Questioning Paul

Chapter 2

part 9


But speaking of time, the timing of the Yaruwshalaym Summit is well documented. It is dated to 50 CE. So, if you subtract nineteen years, Sha’uwl’s abuse at the hands of the prodding spirit on the road to Damascus would have occurred in 31 CE, two years before Yahowsha’ fulfilled Passover. And if that weren’t sufficiently incriminating, according to Sha’uwl, he had spent additional time building an international reputation as the most ruthless assassin of Yahuwdym before the meeting with the risen Yahowsha’ could have occurred – thereby pushing it back to 29 CE, a year before Yahowsha’ chose His Disciples. That also means that his pursuit of the ekklesia would have begun four or five years before it was conceived.

There is an old proverb which says that the problem with lying is remembering what you said. These events represented the pivotal moments in Sha’uwl’s life, so they would have been forever etched in his memory. But since the truth didn’t serve his interests, he lied, making up a story he couldn’t consistently recall from one occasion to the next. It is why we have three different depictions of his alleged conversion experience, another problem we will detail in upcoming chapters.

Since Sha’uwl has regaled us in a fictitious rendition of his initial ministry, I’d like to linger a moment longer in the ninth chapter of Acts before we return to Galatians. In Paul’s first and second, but not his third, accounting of his adventure on the road to Damascus, he was asked to meet with a fellow named Ananias, who was reluctant due to Sha’uwl’s burgeoning reputation as an uncivilized brute. So according to Paul, after Ananias hesitated to tutor the now blinded and weakened would-be apostle, "the Lord" intervened a second time, saying:

"But then (de) spoke (lego) to (pros) him (autos) the Lord [o kurios – the ruler and master who possesses (without a pre-Constantine manuscript of this verse, it’s appropriate to deploy the title Paul would have used as he spoke on behalf of his Lord while recounting the affair to Luke)), ‘Go (poreuomai) because (hote – namely) the chosen (ekloge – a selected) implement and instrument (skeuos – object and vessel) is (estin) for me (moi), this is the one (outos tou) to remove and carry away the burden (bastazo – to take up and bear, to tolerate and to put up with, to endure and sustain the yoke and weight) the (to) name (onoma – and reputation) of me (mou) in the sight of (enopion – so as to be seen by; a compound of en – in and optanomai – to look at and to be seen (the Lord said of the blind man)) the nations and races (ethnos), and (kai) sons of kings (uios basileus), and Yisra’el (Israel).

Because (gar) I (ego) by him will provide a glimpse into intimate secrets (hypodeiknymi auto – under him will show and suggest, pointing out using words and arguments to warn; from hupo – by and under and deiknuo – to show and reveal, to indicate and point out) as much as is necessary (hosos – to the degree, amount, and duration) as it is currently required and actually inevitable (dei – it is now compulsory, expected, and in fact necessary, actively binding, and realistically fitting (present tense, active voice, indicative mood)) for him (auton) for the sake of (hyper – because and on behalf of) the name (tou onoma – the designation, person, and reputation) of me (mou) to suffer through this experience (pascho – to undergo this ordeal, vexed, affected, and ultimately enduring death (the aorist tense speaks of a moment in time unrelated to any plan or process, the active voice indicates that the subject is performing the action of the verb, meaning that Paulos is causing the speaker to suffer, while the infinitive makes this verb read like an active noun)).’" (Acts 9:15-16)

When, prior to this statement, Paul claimed that Ananias told "the Lord" that: "he had heard from many about the man who had to the greatest extent possible done immoral and injurious things to your holy ones in Jerusalem, and that here [in Damascus, Syria] he [Paul] has authority from the chief priests to forcefully bind and imprison everyone calling on your name," it became obvious that this was just another contrived fable designed to make Paul look as if he were the chosen one. Most every Middle East historian of this period acknowledges that there were no Jewish "high priests" outside of Jerusalem, much less in Damascus, Syria. And outside of Israel, the priests had no authority whatsoever. Adding to the fable, had there really been a man named "Ananias," since it is based upon the Hebrew Chananyah, meaning "Mercy is from Yahowah," he would have known that Yahowah didn’t need Sha’uwl’s help.

