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.