Monday, August 13, 2012

Paul Vs The Disciples of Jesus

Paul Vs. The Disciples: How the Disciples opposed Paul in terms of Theology of Jesus. 

                                                   Ehteshaam Gulam 


"All that is good about Christianity stems from Jesus, and all that is bad about it stems from Paul."
Tom O'Golo, Christ? No! Jesus? Yes!, p.199

 Ziesler John, Pauline Christianity (OUP 2001) Zielsler comments "Pauline Christianity is the earliest for which we have direct documentary evidence..."

Just because Jesus is called Lord doesn't mean he is God see

Jesus is also considered a "great prophet" by many people (Mark 6:14-16; 8:28; Matt 21:11; Luke 7:16; 24:19; John 6:14; etc.).

 "Savior" is sometimes applied to human leaders (e.g. Neh 9:27)

Just because Jesus was referred to as a Lamb doesn't mean he was divine: Thus, shepherd imagery is frequently applied to the rulers of Israel, both the good and the bad ones (2 Sam 7:7; Jer 3:15; 23:1-4; 25:34-36; Ezek 34:1-10; Zech 10:2-3; 11:3-17). Some of the prophets express hope that a future ruler of Israel will be a good shepherd like David (Ezek 34:23; 37:24; Micah 5:1-4).

Jesus is also called Rabbi which means Jewish Teacher/Master: 

Jesus is called Rabbi in conversation by Apostle Peter in Mark 9:5 and Mark 11:21, and by Mark 14:45 by Nathanael in John 1:49, where he is also called theSon of God in the same sentence.[112] On several occasions, the disciples also refer to Jesus as Rabbi in the Gospel of John, e.g. 4:316:259:2 and11:8.[112][114]
Intimating that the title Rabbi was used by status seeking Pharisees (who "sit on the seat of Moses") and use the title as sign of authority, in Matthew 23:1-8Jesus rejected the title of Rabbi for his disciples, saying: "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren".

It is a common misconception amongst Christians that Paul and the Apostles of Christ were unanimous in their preaching of a crucified and ressurected Jesus. Christians think that the apostles and Paul were preaching the same doctrine and everyone believed in the divine Jesus who came to be crucified for the sins of the world and that he was resurrected. However, if one examines the bible carefully, that person would observe that Paul and the disciples were not preaching the same doctrine and did not believe in the same Jesus.

A very strange fact is that Paul is mentioned more in the New Testament than any other apostle.Paul is mentioned more in the New Testament than any other apostle. So the real disciples of Jesus are downplayed and Paul is showcased more than the disciples/apostles of Jesus. For more on this see here

Isn't it Odd that Paul a man who never met and was trained under Jesus is mentioned more times in the New Testament than the Real Disciples of Jesus? What does this tell you? That the New Testament places more importance to Paul than the other disciples. There are even Christians who try to make Paul the first Pope, rather than Peter the real Disciple of Jesus! 

Paul actually rebukes PETER. Hence, implying that Paul is over Peter in authority. 

The Origins of Paul's Gospel: 

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galtians 1:11-12) 

 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corhthians 15:3-8) 

 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you (1 Corinthians 11:23) 

So Paul's "Gospel" is not an oral tradition that came from the original disciples of Jesus or anything, rather it is his own subjective revelation. Also notice in 1 Corithians 15 where Paul is talking about the Old Testament so Paul probably got his Gospel from his own visions and from his own subjective interpretation of the Old Testament and did not learn the "Gospel" from the disciples. 

The Disciples and other Very early Christians were preaching a Gospel different from Paul's Gospel: 

Galatians 1:6

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel  

It says 'different Gospel', so obviously the disciples were teaching them a different doctrine and it was not just minor issues.

Galatians 3:1-3
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish?

Obviously we have people that are disagreeing with Paul over the crucifixion of Jesus. Notice how Paul says 'Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified', so that means that whoever 'bewitched' the Galatians was preaching that Jesus was not crucified. 

The Disciples and other Very Early Christians were preaching a very different Jesus than the one Paul was preaching: 
2 Corinthians 11:4-5
4For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 5But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles."

