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Many think there was a man called Jesus who lived and died in the first century and rose from the dead. Others think that all that was reported originally was that some apparition of a man was being witnessed that claimed he had died and risen in the distant past or perhaps a different world. If that happened, then the writers of the New Testament fabricated the notion of a first century Jesus who was more than just a vision.
The notion we are defending that Paul's Jesus was purely a product of visions is not new.


The Clementine Homilies have Peter telling Paul that he lived with Jesus so Paul has no right to come along saying that visions of Jesus can in any way be as good as that.  Peter snarls, "Can anybody be made competent to teach through a vision?"  Interestingly the text says Paul only had an hour long vision, "If you were visited by him for the space of an hour and were instructed by him and thereby have been an apostle, then proclaim his words, expound what he has taught, be a friend to his apostles and do not contend with me, who am his confidant; for you have in hostility withstood me, who am a firm rock, the foundation stone of the Church" (Homilies 17.19).  Peter seems to say here that when Jesus made him the rock he meant that he was the reliable teacher not Paul.  Jesus was acting against Paul before Paul would come.  One reason why the text wants to divide Peter from Paul might be that the author was ashamed of how Paul's visions founded Christianity and wanted to cover that up.


Paul strongly indicates that Jesus was not known as a man by anybody living in his day.

Matthew 26:38 and Romans 8:10 make clear that sin makes the body weak, in fact, dead. This is inconsistent with the notion that Jesus was a sinless but normal man. Either Jesus was sinful. Or he was not a man in the normal sense. Paul unlike Matthew might have denied that Jesus ever lived a normal life in the first century.

1 Corinthians 12, Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
The Christians say the underlined words mean the kind of faith that is considered fanatical and mad by the world. Some claim to exercise that faith today. They say they have the gift of knowing that God will cure their terminal cancer so they refuse to get help. Or they may let their baby suffer as they wait for God to intervene. Hebrews 11 approves of biblical "saints" who gave examples of that faith, "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death." That shows the danger of Pentecostalism and the Catholic Charismatic Movement which claim that the 1 Corinthian 12 gifts of the Spirit are with us today.

But does Paul really mean extreme faith? He only said faith. He gave no hint of meaning that. He holds that the Church is for believers. Yet he says some will receive the gift of faith. What he means is believers depend on the apostles to tell them about Jesus. They have no evidence that the apostles are telling the truth. But some are given evidence that the faith is true and they have special faith. So Jesus must be appearing to them or speaking to them from Heaven. That is why that kind of faith is described as a supernatural gift of the Spirit. So there was no other kind of evidence for there is only one kind of "special" faith.

When he told the people of Corinth about the Lord's supper in which Jesus called bread his body and a cup the covenant in his blood he said that he received this practice from the Lord. This could be read as Jesus telling him about the ritual in a vision. Though the context is about people meeting together for the supper and excluding people they don't like, he does not mention who was at the supper or anything. He does not know. Yet the gospels would have you believe the apostles were present not many years before Paul wrote. 
Paul speaks of a Jesus who lived long ago or one for whom there is no evidence apart from spiritual experience that he lived.

When all is said and done, all the New Testament has to offer as evidence for Jesus is visions for what the gospels offer is not even fit to be called evidence. Lots of people have visions that aren’t real so why should we heed the ones that led to the Jesus legend?


We do not know how the witnesses of Jesus had their visions and we know that in the mystical world having a spiritual impression could count as your soul having a vision.  The idea is that the soul has visions in a different way from the eyes would.  It would be like the eyes of wisdom seeing and working out that Jesus seems to be alive. Prayer groups that think they hear the Holy Spirit often work in such a way that they can agree on what they heard or think they heard.  It has to do with how spiritual impressions work and are formed as part of a process.

The historical material of the gospels is really just myth. The earliest Christian writings came from a man who depended entirely on visions implying there was no history for Jesus. He had to combat heresy and the best way to do that was to speak of what Jesus did and taught instead of appealing to apparitions so he did not use the best way for it was not an option. When he spoke of others seeing Jesus he did not say what they saw or how they saw it. It could have been a strange light in the shape of a man or he could have been seen in dreams.
That this writer, who was of course St Paul, depended on visions only is clear from his 2 Corinthians 11 and 12. Chapter 11:6 says that Paul knows Christianity and its basis thoroughly so he can refute the false Jesuses of the heretics and show that his is the true one. And then he does it by accusing the heretics of making money out of religion and by reminding Corinth about how much he suffered for his Christ! This obviously proves he could not use history to do it. He was annoyed that he had to use his life and suffering and visions as evidence for he despised boasting (11:1; 12:1,6). Paul was desperate to counteract the revelations of the false apostles and it was an urgent situation and yet he never once used the Jesus story to do it. The two chapters prove that Jesus was just a hallucination or vision beyond any doubt.

