Meet the real “Saul of Tarsus” – Ch. 1

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saul2It’s tough going, but the Apostles in Jerusalem are faithfully chipping away at the prickly Jews. Suddenly! . . . just 3-4 years after the Resurrection, they hear a rumor. 130 miles up the road, someone called Saul is claiming that their Jesus; “appeared to him on the road to Damascus”

The Apostles are flabbergasted and enraged! . . . How can this be? . . . Only they have “seen the Risen Christ” . . . Somethings not right! . . . Even more troubling to “The Twelve”, is that Saul is claiming to be another “Apostle”, that “Jesus appeared to him last” and that he has a “New Gospel”.

Theology-Conjecture: © J. Russell October 08, 2015
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Saul’s claim of “being the last” is critical, as it would have totally thrown the original Apostles right off their game and implied that while they were still camped out in Jerusalem, he had received “new revelations they didn’t know about”. It probably made them doubt their beliefs and what they were teaching.

With just a couple of pretentious statements, Saul managed to separate the teachings of “Jesus the Nazarene”, from those of his “own Gospel”. He was a cunning one our Saul and “very advanced in Judaism beyond many Jews of his own age”, as he humbly informs us in Galatians 1:14.

Though the original Apostles weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, it eventually dawned on them that this self-proclaimed upstart, sabotaging the message of “Jesus the Nazarene”, just north of Jerusalem, would have to come and see them, if only to legitimize the majority of his claims. Saul would never admit to this, but he probably received a; “Get your ass down here to Jerusalem for a Please Explain”.

Instead, being a really smart Pharisee, he completely ignores being summonsed by a bunch of “untouchable and illiterate Jews” to Jerusalem and decides he will only go and see them when he’s good and ready and certainly not when “they” tell him.

Meanwhile, Saul decides to sort of disappear for three years “to Arabia”, but that doesn’t mean anything, as he probably just went to a nearby city, a few miles east of Damascus or to some other nearby town full of Jews.

Many preachers claim “he was in the desert for three years”, but what he says is that; “he went from Damascus to Arabia and returned to Damascus, where 3 years after his “conversion” he decided to go to Jerusalem”.

He certainly kept a low profile during this time and was definitely up to no good, as the moment he emerges from his “time in the wilderness”, he’s full of beans and rearing to go. Armed with his carefully thought out and neatly polished “newly conceived Gospel”, he’s finally ready to journey to Jerusalem, confront the original Apostles and point out the error of their ways.

During three tension filled years, while waiting for Paul to show up, the original Apostles in Jerusalem hear numerous stories about his claims and the shenanigans he’s teaching. They try to ignore him, hoping that within a short time he will get bored, give up, fade away and simply disappear, just as hundreds of other flash in the pan “prophets and teachers” were want to do in the religious hotbed of the time.

But no such luck. Paul was planning to be with us for ever, so we need to go back and take a closer look at this enigmatic character.

The problem with Paul

Next to Jesus, Paul is the most important person in Christianity. So much so that he is constantly quoted for everything that Jesus never mentioned. We are continually reminded that “Paul said this and that Paul said that in such and such a book” attributed to him. Any ideological discussion or theological clarification is usually referenced to Paul. The behavior and practices of the faithful in the Christian church are mainly based on what Paul determined.

Clearly, Paul is considered to “know everything about everything”, even though he developed concepts, ideas, teachings and practices that never even occurred to Jesus or that he ever mentioned. Many even attribute the “Secret Rapture” doctrine to Paul’s interpretation of something Jesus said, however this modern hoax, wasn’t invented till 1830 by John Nelson Darby, the founder of the ill-famed “Brethren” cult.

Without doubt, Paul developed a “Parallel Religion”, using only snippets from Jesus teachings, as he didn’t seem to really know very much about “Jesus the Nazarene”. There is no suggestion that this is necessarily a bad thing, however the Christianity that has evolved over the last 2,000 years, is totally bereft of what Jesus taught or had in mind, and chock-a-block full of all the stuff that Paul really liked.

Over half the documents in the New Testament are attributed to Paul, which demonstrates little consensus or availability by the first Christians of any sort of doctrine, as they had nothing in writing, except what he wrote and allegedly wrote, making him to Christianity, what Joseph Smith is to Mormonism.

