The New Testament letters – 1

Bold, Catholic and Fake epistles!

A compendium of fraud!

Jesus Never Existed –  Paul the Apostle

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Kenneth Humphreys



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The Epistles - Proof of no Jesus!

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Earliest extant "epistles"?
3rd century copies!

Chester Beatty Papyrus "P46" – Romans  

The conventional claim is that the earliest Christian writings are the letters of St Paul, and these are said to date from between 48 and 60 AD.

But NO original documents exist and the authenticity of Paul's epistles has been doubted since the 18th century.

The earliest copies extant are from the 3rd century, the trophies of a 1930s American copper millionaire, Chester Beatty. Beatty bought parts of eleven biblical codices from dealers in Cairo. One codex contains the four gospels and Acts, another the letters of Paul, and a third a late 3rd century copy of Revelation.

Significantly, the Pauline letters in the "P46" papyri are arranged in an unusual order and exclude the pastorals.

Was the Pauline corpus still a work-in-progress in the 3rd century?












Hebrews: Undisputed fake

" The author has been traditionally identified with Paul ... However, it is clear that the attribution of the letter to Paul (first by Clement of Alexandria in the late 2nd century) was promoted to gain acceptance within the canon....

But it is clear that the real author is unknown...

Tertullian, writing about AD 220, attributes it to Barnabas but this is because he saw a similarity to the spurious Epistle of Barnabas, which is an extravagantly anti-Jewish tract."

– B. Linders, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews (Cambridge, 1994, p15,16)


Luther opined that the author of Hebrews was Apollos, Calvin thought Luke.

Why not have a guess yourself?











Taking the epistle?

"The text which has been misused to support a literal view of the entire Bible's inspiration is itself the work of an author who has lied about his identity."

– Robin Lane Fox (The Unauthorized Version, p136)

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."

– 2 Timothy 3.16.















Temple goes up in flame

"So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come ..."

– Josephus, Wars 6.4.5.










Many scholars attempt "chronologies" of the life of Paul, yet Acts of the Apostles is a naive fantasy and the Pauline letters of themselves provide few clues in time or place.  Bringing Paul's epistles seamlessly into the story of the church proves to be an impossible task, for collectively the letters offer no continuous narrative and no one has any real idea of the sequence of their composition. Hence the enduring "uncertainty" in the origin of the letters and their stark incompatibility with the "authorised" early history of the faith.

Pious reflection and wishful thinking assemble the epistles into the "life" of the apostle, delicately extracting a few perceived "facts" from the embarrassing mythology of Acts, as pegs on which to hang the garments. Yet the epistles are themselves full of hyperbole, the inane and the wondrous. Paul, no less than Peter, struts across a stage that exists only in the dreams of those who would speak in his name and rule with his authority. Myth is not truth.


Letters Home

A collection of purported "letters" – twenty one in all – augments the fable of Jesus contained in the Gospels. The arrangement of the anthology within the New Testament is not chronological but, for the most part, is by descending order of length, just like another famous collection of pious pontification, the surahs of the Koran! Most of the letters are addressed to churches rather than individuals, a clear indication that they are not real letters at all. Another clue that they are in fact theology masquerading as correspondence is the sheer length of several of them – "Romans", for example, is longer than many ancient books. All of the epistles are troubled by inconsistency and anachronism.

Together with the book of Acts, the epistles serve a crucial purpose: they provide a bridge between the pageant in Palestine set out in the Gospels and the emergent churches of the late 2nd century. The letters tie, if not the saviour himself, then a few of the supporting actors (James, Peter, John, Jude and above all, Paul) to the churches where the real world "Church Fathers" first staked their claim to heaven's secrets and their own profane authority. The very existence of purported "letters" buttress the myth of a unified church. The epistles "proved" their churches legitimate, validated the priestly claims to "pastoral authority" and endorsed the episcopal right to rule as servants of Christ.

As with the Gospels, "tradition" rather than history ascribes authorship to all of the so-called epistles and places them (with some difficulty) in the historical framework. Precisely when they were written, by whom they were written, and where they were written, remains a matter of endless speculation. Always the orthodox intent is to place the epistles within the purported lifetime of the apostles, an infinite loop of pious logic: the apostles date the epistles and the epistles date the apostles.

As it stands, we have no copy of a New Testament letter earlier than the 3rd century, that is, nothing that pre-dates the fierce sectarian conflicts and acrimonious doctrinal battles of the 2nd century – a time when "pseudepigraphy" and bogus apostolic writings were primary weapons in the war of "Christianities".


