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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:07 pm 
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A reader writes:

The contentions in the article regarding the divinity of Jesus in the first and second centuries are not evidenced by citations, would you be so kind as to provide citations to substantiate your statements?

Thank you!

------- Our reply. Feel free to add your own below ---------------

Thanks for getting in touch. What part of which article are you having trouble with?

I'll give you a preview of what I would probably tell you anyway: ALL the early writings of the first and second-century church assumed the divinity of Jesus. Not only the books that made it into the New Testament, but the writings of the "Church Fathers," the next generation of writers whose books are still studied by the Catholic church. Pretending that someone in the third or fourth century went back and rewrote all of those writings (or forged new ones under the names of respected church founders) and did so with such consistency and such attention to the various dialects and writing styles of the various authors is akin to claiming that the pyramids of Egypt were really built by aliens.

Hope that makes sense. I can be more specific if I know which bit of which article you're curious about.

Have a great day - Paul


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:30 pm 
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The reader replied:

Paul,
Thank you for your reply.
You have, indeed, hit upon just what I was asking about, but I cannot see how you are so adamant in your position that all the Church Fathers universally accepted the divinity of Jesus as unique from all others, and co-eternal & coexistent with the Father. Perhaps the difference in understanding lies somewhere between the Cappadocean Fathers in their understanding of the Trinity in terms of emanations of the one Father, and those of the Latin Fathers seeing separate "personae." I read of the great pains taken by Constantine as expressed in his letter to Athanasius and Arius, and the schism that raged through the Church during the fourth century prompting the murder of one bishop after another, and the quid pro quo excommunications starting at the first ecumenical council regarding.
I think even Augustine realized the difficulty, expressing it in the first lines of book five in his treatise De Trinitate, where he expressed his and our inability to put into words that which is beyond our grasp. Perhaps that is why it is still referred to as a mystery.
I began asking some years ago, after unquestioning "faith" in traditional dogma, how much of this 'dogmatic' could we truly rely upon as being true. What is it that makes Jesus like God? How is he different from us? God was obviously in and with Jesus, but so is God in and with us. Jesus performed miracles but in a fshion, so do we and we are also commanded to do so, as well as heal the sick, feed the poor, care for the needy, widows and fatherless. I do not see where Jesus is the unique son of God any more than many who have held that title before him, including every child of God who can be called a son.\When we are unable even to define God without putting him in a box, of what use is it to declare Jesus as God? Do we not make him an idol as happened to the bronze serpent of Moses in the days of Hezekiah?
Thanks again, Paul.
There is no need for you to answer this, I was just curious at your adamancy regarding the issue.

----------Our reply ------If you're signed in you can add yours below.

Sorry, I am no philosopher (even in the Augustinian sense). Rather I'm a part-time English prof, former history textbook author, and sometime Bible teacher with a smattering of Greek, who would rather examine the text itself for discrepancies or hidden meanings than spend countless hours reading "critical" works by people who were bent on publication (and therefore fame or notoriety at least) but which nitpick things that a person looking at the whole picture can see in context.

There have been many claims that one New Testament book or another was a late forgery, etc., but as I study them in multiple translations with a Greek Interlinear and lexicon at hand, I can't help but draw the conclusion that, say, all the "writings of Paul" were written by the same person with not only the same theological bent, but the same vocabulary and the same tendency toward very long sentences and syntax that is convoluted even by Greek standards. As, say a person born to influence and educated under the wisest teachers of his time might. On the other hand, the "writings of John" use a very limited vocabulary and straightforward syntax. James is somewhere in between, and the author of Hebrews has Paul's grasp of the "big picture" but a much more structured way of expressing himself/herself. If the New Testament is a forgery it is brilliant.

Not to mention that most of the New Testament's verses are quoted verbatim by one Church Father or another. So even if you buy the "brilliant forgery" strategy, you have to assume a far earlier date for the "canonization" of the NT books than some folks are willing to accept.

You mention the fourth-century crises during which arguments about how exactly the Trinity worked caused schisms, etc. Yes, I've read some of the claims and examined some of the arguments, but, as I said, I'm not Augustine or Aquinas. To me the Trinity will always hold many mysteries, but the way it was expressed and by the Nicene Creed as we have it today squares with the New Testament scriptures, so I don't have a huge argument with it.

That said, fourth century arguments on how exactly the Trinity worked do not eclipse the conviction of third, second, and (I believe) first-century writers that Jesus was divine, a Son of God in the same sense that Isaac was a son of Abraham, and therefore equal in nature and full heir of his Father's power.

In the late 19th or early 20th century a Pentecostal movement in the US decided that the Trinity doesn't exist, that while Jesus was on earth, there was no "Father" in heaven, and when the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, Jesus as a separate "son of God" ceased to exist in that form. I find their arguments ludicrous, but I add this only to show that the argument still goes on. :-)

Hoping this finds you well, and that my response makes sense at least,

Have a great autumn,

Paul


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