Neither Jesus nor any of his contemporaries left us any written doctrine. Most of Paul’s “doctrine creating letters”, were written well before any of the Gospels appeared on the scene, which should make us very suspicious of a religion and faith system, that first produced copious amounts of doctrine and years later produced the Four Gospels, which claimed to be the supposed “basis of the faith”.

In other words, it’s not logical to first produce the operational manual of an organization and fully put it into practice and then wait a number of years before you decide what sort of business you would like to do. It’s also very strange that it was only Paul’s followers that were first called “Christians” at Antioch.

According to Flavius Josephus, there were no “Christians” in Jerusalem prior to 70 AD. Act 11:26 says; “. . . So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples (only Paul’s disciples) were first called Christians in Antioch”.

The earliest written mention of the birth of Jesus, aren’t the nativity stories in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but in Paul’s letter to the Romans, after having met with Peter and others who had known Jesus, his mother and his brothers. Despite gleaning everything from them he could about Jesus, Paul shows no sign of having heard of a virgin birth.

Instead, he wrote that Jesus “was descended from David according to the flesh” and was declared to be the “Son of God” by his “Resurrection”. [Romans 1:3-4] The nativity stories in Matthew and Luke, suggesting that Jesus had a virgin birth in Bethlehem (the birthplace of David), were composed later and even the original Apostles, showed no indication of knowing anything about it.

The Gospels appear almost contradictory to Paul’s teachings and it’s almost as if they were written to counter his “New Gospel” and clearly show that Paul was only using snippets of the “real story”.

Say what you may, it’s inconceivable that God sent Jesus to the world, to start a different religion to the one he had gone to so much trouble to give the Jews originally.

According to letters found with the Dead Sea Scrolls and written by James the brother of Jesus, he hated Paul and called him “a spouter of lies” [Dr. Robert H. Eisenman] and in Acts 24:5 we are told that “For we have found this man (Paul) a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes”.

Not a single word that Paul wrote in any of his “epistles”, gives any of the actual teachings of Jesus, nor does Paul even mention one of Jesus’ parables; instead, he plugs his own ideas of what his new religion should be.

As we know, none of Jesus’ Apostles were Pharisees and Jesus taught that none of the Pharisees would inherit the kingdom of heaven, so that would include Paul, as he claimed to be a Pharisee in Acts 23:6, Acts 26:5 and Philippians 3:5 “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee”.

Next, in Galatians 3:19-29, Paul claims that “the Law of Moses was given to Moses by angels and not directly by God”, both contradicting and denigrating the Old Testament at the same time. In Galatians chapter 4, he denigrates the Old Testament once again, repeating his claim of; “Why do we want to be subject to those (angels) that are not gods?”.

Paul unilaterally decides that he is the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, even though Matthew 10:5 says; “These Twelve, Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles”. In his books, James emphatically debunks Paul’s argument that faith is all you need to be saved. James states; “it takes two things to be saved, faith plus works”, concurring with what Jesus taught in numerous passages and parables.

The epistle of James, appears to have been written in part for Paul’s trial at the church of Ephesus [Revelation 2:2], where he was tried, found a heretic and expelled, as “the false prophet”. Paul actually admits it when he says; “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me”. [2 Timothy 1:15]

Who was Saul or Paul?

To many experts, Paul is the central figure of the new Christian religion, so much so that Christianity should have been called “Paulism”. Paul claims that he was a Pharisee, that he had studied under Gamaliel, one of the most famous and respected Jewish theologians of his time and that he proudly belonged to a group that persecuted the new followers of the prophet Jesus, who later would be elevated to the rank of “God”, so as to impose “Jewish Law” to the letter.

Talmudic scholar Hyam Maccoby, in his books “The Mythmaker” and “Paul and Hellenism”, suggests that Paul was actually a Gentile raised in the popular Hellenistic mystery religions of dying and resurrected savior deities, who later converted to Judaism, hoping to become a Pharisee scholar.

Although there is nothing in the Talmud to validate these claims, Maccoby considers Paul’s Jewish background and Pharisee education claims to be false, as a number of passages in Paul’s writings betray his ignorance of “Jewish Law”. He also suggests that at best, Paul managed to get a job in Jerusalem working as a policeman for the Sadducee High Priest, who was Rome’s “Quisling of the day”.