Turning to the alleged testimony from Sha’uwl’s Lord, knowing that Yahowsha’ chose twelve disciples at a time that Sha’uwl was available in Jerusalem and not selected, we are now to believe that Paulos, as a reward I presume for being especially immoral and injurious, is the chosen one. This resolutely religious and evil man claimed to be the "implement" of God, which is tellingly similar to "Ma’aseyah – the Implement Doing the Work of Yahowah." It is yet another attempt to position himself as God’s co-messenger and co-savior.

But consider what "the Lord" wanted Sha’uwl, the man who changed his name to Paulos, to do with his "onoma – name and reputation." "The Lord" did not select Sha’uwl to introduce his name, explain his name, share his name, proclaim his name, invite people to Yahowah using his name, or save people in his name, even say his name, all things which would have been vitally important, and none of which Paul actually did. "The Lord," which is Satan’s title, from the name "Ba’al," chose Sha’uwl to "bastazo – remove and carry away the burden" of his name and reputation. That is something Satan craves and Yahowsha’ disdains. This is because Yahowsha’s name is uplifting, describing the means God deploys to carrying away our burdens. But Satan’s reputation as the "Adversary" needs to be jettisoned for him to beguile souls into worshipping him as if he were God. So by selecting bastazo, "the Lord" has to be Satan, who is the only one who would benefit from having the "burden" of his adversarial name and reputation "removed and carried away." It would be senseless and counterproductive for God to ask for such a thing.

And then we find Sha’uwl’s Lord mimicking Paulos’s mantra, which is revealing secrets. Sha’uwl even has his Lord say that the selection and implementation of Paulos was not only inevitable, it was actually compulsory and required. As for suffering, Yahowsha’s sacrifice on our behalf was not only part of a very specific plan, it was now long past, so once again, He cannot be Paul’s Lord. But Satan’s ordeal would endure.

So if we are to believe Sha’uwl’s testimony here, the three years Yahowsha’ spent with His Disciples was a colossal waste of time. All of the prophecies and instructions the Ma’aseyah spoke to Shim’own would be hereby nullified. His name would have not only been irrelevant, it was a burden He wanted removed. His teaching, the Towrah’s Teaching, must have hidden the secrets that were just now going to be revealed – secrets so intimate, God, Himself, must have been too shy to share them. And as for freewill and God being powerful, sorry, He desperately needed Sha’uwl and was compelled to deploy him.

Not that we require more evidence to distrust Sha’uwl, but this statement contradicts Paulos’s testimony throughout Galatians, where he divides the world, giving Shim’own, Ya’aqob, and Yahowchanan responsibility for the Jews, while he assumed authority over every other nation and race. And lastly, even if we discount the troublesome vocabulary, if Sha’uwl’s mission was to carry Yahowah’s to every race and place, then he failed miserably. Not one Christian in hundreds of thousands knows God’s name.

But since Christians the world over know and proclaim the "Lord’s" name, Satan was obviously the spirit who chose Sha’uwl. Fixated as they both were on immorality and injury, on submission and death, on secrets and concealment, they were a match made in She’owl – Hell. After all, Sha’uwl’s testimony has been dishonest and Lord Ba’al is the Prince of Lies.

As an interesting study, consider how many false gods have been called "the Lord." Ba’al, which means "lord," was the dominant deity of the Canaanites, of the Phoenicians, of the Babylonians, and of the Assyrians. The Philistines worshipped the infamous Baalzebub. Remarkably, the center of Ba’al / Lord worship was in the town of "Ba’al Chermown – the Lord of Destruction."

In that we first considered Galatians 1:17 several pages ago, let’s review it again in advance of presenting the Christian renditions. "I did not ascend into Yaruwshalaim toward the goal of being with or against the Apostles before me, but to the contrary I went away, withdrawing to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus." It would have been a great story, if only it were true.

These translations are passable (notwithstanding that there is no "J" in Hebrew, Greek, Latin or even in English prior to the 17th century). KJV: "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus." It reads similarly to the Latin Vulgate: "Neither did I go to Ierosolymam, to those who were apostolos before me. Instead, I went into Arabiam, and next I returned to Damascum."  The NLT published: "Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus."

You will notice, however, that all three texts made a reasonable attempt to transliterate the Scriptural name for Yaruwshalaym, ‘Arab, and Damesheq. So why were they all unwilling to transliterate Yahowsha’ and Ma’aseyah accurately?

