and James and Thomas: three approaches to Christianity
Three groups claimed to represent Jesus' message:
Let us look at each in turn.
These are three divisions in any religious group:
Since the third century (and they would argue, since the beginning) Christianity has been dominated by the supernatural group. They rely on the writings of Paul, so Paul will dominate this discussion.
The church we see today depends on Paul. Paul is routinely quoted to explain what the gospel means. It could be argued that he saved the Christian church: he provided a theology that was easy for non-Jews to understand and accept.
Without Paul's emphasis on the Gentiles, the Christian church, dependent on its Jewish centre, would have died after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the scattering of the Jews after the failed Bar Kokhba rebellion in the 130s. Paul's role is so great that some scholars consider him to be the effective creator of Christianity, with Jesus simply his inspiration.
Jesus was too far ahead of his time. He taught abstract principles in a day when most people could not even read. He taught the foundations of economics, seventeen hundred years before economics was ever recognised as a subject. To most people Jesus was just a miracle worker. Nobody understood the logic (the God) behind his actions.
So the best anybody could strive for was to preserve Jesus' words for future generations. James failed. The learned Christians failed. But Paul succeeded. Thanks to Paul the four gospels became the most copied books in history. From time to time some reader catches a glimpse of its power, and Paul deserves our gratitude.
The key to Paul's message, and the key to understanding God, is that God is perfect and man is not. Paul made this abundantly clear. But this creates a paradox: all men are imperfect, and Paul is a man, so how can we trust his words? Particularly as his reasoning, by falling back to the supernatural, shows he does not understand the logical causes of what he claims?
Paul provided a solution here as well: although man (such as Paul) is imperfect, through God we can sometimes do good things. While it is true that man will tend to confuse and corrupt all ideas, one idea is simple enough and strong enough that we can probably rely on it the idea of Jesus.
So paradoxically, if we believe Paul then we will immediately close his letters and open up the gospel instead (e.g. Mark). If we continue to read Paul then we do not understand Paul.
Even though Paul's message is "do not listen to my message", it is still scripture.
Jesus referred to sacred writing as "the law and the prophets" and to his own teaching as "the gospel." "The law" is the law of Moses: the rules for a successful nation. "The prophets" are the writings of those outsiders who from time to time would call the people to repent, to go back to keeping the law. "The gospel" is "the good news", the teachings of Jesus. These were all separate categories. In Jesus, day and for a century afterwards they were separate books.
In addition to these there were other writings that were considered interesting or useful. The Pharisees had various commentaries (this is what set them apart from the Sadducees, who insisted that only the law and the prophets count). Different groups wrote their own manuals or prophecies: for example the Essenes (the Dead Sea Scrolls community) had various manuals that they would study. Together the most interesting guides and commentaries are just called "the writings". In Latin, the word "writing" is "scripture", hence the word "script" for a play, "scribe" for a writer, "scriptorium" for the room where the Essenes would copy their texts, and so on.
Together all these books, the law, the prophets, the gospels, and the scripture, became "the books." In ancient times books were copied by hand and most people were very poor and illiterate, so the only books most people had were the guides for the local community. "The books" in Latin is "the bible", hence the word library, bibliophile, etc.
How the Bible came to be
The word "Bible" did not originally mean what it means today, a special small collection bound together,different from your regular library. "The books" were your entire library, the only ones the community thought were important enough to laboriously copy down through the generations. Obviously the wealthy and middle class scholars would have more books, but they were unusual. For practical purposes "the books" means "the books that matter", the shared books, the ones worth spending scares resources to copy and preserve.
The reason Paul matters so much is simply because he wrote many letters to distant churches, and so those churches copied them. Therefore they became local scripture. Their content made them useful to the bishops of other cities, hence they became scripture for the whole church. There is nothing magical about the process of becoming scripture.
How a Bible becomes sacred
Naturally, any books that are the basis for your laws become very important. So these books are treated with special reverence and must be preserved, letter perfect. Hence the idea of "sacred" scriptures. "Sacred" comes from the Latin "sacrare" from the prehistoric word root "sak" meaning "that which must not be altered". This was for purely political-economic reasons. If thousands of life and death contracts are made based on a written text then you had better not alter that text afterwards!
The invention of printing made the Bible seem even more sacred, in the sense that it was now very easy to challenge it. Historians could point out errors (such as errors in the church), and ordinary people could choose other books, or even re translate the Bible with different emphasis. The protestants, who questioned the historical church, were left with no foundation, so they insisted that the Bible had to be considered perfect: "sola scripture" or "scripture alone".
The progress of science of course left even this to be questioned: how can the scripture be unchangeable when its origins were so human? Whenever we look closely we see changes, disagreements, and stories presented as truth. Eventually we are forced to come back to the original foundation, the only sure foundation there can ever be: logic. Eventually mankind returns to the logos, after exhausting every other possibility
Returning to Paul, we can conclude that yes,his words are scripture, and no, this does not mean they are perfect. But they are useful, and that is the most we can ask for any written text.
It is very tempting to see Paul as the villain. It is easy to find evidence that his words are at best irrelevant to the gospel, and at worst he was the great enemy of the church. But so what? All people sin. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of God, not a man. A good kingdom, a good economic system, works despite imperfect people. The kingdom of God (an economic kingdom) did not appear in the first century, and we cannot blame Paul. Paul was not in charge of the church: that was James.
If James had understood the economic message then Paul would not have mattered. So we cannot blame Paul. Indeed, without Paul we would have nothing at all.
But what if James had been as smart as his brother? Let us imagine what might have been:
Paul was originally known as Saul. He fought against the church. Then he saw Jesus, This shocked and amazed Saul, because he thought Jesus was dead. The visit changed Saul's life. From this Saul concluded that:
This became the basis of his theology:
For the remainder of the notes on Paul I draw heavily on the research of many others and am indebted to them.
Paul refers to his religion as the revelation of a hidden mystery:
Paul's "mystery" fits neatly alongside the popular "mystery religions" of the day, especially the worship of Mithras (in Greece and Rome) and of Osiris (in Egypt). Similarities with Mithraism were so great that both Tertullian and Justin Martyr accused Mithraism of being a demonic copy (even though Mithraism came first). There are of course, differences: chiefly the emphasis on resurrection, which has more in common with the cult of Osiris. Perhaps the central theme of Paul's message was that Jesus died for our sins:
As Bart Ehrman notes, we cannot say for certain that Paul's Christianity was based on mystery religions, because by definition those religions kept their teachings secret. However, a detailed copy is not needed: Paul's teaching is really very simple: a hierarchy of power, learning by supernatural means, bodily resurrection, and atonement. These are all common in many ancient religions, but were not taught in the gospels according to Mark or Thomas, or mentioned by James.
Saul was converted sometime in AD 33 or soon after. He then spent many years thinking about what it all meant. Then in AD 46 a famine hit the land of Israel, and the church needed help from the members scattered abroad. Saul volunteered to make the journey, and thus became friends with the twelve apostles:
But instead of just gathering money, he changed his name to Paul and began calling himself an apostle. When he visited the churches he told them that Christianity should be a gentile religion based on supernatural resurrection and grace, not a Jewish religion based on good works.
For more details, see part nine of this book for a commentary on the book of Acts, which is effectively a history of Paul's influence on the church.
Paul made a lot of noise in the early church, and his ideas were later treated as gospel. But he had less influence at the time. he was certainly not the great church builder we sometimes imagine.
Paul did not begin his missionary journeys until around AD47-48 (to Selucea and Cyprus, Acts 13:4). By this point the church was at least 14 years old and had many thousands of members.
The original "apostle to the gentiles" was not Paul but Peter (see Acts 10 and Acts 15:7). Peter or his (companions) founded the main gentile churches in Antioch and Rome. When Paul visited Antioch and Rome there were already flourishing churches there (Acts 11:19-30, Galatians 2:1, Acts 28:14-15).
The early chapters of Acts show how the apostles converted many thousands to the church. In Acts 2:41 Peter's preaching leads to three thousand converts. In Acts 4:4 another five thousand believed. When Paul came to Jerusalem in Acts 20, he found that James and the apostles had converted tens of thousands:
The word translated "thousands" is "murias" meaning "ten thousand" or "an innumerable host". Note that Paul did not convert these: they were converted to the teaching of James, which was based on the law of Moses. James was concerned that Paul was going to existing converts and teaching them something different.
Paul: the numbers
When re read of Peter and James we get the word "thousands" and actual numbers. But when it comes to Paul we only have vague words like he converted "some" or on two occasions "many". But what does "many" mean? The only time we have a definite number for Paul, it is twelve (Acts 19:7), and they were already followers of John the Baptist: Paul simply convinced them that he had an extra supernatural ritual that they needed.
Paul's' recorded successes are as follows:
If the number twelve is any guide, the total number of Paul's converts might be less than one hundred. Compare this to the tens of thousands from the twelve apostles.
The book of Acts, and Paul's letters, show that Paul often disagreed with other Christians. This does not prove that Paul was their enemy: friends often disagree. But it is also consistent with a major Jewish-Gentile split in the church.
Paul disagreed with Mark and Barnabas:
Paul disagreed with Peter:
Paul disagreed with other Christian preachers. He would even disagree with an angel from heaven!
Paul called the Galatians fools for once accepting his supernatural views and then going back to what he calls "works":
At the start of Galatians he makes a point that he does not get his authority from men - which implies he does not get it from the twelve apostles:
Paul refers to other Christian preachers who have a different view of Christ.
