I could not bring myself to order the book Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity, by James D. Tabor, Simon and Schuster, 2013. I read the description and several of the positive and negative reviews.
Dating of the Gospels
Tabor is said to accept late dating for the gospels. My understanding is that the earliest reference to authorship of the words of Jesus are attributed to Matthew. I cannot imagine that sometime, after the Jews from many nations witnessed the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 & 3 , the scattering of believers that occurred with the persecution by Saul Acts 8, the Gentiles were admitted to the church in Acts 10, James the brother of John was killed and Peter arrested by Herod Acts 12, that Matthew did not summon a group of scribes (as Ezra had done to preserve the scriptures in an earlier time) to provide Jesus’ words to the believers of whom a large majority were Jews. Papias had said that Matthew had written Jesus words in order and people had translated them.
Paul in one of his letters refers to the “words of Jesus” 1 Tim. 6:3 and asks Timothy to bring him the books and parchments (2 Tim 4:13) he had left behind. If you have a red letter Bible you will even find quotations of Jesus in at least one of Paul’s letters that are not in the four gospels.
Those words from Matthew may provide what the scholars call “Quelle.”
For a good grounding in the dating of the gospels and other books of the New Testament, please see Redating the New Testament by J. A. .T. Robinson, Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd; New Edition (November 22, 2012). For the authorship of Matthew see http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2010/12/27/who-wrote-the-gospel-of-matthew/
and further discussion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_source.
Basis of the New Covenant
For the basis of the New Covenant and the commemoration initiated by Jesus and the disciples in what is called “The Lord’s Supper”, look at these Jewish and Christian Scriptures.
Exodus 12 Passover Lamb’s blood on the doorway saves people from the death angel.
Gospel of John 1:29-36, John the Baptist calls Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Exodus 24:6 Blood of the covenant thrown on the altar and on the people.
Leviticus 6:6,7 and 7:1,2 Blood of ram as a guilt offering is thrown on the altar.
Leviticus 16:15-16 Instructions for blood to be sprinkled on the mercy seat.
Leviticus 17:11″Life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of its life.”
Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 describes the first covenant and the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 61:8.
Luke 4:18-19 are words Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1 and 2 and applied to himself which could be construed as his identification with the initiation of the New Covenant.
The reference to blood in The Lord’s Supper.
Some have objected to the word blood as part of the ritual because the Jews would never have asked a fellow Jew to drink blood.
Matthew 26:29 and Mark 14:25 both make it clear that they all knew that they were drinking “the fruit of the vine” not blood. They were not strangers to the use of symbolism in the Passover Seder, a lengthy meal with symbolic foods and elements which commemorated the shedding of blood of the passover lamb to escape the death angel and the deliverance from slavery in Egypt as in Exodus 12.
1 Corinthians 5:7 calls Jesus our Pascal (Passover) Lamb
So we see the roots of Christianity are enmeshed with Jewish history and scripture. The Jewish Scriptures show God’s dealings with the Jewish people in different ways in different days, or eras, and situations. Even as Jesus altered the interpretation of the Decalogue, the 10 Commandments, so God continues to lead people into new understandings of what is right and wrong, just and unjust.
The Apostle Paul (Saul) took time in Arabia (Gal. 1:17), studied and prayed for understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ appearance to him, the prophecy of Ananias (Acts 9) regarding his relationship with Gentiles and what it all meant.)
In Paul’s letters to the churches he repeatedly admonished the Christians to behave in a way worthy of Christ, the Kingdom, and of God.
Paul’s ministry was based on and built on Jesus and the Jewish Scriptures with insight from the Holy Spirit, the power of God for salvation, upon whom he relied.
I admire the work and scholarship efforts of people like Dr. Tabor. However, I am reminded of a museum exhibit of two large ancient tile mosaics. One was of the archeologists’ rendition while many of the pieces were missing and the second was of the mosaic after the majority of tiles had been found and put in place. It was astounding. There was absolutely no resemblance between the two. If we ignore the earliest pieces of the puzzle of New Testament accounts, how can we possibly have a true picture?