Here’s a post from six years ago involving an important matter that I completely changed my mind about.   I know some scholars (not to name names) will never change their views about something, come hell or high water.  They probably don’t think they should be seen to waffle.  I don’t mind waffles.  Especially on a nice Sunday morning like this.


I used to think – for years and years I thought this – that being adopted was a lower kind of sonship.  Jesus was “only” the adopted Son of God, not the “real” Son of God.  But I came to realize this was fundamentally a mistake and an extremely important one.   To say Jesus was the adopted Son of God was to say HUGE things about him, virtually INCONCEIVABLE things.   It was not a “lowly” view of Jesus.  Here’s how I explain it in my book How Jesus Became God.


Part of what has convinced me that this [adoptionistic] understanding of Christ should not be shunted aside as a rather inferior view involves new research on what it meant to be “adopted” as a son in the Roman empire, which was the context, of course, within which these views of Christ were formulated.   Today we may think that an adopted child is not a parent’s “real” child, and in some circles, unfortunately, that is taken to mean that the child does not “really” belong to the parent.  Many of us do not think this is a useful, loving, or helpful view, but there it is: some people have it.  So too when thinking about God and his Son.  If Jesus is “only” adopted, then he’s not “really” the Son of God, but he just happens to have been granted a more exalted status than the rest of us.

A study of adoption in Roman society shows hat this view is highly problematic and, in fact, probably wrong.   A significant recent book by …

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