Paul’s Rivals who Followed Jesus: Rejection of the Crucifixion

2 Corinthians 11:4 provides a clue to the existence of a powerful rival group that opposed Pauline Christianity

by Ibn Anwar BHsc (Hons), MCollT

   The text of 2 Corinthians 11:4 reads as follows:

“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”

From this verse, we may glean that there was at least one group that was prominent enough to receive Paul’s attention and compel him to spend ink on it that was teaching a different Jesus and a different gospel than what Paul was teaching as James Dunn writes, “Similarly in 2 Cor. 11.4 the “other Jesus” preached could refer to a differently interpreted Jesus tradition.” [1] Though little detail is given concerning this group, we may reasonably speculate about their fundamental beliefs that disconcerted Paul by looking at the content of the context of 2 Corinthians 11:4, with particular focus on what points that Paul emphasise therein.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, one of his primary concerns is with the crucifixion of Jesus, the belief that Jesus suffered and died as a sin offering. As James Dunn writes, “The most distinctive emphasis of Paul’s preaching on Jesus, however, was on Jesus’ crucifixion… in 1 Cor. 2.2 Paul recalls how ‘I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. For in Cor. 15:2 he recalls the message he had preached to the Corinthians, including the message that ‘Christ died for our sins…” [2] From the emphasis Paul puts on this theme, we may discern that those mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:4 may well have opposed this belief that Paul was propagating. To this effect, commenting on the phrase “another Jesus” in 2 Corinthians 11:4 the scholar Colin Kruse writes:

“It may well be that in their preaching Paul’s opponents stressed the power and glory of Christ to the virtual exclusion of the fact that he had also known weakness, humiliation, persecution, suffering and death. Paul preached Christ crucified as Lord, so a proclamation like that outlined above would seem to him to be the preaching of another Jesus.” [3]

This means that anyone who did not preach that Christ was crucified as Lord, that he suffered humiliation, persecution, suffering and ultimately death on the cross was antithetical to Paul’s ministry and was therefore preaching another Jesus.

David Garland who is Dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, likewise, writes:

“Another Jesus” refers to a different interpretation of Jesus that is not congruent with with the facts of Jesus’ life and death. Paul’s emphasis in 13:4, that Christ was “crucified in weakness,” suggests the possibility that the rivals presented a Jesus who was not “weak, suffering and humiliated.” They may talk about Christ, but Christ crucified is not the heart of their gospel nor does it influence the way they live.” [4]

From the above, we learn that this group gave no importance to the crucifixion of Jesus and it was certainly not part of their fundamental beliefs.

Michael Gorman, however, tells us that this group’s teachings may well have amounted to the repudiation of the crucifixion rather than a mere disinterested detachment. They in fact abandoned the belief in the crucified Christ.

“What is very likely, however, is that Paul saw a massive incongruence between their gospel and their lifestyle (since for Paul an apostle was his or her message, and vice versa), between a message of Christ’s death for sin (s) and a preoccupation with powerful manifestations of the Spirit. Is this grounds for a charge of heresey? Yes, it is, at least for Paul, if it amounts to the repudiation of the cross as both the foundation and the form of life in Christ… to abandon the crucified Christ and the God-given Spirit of cruciformity is to offer another gospel.” [5]

The scholarly understanding that this group that Paul regarded as preaching another Jesus and another gospel disassociated themselves from the “suffering servant” image of Jesus that is so prominent in the Pauline portrayal of Jesus’ purpose and ministry seems to be across the board. Their detachment from any theological significance given to the cross seems to be one of their hallmarks. The massive New Jerusalem Biblical commentary comments:

“4. This is perhaps the most important clue in the quest for the identity of Paul’s opponents: if someone comes : his adversaries were from outside Corinth (3:1, 10:14-16), preaches a Jesus other than the one we preached. The sudden switch from “Christ” ( 10:1,5,7,14; 11:2,3) gives Jesus a special significance; the emphasis is on his earthly existence. Since the intruders claimed to “belong to Christ,” they must have shared the tendency of the “spirit-people” to downgrade the importance of Christ’s humanity, which was displayed in service, suffering, and death…

