09 Dec 2012 
#9 Is 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 an interpolation? I have eight arguments in favor of YES.

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15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God [which was] with me. 11 Therefore, whether [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

A) The earliest gospel (Mark's) does not have "the third day" but "after three days" (Mk 8:31, 9:31, 10:34), although Jesus' death only lasts about forty hours (maximum). Then, if "the third day" was accepted by Paul's contemporaries, and "according to the scriptures", why did it not appear in Mark's gospel?
However, "third day" came later with Matthew's gospel (Mt 16:21, 17:23, 20:19) and Luke's one (Lk 9:22, 13:32, 18:32). And in the later, "the third day" is according to the scriptures:
Lk 24:45-46 "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,"
Let's compare the above quote with:
1 Cor 15:3b-4 "... Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures"
Nowhere in the pre-Pauline scriptures there is anything about someone rising on the third day. But it seems our interpolator knew about gLuke!

Note: 1 Cor 15:3a-8a is about "factual" items: death, burial and many post-mortem visions ("evidencing" the resurrection). But one exception is among them: "for our sins" is a theological point, not an observable fact. And there is no "atonement for sins" in the rest of 1 Corinthians (and 1 Thessalonians), but it appears in later epistles (2 Cor 5:19a, 21a; Gal 1:3b-4a ;Ro 3:23-25, 4:25a). Was it inserted for sake of "homogeneity"?
Remark: it seems Tertullian (around 210) did not have "for our sins" in his copy of 1 Corinthians:
Against Praxeas (186):"[Paul] testifies that "He died according to the Scriptures,""
Against Praxeas (409): "For even the apostle, to his declaration-which he makes not without feeling the weight of it-that "Christ died," immediately adds, "according to the Scriptures,""

B)
1 Cor 15:5-8 "and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time"
In the canonical gospels and 'Acts', there are only two reappearances corresponding to the ones in 1 Cor 15:5-8:
a) One mention (but no description) of a resurrected Jesus appearing to Peter only (Lk 24:34).
b) Three different (especially on "who heard the voice" and Jesus' words) accounts of Jesus appearing to Paul (as a light and a voice) near Damascus (Acts 9:3-8, 22:6-11, 26:12-18).

Beside these two alleged reappearances, there is NO mention in the gospels or 'Acts' of the other ones in 1 Cor 15:3-8:
a) The twelve only (however in Mt 28:16-20, he appears to the eleven; in Jn 20:19-23, to ten)
b) Over five hundred brethren at once
c) James (Jesus' brother). Note: one apparition to James is narrated in each of the uncanonical gospels "to the Hebrews" and "of Philip". The descriptions are very different between the two.
d) All the apostles (early Christian missionaries)

Then, these following reapparitions described in the gospels are not part of the ones in the sequence of 1 Cor 15:3-8:
a) To the two women near Jerusalem (Mt 28:9-10)
b) To the eleven in Galilee (Mt 28:17-20)
c) To the two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Judea) (Lk 24:13-35)
d) To the eleven, the two aforementioned disciples and some other followers in Jerusalem (Lk 24:36-49), but not 500 of them in a room! According to Ac 1:20, there are only 120 followers then!
e) To Mary Magdalene only, near Jerusalem (Jn 20:10-18)
f) To disciples, with a maximum of ten out of the "twelve" (Jn 20:19-23), again in a room
g) To six disciples in Galilee (Jn 21:1-23)

Note: the earliest gospel (Mark's) did not include resurrected Jesus' apparitions, just the empty tomb (as explained in "HJ-3a").

Many of the apparitions in 1 Cor 15:3-8 (and their alleged sequence) do not appear in any gospel (or 'Acts'). On this matter of greatest importance, how could all the gospel authors be ignorant about many of these reapparitions, either through Paul's letter or from oral traditions?

C)
Except for 1Cor 15:3-8, in his letters Paul never mentioned Christ's apparitions to others. At times, Jesus "risen from the dead" is presented as based on faith:
1 Th 4:14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
1 Cor 15:14-15 "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God [here, the knowledge of a raised Christ would come from God, not from men!] that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up; if in fact the dead do not rise."
Ro 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Note: another very early letter, 'Hebrews' (see HJ-3b: last Section) does not relate of any alleged Jesus' reappearances. Just that, after his death (crucifixion, sacrifice), Christ went to heaven (Heb 1:3, 10:12, 12:2). What was the author's justification? Christ had to become the High Priest on behalf of Christians, in the true (heavenly) temple (Heb 8:1-2, 4-5a, 9:11-12, 24).

