Sorting by

×

Christ as the Adopted Son of God

In this post I can begin to explain what I *think* is the point of contention between Michael Bird and me on the question of how the followers of Jesus came to think he was God.  When I say that I “think” this is the main point, it’s because I’m not completely sure.  As I’ve pointed out, Michael never laid out an alternative hypothesis for how the early Christian views of Christ came into existence or developed.  Moreover, since he never said how he thought it happened, he obviously didn’t mount a case for his view or indicate what he thought was the evidence for it.  So it’s a little hard to know how to assess his view. What is clear is that he disagrees with a fundamental point in my view, and his main talk at the debate was focused on this point. My thesis is simple.   During his lifetime Jesus’ followers did not consider him to be God (as the Gospels themselves indicate so well).  After his lifetime they did (as seen, for [...]

What the Resurrection of Jesus MEANT

In my previous post I indicated that I was a bit disappointed at my public debate with Michael Bird at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary that he did not propose an alternative solution to “How Jesus Became God,” some other sense of how it happened different from the one I proposed.  If he disagrees with my scenario, what scenario does he himself imagine?  I’m not sure. Part of the problem is that he himself said during the debate that Jesus did not go around during his public ministry saying something like “Hello – I’m God, the Second Member of the Trinity.”  That’s exactly right, he certainly didn’t.  But later Christians were saying that about him. So how do we get from point A to point B? I don’t see any viable alternative to the one I mapped out (I’ll point out in a second where Michael does disagree with it, even if he doesn’t propose an option).   It is clear as day from Mark’s Gospel that... The Rest of this Post is for MEMBERS ONLY. [...]

2020-04-06T12:53:51-04:00February 24th, 2016|Bart's Debates, Book Discussions, Public Forum|

Christ as Son of God in Mark’s Gospel

Son of God in Mark's Gospel. In my previous post I indicated that by the early fourth century, the debates over Christ’s divine nature had become extraordinarily sophisticated and complex (though not as sophisticated and complex as in the two centuries to follow!).  At the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE the question was over whether Christ, the God who created the world, was a subordinate divinity to God the Father, one who came into being at some point in time, or if, instead, he was just as eternal, just as powerful, and just as glorious as the Father, completely “one” with him, even in his essence.  It was this latter view that won the day. One of the things that I contend in my book How Jesus Became God, and in the debate, I had in New Orleans with Michael Bird (as many of you will know by now) was that these issues were not at *all* what the earliest Christians were debating and arguing about, either with one another or with non-believers. Michael [...]

2022-06-18T23:51:24-04:00February 21st, 2016|Bart's Debates, Canonical Gospels, Public Forum|

Jesus as the Son of God in Mark

I am set now to return to my thread on the changes in our surviving manuscripts of the New Testament that were made in order to make the text more amenable to the theological agenda of orthodox scribes and to help prevent their use by Christians who had alternative understandings of who Christ was. I have been arguing, in that vein, that the voice at Jesus’ baptism in Luke’s Gospel originally said “You are my son, today I have begotten you” (as in some manuscripts) but that it was changed because scribes were afraid that the text could be too easily read to mean that it was at this point that God had adopted Jesus to be his son.  These scribes believed that Christ had *always* been the son of God, and so God could not say that he “made” him the son on the day of his baptism.  Their change was remarkably successful: the vast majority of manuscripts have their altered text, in which the voice says (as it says also in Mark’s version): [...]

2020-04-03T13:10:36-04:00October 30th, 2015|Canonical Gospels, Public Forum|

Scribes Who Changed the Voice at Jesus Baptism?

I have been discussing views in the early church that asserted (or were claimed to assert) that Christ was not a divine being by nature, but was only “adopted” to be the Son of God, for example at his resurrection or, more commonly, at his baptism.   Some such views were allegedly held by the Jewish-Christian Ebionites and by the Roman-gentile Theodotians.  Whether these Christians actually held to such views is a bit difficult to say, since we don’t have any writings from their hands.  But it is clear that they were *thought* to hold these views, and for my study of the changes made in the texts of the Bible by Christian scribes, that is all that matters.  Scribes sometimes changed the text in light of “aberrant” views thought to be held by others. (Whether these others actually held such views or not.) We have seen instances in previous posts of changes made in order to oppose “docetic” Christologies, which had just the opposite problem (in the eyes of the proto-orthodox): these held that Christ [...]

2020-04-03T13:14:53-04:00October 19th, 2015|Canonical Gospels, New Testament Manuscripts|

Jesus as the Adopted Son of God

I would like to devote several posts – maybe half a dozen – to issues that I deal with in How Jesus Became God that represent new insights that I had while doing the research. In most instances these are changes in what I used to think. (Scholars who never change their minds about something are the ones you the ones you need to look out for!) I’ve never written a trade book where that was the case before (although it happens all the time in doing a serious research monograph). By my count, this is the thirteenth trade book I’ve written, and in virtually every case (I can’t think of an exception) my research either was almost completely done before I even proposed writing the book (e.g., for my book on the Da Vinci Code, or for Misquoting Jesus) or the research simply rounded out what I pretty much already thought (e.g., Lost Christianities or Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene). These books, in other words, are different from scholarly books entirely because of the [...]

2020-04-03T17:14:00-04:00April 2nd, 2014|Book Discussions|

More on Mark

I started this thread by mentioning that when I teach my undergraduate class on the NT, I not only teach them about the four Gospels, but I teach them different *methods* for studying the Gospels – for example redaction criticism and “literary-historical” criticism. In my class I use the latter to explore the Gospel of Mark, and in order to illustrate here, on the blog, how it works (establishing the genre of a writing then seeing how that genre “worked” in the relevant historical period) I started showing how Mark can be interpreted as an ancient biography. But now that I’ve given several posts on that, I realize that I’m deep into the interpretation of Mark but haven’t actually pointed out the really important themes of the Gospel in its portrayal of Jesus. So that seems unsatisfying. I’ve decided to continue on to the end, and give the rest of my discussion of Mark from my textbook, to show what a fuller interpretation (which, of course, just scratches the surface) would reveal. This will take [...]

2020-04-03T17:19:54-04:00February 19th, 2014|Canonical Gospels|
Go to Top