Talk:Paul the Apostle

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Historical vs. Biblical record[edit]

Most of the Wikipedia articles on the apostles and evangelists (authors of the Gospels and some of the other New Testament chapters) have the same huge problem. They don't clearly distinguish between the Biblical accounts and the non-Biblical historical accounts. I can see some attempts at establishing clarity, but most of these articles barren back and forth between Biblical sources, extra-Biblical Christian traditions, and the historical record. Consequently, almost all of these articles are messy and confusing.

Many of the people who work on these articles have sincere Christian faith and consider the Bible a legitimate historical document. Some also like to cite "extra-Biblical Christian tradition." Other editors, me included, have little or no confidence in the Bible, or extra-Biblical Christian traditions, as legitimate historical records. It seems to me there are only two good solutions to this problem. One is two have two separate articles for the important apostles and evangelists. Paul the Apostle (Biblical) and Paul the Apostle (historical). The other is to divide each article into two major sections -- Biblical and Historical. The sections should be clearly marked and consistent from one article to another.

In many cases, the Historical section would be quite short. "Biblical scholars agree the author of this gospel is unknown. Outside of the Bible and extra-Biblical Christian traditions, dating to the X Century, there is no historical record of X's life." That sort of thing. In my opinion, these sections in each article are essential for clarity and authority.2602:306:CDB2:4860:3435:1C9E:D02F:DE6A (talk) 19:34, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

As you correctly point out, there is no historical record apart from the Bible (>95%) and Christian tradition for this topic (Paul the apostle). However, you seem to suggest that biblical sources have no historical value. The vast majority of scholars today would disagree. It is almost universally accepted among historians that the Bible contains at least seven letters that were written by Paul himself (see Pauline epistles), and these are therefore excellent sources to learn about the life of Paul. The book of Acts, which is the other major biblical source for Paul's life is widely accepted to have been written by a contemporary of Paul, and although considered less reliable than Paul's own letters, it is undisputed that its author was well-informed about Paul's career. Obviously, biblical material is critically evaluated by scholars, just like any other historical documents. If you think that there is too little critical discussion of the biblical accounts, please help improve the article by adding such material or point out specific instances where this is required. However, it makes no sense to separate 'historical' from 'biblical' sources, because the New Testament books are exactly that: ancient documents, mostly from the first century, which contain lots of valuable information that modern historians use to learn about e.g. the life of Paul. - Lindert (talk) 20:58, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
The authorship and reliability of Acts are major problems in historical criticism. If these works are truly such great sources for modern historians, then per WP:SECONDARY we should be able to cite such historians for the conclusions they reach, not Acts itself (or for that matter, the Pauline epistles). QVVERTYVS (hm?) 21:27, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

"Other editors, me included, have little or no confidence in the Bible, or extra-Biblical Christian traditions, as legitimate historical records."

Despite the fact that over 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament exist? Compared to a scant handful for contemporaneous works such as Tacitus, Plutarch, and so forth? If you don't have confidence in the reliability of the Biblical account, especially the New Testament, then I would suggest doing a little research on your own on the topic. The more you dig into Biblical archaeology the more you will find that the New Testament is an exceptionally reliable historical record.

This touches another pet peeve of mine, which is that folks such as this editor have no problem with the authenticity of Tacitus, Cicero, Plutarch, Virgil, and so on, but when it comes to the New Testament, which is incredibly well-documented, a different and probably impossible-to-meet standard is applied. Why two different standards, one for the New Testament and another for all the other works of the same period? Tpkatsa (talk) 21:08, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Guys, WP:NOTFORUM. WP:CITE WP:Reliable sources (and WP:No original research). And we usually treat Tacitus et al as primary sources, only to be cited to verify quotations rather than for independent claims. Ian.thomson (talk) 21:21, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

That is incorrect. Tacitus is often treated as a secondary source. A quick scan of the Nero article (one of many examples), several instances where Tacitus and Suetonius are the only source for a given claim (e.g. Nero used Christians as torches). As the original editor points out, Christian sources - biblical or extra-biblical - are to be categorically considered as unreliable because they had a viewpoint and agenda. By this same logic, any uncorroborated claim by Tacitus that an emperor was cruel or incompetent should be rejected because such statements support his viewpoint and agenda. Further, since Tacitus had a viewpoint and agenda and wrote things down to support them, the entire corpus of what are allegedly his writings should be considered unreliable. Note that I say "allegedly" because there are only 20 extant copies, the oldest of which was penned 1,000 years after his death (M.II). It is probable that all copies of Annales and Historiae are copied from this MSS [1], [begin satire] so there is no way to ascribe any real historical significance to anything allegedly written by Tacitus[/end satire]. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:03, 20 October 2015 (UTC)

