1 Corinthians 15

May 9, 2011

One of the most interesting passages of the Bible is a short creed in 1 Corinthians 15. In it Paul lays out a pretty standard statement of Christian beliefs – of Jesus death and ressurection.

“So what?”, you might ask. The Bible setting out standard Christian belief is hardly surprising. One reason why this passage is interesting is because it is early. Christian beliefs about Jesus are not something which developed much later, but can be traced to close to Jesus death.

Even though Paul’s letters come after the gospels in the Bible, they were actually written earlier. 1 Corinthians was written around 57 or 58 AD, just 25 years after Christ’s death. We’already earlier than the gospels.

Paul writes to the Corinthians about the previous time that he was in Corinth. He says

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it.

Paul is not teaching something new in 58AD. He is referring to the previous time he was in Corinth. Fortunately we have some idea when this was. His previous visit was in 52AD. So Christian belief must come from before that.

Paul writes about how he learnt the creed he taught them:

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.

So Paul himself learnt the creed earler than 52 AD.

Recently I’ve seen people try to convince us that Christian belief only arose much later – many decades, or even centuries later. That just can’t be true. The latest date it makes sense to me to put is 52AD – less than 20 years after Christ.

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11 Responses to “1 Corinthians 15”

  1. Mr Z Says:

    There is a small problem with your idea here. In only 1989, there was a famous protester in China. Quickly dubbed the ‘tank man’ of Tienanmen Square he is almost entirely unknown by school children in China today. They have no idea what the man is doing in the square with the tanks. In a land where the bulk of public communication was word of mouth and those with books got to tell others what they said, it is hardly surprising that the general public would or could be woefully misinformed about the truth of a matter.

    “So Paul himself learnt the creed earler than 52 AD.”
    This in no way means that the information passed on to him was either accurate or true. The information being passed on to Chinese school children AT THIS VERY MOMENT is absolutely untrue in some respects and with regard to some topics. They will pass it on to their children as factual history.

    What you have here is NOTHING more than wishful thinking. It is not evidence of any truth or evidence of anything other than a rumor being passed on from one generation to the next. Even if we accept that Paul got his learning from elsewhere and from a previous time, there is no evidence that this learning/information was true or evidence of the existence of a deity simply because it appears he learned it closer to the supposed time of your Christ’s death.

  2. Bubba Ray Says:

    Paul also says pretty clearly that he learned the gospel from God not man,

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

  3. Chucky Says:

    Hi Mr Z,

    It seems that the two situations are opposites. The Chinese government don’t want people who actually witnessed events, Paul is saying that there are over 500 who did, and names them. If you draw a parallel here, you’d be arguing against the witnesses with the Chinese government, and I’m going with what the witnesses say in both cases.

  4. Chucky Says:

    Good point.

  5. Mr Z Says:

    Chucky said
    “It seems that the two situations are opposites. The Chinese government don’t want people who actually witnessed events, Paul is saying that there are over 500 who did, and names them.”

    No, dead wrong Chucky. Your ancient fable book says that Paul said that over 500 saw it. The other apostle’s accounts of the same events seem to leave that part out. Tell me, do you expect me to believe that ‘the Paul’ wrote that? More than half of what is attributed to him is seriously in doubt as to the true author. There is room to think that perhaps the author known as Paul was just someone claiming to be him. Just because something is written in your fairy tale book in no way means that the information is either accurate or true.

    “If you draw a parallel here, you’d be arguing against the witnesses with the Chinese government, and I’m going with what the witnesses say in both cases.”

    Nicely done. You have missed the point entirely. The point is that in less than 20 years, it is possible to entirely rewrite history and the ‘facts’ of an event. If it can be done today, it would have been easier when communications were so limited and subject to alterations.

    What you are counting as the inerrant word of a god is nothing of the sort. Using it as evidence or historical fact is not only dubious but borderline ignorant. Yes, I used that word exactly correct, and not as an insult.

  6. Chucky Says:

    Hi Mr Z,

    Yes, I do think you should accept that Paul wrote Corinthians. I’m obviously no expert but if you like I could happily write out a post why. Are there any reasons why you think that he didn’t?

  7. Mr Z Says:

    Here is a fair treatment of what is known about the Pauline Epistles:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_ntb3.htm

    There is no evidence that “THE Saint Paul” wrote any of them other than his name on them… which means little to nothing by itself. You can say that about half of them were written by the same person, or seem to be, and that person ‘could’ have been Saint Paul, but there is no corroborating evidence that this is so and such an assumption conflicts with literary customs of the time.

  8. Chucky Says:

    Hi Mr Z,

    Your reference says that both liberal and conservatives accept that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. I think I’ll write the post anyway though.


  9. […] Corinthians was written by Paul. Recently I wrote about 1 Corinthians 15, and regular commenter and all around good guy, Mr Z, asked me why I thought 1 Corinthians was […]


  10. […] God might act. The obvious one was Jesus resurrection. I’ve written, just a little about 1 Corinthians 15 and obviously there’s much more to say here, but it fits a lot better if you simply allow […]

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