Can Paul Be Trusted? Ali Ataie vs.Sound Christian Scholarship (#7)

   A few months ago I began responding to Ali Ataie’s attack upon the Apostle Paul. I took a brief break because of the Seattle trip, and since I have returned from Seattle, I have been overwhelmed with upcoming duties, teaching, Arabic and the like. But I have a full list of blog articles that are “in progress” and “still need to be done,” so Lord willing, I’ll get to them eventually! My last response to Ataie was posted here. I pick up with his words,

Paul’s obvious unfamiliarity about the Gospel tradition is further seen when he describes Jesus post-resurrection appearances:

   I note just in passing that Ataie has provided no foundation for this accusation of ignorance of the “Gospel tradition” as we demonstrated in our previous refutations of his assertions.

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the TWELVE: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time (1 Cor. 15 4:8).
   If Cephas (Peter), James, and Judas (since he is dead) are not included in the twelve, then who are the other three disciples that are taking their places amongst the twelve?

   Of course, “the Twelve” is a title used to refer to the Apostolic band; the previous appearances were to individuals apart from the disciple band as a group, hence their being noted singularly. Judas’ death did not cause the Twelve to become known as the Eleven, of course. And so all we have here is Mr. Ataie’s ignorance of simple linguistic usage, not ignorance on Paul’s part.
   Ataie continues:

After his life-changing vision of Christ while traveling to Damascus, Paul does not go into Jerusalem to consult with the chosen disciples of Jesus, but rather goes to Arabia for about three years (according to the Book of Galatians) to basically formulate his revolutionary doctrine pertaining to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

   Note the unfounded assertion, “his revolutionary doctrine pertaining to the death and resurrection of Jesus.” All of the first century documentation indicates that this was the universal message of the early Christians, and only the anachronistic bias of a particular interpretation of 40 lonely Arabic words written over half a millennium later is responsible for Ataie’s comments.

Scholars agree that Paul most likely did not author the book of II Timothy. The pseudonymous author, however, is schooled enough in Pauline doctrine to declare: Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead ACCORDING TO MY GOSPEL (II Timothy 2:8).

   Another bland use of the wonderful phrase “scholars agree.” Some scholars agree. Many others do not. I’m sure Ataie would not accept such argumentation as, “Scholars agree that Muhammad most likely did not author all of the Qur’an.” As far as the statement goes, it is likewise true. But serious argumentation goes beyond taking polls of current “scholars” and goes to the actual arguments behind their assertions. When you do this regarding those who restrict the Pauline corpus you find that the foundational arguments always admit of alternative explanations.
   Next, evidently, Ataie thinks “according to my gospel” (kata. to. euvagge,lio,n mou) means “according to the gospel that finds its origins solely in me.” But such is far from the truth. There were many false gospels being preached, even in the days of the Apostles, as Galatians demonstrates. Even today there are so many contradictory “gospels” that one has to sadly emphasize that one is talking about the gospel that is derived from Scripture alone and all of Scripture. So identifying the gospel is hardly surprising. As an Apostle of Jesus Christ Paul’s gospel would be in contrast to the false gospels of the Judaizers, for example. So “his” gospel would be the authoritative one, just as Muhammad’s words would be authoritative for the Islamic community. That would not mean that Muhammad was claiming he came up with his message rather than Allah, of course, which is the very sense Ataie assumes for these words of Paul. Again, we see a major amount of prejudice operating in Ataie’s misreading of Paul.