By way of background, Sha’uwl (meaning Question Him (and indistinguishable from She’owl, the place of questioning more commonly called Hell)) was born and initially educated in Tarsus, the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, which is on the Mediterranean coast of what is southern Turkey today. It lies directly south of Galatia, the Roman province he was addressing with his first letter. At the time, it was home to the world’s preeminent university. Sha’uwl’s father was both Jewish, from the tribe of Benjamin, and a Roman citizen—things which will loom large as this story unfolds. His father may also have been a Pharisee, which affirms why Sha’uwl remained a religious fundamentalist.

For a frame of reference, it’s about a five-hundred-mile hike from Tarsus, south-southeast to Damascus. Similarly, Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai) in Arabia, is another 500 miles by foot, almost due south of Damascus (Horeb is directly east of Nuweiba on the west coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, and is known as Jabal al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia). Jerusalem lies between the two, less than two hundred miles south-southwest of Damascus.

After lying, and telling us that he went to Arabia, but not even bothering to humor us with a word of what was spoken there, Sha’uwl revealed exactly how long he remained in the wilderness. And that is odd because other than incriminate him, the one detail he shared was otherwise irrelevant.

"Then later (epeita – thereafter in the sequence of events), with (meta – after) three (treis) years time (etos), I ascended up (anerchomai – I went up) to (eis) Yaruwshalaim (Hierosoluma – transliteration of the Hebrew name meaning Source of Guidance Regarding Reconciliation) to visit and get acquainted with (historeo – went to inquire about and investigate, hoping to gain knowledge by becoming familiar with) Kephas (Kephas – transliteration of the Aramaic word keph, meaning stone or rock, a reference to Shim’own, who became Petros (a transliteration of the Greek word for stone), and is known today as Peter) and remained (kai meno – stayed and persevered, endured and abided, continuing to persist) against (pros – to, at, among, or with) him (autos) fifteen (dekapente) days (hemera)." (Galatians 1:18)

While it may be relevant, Papyrus 46 uses meno for "stayed" in the final clause, while later scribes wrote epimeno, a related word which is much more emphatic with regard to Sha’uwl remaining in close proximity to Shim’own. However, since the Nestle-Aland was compiled from the most popular texts, not the oldest manuscripts, their McReynolds Interlinear was oblivious to the alteration. "Then after years three I went up into Jerusalem to visit with Cephas and I stayed on toward him days fifteen."

It is instructive to know that Moseh was on Mount Sinai for 40 days, during which time he received the Torah – a three-hundred-page book with prophecies so astounding and insights so profound the resulting document left little doubt that it was inspired by God. And yet if we are to believe Paul’s story here in Galatians, as opposed to his story in Acts, Sha’uwl was in Arabia three years. And this pathetic letter is the product of all that time. Rather than being equipped to share Yahowah’s Towrah – Teaching as Moseh had been, and explain how Yahowsha’ had honored its most essential promises by fulfilling the initial Miqra’ey, we get an angry and egotistical diatribe that serves to negate everything God has said and done.

The interesting nuance in this passage is one we considered earlier. Sha’uwl may have been more comfortable communicating in Hebrew and Aramaic than he was in Greek. Recognizing that "Petros," meaning "rock or stone" in Greek, wasn’t Shim’own’s actual name, but instead his nickname, he was at liberty to translate it—which he did, but into Aramaic. The official language of Tarsus would have been Latin. Aramaic would also have been spoken as a result of the Babylonian, Assyrian, and Persian influence in the region. So we should always be mindful of the fact that if a statement is being made by God or if two Yisra’elites are in the midst of a discussion, then the Greek text represents a translation of what was said in Hebrew or Aramaic. The reference to the Disciple Shim’own as Kephas keeps us mindful of this distinction, which is true for the entirety of the eyewitness and historical accounts.

It is a distinction, however, which was lost on Francis Bacon and his associates. But other than changing the name of the place and person, the rest of the KJV is reasonably accurate with regard to this otherwise insignificant verse. "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days." LV: "And then, after three years, I went to Ierosolymam to see Petrum; and I stayed with him for fifteen days." NLT: "Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days."