Bold, Catholic and Fake

 Epistles of Peter, James, John, and Jude

"Love NOT the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.' – 1 John 2.15.

Several of the New Testament epistles are known as "Catholic" because there is no pretense that they are correspondence to an individual or even an individual church. They are addressed to the "whole church". Many authorities regard these seven works as "pseudepigraphical" (in plain English, fake). Put aside the distorting lens of Christian faith and it becomes obvious why: they belong in that period of fractious debate that characterised Christianity of the 2nd not the 1st century.

1 & 2 Peter, Jude

"The two letters of Peter are damned by their style and by their references to Paul's collected letters and pagan persecution."
– Robin Lane Fox (The Unauthorized Version, p136)

Just what did Peter,"Prince of the Apostles", record for posterity? Some welcome insights into the early days with his Lord? Perhaps an allusion to his faux pas in the Garden of Gethsemane or a reminiscence of that awesome resurrection appearance? Not a bit of it. "Peter" writes as a church manager, anxious to keep the organisation under control.

1 Peter is not so much a letter as a baptismal sermon, written in a Greek milieu. It claims to originate in "the church that is at Babylon", understood as a coded reference to Rome, and apparently is addressed to Jewish Christians ("strangers") scattered across Rome's Asian provinces. They are a "chosen generation", facing "manifold temptations". Submission is the watchword. The brethren are urged to be "as obedient children"(1.14), as "newborn babes" (2.2), to "submit to every ordinance of man ... unto governors ... for the Lord's sake." (2.13,14). Slaves are urged to be subject to masters "with all fear" (2.18), wives to be subject to husbands "chaste and with fear" (3.2), the younger to "submit to the elder" (5.5). All this subservience, it seems, is in the sight of God "of great price." The end of all things is "at hand" (4.7).

Yet none of this can originate with an "unlearned and ignorant" fisherman called Peter (Acts 4.13). Its excellent Greek, use of the Septuagint for scriptural references, including a description of JC's death drawn from Isaiah 53 – odd for an eye-witness! – betrays a different origin. The reference to Rome as "Babylon" is an obvious anachronism (Rome was only so-called after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 yet Peter we are told died at the hands of Nero around 64! 1 Peter is late and fake.

2 Peter purports to be the last testament of a man facing a martyr's death (so why doesn't Peter feature in Paul's "prison letters"?). Its intent is to warn against "false teachers" and play down end-time hopes. A real howler is verse 3.16 which refers to Paul's epistles as "scripture"! It dates, of course, to a time when the Church was warming to the idea of secular power.

2 Peter actually borrows from the epistle of Jude and Jude itself – a mere 25 verses – claims to be the work of the "brother of James", that is the apostle Judas named in Luke 16.6 and Acts 1.13. And yet the apostle lists of Mark and Matthew name no such character. Instead, the only brother of James they know is a John! A Judas is named later by both evangelists but this time as "the brother of Jesus" (Matthew 13,55, Mark 6.3). More fakery.


  Epistles of James, 1,2 & 3 John

This "letter of James" was not included in the early canon and it most certainly is not from the pen of a brother of Jesus. Its mixed bag of themes and inconsistent vocabulary betray that it has actually been composited from several earlier sources. Probably the date of composition was the late 2nd century, when Pauline theology was being expropriated by the church in Rome. One concern expressed in the letter was opposition to "faith without works", a point made without mentioning Paul by name. Luther called James "an epistle of straw" – but then Luther was the apostle of "sole fide".

All three "John" epistles are actually anonymous but "tradition" (and certain affinities with the 4th gospel) assign a spurious authorship to the famous apostle. But content clearly indicates the furious doctrinal and factional conflicts best identified in the 2nd century.

1 John has none of the salutations of a letter. It warns the "children" (a word used no fewer than 14 times) to resist the "many antichrists" (2.18) and "false prophets" (4.1).

What heinous messages have "the seducers" (2.26) been spreading that merits the fatherly missive? Such shockers as "Jesus was not Christ or Son of God" (2.22, 5.5), that "we have no sin" (1.8), that God does not incarnate as flesh (4.3) – all of which sounds terribly "modern" but which were issues crucial to the disputes between Hellenisers, Judaizers, Gnostics, Docetists and those who emerged as "orthodox" towards the end of the 2nd century.

