The Doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus was an Addition to Christianity c. 80-100 C.E.
Now that I have an opponent, let's get down to the details and rules for this debate.
The "Divinity of Jesus" described from here on comes from John 1:1 and the Nicene Creed. When the term "divinity," "divine," etc. are used, this is what is being specifically described in a simplified vernacular.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
Nicene Creed on Christology:
"one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
Any other position, be it adoptionism, docetism, etc. can be referred to as "proto-divinity" or "non-orthodox." Similar terms are perfectly acceptable as well.
"Orthodoxy" is not an acceptable academic term as it is the topic of the debate as to whether it IS original orthodoxy or not. Proto-Orthodoxy is an acceptable term.
2) Pro Position
As Pro, I will be arguing for these 5 points to back up the thesis of the debate title:
A) Jesus never claimed divinity for Himself
B) The earliest apostles did not claim divinity for Jesus
C) Divinity is incompatible with Judaism in the first century or today
D) The New Testament, primarily, does not proclaim the divinity of Jesus
E) The Divinity of Jesus was gradually introduced to Christianity
3) Con Position
As the antithesis of Pro, Con will be arguing the opposite:
A) Jesus claimed divinity for Himself
B) The earliest apostles claimed Jesus was divine
C) Divinity is compatible with Judaism in the first century and today
D) The New Testament claims divinity for Jesus (This is not to say every New Testament work must have explicit Christological treatise, but it should be the primary view)
E) The Divinity of Jesus has always, from its conception, been part of Christianity
4) Rounds and their usage
This is a 5-Round debate.
Round one is acceptance
Round two is only argument pertaining to issues A and B in the section above
Round three is only arguments pertaining to issues C and D in the section above
Round four is exclusively rebuttals, no new arguments
Round five is concluding statements
5) Ground rules and conduct
i) Usage of Jesus' name, and all pronouns pertaining to Him, should be capitalized as a sign of respect for the Christian tradition
ii) No personal attacks. Period. This includes discussion of one's salvation or eternal destination. Personal religious affiliation is a non-issue. Referring to each other as "Conservative" or "Liberal" as a descriptor is acceptable, but not as an insult.
iii) All interactions should be in accord with the teachings of James 3
Good luck to my opponent! I doubt we will have many issues here.
I am in full concordance with the listed rules and regulations.
Cheers to a fruitful debate!
So to begin this debate, I will be arguing for two points, while my opponent argues for the opposite.
In this round, I will be arguing that:
A) Jesus never claimed Divinity for Himself
B) The earliest apostles did not claim Divinity for Jesus
The primary sources I will be discussing throughout this debate are Mark, John, and Pauline epistles
A) Jesus never claimed Divinity for Himself
To begin, I will evaluate Mark and John. In doing so, I will show that the only time Jesus is supposed to have claimed divinity comes from John, and John is not a factual recounting of events and quite late. Mark, being the earliest Gospel, will get the most time, next to John, which is most explicit about divinity.
As clarifying information, let me affirm my belief in the two source hypothesis of the Synoptics, as well as my deepest belief that the Gospels are in no way eye-witness reports, as can be plainly seen in my discussion of John.
Ia) The Gospel of Mark has no claims of Divinity
To begin, I must be blunt, there are no instances where Jesus calls Himself God in Mark. Not one. Did Mark simply neglect to mention this part? Was it not that big of a deal to claim to be God? There were claims that He was the "Son of Man" or the "Son of God," but we will get to what those statements mean soon enough in the next round.
Ib) The Gospel of Mark contains DENIALS of Divinity
Not only did Mark never record Jesus claiming to be God, there are places where Jesus explicitly states that He is not God. One important instance is Mark 10:17-18
So what, right? What is this even saying? well, look at that last underlined phrase. The verbal construct there indicates an appositive construct. What does that mean linguistically? Well, it means that Paul is actually equating Jesus with being an angel of God. This does not necessitate a strict angelic idea like we think of, but simply a supernatural being that goes between the divine realm and mankind.(6)
These two pieces of evidence seem to make it clear: while Paul thought Jesus had supernatural qualities, he certainly did not see Him as the Logos and equal to the Father in divinity.
From this, I hope you take away a few major ideas:
1) Jesus never claimed to be God.
2) The earliest apostles, in fact, claimed Jesus was NOT God.
3) Paul perceived Jesus to be a supernatural being, but not God.
In the next round, I will discuss the true, non-divine meaning of the terms "Son of Man," "Son of God," and "Christ." I also will analyze the Shema and the Judaic culture of the 1st Century to show how Jesus' divinity was an impossible concept. I will also continue to work through the rest of the New Testament to give a fuller understanding of its Christology.