D) These two expressions appear only in 1 Cor 15:3-11 (among the authentic Pauline epistles):
a) "according to the scriptures"
b) "the twelve [disciples]"
This is very odd because:
- For the former, besides 1 Cor 15:3-4, the word 'scriptures' (plural) appears only in 'Romans' (1:2, 15:4 & 16:26), Paul's last letter. 'Scriptures' simply does not exist in the other epistles (including '2Corinthians' and 'Galatians'). The singular 'scripture' is only used in 'Galatians' (three times) & 'Romans' (four times), Paul's two last epistles, and therefore seems to be a late entry into Paul's vocabulary.
- For the later, Paul mentioned the members of the Church of Jerusalem several times (1 Cor 16:1, 3; 2 Cor 8:4, 13-15, 9:1, 12-15; Gal 2:1-10; Ro 15:25-26, 31), but never the twelve.
In conclusion, "the twelve" and "according to the scriptures" were not likely written by Paul.

E) 1 Cor 15:9a "For I am the least of the apostles ..."
In the context of the letter, Paul's demeaning statement about himself is totally out of place. '1c Corinthians' is about a "triumphant" Paul, very confident (1 Cor 11:34b), judging a sinner at a distance (5:3-5), commanding as the "Lord" would (1 Cor 7:10,12), complimenting then chastising (1 Cor 11:17-22). Why would he say such a thing here?
And in earlier times, Paul had problems to be accepted as an apostle and was suffering from any competition (1 Cor 1:12, 9:1-3). Consequently, making statement like 1 Cor 15:9 would be stupid, self-destructive and sending the wrong signals.
Earlier, he made a passionate defense of his apostolic credentials in 1 Cor 9:1-27. Later, Paul will write, to the same Christians:
2 Cor 11:5 "For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles." (totally the opposite of 1 Cor 15:9!).

F) 1 Cor 15:11 "... Therefore, whether [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed"
Let's notice first the implied sequence does not make sense: the preaching has to be first, then followed by the conversions (believing). But here, through the tenses being used, we have the opposite. Furthermore:
- the present tense in "preach" is very suspicious. Let's compare it with 1 Th 2:9 "... we preached to you ...", with the past tense denoting justifiably that the preaching had been done by Paul before writing the letter.
And corroborated from the same 1c Corinthians letter:
15:1-2 "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you ..."

Note: the tense in "preach" may indicate the interpolator was thinking about himself or other presbyters as part of "they".

- why would Paul use the past tense in "believed" rather than the present, when the converts are still believing?
As in:
1 Th 2:13 "... because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed [it] not [as] the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe."
1 Cor 1:21b "... it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe."

This passage displays the signs of having been written by someone who struggled to intermix the past (Paul's times) with the present (the interpolator's times).
If Paul had written this passage, then the tense of the verbs would be as such:
1 Cor 15:11b "... so we preached and so you believe"

The interpolator probably wanted to say (in 15:11) it did not matter from where the Christian message came (Paul, other apostles or even contemporary presbyters): "Therefore, whether [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed"
And the demeaning statement in 15:9 can now be interpreted as lowering Paul. In other words, the Christian message was preached as well (possibly better) by others, not only by (suspect) Paul!

G) 1 Cor 15:3-11 looks like an insertion within 1 Cor 15:1-22. Without it, 1-2 not only provides a good introduction for 12-22, but also connects smoothly with the next verse through the emphasis on Paul's preaching. Let's also notice the extensive use of the Greek word 'de' (whose most normal translation is "and" or "but"), providing continuity in the long argument from the very beginning:
"1 Moreover ['de'], brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. 12 Now ['de'] if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But ['de'] if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And ['de'] if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes ['de'], and ['kai' can be translated as "also"] we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up; if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And ['de'] if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. ..."

H) 1Cor 15:12-22 suggests the belief in Jesus' raising is from:
- (general) preaching (12)
- believing the resurrection of the dead is possible (13,15b,16)
- acceptance of Paul's preaching (14a,15a)
- God himself, as testified by Paul (& helpers) (!?) (15c)
and for the purpose of:
- sustaining (Christian) faith (14b,17)
- believing the dead Christians have not "perished" (18,20)
- preventing Christians to be considered fool (19)

Then why is Jesus' resurrection argued this way if it was then a widely corroborated fact?
And such statements from the epistle look strange and unsettling, raising many doubts, that is, if not (right in front) superseded by "tangible" "evidence" from many still alive witnesses. And Paul could not be shown ignorant of post-mortem appearances, which later became the main "proof" of the Resurrection. A fix had to be done!

Note: Richard Carrier considers 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 as not an interpolation, but the witness on how Christianity started (drawn from the Scriptures and through hallucinations!).

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {1 Corinthians} {1 Corinthians 15:3-11} {burial} {Carrier} {mythicism} {"Nazarenes" NOT having been Christians} {Paul} {Resurrection} {resurrections}
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