Review of Bart Ehrman’s Book, How Jesus Became God–Part 2 of 3

Review of Bart Ehrman’s Book, How Jesus Became God–Part 2 of 3 February 12, 2015

(All scriptures are from the NRSV unless otherwise noted.)

The foundation of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus; without it, there never would have been any Christianity. Many historians have made this claim. Dr. Bart Ehrman believes it and so do I. He says (p. 174), “This is how Christianity started. If no one had thought Jesus had been raised, he would have been lost in the midst of Jewish antiquity and would be known today only as another failed Jewish prophet.”

But as I stated in Part 1 of this review, Dr. Bart Ehrman is professedly agnostic as well as an apostate Christian. Thus, he does not believe Jesus arose from the dead. This part of my review of his book, How Jesus Became God, is about his chapters 4 and 5. They are eighty-two pages in length, and both are titled “The Resurrection of Jesus: What We Can Know.” Granted, it takes faith to believe in the existence of God and Jesus’ resurrection. But there is plenty of evidence to believe both, and that’s what I’m about. I see myself primarily as an apologist of Christian faith who presents reasons for believing. So, this part of the review will be lengthy.

In my first two books, The Gospel and The Gospels Interwoven, I had to carefully examine the NT gospel accounts of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances and read several books on this subject by scholarly authorities about it and the Sanhedrin’s examination and condemnation of Jesus. Seventeen years later—beginning the day after Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ,” was released—I spent over a year writing a screenplay on Jesus’ resurrection. It is entirely about the NT gospel accounts of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. I also wrote a fifty-page apparatus that justifies scenes in this script based on more research I did about scholarship but also tradition, legend, and archaeology. So, although I am a layperson, I feel somewhat qualified to engage Dr. Ehrman on this subject. Yes, I tried to shop the script in Hollywood but got nowhere with it.

Ehrman begins Chapter 4 by repeating his thesis (p. 132), “Belief in the resurrection [of Jesus] is what eventually led his followers to claim that Jesus was God.” And he says later (p. 151), “one thing we can know with relative certainty is that the belief that Jesus was raised from the dead is the key to understanding why Christians eventually began to think of him as God.”

As I said in Part 1 of this review, I disagree with that. You usually see this argument from some Christians who believe Jesus is God, but not from historical critics like Ehrman. Why? He knows that the Jewish Bible (Old Testament=OT) says all dead saints will be raised on the last day (Job 14.12-14; 19.25-26; Dan 12.1-3). Jesus, his disciples, (Matt 22.23, 29-33; John 11.23-27), the Pharisees, and the Essenes—they all believed that the saints someday in the future would be resurrected, resulting in their immortality; yet none of them thought it would change those people into gods. The following is an excerpt about this subject from my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ (RJC), about what some Christians say about this matter:

Paul E. Little, in his best-selling book, Know Why You Believe, asserts, “Jesus’ supreme credential to authenticate his claim to deity was his resurrection from the dead.”[1] And preeminent Evangelical theologian Alister McGrath states, “The central and decisive Christian doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ is grounded in his resurrection from the dead.”[2] Those who make this assertion invariably do so arbitrarily by failing to provide any rationale or biblical support.[3]

Most contemporary, traditionalist scholars would surely disagree with such an extreme position.[4] World-renowned Jesus researcher and traditionalist N.T. Wright rightly alleges that it is “a frequent misunderstanding” that “the resurrection somehow proves Jesus’ divinity.”[5] Wright explains that in much of Judaism in Jesus’ time, “resurrection was what was supposed to happen to all the dead, or at least all the righteous dead, and there was no suggestion that this would simultaneously constitute divinization.”[6]

Indeed, if Jesus’ resurrection attests that He was God, the future resurrection of the saints will verify that they are gods too! Wright adds, “When the New Testament predicts the resurrection of all who belong to Jesus, there is no suggestion that they will thereby become, or be shown to be, divine. Clearly, therefore, resurrection by itself could not be taken to ‘prove’ the ‘divinity’ of Jesus; if it did, it would prove far too much. The over-simple apologetic strategy one sometimes encounters (‘he was raised from the dead, therefore he is the second person of the Trinity’) makes no sense.”[7]

