Indeed, to assume from silence that Paul did not know the Jesus tradition because he does not cite it more explicitly and more often is almost analogous to assuming that the writer of 1 John was unaware of the Johannine Jesus tradition because the document presupposes rather than cites that tradition.
(Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 151.
On the one hand I'm sympathetic to Keener's view however it is a little odd that Paul doesn't refer to specific things Jesus said or did that might have helped him make a point to the churches he wrote to. He's not opposed to appealing to Jesus' incarnation, death, or resurrection so why not to specific things he said or did in his life. Now of course that doesn't mean he didn't know about the life of Jesus and what he said and did but if he did it makes you wonder how he viewed its importance for the Christian life—beliefs and practices.
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