Indeed, there are problems throughout this article and I was quite surprised for one of this length not to be shaped correctly. There are numerous places where neutral point of view has been abandoned. To name just a couple: "tools which he later would use to effectively spread the Gospel and to establish the church solidly in many parts of the Roman Empire". It's clear to historians that Paul pre-existed the gospels as he never quotes them or directly mentions them. If the word "gospel" is being used differently it should be thusly noted, as well as how the word "church" is used, since Christianity was a Judaic sect at the time and not a separate religion (nor the religion that would be established a century later). It's also not neutral to describe his "conversion" when that would not have been the thusly-defined concept at the time. Whatever happened to him on the road to Damascus, the result was his decision to switch from persecution to support. If that's what's meant by "conversion" it should be noted. In the descriptions of Saul as Pharisaic it's not distinguished that Rabbinical-Pharisaic tradition didn't exist yet, and how the term is being used. From the first paragraph on the Pharisee page: "In 70 CE Pharisaic beliefs became the liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism (the term 'Judaism' today almost always refers to Rabbinic Judaism)". This conflicts with the statement that his family "had been very attached to Pharisaic traditions and observances for generations". And, Acts may say he was trained at an Hillel school but historians have long pointed out that the writings most likely to be Pauline come purely from the Hellenistic tradition and not the Rabbinical. There are a dozen other non-encyclopedic-type problems. Entire sections read like they were cut/pasted from a religious website.Tangverse (talk) 00:18, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Since Paul is primarily a character in Christian theology it makes sense that most of the article would be about that. I think has a Historicity section would be enough, since questions of historicity are mostly quite recent and as you say, there is not much historical evidence, so the section would probably not be that large anyway. I also agree that the parts that are part of the Christian tradition should be clearly delineated from the parts that are commenting on modern historical secular scholarship. Ashmoo (talk) 09:01, 20 October 2015 (UTC)

WP:POINTY and undiscussed changes[edit]

A user disregarding WP:BRD is repeatedly inserting his claim that Paul is considered by non-Christians as the founder of Christianity, a direct and pointy retaliation for Muhammad saying that non-Muslims regard Muhammad as the founder of Islam. These undiscussed edits that the user keeps inserting are "sourced" by referring to a rabbi and an imam, not to any academic or historian, so fails WP:RS. Jeppiz (talk) 10:52, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

Watch out WP:Personal attacks. Don't attack the editor himself in order to prove your point of view. This change is well sourced and if you want more sources, then don't worry! I can bring you more.--Ciphers00 (talk) 10:57, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
It's not about the number of sources, it's about the quality of them. Ironic you should invoke WP:NPA after calling me a "troll". An imam or a rabbi are not WP:RS for historical figures. Jeppiz (talk) 11:02, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
Then explain your problem with the quality of the sources; which are"
  1. The Jewish Encyclopedia. SAUL OF TARSUS (known as Paul, the Apostle of the Heathen) The Jewish Encyclopedia.
  2. Judaiology: A Study of the Science of Judaism: The Most Misunderstood Religion in the World. Imam Warith-Deen Umar. Page 134
  3. More Than a Prophet: An Insider's Response to Muslim Beliefs about Jesus and Christianity. Emir Fethi Caner, Ergun Mehmet Caner. Page 119 --Ciphers00 (talk) 11:26, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
(1) Not only is this a very unbalanced article which makes many claims that are rejected by mainstream scholarship, but it is also hopelessly outdated. Why would you want to cite a source that is over a century old? Even if we take it as a reliable source, it literally states: "The actual founder of the Christian Church as opposed to Judaism", so the author actually qualified his claim. He is saying that the aspects of Christianity that are opposed to Judaism are to be attributed to Paul, not that he started the entire Christian movement.
(2) This book is from Xlibris, so it is self-published. Generally speaking, self published sources are not considered reliable according to Wikipedia standards.
(3) At least this book is not self-published, although it is not a scholarly work. That said, the book does not support the claim that Muslims consider Paul the founder of Christianity. It states: "Islam sees Paul as the founder of apostate Christianity", that is, they say Paul corrupted the original Christianity of Jesus. One can only apostatize from something that already exists. - Lindert (talk) 12:19, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
This means then that you have no problem with the following statement: "Paul is generally regarded by Muslims and many non-Christians to be the founder of apostate Christianity." per the first and the third cited sources. I would like also to add another source:
4. Twenty-six Reasons why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus. Asher Norman. Feldheim Publishers. 2007. Page 134.