Another theory is that the “Apostle Paul” was an alias used by Apollonius of Tyana, the noted Greek Neo-Pythagorean philosopher, who wanted to start his own religion so as to solve the world’s problems. In his book “Apollonius of Tyana the Nazarene”, R.W, Bernard, discloses the astounding number of similarities between Appolonius and Paul.

Apollonius grew up studying at pagan temples in Asia Minor and became an outstanding Greek scholar, studying under the best spiritual scholars in Asia and India. He was a devoted “sun god worshiper” of Mithraism, a religion that had mainly originated in the area of Tarsus, where coincidentally, Paul was from as well.

Upon his return to Asia Minor, he then went to Jerusalem. Based on his vast knowledge of peoples, languages and various belief systems, Apollonius combined what he thought were the best spiritual attributes that would work well for “all the cultures of the world”.

If he was indeed the one and same “Apostle Paul”, he certainly managed to create the “universal religion”, we all know today as “Christianity”.

The chart below, reveals a number of uncanny similarities between “Apollonius of Tyana” and the“Apostle Paul”, that are more than just coincidences.

Apollonius Apostle Paul
apollonius saul2
Born 4 BCE Born c. 2 CE?
Raised in Tarsus Raised in Tarsus
Religiously precocious as a child Religiously precocious as a child
A native speaker of Aramaic Claimed to speak Hebrew
His disciple Damis was from Asia Minor His disciple Demas was from Asia Minor
Had an associate named Titus Had an associate named Titus
Associated with wise men or magi Associated with the supernatural Jesus
Associated with a Demetrius Associated with a Demetrius
Associated with a Stephanus Associated with a Stephanus
Influenced by Plato Influenced by Plato
Renounced wealth Embraced poverty
Followed abstinence and asceticism Followed abstinence and asceticism
Wore long hair and robes Wore long hair and robes
Was unmarried and childless Was unmarried and childless
Went to Jerusalem Went to Jerusalem
Spent much time at Antioch Spent much time at Antioch
Made missionary journeys around Mediterranean Made missionary journeys around Mediterranean
Traveled to the East for three years, where he was taught by sages Traveled to the East for three years, where he claimed he was taught by Jesus
Wrote epistles instructing followers in spirituality Wrote epistles instructing followers in spirituality
Spoke in metaphors Used philosophy
Fought wild beasts at Ephesus Fought wild beasts at Ephesus
Performed miracles Performed miracles
Healed the sick Healed the sick
Cast out evil spirits Cast out demons
Famed far and wide Well known around the Mediterranean
Religious reformer Religious reformer
Spoke authoritatively to temple priests Spoke authoritatively to temple priests
Spoke as a “law-giver” Claimed special authority above Torah
Founded a religious community at Corinth Founded a religious community at Corinth
Converted “unrefined” people to himself Converted “Gentiles” to himself
Believed to be a “savior” from heaven Claims to be “messenger of God”
Worshiped as a god Mistaken for a god
Had his life threatened Had his life threatened
Condemned by Roman emperor Condemned by Roman emperor
Imprisoned at Rome Imprisoned at Jerusalem and Rome
Miraculously escaped prison Miraculously escaped prison
Was shipwrecked Was shipwrecked

Paul was the antithesis of Jesus. He was a conman, cunning, intelligent, boastful, arrogant, ambitious, cruel, a bounty hunter, a narcissist, a misogynist, an opportunist, a counterfeiter, a plagiarizer and inventor of myths. After all he was a Pharisee, a resentful Jew and full of hate, who not only hated himself but also hated the Romans and the followers of the “Prophet Jesus”. He also hated his companion Pharisees, the Sadducee and especially the useless Jewish low caste “untouchables”, as he saw them.

He was certainly not an honorable man, as he spent his days “bounty hunting” the followers of the “Prophet Jesus”, so as to imprison them. He had been present during the stoning of Steven, one of the first preachers of this dangerous “Sect” to die.

Seen by other others as a looser, Paul desperately searched for something that would make him famous and important; something that would spectacularly redeem him. But meanwhile he continued to defend “Jewish Law”, by hunting down all those he considered to be “heretics”.

While persecuting the first followers of the “Prophet Jesus”, Saul of Tarsus realized that these cells of anarchistic, subversive, rebel and cantankerous “followers of the Way” were totally disorganized and without any leadership. Their leader Jesus, hadn’t left any writings of his sayings, activities, ideas or message and his twelve original followers, the Apostles, hadn’t even bothered to jot anything down either.