Who are the other preachers he condemns? The theme of all his books is grace rather than works. Who is it who sends out missionaries preaching good works? Note the reference at the end, saying he is just as good as the twelve apostles. The ones who send out preachers are James and the other apostles based in Jerusalem. Later in the same chapter he seems to be talking about them again:
Paul's uncompromising attitude opposed the holy spirit and created conflict with the Jews. In Acts 21:4 for example:
Note that this was a command of the holy spirit. In Acts 21:10-11, Agabus gave a message to corroborate and explain why Paul should not go. But they went anyway, opposing the holy spirit. Paul's companion Trophimus then violated the temple, by going where a gentile was not supposed to. (See Acts 21:28-29, 24:6, 13, 18; 25:7-8.) Paul denied he did anything wrong, and said he was elsewhere at the time. But his teaching that the old law was dead must surely have influenced his friend.
This uncompromising attitude is reflected throughout the gentile church. While James in Jerusalem was trying to make friends, the rest of the church was making enemies among the Jews and with Rome.
Paul was accepted by the apostles (e.g. in Acts 11) because the church at that time was not hierarchical. James did not excommunicate people: truth was known by its fruits, not because some authority said so. If people cannot tell good fruits from bad, they cannot blame Paul or anyone else. Perhaps the fruits are only clear in hindsight, looking back past the Dark Ages, but even at the beginning it should have been clear that we had fundamentally opposite positions:
Some critics read all the New Testament books written after Paul as warnings against Paul. The most obvious example is James chapter 2, but almost every post-Paul book has parts that can be seen as hidden warnings. Friends of Paul naturally say these verses are mere coincidence, and do not mean that at all.
For example, in the gospel of Matthew:
Critics call Paul a false prophet, who teaches being saved by calling on God rather than by good works. Note that he is of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5) and is therefore a wolf (Genesis 49:27) but calls himself one of Jesus' sheep.
Another example is in Revelation chapter 2 concerning Ephesus.
To see why Revelation is so damning against Paul we need to see the importance of Ephesus. Ephesus was the third largest city in Asia (modern day Turkey) after Sardis and Alexandria Troas. Paul never visited Sardis or Troas (as far as we know) but spent some time in Ephesus. So when Paul says "Asia" he means mainly Ephesus. Paul was from Tarsus, another city in Asia. So the Ephesians were the Gentiles who knew Paul best. This is what happened when he preached there:
Ephesus rejects Paul
Paul performed some miracles in Asia to gain converts (see the rest
of Acts 19, and note the parallels with Simon in part 9 of this book).
However, his success was short lived. Towards the end he wrote:
This was written during the persecution of Nero, the same time that the book of Revelation was written (see commentary on Mark 12:14 for the date of Revelation). In Revelation we the following praise for the believers at Ephesus:
Paul is of course the only person in the New Testament who claimed to be an apostle without being one of The Twelve.
The book of Acts shows that Paul became friends with Peter, but as noted above, earlier documents say Paul rebuked Peter to his face. It is possible of course that Paul did manage to befriend Peter. But this does not mean Peter was always right. See part nine of this book for details
Acts then shows that Paul was sent out on a mission. But look more closely at those missions:
Some have argued that Saul never changed. His original goal, as a good Jew, was to prevent Jesus from polluting Judaism. He succeeded: by splitting Jesus' followers into a separate gentile church. Without Paul, all Jews could accept Jesus as a true prophet. With Paul, the Jews remain unchanged.
However, it is unlikely that a fraud would maintain such a facade and suffer for so long. It is more likely that he was sincere.
For more about Paul, see part nine of this book, particularly the section on "Simon Magus".
James was Jesus' brother, or possibly cousin. According to the gospel of Thomas, Jesus told people that after he (Jesus) left they were to follow James.
James is called "James the Just" (to distinguish him from others called James) because of the respect he was held in even by his enemies. Hegesippus (quoted by Jerome) says that James was unusually holy, and could enter the Holy of Holies in the temple, a place usually reserved for the High Priest.
According to Acts, Paul ran the church in Jerusalem. Given that the church that Jesus led was Jewish, this means that James ran the whole church. This agrees with Jesus' statement in Thomas that the people should follow his bother James.
James' church was not hierarchical. "Elders" were just the old people. "Apostles" (Greek for "sent out") were just the people he sent out. If their words carried weight it was simply because of their experience and the force of their argument. James followed Jesus' teaching to lead by example, not by authority. They both followed the law of Moses, which was against hierarchies. Hence the High Priest (for example) does not order the nation around, he simply perform his duties in the temple.
Peter was chosen for his stubbornness, like a rock (hence Jesus gave him the name "Petros"). In the first months after the crucifixion Peter's forceful personality was needed to keep the church together. In the first chapters of Acts it was Peter who fearlessly stood in the temple and preached despite death threats. His courage inspired the others to not give up.
But as the book of Acts continued it became plain that James ran the church headquarters in Jerusalem, and he sent Peter and the other apostles out on missions. When Paul arrived in Jerusalem to deliver the money he raised, he went to James, and it is James who insisted that Paul ritually cleanse himself at Herod's Temple, to prove his faith and deny rumours of teaching rebellion against the Torah (Acts 21:18).
So James led the church. The words of James are therefore the best guide to the church until his death.
Bart Ehrman and many other scholars suggest that many texts of the New testament texts are forgeries, not by the people they claim. This may be true in a limited technical sense, but it misunderstands the nature of identity (see part two of this book). A person's identity is his ideas, not his body.
The evidence points to a very early date (see below). But even if it did not, from what we know from the gospel of Mark, the book of James has the spirit of Jesus. So calling it the book of James is correct.
Calling James a forgery misunderstands why these books matter. The value of an idea does not depend on who said it, it only depends on its truth: is it logically consistent? Does it help in the real world?
The whole point of logic is that it can be tested without worrying about its origin. It is why the truth (logic) sets us free: we are not at the mercy of the next unexpected discovery.
Even if the book did not represent James, it is consistent with logic and does not rely on the supernatural, This makes it one of only a tiny handful of books we can rely on to show logically how the gospel might work. (The other non-supernatural books are Mark and Thomas, and probably John).
Most readers notice the contrast between James and Paul. This is most obvious in James 2:14-19. But James does not name Paul: he follows Jesus, and does not judge any person. In Acts, James shows himself willing to work with Paul as a friend. James only judges principles.
Every verse of the book of James can be seen as a response to Paul and a reaffirmation of the gospel as taught by Jesus. In the "Recognitions and Homilies of Clement" (also known as the Clementine literature), of book dated to as early as the 2nd century, James appears as a saintly figure who is assaulted by an unnamed enemy some modern critics think may be Paul. Centuries later Martin Luther did not want it in the Bible, because Luther followed Paul.
But the church is stuck with James. The authenticity of the book was never in doubt. And as the first leader of the church after his brother, James is just too important.
The twelve tribes: the very first thing he indicates is that the Old Testament is still relevant.
Scattered: implying that they belong in the lands of their inheritance. That is, the first thing James teaches is that the land laws still apply.
This is the major theme of the book: there is no need for stress, you'll get there in the end. This contrasts with Paul's view that obeying the law is hard work because you have to be perfect.
Faith: Greek pistis, meaning a conviction, which implies evidence.
the trying of your faith worketh patience: this makes no sense of "pistis" means blind faith. If bad things happen (you fall into temptation) and you have blind faith, this does not cause joy. But if you see the logic behind it, it gives you patience because you have learned. "I see now why I went wrong. now I can be patient because I know that next time I can avoid this mistake." The process James describes is logical.
Perfect: Greek "teleios": to be complete. Or as James says, to be entire, wanting nothing.
Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect: patience, not good works, causes you to be complete. Your lifetime of learning from mistakes makes you a whole person, with patience and wisdom.
Every person has access to God: there is no no need for a religious hierarchy, or even for a Bible (except to urge people to turn to God). God (logic) is available to everyone.
upbraideth not: is not criticised. This continues the theme of the previous verse. If you make mistakes that's OK. Jesus is not obsessed with sin. To be a complete person you have to make a lot of mistakes and that's OK.
Ask in faith: ask in conviction. Expect a definite, firm answer. This is only possible if you ask logic. If you ask some supernatural being you cannot be sure of a rock solid clear answer every time.
Nothing wavering: wavering (being unsteady in conviction) is a symptom of blind faith. You never know if you will get an answer.
driven with the wind and tossed: blind faith makes you easy prey to false religions. You are not in control of your life.
let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord logic gives concrete results. Trust in the supernatural often does not.
double minded: Greek "dip-psychos", literally "two psychologies". The phrase only appears in James: here, and in 4:8. The concept of two minds was common in the Greco-Roman world. It referred to Plato's view that the mind has three parts: logic, appetite, and anger (or high spirit). Modern people would see them as just two parts, logic and emotion. The wise man lets logic rule. The supernatural mind lets emotions conflict with logic.
This principle reflects the first of Moses' ten commandments, and the first of Jesus' two commandments: love God (logic) with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5). Heart and soul must be as one. James is clearly condemning those, like Paul, who see a conflict between flesh and spirit. For example,
For Paul, relying on the supernatural (that makes no sense and always disappoints), the mind is in conflict with the spirit. For James, rejecting the supernatural, there is no struggle.
Having set the stage of a concrete common sense faith, we now move to the economic results: an equal society.
