Richard Carrier, on Pauline Interpolations:
In the New Testament, at least two passages have been interpolated into the letters of Paul: 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Today I’ll present the evidence for this conclusion that most experts have long known about, but most laymen never hear….
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 is very unusual in several ways…. Paul blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus is simply unprecedented. Paul also never talks about the Jews as if he wasn’t one of them (see: Galatians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 9:20; Romans 9:1-5, 11:1; Philippians 3:4-5). And Paul acknowledged Jews as members of his own church, so he wouldn’t damn them as a group like this, and never does…
That Paul believed God’s wrath would come only at the future judgment is likewise a constant drumbeat for him (see: Romans 2:5, 3:5-6, 4:15; even 1 Thessalonians 1:10).
So let’s look at the questionable passage … in context:
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Jesus Christ, for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, to fill up their sins for evermore—but the wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
Paul is writing to pagan converts (see verse 1:9) being persecuted by pagans, not by Jews (this is what he means in the authentic part of verse 2:14, highlighted above), so why would he suddenly break into a tirade against “the Jews” here? This makes no sense in context and violates the entire thread of his argument, that the Thessalonians are awesome for having withstood a pagan persecution….Most experts [also believe 1 Corinthians 14:34-35] is an interpolation. This passage has Paul command:
Let the women keep silence in the churches: because it is not permitted for them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also the law says. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.
We know this wasn’t written by Paul because it directly contradicts what Paul says in the very same letter, where he actually gives rules for when women speak in church (in 1 Corinthians 11). So we can be sure someone else wrote this passage, probably influenced by the forgery of 1 Timothy 2 (where we find this misogyny repeated; notably in the authentic letters of Paul, such misogyny does not appear—it was a feature of later Christianity).
[W]e can be sure the original reading of 1 Corinthians 14:31-37 was:
For you all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted, and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. [---] Or did the word of God originate with you, or come only to you? If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.
In other words, Paul is simply concluding the argument of the entire chapter, that they can’t gainsay what he has just said “as if the word of God came only to them” because what he is saying is the definitive and universal commandment of God. The digression about women doesn’t even fit here.
And in fact we know this is how the passage originally read, because in some manuscripts this is exactly what Paul says: the insertion about the women is moved to the end of the chapter….
In other words, the version I have just proposed, of what Paul originally said and what it meant, is exactly the version we find in some actual manuscripts of the Bible. The final clincher is that we know there were once manuscripts that didn’t contain the interpolated verses at all, which confirms they were interpolated….
There can be no doubt that these passages are interpolations (1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). This proves Christians had no problem doctoring the letters of Paul to make him say things he didn’t say. And if they did this in these two cases, how many other passages in Paul are inauthentic? Remember, we caught these cases because we got lucky (the interpolators were sloppy, they just happened to pick things to say that contradicted Paul, and we just happen to have some telltale evidence in the manuscripts). Most interpolations won’t have left such evidence (most will not so blatantly contradict Paul, and most of the ones, like these, that were inserted before 200 A.D. won’t have just by chance left any evidence in the manuscripts). It is therefore necessarily the case that there are three or more interpolations in the letters of Paul that we don’t know about (statistically [i.e., by Bayes' Theorem], if most won’t be evident, and two are evident, then there must be at least three not evident).
I’m starting to become quite interested in theology and Biblical criticism … as a detective exercise.
I didn’t even know about Carrier’s work until four and a half months ago, when I saw him listed near the bottom of a list of the “25 Most Influential Atheists” (or thereabouts). But wow, this guy is as good, reliable, and insightful, as Steven Dutch. (High praise, if you know Dutch’s work at all. Few do.) PZero “Courtier’s Reply” Myers’ one-dimensional musings aren’t even worthy of a rank schoolboy, compared to work like theirs.