Paul is accusing the people of following a Jesus that is being preached differently than the Jesus he preached. Now what was the Jesus and Gospel that Paul preached?...

1 Corinthians 1:23
but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
Also see Romans 2:16, Romans 16:25, etc. Paul describes the Gospel he's preaching about Jesus as "My Gospel". Also see Galtians 1, he got his Gospel from a vision not from the Disciples. Was this the same Gospel as the ones the disciples were preaching? From Paul's letters himself, the answer is no. 

So here we see that Paul preached a crucified Jesus. So if Paul was accusing people of following a Jesus that was different from the one he preached then that means that there were people who believed that Jesus was crucified. 

2 Corinthians 11: 22-24

What anyone else dares to boast about?I am speaking as a fool'I also dare to boast about. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I.23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am moreI have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.

The views of Paul's opponents are no longer preserved in full...they left no documents, or the documents they composed were not preserved, or perhaps some of them may be discovered in the future. Some of Paul's occasional letters are preserved with us, in which he is selective for understandable reasons. Thus we cannot get a complete picture about his disagreements with other Christians and the complete stance of his opponents. We know some of the reasons why other Christians, including Jesus' (peace be upon him) disciples, opposed Paul (circumcision, adherence to the law), while other reasons of contention are unknown.
The fact remains WE DON'T KNOW FOR SURE WHAT JESUS DISCIPLES WERE TEACHING OR PREACHING ABOUT HIM. When Christian and atheistic scholars are saying that the disciples of Jesus were teaching and preaching Jesus death and resurrection they are thinking that Paul and the disciples were teaching the same thing. But as we've seen from Paul's own letters the disciples and other very early Christians opposed Paul when it came to Theology about Jesus.

 All we know for sure is what Paul of Tarsus (who wrote a majority of the New Testament documents) was Preaching and Teaching about Jesus. The Epistles of Paul were the first Christian writings (written long before the other New Testament Documents) don't tell us what the original disciples of Jesus were teaching or preaching about Jesus. We don't know what the disciples were preaching or teaching at all. Paul never cites the disciples of Jesus at all. Paul says in Galtains 1:18 that he got his Gospel from a vision of Jesus and not from a man. And this was 3 years before he talked to any of the disciples. Paul only cites O.T. scripture and visions as his source for Jesus dying and being resurrected. He doesn't cite the disciples. That's it.

That Paul faced persecution for his beliefs does not mean his beliefs, therefore, are correct. People of all kinds of faiths have died for their beliefs.  Just ask the residents of Jerusalem in 70 AD, or Masada, or Jonestown.  Or the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.  Or the Heaven's Gate adherents.  Or for that matter, ask the Jews of the past 2,000 years. Not to mention Muslims.. Using this sham argument, one would have to conclude that when anyone suffers for the sake of whatever beliefs, then those beliefs would have to be true! It does not occur to Shamoun that Paul could have sincerely held some erroneous beliefs, which he propagated to others, and was willing to die for them since he wrongly believed them to be the truth. 

Paul to Christian theology that weren't evident in Jesuism. These included:
  1. Original sin
  2. Making the Jews the villains
  3. Making Jesus divine
  4. Transubstantiation of bread and wine to actual flesh and blood
  5. Jesus' death being seen as atonement for human sin
  6. Making Jesus the Messiah
  7. Shifting the emphasis from an earthly to a heavenly kingdom
  8. Enlarging the chosen people to include anyone that accepted Jesus as Saviour
  9. Making salvation a matter of belief in Jesus almost regardless of the demands of the Torah
  10. Establishing a hierarchy (literally a holy order) to create and control a Church and more importantly to create and control the beliefs of its membership (See  Tom O'Golo (2011). Christ? No! Jesus? Yes!: A radical reappraisal of a very important life. p. 81.)

Paul had no qualms calling Peter a hypocrite (Galatians 2:13) when the latter disagreed with Paul's interpretation of the gospel to the Gentiles. Again this shows that the disciples and Paul did not get along at all. 