The Judaizers (3:3) preached a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). Since Paul’s ministry was a “ministry of the Spirit” (3:8) and of freedom (3:17), his opponents must have given their allegiance to a different spirit, viz., that of the new covenant, which they understood in a way that Paul could not accept (see comment on 3:6). The Judaizers would have shared common ground with the “spirit-people” (-> 1 Corinthians , 49:18) insofar as the wisdom tradition of the latter was rooted in the law.” [6]

From the above, we may discern, as we did from preceding scholarly references that this group of preachers had no interest in the suffering and alleged death of Jesus. Additionally, O’Connor tells us that they had a firm belief in the importance of the law in direct opposition to Paul who primarily concerned himself with “freeing” people from the “bondage” of the law through his version of Christ’s ministry.

Jan Lambrecht gives us an even greater insight as to the identity of these opponents of Paul who uniquely opposed him in his fundamental beliefs: the crucifixion and the law.


“Let us listen to what Paul himself says. The most pertinent text is 2 Corinthians 11:22-23a: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? – I am talking as out of my mind – I am more.” For Paul these people are decidedly Jewish Christians, even ministers of Christ.” [7]


From the above we see that Paul himself in the immediate context of 2 Corinthians 11:4 identifies these individuals as Jewish Christians. And though he labels them “Satan”, “deceivers”, and “false apostles”, he is unable to forthrightly deny them as real ministers or servants of Christ. He sees himself as a better servant (“I am more”), but this necessarily implies that he sees them as equally servants of Christ but of lower status and inferior. Lambrecht continues:

“The opponents were probably not very numerous. It is, we think, is not completely impossible that there were connections between them  and the Jerusalem authorities (see our discussion of 10:12-18), nor, as most scholars hold, is it absolutely certain that they were wholly from Paul’s opponents in Galatia, those who compelled the Gentile Christians to live like Jews (Gal 2:14; see our discussion of 2 Cor 10:4-6; cf. Gal 1:7-9).” [8]

The above tells us that there is possibility that this group had links to the Jerusalem Church which was headed and led by the direct apostles of Jesus and it also tells us that their movement was quite widespread as it is possible that the opposition Paul faced from opponents in Galatia were the same people as they had similar traits to those who went to Corinth to challenge Paul. This group was in fact quite successful in their ministry, at least in the early days, prior to the victory of Pauline Christianity over all others, pulling many, even the Gentiles, to their fold:

“Many Christians of Corinth must taken sides with the intruders and detached themselves from Paul, at least during a certain period of time. Second Corinthians shows us a Paul who, above all, wants to win them back.” [9]

The People’s New Testament Commentary by New Testament scholars Eugene Boring and Fred Craddock provides an even better overview of this group, what they believed and why Paul opposed them so.

11:4 Another Jesusspiritgospel: These may be only general descriptions of the false message and ministry of the rival apostles, or in Paul’s mind they may have had specific content. “Another Jesus” has been understood in several ways:

1. The opponents may have emphasized the life and teachings of the earthly Jesus, whom Paul had not known. The details of Jesus’ earthly life did not play a role in Paul’s own gospel, which focused on the act of God in the whole Christ event, not on stories about and sayings of the earthly Jesus.

2. The opponents may have contrasted the exalted heavenly Christ and the purely human Jesus, one who could be disdained and even cursed (see on 1 Cor. 12:3). If so, it means that before their arrival in Corinth some Corinthians already leaned toward this view which the new missionaries elaborated and exploited.

3. Since Paul places their Christology in contrast to his own, which emphasizes the vulnarability and weakness of the crucified Christ (see 1 Cor. 1:18-2:5; 2 Cor. 13:4; Phil. 2:5-11), they may have emphasized the power of the miracle-working “divine man” Jesus, a view that had no place in Paul’s own understanding. It may be that they saw the power at work in Jesus’ life as continued in their own powerful ministry, just as Paul saw the self-giving of a victimized and crucified Jesus as continued in his ministry. Neither group saw a way of combining the pictures of Jesus the divinelike miracle worker and the Jesus who died a human death on the cross. Paul chose the weakness of the crucified Jesus as the power of God; they chose the power of the miracle-working of Jesus as representing the power of God. [10]