2 and 3 John are perhaps the most honest of all the epistles. They are brief enough to have actually been a letter (each would fit on a single leaf of papyrus), are sent by someone calling himself "the elder" (NOT John!) and are addressed to a "Gaius" and to an "elect lady". They betray a certain frantic concern that the recipients remain true to the "original message" and not be seduced by "deceivers", who quite obviously are very active. The "false teacher" targeted by 2 John has a startling perspective: Jesus never existed!

"For many deceivers are entered into the world, WHO CONFESS NOT THAT JESUS CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." – 2 John 1.7.

3 John actually names the object of its wrath, a reprobate called Diotrephes, chief honcho of a church somewhere and rival to "the elder":

" who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not ... prating against us with malicious words ... neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church." – 3 John 1.9,10.

Such brotherly love, such Christian fellowship!


  Exit "Hebrews"

Setting aside the seven dubious "Catholic" items, the fourteen remaining letters are said to be the work of Paul. Surely, we have something genuine here?

Well, we better make that thirteen. Nobody with any knowledge at all about the anonymous "Hebrews" subscribes to the ungrounded "tradition" that Hebrews is Paul's handiwork.

In fact, even Evangelicals welcome the reassignment of Hebrews to another hand. In their impoverished logic it gives them “another witness” to Jesus!


The Pauline Corpus - a compendium of fraud

NOT mentioned in dispatches

Of the thirteen letters that bear the name of Paul, nine of them are addressed to churches and four to individuals. Do they ring true?

Curiously, the four Gospels neither mention nor even hint at a pioneering apostle called Paul. For the gospel writers, Paul does not exist. Equally curious is that Paul's letters reciprocate the ignorance of the gospellers by betraying NO knowledge of apostolic writings. Indeed the evangelist Matthew, the tax collector so good at teasing prophesies for the coming of Jesus out of Jewish scripture, is not so much as named in any Pauline epistle.

The evangelist John, son of Zebedee and the only other disciple credited with a gospel, is dismissed by Paul in a single phrase from his entire corpus:

" James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars .. ".

Even then, the occasion was seventeen years after Paul's miraculous conversion, when the apostle proudly declared he "learned nothing" from the purported companions of the godman (Galatians 2.6,9), and that included John, "the one Jesus loved"! Even the central drama of Jesus is referenced so obliquely and fleetingly in Paul's letters that one realizes that the author's "risen Christ" is a different entity entirely from the Nazarene carpenter of the gospels.

According to Acts, the evangelist Mark (aka John Mark) did feature in the adventures of Paul: he deserted the apostle's first mission at Perga and became the cause of an acrimonious falling out between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15.38,39). Yet Paul makes no reference to this altercation in his own letters and his three passing references to Mark are inconsequential and dubious. Mark's references to Paul are non-existent. Even the dubious Epistle of Barnabas, supposedly the work of Paul's first companion, never mentions Paul.

Not even the book of Acts – written, we are told, by Luke, Paul's long-time travelling companion and with him even in the condemned cell (2 Timothy 4.11) – makes any reference to, or even hints at the existence of the Pauline epistles, the seminal work that defines Christian theology and makes up one third of the entire New Testament! The silence is startling from the supposed "biographer" of the foremost apostle.


"Inauthentic" – a polite word for fraudulent

Actually, for quite some time, biblical scholars of all stripes have divided even the Pauline epistles into the "authentic" and the "inauthentic", the litmus test being the "unique and powerful voice" said to speak through the genuine article. Perhaps as few as four, or as many as seven, of the whole collection are deemed "authentic".


"The Pastorals" – not quite the ticket

"The two epistles of Timothy are set suspiciously apart by style and are damned by their content and setting (the single bishop; Timothy's lack of knowledge and his awkward whereabouts).

– Robin Lane Fox (The Unauthorized Version, p136)

The most dubious of the Pauline letters are the so-called "pastorals" – 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.

The biggest problem is that 2 Timothy purports to be written from a prison cell shortly before the apostle's martyrdom yet Paul says "Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick" (2 Timothy 4.20). Paul's last recorded presence in Miletum (Miletus, near Ephesus) was on the return leg of his 3rd journey (Acts 20.15), not on his voyage to Rome, and Trophimus was NOT left behind. In fact, in Jerusalem Trophimus plays a crucial if passive role in the eventual fate of the apostle.

"Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple." – Acts 21.28,29

Apart from the chronological slip one may well ask, Why did the great healer not heal his own playmate?

