14 Jul 2014 
#93 My discussion with Dr. Carrier about Christians being understood as "brothers of the Lord" from Paul or the converts

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Notes: If you want to see the complete "raw" discussion, click here.
I did some editing to improve the presentation, and changed a few of my words (opponents => oppositions and flesh & blood => (by blood)).
I got also some other blog posts on "brothers of the Lord" at tag: {brothers of the Lord}.


How it started:
 
Dr. Carrier, you wrote,
“Meanwhile, it is a demonstrable fact that all baptized Christians were brothers of the Lord. This means that if there were biological brothers, Paul would have had to make that distinction (e.g., by saying something like “brother of the Lord in the flesh,” or something akin). Yet Paul shows no awareness of any need to make that distinction. That means Paul only knew of one kind of brother of the Lord.”
No, it is far from certain that Paul and his Christians considered themselves “brothers of the Lord”. You made a very poor job in demonstrating that in your very short element 12 [see appendix at end of this post], for something which is so important for your case, and when you had a lot of oppositions when the matter was discussed on your blog.
Paul started to call his Christians “sons of god’ in his last letters, but never in 1 Corinthians, where “the brothers of the Lord” appears.
 
Furthermore, it looks the three occurrences of “Son of God” in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians were part of later interpolations. Paul started to call Jesus “Son of God” in 2 Corinthians. I can supply ready-made argumentation for that.
 
Furthermore, in Romans 8:29 “firstborn among many brothers” Paul missed his chance to confirm the firstborn had brothers (in a familial and spiritual sense). Because he would have written instead “firstborn among HIS many brothers” or “firstborn OF many brothers” (with “brothers” in the genitive case which he used all the times for familial relationship of all natures, such as “son(s) of …” & “father of …”).
 
Furthermore, if plain “brothers” means Christians everywhere in the Pauline epistles, why would it not mean that in Ro 8:29, instead of (familial) brothers? Certainly here, Paul did not give any indication he wanted the word brothers” to be understood otherwise than just “Christians”.
 
Furthermore nowhere in the Pauline epistles Paul said clearly his Christians were brothers of the Lord. Or his Christians considered themselves “brothers of the Lord”.
 
Furthermore spiritual familial relationship is not as mathematical as real familial relationship. For example, some Christian believers call their pastor “father”. That does not mean they think they are his sons & daughters. They do not go one step further and think they are brothers and sisters between themselves because they have the same “father”. And even if they did, they certainly would not think, because of that, they are brothers and sisters with the real (by blood) sons and daughters of the pastor. You simply cannot treat spiritual familial relationship as the same than totally real (by blood) familial relationship.
 
According to these observations, the probability that Paul thought his Christians were brothers of Jesus is null. And we have no evidence whatsoever the Christians themselves thought they were, in some way, brothers of the Lord.
 

First exchange: Carrier responded and I answered his points.
 
RC: No, it is far from certain that Paul and his Christians considered themselves “brothers of the Lord”. Read OHJ, pp. 584-85, with p. 108, incl. n. 101. If you won’t even address the book, what the fuck are you doing?
 
I answered: It is legitimate I challenge on what appears on your blog. Furthermore I have the text of element 12 in your OHJ book where you discussed very briefly the whole business of baptized Christians being “the brothers of the Lord”.
 
RC: Paul started to call his Christians “sons of god’ in his last letters, but never in 1 Corinthians, where “the brothers of the Lord” appears.
So you are proposing the completely implausible and ad hoc assumption that the entire Christian religion radically changed in the interim,
 
I answered: Oh YES, the entire Christian religion was radically changing during Paul’s public life. Evolution affects religion also, more so at their beginning.
 
RC: so that baptism became an adoption ceremony and Christians only started regarding themselves as the adopted sons of God in the late 50s but not the early 50s?
 
I answered: Where did Paul write the baptism of converts made them “the brothers of the Lord”? Nowhere
 
RC: That reduces the prior probability of historicity by requiring that ad hoc assumption, for which you have no non-circular evidence, and which is inherently implausible. You are acting exactly like a Christian apologist, making shit up and claiming it’s a fact, in order to use it to challenge what is an actual documented fact.
 
I answered: No, Paul considering his baptized Christians, or the same ones considering themselves, as “the brothers of the Lord” is not an evidenced fact.
 
RC: This is especially ridiculous, because Paul says baptized Christians are the adopted sons of God in Galatians, which all scholars date to around the same time as if not earlier than 1 Corinthians.
 