Saul also discovered that the verbal tales within the various groups about the “Prophet Jesus”, were all very different, much like messages whispered down a human telephone line, everything was second, third and fourth hand and basically didn’t make any sense.

As he continued terrorizing the “untouchable” Jews who passionately believed in the various stories doing the rounds about the “Prophet Jesus”, it slowly dawned on Saul of Tarsus that he was the man to take charge of these rebel “followers of the Way” cells of religious dissidents, and convert them into a major force, with which he could unleash his pent up fury against his fellow Jews and most importantly against the Romans, who ruled his race with an iron fist.

Having formulated his strategy, all Saul needed to kick off his plan was a spectacular event, something similar to a miracle, that would only happen to him, but would be witnessed by others. He was right on top of this and having studied the Torah under Gamaliel, he knew the Old Testament story of Balaam would do just nicely, as it would ring bells with the Pharisees and the Sadducee, impress the shit out of the Jewish “untouchables” and astound the superstitious Gentiles.

Slowly and cleverly, he conceived a cunning plan that would propel him to dizzying heights and place him in the minds of his followers, just a smidgen below Jesus, the “Son of God”.

Saul’s conversion

It’s perfectly reasonable to accept that Saul’s unpleasant job, persecuting the enemies of the Jewish High Priest, eventually led him to an intense moral conflict that he decided to deal with. The whole episode is a giant “I’m Sorry” and “Mae-Culpa”, partly genuine and partly staged, designed to fuse various “mysterious religions, Judaism and the Passion” into an entirely new belief, based on the “mystical atoning sacrifice” of Jesus.

Numerous additional key concepts invented by Paul, reflect his views and lay down the rules that would determine the teachings of his new religion, conveniently discarding the authentic teachings of Jesus.

Saul kicks off his cunning plan around 33-36 AD. During a routine “Nazarene bounty hunt” to Damascus, some three to six years after the “Resurrection”, Saul suddenly stages a spectacular “Meet & Greet” with the “Risen Christ”. This single event, relegates into insignificance all the other miraculous events related in the Gospels, and elevates “Saul’s experience” to a position, second only to the spectacularity of the “Resurrection”.

There was no flies on Saul, he was a very smart Jew and even though Jesus said he would return a “second time” in the future for everyone, Saul managed to engineer a special interim visit by Jesus to earth “just to see him”, bestow him with some “divine revelations” and anoint him the “last but not least Apostle “.

Brilliant!; The word spread rapidly and everyone was very impressed, except of course “The Twelve” in Jerusalem.

During the “Meet & Greet” on the road to Damascus, Saul “fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” [Acts 22:7] One of the ways we can be certain of the dubiousness of Saul’s story is that each time this miraculous event is retold in the book of Acts, the facts change.

Saul was never told or asked to be an “Apostle” by anybody, he was only told he would be a ”minister and a witness”. [Acts 26:15] In other words, depending where he was and who he was telling the story to, Saul felt; “it was best to omit and alter some of the facts, for the sake of clarity”.

Next, Saul has to hobble on foot the rest of the way to Damascus, led by the hand, because he’s been blinded by a bright light, as the book of Acts tells us. Meanwhile and coincidentally, a “Nazarene” and resident Damascus called Ananias, is miraculously advised by Jesus himself about Saul’s imminent arrival and is sent to a house where Saul is sulking because of his blindness, having refused to eat or drink anything for three days.

Ananias dutifully complies, removes a “scaly substance” from Saul’s eyes and miraculously, he is able to see again. This puts Saul in a much better mood, so he sits up in bed and starts eating and drinking to recover his strength.

Although the Jewish God had previously blinded many people in the Old Testament, even whole armies, he had never done so with any sort of “scaly substance”, so it’s much more likely that Saul had smeared a “previously prepared potion” on his eyes, when he had thrown himself to the ground a few days earlier during the “Meet & Greet”, as no healer or sage was called to examine his blindness.

Saul immediately agrees to a series of initiation ceremonies required by the “Nazarenes”, changes his identity to Paul (and for good reason) and is instantly able to preach all about all the “mysteries of the Risen Christ”.

