I have been talking about the early Christian understandings of Jesus as the messiah – not just the messiah, but the “crucified messiah,” a concept that would have seemed not just unusual or bizarre to most Jewish ears in the first century, but absolutely mind-boggling and self-contradictory. I’ve been arguing that it was precisely the contradictory nature of the claim that led almost all Jews to reject the Christian claims about Jesus.
Several readers have asked me whether I think Jesus understood himself to be the messiah. Probably those who know a *little* bit about my work and my general views of things would think that my answer would be Absolutely Not. But those who know a *lot* about my views will know that the answer is Yes Indeed.
I think Jesus did consider himself the messiah. But not the to-be-crucified-messiah. The key to understanding Jesus’ view of himself is to recognize what he *meant* by considering himself the messiah. I will get to that in a later post. For now I want to give the evidence that Jesus thought that in *some* sense (a sense distinctive to Jesus) he thought he was the messiah. There are two highly compelling lines of argument. These arguments are *so* compelling that I wish I had thought of them myself. But alas, as with most good arguments, they are the work of others.
These two arguments are interlocking – the need to go together, in tandem. But I can only give one at a time. The first involves what happened after Jesus’ life and the second involves what happened leading up to his death.
In terms of Jesus’ afterlife, here we have to consider…
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