I look forward to my opponent's arguments and eventual rebuttals
All Bible texts from the ESV unless otherwise noted
(2) A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism, Wegner, 263
(4)Gary M Burge et al., New Testament in Antiquity , 225-27
(5) James A. Ware, Synopsis of the Pauline Letters in Greek and English, 39
(6) Susan Garrett, No Ordinary Angel, 26
I want to thank my opponent for the opportunity to participate in this debate, due to spatial constrains.. I will begin my argument rather abruptly:
Let’s begin by understanding that Jesus’ divinity is found on virtually every page in the NT. I want to focus however, solely on the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) in which, lies the teaching of Jesus Himself. I will focus on providing the validity of these teachings in the NT (not being later inventions) in the further rounds. In that respect, let’s begin:
1). Son of Man
We find throughout all of these Gospels Jesus claiming to be “the Son of Man”…
"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home." (Mark 2:10-11)
Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Matthew 8:20)
Now we know that ‘son of man’ is synonymous with a ‘human being’ or one born under Adam… This is essentially a claim to Jesus’ humanity. We also see that Jesus’ claim to be ‘the son of man’ is directly linked to the exulted figure in Daniel 7:13, let’s take a look:
"I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14"And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.
We see that in the midst of apocalyptic visions, Daniel is seeing a figure “like a Son of Man” who approached the Ancient of Days (YHWH). This Son of Man is given a glorious kingdom in which, every man might “serve” him.
It’s important to note that the Greek word for “serve” used in this passage is latreuó (λατρεa3;ω). This is literally translated to “worship rendered to God”.
Isn’t it interesting that the word latreuó (λατρεa3;ω) is only used in the Bible when speaking about God and is used in other passages to speak of worship (Acts 26:23). Why then is this individual served with only a service fit for God alone? Why does the Ancient of Days give this glory to an individual in which all nations will serve him? How can this be when YHWH says “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8).
The most interesting part of this whole conundrum is Jesus’ statement in Mark 14:62:
The high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One? “I AM," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."
We see that Jesus’ is directly and unapologetically linking Himself to this individual that is worshipped and served as God in Daniel 7! The only possible explanation is that Jesus did in fact, believe himself as God alongside the Ancient of Days (YHWH).
2). Acceptance of Worship
In the Gospels, Jesus is worshipped a multitude of times by his disciples and others. Here are some examples:
“(the Three Magi) - And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” (Matthew 2:11)
“And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33)
Furthermore, Jesus is worshipped by lepers and the sick (John 9:38), and after his resurrection (28:17)... It’s very interesting that in all of these cases, not once did Jesus rebuke them. How is that so? The angels would not accept worship:
Then I fell down at his feet to worship him (the angel), but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” (Revelation 19:10)
The prophets prior to Jesus would not accept worship and were not worshipped in any form.
Why did Jesus accept worship and specifically say: "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” (Luke 4:8)
I think the answer is obvious. Jesus believed Himself to be God.
3). the Son of God
It is clear that throughout the Gospels, Jesus saw Himself as more than just a mere prophet. He claimed to be the special and unique Son of God. This is best seen in the parable of the tenants:
“A man planted a vineyard and rented it to some farmers. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard but the seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty handed. Then he sent another servant to them. They struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another and that one they killed. He sent many others, some of them they beat, and others they killed. (1) Finally, he had one left to send, (2) a son whom he loved. (3) He sent him last of all saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But the tenants said to one another, (4) ‘this is the heir, let’s kill him and the inheritance will be ours!’ and so they took him and killed him.” (Mark 12:1-9)
We see in this passage three very important distinctions that Jesus made of himself:
(1). God’s final messenger
(2). God’s beloved Son
(3). Distinct from all prophets
(4). The Heir to the throne
We also see the special relationship Jesus’ claimed to have with the Father in Matthew 11:27:
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
We see in Jesus own claim that he was not ‘a son of god’ like the other prophets were called but ‘The Son of God’... This is best paralleled in arguably the most famous verse in the Bible:
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
It’s also important to note that the term ‘Son of God’ was strictly seen as a divine claim in Jewish understanding... This is best seen in John 10:33:
“The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."
While a much more comprehensive case can be made using the Gospel of John and the Pauline epistles, we will stick with these contentions in which, the doctrine of Jesus’ divinity is built on solid ground.
B). the earliest Apostles claimed Jesus is Divine:
The earliest apostles were the original 12 who were alive and walking with Jesus during his 3 year ministry performing miracles, raising the dead, and healing the sick. In order to fully understand their view of Jesus, lets look at their own testimony:
Simon Peter, according to Christian tradition, is attributed to have written 1-2 Peter around AD 65-68. In these letters he wrote:
I thank my opponent for his arguments and hope to get to them in the rebuttal round.