I answered: Are you bluffing or unaware? Actually some scholars consider ‘Galatians’ as being one of his last letters. As for me, I explained my reasons here
There is no unanimity about the dating of ‘Galatians’: anywhere from 50 to 57 AD. Even the NIV has to acknowledge that. I suspect many apologists prefer an early date just to show Paul’s christology & theology were the same from beginning to end of his public life.
 
RC: (remember, 1 Cor. is not the actual first letter to the Corinthians–we don’t have that: 1 Cor. 5:9, 11), and certainly not significantly later (the difference can be but a few years). The detail is also in 2 Corinthians (6:18), so you are even proposing the entire Christian religion radically changed in between two letters to the same church, composed within a year or two of each other.
 
I answered: You must mean 2 Cor 6:14-18 which I regard as an interpolation.
As for 1 Cor 5:9, 11, you made a good point: I also noticed that long ago. That put to 7 the minimum number of letters that Paul wrote to the Corinthians (click link to see my reasons). And, if we do that, then it becomes obvious that Paul’s christology & theology went through a rapid inflation, more so when, after the dispute at Antioch, Paul was cut off from the Church of Jerusalem and the one of Antioch, even Barnabas. And, as he became on his own, with all the freedom which came with that, Paul progressively incremented his doctrines to make them more appealing to his Gentiles. But I am digressing here …
 
RC: Your ad hoc apologetics-style baloney hypothesis is also irrelevant, because “brother of the Lord” also appears in Galatians, exactly where Paul says baptized Christians are the adopted sons of God, which would necessitate his making a distinction. As I explain in the book. The book you haven’t read.
 
I answered: So what: baptized Christians as “sons of God” is not the same as “brother of the Lord”, just because the two expressions appear in the same epistle. Why making a distinction? If James was already known as brother of Jesus by these Galatians, then “James, the brother of the Lord” would not need to be distinguish from “sons of God”.
 
RC: Likewise, in 1 Cor. 9, Paul cannot be referring to the kin of Jesus, wholly independently of this point. As I explain in the book. The book you haven’t read.
 
I answered: I already read the relevant part of that book. I do not agree with you. Paul can certainly refer to Jesus’ true brothers by “the brothers of the Lord”. I got two points about your interpretation on specifically 1 Cor 9:5: You quickly assume that “the brothers of the Lord” in 1 Cor 9:5 are Christian travelers on church business. But would “brothers of the Lord” be a proper expression to describe those? Simply “brothers” would have been enough (with the context suggesting travelers on church business) or, much better, “helpers in Christ”. The “brothers of the Lord”, as you think are generally all baptized Christians, is highly confusing and inadequate for indicating Christian travelers on church business.
Furthermore in the next verse, Paul complained that only him and Barnabas had to work for a living. That seems to indicate the preceding group (apostles, brothers of the Lord & Cephas) did not have to work for a living permanently, which would not be the case for these helpers.
 
RC: And Paul explains why we share the sonship of Christ in 1 Cor. 12 (the baptized are all part of the same body of Christ and thus share his body’s identity). And he says God is “our” father (1 Cor. 1:3) and Paul frequently calls Christians “brothers” in 1 Cor. How are they brothers? By sharing the same father, by being one in Christ.
 
I answered: If it was so obvious that, from the Pauline epistles, Christians are brothers of Jesus (spiritually by adoption), that would be heard often by apologists, Christian scholars, preachers, priests, pastors, etc. That certainly would make the believers feel good. But that’s not the case. Who, except yourself, made that point? Sharing the body of someone else in any ways, or symbolically eating it, does not make you a brother of the entity with the body. I do not object about Paul calling his Christians “brothers” and having the same spiritual “father”. “One in Christ” does not make you brother of Christ, maybe brother in Christ.
 
RC: Furthermore, it looks the three occurrences of “Son of God” in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians were part of later interpolations. Paul started to call Jesus “Son of God” in 2 Corinthians. I can supply ready-made argumentation for that.
So now you are making your ad hoc thesis even more elaborate and thus even more improbable by also claiming that Christians didn’t even consider Jesus to be the son of God?
 
