Apostle Paul, the greatest fantasist of all
Paul was the greatest fantasist of all. He created the Christian myth by deifying Jesus, a Jewish Messiah figure whose real aims were on the plane of Jewish political Utopianism. Paul transformed Jesus’ death into a cosmic sacrifice in which the powers of evil sought to overwhelm the power of good, but, against their will, only succeeded in bringing about a salvific event. This also transforms the Jews, as Paul’s writings indicate, into the unwitting agents of salvation, whose malice in bringing about the death of Jesus is turned to good because this death is the very thing needed for the salvation of sinful mankind. The combination of malice and blindness described here is the exact analogue of the myth of Balder, in Norse mythology, in which malice is personified by the wicked god Loki and blindness by the blind god Hother, and both together bring about the salvific death which alone guarantees a good crop and salvation from death by famine.
Paul took the cosmic drama of good and evil from Gnosticism, and so took over also the dramatization of the Jews as the representatives of cosmic evil. But, by combining the myth of Gnosticism with the myth of the mystery cults (which were not themselves anti-Semitic), Paul sharpened and intensified the anti-Semitism already present in Gnosticism. The Jews became not just the opponents of the figure descended from the world of light, but the performers of the cosmic sacrifice by which the heavenly visitant brings salvation. The Jews thus become identified as the dark figure which in myths of the deaths of gods brings about the saving death – Set, Mot, Loki; and the stage is prepared for the long career of the Jews in the Christian imagination as the people of the Devil. The elements which Paul took over from Judaism to embellish his myth- the religio-historical element which set the death of Jesus in a panorama of world history- only intensified the resultant anti-Semitism, because there was now an aspect of usurpation in the Pauline myth, an incentive to blacken the Jewish record in order to justify the Christian take-over of the Abrahamic ‘promises’. The career of the Jews in history began to be seen as a prefiguring of their central role, the murder of the divine sacrifice; they were separated from their prophets, now regarded as proto-Christs, hounded, like Jesus, by the Jews.
From The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, by Hyam Maccoby