Amazingly, the same Qumran text - the Habakkuk Commentary - seems to have provided Paul with the idea for his doctrine of faith. Here is the remarkable passage which Paul must have seen during his three-year apprenticeship with the
Qumranians, if not earlier.
'But the righteous shall live by his faith.' Interpreted, this concerns all those who observe the Law in the House of Judah, whom God will deliver from the House of Judgement because of their suffering and because of their faith in the Teacher of Righteousness. (Habakkuk Commentary 8. 1-3; emphasis added.)
This is obviously a most crucial passage, translation given by Geza Vermes. To make sure that the sense was not altered in the translation, I consulted also Kurt Schubert's German translation of the same passage. It reads (rendered into English): "This refers to all those of the House of Judah who live according to the Torah, whom God will rescue from the place of judgement because of their labour and because of their faith in the Teacher of Righteousness." With two independent translations giving us virtually identical readings, we are on safe ground in assuming that there is no ambiguity in the original.
This is a bombshell. So here is the source of the vaunted Doctrine of the Faith -the greatest 'original' contribution of Christianity! - written in language and style that even in modern translation is indistinguishable from that of the New Testament. Paul took this principle from the Habakkuk Commentary (or some common source) but went a step further. He took the doctrine of faith but did away with the all-important Law. With this sleight of hand, he created his new doctrine that became the linchpin of his theology: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. The Teacher of Righteousness became of course Jesus Christ of Pauline Christianity. This is exactly what Dupont-Sommer and John Allegro had been saying all along.
The early Christians on the other hand, "insisted on the complete observance of the Law, nor did they think one could be saved only by faith in Christ ... " as Eusebius tells us. This suggests he recognized that Paul had reversed the relationship by banishing the Law. Eusebius of course was an extreme partisan of Pauline Christianity.
Through this simple yet sinister change Paul sowed the seeds of the theocratic imperialism known as Christianity. The priesthood of the Church was allowed to become a law unto itself - no longer subject to the Law to which even the highest in Judaism like James the Righteous was subject. Thanks to Paul's innovation, the righteous priest of Judaism became the Pope, the God-substitute accountable to no one - with the Law replaced by the arbitrary despotism of the Church. This was of course the feature claimed by Muhammad as the only Apostle of God; he was not bound by the rules that he imposed on others in the name of Allah. While restricting the faithful to four wives, he allowed himself many more, invoking the authority of Allah for the indulgence.
This throws into relief the conflict between James and Paul as a conflict between the rule of law - no matter how rigid or primitive it may seem to us - and the rule of a theocratic despot placing himself beyond the law by claiming to act in the name of God. Few innovations in history have had such catastrophic consequences for the world as this divorce of authority from accountability engineered by Paul.59
59 According to Marco Polo, Hindu rulers in Medieval India were subject to the same laws as the rest of the population. He cites an example of a king in South India who was sued by a merchant for being late in the repaymem of a loan. The king complied and went on to observe: "How can I expect my subjects to obey the law if I don't show them how?" Also, in the Hindu tradition, secular and religious affairs were kept separate. A person born into royal family had to give up all claims to rulership if he wanted to take up holy orders. The great Vedic seer Vishwamitra was one such. In recent history, Jayatirtha (1340-88) a famous
Paul's revolution was now complete. The Law of Moses was overthrown and Faith was enthroned in its place. All that was needed was a new mythology to give it substance. This was soon supplied by the Gospels.
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