This group then had access to stories concerning Jesus and his words during his ministry while Paul did not. They also had difficulty allowing Jesus to be the victim of some curse and exalted Jesus over above Paul’s victimized Jesus model. They adopted Jesus’ deeds of miracle as important to the person of Jesus and completely abandoned any attachments to the crucifixion while Paul fixates himself on the crucifixion to the subtraction of all else. Even though Paul identifies them as “false apostles” as we have seen above and even called them ministers of Satan (contradicting himself as we illustrated that he couldn’t help but recognise that they were ministers of Christ), Boring and Craddock write, “Though Paul considers them false, they were probably sincere Christian leaders whose differences with the Pauline mission were so great they considered him a false apostle, a danger to the churches, whose converts had to be “corrected.” ” [11]

In the foregoing discussion we have seen the many shades of colour of this mysterious and nameless group found in 2 Corinthians 11:4. Although we may never know exactly what they believed and who they were in precise terms (unless some new early manuscripts that document their existence and beliefs are unearthed), we have gleaned from Paul’s own writing, as we have done above, what they may very well have believed. In all likelihood, this was a group that completely detached themselves from the alleged crucifixion of Jesus and emphasised the earthly ministry of Jesus. This was probably the utter most sticking point that irked Paul so much to the extent that he labels them not only false apostles but the servants of Satan himself. The rift between Paul and this group must have been quite significant and their beliefs must have greatly agitated Paul for he would not have been so harsh in the epithets that he affords them which he affords to none of his other numerous opponents elsewhere. Despite Paul’s meanderings about their supposed distasteful behaviour that were incongruent to the gospel they were preaching, which is something that we cannot confirm as there are absolutely no independent corroborating eyewitnesses to justify Paul’s appraisal regarding this, what is evidently clear is that his theology of the cross was completely disregarded by this group and this was probably the unpardonable sin that led Paul to identify them as servants of Satan. This removes the Christian apologetics critique on Islam that it brought something new when it put doubt on the crucifixion of Jesus by seemingly denying that it actually took place. It would appear that denial of the crucifixion and/or placing any importance

to it was in vogue even at the time of Paul. This then corroborates the Qur’anic crucifixion narrative as historical rather than merely mythical.


“From the limited evidence available to us, we know that the primitive church, the Urgemeinde, was an apocalyptic sect with a strong eschatological emphasis and message. Its community consisted primarily of Jews who were on the whole conservative and law-observant. They practised a strict obedience to the Jewish law, including the observance of circumcision, the food laws and the sabbath, and they attended the Temple regularly. The main difference from their orthodox Jewish compatriots lay in their belief in Jesus’ Messiahship and in his imminent parousia. They were preparing themselves for the coming day of the Lord. They did so through prayer and the communal sharing of goods. They appealed to their own countrymen to repent and prepare themselves for the new age predicted in the Hebrew Bible. In addition to his twelve disciples, the leaders of the Urgemeinde, or Jerusalem church, were members of Jesus’ own family, his brother James, in the first instance, followed by his cousin Simeon who died in Trajan’s reign.

…an attitude to Hellenism split Jews into ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ camps. It divided Jews into those who favoured or admired Greek institutions and thought (liberals) and those who saw Hellenism as undermining Jewish loyalty to institutions like the law, the Temple and ultimately to God himself (conservatives). The strict Palestinian Jew was often suspicious, therefore, of the Hellenistic Jew. The early Christian community was a community of Jews, and this basic division among Jews in general appears to have manifested itself among Jewish Christians in particular. Evidence suggests that there was internal conflict within the Urgemeinde. This conflict is associated with the names Stephen and Paul. In Acts chapter 6, verse 1, there is an ambiguous reference to two groups within the Urgemeinde, the ‘Hebrews’ and the ‘Hellenists’. The ‘Hellenists’ are widely interpreted as Greek-speaking ‘liberal’ Jewish-Christians within the primitive church, and the ‘Hebrews’ as Aramaic-speaking ‘conservative Jewish-Christians. Tradition attaches Hellenistic names to the seven leaders said to have been at the forefront of this Hellenistic wing of the Jerusalem church: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas. They denounced, it appears, what was deemed the narrow exclusivism of the conservatives, their rigid adherence to the law, and they claimed that the Temple cultus was unnecessary.