Paul's Attitude towards Peter and James Changes, becomes Adversarial
  • Paul Confronts the "Pillars" at the Jerusalem Council (Galatians 2:1-13)
  • Paul Confronts Peter and "men from James" in the "Incident at Antioch"
    Paul is Bitter because he lost the argument (Galatians 2:11-16)
 Paul's Apostleship is being questioned in Corinth
1 Cor 9:2
9:2 If I am not an apostle to others,
at least I am to you;
for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
Paul is being examined by some who reject his apostleship;
he defends himself by claiming Apostolic Rights,
he compares himself to the genuine Apostles:
"the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas."

Again he is comparing himself to the disciples and we can clearly see that they are teaching a different kind of Jesus than he was. 

Conservative Scholarship vs Liberal Scholarhip 

Some Christian apologists are now saying that you can't use Liberal scholarship because they don't believe in the supernatural and Muslims do, thus they are being inconistent. However in the end of the day, it's about the evidence not about "My scholar said this or Your Conservative Scholar said that" Our claims should be backed up by having evidence. In the end of the day, that's all that matters. 


Conversative Scholarship vs Liberal Scholarship 

Before I get into this I need to briefly discuss Liberal Scholarship and Conservative Scholarship. Now Christian apologists are saying that Muslims can't use Liberal scholarship to discredit the Bible, my repsonse to that is it's about the evidence. It's not about my liberal scholar said this or my Conserative scholar said that, rather it's about WHO HAS THE EVIDENCE. Scholars like Richard Pervo and Bart Ehrman have shown us why we shouldn't trust Acts, the fact that it is a forgery, it's late dating/composition, etc. So the evidence doesn't support Acts of the Apostles, in fact the evidence shows that it isn't early or reliable. This conservative vs Liberal scholarship thing is not a good arguement.  But in any case, even Conserative scholars do admit that the N.T. Documents were written annoymously and there are issues with them. See below. 

In the generally conservative introduction to the early Christian writings, approved by the conservative evangelical scholar (and dedicated to the conservative scholar Craig A. Evans), Lee Martin McDonald and Stanley E. Porter (Early Christianity And Its Sacred Literature, 2000, Hendrickson Publishers) defend the traditional authorship of Mark's gospel, concluding that Mark is based on oral traditions as well as reminiscences coming from Peter. They write (p. 287):

"...we are then confronted with the difficult problem of trying to decipher which is the testimony of Peter and which are layers of tradition on top of it ..."

Lucan authorship of the third gospel and Acts is accepted with some reservations (p. 295):

"We are inclined to accept Lucan authorship, but not without some reservation ..."

According to the prominent conservative scholar Tom Wright, a favorite of many Christian apologists:
What do we know about how the Gospels got written? Frustratingly little. We don't have Matthew's diaries of how he went about collecting and arranging his material. We don't know where Mark was written. We don't know whether Luke really was, as is often thought, the companion of Paul. We don't know whether the 'Beloved Disciple', to whom the Fourth Gospel is ascribed (John 21:24), was really 'John' (in which case, which 'John'?) or someone else. None of the books name their authors; all the traditions about who wrote which ones are just that, traditions, from later on in the life of the church (beginning in the first half of the second century, about fifty years after the Gospels were written). (Tom Wright, The Original Jesus: The Life and Vision of a Revolutionary, 1997, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, pp. 126-127)

Mikeal C. Parsons states: "...Early Christian tradition argues that Luke the physician, the traveling companion of Paul ( see Col 4:14, 2 Tim 4:11, Phlm 24 ) , was the author of Acts ( see Irenaeus, AdvHaer 3.14 ). Although this traditional view still has its ardent supporters ( see Fitzmyer 1981, 35-51 ) , many scholars today are skeptical about identifying the author of Acts with any certainty....The identity of the author will probably remain a point of contention, but accepting an anonymous author in no way detracts from the message of the book. The name "Luke" is used throughout this commentary as a matter of convenience to refer to the implied author of Acts without any assumptions about the identity of the real author...." [Mikeal C. Parsons , "Acts of the Apostles" in: "Mercer Commentary on the New Testament" edited by Watson E. Mills & Richard F. Wilson  (Mercer University Press, 2003 ) , p. 1083]   

