Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Lord Of All

"He that hung up the earth in space was Himself hanged up; He that fixed the heavens was fixed with nails; He that bore up the earth was borne up on a tree; the Lord of all was subjected to ignominy in a naked body - God put to death! the King of Israel slain with Israel's right hand! Alas for the new wickedness of the new murder! The Lord was exposed with naked body: He was not deemed worthy even of covering; and, in order that He might not be seen, the luminaries turned away, and the day became darkened because they slew God, who hung naked on the tree. It was not the body of our Lord that the luminaries covered with darkness when they set, but the eyes of men. For, because the people quaked not, the earth quaked; because they were not affrighted, the earth was affrighted. Thou smotest thy Lord: thou also hast been smitten upon the earth. And thou indeed liest dead; but He is risen from the place of the dead, and ascended to the height of heaven, having suffered for the sake of those who suffer, and having been bound for the sake of Adam's race which was imprisoned, and having been judged for the sake of him who was condemned, and having been buried for the sake of him who was buried." (Melito of Sardis, On Faith, 5)

4 comments:

  1. Brother Jason,

    Perhaps you or Steve would liek to tackle this piece by a Muslim:

    http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/archives/2007/the-apotheosis-of-jesus-of-nazareth/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous,

    There are a lot of problems with the article. See my article on the deity of Christ at:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/10/jesus-deity-among-earliest-christians.html

    Also, see J.P. Holding's discussion of Wisdom Christology at:

    http://www.tektonics.org/jesusclaims/trinitydefense.html

    And:

    http://www.tektonics.org/jesusclaims/jesusclaimshub.html

    My article above makes reference to the deity of the Messiah in passages like Isaiah 9. If the Old Testament refers to the Messiah as God, then the concept can't be a later Christian development. And, as I show, Jesus is referred to as God by Paul repeatedly, and Paul was an early source who had good relations with members of Jesus' immediate family and His closest disciples.

    The article you cited makes many false and misleading claims. For example:

    "For the purposes of this study I want to focus on one aspect of this ongoing enquiry into Christian origins: the earliest recoverable christology. By which I mean the study of those beliefs held (as far as we can now determine) about Jesus of Nazareth by his immediate followers; those whose lives chronologically overlapped that of Jesus but who never met him (e.g. the apostle Paul); and the beliefs of the evangelists who composed our four gospels. It is clear that there has been a development in the way Jesus is presented in the pages of the New Testament. Even a cursory reading of the earliest gospel to be written, that of Mark, shows us a very human figure, a man who prays to God (1:35); is unable to work miracles in his own town (6:5); confesses ignorance about the date of the End of the world (13:32); and who apparently despairs of God’s help at the crucifixion (15:34). If we then read the chronologically last of the four gospels, that of John, we move into a different world."

    The claim that Paul never met Jesus is dubious. Paul may have heard Jesus speak in highly public settings, such as in Jerusalem, prior to Jesus' death. And we have good reason to believe that Paul heard from Jesus after seeing Him risen from the dead.

    The article's author refers to "praying to God" as an indication of "a very human figure". But Jesus prays to the Father in John's gospel as well. And Christianity doesn't deny that Jesus is human. He cites Mark 6:5 as a reference to Jesus' being "unable to work miracles", but the text refers to a small quantity of miracles rather than an absence of miracles, and an inability because of unwillingness rather than an inability in terms of power seems to be in view. Jesus' not knowing the day or hour in Mark 13 is consistent with a Christian view of the Trinity, as the author's own argument illustrates. He assigns a higher Christology to Matthew's gospel, and that gospel also records Jesus' comments about not knowing the day or hour. The reference to how Jesus "despairs of God’s help at the crucifixion" ignores what Jesus says before and after that event regarding His confidence about the future (Mark 9:31, 14:25, 14:62, 16:7). To single out Mark 15:34, while ignoring the multiple passages before and after it that tell us that Jesus understood what was happening, doesn't make sense. It raises questions about the carefulness and honesty of the author of the article.

    But, again, sources like Isaiah and Paul predate Mark's gospel. If we follow the currently popular dating of these documents, Jesus was viewed as God before any of the gospels were written. When we refer to a source like Paul, we're addressing somebody who was among the most prominent of church leaders, was in good relationship with members of Jesus' immediate family and His closest disciples, had traveled widely, and was in contact with many churches around the world. If Paul could repeatedly refer to Jesus as God without accompanying arguments and without the sort of dispute we see reflected in his comments on some other issues, then why should we believe that such a view of Jesus was held by only a small number of people? In all likelihood, it was a concept predicted in the Old Testament, taught by Jesus Himself, and accepted by the earliest Christians.

    In contrast, consider how long it took for concepts like the papacy and the Roman Catholic elevation of Mary to occur. There were centuries of absence, contradiction, and disputes. But we're supposed to believe that Jesus was initially viewed as a creature, then was elevated to deity just afterward (when eyewitnesses and contemporaries were still alive and in prominent places of leadership), with no demonstrable traces left in the historical record? That's highly unlikely.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brother Jason,

    Thanks for these comments. Could post this as a separate piece, as a rebuttal which I can then have a link to make available? It would be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous,

    I’m not planning to make a new thread out of this discussion. You can repeat my arguments in your own words in another forum if you want to, or you can link to this thread.

    ReplyDelete