Did the Jerusalem church (apostles) fashion the 1 Corinthians 15 creed

  • Clarifying the question

    A building with a speech bubble coming out of it.

    In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received,…

    1 Corinthians 15:3-5 — “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles…”

    The quoted material here that Paul repeats is a stylized creedal confession. The question is: was its stylized content and flow originally crafted and formalized in a Palestinian setting—i.e. by the Jerusalem church?

  • Historians largely agree

    Three scholars sit behind a desk. A diploma is on the wall behind them along with a bookshelf.
    • Raymond Collins: “Some scholars, especially Philipp Vielhauer and Hans Conzelmann, have argued that the confessional formula arose in Hellenistic Christian circles, but most scholars (e.g. Joachim Jeremias, John Kloppenborg) are convinced that it originated in a Palestinian context.” [Sacrina Pagina: 1 Corinthians (Michael Glazier, 2006) 531.]
    • Larry Hurtado: “It is widely accepted, however, that the tradition Paul recites in 15:1-7 must go back to the Jerusalem Church.” [Lord Jesus Christ (Eerdmans, 2003), 168. cf. 101.]
    • Pinchas Lapide: “[It] may be considered as a statement of eyewitnesses”. [The Resurrection of Jesus (Wipf and Stock, 2002), 99.]
    • Eduard Lohse: “For even if the tradition came to Paul via the church in Antioch, this would only have handed on what it had received from Jerusalem.” [Märtyrer und Gottesknecht, FRLANT 64 (Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1963), 131.] (As translated, quoted, and endorsed by Gerd Lüdemann in his, “What Really Happened to Jesus” (Westminster, 1966))
“Yes, after all…
  • Around AD 30 it was already circulating

    A speech bubble with a clock inside and an arrow going around the clock counterclockwise.

    The 1 Corinthians 15 creed was formed around AD 30-33 (AD 34-35 at the latest).

    See here to discuss the evidences, like that…

    This is relevant because the Jerusalem church was the source of most/all Christian tradition at that stage.

  • Its creators adeptly formed it for Jews

    A speech bubble with a star of David inside.

    The underlying assumptions, concepts, and technical terms used in the creed cater best to a Jewish audience. Right?1

    After all…

    • …it uses loaded terms, meaningful only for those familiar with Jewish concepts.

        ◦ …e.g. the “Christos”, meaning the Jewish messiah (a complex concept).
        ◦ …e.g. “the scriptures”, meaning the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh, i.e. Old Testament).2
        ◦ …e.g. “raised”, indicating the complex Jewish eschatological resurrection.

    • …it assumes the “scriptures” (the Old Testament) are something to be revered.

    1. Raymond Collins: “Every element of the confession derives its meaning from Jewish apocalyptic thought: Christ, sins, scripture, resurrection, and the symbolic ‘Twelve’ (v. 5). An anarthrous ‘Christ,’ the Aramaic ‘Cephas’ (v. 5), and the parallelismus membrorum point to its Palestinian origins.” [Sacrina Pagina: 1 Corinthians (Michael Glazier, 2006) 531.]
      Larry Hurtado: “It was obviously formulated initially in a setting where these terms were familiar, and where the Scriptures and these figures were revered.” [Lord Jesus Christ (Eerdmans, 2003) 169.]
    2. This assumes the reference “according to the scriptures” is in the original, which is disputed.
  • Its creators were or knew the apostles

    There is a group of people with a speech bubble coming from them. The speech bubble has quotation marks on it.

    Those who formalized the 1 Corinthians 15 statement were, to a significant degree, personally familiar with the leaders of the Jerusalem church.

    After all…

    • …it uses Peter's less familiar Aramaic name.1
    • …it mentions the name “James” (Jerusalem church leader)2
    1. Paul is writing in Greek to a thoroughly Greek audience [the Corinthians] and “Cephas” is Peter's early and less familiar Jewish/Aramaic name (see Jn 1:42; cf. parallel in Lk 24:34.) Also noteworthy:
      Maurice Carrez: “The appearance to Peter, confirmed by the allusion to Lk 24:34, and the appearance to James… show the Jerusalamite character of this tradition.” [“The Pauline Hermeneutics of the Resurrection” in Resurrection and Modern Biblical Thought (Corpus, 1970), 40.]
    2. Bertold Klappert: “The appearance to Peter, confirmed by the allusion to Lk 24:34, and the appearance to James … show the Jerusalemite character of this tradition. What should we derive from it? That, in any case, this formulation already existed in an established way six years after the events of the redemptive drama at the latest. And that everything concurs in underlining the great antiquity of this formulation [“The Pauline Hermeneutics of the Resurrection,” in The Resurrection and Modern Biblical Thought, ed. Surgy (Corpus, 1970), 131.]
  • Its creators often mentioned “the twelve apostles”

    There is a speech bubble with Jesus standing amidst a group of men who are shocked and wanting to touch him.

    Whoever fashioned this creedal statement formed it in a mileau where it was commonplace to mention or discuss Jesus's twelve apostles.

    After all…

    • …it uses the abbreviated term “the twelve” which is associated with Jerusalem.1
    1. Larry Hurtado: “All other references to ‘the twelve,’ though from sources somewhat later than Paul's letters (the canonical Gospels and Acts), also associate them with Jerusalem.” [Lord Jesus Christ (Eerdmans, 2003), 169.]
  • Paul only relayed traditions from Jerusalem

    A man with a speech bubble and the Jewish temple inside of the bubble.

    The traditions that Paul inherited and relayed were habitually (if not strictly) traditions formed by the Jerusalem church. [Forthcoming] This is relevant because Paul was relaying a tradition which he recieved from elsewhere.[Forthcoming]

  • Jerusalem was at least circulating the creed's facts

    The Jerusalem church was at least circulating the essential message of the 1 Corinthians 15 creed.

    After all…

    • …Paul says of the creed in v.11, “Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”1
    • …in comparing the creed with known beliefs of the Jerusalem church, we see the are identical. [Forthcoming]
    1. This kind of comment was too falsifiable to be a lie from Paul. In fact, the Corinthians knew the apostle Peter personally from his visits to them (and perhaps the occasional visits of some members to Jerusalem).