Jesus among Other Exalted Humans

Another draft post that has been brewing as I’ve added more and more links to it is this one on Christology. Seeing Ian Paul’s post asking what topics they ought to discuss in relation to the Gospel of John in July at Tyndale House, on the same day that I met with a former student and friend to talk about John A. T. Robinson and the need to revisit his work on the eyewitness testimony behind and Christological portrait of Jesus in the Gospel of John, made me decide that it was time to return to the subject. Yes, I recommend those topics – and would also like to see the Mandaeans thrown into the mix for good measure!

One of the initial sparks to blogging about this topic was a post from Pete Enns, which he posted as part of his “Pete Ruins Christmas” series, but which is of perennial and not merely seasonal interest. Here’s a sample:

The exalted divine title we see here—”Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”—is a long, compound throne name. Such exalted divine titles of kings is just how it was done back then, in Israel and elsewhere.

No one—I repeat, no one—in the 8th c. would think that Isaiah is referring to a child who is actually divine, but of a child born to be king through whom God would work, in this case the liberation of the northern regions from Assyrian control…

From a recent post by Larry Hurtado about the “self-exaltation hymn” from Qumran:

J.D.G. Dunn urged readers to consider more seriously what sort of piety and religious life/experiences Jesus may have had…A historical approach to Jesus should make ample room for him as a devout Jew of his time, not a modern systematic theologian (or liberal Protestant, or Cynic teacher, or whatever), but a Jewish man who not only talked about God but likely had religious experiences as well.

See also his recent posts, and articles that he has shared, related to the “Son of Man,” Jesus-devotion, and Richard Bauckham’s views, as well as his postscript to a new edition of his classic book in which he interacts with me along with a wide array of other scholars, his blog post about his books on Christ-devotion, and his video about the Son of Man debateAndrew Perriman also blogged about Jesus as “Son of Man.”

Several bloggers blogged about Mike Bird’s bookJesus the Eternal Son, which I am looking forward to reading and engaging with soon. Mike Bird made a video about the book and did an author interview on the Eerdmans website.

Jim Davila mentioned the rerelease of Loren Stuckenbruck’s classic study of angel veneration and Christology.

Articles related to Christology appeared in Horizons in Biblical Theology and New Testament Studies.

Wayne Coppins shared an excerpt from Jan Ruggemeier’s work on Mark’s Christology.

David Capes also blogged about his forthcoming book, The Divine Christ, as well as about The Library of Early Christology.

Michael Kruger offered a misleading sensationalist headline, only to offer a post with tired unconvincing assertions.

Philip Jenkins wrote about Adam, the other son of God in the Gospel of Luke.

Trinitarianism was discussed by Andrew Perriman, by Fred Sanders on the Zondervan blog, and also by Brandon Smith.

Perriman also discussed Psalm 82.

There was also a video of a lecture about John 5:19-30.

See too the Trinities podcast asking whether Richard Bauckham has adequately clarified his notion of “divine identity.”

podcast 214 – Has Bauckham clarified his “divine identity” theory? – Part 2

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Can’t give Andrew Perriman enough air time, so thanks for that.

    I’m currently reading Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm and just finished the section where he argues that the divinity of Jesus is something that can be seen in retrospect, and then proceeds to point out how. His contention is that the divinity of Jesus is an extension of the “two powers” concept in Judaism where you have YHWH as an unbounded spirit and YHWH as a localized manifestation.

    Most of the biblical evidence he brings up is what you’d expect, although he brings up the reading of Jude 5 with “Jesus” instead of “Lord” and only mentions this reading is contested in a footnote. A lot of it is the sort of thing you or I might say is adequately explained by the concept of agency.

    But he brings up Daniel 7 – which is actually a passage I think shows a very strong differentiation between YHWH and the Son of Man – and mentions the “coming in the clouds” imagery in comparison to the imagery of Baal and how YHWH is given similar imagery in the Old Testament to theologically displace Baal. All of which I knew, but it did make me wonder at why the Son of Man is “coming with the clouds” at all.

    Daniel explains the Son of Man are the holy ones, so I’m not saying this image proves anything about divinity, but it did make me wonder why the clouds imagery would be used for the Son of Man if -not- to displace Baal.

    • The displacement of Ba’al may indeed be in view in the imagery in Daniel 7 – but then it has to be asked whether that emphasis was still remembered in Jesus’ time. In the time when Daniel 7 was written, it isn’t clear if the “humanlike figure” in Daniel 7 was thought to be a human being such as the Davidic anointed one, and so the meaning may have shifted between the time of Antiochus IV and the time of Jesus.