This is the heart of the gospel. Unlike Paul's idea of a spiritual heaven some time after we die, James is working for an economic kingdom of God here and now. Indeed, his whole purpose for sending Paul to see the other churches was to collect money from the rich for the poor. But Paul used it as a platform for preaching a "salvation after we die" message instead.
"endure": Greek "hypomeno" simply means to remain, or stay behind. Paul did not remain with the Jewish church, with its crown of life in this life. He began to plan his own supernatural church where results are never seen in this world.
"Hypomeno" does not have to imply unpleasantness. James seems to be paraphrasing the end of Psalm 5 (in the Septuagint, the version used in New Testament times): "And all those who love your name will boast in you because you will bless us with righteousness; O Lord, as with a shield of approval you crowned us." The whole psalm is about joyfully obeying God, and the KJV translates the "boasting" part as "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy", and other translations use the words "forever". This is not enduring in the sense that Paul means, as a fight; this is in the sense that Jesus said, "my yoke is easy and my burden is light"! Yes, life is hard (we must sometimes carry a cross), but belief is not hard if it based on logic: it is joyful.
Paul taught that God tests people (e.g. in 1 Thessalonians 2:4). A skeptic might say this is because Paul's solutions do not work and he has to explain why his followers are not blessed as expected. Paul (or whoever wrote Hebrews) said that God was testing Abraham when Abraham thought he should kill his son (Hebrews 11:17). The author of 1 Peter also agrees that God tests us, and rewards then come in supernatural ways (1 Peter 1:6-7) But James says this negative and supernatural view is wrong. God is logical: if we do what is right, as a community, we see the results.
(It is sometimes claimed that Psalm 105:19 refers to God testing someone, but that refers to words refining someone: that is, words making someone better.)
Our problems come because we lust after things - we want easy rewards without paying the price. This of course refers to the community as a whole: obviously the innocent can suffer in the short term if other people in the community do bad. The kingdom of God is all about community, and we stand or fall not just alone but together.
It is logical, simple, absolute, and clear. Good leads to good. Bad leads to bad. As Jesus says, you know by the fruits.
We were created by logic: logic created all things. And we can use logic, so we can be the greatest of creations.
Wrath: this seems to be another reference to Paul. Paul frequently refers to the wrath of God: ten times in Romans alone. He even supports rulers who claim to exercise wrath on behalf of God:
Here James makes clear that wrath has no place in God's righteousness. Paul describes a vengeful God, but James describes a loving God.
Word: "logos" - logic. Logic will save your souls.
engrafted: Greek "emphutos" meaning growing inside: the logic inside you. But Paul rejects logic and meekness in favour of proclaiming himself a supernatural apostle. One who also seems to reject the written word: he rejects the law of Moses, and almost never quotes the words of Jesus.
Now we get to the heart of the matter: good works.
"natural face": Greek "tes geneseos autou" or literally "the beginning self". The phrase means "the face of his birth". Paul left the religion of his birth, the law of Moses, where he could have seen clearly.
"in a glass": Paul admitted to seeing only "through a glass darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12). But James, the head of the church, saw clearly.
The land law of Moses is the perfect law of liberty: it gives everyone equal opportunities and does not allow elites. In contrast, Paul talks of being in bondage to God (Ephesians 6:20, Philippians 1:7, etc.), and a supernatural religion where most rewards are after death.
Paul writes a great deal, but does not focus on good works. His religion is vain: it cannot create a kingdom of God on Earth, as proven when the church gained the power to do so on the medieval period.
"Vain": Greek "mataios" meaning worthless. It usually refers to pagan worship. Paul introduced pagan worship by turning the religion of Moses and Jesus (a system for building an economic kingdom) into a supernatural mystery religion where a divine leader's death brings salvation], as with Mithras, Osiris, etc.
Pure religion means good works!
"come into your assembly": this must refer to Christians, believers, not outsiders.
"assembly": synagogue. This is the original Jewish church not Paul's new gentile church.
"a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel": Paul's church is hierarchical: it naturally creates elites. Whatever the good intentions. this always leads to economic inequality. By the fourth century the bishops literally had gold rings and costly apparel and even palaces.
Inequality was the biggest problem in Roman society. It crippled the economy, prevented growth, so the masses of the desperately poor stayed poor. Paul also condemned it in his words (e.g. in 1 Cor 11:22) but his hierarchical approach made it inevitable in the church.
"in yourselves": this refers to divisions within the believers, not outsiders.
"are become judges of evil thoughts": in a hierarchical church the leader sits in the best place and is a judge of your thoughts.
"partial... judges": A play on words: "die-krithete" and "kritai" - having judges and separating rich and poor go together. In law of Moses, judges were not priests, and had no more land than anybody else. So it was a job among equals. People could simply walk away if a judge lost the community's respect. But Paul's church is hierarchical: the bishops are different from others, claim supernatural power, and must be obeyed.
A reference to Matthew 5, the meek inherit the earth, the poor in spirit have the kingdom. Contrast a bishop who is not meek (teachable) and is treated as if rich in spirit.
In the law of Moses, after the captivity (when the land laws were a memory) the community gathered to judge in the synagogue. All were equals. But in Paul's hierarchical church the judgement seat is reserved for an elite. Economic inequality always follows social inequality.
All followers take the name of Christ. If a hierarchy can order them around they order Christ.
A reference to Leviticus 19:18. The full context is:
The whole concept of a hierarchical church goes against this. One member (ea priest or bishop) is not to judge another's thoughts or beliefs, or rebuke him. The only rules are for actions, and those are civil matters.
"the royal law according to scripture": in the original law of Moses every man was a king: sovereign of his own land, and it could not be taken from him. This guaranteed equality. All other laws (e.g. to treat others as you would be treated) flow from that.
Bishops have respect to persons: bishops have more authority. This is sin.
This does not refer to minor points, but specific central points such as killing somebody: see the next verse.
Why refer to killing? Isn't that example a bit extreme? How many people make a habit of killing others? But Paul did when he was known as Saul. As the number one persecutor of the church he helped deliver Stephen to be stoned, and probably many others. Saul then declared he had started a new life, as if those killings did not matter. As Paul he boasted of being celibate and his high moral standards. But that does not change the fact that he killed people before, and was never tried for his crimes. Perhaps he would have been found innocent, but he was never tried.
"The law of liberty": a reference to the land law, where every 50th year they ensure that land is shared equally:
People forget that the law of Moses is flexible and merciful, mainly because all people are economically equal, so all decisions must be agreeable to the majority (see part five of this book). Hence the "mercy seat" crowns the ark of covenant. In contrast, Paul's laws are strict because they are based on a hierarchy. Hierarchies reduce mercy because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Note the irony: Paul claims that the old law was strict and his new law of grace is merciful. But that can never be true: only democracy guarantees mercy, but grace implies you beg and are powerless.
This may be a direct condemnation of Paul's words to Timothy, where Paul says that some of the hungry widows should not be fed:
This is the central condemnation of Paul. Paul said we are saved by faith without works. James said that kind of faith is dead.
James' religion is not supernatural. James wants proof.
Slam! It is hard to think of a stronger condemnation of Paul's theology. Believe and be saved? Then the devils are saved.
Paul, In Hebrews 11, claimed the opposite, that Abraham was justified by belief. Note that faith, Greek "pistis", means a conclusion and implies evidence. James and Jesus refer to visible evidence (the fruits of religion). But Paul's religion had no evidence, so he redefined faith as unseen evidence (Hebrews 11:1)
In Romans and Galatians Paul teaches the opposite.
In Hebrews 11:31 - Paul teaches the opposite.
In Hebrews and Galatians Paul teaches the opposite.
Paul's hierarchical church has many masters: apostles, bishops, etc.
James wrote very little, and did not set himself above others. Paul wrote a great deal and set himself above others. Paul meant well, but his writings did great damage to the church. This is inevitable whenever we have hierarchies: men set themselves up as representing God based on their position, not based on the logic of what they say.
Paul was known for cursing those who did not agree with him:
He even cursed the High Priest (which would have caused great difficulty for James' diplomatic efforts), though Paul apologised when he learned who he was. Apparently Paul did not mind cursing ordinary people, but he respected powerful people.
To be fair, Paul also used profanity against himself and his followers. Here, "filth" and "offscourings" are the Greek "perikatharma" and "peripsema", used as vulgar curse words in their day:
Sometimes his curses were fairly mild, but still curses:
The phrase translated as "God forbid" was the "Greek 'Me genoito' which is the strongest Greek idiom to indicate repudiation (refusal to accept and implies a casting off or disowning as untrue, unauthorized, or unworthy of acceptance) and even conveys the idea of outraged indignation. In other words, it was equivalent to today's 'hell no!'" (Source: thinkhebrew.wordpress.com/ 2010/02/19/pauls-profanity)
Paul was happy to use coarse words against his enemies:
In this final example, he refers to his experience in the law of Moses as dung (excrement). How was James or any devout Jew supposed to feel?
These are just the words that made it into the scriptures. What did he say in private?
Paul had evyings (he wanted to be an apostle), strife (he used the language of conflict), he gloried, and he opposed what Jesus taught (good works) while saying it is from Jesus.
Paul claimed spiritual inspiration.
All the church's problems come from that: the strife against Rome was about to destroy everything Jesus intended, and set back the work by two thousand years.
Paul used the language of conflict and refused to compromise. He was not a relaxed man. James next spends some time examining Paul's motives.