These denunciations drew a sharp response from conservative Jews in general. Stephen was stoned, and the Hellenistic wing of the church persecuted (cf. Acts 8:1-2). Conservative Jewish-Christians seem, however, to have escaped this persecution, including the leaders of the Jerusalem church (cf.Acts 8:1b, ‘except the apostles‘).

…The spread of this ‘liberalized’ form of Jewish Christianity into the wider Hellenistic world brought it into more contact with Gentiles. Jewish Christianity was translated, some would say transformed, into terms acceptable to the Gentile world, and it found ready acceptance there. This was an effect which may indeed have set the original Palestinian followers of Jesus back on their heels, since their message was one directed in the main to their own fellow Jews. The chief missionary work in this area was that by a Hellenistic Jew called Saul of Tarsus, otherwise known to us as the apostle Paul. His Gentile mission, and the circumcision issue which it opened up, seems to have intensified the rift between the conservative wing of the Urgemeinde and the emergent Pauline wing. Paul’s letters testify to the fact that he suffered much opposition to his brand of Christianity, and to his understanding of the significance of Jesus. Paul was attacked as a non-apostle and as one preaching a different gospel from that of the original disciples.

It must be stressed again that the evidence from this ‘tunnel’ period is admittedly uncertain. It suggests, however, that between 30 and the early 60s CE, the authority of the original Jerusalem church held sway (i.e. the authority of James and his conservative wing), and that this authority was regarded as normative. Paul was regarded, it seems, as somewhat of an upstart, his apostleship and authority something he had to defend continually. But after 70 CE, the situation changed dramatically. In this period, Gentile Christianity shows itself to be strong, assertive and flourishing while Jewish Christianity declines and almost fades into oblivion. The decline of Jewish Christianity and the ascendency of Gentile Christianity in the post-apostolic period is so remarkable that one scholar at least (S. G. F. Brandon) has expressed the view that Christianity was effectively reborn after 70 CE.” [12]

Firstly, a couple of terms should be clarified for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with them: Urgemeinde and Hellenism. The term Urgemeinde used above by W. R. Telford simply means the ‘primitive church, that is, the Jerusalem church, that spanned from 30 to 70 CE comprising the disciples of Jesus led by James. This community of believers, the Jewish-Christians, held sway among Christian communities for about half a century before the rise of Hellenistic Christianity eclipsed its sovereignty and gradually took the mantle of authority over from the Urgemeinde after about 70 CE. The latter movement was championed and led by Paul of Tarsus, who was regarded by the pre-Pauline Jewish-Christians, the early Jerusalem church and the disciples of Jesus that led it, as an “upstart” with teachings that were foreign to those that the early followers of Jesus and his disciples preached. Hellenist Christianity in essence is quite dissimilar from Jewish-Christianity in that it is more receptive towards Greek thought, culture and philosophy and its primary feature or brand of Christianity is quite liberal when it came to observances towards the laws and commandments, temple attendance and the like. In fact, this brand of Christianity that was preached by Paul opposed such important precepts of Jewish-Christianity such as circumcision. It opened the door to foreign influences, particularly that of Hellenistic culture and thought, and the Gentiles flocked to its message, bringing with it a dramatic change in the message about Jesus: “It has passed from being a proclamation by Jesus about the coming kingdom of God to being a proclamation by the church about Jesus himself as the eschatological event.” [13] If at the beginning, the early followers of Jesus and his disciples preached about the teachings that Jesus brought with the primary concern that he had about the “Kingdom of God”, Hellenist Christianity, that is, Pauline Christianity transformed that script of preaching to a focus on the person Jesus himself  instead as the gospel of salvation. So, once upon a time, prior to the non-apostle Paul’s intervention, the earliest followers of Jesus followed him through the preaching of his gospel, but when Paul came to the scene, he brought with him a drastically contradictory idea, transforming Jesus’ message as the primary concern of faith and practice to that of Jesus the person as the focal point of belief and salvation. While Jewish Christianity concerned themselves with the preaching of Jesus, Pauline Christianity which came later, innovated and effectively changed the script by preaching about the person Jesus through the lens of Paul’s brand of theology, soteriology (teachings about salvation) and eschatology, setting aside what he taught and preached during his ministry.