I answered: This is not ad hoc. I made that thesis well before you turned mythicist, even before I learned about Doherty and yourself. I did not say “Christians didn’t even consider Jesus to be the son of God”, just Paul did not write it before 2 Corinthians.
Here are my reasons: 1 Th 1:10, 1 Cor 1:4-9 and 1 Cor 15:23-28 are very likely latter interpolations. I want to stress the authenticity of the aforementioned passages is contested because of many suspicious items, not only because of “Son”. But let’s say, in ’1Thessalonians’ and ’1Corinthians’, Paul was unlikely to mention Jesus as “the Son”, because he wrote: “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th 1:1) “our God and Father” (1 Th 1:3, 3:13) “our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus” (1 Th 3:11) “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many gods and many lords, [for Paul, as it seems here, "lords" are not "gods"] yet for us there is one God, the Father … and one Lord Jesus Christ …” (1 Cor 8:5-6a) “the heavenly man[Jesus] (1 Cor 15:48,49)
For more justifications, click on: 1 Th 1:10 and 1 Cor 1:4-9 and 1 Cor 15:23-28
 
RC: Holy shit, Bernard, that’s your most pathetic and desperate move yet. Furthermore, in Romans 8:29 “firstborn among many brothers” Paul missed his chance to confirm the firstborn had brothers (in a familial and spiritual sense). Because he would have written instead “firstborn among HIS many brothers” or “firstborn OF many brothers” (with “brothers” in the genitive case which he used all the times for familial relationship of all natures, such as “son(s) of …” & “father of …”). Wow. Not even William Lane Craig would try such a dumb argument. All these sentences mean the same thing. So you are arguing for a distinction that doesn’t exist. Indeed, you are so foolish you didn’t even think this through.
 
I answered: You are not addressing what I wrote head on. You seem to me you are avoiding about what I wrote on Ro 8:29. You are not answering the specifics.
 
RC: “For you received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” … hmm, where does Paul say that again? Oh, right, the exact same chapter in Romans.
 
I answered: Yes, that makes Christians adopted “sons of God”, which is confirmed in ‘Galatians’ and ‘Romans’; also that would make the Christians brothers between themselves, as confirmed in all the Pauline letters. But again I do not see why, because that appears in the same chapter (8:15) than 8:29, it would make the “many brothers” here other than “many Christians”.
 
RC: Furthermore, if plain “brothers” means Christians everywhere in the Pauline epistles, why would it not mean that in Ro 8:29, instead of (familial) brothers? Certainly here, Paul did not give any indication he wanted the word brothers” to be understood otherwise than just “Christians”.
This is not an intelligible argument. I cannot fathom what point you are trying to make. But it sounds like you want to deny that Paul had regarded all worldly connections to be dissolved, and all Christians equals regardless of birth status (Gal. 3:28, 1 Cor. 12:13, etc.).
 
I answered: I did not say that. But It just happened that Paul never made a worldly connection consisting of Christians being brother of the Lord. He certainly made that worldly connection in the expressions “sons of …”, “Son of …” and “father of …”. Furthermore nowhere in the Pauline epistles Paul said clearly his Christians were brothers of the Lord. Or his Christians considered themselves “brothers of the Lord”.
 
RC: That Christians considered themselves the adopted sons of God (Rom. 8:15), sharing the same body as the first son of God (1 Cor. 12), and thus were the brothers of that firstborn (Rom. 8:28), because they share the same father (1 Cor. 1:3), etc. etc. etc., is saying the exact same thing.
 
I answered: I went through that already. No, none of these bits says that Christians saw themselves as brothers of the Lord.
 
RC: Hence my argument in OHJ, pp. 584-85. Which you haven’t read and are failing to respond to.
Furthermore spiritual familial relationship is not as mathematical as real familial relationship. For example, some Christian believers call their pastor “father”. That does not mean they think they are his sons & daughters.
Because what modern Christians think in a modern culture with no significant fictive kinship tradition anymore, tells us exactly all we need to know about how ancient Christians thought in an ancient culture filled with common fictive kinship identities. Right. Again, in my book I document how different our two cultures are on exactly that point (see “fictive kinship” in the index to OHJ). The book you haven’t read. (I also suspect you are unaware of the huge cultural difference in regard to what people believe about adoption; today, adopted children are treated like not really their parents’ children, but in antiquity it was quite the reverse. I can refer you to literature on that point, although I suspect you wouldn’t read it.)
 
I answered: If it was as you said, Paul would have written his Christians are the brothers of Jesus without any ambiguities. Certainly a good thing to say to his Christians. But he never did.
 
RC: And yet we needn’t rest on that, either. For Paul is repeatedly explicit that the baptized are the adopted sons of God and literally share the body of the son of God and thus are the brothers of Jesus in a literal, metaphysical sense. So you don’t have any leg to stand on here.
 
I answered: I went through that already.
 