Speaking of names, the next one destroys one of the foundational claims of Catholicism, in addition to devastating the foundation of Protestantism. "But (de) other (heteros – different) of the Apostles (ton apostolos – of those who were prepared messengers and were sent out), I did not see (ou eidon – I did not pay attention to, concern myself with, or understand) except (ei me – if not) Ya’aqob (Iakobos – a transliteration of the Hebrew Ya’aqob who became Yisra’el), the (tov) brother (adelphos – male sibling) of the Lord (tou ΚΥ – a placeholder used by Yahowsha’s Disciples and in the Septuagint to convey ‘edon, the Upright One, or Yahowah’s name).” (Galatians 1:19)

In the Nestle-Aland’s Interlinear, these same words were either translated or misrepresented to say: "Other but of the delegates not I saw except [not applicable] Jacob the brother of the Master."

Before we consider the issue this verse raises for Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, please note that had this been an eyewitness account chronicled by the Disciples, had this been one of Yahowsha’ many citations of the Torah or Prophets, when we turned to the quoted section of Scripture, we would have found Yahowah’s name where the ΚΥ placeholder was deployed. And while I’d prefer to follow the example established by Yahowsha’s Disciples when citing Him, if we were to replace this Kappa Upsilon with Yahowah’s name, the statement would become senseless.

This is because it has been Sha’uwl’s intent to use "tou ΚΥ – the Lord,” replete with the definite article, as the proper designation of his Lord, the one who prodded and possessed him. So while I am conflicted, knowing the function of the Placeholders and realizing that “the Lord” serves as Satan’s title, while Ba’al, meaning “lord” serves as the Adversary’s name in addition to depicting his ambition, the evidence strongly suggests that Sha’uwl meant to promote the mythos of “the Lord” actually being “God.” So while neither he, nor scribes in Alexandria decades later, wanted these letters to appear different than those penned by the Disciples, one or the other deployed these devices, because they now appear in an early second-century manuscript.

So while it is impossible to know for certain if Paul actually wrote "Kuriou – Lord," only to see his nomenclature replaced by a scribe who sought consistency and uniformity with the treasured biographic accounts of Yahowsha’s life, or whether Paul used the appropriate placeholders, knowing that if he didn’t, his letters would differ from the Septuagint and from the Disciples, so that leaves us in a quandary. Should these passages be translated as Paul likely intended, or as the placeholders portend? At issue here is: does "the Lord" or "the Upright One" more accurately reflect Paul’s purpose?

The reason this verse should be troubling to Protestants is that it undermines the credibility of the King James Bible, and indeed the credibility of every English translation since that time. While Sha’uwl correctly transliterated the name of Yahowsha’s brother, Ya’aqob, Francis Bacon changed his name to match that of his king’s. The King James Version therefore reads: "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother."

The political mindset required to justify altering the name of Yahowsha’s brother, Ya’aqob, so that he would forever be known by the name of the reigning English monarch, is the same twisted mentality required to justify copyediting God and His messengers whenever it suits a religious purpose. Such men cannot be trusted—nor can their institutions or translations.

But what does this say about the attitude of those in the ministry today who know that this was done and yet have done nothing to correct the record – preferring instead to perpetrate the myth? Even to this day, in Christian bibles, King James’ name sits atop the letter written by Ya’aqob.

This literary fraud exposes the lack of moral character manifest by Christian leaders who continue to accept the wholesale infusion of Babylonian religious rites and symbols into Christendom. While it’s one man’s name, it’s indicative of how the Torah was replaced by "Gratia / Grace" in "Christianity," of how Passover, Unleavened Bread, and FirstFruits became "Easter," how the Sabbath time spent with Yahowah became "Sunday worship of the Lord," in fact it is how Yahowah became "the Lord," and how the Ma’aseyah Yahowsha’ became "Jesus Christ" to Christians.

This statement, however, contains an even bigger problem for Catholicism – a religion fabricated on the Babylonian presentation of the Madonna and Child, upon the Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven. Catholicism requires that Mary remain a virgin, and that she never age nor die. But this statement from Paul’s pen clearly states that Ya’aqob was Yahowsha’s brother, as do many other passages. So Jerome was in a pickle. Therefore, after writing: "But I saw none of the other apostolorum, except Iacobum, the brother of the Domini," Jerome was forced to add the following to the Latin Vulgate: "This Iacobum is Iacobum the Less, who stayed in Ierosolymam, while the other apostolorum went out to preach the evangelium to the world. He functioned as the spiritual leader of the city where Christi preached and died; he was the Bishop of Ierosolymam. He was called the brother of the Domini because he was a cousin of Iesu, and also because he was similar in appearances to Iesu." It was all untrue, every word of it, and Jerome knew it. But religious leaders will say and do anything to perpetuate the myths which empower them.

