I’m not a Greek scholar either. I’m basing that on my readings of the critical historians of the New Testament, but also of the Jesus mythicists such as George Wells and Earl Doherty. See also Pagels’ The Gnostic Jesus.

It’s all too easy to read Paul and the Pauline epistles through the lens of the gospels. Take, for example, Doherty’s interpretation of 1 Tim.1:9–10: “ He [God] has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Doherty points out that the Greek word for “appearing” is “epiphanea,” which is the source of the English word, “epiphany” and can thus mean the appearance of a deity without any material incarnation. That Greek word for appearance was a technical word in Gnostic and Mystery cult circles, but that’s lost in the English translation, since “appearing” has no such special connotations.

The same is true of Paul’s terms “spiritual” and “natural man,” in 1 Cor.2:13–14, for example. What’s lost in the English translation is that the Greek terms were once again technical terms in Gnosticism for those who’ve absorbed exoteric or esoteric wisdom (psychikos and pneumatikois).

Doherty also points out that the New English translation adds “on earth” to verse 10, to emphasize that Jesus appears in physical form, but that reference isn’t found in the Greek. The other translations leave it out.

I’m likely going to write a Medium article soon on Jesus mythicism to clarify my stance on it.

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