Only those with a Christian faith can accept the original story as told by Saul. All others would look for a convincing and logical explanation of his amazing tale, which is difficult to satisfy with that criteria. Saul’s narrative has no historic value, other than to elevate himself to a position, second only to Christ.

In The real “Saul of Tarsus” – Chapter 2, we we will take a look at the way Paul imposed his “New Gospel” on Christianity, his bitter disputes with the “original Apostles”. and his subsequent trial as a “heretic”


Comments RSS
  1. José

    this is really a pathetic article, the writer can´t even ground on scripture that Paul gives another gospel.


  2. nili adler

    Interestingly enough, Paul does contradict himself continually. I wonder why. In essence, too many people don’t understand his writing. One of them contradicts Yehua when he says Its ok to eat whatever you want when Yeshua specifically said you can’t eat pork or touch pigs, while Paul says don’t worry about circumcision or what you eat. Paul didn’t care much for women either telling them to be quiet which does show how they treated women in culture at the time, even though Yeshua didn’t care about cultural differences and wanted Mary Magdalen to be one of the leaders.


  3. Graham Hughes

    Wow, I really really enjoyed this……not that it tickled my position of questioning faith, or the faith I have spent most of my life bathing it……….but because it comes from a different perspective on things central to the xian faith. In my own position of withdrawing from the fold and observing on a hill…….I have realised how important perspective is. When you are within a subculture….immersed in its language, mores and contexts….contemporary and historic……everything verifies, backs up and deepens the beliefs and world view of that closed system. What I love….and in truth we need and which the closed system continually spinning in its own reinforcing orbit……with its own gravitational pull…keeping us all located and attached………what I love is a different perspective that has an integrity and perspective that commands intellectual……(I know some evangelicals hate that word and see it as anti faith)…what is written here…tho wonderfully and healthily cynical….it commands my respect and is like….for me….a man needing fresh air and finding it……..or wanting to get to the top of a hill to see whats on the other side………or like a smell in your house you are trying to locate in your fridge or the walls………so thank you for this…I am looking forward to Ch. 2. So glad to have found you on this Good Friday in Aotearoa/New Zealand.


  4. Not Paul of Tarsus

    Very, VERY interesting. Thanks for exploring this touchy subject. I had wondered yesterday if Paul was possibly just a sociopath that saw Jesus’ following and wanted a piece of that action, and “saw the light” one day. I wondered if he fabricated his time in the wilderness, but your site shows that was the tip of an iceberg! Interesting! And thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oscar

    The Christian faith will defend itself, because they love the comfort of their perfect world, and no person on this earth will convince them otherwise.


  6. Bianca Extraña

    Mr Russell my opinion on the matter is that as a writer your comments, opinions and investigations are really good and of course the political side is great no one like you in Guatemala. However on Christianity you really don’t know much, unless you are writing about the false teachings of the Brethren cult. Please as an avid reader of your site I suggest you keep writing about the secular world (unless you are desenmascarando a los ladrones lobos vestidos de ovejas) I really like you no offense, leave the teaching of the Bible to the scholars


    • By: John Russell

      Hi Bianca
      Love your feedback. As to my comments on Christianity, I in no way, aim to teach anyone about the Bible, however, having studied the subject in depth, merely enjoy exploring the numerous myths and assertions of the Christian faith, that don’t square with the facts.

      It’s probably because I know too much about Christianity, that I touch sensitive nerves. :)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Graham Hughes

        seems very informed to me….and I have a nose for religious rats……your understanding is very authentic to myself………its like what you are saying about Paul and what is rife in the religious/christian world now…….claiming inspiration or revelation….and argue with that you are arguing with the boy/ guy/person. I am used to reading academic writings and how you present and what you say rings very true integrity wise to me. I have heard Bianca’s line before ….and not knocking her at all…………but I have heard this line of leave it to the scholars is used a bit…especially for people who go against the party line. Interesting tho…….some of Jesus’s biggest enemies were the scholars of the day and the religious leaders who followed such and various schools of scholarly thinking/positions. Wisdom has nothing to do with study…….


    • Yetzer Hara

      Hun, if you can’t use your own brain then remain a Christian. The church has doctrines for people like yourself, so you won’t strain yourself like a sheep! Bah, be a sheep, be a sheep be a mindless bloodied, fleeced and slaughtered sheep!

      Liked by 1 person

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