And yet now, with the benefit of over one hundred manuscripts dating to within three centuries of the actual witnesses, all of which affirm that Yahowsha’s brother was Ya’aqob, today’s esteemed religious scholars and theologians are still unwilling to convey the truth. Those associated with the New Living Translation failed to correct the King James’ political malfeasance. "The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother." So much for religious integrity and biblical inerrancy. Because familiarity sells, had they not included a book named after the English King, too few Christians would have purchased their bibles for them to have profited from the endeavor.

Galatians 1:19 was otherwise inconsequential, and yet it laid two religions bare. The moral of the story is: you cannot trust men guided by religion or politics.

Seen as a collective whole, Sha’uwl’s fifth paragraph reads:

"I did not ascend into Yaruwshalaim toward the goal of being with or against the Apostles before me, but to the contrary I went away, withdrawing to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. (1:17)

Then later in the sequence of events, after three years time, I ascended up to Yaruwshalaim to visit and get acquainted with Kephas and remained against / with him fifteen days. (1:18)

But other of the Apostles, I did not see, I did not pay attention to, or concern myself with except Ya’aqob, the brother of the Lord." (1:19)

My initial inclination in composing this review was to pass over these positioning statements and move directly into the substance of the arguments Christians raise from Paul’s writings to dismiss the Torah. And yet by studying them, we have come to know that, no matter what Paul said, he cannot be trusted. And that was worth the effort.


Sha’uwl’s next statement is troubling on three separate fronts. He wrote: "But now (de – because then) what (o – this means that which) I write (grapho – using a pen to form letters on papyrus I communicate in writing (used elsewhere to denote Scripture)) to you (umin) you must pay especially close attention to (idou – you are ordered to intently look at, focus upon, behold, carefully consider, and remember this command (in the imperative mood this is a command) in the presence (enopion – before and in front of) of God (tou ΘΥ – a placeholder used by Yahowsha’s Disciples and in the Septuagint to convey ‘elohym, the Almighty), because (oti) I cannot lie (ou pseudomai – mislead or deceive, speak falsely or communicate that which is not true).” (Galatians 1:20)

This message is wholly dissimilar to that of Yahowah’s prophets and Yahowsha’s disciples. They wrote "Thus says Yahowah…," or "Yahowsha’ said…," but Sha’uwl proclaims "But now what I write." Those who speak for God, speak God’s words, because they know that their choice of words pales in comparison to His. Even Yahowsha’ quoted the word of God: "For He (Yahowsha’) whom God has sent, speaks the words of God." (Yahowchanan / Yah is Merciful / John 3:34)

The only rational conclusion which can be drawn from the statement, "I cannot lie," is that the one who made it is a liar. Apart from the human manifestation of Yahowah, no man has or ever will tell the truth all of the time. As such, this statement alone rendered this epistle worthless. And in reality, based upon what we have read thus far, Paul has made far more invalid statements than accurate ones. But on the bright side, this means that Paul was telling the truth when he said that he was vicious and perverted, not to mention possessed by one of Satan’s demons.

Further exposing Sha’uwl, the Greek word for "writing a letter" is epistello, from which we get the English word "epistle." But it wasn’t used, even though it would have been the perfect verb to state: "I’m writing a letter to you." And while grapho simply means "writing," the term was often deployed by the Disciples to designate Scripture from the Torah and Prophets. But what’s particularly telling here is that Sha’uwl has set his "grapho – writing" in the context of something which "must be evaluated in the presence of God because I cannot lie." And in that context, Paul clearly wanted his letters to be seen as "Scripture," equivalent to the Word of God. And nothing could be further from the truth.

Before we consider Christian bible publications, the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, 27th Edition with McReynolds English Interlinear provides a somewhat unbiased approach: "What but I write to you look before the God [not applicable] not I lie." Turning to the King James Version, it is apparent that Christians desire the rationally impossible, for Paul to "truthfully contradict" God. And that is why the King James Bible says: "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not." And it is once again obvious that the King James was a revision of the Latin Vulgate, which reads: "Now what I am writing to you: behold, before God, I am not lying."