So we can see we don't even know who wrote Luke-Acts. Even important conservative scholars are coming forth and agreeing that we don't know who wrote many of the New Testament documents. So the question arises why should we trust these documents when we don't even know who wrote them or who their sources were? How can I know that the stories in Acts are reliable, etc etc?  How can I be 100% sure that Peter and the disciples actually believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus? Same problem with the rest of the New Testament documents-- how can be trust people we don't even know and we don't even know what sources they used to compose their material?  So Paul and the other New Testament documents aren't reliable. Yes they are early but they are not reliable. Remember just because something is early that doesn't make it true/reliable. 

So how can we trust people we don't even know--- How can we be 100% sure that these stories in Acts are reliable? We can't

Most of Acts of the Apostles revolves around Paul of Tarsus. Peter is mentioned a few times, but Paul is the main character of Acts. The book of Acts, which mentions all of the apostles, discusses Paul more than any other apostle.

The speeches in Acts are basically unhistorical. Several scholars attest to this, below are some: 

  • Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament (1992):
    It is ...clear...that the speeches of Acts are the author's own and serve to advance his narrative aims. [8]

  • Udo Schnelle, The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings (1998):
    Although it has been repeatedly asserted that the basic content of the Acts speeches are reliable reports, research has rightly generally come to the conclusion thatthey cannot be understood as authentic accounts of speeches that were actually given[9]

Even Conservative N.T. Scholar I Howard Marshall doubts the historicity of Acts of the Apostles. 

It is commonly said by Christian Apologists that Acts of the Apostles shows that the disciples and Paul got along, but this begs the question-- how reliable is Acts of the Apostles? German Scholars on the N.T. have always been critical of Acts of the Apostles and most say it is mostly fiction and not really historically reliable.  According to Scholar Richard Pervo in his new book "The Mystery of Acts" he shows that Acts got a lot of stuff wrong about Paul and the Disciples of Jesus. He shows that in all likely hood, Acts of the Apostles is a book of fiction not connected to the real history of the church. Also see this link: 

The reason why it's hard to Trust Acts of the Apostles is because We don't know who wrote Acts (the author is annoymous) and we don't know who his sources were. For more on this see leading New Testament authority and scholar Bart Ehrman's newest book "Forged" (2011) PAGE 23 and Pages 208-209 where he talks about the annoymous authorship of the Acts and why Acts of the Apostles is a forgery. So the question arises how can we trust someone we don't even know for accurate early Church "history"?  How can we be sure that the disciples said the things they said in Acts? How can we be sure that the Penecost stories and other stories in Acts are true? We can't. Acts of the Apostles is written in good literary Greek. The quoted speeches use various Greek styles.

Rosner has argued that Acts is ‘consciously modelled on accounts of history found in the Old Testament.’B. S. Rosner, ‘Acts and Biblical History’, in Winter and Clarke, Book of Acts I, 68.  Cf. J. Jervell, The Theology of the Acts of the Apostles, New Testament Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1996), 104-26.

Even the Early Christian Group, the Marcionites and the Ebionites have rejected Acts of the Apostles as a Forgery (See Hippolyptus, Refutation of all the Herseies, Book vii Chapter 22 and Ireaneus Herseies Chapter 27 and 2) All the Church Fathers testify to this state of affairs.

Most of the recent work on Acts--and there has been “der immer breiter fließende Strom” to use Plümacher’s term--has 
been in the form of articles either in journals or Festschrifts dealing with individual topics.  These usually fall into the following 
categories:  questions about the text of Acts, especially the Western text
; the sources used by Luke in writing Acts
; the 
literary composition of Acts, especially the speeches
; and Acts as history and theology.
 The summation of the matter is unfortunately well put by Smith:

“Most work on Acts appears to fall into one of two schools of thought: one of these, which may 
be called conservative, emphasizes Luke’s reliability as an historian, and the other, following form 
and redaction critical approaches is less tied to questions of historical accuracy.  In each case, 
there is a tendency for scholars to trace the inheritance of their ideas through a particular line of 
research, frequently associated with the professors under whom they studied.”

