My thoughts after reading How Jesus Became God
The Resurrection of Jesus will never be a provable event. Most “evidence” or recordings of the resurrection were written many years after Jesus’s death. Paul’s account is thought to be the earliest recording of scripture. His account being dated 49-50 AD; at least twenty years after the death of Jesus. And even he never claims to have know Jesus in person. The only interaction he was said to have was a vision of Jesus appearing unto him.
It is entirely possible that the “sightings” of Jesus after his death were merely visions. In fact many of the “sightings” of Jesus written in scripture tell of skeptics and doubts when presented with the vision. And some didn’t even recognize Jesus during the visions mistaking him for a gardener or weary traveler.
It is clear that many came to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. That is historically provable. But these “personal” accounts were written decades after the death of Jesus. By people who already believed in the resurrection of Jesus. They would have been merely writing down and passing on oral stories of other Christian’s vision of Jesus.
“They wanted to preach Jesus. They were not trying to give biographical information that would pass muster among critical historians living two thousand years later…….. They were basing their stories on what they had heard and read. What they had read was based on the what the authors of these other writings had heard. It all goes back to oral tradition.”How Jesus Became God
The bible is not a non-biased account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It started as a series of stories passed down from one group to another. Until it was recorded by an educated Christian author decades later. These people’s telling of the story would have radically changed the message of Jesus into their perceived version of who they thought Jesus was.
Bart Ehrman in the book How Jesus Became God argues that in the earliest telling of the story of the resurrection of Jesus. The followers of Jesus would have believed in a spiritual resurrection of Jesus. Believing that Jesus would have died on the cross. After his death, his spiritual “body” then ascended into heaven. With his follower believing that he then appeared to them in spiritual “visions” to give them direction of what to do following his death.
This ascended spirit then became, in the disciple’s minds, the very “son of man” Jesus preached about. Thus Jesus became equated with g-d or at the very least the “son of man.” One of the diving aspects or personalities of g-d the Jews would have been aware of. Starting as man but being raised to the position of adopted “son of man” by g-d.
“Originally, Jesus was thought to have been exalted only at the resurrection; as Christians thought more about the matter, they came to think that he must have been the Son of God during his entire ministry, so that he became the Son of God at its outset, at baptism; as they thought even more about it, they came to think he must have been the Son of God for his entire life, and so he was born of a virgin and in that sense was the (literal) Son of God; and as they thought about it more again, they came to think that he must have been the Son of God even before he came into the world, and so they said he was a preexistent divine being.”How Jesus became God taken from p.236-237
It clear to see that the views of the early Christian’s evolved over time. Most likely the followers of Jesus wouldn’t have even seen him as divine during his lifetime. And the early scriptures and gospels seem to reflect this.
Certain gospels seem to present a view that Jesus was given divinity at birth: Matthew and Luke. And other gospels seem to present a divine moment that came upon Jesus granting him divinity. In Mark it’s at the baptism of Jesus by John. Where he is blessed by the spirit of g-d.
Mark is thought of as the first gospel written with Matthew coming next. The book of Luke would have followed. With the book of John being considered the last gospel book written.
As for Paul, the author argues that he believed the following. “Christ was indeed a preexistent divine being. But he was an angel or an angel-like being, who only after his act of obedience to the point of death was made God’s equal.”
The book of John seems to present the final form and view of the divine Jesus. Jesus is presented as a preexistent divinity. He’s presented as being present with g-d from the beginning of time. He’s told as a manifestation of g-d descending down to earth. The “wisdom” or “logos” of g-d made into flesh.
Once the church signed into effect the Nicene Creed Jesus’ as g-d was sealed into church history. All other narratives or arguments were after that point labeled heretical.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον) with the Father; by whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.And in the Holy Ghost.But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Churchhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_versions_of_the_Nicene_Creed
I’m not sure what exactly to think of the Jesus that Ehrman presents. According to Ehrman, Jesus was an apocryphal Jewish Rabi that believed in a coming end of days. With Jesus holding the belief that g-d was going to come to earth creating a kingdom on earth with Jesus at his side as the messiah.
I have honestly no issues with the way Ehrman portrays the divinity of Jesus. I’ve fairly well let go of a literal resurrection of Jesus, or a view of the divinity of Jesus. The scientific world allows for no resurrection or divine miracles. Nor has their been any evidence of these.
What I guess I have issue with is the idea of a Jesus as a misguided Jew. Yelling about how the world will end. I guess even in my deconstruction of Jesus as g-d; I hold Jesus in some type of reverence still.
Not because of any claims to divinity by Jesus in scripture, but because of my perception that he was a good moral teacher. That somewhere in the bible I can still find something good in Jesus. I don’t know. Maybe for me that’s my one bit of “faith” that I’m still keeping alive.