Is that sort of what you were looking for, Zoro?
Yes – and I sincerely thank you for spending so much of your time to help me. Your exposition comports with my limited understanding of Paul’s ideas, in particular, your summary statement:
…in general I will say this. Paul does expand the concept of the Jesus' death into a fully developed theology of atonement more than any of the other Biblical writers.
And though I’m reluctant to seek that you spend (waste?!) any more of your time helping me, let me try to take advantage of your statement:
It will help me if you can be specific.
Toward trying to be more specific, I would first set aside the concept of the Trinity: I, too, wouldn’t attribute it to Paul. Also, of course I agree with you that Paul promoted the idea of the spirit rather than the letter of the law (similar to Rabi Hillel) and the idea of the “universal” applicability of his views.
Toward being more specific, I would first ask not only for your reference (to Peter) for your statement
Therefore, according to Paul, we not only find Christ being a source of forgiveness of sins, as Peter proclaimed…
but also ask: How reliable do you think is the evidence to support the suggestion that this is Peter’s idea rather than Paul’s (in view of the suggestions, as you no doubt know, that the First Letter of Peter seems to have been a forgery written in about 130 CE and that the Second Letter of Peter seems to have been a forgery written after 170 CE)?
And now, to get even more specific, let me spend a few sentences describing my problem. In my (draft!) book (which now acknowledges, with thanks, your earlier help), multi-times I, too, have identified Paul as the true founder of Christianity (at least as it is now practiced, in the main). What I want to try to discern, then, is if someone such as you, who knows more about the matter than I, has sufficient evidence to justify saying that I’m wrong – and therefore that I should revise the text.
Here, in outline, is my position. For me, the teachings of Jesus (if he existed, i.e., if he was more than “just a model”) were much different from the teachings found (in the main) in Christianity. I find only “smatterings” of his teachings in the NT – but I do find many of them, here and there. From those “smatterings” plus much more clearly from the “Gnostic gospels” (found at Nag Hammadi – and I realize that some experts object to their being called “the Gnostic gospels”), especially the Gospel of Thomas, I find a very different theology than is found (in the main) in Christianity. Without taking appropriate time, here, to try to say it well, I’ll “wing it” with something similar to the following.
Jesus seemed to preach that “the light” (God) was already in each of us and only needed to be recognized by ourselves; that heaven, too, was here on earth and only needed to be recognized by each of us. I even see this in his otherwise strange “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (in the sense that he felt that his “light” was leaving him – as he should have expected it would!). Further, I can imagine that, should he see what has happened to his ideas (with all the money, power, and trappings of all the competing Christian hierarchies) he would feel revulsion – and might again go about upsetting the tables of all the money changers! As far as I’ve been able to see, Jesus not only advocated separating Church and State (with his give unto Caesar…) and separating money from theology (upsetting the tables), but even separating clerics (in his case, the Pharisees) from the people!
I then searched for causes of the disconnect between what seemed to be the teachings of this Jesus and what’s taught (in the main) in Christianity – and found the prime cause to be Paul. Although there are many hints that Paul, too, was a Gnostic, and although there are many hints that Peter was the founder of hierarchies of Christian clerics (although, of course, Paul, too, was quite an organizer), yet it seems that the key ingredient for the start of “official Christianity” was Paul’s idea that Jesus had died to absolve people from their sins (especially their “original sin”). That idea gave the clerics “authority” to sell tickets to “salvation”, yielding both money and power for the clerics.
Without that idea – which as far as I can tell was never promoted by Jesus (although of course one can find attributions of that idea to him in the cleric’s NT) – then I expect that there would be no Christianity as we know it. I therefore conclude that Paul was the founder of Christianity (as we know it), whereas a religion based on “the teachings of Jesus” would be something very different. My impression is that a true “Jesusanity” would be an extremely private affair – not only to pray in the closet, but even (as in the Gospel of Thomas, 14) “if you pray, you will be condemned.”
How far off base can you justify claiming that I am?!