Titus presents its own problems. Within the opening address we learn that Paul has been to Crete yet the "classic" Pauline itinerary says nothing about a mission to the island:

"To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee." – Titus 1.4,5.

also anticipates a get together of the saints on the Adriatic coast of Greece – so Paul is obviously not in a Roman jail.

"When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them." – Titus 3.12,13.

The pious mind, being what it is, papers over the rather serious cracks with quite a bizarre claim: that Paul served not one but two prison terms in Rome, with a year's vacation in between, probably spent in Spain and/or Crete! Such a wildly inventive story becomes necessary to keep the so-called "Pastoral" epistles "authentic".

Even without the "two term" jail record, Paul had a curious imprisonment in Rome. Apparently, he spent two years in his own hired house, summoning the Jewish elders (Acts 28.17, 20), receiving all who came to him, and preaching without hindrance from "morning till night" (Acts 28.23). Sounds more like a sabbatical year than a term in prison.

OK - so excluding the dodgy "pastorals", do we have ten genuine letters?

Not quite.


The "Prison Epistles"

The so-called "prison" or "captivity" letters – Philippians, Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians – far from establishing the veracity of Pauline authorship, expose such authorship as bogus.

They are discussed in detail here.

Suffice it to say that the prison letters do nothing to establish the notion that Paul was either in Rome or in prison. They are, as they say, "inauthentic".


What, then, of the half-dozen "core" Pauline letters? Surely they at least are "authentic"?

Well actually ...





Hermann Detering, The Falsified Paul, Early Christianity in the Twilight (Journal of Higher Criticism, 2003)
A. N. Wilson, Paul, The Mind of the Apostle (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1997)
John Ziesler, Pauline Christianity (Oxford, 1990)
Edward Stourton, In the Footsteps of Saint Paul (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004)
J. Murphy-O'Connor, Paul, A Critical Life (Clarendon, 1996)
J. Murphy-O'Connor, Paul, His Story (Oxford, 2005)
Daniel T. Unterbrink, Judas the Galilean (iUniverse, 2004)
Daniel T. Unterbrink, New Testament Lies (iUniverse, 2006)
Jay Raskin, The Evolution of Christs and Christianities (Xlibris, 2006)


St Paul – Real or Imagined?

A Jew called Saul? An apostle called Paul? A witness to Jesus? Or plain invention?
Up Close and Personal
A journey to Cyprus? A mission to Galatia?
Mission Impossible
Big city tour? Athens, Corinth, Ephesus?
Magical Mystery Tours - A Greek Odyssey
Voyage to Rome? A martyr's death? "Tradition" versus truth.
Magical Mystery Tours - The Road to Rome
Epistles? Letters to the churches?
The bogus "authentic" Pauline epistles


Still holding to the idea that some sort of holy man lies behind the legend? Better check out...
Godman – Gestation of a Superhero

A closer look at the glib assertion that the Jesus story "got off the ground quickly and spread rapidly."
What DID the Early Christians Believe?

Many currents fed the Jesus myth, like streams and tributaries joining to form a major river.
Sourcing the legend – The Syncretic Heritage of Christianity

Much of the mythology of Christianity is a rehash of an older and even more transparent fabrication – Judaism.
Jew Story – The Way of the Rabbi

Human ingenuity and cunning is matched by mankind's equally monumental credulity and wishful thinking.
Christianity's Fabrication Factory

Church organisation, authority and membership preceded rather than followed the justifying doctrine. As the organisation and its needs changed so has the ‘Testament of God’ adapted accordingly.
Dogma – The Word in all its Savage Glory

Orchestrated by ambitious Christian clerics, a cancer of superstition, fear and brutality was imposed across Europe.
Heart of Darkness – The Criminal History of the Christian Church

The Christian Heaven may have been a vain folly but the Christian Hell has been real enough.
Hell on Earth – A Brutal Superstition Spreads Across the World

Raised to the status of State religion the Christian Church reigned over the destruction of civilization. As the centuries passed religious barbarism grew ever more vicious.
Winter of the World – The Terrible Cost of "Christendom"

With a Jewish father (stern patriarch) and a Christian mother (obsession with guilt and heaven) it is not surprising that Islam grew up a bit of a tartar.
Islam's Desert Storm – 'Christendom' Reaps a Whirlwind

Heaven help us. The richest, most powerful nation in history has a psychotic infatuation with Jay-a-sus the Lawd!
The Christianizing of the Americas





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Copyright © 2006 by Kenneth Humphreys.
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