For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. (Ezra 7:10.)

Relevant

A Joomla! Template for the Rest of Us

 

Search

Questions?

Please enter your questions, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. As an anti-spam measure, we ask that you re-type the code you see in the box below, prior to clicking "Send Message"






Jewish Encyclopedia View of Paul

The Jewish Encyclopedia distinguishes Jesus' view of a sacrifice for sin as atonement which is legally permissible as completely unlike Paul's view of a mystical union with God by a ritual / rite.

In "Saul of Tarsus, Apostle to the Heathen" The Jewish Encylopedia we read:

Heathen as is the conception of a church securing a mystic union with the Deity by means of sacramental rites, equally pagan is Paul's conception of the crucifixion of Jesus. While he accepts the Judæo-Christian view of the atoning power of the death of Jesus as the suffering Messiah (Rom. iii. 25, viii. 3), the crucifixion of Jesus as the son of God assumes for him at the very beginning the character of a mystery revealed to him, "a stumbling-block to the Jews and folly to the Greeks" (I Cor. i. 23-ii. 2, ii. 7-10). It is to him a cosmic act by which God becomes reconciled to Himself. God sent "his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh" in order to have His wrath appeased by his death. "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up," so that by his blood all men might be saved (Rom. v. 8; viii. 3, 32). To a Jewish mind trained by rabbinical acumen this is not pure monotheistic, but mythological, thinking. Paul's "Son of God" is, far more than the Logos of Philo, an infringement of the absolute unity of God. While the predicate "God" applied to him in Titus ii. 13 may be put to the account of Paul's school rather than to his own, throughout all the Epistles a share in the divinity is ascribed to Jesus in such a manner as to detract from the glory of God. He is, or is expected to be, called upon as"the Lord" (I Cor. i. 2; Rom. x. 13; Phil. ii. 10-11). Only the pagan idea of the "man-God" or "the second God," the world's artificer, and "son of God" (in Plato, in the Hermes-Tot literature as shown by Reizenstein, l.c.), or the idea of a king of light descending to Hades, as in the Mandæan-Babylonian literature (Brandt, "Die Mandäische Religion," 1889, pp. 151-156), could have suggested to Paul the conception of a God who surrenders the riches of divinity and descends to the poverty of earthly life in order to become a savior of the human race (I Cor. xv. 28, with ref. to Ps. viii. 6-7; Phil. ii. 6-10). Only from Alexandrian Gnosticism, or, as Reizenstein (l.c.pp. 25-26; comp. pp. 278, 285) convincingly shows, only from pagan pantheism, could he have derived the idea of the "pleroma," "the fulness" of the Godhead dwelling in Christ as the head of all principality and power, as him who is before all things and in whom all things consist (Col. i. 15-19, ii. 9).

The Jewish Encyclopedia also highlights the pagan elements in Paul's doctrine about baptism and communion, distinguishing again that Jesus did not teach these pagan truths:

Paul, the Hellenist, however, knowingly or unknowingly, seems to have taken the heathen cult associations as his pattern while introducing new features into the Church (see Anrich, "Das Antike Mysterienwesen in Seinem Einfluss auf das Christenthum," 1894; Wobbermin, "Religionsgeschichtliche Studien zur Frage der Beeinflussung des Urchristenthums Durch das Antike Mysterienwesen," 1896, p. 153; Hatch, "Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church," 1890, pp. 281-296; Cumont, "Die Mysterien des Mithra, Deutsch von Gehrich," 1903, pp. 101, 118-119; Anz, "Ursprung des Gnosticismus," 1897, pp. 98-107; Reizenstein and Kabisch, l.c.). To him baptism is no longer a symbolic rite suggestive of purification or regeneration, as in Jewish and Judæo-Christian circles (see Baptism), but a mystic rite by which the person that enters the water and emerges again undergoes an actual transformation, dying with Christ to the world of flesh and sin, and rising with him to the world of the spirit, the new life of the resurrection (Rom. vi. 1-10).

Still more is the partaking of the bread and the wine of the communion meal, the so-called "Lord's Supper," rendered the means of a mystic union with Christ, "a participation in his blood and body," exactly as was the Mithraic meal a real participation in the blood and body of Mithra (see Cumont, l.c.). To Paul, the Holy Spirit itself is not an ethical but a magic power that works sanctification and salvation. It is a mystic substance permeating the Church as a dynamic force, rendering all the members saints, and pouring forth its graces in the various gifts, such as those of prophesying, speaking in tongues, and interpreting voices, and others displayed in teaching and in the administration of charity and similar Church functions (Rom. xii. 4-8; I Cor. xii., xiv.; see Kabisch, l.c. pp. 261-281). The Church forms "the body of Christ" not in a figurative sense, but through the same mystic actuality as that by which the participants of heathen cults become, through their mysteries or sacraments, parts of their deities. Such is the expressed view of Paul when he contrasts the "table of Christ" with the "table of the demons" (I Cor. x. 20-21). While Paul borrows from the Jewish propaganda literature, especially the Sibyllines, the idea of the divine wrath striking especially those that commit the capital sins of idolatry and incest (fornication) and acts of violence or fraudulence (Rom. i. 18-32; I Thess. iv. 5), and while he accordingly wishes the heathen to turn from their idols to God, with desire of being saved by His son (I Thess. i. 9-10), his Church has by no means the moral perfection of the human race for its aim and end, as has Judaism. Salvation alone, that is, redemption from a world of perdition and sin, the attainment of a life of incorruption, is the object; yet this is the privilege only of those chosen and predestined "to be conformed to the image of His [God's] son" (Rom. viii. 28-30). It is accordingly not personal merit nor the greater moral effort that secures salvation, but some arbitrary act of divine grace which justifies one class of men and condemns the other (ib. ix.). It is not righteousness, nor even faith—in the Jewish sense of perfect trust in the all-loving and all-forgiving God and Father—which leads to salvation, but faith in the atoning power of Christ's death, which in some mystic or judicial manner justifies the undeserving (Rom. iii. 22, iv., v.; comp. Faith; for the mystic conception of faith, in Hellenism alongside of gnosis, see Reizenstein, l.c. pp. 158-159).

Doug 9/8/2012