"receive not": Paul had frustrations and unanswered prayers. In this example he asked for something three times but it did not happen:
What are these "lusts" (Greek "hedone" - desire for pleasure)? Let us continue reading 2 Corinthians 12:
Paul takes pleasure in it, glories in it (and glories in being a fool - see ), he desires to be an apostle and claims to be as good as any of the others. But wait, Paul says he is humble doesn't he? A proud man would never claim to be humble, right? But continue reading 2 Corinthians 12 and see what is implied:
Clearly the local believers were accusing Paul of being a burden, of taking money from them. As Pal says he meant well - and no doubt he delivered some or all of that money to the church in Jerusalem, but it is the nature of a hierarchical missionary church to have elites who take money from the poor. See James 2 for commentary.
The book of James is not just an attack on Paul of course. James is sending out general advice. But every verse fits Paul's teachings to a greater or lesser degree.
"Friendship of the world": a possible reference to Paul taking an easier version of the faith (no circumcision or good works) to the gentile nations, rather than strengthening the church at home. The word "world" is "Kosmos" and may be a reference to a passage that would have particularly disturbed James, in Romans 11.
Romans was probably Paul's last book, it is where his views become the most extreme (hence it is the favourite of those who prefer the supernatural). Toward the end of the book he openly talks about Israel falling, about the old religion becoming a trap and a stumbling block, to the benefit of the gentiles and the "Kosmos".
Note the last lines: Paul says the Jews will envy them, and he is "the apostle to the gentiles", taking Peter's title (see Acts 11 and 15) and saying he (Paul) will magnify the office. Every word is almost calculated to provoke James and the old church.
"Adulterers: In James 2:11 James just said that causing death means you may as well be an adulterer. Possibly this was a reference to Paul who was famously celibate, yet caused conflict with Rome, and that conflict led to martyrdoms. James was saying that if you cause death you may as well be an adulterer.
In Old Testament times the church was compared to a bridesmaid (Isaiah 54:5 etc.), and rejecting the law of Moses made her an adulteress (Jeremiah 2:1-3, etc.). Paul encouraged people to reject the old law.
Paul wanted to be an apostle. Paul constantly appeals to grace, yet the sign of grace is humility: if Paul was humble he would not call himself a apostle or claim to speak for Christ (when Christ has already spoken for himself).
double minded: see commentary to James 1:8
Paul rejoices in his afflictions. But he should accept that they have logical causes and he has good reason to feel bad...
...because that is the only way to stop doing the bad things and be happy.
Note that although James taught principles that condemned Paul, he never judged Paul. He did not mention Paul in the text, and he did not excommunicate Paul or prevent him from preaching. James was the leader of the church, yet treated all men as equals and allowed differences of opinion.
In contrast, Paul referred to actual individuals who disagreed with him, and his hierarchical church later took this to its logical conclusion, punishing any heretics who dare to think differently.
God (logic) is in charge. if the church has logical structures (e.g. Moses land laws, leading to democracy) it has no need to condemn others as heretics and punish them.
This describes Paul's missionary journeys: he continued for a year or two in each major city. Did Paul buy and sell? He must have done, unless he simply took money from the local members, which would be worse.
Paul's church is a stressful church. It has to be, because it is always in conflict and always looking to expand. While Paul spoke about letting the spirit do the work, in practice he worked and slaved and worried about his converts. He constantly worried about the enemies he saw all around him:
An apparent reference to 2 Corinthians:
Having summarised the problems with Paul's supernatural gospel, James finishes with what really matters: doing good. He finishes with a chapter on economics:
And how did the richest get rich? Especially in ancient times?
Unearned wealth from land, that's how. Everything comes back to land: see part five of this book for details.
What does this have to do with Paul? As noted earlier, the book of James contains general principles that apply to all people. It's just interesting how it also applies to Paul. These verses for example, are about economics, the heart of the Bible message. But note the phrase in verse one:
"Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days". This does not just mean "for later", the word is last days, the Greek word for last is "eschatos", familiar to anybody who has studied supernatural prophecies of the end times. The whole passage is similar to Jeremiah 12. Jeremiah, like James, has done everything he can, yet sees that Jerusalem will be destroyed. He wonders why the wicked prosper while he struggles. If the book of James is really about Paul, the the wicked would be Paul, who gains influence in the church while James' attempts to build friendships are undermined.
The language of harvest also sounds like Paul's metaphor of his work with fellow labourers, harvesting the fields:
In the same passage Paul promised his labourers rewards of gold, silver, or whatever they put into the work:
The rewards of course can only be seen by faith and might not be delivered until after death. So different from the good rational cause-and-effect kingdom preached by James.
The last part does not sound like typical rich person behaviour, but applies to Saul's early life. If Saul was Simon (as argued in part nine of this book) then the first part might apply to him as well. Was Simon rich? Successful charismatic preachers often are, and he was rich enough to try to buy his way into church leadership.
In more general terms, James was writing at a time of Roman persecution. He links all these sins together: half of his book is about how killing is like adultery, and internal dissensions lead to cursings and other sins. James may see the Roman persecution as a result of bad behaviour by Christians such as Paul.
James went out of his way to make peace, but too many other Christians seemed dazzled by the promise of supernatural wealth in the next world: they were eager to offend the powerful and become martyrs, bringing down more persecution on the innocent.
James died in AD 62 or 69. If Jesus faked his death (see part seven) then his brother James probably knew, and half expected him to come back. Even if Jesus; body was dead, his spirit could rise again through some other leader. It was only a matter of doing the right thing and being patient. See the commentary on Mark 13 for the coming of the son of man.
While some parts of Job are clearly symbolic, the message was that he was rewarded in this life, not the next.
Above all, nothing supernatural. And stop offending the Jews and Romans!!
James continues his summing up. Think deeply (for how prayer is rational thought, see the commentary to Mark 14:36). Enjoy life!
At first glance this appears to be both supernatural (healing through prayer) and hierarchical (only the elders could do it). But a closer reading shows that it is neither:
any sick: this as a time before any good medicine. What follows is the best they could hope for.
elders: Greek "presbuteros" from the root "presbus" meaning elderly. Get all the oldest people together. They will have the most experience and wisdom. Some reader think "the elders" means a hierarchical office, but in the early days anybody could try to heal. Eventually this practice evolved into the "Unction", part of the "Last Rites" but even then it did not have to be by a priest until the ninth century. (See the Pulpit Commentary for details.)
pray: meditate, think. See the commentary to Mark 14:36.
oil: the best medicine they knew. It was routinely used by doctors to treat wounds.
name of the Lord: the best healer they knew. For how Jesus healed the sick, see the commentary to Mark 1:34.
faith: "pistis", conviction, implying evidence.
shall save the sick: if the wisest people are convinced the person will be healed, then the odds are he will be healed. It follows logically that "the prayer without faith shall not save the sick" - that is, if the elders are not convinced the person will live then he might die.
if he has committed sins: note the "if". Unlike Paul, James does not assume that everybody is a sinner, or that sins are so serious. We all make mistakes.
forgiven: Stress and worry can make a physical illness worse. James has a relaxed attitude to sins. They should be forgiven if it helps.
In short, James is giving practical advice, of the same kind as "are you merry? then sing". There is no need to see any of this as supernatural.
The power of community, and the power of meditation and deep thought. James was a thoughtful man who brought people together, not a charismatic firebrand who divided people.
Why mention healing at all? Because Paul claimed miraculous gifts. James is saying, "So? We heal people too, without needing a supernatural theology."
Continuing the theme of prayer (deep thought), Elijah (Elias) was a good example of a man who understood and was patient. Like James. For why this story is not supernatural, see the commentary near the end of part four of this book.
as we are: Elias was an ordinary person, i.e. not supernatural
prayed earnestly: Greek "proseuche proseuxato", literally "he prayed, prayed": "the meaning is not his fervency, nor even his frequency of prayer, but that `he just prayed'--that, and nothing more!" (IVP New Testament Commentary) The point is, as James said, Elijah was an ordinary man praying in an ordinary way. That is, having an inner dialogue with logic.
that: this word is not in the Greek. Elijah was simply praying - thinking - about the serious matter of the expected drought. The obvious parallel is with James discussing the need to be patient during bad times.
Keep praying, keep thinking, to see you through the bad times, and eventually good times will come. Note that Elijah had to endure Ahab's usurping of power. A parallel for James enduring Paul?
This has important implications for compromising with the Jews and Romans. It was necessary to convert the Romans and Jewish authorities to sympathy with the idea of the original law of Moses, so a kingdom of logic could be established. This was worth almost any cost: more than worth the silly matter of compromising over circumcision or recognising Roman gods (as discussed elsewhere on this page). Such trivial "sins" will be covered by the greater good. James is not obsessed with sin, he sees the bigger picture.
Contrast this with Paul: Paul believed that even a tiny sin like envying something would keep a person from the supernatural kingdom:
Ironically, this uncompromising obsession with imaginary supernatural kingdom prevented the political compromises needed to achieve the real kingdom. Paul, doctrinally a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), repeated the Pharisees' greatest error: being so picky over the tiniest thing (like paying a tithe on some tiny herb) that they miss the bigger picture:
After the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the scattering of the Jews in the AD 130s, most of the Jewish believers went over to the much larger and more secure gentile group. The ones who would not give up the law of Moses lived a quiet life of piety. They and are known to history as the "Ebionites" (Hebrew for "the poor"). They followed the teachings of Jesus and James, and considered Paul to be an apostate. They kept the law of Moses, avoided wealth, and rejected supernatural elements like the divine predestination or bodily resurrection: Jesus was simply the greatest teacher, and was anointed (i.e. became Christ) at his baptism. The Ebionites were probably vegetarian, but little more is known about them Paul's church declared them to be heretics. They tried to escape to Cyprus but did not survive.
