I don’t mind the careful analysis and I appreciate your efforts. But you’re latched onto a very minor point in the structure of the article. Don’t take my word for it; just look at the relevance of that comparison between Paul and Plato to the overall argument.

I was pointing out that one easy way to get a handle on what kind of writings we’re dealing with when we’re talking about Paul’s epistles is to simply read them side by side with ancient philosophical texts. Once we realize that Paul’s writings come off as fanatical, prejudiced, and anti-intellectual by comparison, we might want to think about the social function Paul’s type of writings might be fulfilling, to understand why such abhorrent writings exist. That’s where the Handicap principle comes in.

But that’s all preliminary to what the article’s mainly about. I don’t just baselessly call the Epistle to the Romans obnoxious. I show how it’s so by going through at least three examples: the presumption that God exists, the repudiation of homosexuality, and the magical thinking about Jesus’s sacrificial death. You haven’t talked about any of that, so your criticism about the comparison is a tempest in a teapot, and that’s why your comments have been tedious.

What’s wrong with comparing the writings of Newton and Shakespeare? Compare anything you like if you have a point to make. Mind you, analogies can be weak or strong. My point in comparing Paul and Plato, say, is crystal clear and it’s not unfair. I do condemn Paul’s writings, but not because they’re unphilosophical. I don’t apply philosophical standards to him which he had no interest in following. Instead, I repudiate Paul’s letters for being preposterous and obnoxious.

You say, “the argument Christians are obnoxious as a result is just lazy and false.” Not so. The article’s last section focuses on that implication and it’s not hard to understand. Romans is taken as the summary of Paul’s theology. And Paul’s epistles are crucial for Christians, as I point out earlier in the article, because Paul talks a lot about how Christians should behave, whereas the gospels had to demonize the disciples to distance Christianity from Judaism, after the first Jewish-Roman war and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The gospels show what not to do when you’re a Christian, while Paul shows what Christians should be like since he’s talking directly and candidly to churches he’s started or visited.

Many Protestants are preoccupied with reading the Bible, especially the more conservative and insulated Christians, and they focus on Paul’s writings to learn how to be a good Christian. Therefore, Paul’s mannerisms can be expected to rub off on those Christians. And that’s how we explain the common obnoxiousness of evangelicals or fundamentalists and Paul’s letters.

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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