Early Jewish Christians preached that Jesus’ empty tomb and post-resurrection appearances indicated God vindicated Him, and they further claimed this as evidence that He was the Christ, the Son of God, but not that He was God (e.g., Ac 2.31, 36; Rom 1.4). These positive maxims were the heart of their kerygma. Wright calls this connection “the key move in early Christology.”[8] James D.G. Dunn compares these principal axioms and concludes, “The belief that God raised Jesus from the dead is, if anything, of even more fundamental importance to Christian faith than the belief in Jesus as the Son of God.”[9]

Indeed, the book of Acts reveals that the early Christians made Jesus’ resurrection the chief cornerstone of their kerygma.[10] They never preached that Jesus was God but that God raised Jesus from the dead and that they were witnesses of it by afterwards having seen the risen Jesus (e.g., Ac 3.15).

 All Ehrman has to do is refute Jesus’ resurrection and he will render Christianity a false religion, which he now tries to do. But in doing so, he also tries to prove that Jesus is not God. We need to distinguish the difference. Proving from the Bible that Jesus is not God does not render Christianity a false religion; but proving that Jesus did not arise from the dead does.

Ehrman begins Chapter 5 by alleging, as do so many critics concerning the post-resurrection accounts of Jesus in the NT gospels (p. 133), “they are filled with discrepancies, some of which cannot be reconciled. In fact, the gospels disagree on nearly every detail in their resurrection narratives.” This first statement clearly is contradictory. If such details can be reconciled historically, then they are not discrepancies. And I disagree strongly with the second statement.

Granted, the synoptic gospel narratives about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances are very different compared to the gospel narratives about Jesus’ itinerant ministry. Many scholars cite this difference as evidence that this later gospel material is highly flawed historically. But there is a very important point these people often overlook, and I think it actually affirms the historical reliability of this material. Almost all of the synoptic accounts of Jesus’ ministry are derived from oral tradition that many eyewitnesses created soon after the Christ event (=Jesus life, death, resurrection, ascension), whereas few people witnessed Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. Thus, we should expect the former to more easily harmonize than the latter. If we didn’t have hardly any questions about the latter, that would be suspect.

Ehrman repeatedly characterizes angels as divine beings whom the Bible says occasionally have appeared to humans “in human guise” (e.g., p. 134). On the contrary, angels are spirit beings who have form, and when they make themselves visible to humans, these angels always appear like humans. That is actually how they are, so that they are not trying to make themselves something they are not.

Ehrman lodges a favorite accusation of skeptics. He rightly says (p. 135) according to Matthew, after Jesus’ resurrection the women who visited his empty tomb are told on two separate occasions to tell Jesus’ male disciples to leave Jerusalem and go to Galilee where Jesus will meet them (Matt 28.6-9), and Matthew says it happened (vv. 16-20). Ehrman then states (p. 136, cf. 167), “The most plausible explanation is that when the disciples fled the scene for fear of arrest, they left Jerusalem and went home, to Galilee. And it was there that they … claimed to see Jesus alive again.

Not at all! They would have broken the Sabbath if they had traveled a mile or more the next day. And Ehrman omits mentioning the requirement of Moses’ law, that all male, Jewish adults must attend three feasts per year (Deuteronomy 16.16): (1) Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread that begins the next day and lasts for a week, (2) the Feast of Pentecost, and (3) the Feast of Tabernacles that last for eight days in the Fall. So, the men had to remain in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Only after that could they return home to Galilee. And the risen Jesus appeared to the gathered disciples in Jerusalem on that first Easter evening and again one week later (Luke 24.13, 33-36; John 20.19-29). At the later appearance the Feast of Unleavened Bread had been completed so that the disciples could go home. Thus, Ehrman errs in saying the disciples skipped out on that feast.

Then Ehrman alleges a discrepancy between Matthew and Luke by saying of Luke (p. 135), “Since the disciples are not told to go to Galilee, they do not do so…. they stayed in Jerusalem for more than a month, until the day of Pentecost (Acts 1-2).” It is debatable if Luke precludes such a journey to Galilee. Harmonists believe, as I do, that the disciples returned home right after Jesus’ second Sunday appearance. After that he appeared to them in Galilee as Matthew says. And after several days they had to go back to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Pentecost. Ehrman rejects this scenario because Luke relates that Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit (Luke 24.49; Acts 1.4), which did indeed occur ten days after Jesus’ ascension, thus on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1.9-11; 2.1-4).

