History is a soft science at best, and most New Testament scholars are Christian and therefore biased, so I naturally dismiss that appeal to authority and to popularity. Also, Paul's letters are infamous precisely for their lack of "specificity" about the historical Jesus.

The upshot is that the evidence is so mixed or weak either way that the most intellectually responsible view of the matter is agnosticism. We don't know what Paul meant. It's like reading tea leaves.

But have you read Richard Carrier's discussion of that passage? I summarize it in the article below (towards the end of the second-last section):

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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