Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Myth That Peter (r.a.) & Paul were Friends

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

In the New Testament, and in Christian mythos, the impression given is that Peter (r.a.) and Paul of Tarsus were some sort of evangelical superhero team-up, spreading the Good News to the Jews and the Gentiles respectively throughout the hostile, pagan Roman Empire.  This fallacy was promoted by Paul of Tarsus to give the illusion that he was somehow of the same level of credibility of the actual disciples of Jesus (a.s.), a man he had never met.  And understandably, he met opposition.  So he allegedly wrote this:

Galatians 2:7-8
6 But as for what I owe to those who were of some repute — it matters little to me who or what they were, God makes no distinction between man and man—these men of repute, I say, had nothing to communicate to me.  7 On the contrary, those who were reputed to be the main support of the Church, James and Cephas and John, saw plainly that I was commissioned to preach to the uncircumcised, as Peter was to the circumcised…

For those who are not clear, “those who were of some repute” referred to the Apostles and the true followers of Jesus (a.s.).  They did not take to Paul of Tarsus and fragments from the Essenes referred to him as “The Lying Tongue.”

Paul was more than a false prophet; he was a born zealot – first persecuting the early Christians, and then usurping the nascent faith and corrupting its theology.  And he had his radical followers who took his ideas to the extreme before they gained some semblance of respectability in the guise of theologians such as Athanasius and Augustine of Hippo.  It is interesting to note that amongst the first major heretic after Paul of Tarsus was Marcion of Sinope, who regarded himself as a close follower of Paul and hinted that Peter betrayed the trust placed in him by Jesus (a.s.).

Marcion’s theology is Pauline Christianity without the mitigating influence of the Apostles and Christianity’s Jewish roots.  Marcion was the son of the Bishop of Sinope in Pontus.  He was born circa. 110 CE, into wealth.  And he was an Anti-Semite.  Marcion wanted a Christianity ‘undefiled’ by its association with Judaism.  He preached that Christianity was the ‘New Covenant’.  This is an extreme interpretation of Paul’s idea of a new covenant, totally discarding the Mosaic Law.  Paul wrote:

Hebrews 8:7-13
7 There would have been no room for this second covenant, if there had been no fault to find with the first.  8 But God, you see, does find fault; this is what he tells them: “Behold,” says the Lord, “a time is coming when I will ratify a new covenant with the people of Israel, and with the people of Judah.  9 It will not be like the covenant which I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand, to rescue them from Egypt; that they should break my covenant, and I (says the Lord) should abandon them.  10 No, this is the covenant I will grant the people of Israel,” the Lord says, “when that time comes.  I will implant my law in their innermost thoughts, engrave it in their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  11 There will be no need for neighbour to teach neighbour, or brother to teach brother, the knowledge of the Lord; all will know me, from the highest to the lowest.  12 I will pardon their wrong-doing; I will not remember their sins any more.”  13 In speaking of a new covenant, he has superannuated the old. And before long the superannuated, the antiquated, must needs disappear.

In contrast, Jesus (a.s.) said:

Matthew 5:17-19
17 “Do not think that I have come to set aside the law and the prophets; I have not come to set them aside, but to bring them to perfection.  18 Believe me, Heaven and Earth must disappear sooner than one jot, one flourish should disappear from the law; it must all be accomplished.  19 Whoever, then, sets aside one of these commandments, though it were the least, and teaches men to do the like, will be of least account in the Kingdom of Heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches others to keep them will be accounted in the kingdom of heaven as the greatest.”

So what does that make Paul?  And by extension, what does that make people like Marcion of Sinope?  As is typical of the early Pauline faction, particularly the lunatic fringe of this lunatic fringe, Marcion was not interested in theodicy and never attempted to address them.  He was not interested in the essence of the Godhead, and was likely ill-equipped to address them.  He considered the Old Testament to be a stumbling-block to the refined and intellectual gentiles by its crudity and cruelty, and had to be set aside.  And this was the theological conundrum.  He had to account for the existence of the Old Testament and did so by postulating a secondary deity, a demiurge, who was god, in a sense, but not the supreme God; essentially another form of polytheism.  The attribute of this demiurge was uncompromising, rigid law without the mitigation of compassion.  But crucially, he was not the ‘good’ God, the Father.  And since Marcion was far from a formidable theologian, this metaphysical inconsistency did not trouble him in the least.  In the same way, the theological gymnastics of a Triune god never seemed to trouble the Pauline theologians greatly.

Since Marcion had to account for all those passages in the New Testament which referenced the Old, he simply declared apocryphal all texts that were contrary to his dogma.  He created his own New Testament admitting only an abrogated Gospel according to Luke, and an ‘Apostolicon’, ten selected epistles of Paul.  Marcion aged war upon the Jewish followers of Jesus (a.s.), forgetting that Jesus (a.s.) himself was a Jew.  Where Paul only hinted at the deviancy of the Apostles, Marcion was anything but subtle and called the faith of the Apostles, Peter (r.a.), James (r.a.), and John (r.a.) into question and explicitly stated that they had betrayed their trust.  And since he rejected the entirety of the Old Testament, he rejected any prophecy foretelling the coming of Christ (a.s.).  Tertullian mercilessly mocked him for that: why believe in a Messiah when he disbelieved in his reason for being Sent?

Unsurprisingly, Marcion’s Apostolicon never included Galatians 2:7-8, this fallacy of Peter (r.a.) and Paul having a shared doctrine, and, implausibly so, a harmonious relationship.  Many Pauline scholars point to this as one of the passages that Marcion cut out for conflicting with his teachings.  But actually, there is a greater likelihood that Marcion never actually expunged the text, and it was inserted later by orthodox scribes with the intention of refuting Marcion.  It was a later addition, a forgery.

Consider the verse in question:

Galatians 2:7-8
6 But as for what I owe to those who were of some repute — it matters little to me who or what they were, God makes no distinction between man and man—these men of repute, I say, had nothing to communicate to me.  7 On the contrary, those who were reputed to be the main support of the Church, James and Cephas and John, saw plainly that I was commissioned to preach to the uncircumcised, as Peter was to the circumcised…

If Paul of Tarsus wrote this, why did he switch to the name ‘Peter’ in these verses alone, when every else, he usually referred to him as ‘Cephas’.  Additionally, Paul’s other writings made no reference whatsoever to the division of evangelical spheres of influence.  Paul was not one to brook any challenge to his authority.  He was a zealous believer of his own propaganda.  Paul saw Peter (r.a.), the ‘Cephas faction’ as just another contending group with a rival gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:12
11 The account I have of you, my brethren, from Chloe’s household, is that there are dissensions among you; 12 each of you, I mean, has a cry of his own, I am for Paul, I am for Apollo, I am for Cephas, I am for Christ.

And also, we must consider that Tertullian, who wrote a detailed five-volume refutation of Marcion’s heresy, Adversus Marcionem, never used the disputed verses.  It is inconceivable that he overlooked them.  The logical inference is that the verses did not exist.

In summary, Peter (r.a.), and by extension, all the Apostles of Jesus (a.s.), were not friends with Paul.  They certainly did not think much of a man who never met the Messiah (a.s.), but had the temerity to speak as if he was anointed to speak on his behalf, contradicting all that Jesus (a.s.) actually taught.  Not only is it a fact that Paul never met Jesus (a.s.), he did not meet Peter (r.a.) until more than a decade later.

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