None of the preceding material proves that the message of Jesus was non-supernatural or that Paul's supernatural view was opposed by James. All it proves is that it is possible to interpret the Bible that way. That is, the supernatural is not necessary. Though Occam's razor says we should reject unnecessary elements on principle.
We really just have two points of view. A "he said, she said" situation. If only we could check Christian teaching against a third source, a rational and objective source from the period. Thankfully we can: we have the learned Christians and their gospel, Thomas.
The gospel of Thomas is a skeptic's charter, a
guide to life without the supernatural. But Jesus' thinking was two
thousand years ahead of his disciples. So to them, Thomas was the most
confusing and mysterious book of all.
Such irony: the skeptic's charter becomes the keystone of mysticism.
It is rather like the old science fiction trope: any sufficiently
advanced thinking is indistinguishable from magic.
Most scholars judge Thomas (and all the words of Jesus) what his followers believed. So they happily class it as mystical. But Jesus' followers did not understand him: that is the whole point!
I want to judge Jesus by his words alone. Let's apply Occam's razor liberally. If a non-supernatural explanation can work, we must use it. Then we will find that Thomas, far from being the hardest gospel to understand, is actually the easiest, and the key that unlocks the others.
The gospel of Thomas is the core text for the group known as "the
learned" (the Greek word is "gnostic"). They attempted to explain
Christianity in rational terms. While many of them also accepted the
supernatural, they at least tried to base their beliefs on reason as far
as they could.
"The learned" had no hierarchy: there was nobody to say "you must interpret it my way because I am the authority." Each person was free to try to understand for himself or herself, and to try to persuade others through rational argument. And with no hierarchy they had nothing to lose by changing their minds.
Contrast this with Paul's Christianity: Paul openly rejected "Greek wisdom" as a method for finding truth (see 1 Corinthians 1). For Paul, the truth is whatever your leaders tell you, and don't expect to understand it until after you die.
Since the learned Christians were the most focused on logic and the most objective, they are our best guide to what Jesus
The gospel of Thomas may be the earliest source for Jesus' words: perhaps even earlier than Mark. Here is the evidence:
Unlike the more familiar gospels, Thomas is merely a collection of sayings. It does not rely on any historical events. Its truth can be demonstrated by its internal logic. So it is the easiest to prove, and the least susceptible to being proven wrong.
If this gospel was written by the same "doubting Thomas" we read about in the gospel of John, then he is the world's most famous skeptic:
Thomas (full name Judas Thomas) is called "didymus" meaning "twin". According to tradition he was Jesus' twin brother. He grew up with Jesus: he saw Jesus and his "miracles" both before and during his ministry. If Thomas rejected the supernatural then it is good evidence that so did Jesus.
Blessed are they who use logic
Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed:
Applying Occam's razor (do not invent the supernatural if it is not needed), Jesus' statement can be interpreted as part of a non-supernatural faith. Thomas had enough evidence to deduce that Jesus could survive the crucifixion, and the witnesses should have confirmed the fact. While his refusal to believe was touching, as he was emotionally involved, Jesus was saying that Thomas should have known from the logic of the prior evidence.
All the arguments for Thomas being late turn out to be arguments for Thomas being early:
Thomas appears to be some of the raw source notes for the later gospels. The later gospels were more complete and easier to follow, so there was no reason to keep a separate copy of the notes. The learned Christians though would prefer the source material, so they kept the notes.
(This translation is from the Gnostic Society Library,
gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html. Some of the commentary relies on
research at EarlyChristianWritings.com.)
This introduction is not a saying of Jesus. It's the understanding of the editor who collected the sayings.
The living Jesus: Marvin Meyer, a respected
translator of Gnostic texts, says 'the living Jesus' is "probably
not the resurrected Christ as commonly understood, but rather Jesus who
lives through his sayings." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of
Jesus, p. 67). See parts two and seven of this book for how Jesus is his ideas.
The secret sayings: since this does not refer to the resurrected Jesus, it probably refers to Mark 4:9: Jesus explained his parables to his closest followers. So rather than the secret teachings being mystical, they are the plain explanation of hat Jesus meant.
Thomas: the skeptical one. He wanted proof. So when Jesus explained what his parables
meant, Thomas wrote it down.
The Interpretation: the non-supernatural one. Occam's razor says we do not need any other explanation.
See part two of this book for why Jesus' teachings on life after death are not supernatural.
Note that this is a collection of isolated saying. Each one can be on a different topic.
Seeking until he finds: we find answers through our efforts, not supernatural means.
He will become troubled: the answers are not what most people are taught . . .
He will be astonished: . . . the truth is much better!
He will rule over all: Knowledge is power. Once we know how the universe works, and no longer fear death, anything is possible.
Do not look to the supernatural heavens or the hidden depths. Look to logic.
The kingdom is in the sky: the supernatural interpretation
It is in the sea: the hidden mystical depths interpretation
Inside of you: logic, common sense
Outside of you: evidence: what you see around you
It is you who are...: you are the son of man, the common man
Even a child can see plain facts.
Once we accept the evidence in front of our face then we understand
how the world works. A skeptic does not need supernatural explanations.
His disciples want rituals and rules. But Jesus aid the world is simple: tell the truth and do not do what seems wrong. Then everything will make sense.
Occam's razor is a wonderful thing. It saves us from needless confusion. Here Jesus is talking about lions. Consider:
Galilee was the stronghold of the Zealots since their last great
uprising in the 40s BC. They would hide in the caves and villages of
Galilee and emerge to oppose Rome throughout the nation. They willingly
chose death rather than compromise: they would even kill their own
families rather than work with Rome:
Naturally, the Romans grew tired of the rebellions and made a brutal example of them. We don't know if many Zealots were literally fed to the lions, but that was the most dramatic and memorable symbol of Roman punishment (since 186 BC).
At the height of the last uprising a teenager called Herod had just
been made governor of Galilee. (For the details see Josephus, See
Antiquities of the Jews, xiv. 9:2-3)
Herod wanted to prove his strength, so he systematically hunted down the
Zealots and killed them all, and no doubt many innocents suspected of
hiding them. We don't know exactly how he killed them, but when a Roman
teenager wants to prove himself by smashing an uprising of robbers you
can be sure there was a lot of blood.
Jesus lived in Zealot Central. He knew that Zealots always made
things worse. They led to Rome strengthening her hold on the region (and
eventually led to the destruction of Israel). But Jesus had a better
way. Jesus way was working. See part seven of this book, and "what might
Cursed is the man... the lion becomes man: to the outside observer, a fanatic is a fool. The lion rules in this situation: he certainly shows more intelligence.
(Note: do not confuse Jesus' crucifixion with a fanatic's martyrdom. Jesus reluctantly took a calculated risk, and he survived. He demonstrated the power of logic and careful preparation as a way to overcome any obstacle, even crucifixion. And in doing so he managed to escape the fanatics who followed him everywhere. For details see part seven of this book.)
Many of Jesus parables are about economics, like this one. The kingdom of logic is judged by its results.
If we want to be symbolic, and perhaps link this to the previous
saying about martyrs, compare Jesus to the Zealots. The zealots go after
small fish: they attack Roman soldiers and assassinate minor officials.
But Jesus goes after the big fish: he
becomes friends with tax collectors and centurions, and almost persuades
Pilate himself. By targeting people of influence, and using sound
argument, one man, Jesus, got further towards Jewish independence in
three years than thousands of Zealots got in two hundred years. The
message: work smart, not hard.
Economics again. Most of Jesus' teaching are economic: whether we take it literally or metaphorically, people are judged by what they create.
Jesus lit fires in the heart of centurions, tax collectors, Pilate, etc. If only his followers had continued his careful, intelligent work Israel would have soon been free.
Remember that sayings are not necessarily connected. This one is about life after death:
See part two of this book for details.
James was to run the church. After Mark and Thomas, the book of James is the best guide to the gospel.
The righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being:
One way of looking at the universe is that intelligent life is its greatest creation.
I am not your master: this is central to Jesus' non-hierarchical message. Years later, when Matthew reports this (in Matthew 16), the church has become very hierarchical. So Matthew changes this to say Jesus is the master.
Three things . . . if I tell you . . . : Jesus had to be very careful what he said. If he had spoken plainly ("all kings are wrong", "most religious people fight against God", etc.) he would have been crucified much sooner.
A fire will come out of the stones: see saying 10: this is fire in the long term. In the long term when people reject truth they only hurt themselves.
fasting, prayer and alms: Jesus describes conventional religion, which tends to become supernatural and does not solve the world's problems
give alms: charity is not the solution: by fitting so neatly into a bad economic system it helps perpetuate poverty. Logical economics (e.g.the law of Moses: no tax, land rent instead) is the real solution.
go into any land... eat what they will set before you: be sensible, go out and do things. What you say matters, not what you eat: you need logic, not religious rules.
Logic is the father: it redeems and creates (see part one of this book). Logic is personified, but is not the kind of person born of woman.
Note that this does not refer to Jesus. Jesus was born of Mary, a woman. He just said (in saying 13) that he is not the master.
