Wednesday, August 10, 2011

RIP: Heinrich Paulus (150 years dead today).

Theoretically, Paulus is really, really dead.
Since "The Man From Jackson" emailed me last week concerning the originator of the "loaves and fish picnic basket turnover theory" and the "Peter nearly drowns in a drop of water" theory, I was struck by the fact that this man, Heinrich Paulus died 150 years ago today. Memento Mori.

Who was this man? Wikipedia says:

Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus (1 September 1761 – 10 August 1851) was a German theologian and critic of the Christian bible. He is known as a rationalist who offered natural explanations for the biblical miracles of Jesus.
Paulus was a professor of theology and oriental languages at the University of Jena (1789-1803), then professor at the University of Würzburg (1803-1807). He spent time in Bamberg, Nürnberg and Ansbach before becoming professor of exegesis and church history at the University of Heidelberg (1811-44), where he was instrumental in hiring Hegel in 1816. His theological rationalism greatly influenced Hegel's own theology.
As a Lutheran in the Age of Enlightenment, he firmly believed in the autonomy of the individual and freedom of the individual (through reason) from the dogma of the church.

I can kinda see those hip, mellow-cat priests digging the Paulus groove. FREEDOM! INDIVIDUALS! NO DOGMA! NO CHURCH! WE DON'T NEED NO EDUCATION!
Now here's more:
Charges of anti-semitism have been levelled at Paulus for his advocacy of assimilation of Jewish people into German culture. In his published pamphlet "The Jewish National Separation: Its Origin, Consequences, and the Means of its Correction." he argued that "Jews were a nation apart, and would remain so as long as they were committed to their religion, whose basic intent and purpose were to preserve them in that condition. In a country that was not their own, therefore, Jews could not claim more than the bare protection of their lives and possessions. They might certainly not claim political equality."
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, cool priests???!!! Seriously, you're gonna make me go all internerd Godwin's law and say it? FINE!
If you quote Paulus in your homilies then you MUST BE:
A more detailed account of this man, Paulus tells about his theories. Among them:
  • The Pic-a-nic basket theory: whereby the bread and fish were not miraculously multiplied by divine power, but merely that the generous example of Jesus and His disciples, offering what little they had, inspired the rest of the crowd to pull out packages of food that they had actually concealed in their belongings. The true miracle, therefore, was the spontaneous generosity of a crowd that had previously been inclined to selfishness and concern only for their own needs.
  • Shallow end of the pool theory: since it is physically impossible for a human being to walk on water, the reference to Jesus doing so should actually be translated as “walking along the shore” – a translation which is linguistically possible, but certainly doesn’t seem to fit well with the context of the story as we have it.
    On another site, more of his theories:
  • The Swoon hypothesis: Paulus wrote in various works from 1802 onwards that he believed that Jesus had fallen into a temporary coma and somehow revived without help in the tomb.
  • The bad sight or crazy from the heat vision hypothesis:(Vision Hypothesis) used to cover a range of theories that question the physical resurrection of Jesus, and suggest that sightings of a risen Jesus were visionary experiences (figments of the imagination or tricks of the eye). 
I understand that the stories of the Christian miracles are literally hard-to-believe but are these theories any more credible?
If you want to go straight to the hard-stuff, then skip over trying to make sense of the sensational and read about the whole Jesus-St. Paul-God thing being made up. None of it was real, according to this chilling little number I bought a few years back:

Acharya is not a name it's a title. Like "Lady" for Gaga.
Now, this chick, Acharya S. tells you the straight dope. That the apostles were really the zodiac creatures, St. Paul was a re-hash of an old Indian god and Jesus, seriously, may have been a mushroom. And there's some really fascinating stuff about the dirty art in the Papal museums. With drawings of them. It's like the margin of my 10th grade geometry notebook!

And here is my favorite refutation of this book by a good ol' Mississippi boy who can sure use them big words!

But in defense of Acharya S.? Over Heinrich Paulus, I'd be more interested in hearing her theories. Not because she developed them particularly well but...just look at her!

Hey, what's your