But many students of religion have asked this question that has always remained unanswered: Why did Jewish Christianity fall out of favour amongst Palestinians and Jerusalemites and Pauline Christianity successfully took over? What exactly happened? Was it because Pauline Christianity had the better argument than its predecessor, Jewish-Christianity, the earliest followers of Jesus and his disciples? The following may shed some light on this enigma.

“What are the factors that led to the eclipse of Jewish Christianity and the influence of Urgemeinde? One factor was undoubtedly the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus in 62 CE (cf. Josephus, Ant. XX. 197-203 and Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. II.23). Another was the martyrdom of a number of the other leaders, such as James, the son of Zebedee (acts 12:1-5) in the reign of Agrippa I, or Peter in the Neronian persecution in 64 CE…

Another potentially important tradition is that of the Jerusalem church’s flight to the Gentile city of Pella at the outbreak of the Romano-Jewish War (cf. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. III.5.3 as well as Epiphanius). The Urgemeinde’s flight from the Jewish capital would have effectively removed it, it has been argued, from the mainstream of Christian life, tradition and history, a stream which was to henceforth move in a Gentile direction. This tradition has been doubted, nevertheless, by some scholars (e.g. S. G. F. Brandon, G. Strecker, W. R. Farmer, J. Munck) who maintain that the original Jewish Christians took common cause with their fellow countrymen, and died defending Jerusalem and its Temple from their Roman oppressors. If this were the case, then it too would provide a reason for the eclipse of Jewish Christianity.” [14]

We learn from the above that the disappearance of the first Jerusalem Church, headed by Jesus’ disciples, was most probably due to oppression, war and persecution by Roman authorities and others didn’t approve of it. The execution of its leaders such as James and the others crippled the movement and the ensuing conflict with Rome sealed its fate. But their beliefs and teachings were not forever lost:

“Jewish Christianity did not die out completely, however. There is some evidence of its survival. Its influence exists in the Gospel of Matthew, for example, and in one of Matthew’s sources, the ‘sayings’ source Q… It exists also in the New Testament letter attributed to Jesus’ brother, James. The survival of early Jewish-Christianity tradition can possibly be seen in Jewish-Christian sects such as the Ebionites and the Nazoreans. These appeared in the second century, they claimed an origin from the Urgemeinde, and they regarded Paul as the perverter of the original message of Jesus.”

The teachings and influence of the Jerusalem church persisted in traditions that were handed down and picked up by later Gospel writers such as the Gospel According to Matthew and traces of its precepts can also be seen in the so called ‘Q’ or ‘sayings’ source, upon which Matthew and Luke based their writings apart from using Mark too as a common source (this is the two-source hypothesis that most biblical scholars subscribe to today). In addition to that, later Christian movements that differed with Pauline Christianity (most interestingly on the crucifixion which apparently the Ebionites didn’t much care about) were most probably inheritors to the Jerusalem church, its descendants. Their claim to have arisen from the ashes of the Jerusalem church led by the initial followers and disciples of Jesus may carry some truth in it as they, like the primitive Jerusalem church before them, identified Jesus as a non-apostle, a pretender to the throne who changed and altered Jesus’ original teachings.

