Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Finding Paul

  In the quest for denying the gospel, Bible critics first started the denial of the authenticity of Jesus as supernatural or the Son of God.  We see this as early as the 1700's with Thomas Jefferson and his Jefferson Bible that has the miracles cut out of it.
  Then Bible Critics obviously attacked the resurrection for Christ as a myth.  But evangelical scholars countered showing that Christ by the nature of the gospels was either the Lord a Liar or a lunatic.
 In the generation evangelical scholars argued that if the Bible is simply treated as a historical text, the case for the resurrection is most convincing as Jesus life death burial and resurrection are all historically verified with no corpse to contradict it.
So then Jesus denial is the inevitably back tracking argument.
Well if we can assume that we can accuse any historical figure of mythology when does it inevitably end?

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

Acts (luke) 16:
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them."

colossians 4:10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
1 peter 5: 13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
   Now it is the traditional history of the church which teaches that this is the Mark who authored that gospel.  In fact that he based his gospel upon the preaching of the apostle Peter.   Now Peter knows Mark and knows if Paul exist.  He would not want anyone challenging the orthodoxy of the Gospel which he had been charge to guard. Why would Peter want the publication of a fictional character which on at least one occasion "opposed him to his face".

colossians 4: 14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. 
  Now here we see that Luke is spoken of in the same circle with Paul and mark.  Many scholars believe Luke to have borrowed from mark's testimony which makes sense and adds weight to this likely circle which would have been based upon a historical Paul.

Internal argument
1 peter 1: elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
It is inherent in this passage that Peter is preaching a Pauline message.  When we look at earlier passages of scripture it is clear that Peter has learned these teachings about salvation and his previous sermons were lacking in this sophistication.  Peter learned from Paul, but you can not learn from someone who does not exist. 

Galatians 6:
11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand."
Here we see evidence of another scribe. this means that there was interaction with others.  Obviously Paul's assistant would testify that he is real.  If not then the conspiracy would be much easier to trace.

"Virtually all scholars agree that seven of the pauline letters are authentic..... These seven cohere well together and appear stylistically, theologically, and in most every other way to be the same person.  they all claim to be written by Paul.  There is scarce reason to doubt that they actually were written by Paul."Bart D. Ehrman Pg. 93 Forged
  Here the famous Bibe Scholar turned atheist affirms that a minimum of 5 Biblical books were written by the apostle Paul  now if if Paul wrote these epistles it is obvious that he exist!

Josephus correlates with acts in regards to the Egyptian whom Paul is accused of being
"Next in order, after other matters, he proceeded in his narration:'The Jews were afflicted with an evil greater than these, by the Egyptian imposter. Having come into the country, and assuming the authority of a prophet, he collected about thirty thousand that were seduced by him.  He then led them forth from the desert to the Mount of Olives, determining to enter Jerusalem by force, and after subduing the Roman garrison, to seize the government of the people, using his followers as body guards. But Felix anticipated his attack by going out to meet him Roman military, and all the people joined in the defense; so that when the battle was fought, the Egyptian fled with a few, and the most of his followers were either destroyed or captured." 
"Josephus gave this account in the second book of his history; and it is worthwhile to add also to this account in the second book of his history respecting the Egyptian that which mentioned in the Acts of the apostles.  It was there said to Paul by the centurian under Felix when the multitude of the jews raised a sedition against the apostle, "Art thou not indeed that self same egyptian that excited and led away the four thousand assassins in the desert into the desert?:" Acts 21:38) Such, however, were the events that happened under felix."Eusibius ecclesiastical history trans C.F. Cruse Book 2 chapter 21 pg. 57
Acts 21: 37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? 38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? 39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people."

Would a factual character put a fictional character on trial as accidentally another factual character?
  Josephus discusses a criminal named the "Egyptian" who caused Festus a great deal of turmoil.  it is also obvious that Paul was not as notorius a character as the Egyptian and though he had friends he was not "news worthy".

Church history
 "Matthew also issued a written gospel, among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations for the church.  After their departure,  Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter also did hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.  luke also the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the gospel preached by him.  Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a gospel during the residence at Ephesus in Asia." Irenaeus  Against Heresies Book 3 Chapter 1
 Here Irenaeus lays out Paul as both the primary source of luke's gospel and an apostle in his own right.  Irenaeus had the reputation of orthodoxy being a 2nd generation disciple of the apostle John himself.  John ministered in the same area which paul had.  If Paul was a myth or fraud wouldn't John be disturbed about it?  At least enough to mention it to his students.

