|Who Was Paul of Tarsus|
What Your Minister Doesn't Want You to Know
"The empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning is a legend. This is shown by the simple fact that the apostle Paul, the most crucial preacher of Christ's resurrection, and the earliest New Testament writer besides, says nothing about it. As far as Paul is concerned, it doesn't exist. Thus it means nothing to him, that is, an empty tomb has no significance for the truth of the resurrection, which he so emphatically proclaims. Granted, for Paul all Christianity depends upon the resurrection of Christ - "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1Cor 15:14). But in Paul's view, that has nothing to do with an empty tomb. He manifestly has no idea of any such thing. If Paul had ever heard of the empty tomb, he would have never passed over it in silence. Since he gathers together and cites all evidence for Jesus' resurrection that has been handed down to him (1 Corinthians 15), he certainly would have found the empty tomb worth mentioning. That he doesn't proves that it never existed and hence the accounts of it must not have arisen until later."-Uta Ranke-Heinemann, "Putting Away Childish Things: the Virgin birth, the Empty Tomb, and Other Fairy Tales You Don't Need to Believe to Have a Living Faith" (San Francisco: Harper, 1994), p. 131
"I would not go so far as Ranke-Heinemann in declaring this one consideration to settle the matter decisively, but this consideration does raise the probability that Paul didn't know of an empty tomb story."-D.H. van Daalen, "The Real Resurrection" p. 40.
It seems obvious that Paul would have used anything that he could find to promote the new belief, so it seems that he had not been told about the empty tomb by either Peter or James because it never happened. The narrative much like the rest of the gospels are fictions written to sell people on the idea of a literal interpretation of a Gnostic belief system. If you check your Bible you will find that the gospels come first followed by Acts and then the epistles. This is not the order in which they were written, but the Church realized that the epistles in and of themselves were not convincing enough to support a literal interpretation of the crucifixion and the resurrection. So, the believer first reads the story and then reads the epistles as an affirmation that the events they read about in the gospels are true.
The conspirators, and by this I mean Marcion, the son of the bishop of Sinope and student of the Simonian Cerdo, crafted Paul from 3 different sources. The most obvious is Apollos or Apollonius, but he was Greek and not a native Jew. So, they referred to Josephus where they found Saul an avaricious Herodian aristocrat. They then added the miraculous conversion from the life of heretical Jewish Rabbi Elisha ben Abuiah, known as Aher (traitor), to the mix thus endowing Paul with divine authority.
The miraculous conversion story is based on the life of heretical Jewish Rabbi Elisha ben Abuiah. This is what JE has to say about Rabbi Elisha: "According to Grätz, he was a Karpotian Gnostic; according to Siegfried, a follower of Philo; according to Dubsch, a Christian; according to Smolenskin and Weiss, a victim of the inquisitor Akiba....The oldest and most striking reference to the views of Elisha is found in the following baraita (Hag. 14b; Yer. ii. 1): "Four [sages] entered paradise—Ben 'Azzai, Ben Zoma, Aher, and Akiba. Ben 'Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma went mad; Aher destroyed the plants; Akiba alone came out unhurt."... It means that Elisha, like Paul, in a moment of ecstasy beheld the interior of heaven—in the former's case, however, with the effect that he destroyed the plants of the heavenly garden."–Jewish Encyclopedia
Rabbi Elisha was a persecutor of Christians and an apostate to the law which earned him the nickname Aher or traitor. He was a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva who was born in 50 CE which places the miraculous conversion story during the latter part of the first century and not the early to middle first century. This means that the epistles were probably a product of the early to mid second century which gave the authors time to incorporate the events from the life of Rabbi Elisha into the narrative.
Continued / Table of Contents