First, this is the verse in question:
Romans 15:8 "Now I say that Jesus Christ has become
[perfect Greek tense: action completed in the past but continuing in the present (when the epistle was written)] a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the
promises made to the fathers,"
Now let's examine Carrier's comments (with
my notes) from pages 571-572 of OHJ:
"Sometimes it's claimed Paul referred
to Jesus having had a ministry among the
Jews when he said, 'Christ has been made
a deacon of circumcision for the sake of
God's honesty, in order to confirm [his]
promises to the patriarchs' (Rom. 15.8).
But all Paul is saying here is that Jesus
had to be given a Jewish body (formed from
the sperm of David: see §9) and appear
first to Jews (Element 20) to fulfill scripture.
That does not entail an earthly ministry.
[Note: And how would Carrier know what Paul
meant? Certainly Romans 15:8 does not say
the following: "Jesus had to be given
a Jewish body (formed from the sperm of David:
(from a heavenly sperm bank
, without insemination of a real woman
and in the sky!)]
The word 'deacon' (diakonos), which is sometimes
translated 'minister', as in preacher, actually
means 'servant, attendant', someone who does
another's will. As such it can mean someone's
messenger or a temple attendant.
[Note: But 'diakonos' can also mean "minister"
in the Pauline epistles:
1 Corinthians 3:5 "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos,
['diakonos'] through whom you believed, as the Lord gave
to each one?"
2 Corinthians 3:6 "who also made us sufficient as ministers
['diakonos'] of the new covenant, not of the letter but
of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but
the Spirit gives life."
2 Corinthians 11:23 "Are they ministers
['diakonos'] of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I
am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes
above measure, in prisons more frequently,
in deaths often."
But it does not refer to 'having a ministry'
in the sense historicists require. It means
(in this context) doing God's will. It can
mean doing God's will by relaying God's will,
and as such it can refer to 'having a ministry'
in an indirect sense, but as such it would
equally apply to revealing God's will from
[Note: Again, how can Carrier know Paul did
not refer to Jesus "having a ministry"
on earth? And Carrier's alternative explanations
are rather tenuous and convoluted. So now,
Jesus revealed in the past God's will to
Jews from heaven!]
This passage is therefore, once again, ambiguous.
It cannot be confidently anchored to an earthly
event. To the contrary, as we saw in Rom.
10.14-17, Paul appears to say Jesus had no
historical ministry of the kind historicists
[Note: Carrier certainly makes the verse
look ambiguous because of his ill-evidenced
mythicist assumptions. What about Romans
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they
have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful
are the feet of those who preach the gospel
of peace, who bring glad tidings of good
But they have not all obeyed the gospel.
For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing
by the word of God."
Paul is complaining that nobody preached
his gospel to the multitude of Jews. But
yes, there is no indication Jesus preached
Paul's gospel: that should not be surprising
if Jesus was not
a Pauline Christian!]