NAV MENU ☰

Did Paul know much of Jesus’s biography?

“Yes, after all…
  • Paul’s letters report and allude to much known Jesus biography

    See this page to explore the evidence, e.g.:

    This is relevant because:
    A) Knowing these bits of Jesus’s biography (geneology, status, sayings/teachings, ethical conduct, miracles, crucifixion details etc.) just is what it means for Paul to know Jesus biography generally.
    B) Each known detail implies Paul has source(s) of knowledge on Jesus biography (and so likely knows more than he reports.)

  • Paul aimed to know Jesus biography

    See this page to explore three arguments:

    Paul's aiming to know Jesus-biography shows that Paul did know Jesus biography because witness-based Jesus biography was pervasive, especially for Paul; it was hard to avoid and easy to acquire.1

    1. We know Jesus biography was pervasive for Paul for three reasons:
      • In general witness-based Jesus-biography was pervasive. • Paul was well-connected to the Jerusalem chuch (e.g. often there visiting ministry partners [like Peter, like James, etc.] and vice versa).
      • Barnabas was as a leading Jerusalem church member, and Paul and Barnabas were ministry partners (e.g. they co-pastored a church for over a year).
  • Paul got tons of Jesus biography from the Jerusalem church

    Rather than getting it primarily from other sources, the evidence we have suggests that Paul was overloaded with information on the historical Jesus that he received specifically from the apostolic/Jerusalem church (e.g. from the apostle Peter himself).

    See this page to explie these three arguments:

    If Paul got lots of Jesus-biography from the Jerusalem church, it would count as evidence for Paul's knowling lots of Jesus biography because the Jerusalem church was quite knowledgeable. It is where the apostles and primary witnesses resided.

“No, after all…
  • In 2 Cor 5:16 Paul says we don't know Jesus “according to flesh”

    2 Corinthians 5:16 — ”from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.”1

    No, Paul is simply saying he no longer sees Jesus from a pre-conversion point of view.

    1. Notably, it is precisely this verse which most motivated the influential R. Bultmann’s skepticism of Paul’s biographical knowledge of “the Jesus of history.” Bultmann’s belief in turn seeded a generation of skepticism the echoes of which reverberate into the present.