The difficulty of reconciling this material lies in Jesus’ words to his disciples in Luke 24.36-49, which begin on the first Easter evening. If it is a single speech, then Luke does not allow for Jesus to appear to his disciples in Galilee. For, when Jesus finished speaking, Luke seems to imply in vv. 50-51 that Jesus then led the disciples out to a region of Mt. Olivet and then ascended to heaven. And if vv. 36-49 are one speech, that does not provide for what Luke says in his book of Acts, that Jesus “presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days” (Acts 1.3). Most harmonists therefore regard, as I do, that Luke has recorded two separate speeches of Jesus—in Luke 24.36-43 and vv. 44-49—and in between these two speeches the disciples went to Galilee, where they saw Jesus again, and came back to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. In this way, there are no irreconcilable details here. Plus, both of Luke’s accounts, about Jesus instructing his disciples to remain in Jerusalem (Luke 24.49; Acts 1.4), seem to have occurred near or at the end of those forty days, thus after the disciples would have gone back home and then returned to Jerusalem for Pentecost.

I devote four pages to answering the following questions in The Gospels Interwoven: Did Jesus meet his disciples in and near Jerusalem or in Galilee? When and where did Jesus appear to the disciples in Galilee? Did Jesus instruct the disciples to go to Galilee or to remain at Jerusalem?

Ehrman adopts the argument typically put forth by historical critics that certain NT texts are glaringly silent about Jesus’ tomb being empty on Easter morning as evidence that he had not really risen from the dead. For example, on p. 142 Ehrman says 1 Corinthians 15.3-4 “says nothing about the discovery of an empty tomb.” This, to me, is a most ridiculous argument. It’s as if these historical critics will determine what must go in such a creed, and if it is not there that absence is evidence that the creed is false. The main retort against this argument is that if Jesus’ dead body came to life, so that he arose from the dead and exited the tomb, it is axiomatic that there was an empty tomb thereafter, rendering it unnecessary to be so stated.

Ehrman takes a typical position about the Sanhedrin’s condemnation of Jesus as a blasphemer deserving of death. He says (p. 152) it was because Jesus claimed to be “the Son of God.” Actually, that’s not quite right. According to Matthew, the high priest asked him, “tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (Matt 26.63). Jesus then rather obscurely admitted that he was (v. 64). Most distinguished NT scholars now agree that Caiaphas was using these two titles synonymously, so that he did not intend that if Jesus answered positively he would be claiming to be God. That is what most Christians have erroneously thought the expression “Son of God” means when applied to Jesus. Further evidence of this is that it was not a crime against Torah for a Jew to admit he was Israel’s Messiah or a/the Son of God. The history of the Jewish people is replete with self-proclaimed false messiahs, and the religious authorities never accused any of them of breaking some blasphemy law (cf. Leviticus 24.16).

Then why was Jesus condemned? I think it was for his further reply in which he claimed to be the Son of Man in Daniel 7.13 and the one sitting beside God in Psalm 110.1. Both indicate that figure will judge all the earth at the eschaton, thus be the judge of the high priest Caiaphas and the other members who were judging him.

Ehrman then says of Mark’s gospel (p. 152), “At the end of this trial, because of Jesus’s statement that he was the Son of God (14:62), ‘they all condemned him as deserving of death’ (14:64). In other words, according to Mark, this unknown person, Joseph, was one of the people who had called for Jesus’s death.”

Ehrman refers to Joseph of Arimathea. He and Nicodemus, both apparently secret disciples of Jesus, removed his body from the cross and entombed it (John 19.38-42). Thus, Ehrman alleges a discrepancy since Joseph, being a Sanhedrin member, had done this deed yet earlier “called for Jesus’s death.” Ehrman thinks all Sanhedrin members were present, thus including Joseph, when the council made that ruling.

On the contrary, there is no NT gospel evidence that Joseph gathered with other council members in condemning Jesus. Ehrman thinks so because Mark says, “All of them condemned him” (Mark 14.64). But that could refer to only those gathered, which was not necessarily the entire Sanhedrin. I have the following note on p. 364 in my book, The Gospels Interwoven, with words in italics being NIV quotations:

The Council of the Sanhedrin was composed of 70 members and was comprised of the chief priests of the leading tribal families, elders, and teachers of the law. The high priest served as chairman and the 71st member. To make official judgments, it was only necessary for a quorum of 23 members to be present. Some commentators think that not all the members of the Sanhedrin were present for the initial interrogations during the night vigil, but that others joined early the next morning to pass final judgment. They regard the whole Sanhedrin in Matt. 26:59 and Mark 14:55 as meaning the quorum. All the members had to be in Jerusalem for Passover. Joseph and Nicodemus, who laid Jesus’ body in the tomb, were members of the Council (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50; John 3:1). Yet Joseph, if present as it appears, and surely Nicodemus also, had not consented to their decision and action (Luke 23:51).

So, Ehrman has gravely erred in his accusation about Joseph by overlooking what Luke says about this matter. The whole text reads in the NRSV, “Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23.50-51). It is unlikely Luke would have written that last clause about a man who had condemned Jesus.

Dr. Ehrman betrays further ignorance of scholarly discussion on the Sanhedrin’s examination and condemnation of Jesus. He says Jesus underwent a “trial” in the night (p. 152). For decades now there has been pretty much a consensus among authorities that Jesus did not undergo an actual trial during the night but a hearing before a select group of Sanhedrin members. Then at dawn, the required number of twenty-three members met in their council chambers to vote and condemn Jesus. I’m not being nitpicky here since, if it was a trial, the Sanhedrin broke lots of its rules. Skeptics used to use this argument as evidence that the gospel accounts are flawed historically since the Sanhedrin would not have broken a bunch of it rules.

Ehrman alleges a discrepancy about one of the criminals crucified alongside Jesus (p. 156). Both Matthew and Mark say the two criminals maligned Jesus (Matt. 27.44; Mark 15.32). But Luke says one of the criminals “kept deriding him” and “the other rebuked him” and then said, “‘we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise’” (Luke 23.39-43). Rather than a discrepancy in accounts, it is just as possible that at first these two criminals insulted Jesus; but upon further reflection, and probably after observing Jesus’ noble response to his suffering, the other criminal changed his mind about Jesus.

Concerning other court action, Ehrman says in a note (p. 375n5), “the term satan in Job 1 and 2 is not a proper name but means the accuser.” Yes, but then he explains, “It refers to an angel in God’s divine court who is in the role of ‘prosecutor.’

Satan is an angel who appears constantly in heaven before the enthroned God, acting as a prosecutor (Revelation 12.10). He accuses God’s people living on earth since none of them are sinless. The book of Revelation predicts that near the end of the age there will be war in heaven, and Satan and his angels will then be cast down to earth (vv. 7-9). A voice in heaven then says of God’s people, “the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (v. 10 nrsv). Satan is like a prosecuting attorney appearing before a panel of judges with one, God, being a chief justice, like the U.S. Supreme Court. Such a court scene is depicted in Dan 7.9-10, in which God sits on his throne among judges on thrones. I think they are the twenty-four angelic elders of heaven, and they are holy (Rev 4.4).

But Ehrman errs, as do some other scholars, in saying Satan is a member of God’s angelic council in heaven. They do so since they wrongly suppose Satan’s presence requires his membership. But the psalmist writes, “Let the heavens praise your wonders, O lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies can be compared to the lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the lord, a God feared in the council of the holy ones” (Ps 89.5-7). Thus, all members of God’s angelic council in heaven are “holy” and “fear” him, which eliminates Satan.

Ehrman is right in saying (p. 166), “Christian apologists often argue that no one would make up the story of the discovery of the empty tomb precisely because according to these [NT gospel] stories, it was women who found the tomb” empty. He adds, “According to this view, if someone wanted to invent the notion of a discovered tomb, they would be sure to say that it was discovered by credible witnesses, namely, by the male disciples.

I think this is an excellent argument, but Ehrman doesn’t. He rightly acknowledges that during antiquity it was women who typically went to a tomb to add more spices to the corpse. Ehrman then asks (p. 166), “who would invent women as witnesses to the empty tomb? Well, for openers, maybe women would.” He then proposes that the Galilean, female disciples who remained at Jerusalem created a fictitious story that Jesus’ tomb was empty and that he therefore had risen from the dead. But wouldn’t male disciples have overruled such a female concoction?

For a biblical scholar, Ehrman now makes a surprisingly fatal error in his argument, and it causes his whole historical superstructure to come crashing to the ground. He alleges (p. 167), “our earliest sources are quite clear that the male disciples fled the scene and were not present for Jesus’s crucifixion…. Where would they go? Presumably back home, to Galilee … If the men had scattered, or returned home, who was left in the tradition to go to the tomb? It would have been the women … who presumably did not need to fear arrest.”

Not so! As stated above, Torah requires all adult, Jewish males to make a pilgrimage three times each year to Jerusalem to observe three feasts: Massot (Unleavened Bread), Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles). God says, “Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread; as I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abab, for in it you came out of Egypt…. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God” (Exodus 23.14, 17).

Passover occurs the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread and is therefore connected with it. During antiquity, Jewish men with their families typically would go to Jerusalem to observe both Passover and all seven days of the following Feast of Unleavened Bread. Therefore, Ehrman is wrong in supposing that Jesus’ disciples fled to Galilee immediately after his arrest or even his crucifixion the day after.

Here’s where the noose tightens on Ehrman’s strangling proposition. The NT gospels repeatedly record that Jesus’ male disciples did not believe the women when they returned Easter morning to report the empty tomb, and when Jesus appeared to their gathering that evening he upbraided the men for their unbelief (Matt. 28.5-10, 17; Luke 24.22-27, 36-46; John 20.24-27; cf. Mark 16.14). It is these men who afterwards went out preaching the good news that Jesus had arisen from the dead. If they had known it to be a fictitious story created by the women, they surely would not have approved of such added features that they had doubted the women’s report and that the risen Jesus had rebuked them for their unbelief.

Dr. Bart Ehrman begins Chapter 5 by saying (p. 171), “I receive a lot of e-mails from people who are concerned that I lost my faith. Many of them tell me that I must never have had a personal relationship with Jesus” and that “my faith was all intellectual and I ‘reasoned’ my way out of it…. it simply is not true that I never had a personal relationship with Jesus. Quite the contrary: Jesus and I were very close, and for many years, He was my daily companion, comforter, guide, and teacher, as well as my Lord and Savior.” Many Christians will argue that, citing the Apostle Paul saying, “For I am convinced that” nothing at all “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.38-39).

Whether or not anyone, such as Bart Ehrman, ever lost his or her salvation or never really had it has been hotly debated in the history of Christianity. Be that as it may, Ehrman is an example of the great apostasy that is to come in the latter times. In Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, he addresses a false belief that had been circulating in which it was taught that Jesus’ promised second coming had already occurred, yet there was no resurrection of the saints (2 Thessalonians 2.1-2). Paul refuted this disturbing teaching by saying, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (v. 3 NASB). The “man of lawlessness” refers to the final Antichrist. “The apostasy” translates apostasia in the Greek text. It is often translated “rebellion,” but it means “falling away.” Jesus said in his Olivet Discourse regarding the latter days, “many will fall away” from the faith, “(A)and because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24.10, 12; cf. Daniel 8.23).

Ehrman further impugns the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection by alleging (p. 175), “as I argued in the analysis of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, the idea that Jesus rose on the ‘third day’ was originally a theological construct, not a historical piece of information.” I strongly disagree. In Ehrman’s several treatments of this text he never quotes it. He agrees with scholars that it is creedal and its creation preceded Paul’s conversion that was two-to-four years after the Christ event. Paul says, “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve” apostles. So, Ehrman never addresses the clause, “he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” What scriptures.

I wrote a book on this subject entitled The Third Day Bible Code. In it, I show that an obscure “third day” motif occurred repeatedly in some of the most important events in the history of the Hebrew/Jewish people that are recorded in the Jewish Bible.[11] I claim these are types that forecast the future and that some of them refer to Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. Accordingly, that is not a “theological construct” but a fulfillment of types as antitypes. Plus, Peter and Paul claim King David prophesied Jesus’ resurrection on the third day by saying, “you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Ps 16.10 NIV; cf. Acts 2.31; 13.35).

Ehrman says (pp. 183-204) all of the gospel accounts of the risen Jesus’ appearances to his disciples were “visions.” He admits (p. 187), “As an agnostic, I personally do not believe Jesus was raised from the dead and so I do not believe he ‘appeared’ to anyone.” But the NT says the disciples touched the risen Jesus, and he ate with them (Matt 28.9; Luke 24.39-43; cf. John 20.27; 21.9-15). Luke says after Jesus’ death, “he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days” (Acts 1.3). That doesn’t describe visions but that he was actually alive. And Luke records that Peter later preached to the Cornelius household saying of the dead Jesus, “God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead” (Acts 10.41). You can’t do that with a vision.

Now, Luke says on the first Easter during the daytime that Jesus appeared to two disciples while they were walking on a journey. Then Jesus walked and spoke with them and sat at table to eat with them, yet they did not recognize him until he broke bread and gave it to them (Luke 24.13-30). That lack of recognition might suggest what Ehrman says (p. 187) is a “nonveridical vision—meaning that what a person sees is not really there.” But then Luke relates, “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight” (v. 31). And those disciples had told Jesus minutes earlier about the women visiting Jesus’ empty tomb and that they “came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said he was alive” (v. 23). All four gospels report that the women saw one or two angels at the tomb who looked like men (Matt 28.2-7; Mark 16.5-7; Luke 24.4-9, 23; John 20.12). And those two disciples could have said they saw “a vision of angels” since at that moment there was still some lack of clarity about the matter.

Ehrman says (p. 187), “As an agnostic, I personally do not believe Jesus was raised from the dead and so I do not believe he ‘appeared’ to anyone.” And he asserts concerning the gospel narratives about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances (p. 206), “When he appeared to his disciples, in the earliest traditions, he appeared from heaven.” He adds (p. 208), “They were all appearances from heaven.” Ehrman does not mean he believes that since he is an agnostic; he means the disciples had visions that, in their worldview, would have come from heaven. But would those disciples have risked the rest of their lives by going about the world proclaiming that Jesus had really risen from the dead if they did not have “convincing proofs” of it as Luke says they did? I think not.

Ehrman concludes chapter 5, saying (pp. 209-10, “Jesus as messiah, as Lord, as Son of God, as Son of Man—imply, in one sense or another, that Jesus is God.” With this I disagree. But Bart gets one thing right about it by adding, “In no sense, in this early period, is Jesus understood to be God the Father. He is not the One Almighty God.”

[1] P.E. Little, Know Why You Believe, 45.

[2] Alister E. McGrath, “I Believe:” Exploring the Apostles’ Creed (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1991), 64, cf. 43, 45. Similarly, idem, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 375, 381, 404; I. Howard Marshall, “Incarnational Christology in the New Testament,” in Christ the Lord, ed. H.H. Rowdon, 16.

[3] W. Pannenberg (Jesus-God and Man, 153) states concerning Jesus’ resurrection, “the inner logic of the matter indicates that Jesus was always one with God,” in which Pannenberg clearly means Jesus was God.

[4] E.g., Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2003), 19-20.

[5] N.T. Wright, “The Divinity of Jesus,” in M. Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, 163; idem, The Challenge of Jesus, 108, 130. See also D. Cupitt, Jesus and the Gospel of God, 14.

[6] N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus, 108; similarly, idem, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 573.

[7] N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 573.

[8] N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 576.

[9] J.G.D. Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus, 53, 43.

[10] E.g., Ac 2.32; 3.15; 4.33; 5.32; 10.39, 41; 13.31.

[11] Genesis 22.4; Exodus 1911; Joshua 1.11; 2 Kings 20.5; Esther 5.1; Hosea 6.2; Jonah 1.17; Matthew 12.40; 16.4; Luke 2.46.

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