People did not understand how an economy based on mutual respect could work. They had only ever known an economy based on force. In any house the younger generation may be open to new ideas, but the older generation would have everything invested in the old economic system.
Although his teachings were fundamentally the law of Moses, his focus on property, wealth creation and rent mean Jesus was the first modern economist.
Jesus uses the question as a way to illustrate how logic works: if you know the beginning state you can calculate the most likely end state.
Will not experience death: those who understand life know that death is nothing (see part two of this book)
Came into being before he came into being... will not experience death: Our identity is our ideas. Some ideas are eternal. (See part two of this book.)
Stones will minister: logical people can make nature serve them.
Five trees: Philo of Alexandria (20 BC to AD 50) wrote of five trees in the garden of Eden: representing (1) life, (2) immortality, (3) knowledge, (4) comprehension, (5) knowledge of good and evil. These trees are evergreen and never lose their leaves.
For you... undisturbed: they are always there for you. That is, if you follow logic, all five kinds of knowledge are always available to you.
We are judged by our fruits.
(Note that in a rational economy, wealth is defined as whatever people want: not just physical goods but happiness, friends, love, community, etc. This is not about money.)
Here Jesus had to speak in a parable: openly discussing a political
an economic revolution for Israel was likely to cause bloodshed (see
A field which is not theirs: the land of Israel.
The owner: Rome (see "arm yourself" and "against the world")
Undress: he will take everything
The difficulty which you expect: obviously Rome will take an interest
Arm yourself with great strength: clearly weapons are not enough: Rome has a far bigger and more skilled army. "Great strength" must refer to other forms of strength (moral, economic, etc.).
The best way to be strong is to teach the people or grow your wealth (see previous saying): that way you can get Rome on your side: show it is in their interest to help you. That is, love your enemy.
Make decisions based on logic, not outward appearance.
Only a few will understand the message, but they will work together as one.
The logos is "the light of man" (see John chapter 1)
This is a form of logical objectivity: your brother is like you, with the same needs. It is more efficient to work together then as enemies
We must be objective, and see things as others would see them.
Fast as regards the world: or "from the world". That is, give up the world
The Sabbath: See part five of this book for how rational observance of the Sabbath is logical and creates a better world (whereas a supernatural view of the Sabbath does the opposite)
People do not see clearly: it is like we are drunk. Yet we are not thirsty - we do not want the "living water" of truth. So when they die they have nothing more than when they were born.
Plato's view was that the physical world is like flickering shadows
on a cave wall: the real world is logic, the bright light outside.
It is amazing that logic creates the physical world. It would be even more amazing if the imperfect physical world just somehow magically existed, then created perfect logic. The fact that our imperfect brains can understand even a portion of the logic that created them is amazing.
wealth: note that wealth refers to all good things, not just money.
Anybody anybody representing God could be called God. E.g.
If there are only one or two people they might feel weak. But if they are god-like (logical) then the spirit of Jesus is with them.
It is hard to be objective about a person when you knew him as a child, and see him relax, eat, etc.
Jesus often taught that we are judged by our visible results.
These teachings are only secret (see the introduction) in the sense that Jesus answered his disciples' questions after his lecture had finished and the crowd had gone away. This is like any professor in any university: you outline the main points to a large group, then have smaller private tutorials where students can have more details.
The goal of private tutorials is not to increase secrecy but to make the message more plain, so students can go an use the ideas in public with confidence. The only problem was, Jesus was too advanced and even after the tutorials most students did not get it.
This saying condemns supernatural religion. If you do not understand exactly how the religion works, how can you show others?
The context for this saying is in Mark:
Jesus helped the confused by ending their confusion. He did not add to it by inventing new supernatural ideas. (See the commentary on Mark in part six of this book.)
What we do is more important than how we look.
Priorities! This is a practical religion. Decide what actually matters.
Disrobe: this does not imply nakedness: it mean removing a robe, leaving a loincloth so you can work as the poorest labourers do.
Clothes were a sign of financial status. When we see ourselves as equal to the poorest labourer we will understand Jesus.
This implies that the disciples did not understand the message. And Jesus knew that he would soon be gone.
If scribes and pharisees had supernatural teachings leading to impossible requirements.
Jesus' way was wisdom (that is, logic): to be wise as serpents (but innocent, not cunning).
Outside of: "without the help of"
Anything not based on logic (on God, the father) will not produce fruits and will not survive.
We are expected to produce results. A kingdom (such as the kingdom of God) is an economic unit and is only as good as what we produce. (See the commentary to Mark 4:25 in part six of this book).
This is why hierarchies are so bad: ho can you produce results if somebody else hard grabbed all the resources Once resources are shared fairly it becomes fair to expect results. (Not money in particular, but a better world.)
Logic requires us to be objective: to see life as a passer by would.
Again, we are judged by results (the fruit of a tree).
Holy spirit: literally pure breath; i.e. truthful, logical words.
Jesus was flexible in absolutely everything except logic. You can even insult him, but make sure your words and thoughts are honest and logical.
Or in heaven: If your spirit is not good (i.e. you have bad ideas) nobody will carry them on after your body dies. It will be too late to change: your ideas die with your body. See part two of this book.
This is economics in a nutshell: good work produces good results.
Heart: in Hebrew thought the heart represented the whole soul, particularly the thoughts, in contrast to the bowels which produced emotions.
Jesus is against hierarchies.
Sometimes old and new ideas conflict. Like the supernatural and the non-supernatural views of the universe. We cannot pretend to accept both. We need to be clear exactly where we stand.
For the context, see Mark 11:32, and the commentary in part six of this book. This refers to the logic that if we work together we can do great things.
Deep thinking people tend to be loners. Eventually they are proven right.
From the light: in Plato and in John and other learned texts, light represents logic. It illuminates and makes clear (in contrast to the supernatural that only promises to be clear after we die).
Movement and repose: also translated as "movement and rest": the sign of logical people is that they get things done, and they are at peace in between. You do not see them merely keeping busy or being stressed.
Therefore it is not supernatural. Jesus' teachings (reconciling the law of Moses with the new Roman world of trade) is the kingdom: we just need to act on it to see it embodied physically.
False religion tends to be concerned with revelation in the past (and with after we die). True religion is concerned with here and now.
Again, Jesus is practical, about common sense cause and effect. Rituals themselves achieve nothing (the most they can do is symbolise something else)
The poor are those who have to work. Work is the basis of economics. So the kingdom of heaven (i.e. a logical kingdom) is achieved through logical economics.
Hate: Greek "misei". The equivalent in Jesus' language, Aramaic is "sana" or "set aside" (source: Jack Kilmon).
The outside world is nepotistic: people give their time to their family instead of the community, or sometimes the family demands their time. But Jesus requires you to put the wider community first. (If we do that then the individuals are looked after automatically)
The real world is the world of ideas. Once we realise this we are no longer limited by the world. See part two of this book for details.
We are judged by results. We do not need to waste time fighting heretics, as we have nothing to prove: the results speak for themselves.
Note the application to modern politics: anybody who must win by attacking their opponent doesn't have much more to offer.
It's worth it.
Another polemic against the supernatural: listen for answers now, make sure it makes sense now. Do not wait for answers until after you die.
Jesus is the good shepherd, but don't take the sheep metaphor too far: don't follow blindly or you'll be killed and eaten by your church. Find a quiet place, stop and think: or you might be killed and eaten!
Salome: In later tradition this was the
woman who had John the Baptist killed, but she was not named in the
gospels. However, this scenario reminds us that Jesus spent much of his
time eating with rich people (he was criticised for it), and was funded
by wealthy women. These wealthy people would have been taught Greek
philosophy. They were intrigued by Jesus' message.
Two will rest... One will die, and the other will live: This life is unpredictable, always changing, not reliable. Plato compared to flickering shadows on a cave wall.
The undivided: in Plato's Timaeus the
demiurge creates the world by mixing an separating the divided and
undivided. Logic is the undivided: it connects everything. Indeed, logic
is defined by being undivided, in the sense that if it is true in one
place that A + B = C the it is true in every place. It does not change
even because of death. So logic provides certainty, whereas the
existence of the body is always uncertain.
Light: Plato (and John, etc.) compare logic to light: it makes everything clear.
These things are easy for others to misunderstand. Jesus was killed because of that! So be careful what you say.
We could die at any time (see also saying 61). So we need a philosophy that works even if we die. See part two of this book for such a philosophy.
As with the previous verse, we need to think long term. The rich tend to be too busy to think of the bigger picture.
At first glance this seems to be against trade. But look at what Jesus actually condemns:
Notice that this parable supports good business:
What it condemns is bad business decisions: they choose stress instead of happiness, adversarial activities instead of meeting as a community
Thomas is very early
This is a clear example of a text that is earlier than the version used in Matthew and Luke. They make it more supernatural and allegorical, and switch the original business setting to a farming setting, more pleasing to the masses who are not comfortable with economics:
Jesus constantly uses parables of business, to show how to act rationally. Later generations downplay these economic parables because they do not understand them. Paul for example never mentions a single parable.
God supports rent. If you earn it, you keep it! But if you try to get unearned wealth, watch out! (Unearned wealth, since it cannot be taken privately, must be shared with all.)
See commentary to Mark 12:10-11. In Psalm 118 the cornerstone is Israel. As a general principle Jesus relies on the weak and achieves great things. His approach to life is vastly more productive than the present system, so a poor person who follows Jesus' advice can get better results than a rich person who does not. Put another way, Jesus produces much better growth (see the parable of the mustard seed).