 
Second exchange: Carrier responded and I answered his points:

RC: Where did Paul write the baptism of converts made them “the brothers of the Lord”? Nowhere
 That’s simply a lie. Paul says in the passages I cite that baptism makes us sons of God like Jesus, and thus Jesus is the firstborn of the brethren. And so on and so on. I’ve already cited the passages here and in the book. You are just gainsaying obvious facts at this point.
 
I answered: We went through that already. And Romans 8:29 does not say “the firstborn of the brethren” but “the firstborn among many brethren” with “brethren” not in the genitive case (as he would be in “the firstborn of the brethren”, if indicating a familial connection). The rest of your passages never says Christians are the brothers of the Lord. Period.
 
RC: The rest of your arguments are ridiculous. No scholars place Galatians more than a handful of years away from 1 Corinthians, for example, so your window of radical change in the entire religion (a radical change you just completely made up, based on no evidence or even plausibility) is barely five years.
 
I answered: I placed 1 Corinthians written in 53-55 CE, and Galatians written either late 56 or early 57 CE. So I am in agreement with scholars. Yes during 5 years, Paul had all kinds of problems with his Corinthians. Furthermore he faced intense competition from Cephas, Apollos and apostles, some superlative, some false. In this context, we can expect a lot of evolution. And I documented all that on my website, with explanations and evidence and justifications.
 
RC: You want every passage that disagrees with you to conveniently be an interpolation.
 
I answered: No, that was not my criteria. If you read my website, you would know I took a lot of thinking and exposed a series of justifications for each pieces I declared to be interpolations. You did the same for two passages in the Pauline epistles. But it happens also these two passages also conflict with your views. Am I going to accuse you of removal because they are against your ideas? No.
 
RC: You absurdly try to claim that two men having the same father does not make them brothers.
 
I answered: In religious matter, this is not automatic. And Paul, despite many opportunities, never declared clearly that his Christians were (spiritually, honorarily) brothers of Jesus. And I do not know any “fathers” of the church who did that.
 
RC: You even claim that Paul’s saying Jesus was the firstborn of many brethren is “ambiguous” as to whom those brethren were brothers of!
 
I answered: “Brothers” here means “Christians”, like every where else in the Pauline epistles for “brother(s)” on its own.
 
RC: You even try to argue that Jesus both was and wasn’t considered by Christians to be the son of God (depending on when admitting this is suicidal to your argument).
 
I answered: I said Paul declared Jesus as the Son of God not before 2 Corinthians, even if “Son of God” appears (only three times) in earlier letters. I justified the passages with these three occurrences as being interpolations, not only because of “Son of God” but for other several reasons. I do not see how you can extrapolate your above remark from that.
 
 
Carrier responded briefly to the above:
 
RC: And Romans 8:29 does not say “the firstborn of the brethren” but “the firstborn among many brethren” Bernard, that’s just a meaningless distinction. They mean the same thing. And as for the rest, you just confirmed everything I said.
 
I answered that:
 
And Romans 8:29 does not say “the firstborn of the brethren” but “the firstborn among many brethren”
Bernard, that’s just a meaningless distinction. They mean the same thing.
“the firstborn of the brethren” (with “brethren” in the genitive case”) means Jesus has (familial) brothers (in a spiritual, honorary way). However “the firstborn among many brethren”, as it is written in Ro 8:19, (with “brethren” not in the genitive case) means Jesus was firstborn among many Christians. There is no indication here that Paul changed the meaning of “brothers” from “Christians” when just “brother(s)” everywhere else in the Pauline epistles means “Christian(s)”.
 
Carrier's final response:

Huh? You just said the same thing twice. And claimed to have said something different. Bonkers.
 
Appendix: Element 12, from "On The Historicity Of Jesus":
From as early as we can ascertain, Christian believed they became 'brothers' of the Lord Jesus Christ through Baptism (Rom. 6.3-10), which symbolised their death to the world and rebirth as the 'adopted sons of God' , hence they became the brothers of the Lord, 'the son of God' 101 "
 
101. there are numerous passages that confirm this: Rom. 8:15-29; 9.26; Gal. 3:26-29; 4:4-7; and Heb. 2:10-18; Eph. 1:5; 1 Jn. 5:1-4; (and likewise 1 Jn. 2:28-3:10; 4:8; 5:18-20; with Rom. 6:3-10; Col. 2:12. See also Irenaeus Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching 3 and 8; with Carrier 'Spiritual Body' in Empty Tomb (ed. Price and Lowder), pp 142-47. The notion could easily be derived from Ps. Sol. 17.27"

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {brother(s)} {brothers of the Lord} {Carrier} {Carrier's OHJ} {mythicism} {Paul}
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