Most modern German scholars also state that Acts of the Apostles is mostly fiction and the speeches in Acts are also literally constructions of the author.

There are several schoarly books and articles one can read about Acts of the Apostles and why Acts is mostly fiction and propaganda. See the following for more: 

  • Talbert, Charles H. Reading Acts: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Rev. ed. Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2005.
Original edition, New York: Crossroad, 1997. Focuses on how an ancient Mediterranean audience would have heard Acts when it was read in their presence.

  • Lüdemann, Gerd. The Acts of the Apostles: What Really Happened in the Earliest Days of the Church. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2005.
Distinctive for its meticulous sorting through the various levels of Acts in an attempt to identify what is historical as opposed to information based on intermediary traditions or the author’s own contribution.

  • Pervo, Richard I. Dating Acts: Between the Evangelists and the Apologists. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge, 2006.
Presents a sustained argument for dating Acts in the early part of the 2nd century. The case laid out in chapter 4 (pp. 51–147) that the author knows the letters of Paul is particularly worthy of note.

  • Holladay, Carl R. A Critical Introduction to the New Testament: Interpreting the Message and Meaning of Jesus Christ. Nashville: Abingdon, 2005.
Coverage of Acts (pp. 225–260) includes treatment of Luke’s motivations for writing it, his sources and strategy, his theological vision, and the Lukan Paul. A companion CD-ROM includes the full text as well as additional study resources.
  • Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation. 3d ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010.
Luke-Acts is treated on pp. 187–225; Johnson exemplifies a literary approach and highlights Luke’s use of prophecy as a structural device. A three-page bibliography is included on pp. 223–225.
  • Koester, Helmut. Introduction to the New Testament. Vol. 2, History and Literature of Early Christianity. 2d ed. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2000.
This introduction is better suited for advanced students who can measure its proposals against standard treatments and better integrate the historical, religious, and cultural data presented here into an overall approach to the New Testament documents.

  • Bonz, Marianne Palmer. The Past as Legacy: Luke-Acts and Ancient Epic. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000.
Argues that Luke-Acts draws its inspiration from heroic epic.

  • MacDonald, Dennis R. Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.
Argues that Luke based various scenes in Acts on famous stories from Homer’s Iliad in the absence of any underlying early Christian traditions. While some of the suggestions are quite intriguing, this proposal has not gained a wide following.
  • Pervo, Richard I. Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.
Contends that in terms of genre Acts is closely aligned with Greco-Roman novelistic literature. The assessment represents the opposite pole to Colin J. Hemer’s historical reading.
  • Phillips, Thomas E. “The Genre of Acts: Moving toward a Consensus?” Currents in Biblical Research 4 (2006): 365–396.
A concise survey of the major proposals since about 1970. The best way for students to gain an understanding of the various proposals and discussions about them.
  • O’Neill, J. C. The Theology of Acts in Its Historical Setting. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1961.
Interprets Acts primarily as a theological rather than a historical work. Holds that Acts dates to the 2nd century and is designed to convert educated readers to Christianity. Revised edition published 1970.

  • O’Neill, J. C. The Theology of Acts in Its Historical Setting. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1961.
Interprets Acts primarily as a theological rather than a historical work. Holds that Acts dates to the 2nd century and is designed to convert educated readers to Christianity. Revised edition published 1970.

  • Tyson, Joseph B. Images of Judaism in Luke-Acts. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992.
Luke-Acts was written to persuade “God-fearers” to commit themselves to Jesus rather than Judaism.
  • Sterling, Gregory E. Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 64. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1992.
Makes the case for identifying both Flavius Josephus’s Antiquities and Luke-Acts generically as apologetic historiography, which is principally concerned with issues connected with a group’s self-definition. For scholars and graduate students.
  • Pervo, Richard I. Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.
Contends that in terms of genre Acts is closely aligned with Greco-Roman novelistic literature. The assessment represents the opposite pole to Colin J. Hemer’s historical reading.