Before we consider the NLT, as a reminder, this statement, when converted to follow English grammar rules, begins with "o – what, not "ego – I." Further, there are many Greek words which can be translated "declare" (endeixis – to prove by declaring, apaggello – to communicate a message, gnorizo – to make known, diegeomai – to describe by way of narration, ekdiegeomai – to relate, kataggello – to announce, and euaggelizo – to bring a beneficial message), but none of these appear in Sha’uwl’s epistle. So why then did the New Living Translation publish: "I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie." Desperate is as desperate does, I suppose.

Returning to Sha’uwl’s flight of fancy, we find: "Thereafter (epeita – later then), I came (erchomai – I moved toward and happened upon) to (eis) the regions (ta klima) of Syria (tes Suria – a transliteration of the Hebrew sowr, meaning scorched rocks) and also of Cilicia (kai tes Kilikia – the Roman province in today’s southern Turkey were Sha’uwl was born). (21) But (de) I was (eimi) not known and disregarded (agnoeo – ignored or ignorant, neither recognized or understood) personally (to prosopon – by appearance as an individual) by the (tais) Called Out (ekklesia) of Yahuwdah (tes Ioudaia – transliteration of the Hebrew name, meaning Related to Yah, errantly transliterated Judea) in (eis) Christo (ΧΡΩ – a placeholder used by Yahowsha’s Disciples and in the Septuagint to convey the title Ma’aseyah, but consistently deployed by Paulos without the definite article).” (Galatians 1:21-22)

As we know, Sha’uwl was born and raised in Cilicia (Acts 22:3). He was the son of a prominent Roman citizen. If he was known anywhere, it would have been there. But should he have been telling the truth, he also would have been known to the Called Out Yahuwdym in Yahuwdah because he just said that he had met with Shim’own Kephas and Ya’aqob – the leaders of that Assembly. And while I suppose that it was possible, albeit unlikely, that Sha’uwl was unknown in these communities, moments ago he claimed that his reputation preceded him. These assessments cannot all be true.

Also troubling, in Acts 9, Paul tells us that he went to Caesarea, which is on the Judean coast, before traveling to Tarsus, Cilicia, and thus bypassing Syria. While it’s just a detail, the inconsistency is troubling juxtaposed against "I cannot lie."

Turning first to the Nestle-Aland’s Interlinear, we find: "Then I went into the regions of the Syria and the Cilicia. I was but being unknown in the face to the assemblies of the Judea the in Christ." The King James manages to properly transliterate Syria and Cilicia, but can’t seem to do the same for ekklesia, Yahuwdah, or Ma’aseyah. KJV reads: "Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:" Jerome did a reasonable job transliterating ekklesia and Yahuwdah, but must have thought that Yahowsha’ was a Greek bearing gifts. His Latin Vulgate says: "Next, I went into the regions of Syriæ and Ciliciæ. But I was unknown by face to the ecclesiis Iudææ, which were in Christo."

Sha’uwl has made a habit of including the definite article before every title, from "the God" to "the Lord." And in this sentence, even the title "ekklesia" was scribed "tais ekklesia – the Called Out." So it is telling that he has not yet included the definite article before the title of the individual he claims to be representing. And yet since "Christo" isn’t a name, what options are available to us other than to conclude that Sha’uwl wanted readers to consider it as such?

Philip Comfort, the overall coordinator of the "New Testament" passages which comprise the New Living Translation, emphatically reveals on pages 224 and 225 of his Encountering the Manuscripts that he is aware that the initial Followers of the Way were called "Chrestucians," not "Christians." And he knows that in all three references to these people in the Greek texts—Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16—that the oldest, most reliable manuscripts, including the vaunted Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, read "Chrestucians" not "Christians." Furthermore, Philip Comfort is keenly aware that neither "Chrestucians" nor "Christians" appear in any other passage. So why do we find "Christians" in Galatians 1:21-22? "After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn’t know me personally." Christian publishers must believe that their religious readers don’t care that the "evidence" they are presenting is invalid.

While there is no textual basis for the NLT’s use of "that visit," "north," "still," "me," or "personally," Mr. Comfort’s most egregious crime was changing "ekklesia - called-out assembly" to "church," and then associating this "church" with the nonexistent "Christians." It is as if he felt that he was at liberty to assist Paul in the creation of a new religion.

If you follow the link on the NLT’s homepage to "Philosophy & Methodology," you will find that they don’t acknowledge the methods they have deployed in creating their "translation." They simply list a pair of "philosophies" and a "method." And both philosophies are opposed to the liberal transformations we have witnessed in most every NLT passage. They say:

Essentially Literal (free only where absolutely necessary): This philosophy is reluctant to "clarify" the meaning of the text, though it is open to doing so when absolutely necessary for understanding. It holds English style at a higher value than the more literal approach and often adjusts syntax to help it read better, even if this makes it less literal.