And more significantly for Muslims is the fact that they see themselves as the true successors to Jesus’ original message and teachings. We see that Islam retains some of the fundamentals of the Urgemeinde (the earliest primitive Jerusalem church), headed by Jesus’ disciples and earliest followers, such the importance and emphasis given on the commandments of God and exhorting its adherents to do their level best to keep to the letter of God’s Law. Islam has also apparently sustained the focal point of the pre-Pauline, original Jerusalem church: the preaching of Jesus’ ministry and teachings rather than the preaching of Jesus the individual. That is not to say that either Jewish-Christianity or Islam completely dismisses the person Jesus and only look to his teachings. That would be absurd as the person that brings the teachings must be given equal respect to what flowed from his lips, since without the person there would be no teachings from him. Jesus, though given great respect and reverence as God’s mouthpiece, was in this specific context peripheral to the message that flowed through him, originating from God. And this approach that was a feature of Jewish-Christianity is retained in Islam. Finally, the Jewish-Christians. as we have seen above, saw no significance in the alleged death and crucifixion of Jesus and continued instead to focus on God’s commandments and the teachings that Jesus spread during his ministry. This feature, which was inherited by the Ebionites and Nazoreans [15], claimants to Jesus’ ministry and the Urgemeinde, is also sustained in Islam (Qur’an 4:157). When one considers the preponderance of similarities between the early Jerusalem church and Islam (punctuated by the Ebionites and Nazoreans between the two), it would not be far fetched of a claim to make to say that the latter is in fact a descendant of the Urgemeinde, the primitive church, that is, the Jerusalem church which preserved the teachings of their teacher, Jesus. The imposing similarity between the great emphasis that the Urgemeinde (Jewish-Christianity) and Islam place on keeping God’s Law has led several notable biblical scholars to conclude that Islam is a continuation of the primitive Jerusalem church, which would mean that the religion has the seal of approval of the disciples of Jesus and by virtue of that, has Jesus’ seal of approval too as it carries on his mission and ministry. Biblical scholar Benedict Viviano, commenting on Matthew 5:17-48, the Matthaean passage that strongly reflects the leftover influence of Jewish Christianity (which happened after the disbandment of Urgemeinde discussed above) of keeping the laws and the commandments to the letter puts forward the following proposition:

“Apart from v 18, the verses are probably postpaschal and reflect the outlook of Jewish Christianity, which, as a separate movement, was eventually defeated by Paulinism and died out (perhaps to be reborn in a different form as Islam; see H, -J. Schoeps, Jewish Christianity [Phl, 1969]; J. Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity [London, 1964]).” [16] (emphasis added)

In writing about the Tubingen School and the pioneering contribution of Ferdinand Christian Baur (which he achieved through the publication of a long seminal essay on the Christ party in the Corinth church called Tubinger Zeitscrift fur Theologie ) in pushing for the interpretation of a schismatic early years of Christianity that saw a sharp split between the primitive Jerusalem Church (led by Peter and other disciples) and Paul, the self-appointed apostle unto the Gentiles, celebrated conservative theologian and Biblical scholar, F. F. Bruce seems to agree with this historical proposition.

“The study of Paul’s correspondence convinced Baur that apostolic Christianity, far from being a unity, was marked by a deep cleavage between the church of Jerusalem and the Pauline mission. Whereas the church of Jerusalem, led by Peter and other original associates of Jesus, maintained a judaizing version of Christianity, Paul insisted that the gospel involved the abolition of Jewish legalism and particularism. In addition, the genuineness of Paul’s apostleship was questioned by the partisans of Jerusalem, and attempts were made to undermine his authority in the eyes of his converts. There is evidence enough of the sharpness of the conflict between the two sides in the Galatian and Corinthian letters of Paul especially. So thoroughly did this conflict dominate the apostolic age that those New Testament documents which do not reflect it, but present instead a picture of harmony between Peter and Paul, between the Jerusalem church and the Gentile mission, betray by that very fact their post-apostolic perspective.” [17] *

According to Bruce, there is indeed “evidence enough of the sharpness of the conflict” between the Urgemeinde and Paul’s gospel or version of Christianity. Bruce recognises the historical certainty that there were elements within the Jerusalem party that disdained Paul and saw him as a charlatan, a false claimant to Jesus’ gospel. The New Testament that has come down to us has been so whitewashed  by its authors (especially Acts) that the “sharpness of the conflict” between Jewish Christianity and Pauline Christianity seems  now to be nothing more than a legendary tale told around a campfire, but in fact, the reality of the dichotomy between the variant churches — one Jewish and the other Gentile — is the most tenable and well-attested early history of the fledgling Jesus communities. Though this historical view was perhaps a rather radical shift from the pervading precepts of the day, he was nonetheless in possession of the master key that will open many doors that were once shut tight in modern studies of early Christianity for the discovery of exciting new data and understanding of the Urgemeinde’s theological battle for the upper hand against the rising tide of Pauline influence till it ultimately succumbed and dissipated into the nether regions of oblivion. Do not go gentle into that good night are the words that play on the lips of those who lament the passing of the early Jesus crusaders, but perhaps , as Benedict Viviano opines, it did revive and find a new breath of life in the Prophet of Arabia, the religion of Islam.