  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
Includes an extended summary of the content of Acts (pp. 279–316), addresses several important introductory issues (pp. 316–331), and provides a two-page bibliography (pp. 331–332).
  • Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. 4th ed. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Illustrates a thematic approach to the opening scene (1:1–11) and the speeches of the main characters of Acts (pp. 141–162) to identify the distinctive emphases of the narrative.
  • Marshall, I. Howard, and D. Peterson, eds. Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.
Based on a conference held in 1995 at Tyndale House (Cambridge, UK), the twenty-three essays revised for this volume are intended to serve as a comprehensive survey of the theology of Acts. An introduction (how to approach Acts as a theological document), a conclusion (Luke’s theological enterprise), and a thirty-three-page bibliography are included.
  • Bonz, Marianne Palmer. The Past as Legacy: Luke-Acts and Ancient Epic. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000.
Argues that Luke-Acts draws its inspiration from heroic epic.
To see more about the N.T. Research on the mixed reliablity of Acts see here:

More on the unrelaiblity of Acts of the Apostles:

I also recommend people reading the Acts Seminar this shows that most of the material in Acts is mostly fiction:


And as we've noted, unlike other historians of his day, Luke never even tells us who he is. And unlike all good historians of the day, who often say when they were eyewitnesses or mention who they got details from when they weren't eyewitnesses, Luke never says he so much as knew even Paul, much less traveled with him. Such a conjecture arose only a century later, probably from the fact that in three places involving journeys at sea the narrative of Acts speaks in the first person plural ("we"). Maybe that does mean the narrator (or his source) was with Paul on those journeys--but we are not told this, nor told who the narrator was, or what his relationship was to Paul. And commentators can't agree on what to make of all this (since there are also arguments weighing against Luke being a companion of Paul). 

       There is an additional problem: there are two significantly different versions of Acts, a Western version and an Eastern version, both equally ancient, and both show signs of editing by later scribes. Indeed, the Western text is nearly 10% longer, and "the early witnesses for the text of Acts diverge more than those of any other New Testament writing" (John Polhill, Acts: The New American Commentary 1992: p. 39). So it is possible that some historical details (including precise terminology), as well as material of crucial dogmatic importance (e.g. data pertaining to the nature of Christ's resurrection), were added by someone other than the original author. This manuscript evidence is so problematic that it has led some scholars to argue that Luke wrote two versions of Acts, or that he never finished it, and only left disorganized or incomplete notes that later scribes, eventually in two separate traditions, put together into a coherent and polished form. Whatever the case, all these problems make our position even worse with regard to asserting the reliability of the received version of Luke-Acts. 
  For all the above details, see Ernst Haenchen, "The Text of Acts," The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary (1971): pp. 50ff. On Luke not likely being a companion of Paul, see: pp. 88-89, 112-16, 726-32 of Haenchen; Hans Conzelmann, Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, 2nd ed. (1972): pp. xxxiv-xxxv, xxxix-xl, 127, 215; C. K. Barrett, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (1998); F. F. Bruce, "The Text of Acts,"The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 3rd ed. (1990): pp. 69ff.; and the very excellent, extensive, and persuasive discussion of W. A. Strange, The Problem of the Text of Acts (1992). Barrett writes that "the differences and problems ... are more than sufficient to cast doubt on the identification of our author with a Pauline traveling companion" (p. xliv). He notably adds: "Luke's use of technical vocabulary suggests, if anything, that he was not a doctor but a sailor" (p. xlv). Likewise, note Haenchen's opinion (on p. 85) that "the 'we'" in certain passages "has been inserted in order to lend the narrative of the voyage the appearance of a fellow traveler's account" and "was in fact used here as a stylistic device."

The conclusion that Acts of the Apostles is mostly fictional is neither liberal nor conservative... The study is a couple of hundred years old. It began, more or less, to understand why Acts and the Paulines were contradictory. Even today, conservative scholars (not fundamentalist kooks) note the problem and choose the Paulines over Acts when met with contradictions.. . I'll list some resources..