Dynamic Equivalent (free where helpful to clarify meaning): This philosophy is open to "clarify" the meaning of the text whenever a literal rendering of the text might be confusing to the normal, uninitiated reader. This does not mean it deviates from the text; on the contrary, it does whatever is helpful to ensure that the text’s meaning comes through in English. In general, such translations try to balance the concerns of both functional equivalence and literal approaches.

Based upon what we have experienced thus far, nothing the NLT has published has been "essentially literal." They have shown no "reluctance to ‘clarify’ the meaning of the text." So we must assume that either they don’t abide by this philosophy (and that it was stated as a diversion), or they believe that it was "absolutely necessary" to revise, ignore, change, or extrapolate most everything Sha’uwl wrote.

I recognize that this is standard operating procedure in politics, where even though the public has access to their constitution, their elected officials reinvent its meaning on a daily basis. But Paul’s epistles are positioned as the inerrant word of God, making this practice a fraud.

As for their pervasive use of what they call "dynamic equivalence," we must conclude that they believe everything Sha’uwl had to say would have been "confusing to the normal, uninitiated reader." And that means that if Galatians is to be considered Scripture (in the sense of being inspired by God), then the folks working for the New Living Translation believe that God is a very poor communicator. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the concept of being "initiated" in a religion, especially its mysteries, dates back to the Babylonians. And it is something Paul has continued to promote.)

While it is egotistical in the extreme, not to mention ignorant, irrational, and foolish, to place one’s writing style and ability above the Creator of the universe (or even above someone claiming to speak for him), the NLT’s claim that they don’t use dynamic equivalence to "deviate from the text" is laughably inaccurate.

But none of that really matters. This pedantic posturing was designed to take your attention away from the method they actually deployed.

Paraphrase (free for clarity and to catch attention): This method is normally used by an individual translator, while the other methods usually employ committees of scholars. Creativity and style are extremely important here; the translator sometimes tries to catch the attention of readers in a fresh way, seeking to jolt and surprise them into understanding.

The New Living Translation is so "fresh," so "jolting and surprising," it is as if Philip Comfort and Company (a.k.a., Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) felt as if God, Himself, had personally inspired them to write their own bible.

Leaving one fictional realm, and returning to another, we find the Nestle-Aland’s Interlinear suggesting that Paul concluded his opening statement by writing: "Alone but hearing they were that the one pursuing us then now he tells good message the trust which then he was ravaging (23) and they were giving splendor in me the God." (24)

"But then (de) only (monon – alone) they were constantly (eimi) hearing (akouo) that the one (oti o) presently pursuing and persecuting (dioko – systematically, hastily, and intensely approaching, running and following after, oppressing and harassing (scribed in the present tense)) us (emas) at various times (pote – at any undisclosed period)) now (nyn – at the present time) he presently proclaims a healing message (euangelizo – he currently announces a beneficial messenger (scribed in the present tense and middle voice, thereby influencing himself)) of faith (ten pistis – of belief) which (os) once or now (pote – at some or any unspecified period) he was attacking and continues to annihilate (portheo – he was consistently ravaging and destroying, he is devastating and overthrowing, he was sacking and is continually wasting and killing (the imperfect tense addresses an in process action which began in the past but is still ongoing with no assessment of its conclusion, the active voice says that Paulos was personally engaged in this savage behavior, while the indicative mood reveals that this depiction actually occurred)). (23) And (kai – so) they were praising and glorifying, attributing an exceptionally high value and status (doxazo – they were considering illustrious and magnificent, holding the opinion of an especially high rank, thereby supposing to honor, extol, celebrate, dignify, and magnify) in (en – in relation to, upon, with, or at) me (emoi) for the (ton) God (ΘΝ – a placeholder used by Yahowsha’s Disciples and in the Septuagint to convey ‘elohym, the Almighty).” (Galatians 1:23-24)

The presentation of "portheo – attack and annihilate" is identical to what we’ve seen before. By deliberately writing it in the imperfect tense, this grotesque behavior is ongoing. Paulos continues to ravage and destroy. That is the legacy of his letters. They remain as destructive and deadly as the day they were written.