Hyam Maccoby. The Myth-Maker, Paul and the Invention of Christianity Maccoby concludes that Paul cannot have been a Pharisee, that his claims are. circles (the later successors of the Nazarenes) from the second to the fourth centuries. * Hyam Maccoby. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity. Donor challenge: Your generous donation will be matched 2-to-1 right now. Your $5 becomes $15! Dear Internet Archive Supporter,. I ask only.
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Hyam Maccoby [The Mythmaker] was mostly right: Paul was not a Pharisee. Christians prior to Paul were not antinomian, anti-Jewish, or anti-God.
Paul invented the doctrine of the Cross, along with the story fhe the Last Supper and associated doctrine of the Body of Christ. This much of The Mythmaker I had to agree with after examining the evidence, even though I was extremely reluctant to part with the idea he had been a Pharisee.
Maccoby was also right about something else, which I shall go into in greater depth later mzccoby.
The Mythmaker. Paul and the Invention of Christianity
Having determined all this to my satisfaction raised the question “What did Paul think he was doing? Paul preached “salvation by faith,” that is, by belief; yet, he did not believe in the Christian gospel himself. We know this because the gospel he preached was totally different, bearing no relationship whatsoever to the life and teachings of Jesus. Now, before Paul invented his gospel, the only gospel which existed was that of the apostles.
Why would a man who believed his salvation depended upon believing the gospel not believe in the gospel preached by the apostles of Christ?
How could Paul, who makes so much of his own authority as an apostle, so disregard the teaching of every other apostle? The contradictions are particularly acute with regard to the “law,” or Torah: Yet Paul must certainly have been aware of Deut. Paul would have had to have been a colossal idiot not to understand this passage. Furthermore, in the epistle to the Galatians Paul lists the “effects of obeying the law” as follows: It “nullifies the effect of Christ in you. It renders “all my work for you in vain” in preaching the gospel, presumably.
Now, this contradicts the main argument in Romans, that it would be fine to obey the law if it were possible but since it is not we must not; which makes no sense at all, but so what? These passages also show that Paul could not have believed the law “abrogated,” or nullified, for there can be no effect from obeying a nullified law, and if there is an effect there can be no nullification.
How can we discover Paul’s true beliefs from this maze of contradictory statements? By Maccoby’s Fourth Proposition: That Paul employed deception, and most especially misrepresentation, to convince people to accept the gospel.
In other words, Paul was a liar, not a pathological liar, but a purposeful one: He himself declared that among Jews he acted like a Jew, among Greeks like a Greek; is it unlikely then that among apostles he would act like an apostle? Or that he would emulate apostlolic behavior like extreme humility in his letters even though he was nothing like it in fact?
Paul was a liar, but he was also a preacher and pastor: How can a man both lie and tell the truth at the same time? The way to do that is by clever use of language. Paul used a special type of language which he called “spiritual words,” which he distinguished from the ordinary kind of language, which he called “speaking as a human being.
They can, however, be deciphered. Here are some examples, and their meaning, translated by myself: Now a mediator of one is not, but God is one. Let us turn the passage front to back and see what we have: A mediator of one is not. The Law was ordained through a mediator.
What we have here is what the Greeks call a syllogism, a sequence of facts tending towards a conclusion. Since the law was ordained through a “mediator” leaving aside the question of whether this was so or notand there can not be a mediator of “one,” such as God is leaving aside this issue as wellit follows that the law could not have been ordained by God.
So the phrase which begins the passage, “the law was ordained by angels,” is really the conclusion of the syllogism. Since “angels” are more than one, “angels” ordained the law.
Now, this conclusion is virtually imperceptable to people who worship God, such as Jews although Maccoby did object to the idea the Torah was ordained by angels: These people all know that the Torah was ordained by God Almighty, Ruler of heaven and earth.
But Paul was not such a person. He was not one of those “unbelievers” who are “blinded by the Ruler of the World” in their study of the Torah; oh no. He was something else entirely. Let macxoby conclude that Paul conceded the law was maccobg by someone or something, and did not believe that someone or something was God. Would this be satisfactory?