If your ideas have any gaps or weaknesses they are not logic.
"They" seems to refer to those who persecute, who reject the truth.
Persecuted within themselves: a skeptic
must be harshest on himself. Contrast this with supernatural religions
that say " do not be critical of your own beliefs, it will all make
sense after you die."
The belly of him who desires will be filled: this can apply to both hunger for knowledge or for food: if we want something badly enough we will go out and work for it. Also, the Christians ensure that nobody in their group will starve: that would be inefficient.
If you use the teachings you have they will spread to others: that
will save you from death. See part two of this book for details.
If you do not have logic in you then how will your ideas spread to others? If they don't spread then when your body dies so does your spirit. Again, see part two.
Mark gives the contest: the building is his body. When the body is
gone it is gone. See part two of this book: Jesus denies the physical
resurrection of the Pharisees and Paul.
While it is true that Jesus survived the crucifixion, his body would still die eventually like any other man's. But the house does not matter: the real Jesus is what's inside, and that spirit survives. See parts two and seven of this book for details.
I love this saying! We get what sounds like a spontaneous reaction, with warmth but exasperation. Jesus came to unite Israel, to share wealth, to show how logically things fit together. He previously used the Platonic term "undivided" to describe himself (see saying 61). Jesus is not a divider: he teaches how everthing fits together, he teaches how we can love enemies. And now here is some man wanting his help in dividing money for personal gain. The guy just does not get it! It's quite comical. I can imagine Jesus turning to his disciples in disbelief for the last line. They never forgot it, and it ended up in this collection of Jesus' best known sayings. A classic.
Another economic metaphor. There is so much wealth to be created that we need more people!
Economics is about creating wealth, not just sharing it. Just as religion should be offering something. But the mainstream religion of his day offered supernatural teachings that were no use to anybody (except the elite who made a good living from it)
Bridal chamber: in the Old Testament, a symbol of the church (the people). The church waits for God (the bridegroom).
The solitary: logic is an individual thing: it depends on the individual's understanding, not on following the crowd. See also saying 49.
As in sayings 48 and 49, again 75 and 76 are two sayings about
thinking "alone" for yourself. And again the emphasis that logic is more
reliable than the physical world.
As always, this works best if a kingdom is exactly what Moses said, a literal kingdom. A successful kingdom is worth any effort, as it provides everything else (including wealth).
With logic, you can study anything and it will all agree. Study
science, history, think for yourself, it will all agree. Contrast this
with religions that say some information is dangerous.
Jesus seems to be speaking of himself as the logos. For how a human can be an idea, see part two of this book.
Jesus opposes hierarchies.
Jesus saw that the political tensions would logically lead to an invasion, and to run for the hills when you see the first signs of this. See the commentary to Mark 13 for details.
When we understand the material world we understand everything. See saying 56 for something similar.
Let him who has grown rich: Jesus adapted the land laws of Moses to
allow land sales, so those who work hard can still become richer (see parts five and six of this book).
But since rent is paid on land, (1) people only get rich from work, not from just owning land, and (2) the price of land goes down so it is affordable for everyone. That's just logical economics.
...be king: Under the law of Moses everyone has equal claim to land, so they all
have equal sovereignty: they are all equally kings.
Let him who possesses power renounce it: Jesus is against hierarchies. Anyone can gain riches, but that does not put you above someone else. If you want people to follow you then you have to earn their respect through serving them, as Jesus did.
Come near to Jesus to learn about the kingdom, which will grow and provide energy, like fire.
Images: We Platonic ideals: the ideas we contain. See the next saying.
Concealed by his light: We do not see logic directly, we just see the light from it.
The symbolism is from Plato, probably via Philo of Alexandria: Philo writes on this topic of the image of God and the creation of Adam.
We are in the image (literally shadow) of God: shadows of the
original light. These shadows do not really die: as long as they are
shadows are from part of the true light they come back again in other
forms. (See part two of this book for life after death through other
This is a lot of Platonic philosophy with far reaching implications: a lot to bear!
Adam did not understand at first. Eve and Cain had better understanding. See part three of this book for details.
Jesus had no rest from people who did not understand his message yet
always crowded round him wanting miracles. This frustration that was
part of the reason why Jesus had to fake his
death (see part seven).
See previous comment, and part two of this book.
The answers are here and nobody wants them!
Angels and prophets: messengers, usually in the form of scripture.
Those things you already have: life after death (see part two of this book).
You too... the disciples, wanting to share what they know
When will they come and take: when will people take what is on offer?
The inside of a person (the spirit that makes things happen) is what matters, not the body
Do you not realize... if God approves the spirit then he must approve of the body he put round it
Logic puts you in control: there is no hierarchy to force its will on
you. When you follow someone it's because what they offer will
logically make life better
Contrast this with a supernatural religion, where you have to obey some higher authority even when you don't want to. Worse, they cannot defend all their commands logically.
Another polemic against the supernatural: it's all about plain evidence, not blind faith.
This is a polemic against those who do not have inquiring minds. Demand answers!
Saying the truth got Jesus killed.
This can only be true if God is logic: logic always provides an answer (even if it's "insufficient data", in which case do more science!)
Jesus repeatedly describes a kingdom where we are judged by results. In that ideal economy there can be no poor, because nobody can monopolize natural resources. In that economy interest can be paid (see saying 109). But this saying is about the economy now.
This saying implies there are people so poor that they cannot pay
back loans. So the first priority now is not economic growth, but giving
them enough to live.
If you have money: this is an instruction to the rich. In Roman times the vast majority lived at subsistence level or below. Jesus is telling the rich to help the poor.
Not get it back: they get no money back, but they do get a reward: a stronger society and hence more people to buy their goods.
The kingdom is often compared to a mustard seed, and leaven, and other things that grow. it's all about growth. This does not mean just growth of money of course: it is growth of all good things.
The kingdom had gone wrong. This only makes sense if Jesus is talking of the literal kingdom (which did go wrong) and not some supernatural kingdom (which cannot),
The kingdom: Jesus always refers to the literal economic kingdom, a set up by Moses, but it had gone wrong, and he came to fix it.
A certain woman: in prophecies of the
kingdom, the woman always refers to the people of Israel. Usually she is
shown as not doing enough to be faithful.
Like... a jar full of meal: a kingdom is supposed to provide the needs of its people.
The handle of the jar: how the kingdom is controlled. If we want to be specific, this is the system of judges set up by Moses.
the kingdom was broken when kings replaced judges
The meal emptied out:
the kings siphoned off the wealth nd grabbed the land, but by bit
She did not realize it: breaking the handle off a jar you are carrying should be obvious to anyone carrying it! Just as replacing judges with kings was a disaster. Yet the woman did not seem bothered.
She set the jar down and found it empty: the state of the kingdom of Israel in Jesus' day: the jar still existed, but it had nothing Godly left.
We must plan ahead. We must not be like the Zealots who thought their fanatical belief was enough to defeat powerful Rome, as if they would get supernatural help.
Success must depend on results, not on who we know.
Jesus was not like the Zealots he would win through loving his enemies. See the detailed commentaries in part 6, on Mark 2:15 (on tax) and Mark 12:17 (on "render to Caesar")
"What is mine": this clarifies the saying in Mark. A person owns what he creates.
See the commentary to sayings 55 and 99.
The Pharisees acted as gatekeepers, restricting access to things, but based on position and not merit. This sums up what is wrong with hierarchical power in general. All power must be freely given as a response to service, as Jesus showed when he washed his disciples' feet.
The need for intelligence: to understand the situation, and thus prepare. Contrast with the supernatural view, where you do not understand the bigger picture and will therefore put yourself in danger.
Fasting and prayer are ways to aid concentration when an answer is very hard to find. While Jesus was embodied the quickest way to get an answer was to ask him, not to fast and pray.
Jesus taught to treat everyone as equal, which means loving enemies.
But believers in the supernatural have to believe they are special (or
what is the point in the supernatural?)
So supernatural believers must believe that loving enemies means
compromising with Satan: or in Old Testament language, whoring after
strange gods. For example:
See saying 48.
In saying 60 we saw that the "be like sheep" metaphor should not be taken too far.
The famous "lost sheep" parable is used to justify hierarchies: the
shepherd controls the sheep, who goes "astray". But in the original
version (if Thomas is older) the sheep merely strayed: we cannot assume
the shepherd was right and the sheep is wrong. Maybe the sheep wanted to
go somewhere better? And the reason why the shepherd goes after him is
that the sheep is the most valuable.
So here the sheep is given far more value as an individual, whereas, in the later version he's just one of many people to be controlled.
For how Jesus lives on through us, see part two in this book (the
general principles) and part seven (Jesus after the resurrection).
Note the implication: Jesus is not above us in a hierarchical sense, we follow him in the sense of wanting to be like him
laws were left to later generations and were not appreciated. So eventually kings took over.
Eventually people will dig in the text and see the treasure there (the land rent teachings). They will then benefit from building the kingdom and sharing it with others.
Interest: see saying 95: Jesus approves of interest in some circumstances.
Much of Jesus' message was aimed at the rich. (See "Early Christianity: Opiate of the Privileged?" by Rodney Stark.) Jesus was planning an economic kingdom, so he had to reach the elites.
This saying sums up the power of what Jesus offered to a world lost in the supernatural:
Rolled up: figuratively, in the sense that logic lets us understand them and read them like a scroll, using science. Also literally, because we can live forever (see part two of this book).
