Half Human On His Mother’s Side

When they hear the title of this blog post, Doctor Who fans will undoubtably think of the Dr. Who television special which claimed that the Doctor was half human – a notion then dropped from the canon of the show, unless I’m mistaken.
Classicists may think of any number of demigods from classical mythology.
But many people will think of Jesus, in spite of the fact that the classic orthodox Christology is not that Jesus has a divine Father and human mother and thus is a mixture of both, but that Jesus is fully divine and fully human, conceived miraculously rather than through some sort of divine-human intercourse. The latter understanding of Jesus as “son of God” was clearly around at the time of the rise of Islam, and it is not surprising that a monotheist like Muhammad would polemicize against the idea. One wonders how Christian-Muslim relations might have differed, had such misunderstandings of the Christian view of Jesus not existed. But the same view can be found today, including among those who consider themselves Christians. I can’t think of an academic year that has gone by recently without my encountering it.
And so it may be that, as Jim West has claimed, I am depraved to find amusing and provocative the ad I shared a few blog posts ago. But when you treat in a woodenly literal fashion a symbolic notion such as God as Father, you are bound to end up with all sorts of strange notions. Using reductio ad absurdum with a dash of satire to address such ideas may not be entirely inappropriate, in my opinion.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12617299120618867829 Angie Van De Merwe

    As you know that half human/half God is a "heresy" according to church doctrine…one wonders if the perfectability of man is not what is sought in today's understanding of the science/religion debate, as it concerns Jesus, as God…I would question the validity of Jesus' life being the "only way of life" as a valid and "viable" :) one…as to its form…And then we are back to your proposal of the "only one and true god", which is still debatable…history is amuch with many questions concerning the myths of religious traditions…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12617299120618867829 Angie Van De Merwe

    Hey, but maybe this is good news, as Jesus being fully man and fully god, means that he was not 'half devil" of fallen, like Augustine assumed…maybe being 100% man and 100% god means a fully developed man…in his own image, which is God's image…revelation is personal revelation of "self"???

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05792458157352244029 Solly Gratia

    The issue of Christ's humanity/divinity still causes problems. the calvinist denomination I was in had an ongoing problem with the heresy that said Jesus passed through Mary's body like water through a pipe.What do you make of Edward Irving's position, that Jesus shared our sinful humanity?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    There is no great problem in considering Jesus to be fully God and fully human.After all, I have a pet that is fully cat and fully dog.It can be confusing though. Even Jesus thought that God had forsaken him, forgetting that he was fully God, and that there is only one God.I wonder why Paul was not stoned immediately he started to claim that Jesus was fully God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05115370166754797529 Mark Goodacre

    Nice post, James. The half-human thing in the 1996 TVM still beggars belief. Nice comment on it in the first episode of the recent Dreamland, "Well, human, timelord, just an accident of dimensional geography when it comes down to it". So that settles it.

  • http://ntwrong.blogspot.com +Wrong

    "reductio ad absurdum with a dash of satire" – isn't the Bible full of it? But, Dr McGrath, before you let it go to your head that I apparently praise you for Biblical approaches to heresy or idolatry, judging from your comment on Brother West's expression of disgust and the effect it had, you still have a dirty mind which even infected such sanctified specimens as Scripture Zealot. Shame on you!Calling you to repent in dust and ashes,+Wrong

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    In lieu of repenting in dust and ashes, I watched the vile and offensive (and at times hilarious) Family Guy Star Wars sequel "Something Something Something Darkside." If Jim West thinks the ad I shared is depraved, he should watch the show I just mentioned. It takes depravity to whole new levels…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    I can only apologise for my insinuation that 1st century Christians thought that Jesus was fully God.I can only blame my ignorance.If the Biblical authors had believed Jesus was fully God, perhaps the New Testament would read rather differently. Who can say?