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Did the Earliest Christians Believe Jesus *Became* God?

This will be my final post on the debate I had in New Orleans with Michael Bird on “How Did Jesus Become God” a couple of weeks ago.  As I indicated in my previous post, it appears where we disagree in particular is with how the resurrection affected the disciples’ understanding of Jesus.  My view is that when they came to think Jesus was raised from the dead, the disciples thought that this entailed his being exalted up to heaven.  And *that* is why thy started calling Jesus “God,” because in ancient thinking – as documented widely in both pagan and Jewish circles – it was believed that a mortal being who was taken up to heaven was made immortal, and was in fact, considered then to become a God. That is the belief attested for such figures as Romulus in Roman circles and Enoch in Jewish circles. And it is, I’ve contended, how the earliest Christians understood Jesus.  Only as they thought about it more did they start saying even more exalted things about [...]

2020-04-06T12:51:57-04:00February 29th, 2016|Bart's Debates, Early Christian Doctrine, Public Forum|

My Debate with Michael Bird Feb. 12 , 2016

As many of you know, this past weekend (February 12-13, 2016) I met with Australian New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird at the 2016 Greer-Heard Point Counter Point Forum on for a two part debate. The event was held at the Leavell College Chapel at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. A question and answer session followed the debate. The subject of the debate was focused on my book. How Jesus Became God. Michael was the editor of the "response" book, produced by a group of evangelical scholars, called How God Became Jesus. Michael F. Bird, BMin, BA (Hons), PhD taught New Testament at the Highland Theological College in Scotland (2005-9) before joining Crossway College in Brisbane as lecturer in Theology (2010-12). He joined the faculty at Ridley as lecturer in Theology in 2013. As an industrious researcher, Michael has written and edited over twenty books in the fields of Septuagint, Historical Jesus, Gospels, St. Paul, Biblical Theology, and Systematic Theology. Michael Bird’s most popular books are The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, [...]

2020-04-06T12:50:33-04:00February 20th, 2016|Bart's Debates, Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Video Media|

My Debate This Past Weekend

I just returned yesterday from a two-day event in New Orleans involving a public debate with an Australian New Testament scholar named Michael Bird, who is the author of The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians, and Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message.  To explain the situation, I need to give some background.   As most readers on the blog know, a couple of years ago I published my book How Jesus Became God.  This was my attempt to show how it is that the man Jesus, an apocalyptic preacher from a remote area of rural Galilee, came to be considered the second member of the Trinity, God the creator, who had always existed, who was fully equal with the God of the universe, who was in fact of the same “essence” as him.  How’d that happen exactly? Also as many of you know, a group of evangelical scholars learned I was writing the book, and decided, even before they had seen it [...]

2020-06-03T15:55:04-04:00February 15th, 2016|Bart's Debates, Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Public Forum|
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