[1] Dunn, J. D. G. (1998). The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 196

[2] Dunn, J. D. G. (2009). Christianity in the Making, Volume 2: Beginning from Jerusalem. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 576

[3] Kruse, C. (1987). The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 184

[4] Garland, D. E. (1999). The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of the Holy Scripture, 2 Corinthians. Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group. p. 464

[5] Gorman, M. J. (2004). Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and his Letters. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 322

[6] O’Connor, J. M. (1990). 2 Corinthians. In Raymond E. Brown (Ed.), The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. pp. 826-827

[7] Lambrecht, J. (1998). Second Corinthians. In Daniel J. Harrington (Ed.), Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press. p. 7

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Boring, M. E. & Craddock, F. B. (2010). The People’s New Testament Commentary. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 570

[11] Ibid. p. 571

[12] Telford, W. R. (2014). The New Testament: A Beginner’s Guide. London: Oneworld Publications. pp. 46-47

[13] Ibid. pp. 45-46

[14] Ibid. pp. 48-49

[15] Telford notes that the ‘sayings’ Gospel or ‘Q’ discussed above retains features, precepts and beliefs of the primitive Jerusalem church and what is fascinating about one of Q’s features is that it contains no passion or resurrection narrative in it at all: “…Adolf Julicher concluded that Q was not a ‘complete Gospel like that of Mark’, since ‘there appears no trace of it in the stories of the Passion and Resurrection.” (Smith, D. A. (2006). The Post-Mortem Vindication of Jesus in the Sayings Gospel Q. New York: T&T Clark International. p. 6); Bart D. Ehrman also notes, “Most striking was the circumstance that in none of the Q materials (that is, in none of the passages found in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark) is there an account of Jesus’ death and resurrection.” (Ehrman, B. D. (2003). Lost Christianities. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 58). Other Christian writings of a later date that have been associated with “latter-day” Jewish-Christianity  also share this feature of the absence of the passion story and resurrection narrative: “It must be pointed out, however, that the copyists of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Philip and Gospel of Mary semmed not to have any difficulty in designating texts which lacked passion and resurrection accounts as “gospels.” (Coogan, Michael David. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print. p. 340). This shows that the belief, retained in the Qur’an, that the crucifixion, even if it took place, serves no great purpose in God’s plan for mankind is an ancient view that can be traced back to the very earliest strata of Christian tradition.

[16] Viviano, B. T. (1990). Matthew. In Raymond Brown (Ed.) Op. Cit. p. 641

[17] Bruce, F. F. (1977). The History of the New Testament. In Howard Marshall (Ed.), New Testament Interpretation: Essays on the Principles and Methods. Carlisle: The Paternoster Press. p. 43

* Even though his research and work on the early history of Christianity and the discovery of the deep and insurmountable schism that existed between the Urgemeinde and the Pauline church led to his rather late dating of the canonical Gospels and Acts (he estimated their date to be within the second century) that most scholars, following the findings of the later Cambridge school, today would disagree with his measurement, his work on the early Christian churches and the said conflict that existed between them remains probative.

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2 Responses to “Paul’s Rivals who Followed Jesus: Rejection of the Crucifixion”

  1. edris says:

    the mythcist steven carr said something which seems very interesting and relevant to this article

    i quote:

    Of course, paul had to write letters telling christians to proclaim jesus’ death (1 Corinthians 11)

    But why did christians have to proclaim that jesus was dead? Everybody knew that jesus was dead. Why did Christians have to continually proclaim that jesus wasdead, if everybody already knew it?

    Why does paul have to tell christians that jesus was dead, when we are continually told that he wouldn’t repeat something everybody already knew?

    (Unless the death of jesus was not an historical fact, but a theological one. You only proclaim what you believe, not what you think is background knowledge.)

  2. edris says:

    i wonder if the torah law supporters were the real victims of pauls violence?

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