We will find, from Chilton's Rabbi Paul, Ludemann's Paul, Founder of Christianity, Crossan's In Search of Paul, Pervo's The Mystery of Acts, the Forum articles in most of the ten editions from 2000-2004, The Authentic Letters of Paul (Scholar's Version), Koester, Introduction to the New Testament, Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament, Goulder, Tye and History in Acts, Ludemann, The Acts of the Apostles, and on and on and on, that this creation of a name and persona for the author is not historical. The evidence shows that the stories and sayings in Acts is mostly fictional. In the end of the day it's about the evidence, not "My conservative scholar said this or your liberal scholar said that". So this arguement doesn't hold any water. 
 In the second century, the Church Fathers sought to attribute each of the gospels to a disciple most likely to have written that book. The physician Luke was chosen for Acts of the Apostles and Luke's Gospel because the authorship of Acts seemed to imply a close association with the apostle Paul.

However, there is no sound reason to believe that Luke really was the author of either book. In fact, modern biblical scholars, noting the discrepancies between some material in Acts and the genuine epistles of Paul, believe that the author could not have been an associate of Paul. We simply do not know who the author was.

The evidence that Paul's opponents in Galatia, Corinth and Philippi were the real disciples and apostles sent by the Jerusalem Church is extremely strong. So they opposed him and preached a different Gospel on Theology on who Jesus was, etc. 

For more evidence that Paul and the Disciples did not get along or were preaching the same message see the following links below:

The idea [and accompanying proof] that Paul's collection was rejected by the Jerusalem Church was first presented by Gerd Lüdemann, [then] Professor of New Testament in the University of Götingen, in his book Opposition to Paul in Jewish Christianity [p60-61]. [The original German edition was published in 1983] Since then his idea has been accepted by an increasing number of scholars. These scholars (and their works citing their agreement with the idea that Paul's collection was rejected by the Jerusalem church) include:
  • Michael Goulder, Paul and the Competing Mission in Corinth [2001]: p168
  • David Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism [1998]: p168
  • Eric Franklin, Luke: Interpreter of Paul, Critic of Matthew [1994] : p117-118
  • S. Légase, Paul Apôtre: Essai de biographie critique [1991]: p203
  • James D.G. Dunn (Not a Liberal rather a Moderate N.T. Scholar), Unity and Diversity in the New Testament [1990]: p257
  • Paul Achtemeier, Quest for Unity in the New Testament [1987] : p60
To see how Paul invented most of the doctrines of Christianity I suggest reading Gerd Ludemann's book "Paul" (2002). 

What happened to the Disciples of Jesus?  What did they teach about Jesus? 

We don't know. All the stories about the disciples of Jesus are based on myths and legeneds. To see all the myths and legends surrounding them see here:

The Q Gospel may tell us what the Disciples of Jesus were teaching about Jesus but we don't know for sure. For example the Q Gospel talks about Jesus assumption into heaven rather than his resurrection, this could be what the disciples of Jesus were teaching about him. 

Opposition to Paul from the Jerusalem Church

After the incident at Antioch, the historical evidence shows that the Jerusalem Church, headed by the pillars (James, Peter and John) sent out missionaries of their own to combat the teachings of Paul. Thus the people who were most familiar with the teachings of the earthly Jesus-his brother (James) and the apostles (e.g. Peter and John)- openly opposed Paul's mission and his version of the gospel.

Paul was very good in distorting the Jewish scriptures. He made up a lot of stuff.

The thesis above was first presented in an article called Die Christuspartei in der korinthischen Gemeinde, der Gegensantz des petrinischen und paulinischen Christenthums in der ältesten Kirche, der Apostel Petrus in Rom (The Christ party in the Corinthian community, the opposition of Petrine and Pauline Christianity in the early church, the Apostle Peter in Rome) in the Tubingen Journal for Theology in 1831 by the reknowned nineteenth century theologian from Tübingen, F.C. Baur (1792-1860). While Baur did make some mistakes, his views were fundamentally sound. However his opponents found a convenient strawman in his alleged use of discredited Hegelian metaphysics and sucessfully attacked it. [a] As a result, Baur's findings fell into disfavor.

