolf Bultman quashed it in 1929 by saying Paul's teachings supercede the teachings of Jesus in the flesh prior to the ascension (i.e., His earthly preaching) because Paul was communicating with the ascended Jesus. Paul teaches us, Bultmann said, that we are no longer to know Christ through Jesus' teachings "in the flesh," citing 2 Corinthians 5:16. See our article discussing this at this link.

PPS Gray refers to Ernest Renan as "unambiguosly anti-Pauline." (Kindle Loc. 2960 in footnote 8.)  Yet, Gray never quotes or cites what work is supposedly Anti-Paul -- another omission. Regardless, I strongly disagree with that conclusion. Renan is pro-Paul and the loudest critic of Anti-Paulinism, especially in early Christianity. Renan attacks Revelation as written as "a cry of hatred" (by apostle John) against Paul. Renan also slanders James and all the apostles as "shallow minded" in their epistles against Paul. (Renan, St. Paul (1875) vol. 2 at 220301.) He further accused the apostles of trying to destroy Paul's work by "insult and calumny." (Id., page 221.) This rejection of the anti-Paulinism he recognized from Jewish-Christian leaders of the early church is in line with Renan's view in his prior work, The Life of Jesus, that Jesus "purified himself of Jewish traits," and was "transformed from a Jew into a Christian." ("Ernest Renan," Wikipedia.) Thus, Renan is a true great Paul defender and critic of anti-Paulinism in Jewish Christianity; he is certainly not Anti-Paul.

At the same time, Renan is Jesus-centric without criticizing Paul. Thus, it is true that Renan believes Paul has been a "hidden rock" and has caused many to fall off the path of following Jesus. (Renan, St. Paul (1875) vol. 2, at 330.) But he does not fault Paul for this error on our part. Rather, Renan said it was always our obligation to follow the clear words of Jesus in the gospels (not including the book of Revelation) that shine brightly and clearly as our guide -- not only in early Christianity but now more than ever. Thus, Renan implies that we are in the wrong by putting too much emphasis on Paul's words. Renan never directly faults Paul for any of our mistakes taking our eyes off Christ's words from the gospels.

Thus, Renan is both a pro-Paul and Jesus-centric Christian. Not only is Renan not "unambiguously anti-Pauline," but also he is not conceivably anti-Pauline. That is the irony of Ernest Renan. He cites all the anti-Paul remarks in James, Jude, and Revelation, and deflects them as all due to hate. Renan never embraces them as truth. This is simply an honest recognition of obvious canon-source criticisms about Paul, even if Renan's rebuttal relies on an equally obvious ad hominem smear to deflect criticism of Paul. Renan then endorses Jesus' words in the gospels as our primary focus without criticizing Paul in any way. This makes Renan unique among all Christian writers -- while he is  extremely opposed to Anti-Paulinism, Renan is also still objective enough to be extremely Jesus-centric

 

PPPS  

Michael C. Legaspi, Associate Professor of Classics at Pennsylvania State University, makes an excellent observation in First Things (October 2016) about what is not covered in Gray's review of Paul critics. Legaspi acknowledges that Gray gives us a long list of Paul haters and anti-Christians whom we can safely ignore -- those who make baseless and libelous attacks on Paul. However, Legaspi acknowledges there remain others whose criticisms should be addressed with "humility and self-awareness." These others make no substantial appearance in Gray's work. Even though Legaspi believes Paul and Jesus can be reconciled, he recognizes that some Christians make serious Bible-based cases against Paul. Legaspi implies that next time out, the defenders of Paul need to engage the critics who are not libeling Paul but are asking theological questions which deserve being treated with "humility and self-awareness." For after all, truth is the issue. Legaspi writes:

This brings us, finally, to the title of Gray’s book. In what sense is Paul a problem? For many, Paul is a nuisance, an impediment to progress, or a convenient target in a proxy war against traditional Christianity. Many of Paul’s critics—those who wrote baseless and libelous attacks—may be safely ignored. But astute critics remind us that, as Peter admitted, there are in Paul’s letters things that are “hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16). We ought to hear and read them with humility and self-awareness, on guard against familiar pitfalls like antinomianism and dogmatic overreach. (Michael C. Legaspi, "All Things to All Men," First Things (October 2016) - link.)