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, and his life was the light of humans…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….” This Word-become-flesh was the man Jesus. That’s why Jesus in this Gospel can say “Before Abraham was, I am” (8:58; using the name of God, from Exodus 3, for himself, and indicating that he existed before Abraham, who in fact lived 1800 years earlier); and why he can say “I and the Father are one” (10:30); and why he can tell Philip “The one who has seen me you has seen the Father” (14:6). Jesus’ Jewish listeners regularly understand what he is saying about himself in this Gospel; on several occasions they pick up stones to execute him for committing blasphemy. At a climactic seen at the end, doubting Thomas comes to believe in who Jesus is, and calls him “My Lord and My God” (20:28).
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