      • Phil Ledgerwood

        I’m of the mind that when Daniel 7 was written, the Son of Man in view were the faithful who did not capitulate under persecution. But that just sort of makes the imagery more mysterious to me. Per your point, it’s hard to imagine the writer going, “All right, let’s make sure we take a shot at Baal, here.”

      • Realist1234

        Your comment seems to assume Daniel was written in the 2nd century BC. I have seen little convincing evidence for that.

          • Realist1234

            Actually, I have read quite a lot on the subject.

            Most of the links you have provided don’t give any detailed arguments for a late-dating of Daniel, but rather assume a late-date and then discuss something else:

            1st link – discusses the 3 horns in Daniel 7 and assumes the view that Daniel was written in the 2nd century BC is correct with no evidence given;

            2nd link – gives some reasons for believing a late date but with no detail;

            3rd link – doesnt really give any reasons for late-dating, but just refers to John J Collins’ work;

            4th link – just refers to the 3rd link;

            5th link – like link 1 it isnt about the dating of Daniel, but rather assumes the late date and then discusses the persecutions of Antiochus.

            So the only link that is useful is link 2.

            The main reasons it gives for believing Daniel was written in the 2nd century BC rather than the 6th are:

            ‘in the Jewish Bible, it is not included among the prophets (nevi’im), but was, almost as an afterthought, relegated to the last part of the writings (ketuvim), together with other late texts (Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles)’

            ‘Another clue is language: it is written in Aramaic with Persian and Greeks loan words, which again suggests that it was not written in the sixth century BCE.’

            ‘However, after the author of Daniel has given his description of the desacration of the temple, the persecution of the Jews, and the beginning of the Maccabaean revolt in 166 BCE, his prophecy goes astray: he predicts a new war between the Ptolemies and Seleucids. This never took place; instead, the Seleucids had to fight in the east. It proves that the text was finished after 166.’

            Much could be said about these assertions. The attached link covers some of them in a little detail. I would suggest you read it as an overview of the evidence for 6th century BC dating.

            Re the Jewish Bible assertion, the argument seems to be that Daniel was not viewed as a ‘prophetic’ book, and was included in the Kethubhim, the 3rd division of the Hebrew Bible which also includes later texts such as Chronicles, thus implying Daniel too must be considered as ‘late’.

            – it is telling that in making this assertion, the author conveniently ignores the fact that the Kethubhim contains writings of great antiquity such as Job, the Davidic psalms and the writings of Solomon. So the position of Daniel in the Kethubhim means literally nothing as to its dating. It is hard not to come to the conclusion that those who make such an argument have purposefully misled their readers, relying on their ignorance. Also, Josephus strongly indicates that in the 1st century AD, Daniel was included amongst the prophets in the 2nd division of the Old Testament, so it could not have been assigned to the Kethubhim until a later period. Daniel is not a ‘typical’ prophetic writing, as the prophetic message is written in large parts as historical narrative, rather than God speaking directly to His people through His appointed prophet. Most of the prophetic in Daniel comes from visions given to him which are then interpreted by angels. It is therefore not particularly surprising that at some point the book was moved to the Kethubhim, but as I said, the evidence suggests that did not happen until probably at least the 2nd century AD.

            Re language:

            – the question of ‘loan’ words is dealt with in the attached link.

            Re the ending of Chap 11, this is also dealt with in the attached link. Antiochus IV cannot be both the ‘king of the North’ and the one who attacks the king of the North!

            I hope on reading this material you will, at least, reconsider your view.

            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318725539_A_Contemporary_Defense_of_the_Authenticity_of_Daniel

  • Realist1234

    I wonder why there seems to be a desperation to remove divinity from Jesus?

    • On the contrary, there seems to be a desperation in certain parts to read divinity into the Synoptic Gospels in particular when it simply isn’t there.

      • Realist1234

        It was the Jews themselves who originally accused Jesus of claiming equality with God. That is not ‘reading divinity’ into the Synoptics.

        • That is in John, and Jesus is depicted as rebutting the charge of having made himself equal to God, emphasizing instead that he does nothing of himself but, as an obedient son should, does what he sees the Father doing.

          • Realist1234

            I was thinking of, for example, in Luke 5: ‘The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”’

            It is simply not true, as some try to claim, that Jesus’ divinity is only contained in John’s Gospel.