Ephesians 3 has Paul saying that the mystery of Jesus was made known to him by direct revelation and was hidden from the people of the past but is now revealed by the Holy Spirit to him and the apostles. The context is about the Church being the dwelling place of God purified by the atonement of Jesus so that must be the mystery (Ephesians 2:20-3:1). Most think it is the mystery of God accepting Jew and Gentile alike. But that was not a mystery that was only demystified by the apostles. Isaiah 56 explicitly says that God will accept Jews and Gentiles as believers and as his people.  And how could God accepting differing races be a mystery? Accepting one is what I would call a mystery because of the potential for racism. The saved Church mystery is closer in context. So that is the one that is meant. The mystery is Jew and Gentile being the dwelling of God and his Church. So the mystery is not about who is involved but what happens when they get involved - they become a supernatural entity, a Church, filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians refutes the gospel Jesus who has the Church of the Holy Spirit created and preached about even before his death. It even says the mystery is being revealed now through the apostles and when the Luke account says it was not revealed this way or but long before this now the gospellers are being proven to have fibbed quite a bit. If Jesus did not preach the gospel of grace which was so basic until after his death then it follows that the historical Jesus was an unknown person at best or a person who never really existed or that people imagined visions and this led to belief in a man called Jesus.

The liberal Christian belief that the gospels and early Christian teachings were worked out by visions and revelations and the reflections of the Church long after Jesus is certainly correct. They look at many of the parables of Jesus in the Bible and they say that they are what the later Church said rather than what Jesus really said. Here in an epistle, the apostles get the most basic revelation of them all long after the resurrection visions. The most basic one is that God lives in his Church and guides it and it took them decades to discover it! Jesus did not found any Church in the Christian sense at all. The resurrection of Jesus means nothing unless the Holy Spirit is in the witnesses and they form his Church. The resurrection is supposed to be based on the word of God not the word of man. Man needs to have the Holy Spirit so that his word is the word of the Spirit and not his own creation. Christianity claims to follow God not men and that is its most basic outlook.
Back to Ephesians. If Paul was saying that the mystery was the acceptance of Jew and Gentile then clearly Jesus had never approached non-Jews and had never commanded the apostles to take the gospel to every nation. Yet the gospels contradict him on this. Who is lying then? Clearly it would be the gospels. Paul speaks then as if he was the first to see that the Gentiles should be converted. Then Jesus did not found a Catholic Church, that is a Church for all nations, for if he had then that would have been clear from the beginning. If he founded a Church it was not Catholic. So whether the mystery was that gentiles were welcome in the Church or that the Church was supernatural or both then clearly the Church was not Catholic.
The early Church thought it had the miracle power to speak in unknown languages and prophecy. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 14 that the gift of tongues is for converting those who do not accept Christianity as true and that the gift of prophecy is for those who are already Christians. Yet he admitted this tongues miracle was not very good for unbelievers would think that people doing it were off their heads. When you have to use nearly useless miracles to get converts that is a sign of desperation. It is also a sign that the early Church with its apostles, who were the witnesses of Jesus, was indeed mad. Paul declared that prophecy, reading the hearts of unbelievers, was a sign as well. But it was not much of a sign for it was meant only for the believers. Fortune tellers found it easy to make up stuff and be very accurate in those days for life was less complicated then than now and even now they can still do well!  The prophecy sign is not impressive either. Paul would have known that too so his using it is another sign of desperation for evidence.
Paul even denied that Jesus did miracles for if the earthly Jesus he had no interest in had done them, Paul would not have used the charisms like speaking in tongues and the other madcap activities of the Church as evidence of any kind or value. He would have used the miracles of Jesus as far superior proofs. He could do no better when he used such bad proofs as charisms. Paul stated in Romans 5 that by faith in Jesus we are made righteous and we can boast that we look forward to God’s glory and that this hope is not deceptive for God puts love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. In other words, just because you live a better life and believe these things it means that God is approving of your belief. For this reasoning to be valid, Paul would need to accuse any religion that claimed to do the same of lying. A man who depends on arrogance and hate-mongering to get converts is a man who cannot get any evidence for what he wants people to believe. His view is no better than the Mormon sects who believe that God tells them that he is an exalted man and that he is Adam himself by giving them a feeling.
Paul’s experience was completely based on visions. He was the earliest writer and the early bird is the important one. He supersedes the gospels no matter if they are plausible or not. He made his Church dependent on dubious miracles like speaking in tongues which infers that Jesus did no miracles. He said that Jesus rose from the dead for if he didn’t then the dead are lost forever and the faith is useless. This stupid argument implies that he could think of nothing better so his account that outlines Jesus’ appearance to the apostles must be an interpolation or was not much use. The empty tomb was not mentioned. Paul had to deal with a Church that had started to doubt the resurrection of any kind of body physical or more ghostly and would have done better than that if he could. Paul’s hallucinations or his claim to have visions (which might have been a lie) started off belief in Jesus and led to the formation of the Christian Church. When he could not prove that Jesus rose from the dead and stressed this heavenly risen Jesus then is it likely that there was a Jesus at all? Of course not!
If there was better evidence for Jesus it is lost now and we have no reason to think it ever existed. It is not surprising if some authorities assumed that there was a historical Jesus. We know how gossip gets more unreliable by the minute.

