So I just finished reading Barrie Wilson’s book ‘How Jesus became Christian’ and I really liked a lot of what was presented in the ‘theory’.
The idea behind the book is Jesus is Jewish and was for all intensive purposes – following Judaism. The other contention is the Pauline community won the day concerning interpretation and changed the way Christianity was to look for the future (more Hellenic in nature). The distance between Christian faith and Judaism faith was born within the pages of the very New Testament we use in Christian communities to this day (and I agree – it’s all there if we care to look).
What I learned:
(a) There is a distinct seperation between Judaism and Christianity – they are different faith systems. What began Jewish (with Jesus) ended up Hellenistic (with Paul) and the direction of the split was truly complete.
(b) Christ and Messiah are different terms and mean different things to Judaism and Christianity – and to Jesus and Paul.
(c) Paul never met Jesus – nor did he have much interaction with the actual disciples – Paul based everything on his ‘mystic experience’ with the ‘Christ’. This experience seemed to have led to differences between James/Peter/John and Paul (so much so – they actually seem to be writing against one another in certain letters).
(d) Christianity from it’s on-set (when Paul arrived on the scene) was headed in 2 directions – one remaining Jewish and one catering to the Gentiles. The law was at the heart of the contention and what was required of Gentiles (see Acts 15 for more) – but Paul rejected the Torah and this was the truest split that appeared.
(e) The original Jesus community likely never held the views we see in churches to this day. Trinity, God’s only begotten son, Christ-Saviour-Redeemer, and a virgin birth. Jesus was more about the ‘kingdom of God’ and it’s realization on ‘earth’ (which was totally a ‘doing’ thing – here and now). This view can be found in Matthew and James (as I have contended for some time) – but not in Paul.
Is Christianity wrong is the real question?
No, if we accept it is a different religion altogether than Judaism and has no connection whatsoever to Judaism – then no – it is not wrong…it has all the right in the world to develop however it chooses. If it is connected to Judaism somehow then I have to contend – Christianity made some fatal errors in interpretation along the way – and this is plainly obvious when comparing the 2 faith systems.
But what do we say then – Christianity and Judaism have no connection? May it never be (to quote Paul) – Paul and Jesus understood the faith of Judaism a lot differently is the real contention.