From: Brian Holtz []
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2003 10:11 AM
Subject: RE: A question re: Turkel response

> My “readily” was intended to be specific to Paul and was based on
> his letters.

Are you saying Paul had to be "readily" convertible to his later beliefs for that conversion to have happened?

> I took
> the “eminently” to suggest something beyond “not impossible”. 

It's a long way from "not impossible" to "readily", and "eminently" doesn't get you very far along the way.

> Referring to
> the theology described by Paul as merely a belief that a
> particular individual was the Messiah

I didn't say that. You are mischaracterizing my belief about Paul's beliefs, and you seem also to be accepting too much of the standard Christian characterization of Paul et al.'s beliefs. To clarify, we can factor out those characterizations:

It's not the case that we two thousand years later can guarantee that no tiny fraction of Jews could have believed what the Jesus-following Jews believed about him.In the absence of evidence establishing such a guarantee, such belief remains prima facie conceivable.

> His Christ was not just the Messiah nor, arguably,
> primarily the Messiah. Jesus, according to Paul, was a
> pre-existent, cosmically significant entity he equated with Word
> of God through which the universe was created.

Paul's Christology was sufficiently ambiguous that we simply cannot make the firm conclusion you here assert. The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus and the New Testament authors did not identify Jesus with God. Having been raised a Christian, and even after having been a polemical atheist for a decade, I was frankly stunned to find in the last few years how non-existent is the evidence that Jesus claimed identity with God.  If there is a miracle involved in the rise of Christianity, it was in the way Jesus' failed Sonship ministry to the Jews became a Jesus-is-God religion for the entire Roman world.