After all the word “God” is not a name but a title, and the fact that Paul does not care to bestow the title does not know what is what. After all, in later generations the mythmakeer “angels” was applied by Gnostics with the meaning “the God of the Old Testament,” or Yahweh.
If one person can grant a title, someone else can equally change that title. So if Paul says “angels ordained the law” with the meaning “Yahweh ordained the law,” is this not factual? Blasphemous as hell certainly, but not tne.
The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby
In short, if Paul were a Gnostic his passage would have made perfect sense, and his epistle to the Galatians would have made perfect sense as well, for what were the Galatians doing but obeying the law?
What was wrong with that? Paul tells the Galatians that even though they accepted Christ they are “turning back” to “bondage to the elements of the universe” in their observance of the law.
Now the word “turning” needs no explanation: Because it involves serving “elements. To Korzybski, father of General Semantics the word is merely a representation of the truth, not the truth itself: The way to determine the value of a variable is by analyzing its relationship to other values. What values does Paul give us here? Therefore we can also say Serving “element” is what you do when you observe the law. The burning question is, how did Paul know, with such utter certainty, that the Galatians were serving anything we cannot say precisely what just yet because we have not determined the value of “elements” by obeying the Commandments?
Let us see if we can zero in on a definition of “elements: Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world So, what did Paul serve in his youth? The answer to this might give us an idea of what “elements” are. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: Paul was a Jew in his youth, and served the “elements of the world;” and the Galatians observe the law and serve “elements.
It is not that Paul does not believe in Scripture, but that he has a negative opinion in Greek, heresy about Scripture’s God: He acknowledges that those who obey the Commandments serve the “ruler of this world. He acknowledges that someone “in Christ” who decides to obey the Commandments serves this “ruler.
So then Paul’s purpose is to overthrow the Kingdom of God or Heaven. Thus Paul’s distress with the Galatians makes perfect sense: The revelation that Paul was trying to overthrow God, and the means he chose to do it, namely disguising himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, explains a number of seeming contradictions in his epistles, and allows us to hazard a guess as to why he granted Christ God-like, or at least Yahweh-like attributes: Paul’s Christ was intended to serve as a kind of substitute for Yahweh during the Interregnum, the transitional period between the Rule of Yahweh and the Rule of the Gnostic deity.
It was a manifestation through myth of the practical situation during Paul’s ministry, when the vast majority of his converts did not consciously reject God or imagine Paul would have wanted them to.
Paul could not tell such people not to worship God because they would have rejected him immediately. In Paul’s terms, they were not “spiritual” enough to appreciate the true “wisdom” of the gospel. So in the meantime he fed them what he called “milk for infants in Christ,” which is to say doctrines and concepts they could agree with.
Hyman Maccoby, a critique
And throughout, he worked to “wean” them away from the worship of God by giving them maccoy almost-identical Christ to worship instead. Now for another example of Paul’s “spiritual words. For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
So then if, while here husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adultress: Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Let us start by observing the people it is addressed to “those who know the law.
The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity
So Paul is being deliberately ambiguous here: The part that follows is exceedingly “legalistic” in tone, as though it were addressed to a rabbi. Yet, the legal principle itself requires no great knowledge to understand: Though this is certainly no great challenge to the rabbi’s knowledge, Paul goes on to state the principle once more, to make sure macccoby get it right. But the final part seems to leave the bounds of reality behind altogether: Let us take another look at Paul’s “legalism: So how can Israel get out of this situation?
Paul provides two mechanisms, and we presume both operate simultaneously: Second, her “living husband” can “die: With this the meaning of the final part becomes clear: Paul believed that a person who was “in Christ” was both “dead” hence ‘dead to the lawand the “living husband,” or God, was also “dead.
That is what Paul says; and if Maccoby did not understand, it was because there are some enormities the mind cannot encompass. This is one of them. However, the idea of murdering God or the ‘Ruler of this World’ would have been quite familiar to later generations of Gnostics, whose doctrines were described by one Christian theologian as “an abyss of madness and blasphemy.