Neither Paul nor Peter was ever bishop of Rome, nor was either of them beheaded in Rome or anywhere else.
Today we continue Christianity Appears
with a selection from The Origin of Christianity, and a Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles by Isaac M. Wise published in 1868. The selections are presented in a series of installments for 5 minute daily reading.
Previously in Christianity Appears.
Poor man! After so much labor, such ardent toils, such numerous perils, dangers, anxieties, trials, reverses, and triumphs, after ten long years of such work and such dangers, he is not safe in Jerusalem among his own kinsmen and among those whose Master he glorified, whose doctrines he taught, and whose interests he protected. How small must he have appeared to himself when walking up the Temple Mount in the company of the four men, whose expenses he paid, to be purified with them: “And all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly and keepest the law.” The man who had defied a world, to submit to the humbling dictation of his colleagues, who were children in comparison with him–this is mortifying to the utmost. This is the time of which it is said in the Talmud that Paul or Acher narrated, that on passing behind the sanctum sanctorum he heard the Bath-kol or Holy Ghost exclaim: “Return, all ye forward children; all return, except Paul, who has known me and rebelled against me.” Paul never forgot, never forgave, this humiliation. It estranged his feelings altogether from his colleagues in Jerusalem, and he embraced the first best opportunity to rid himself entirely of his Jewish associations.
The opportunity soon offered. While near the Temple some Jews from Asia Minor recognized him. A disturbance ensued. He was arrested and locked up in the castle by the Roman commander. Here the author of the Acts brings in a terrible tumult — speeches, trials, a Jewish mob, with a noble Roman stepping in time to wind up dramatically — not one word of which is historical. Paul, standing accused as the ringleader of the new sect who expected the second advent of the Messiah, could only appear dangerous to the zealous and vigilant Roman authorities. Nothing else was necessary to put his life in jeopardy. In the night he made up his mind to appeal to Caesar, because he was a Roman citizen. Therefore he was sent to Caesarea, to the governor, under the protection of soldiers. Not a sound was heard in his favor among the Jewish Christians. Not an angel appeared. Not a solitary miracle was wrought; none dreamed a dream; nobody had a vision; the Holy Ghost was as silent as the grave; none of all the Christians in Palestine showed his face, when Paul, loaded with chains, was transported from Jerusalem to Caesarea. This silence speaks volumes. They did not care much about the innovator. Therefore Paul’s epistles from his prison in Caesarea are thunder-bolts against the law, circumcision, and his colleagues in Jerusalem. It is the offended man, the wounded lion, who retaliates in his anger.
In Caesarea another mock trial is described by the author of the Acts. There can be little doubt that Ananias, the Sadducean high-priest who had slain James, thirsted also after the blood of Paul. But it is certainly not true that Felix was governor of Judea when Ananias was high-priest. Felix and Festus had been removed from their offices before Ananias was made high-priest, as the authentic sources of history show. If tried at Caesarea at all — which is doubtful, because Paul had appealed to Caesar — he was tried before Albinus. His speeches recorded in the Acts contain sentences of Paul, but many more additions from the author of the Acts.
It matters little, however, whether Paul was tried before Albinus or Felix, or whether there was a trial at all. He had appealed to Caesar, in order to estrange himself from his colleagues in Jerusalem and to come before his converts as an expatriated man, although Agrippa himself had said, “This man might have been set at liberty had he not appealed unto Caesar.”
Fortunately he was detained in Caesarea, when Nero in Rome put to death the Christians in his own gardens with exquisite cruelty, and added mockery and derision to their sufferings. Had he been brought to Rome then, no angels could have saved his life, and no power could have protected him for two years. He came to Rome in the year 65, when the cruelty of Nero’s proceedings against the Christians filled every breast with compassion, and humanity relented in favor of the Christians. Then it was possible for Paul to have a hearing in Rome, where he lived in a hired house for two years.
Neither Paul nor Peter was ever bishop of Rome, nor was either of them beheaded in Rome or anywhere else. All the legends and myths concerning them are void of truth. We know that Paul, who was then about thirty-five years old, wrote from Rome epistles in defense of his gospel and against his colleagues in Jerusalem, in the same spirit as those from Caesarea. We know, furthermore, that he went from Rome to Illyricum, where he preached his gospel. We know that he returned to Asia, and wrote the quintessence of his gospel in his epistle to the Romans. We know that many passages in his epistles were written, after the destruction of Jerusalem, when Paul was about forty years old, and his principal activity commenced still later, in opposition to Rabbi Akiba and his colleagues. We know from the Talmud that he married and left daughters. We know also numerous stories of Acher or Paul and his disciple, Rabbi Mair.
Long after the death of the apostles the Christianity of Paul and the Messiahism of Peter were Platonized by the Alexandrian eclectics in a semi-gnostic manner, which gave birth to the fourth gospel, according to John, and the two epistles of John the Elder, not the apostle, about A.D. 160, of which the Synoptics have no idea. They had only the Christianity of Paul and of Peter before them. An original Peter gospel, Paul’s epistles, and the different traditions of the various congregations were their sources, which they attempted to blend into one system. All the gospel writers lived in the second century; were not acquainted with the particulars of the story; had an imperfect knowledge of the Jews, their laws and doctrines; wrote in favor of the Romans, whom they wished to convert, and against the Jews, whom they could not convert.
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history