Paul the Apostle

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Paul the Apostle, mosaic from the end of 5th Century
For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:

Paul the Apostle, generally refers to Saint Paul, also called Paul of Tarsus or Saul of Tarsus. Paul is perhaps the most significant figure in the early church. It is arguable that Christianity largely originates from Paul's interpretation of Jesus. [1]

There is no historical evidence of Paul ever existing, except for the account given in the Bible. According to tradition and the Acts of the Apostles he persecuted the Christians but experienced a vision or hallucination on the road to Damascus. After that he converted to Christianity. He never met Jesus in person. Paul became a Christian missionary and wrote many epistles included in the New Testament. However, it is likely that Paul did not write all the epistles attributed to him. [2]



Paul often says he received his understanding of Christianity from revelation directly from God. 1 Corinthians 11:23 Bible-icon.png Paul even reveals to us that the earliest Christians were hallucinating on a regular basis, entering ecstatic trances, prophesying, relaying the communications of spirits, and speaking in tongues--so much, in fact, that outsiders thought they were lunatics (e.g., 1 Corinthians 14 Bible-icon.png). The problem is it is all to easy to pretend to have had a vision.

Differences with the teachings of Jesus

Main Article: Differences between the Gospels and the epistles

Paul's interpretation of Jesus's live is very influential but Paul's teachings possibly conflict with, are fundamentally different to [3], or even corrupt the teachings of Jesus. Although the teachings of Paul are accepted by most Christians, Paul has been subjected to severe criticism by a minority of Christians who accept the gospels but reject the rest of the New Testament.

"Paul was the [...] first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus"

Thomas Jefferson [7]

Alleged change of name

"Many mistakenly assume the Lord changed Saul's name to Paul sometime after Saul converted from Judaism to Christianity, which happened during his encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). [...] The Hebrew name given him by his parents was Saul, but, because his father was a Roman citizen (and therefore Saul inherited Roman citizenship), Saul also had the Latin name Paul (Acts 16:37, 22:25-28), the custom of dual names being common in those days. Since he grew up in a strict Pharisee environment, the name Saul was by far the more appropriate name to go by.[4]"

Paul the Mythicist?

Main Article: Christ docetisc myth theory

Paul hardly mentions any biographical events of Jesus. Richard Carrier and others argue that even the few mentions are later insertions. It is therefore possible that Paul considered Jesus to be entirely spiritual and never had an earthly ministry.

"Historians have long puzzled over the “Silence of Paul” on the most basic biographical facts and teachings of Jesus. Paul fails to cite Jesus’ authority precisely when it would make his case. What’s more, he never calls the twelve apostles Jesus’ disciples; in fact, he never says Jesus HAD disciples –or a ministry, or did miracles, or gave teachings. He virtually refuses to disclose any other biographical detail, and the few cryptic hints he offers aren’t just vague, but contradict the gospels. [5]"


Paul is thought to have authored the following chapters:

The other chapters are thought to be pseudepigraphical (falsely attributed) by many or most scholars: [6]


Paul was influential in many areas of Christian thought, including:


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]
  6. [6]

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