Yet the "Ghosts of Tübingen", as S.G.F. Brandon described Baur's idea, refused to be laid to rest. Brandon's own work The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church [1957] revived the theory. In recent years, this thesis has been supported by first-rate critical historical scholars (in their published works) such as:
  • C.K. Barrett:
    • On Paul [2003], Essays on Paul [1982]
  • Gerd Lüdemann (A German New Testament Scholar):
    • Paul: The Founder of Christianity [2002], Heretics [1996], Opposition to Paul in Jewish Christianity [1989]
  • Michael Goulder :
    • Paul and the Competing Mission in Corinth [2001], St. Paul Vs. St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions [1994]
  • David Sim:
    • The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism [1998]
  • Robert Eisenmann:
    • James, the Brother of Jesus [1996]
  • Hyam Maccoby:
    • The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity [1986], Revolution in Judea [1973]
  • Hugh Schonfield:
    • The Jesus Party [1974], Those Incredible Christians [1968], Saints Against Caesar [1948]
In this posting we provide the compelling evidence for the above thesis.
  • Acts (as expected) is completely silent on the opposition Paul faced in the various churches he founded in the northeast Mediterranean. Our evidence comes from the epistles of Paul. Four of the seven genuine epistles have explicit references, allusions and/or affirmations made against unnamed opponent or opponents. We review the evidence from these epistles:
  • Attempts have been made by some scholars to identify the opponents of Paul as groups other then the Jerusalem Church. We will see that all these attempts are unsatisfactory and have a much lower probability than the idea that the opponents were men from the Jerusalem Church.
  • In conclusion, the evidence that Paul's mission faced a concerted opposition from the Jerusalem church is compelling.
The other possibility, more damning, I think, to Christian belief, is that the mission of the twelve disciples was unfortunately unsucessful. We know today that a large part of Christian theology has its roots in the epistles of Paul who was not one of the original twelve apostles.The disciples of Jesus never wrote down anything.

John Barton [Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford] states:

The author of John's gospel is, as we have noted already, unlikely to have been an immediate disciple of Jesus, if only because so much of the material in the synoptic gospels is missing from John. The likelihood is therefore that all the historical books of the New Testament are not eyewitness accounts of the events described. They are all written by people some time after the events, a fact that must affect one's assessment of the books concerned. The authorship of the letters is also disputed. Several are written in the name of the apostle Paul. However, it seems clear that not all the letters attributed to Paul are by Paul himself. Significant differences of style, language and at times important ideas make this extremely likely. ... The authorship of other letters in the New Testament is also disputed. The letter to the Hebrews (traditionally ascribed to Paul) is anonymous. ... The letters ascribed to Peter may also be pseudonymous. ... All in all, large parts of the New Testament are not written by people directly connected with Jesus or the very earliest period of the Christian Church. (This could apply even to Paul: Paul was 'converted' after the death of Jesus). Rather, many New Testament books stem from second- or third-generation Christians, writing a little time after the foundational events of the Christian church and reflecting on them. Some of the authors would clearly like to be seen as earlier authoritative figures in that they write in the name of such figures. But the fact remains that large parts of the New Testament were written by Christians after the initial period (John Barton, "The Biblical World" (Routledge 2002) pp. 30-31).  

Bart Ehrman, summing up the stance of critical scholars, writes:

Proto-orthodox Christians of the second century, some decades after most of the New Testament books had been written, claimed that their favorite Gospels had been penned by two of Jesus' disciples - Matthew, the tax collector, and John, the beloved disciple - and by two friends of the apostles - Mark, the secretary of Peter, and Luke, the travelling companion of Paul. Scholars today, however, find it difficult to accept this tradition for several reasons. ... none of these Gospels makes any such claim about itself. All four authors chose to keep their identities anonymous (Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 2000, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, p. 52).

For a Youtube Video on Bart Ehrman explaning why the N.T. Documents are not relibale see here:

For a more critical assessment, see Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz, who dismiss the traditional authorship claims about the gospels in their The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide, 1998, SCM Press Ltd.

We also highly recommend that one reads pages 5 to 24 from EP Sanders and his wife Margaret Davies's book Studying the Synoptic Gospels, which could be found here.

 The original apostles or disciples of Jesus, the ones actually hand-picked by Jesus, made no impact on Christian history whatsoever. It was Paul's own Gospel which prevailed. 

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