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The Divine Pyramid

In my previous posts I have been insisting that if one wants to say that “Jesus is God” according to an early Christian text, one has to ask “in what *sense*” is he God? Now is a good time for me to lay out how I understand ancient people understood the divine realm. It was very different from the way most people today – at least the people I run across – imagine the divine realm. As I pointed out earlier, people today think of God as completely Other than us humans. We are mortal and limited in every respect; he is immortal and unlimited. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere-present. We are by comparison weak, ignorant, and in one place at a time. He is infinite and eternal; we are finite and temporal. There is an unbridgeable gap between us and God. (Although in Christian theology, it is Jesus who bridges that gap by being a divine being who becomes human; in traditional theology, he did that so that we humans could then become [...]

Jesus as Divine in the Synoptics

In yesterday’s post I pointed out that if one asks about an early Christain text: “Does it portray Jesus as God,” then almost always if the answer is Yes (which it usually is), it has to be qualified: “Yes, in *some sense*. “ And the question is always, in *what* sense? The reason I stress this point is that for many years – until about six months ago – I was quite vehement, in person and in print, that the Synoptic Gospels did not portray Jesus as divine, but only the Gospel of John did. It’s true – I still think and, I suspect, always will think – that in the Gospel of John there is little doubt about the divinity of Jesus. As we have seen, the Gospel opens with the amazing poem: “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and apart from him nothing came into being that came into being. In him was life, [...]

2020-04-03T18:44:39-04:00March 3rd, 2013|Book Discussions, Canonical Gospels|

Early Christology: How I Have Changed My Mind

I’m ready now to get back to the issues involved with early Christology and the question of How Jesus Became God. In this post I’ll quickly review what I’ve covered up till now and indicate a major change in my thinking that has happened over the past six months. In these posts I have been arguing that there were two separate streams of early Christology (this too has been a major shift in my thinking, and is closely related to the one I will be discussing momentarily). The first Christologies were almost certainly based on the idea of “exaltation.” Christ, as a human being, came to be exalted to the right hand of God, where he was made to share in God’s status as a reward for his faithfulness. The earliest Christians – the earthly disciples themselves (or at least some of them: we have no way of knowing if they all “converted” to believe this about Jesus) --thought that this happened at Jesus’ resurrection, where God “made him” the Son of God (and thus [...]

The Greatest Controversies

So I am now back from D.C. and from recording my 24 lectures for the Great Courses, on “The Greatest Controversies in Early Christian History. “ It was a rugged week! In theory it shouldn’t be that hard to deliver six lectures a day on topics you’re familiar with; but these lectures for the Teaching Company are *so* intense that the energy required is extraordinarily high. I started each day around 9, finished around 4, got a work out in, worked for two or three hours on the next day’s lectures, ate and went to bed and did it again! I’m reasonably zoned now, at the end of it, and am planning to spend the evening in front of a fire, with a martini and a very nice cigar, thinking deep thoughts. But on the course. One of the biggest problems I had involved deciding *which* controversies to pick – which millennia-old ones, which modern ones, which … ones! There were so many to choose from . I ended up with the following list, and [...]

2020-04-03T18:44:53-04:00March 2nd, 2013|Reflections and Ruminations, Teaching Christianity|
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