Superior: not limited by it; we can do better than it (thanks to science, superior economics and living forever)
Woe to the flesh: flesh is just flesh. If it thinks breath makes it anything else, it is wrong.
Woe to the soul: if the soul (the spirit, your ideas, identity) makes plans based on the flesh (i.e. short term) results are not as good as if you plan long term.
The supernatural view is wrong: the ideas are already here (government by consensus not appeals to power; land rent). Once we see that, we can implement it.
Spread out upon the earth: Logical people are everywhere.
Jesus treated both male and female the same (see saying 22). Hierarchies and inequality were illogical, so were alien to Jesus.
Peter said: In apocryphal texts Peter is portrayed as very sexist. This is hardly surprising given his culture and his interest in being the most important (see part nine of this book). For example, in the Pistis Sophia, Peter complains 'My Lord, we are not able to bear with this woman, speaking instead of us; she has not let any of us speak but often speaks herself'. In the gospel according to Mary (Magdalene), Peter refuses to believe that a woman could be told things that Jesus did not first teach the men. In the canonised gospels, the disciples were amazed to see Jesus had gone to a well and was "talking with a woman" (John 4.27).
She too: Jesus rejected hierarchies. In terms of logic, women are just like men. So if Peter will only accept men, fine, call women men and be done with it. This is in keeping with Jesus' repeated teaching about being one and not dividing.
You males: this about their particular sexism, not males in general. Why not just say "men and women are the same"? Because many parts of the law of Moses, being based in an even more sexist time, had to be different for men and women. Rather than open a can of worms by changing Moses, Jesus simply says "women can choose to be men."
Jesus cannot have been sexist: apart from his teachings on logic and unity and no hierarchies, he had many female followers and close admirers and was funded by women. In later learned (gnostic) texts, God is given both male and female aspects, and women are considered just as suitable for prophecy as men. This naturally stems from the learned Christians questioning everything and having no strict hierarchy.
And so ends the gospel of Thomas.
Thomas is most associated with the learned, now known by the Greek word for learned, "gnostic". Modern readers often assume they believed in supernatural salvation through secret knowledge. The text of Thomas shows the opposite.
Thomas rejects the supernatural, and only recommends keeping the message secret because people are easily offended (see saying 62). The teachings are practical and logical, and designed to be one day shouted from the rooftops (sayings 32 and 33).
Accusations of secret mystic teaching may be due to much later texts, or they may be a form of projection: the supernatural hierarchical church of Paul was based on the idea that the leaders had insights denied to the lower class of people.
The earliest learned Christians were not known for mystical secrets, but they were known for questioning everything, including the Bible. They generally conclude, a skeptical readers have down the centuries, that Genesis refers to at least two Gods: pure logic, and a lesser ruler or series of fallible rulers.
These other rulers make obvious mistakes, but are still important in the creation of civilisation. The learned came to call them "the skilled craftsman" or in Greek, "demiurge". They also recognised the valuable role played by the serpent in Eden, as well as the brass serpent of Moses, and Jesus' command to be as wise as serpents. So they often used the serpent symbol.
As lovers of logic, they tend to treat men and women the same, and see them as essentially one. Hence one hymn refers to Adam as both father and mother (before Eve entered the garden). Early learned groups sometimes had female leaders as well as male.
The best known learned Christian, other than Jesus himself, is probably John (author of the gospel). Other early learned groups include the following:
Those who love logic will question hierarchical authority. So the following groups and names are not strict organizations but loose groupings:
Like all the learned they treated men and women as the same. This, and their respect for Greek thought leads some to speculate that they saw homosexuality as natural and good:
Carpocrates taught that differences in class and the ownership of property are unnatural. He also taught that Jesus was not supernatural, but simply a very great teacher: Jesus had such a pure understanding of logic that he was not worried at all by physical things, and could deduce what happened before he was born, as if he was remembering the creation of the universe.
This concept of remembering before birth is not a supernatural thing: it is simply a result of the nature of human identity. If you understand your personality you can correctly guess what your personality would have done in previous eras. Plato calls this "Anamnesis", from the Greek for "not forgetting" (remove the "ana" and you have "a-mnesia", "not-remembering"):
Anamnesis leads some people to think Plato taught supernatural reincarnation. But the logic of his argument, and the example given, show that he meant logic. A person's identity is his ideas, and since his ideas are a formed since birth by his environment and his genes he will logically come to the same ideas as his ancestors, insofar as he and they think logically.
Plato and the ancients were of course not aware of genes, but they did observe that traits are passed on. Pythagoras, the first great Greek philosopher, had a particular interest in beans as carriers of information. Pythagoras' conclusions would have been similar to Plato's, that a person's identity is in his ideas, and ideas are passed on. Many see this as Pythagoras believing in reincarnation and magical properties of beans, but it is all perfectly rational.
Pythagoras was a hero of the learned Christians: they saw him as a kindred spirit. Which he was, quite literally. The followers of Carpocrates honoured portraits of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Jesus (the last allegedly painted for Pilate while Jesus was alive).
Of course, the centrality of logic (see part one of this book) and the idea of living on through children (see part two) are central to the Old Testament. As for recalling past lives, the Old Testament attitude to history was to focus on God (logic and on patterns just as much as on events. So they focused on the kind of thing that would have happened, even though the unimportant details may be wrong (such as Abraham using camels). So the concept of anamnesis was Hebrew as well as Greek.
For more about how we remember past lives (through genes, culture and logic) see AnswersAnswers.com/mind. Anamnesis was largely forgotten in the later Christian church, only remembered in the name of the sacrament that says "this do in remembrance of me".
We only know of the learned through the writings of their enemies, those who wanted a supernatural, hierarchical church: mainly Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. They were shocked by the learned attitude to sin, and to sexuality in particular.
The learned Christians had the same attitude to sin as Jesus did: we must concentrate on the weightier matters like justice and mercy. This does not men we should ignore the little things, but all sorts of blasphemy can be forgiven, as long as you don't go against the purest ideas (the holiest spirit).
As for sexuality, the learned treated men and women the same. Since it as normal for men to work topless, we can only imagine what the more curious of them got up to. It must have been like the 1960s in Britain: thinkers experimenting, and the more traditional people shocked. Possibly all they did was let women show their ankles, but it was enough for all kinds of shocking rumours to fly. But even their enemy Irenaeus had to admit that the stories were probably exaggerated:
Most of the learned groups were later banned, so are only known fro the briefest of mentions by their enemies: these may be just descriptions, not groups as such:
The Cainites were a group that showed great respect to Cain (see part three of this book for why this might be).
The Ophites (from the Greek "ophis" for snake) were another group that respected the serpent: or possibly the same as the Naassenes, above.
The Sethians (named after Adam's son, the ancestor of the Hebrews) were one of the more interesting early learned groups. Sethians tried to understand bow logic could lead to the creation of the universe. This was their theory:
Note that this is an attempt at a logical explanation: how logic (the logos) must have worked. It only appears supernatural because of jargon, but is not supernatural at all.
The Sethites also concluded that Eve has more wisdom than Adam, and that the ruler of Eden tried to rape her. This is implied by Genesis - see part three of this book for details.
The preceding examples are groups that, as far as we can tell, were active before the Bar Kochba revolt and scattering of the Jews in the AD 130s. Then everything changed.
Although the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was bad, the Bar Kochba revolt in the 130s was worse. It is sometimes called "the rebellion of the exile" because it resulted in the Jews being scattered completely. The Jewish Christian church no longer had any ability to influence events.
This left a vacuum and the more bishops of the larger cities filled it, teaching the supernatural ideas of Paul. The learned, meanwhile, retreated into increasingly abstract and speculative ideas, further and further removed from what Jesus taught.
Irenaeus' most famous book is entitled "against choice" (in Greek "adversus haereses", usually translated "against heresies"). He attacked "the choice called Learned" or in Greek, "he legomene gnostike haeresis". That is, he condemned people who love learning (gnostic) because they gave people choices (haeresis). Choice and knowledge were dangerous to the increasingly powerful hierarchy of bishops.
Another of his books, directed mainly against a learned group called the Valentinians, was called "On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Knowledge." This was part of a long tradition of anti-intellectualism, where the phrase "so-called" is used to belittle any kind of expertise.
Arguments against the learned Christians are the same in ancient times as today. They can be summed up as follows:
the learned were accused of all kinds of nonsense and evil, including the sacrificing and eating of babies. But this was typical for any attack on any religion. Followers of Paul were accused of the same thing:
This is not to say that some extreme group did not do extreme things, it we should not believe everything we hear. In history as in all life, the only thing we can be sure of is logic itself. The rest is open to debate.
The learned texts were advanced texts. They assumed the reader was already familiar with and obeys the law of Moses (the Torah). For example, during a lengthy discussion of how God lives inside us, Valentinus mentions that the Torah contains the rules, and the main rule is to do good:
The learned assumed that people knew the basics: to follow the Torah, to love enemies, to not have hierarchies. But Irenaeus did not understand even these basic concepts: as a follower of Paul he rejected the law of Moses, attacked his enemies, and sought to create a hierarchy of bishops. Lacking even the basics, the advanced learned texts seemed like nonsense to him.
The learned failed ultimately because Jesus was ahead of his time. He understood economics (the study of kingdoms) and they did not. So they did not see how his message could work. Eventually they fell back on supernatural theories, just like Peter and Paul. But Peter and Paul embraced the supernatural first.
part nine: the church versus God