--Ciphers00 (talk) 13:21, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

That is WP:SYNT as none of the sources say that. To say that something is generally regarded as something, we need a source to say that. Finding a source saying X is not justification for saying "people generally believe X". Jeppiz (talk) 13:20, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
The third source says: "Islam sees Paul as the founder of apostate Christianity". This is the wording of the source itself. It is not my wording and so it is not WP:SYNT as you claimed.--Ciphers00 (talk) 13:24, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
One more source to support my position (this is the 5th source till now): 5. Defending the Faith: Nineteenth-Century American Jewish Writing on Christianity and Jesus. George L. Berlin. Page 64. --Ciphers00 (talk) 13:34, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
One more source to support my position (this is the 6th source till now): 6. The Making of Theatre History. Paul Kuritz‏. Page 60. --Ciphers00 (talk) 13:41, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
One more source to support my position (this the 7th source till now): 7. Israel's God and Rebecca's Children: Christology and Community in Early Judaism and Christianity : Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado and Alan F. Segal. David B. Capes. Baylor University Press, 2007. Page 322.--Ciphers00 (talk) 13:46, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
You have one source that claims that: "Islam sees Paul as the founder of apostate Christianity". That is also a qualifier on the claim that Paul founded Christianity, and it is only Islam, and only one source. I have to agree with Jeppiz on it being WP:SYNT. tahc chat 17:12, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
You are confused. The view of Muslims is already given in the Islamic view section of the article. This section perfectly supports my change of the lead. My change, which is "Paul is generally regarded by Muslims and many non-Christians to have been the founder of Christianity", is perfectly supported by these sources in that section and by the additional seven sources here.--Ciphers00 (talk) 17:56, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

What is "the method Philo the Alexandrian Jew" ? What is this method? Is this a reliable source? What is the Philo's "Essene" method?[edit]

Today, an user called 2602:306:cf39:c8b0:a185:e3bc:2108:278a published the following:

"The latest research into the life of Paul disputes his claim of conversion. In 2015, independent researchers P.J. Gott and Logan Licht reported evidence they discovered that suggests the books of the New Testament were written in "enigmatical modes of expression," the method Philo the Alexandrian Jew attributes to the Essene sect of Judaism.[2] Josephus the Jewish historian writes, “The Essenes also, as we call a sect of ours…live the same kind of life as do those whom the Greeks call Pythagoreans…” "[3] The Greek historian Plutarch ties "Pythagoreans" and "enigmatical modes of expression" together: "Pythagoras greatly admired the Egyptian priests, and, copying their symbolism and secret teachings, incorporated his doctrines in enigmas."[4] After testing Philo's "Essene" method as reconstructed by heresy-hunters in the 17th century, they conclude that Acts' "Paulus also known as Saulus" was the same "Saulus" Josephus blames for the events that led to the destruction of the Temple in 70.<refJosephus, 1999, Antiquities 20.9.4 (214), 657></ref> Paulus' biological father was Lucius Aemilius Paulus, a prominent Roman, but he was adopted and raised by the Nasi Gamaliel: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3)."

Is this true? The text has some mistakes. There must be a period where it is written: "was the same "Saulus" (period) Josephus.... And a reference lacks of this < ref >; in other part of the text there are two quotation together, etc...Rafaelosornio (talk) 05:01, 8 December 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Francis Newton, The Scriptorium and Library at Monte Cassino 1058-1105, 1999, p. 346
  2. ^ P.J. Gott and Logan Licht, Following Philo: In Search of The Magdalene, The Virgin, The Men Called Jesus (Bolivar: Leonard Press, 2015),27.
  3. ^ William Whiston, trans. The New Complete Works of Josephus (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999), Antiquities15.10.4 (371), 521.
  4. ^ Plutarch. Isis and Osiris, “Introduction,” (Loeb Classical Library, 1914, Babbit trans.); Gott and Licht (2015), 28.

Apparent lack of brain power[edit]

This entire article is mashed up like milk with potatos. If anybody can de-reverse the chronology of Paul coming to and from "Damascus" while simultaneously being in Jerusalem when Jesus was there and Paul would have seen him in the flesh, instead of after he went to heaven and then appeared in a vision later on to him, I am all EARS. If you have ears to hear with, so be it.

Seriously, people, can't you see how fabricated that is? The logical sequence of order doesn't apply to Paul.

All written history dates back to the 6th century BCE, which was Buddha. the 3rd century is the greeks, who borrowed ideas from the Hindus. The greeks also translated the so called books of the jews, called the Bible or OT. There are no manuscripts dating from before 300 BCE of a Jewish text that actually exists today.

Let me repeat this so that you can make no mistake about it: there are no ancient manuscript papers or evidence of any jewish writing pre dating about 300 BC or BCE. (talk) 18:33, 14 December 2015 (UTC) Dr Nature

Puzzled by this edit[edit]

@Telpardec, I'm puzzled by this edit. Care to explain? SageGreenRider talk 21:50, 18 December 2015 (UTC)