Scholarly Smackdown:
Did Paul Distort Christianity?

Elaine PagelsBen Witherington IIITo help make sense of the scholarly debates about Jesus and Paul, we asked two of the preeminent scholars to email each other about early Christianity (while letting us peek in). Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton, is the author of the bestselling Beyond Belief and The Gnostic Gospels. Ben Witherington III is professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and author of The Paul Quest and numerous other books.

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Elaine Elaine Ben
Ben Ben Elaine






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Dear Ben,



Reflecting on Jesus and Paul, I'm intrigued by the difference in what they taught. According to Mark, the earliest of the gospels, Jesus came to announce that "the Kingdom of God is coming-repent, and believe in the good news!" Matthew and Luke added sayings in which Jesus tells what one has to do to "enter the Kingdom"--which range from "take what you have and give to the poor" to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself."



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