Virtually all the apostolic church fathers cite at least one of Paul's writings,  even though the 72 apocryphal books were rejected.  Which means that epistles of paul were tested for authenticity.

Reliable history) Bible text critic Sir. William Ramsey discuss the historical reliability of Luke's account in Acts.
"I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without prejudice in favor of the conclusion which I shall now justify to the reader.  On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavorable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had at one time quite convinced me.  It did not then lie in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography of Asia Minor.  It was gradually born upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.  In fact beginning with the fixed idea that the work was essentially a second century composition, and never relying in it's evidence as trustworthy for first century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations."Ramsey, Sir William St. Paul the traveler and the Roman citizen baker book house 1962 cited by Josh McDowell Evidence that demands a verdict pg.72.  Even with a negative view as to the bibles accuracy the book of Acts which mentions Paul is highly historically accurate.

 There is a body!

"Eusebius goes on to report “that in his [Nero’s] time Paul was beheaded in Rome itself and that Peter was likewise crucified. (Eccl Hist. 2.25.5) Paul’s execution took place at the end of Nero’s reign, c. A.D. 65-68. His legal status as a Roman citizen protected him from the ignominious sentence of crucifixion suffered by Peter.
The traditional spot for the beheading is known as the Abbey of the Three Fountains (the head reputedly bounced three times before coming to rest), which is south of the modern center of Rome. Early reports stated he was laid in the family tomb of a devout Roman noblewoman named Matrona Lucilla. His remains may have subsequently been hidden in catacombs for safekeeping during Vespasian’s reign (see below). Nearby the abbey is the monumental Church of San Paolo Fuori Le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls) where the remains of Paul are entombed. Owing to popular interest in the location of Paul’s burial, experts from the Vatican undertook in 2002 to investigate the area beneath the main altar where it was believed his tomb is located.

The team first conducted a survey in order to reconstruct the shape of the original basilica built by the Emperor Constantine around A.D. 320. In A.D. 390, the Emperor Theodosius enlarged the structure and encased Paul's remains in a sarcophagus located on view in the middle of the basilica. Later emperors further enlarged and embellished the church such that it became the largest and most beautiful in all of Rome. Unfortunately, the building was largely destroyed by a fire in 1823.

Having established the layout of the original small basilica, a second excavation was begun under the altar that brought to light the sarcophagus, which was situated at the ground level of the 4th century building. Vatican Museum archaeologist George Filippi states, “We know for sure it’s the same object because the stone coffin is embedded in the layer of the Theodosian basilica.” An earthquake in A.D. 433 caused the collapse of portions of the building. Subsequent renovations raised the level of the floor and the sarcophagus was buried and covered by a marble tombstone.

The main altar of the modern church, named the Papal Altar, was erected atop the concrete and debris left by the 1823 fire that had buried the original sarcophagus and tombstone. The excavations revealed an inscription on the marble tombstone bearing the Latin words “Paulo Apostolo Mart,” which translates to “Apostle Paul, Martyr.” Archaeologists further opened up a window measuring 70 cm. wide and 1.00 meter deep to reach the side of the sarcophagus. An ancient hole in the cover about 10 cm. wide was discovered which, according to Filippi, was used to dip pieces of fabric inside the coffin in order to produce relics out of the pieces themselves.

Earlier this year Pope Benedict announced the finds from an inspection of the contents of the sarcophagus. A tiny hole drilled in the coffin revealed:
traces of a precious linen cloth, purple in color, laminated with pure gold, and a blue colored textile with filaments of linen. It also revealed the presence of grains of red incense and traces of protein and limestone. There were also tiny fragments of bone, which, when subjected to Carbon 14 tests by experts, turned out to belong to someone who lived in the 1st or 2nd century."

Argument from silence:
The  Apostle Paul may have stirred up commotion in his day.  But he was a traveling tent maker and not royalty.  Others may have made records but the major records before he died would not be the type to necessarily last 2000 years.  Contention against the existence of Paul has no evidence to debunk the witness of Him.  If their case were to hold any water they need to provide the names of these conspirators.  they would also need to prove that the conspirators had accomplished this.   But in reality the only argument to debunk the record of Paul is silence.  However the silence of a conspiracy silences the silencers.  

If the Apostle Paul Existed then his account of the resurrection argument for it is genuine.  It is obvious that these left leaning conspiracists in academia were not comfortable defending against this witness.

1 Cor. 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures