AgapeFire

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If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« on: November 21, 2020, 09:15:02 pm »
A deep moral philosopher made into a deity by his followers or by legendary accretion?

A delusional mad man who spewed religio-apocalyptic utterances?

A cunning and knowing charlatan?

An advanced alien sent to "help" us mere humans?

. . .etc.  Who do you think he was, if not God?

-AF

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wonderer

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2020, 09:26:35 pm »
My guess is that he was someone quite brilliant in some ways as well as particularly charismatic, who made sense of the world he encountered as best he could with the tools he had available.
"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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kurros

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2020, 10:19:56 pm »
I'd probably guess #1 with a dash of #2 mixed in.

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Mammal

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2020, 11:49:00 pm »
In line with the discussion in the other thread (e.g. my post at the end, what follows, plus the various opinions that I linked in that thread), I am inclined to think (and I have thought along these lines for a long time now) that Jesus was seen and portrayed as the expected messiah, a wise teacher preaching to the poor, a miracle worker and the Son of God messiah that would ultimately rule the new heaven and earth (together with God) upon his imminent return, very much as was expected at least since the Qumran community's existence more than 200 years prior to the Jesus ministry. He either preached and acted in accordance with what was expected from him, saying and doing things that Qumran wrote about, or most of that were "legendized" portrayels by those who authored the scriptures (using sources that might have originated during the Qumran period).

I think the view that Jesus was God was something that followed after his death, something that Paul came up with (as per Ehrman and others), kind of a step-up from the Son of God messiah expectation to God self.

We find a blend of those two perceptions in the NT canon, some of it more representative of the Qumran messiah, the rest more influenced by Paul's (and John's later and even higher) Christology.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2020, 12:40:07 am by Mammal »
Fact, Fiction or Superstition?
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The Evolution Of God

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2020, 07:53:49 am »
If Jesus was not divine, then I think it's still theologically appropriate to take him as the Messiah in the vain of a biblical prophet, priest, and judge. He reinterpreted the scriptures as many prophets did, he healed people and forgave sins as priests did, and also dispensed rulings as many judges did, in effect he was bringing into being a restoration of a covenanted kingdom that existed before, but this time it wouldn't be ethnically bound to the Hebrew people. Paul made sure of that. It is easy to see how people would attribute divine authority to Jesus if he was operating as a prophet, priest, and judge. It is easy to see how they would want to make him a king, and lead the next revolt against the Romans. But Jesus eschewed earthly politics, so the people never got what they truly wanted (a full-on restoration of the Davidic dynasty).

It's harder to see why they would think he was the Son of God and actually a divine person if he did not rise from the dead. That has always been the tricky part. The "legendary accretion theory" (LAT) is difficult to test against the data now that we know most of Paul's Epistles were not only authentic, but came first AND within the lifetimes of the first generation of believers. Paul had many things to say about Jesus long before the Synoptics entered the scene. If you want to be technical, it's all heresay, sure, but the LAT would have to work on the Epistles, which it barely does. Regardless, I think the LAT is the best naturalist position to take if you want to be skeptical of the historicity of the NT. That's what this thread is about, so I'll just leave my comment to that.
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Mammal

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2020, 10:20:41 am »
It's harder to see why they would think he was the Son of God and actually a divine person if he did not rise from the dead. That has always been the tricky part.
I think it could be explained though. They thought of him as the Son of God messiah, which is best explained as akin to God's cosmic agent, along the idea's that evolved from Qumran. As such they would have been susceptible to the idea of a resurrection (that was one of the Son of God messiah's alleged attributes) and his urgent return to rule, with God and more importantly with themselves over the new Israel.

Paul, on the other hand, had a Gentile agenda. And according to Ehrman the change in mindset from messiah to God occurred parallel to the Romans starting to refer to their emporers as God. It kind of makes sense then that the Christology might have taken shape against that backdrop, coupled with the anticipation of- and possibly rumors of people seeing the returned messiah.
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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2020, 10:42:33 am »
I think the best way to go about arguing that would be to say the Essene/Qumran not only believed in a general resurrection of the dead, but a particular resurrection of the Messiah as the herald of 'the World to Come.' Said differently, you'd have to show that Jesus' resurrection in particular was predicted. This would've given them an impetus to think of Jesus rising from the dead as a spiritual resurrection that can be realized within oneself as opposed to a physical resurrection realized outside of oneself. That's a very New Age take on the Resurrection, but I think that's the best naturalism can do if you want to explain what happened without appealing to miracles or supernatural forces.
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Mammal

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2020, 10:59:08 am »
I am not convinced it is necessary to go as far as to argue for "Jesus rising from the dead as a spiritual resurrection that can be realized within oneself as opposed to a physical resurrection realized outside of oneself". The belief was that the messiah acted as an agency for God to resurrect others, something that was instituted with the "return" of Elijah's powers via John the Baptist. It is not a stretch to think that they might have believed that God raised his messiah from the dead for God's final stage of defeating the forces of darkness and ruling with the 12 over the new world order. The belief in the end of the world that was upon them might have sufficed..

PS. Just to clarify, we are not saying there was any actual resurrection anywhere.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2020, 11:06:57 am by Mammal »
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AgapeFire

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2020, 02:21:00 pm »
My guess is that he was someone quite brilliant in some ways as well as particularly charismatic, who made sense of the world he encountered as best he could with the tools he had available.
I agree he must have had some quality - such as charisma - that made him especially memorable, respected, and even loved. 

Ancient biographies were reserved typically for royalty/rulers, great military leaders, or other men of high stature, if I'm not mistaken.  It was expensive to write down even a single Gospel-length document in those days. 

To think that Jesus made that sort of an impression within a matter of just a few years is astonishing.  This wasn't someone born into royalty or who had a decade of military conquests.  He made his impact within a very short window of time, from public ministry to execution, of about 3.5 years.  He worked, at least part of the time (from all we're told), as an ordinary carpenter prior to his ministry. 

Within a few years time,  a presumably obscure person, who had lived a seemingly otherwise uneventful life up until then, made such an impact on a segment of Jews living in various parts of the Roman empire (from rural Galilee to larger urban centers) that they were willing to abandon thousands of years of religious belief to call this ordinary man, who had been crucified on a cross, God, Himself. 

It does seem something like charisma was definitely a part of his persona.  But, the impact he made also calls out for something more than that for me, I think.

-AF

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2020, 02:57:06 pm »
@Mammal
Apart from an associative inference, what are some other inferences that have led you to conclude the Jesus movement was an evolution/inheritor of the Qumran community?
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OrthodoxJew

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2020, 03:12:06 pm »
A deep moral philosopher made into a deity by his followers or by legendary accretion?

A delusional mad man who spewed religio-apocalyptic utterances?

A cunning and knowing charlatan?

An advanced alien sent to "help" us mere humans?

. . .etc.  Who do you think he was, if not God?

-AF

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formerly:  wlcgeek; keegclw; and GodLovesU - Hopefully, fourth time's a charm when it comes to remembering login info.!
He was a charismatic, yet failed eschatological prophet who may have also performed miracles.
שמע ישראל ה אלוקינו ה אחד
"Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one."

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Harvey

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2020, 03:22:19 pm »
He was a charismatic, yet failed eschatological prophet who may have also performed miracles.

He had to "fail" to fulfill Dan 9:26:

Quote
Anf after [27 CE] shall the Messiah be cut off, but not for himself

If Jesus didn't come in 27 CE and then die for all of humanity then he would have failed at being the Messiah.

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AgapeFire

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2020, 03:33:29 pm »
He was a charismatic, yet failed eschatological prophet who may have also performed miracles.
That's an interesting take.  Why do you believe Jesus may have performed miracles? 

Do you not believe that Jesus thought of Himself as God (rather than a prophet)?

-AF

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OrthodoxJew

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2020, 03:49:53 pm »
That's an interesting take.  Why do you believe Jesus may have performed miracles? 
I've hardly read up on the resurrection as others on this forum have. I watched the WLC v Ehrman debate and some Capturing Christianity vids but not enough to really formulate an informed opinion. From what i gather there is enough evidence to make reasonably skeptical people convinced, something that as a Jew, I'm totally OK with.
Do you not believe that Jesus thought of Himself as God (rather than a prophet)?
Probably not would be my guess.
שמע ישראל ה אלוקינו ה אחד
"Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one."

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Spero

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Re: If Jesus Wasn't God, Then Who/What Was He?
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2020, 04:06:54 pm »
Quote from Agapefire:
Quote
Do you not believe that Jesus thought of Himself as God (rather than a prophet)?

Quote from OrthodoxJew:
Quote
Probably not would be my guess.

I don’t know, if John 8:58 is accurate..I’d say He did.

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad."
57 So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"
58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. - John 8:56-59
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