After going through a list of preachers among the Romans, Paul calls the gospel “my gospel” when it would be more natural to say, “our gospel” (Romans 16:25). So he is the origin of the gospel. He means it was revealed to him alone for he says it was hid from endless ages. He could have said “gospel of the apostles” or “gospel of the Lord” but he did not for he clearly meant the gospel started with him for the other expressions would be better and reminders that it was the gospel of God. That is the only reason why he could write so as to be interpreted that way. If the gospel started with him then it did not start with a historical Jesus and Jesus did not bother with gospelling when he was alive on earth – an existence for which the only evidence was happened to be visions.
In Philippians 2 we have a piece of poetry that is undoubtedly and universally considered to be one of the earliest creeds of the Church. It would have been recited or used as a hymn in Paul’s Churches. It tells us that though the Messiah Jesus was in the form of God, he did not cling to the idea of being equal with God but emptied himself to become a servant born in human likeness. He humbled himself and obeyed God even unto death on a cross and God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all names so that everybody in heaven and earth would bow at the name of Jesus. Christians say that the name which is above all names is full authority, name standing for authority like we would say somebody doing something in your name is claiming your authority. But if Jesus were God or even the supreme angel he would have this authority even if he didn’t use it so he could not be said to have been given the name after his obedience unto death. The name thing refers to the name of Jesus, which means saviour. The name of Jesus is the highest name there is because he saves humankind and brings them back to God. God is no good to humanity without the saviour who bears the punishment due to humanity so Jesus though not God but like him bears the highest possible name and is in a real sense just as important as God. So Jesus whoever he was WAS NOT NAMED JESUS UNTIL AFTER HE DIED AND ROSE AGAIN. This completely destroys the credibility of the gospels which have him called Jesus all along and say Joseph and Mary got him that name during his circumcision in the Temple. It is obvious that when the word name is mentioned and then we are told about an actual name that in this context the name was not authority but an actual name.
Jesus was not like God all the time. He had to earn that prerogative by obedience. The oldest saint could be the holiest for having had the earliest start. The fact that God worked this way suggests that Jesus beat other holy men to his level of holiness which indicates that he was the first real good man at least at the time of his death. This in itself indicates that Jesus lived a long time ago for there have been many men who seemed to be saints and who died for others. Jesus did not save lives by his death but many martyrs before him undoubtedly did. He was not the best saint for that reason. What Paul says fits only a man who lived early on in the human race and who achieved such a high exaltation by becoming the first saint with the others lagging behind.
God did not plan this Jesus thing for Jesus had no authority or dignity until he obeyed though God can see the future so it was up to Jesus to become the saviour. Any man then could have become the saviour.


Finally - the way popular writings in the early Church do not read like a superstar Jesus had just lived is totally important.  It makes us ask if the gospels are lies.  The whole feel is that he did not.  Apparitions can account for the data.  Apparitions are just validation for a bigger message and it is about the message.  And there is more than the general feel to go on.  The evidence shows the whole thing is based on people claiming Jesus is teaching them in visions,

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