Saint Paul

Saint Paul
Birth 5
Death 67

the only apostle who didn’t go around with Jesus and never saw him; Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection. Nonetheless, it was Paul (a self-declared Jewish reformist), and not Jesus himself, who founded the new global religion we now know as Christianity. It was him that ‘yanked’ Christianity out of Judaism, where it had begun life as a ‘subspecies’ of the Jewish faith:

  • A convinced Pharisee and Hellenist expert by background, not only did Paul supplant Jewish laws and ancient philosophy with new teachings, he also wrote 14 canonical epistles which laid the foundations of Christian teaching and take up a disproportionate amount of the New Testament;

  • Paul often talked about the contradictions between the biblical Old and New Testaments and eventually ceased to think of Christianity as the religion of the Jews, God’s chosen people. He stopped following the main commandments of his native religion, including those about circumcising new-born children and re-born believers; from now on, the new religion was meant for everyone, especially pagans.

There’s no denying that Paul made a seminal contribution in the establishment of Christianity, but it’s worth noting the ways he distorted Christ’s teachings, sometimes turning them completely on their head:

  • He expanded on the idea of dualism, emphasising the fundamental differences between the mind and body. As a result, he split whole humans into two conflicting halves;

  • He developed the doctrine on sin, linking it directly with suffering, sickness and death. He insisted that sin and death were one and the same thing, and that they had existed since the beginning of time. In saying so, he scared believers to death.

In modern-day terms, Paul is an archetypal religious fundamentalist:

  • He was remarkably intolerant of alternative views, which is why he twisted the Greek word ‘heresy’ to mean ‘incorrect exegesis’ and practically criminalised it, where before it had meant ‘direction, school, teaching’. Only those who interpreted the holy doctrine correctly were made ‘more equal than others’, which was a warning sign of the Inquisition to come;

  • He despised human sexuality to the core, especially when it came to Jesus’ female ‘friends’ and homosexuals, some of the many people he saw as abominations (not exactly the most contemporary of ideas). It was Paul that made women into enemies of religion, leading to centuries of discrimination.

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