Now, for this round, we will be going over two other vital points in the argument for or against Jesus' divinity. I will be arguing the following:
C) Divinity is incompatible with Judaism in the first century or today
D) The New Testament, primarily, does not proclaim the divinity of Jesus We will begin with C, arguing that the Second Temple YHWH cult does not allow for Jesus' divinity.
For this, I will use three arguments:
C) Divinity of Jesus is incompatible with Judaism in the first century or today
1) The Shema and other passages on Unity
2) Verbal forms and personal pronouns
3) The impossibility of a virgin-born Messiah
1) The Shema and Other Passages on Unity The Shema is the most important creed in Judaism. It is the foundation of Jewish thought and is quoted in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Here is a translation of verse 4 (personal translation): "Listen, Yisral! Adonai, our God, Adonai is one." Now, that Hebrew word for one is pronounced "ehad"(1) and spelled אֶחָד. It's not just a statement that there's one God. That doesn't even make sense as a translation. Adonai is a euphemism for the name Yahweh. Of course there is only one being named YHWH! That's kind of dumb to say otherwise. YHWH was only worshipped by the Hebrews, and He was only god by that name. Instead, ehad is being used as a unifying singular term. It certainly does not mean a cut up individual with different parts, like having a son and a father and a spirit. YHWH is one.
2) Verbal forms and personal pronouns Now, here's something interesting that should drive home the point of God being one... how He is addressed? Is He addressed as a unit? Or as a singular. As it turns out, YHWH is always referred to in the singular person both in verb and pronoun. He, as an individual, performs actions. Now, I know that many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists point to Genesis 1 where Elohim says things like "Let us make man in Our image" as evidence otherwise.
So let me address this and show how it actually is evidence for the unity of God. First, the word בָּרָא is used in the word "create." That word is a Third Masculine Singular Qal Perfect. (2) You don't really need to know any of what that means except singular. Even when God creates and says "let us," God creates using a singular, instead of plural, verb. This could indicate God was speaking to a
divine realm of beings, angels perhaps, but not to Himself. And God, as a solo, independent being, performed creation.
I hope this sums it up: the Old Testament says God is a singular, complete being. This is the foundation of the Second Temple Judaism that Jesus was born into. A second, separated portion of Divinity is simply not compatible with God as depicted in the Old Testament.
3) Something many fundamentalists do not realize is that Jesus could not have been born of a virgin and the Messiah. Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15 make it clear that Jesus comes from the line of David. Not only could Jesus not have been God, He could not have been the Messiah... if He was born of a virgin. Why? Because the genealogies passed down relate Joseph's lineage... but he was not Jesus' father... so Jesus was not truly of the seed of David. (It's notable that there was no prophecy of a virgin born Messiah) So you have to pick. Virgin birth? Or Messiah? Either way... you lose.
D) The New Testament, primarily, does not proclaim the divinity of Jesus
Now, obviously Johannine literature portrays Jesus as God, but what about the rest of the New Testament?
In the Synoptics, Acts, and Hebrews. I will address the claims made of Jesus and what they are saying. We will readdress Pauline theology and Petrine literature in the rebuttals.
Matthew- Jesus as Messiah
Matthew is filled with prophecies about being the Messiah... most of which are bunk. For instance, Matthew 2:23 claims the Messiah was claimed to be called from Nazareth, but there is no prophet in the Hebrew Old Testament that says so. This is important as we roll ahead. Who was the Messiah supposed to be? Was he supposed to be God? Well, first it's important to point out that there is no passage in the Old Testament where the Messiah is claimed to be the incarnation of God.
On the contrary, he is a very human being. Well, according to Jeremiah 23 he is supposed to be a King that is directly of the line of David. Isaiah 11:1-5 describes the Messiah as very human... so human, in fact, that the spirit of the Lord was not with the Messiah until God gives him the spirit.
"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." So wait, Jesus did not have might, knowledge, fear of YHWH, wisdom, or understanding? He needed God to give it to Him? Odd if you are God.
In Matthew, where Jesus is most shown as the Messiah... he is obviously not God. In fact, to be the Messiah, He had to not be God. Mark - The Son of Man The Son of Man was a mysterious apocalyptic figure for the Jews. He comes out of the Book of Daniel and was sometimes thought to be the Messiah... but he too, was not God.
Now, the "Son of Man" is not a title for this person. He is like a son of a man. Daniel is called this same title in Daniel 8:17. Here's the Daniel 7:13-14 passage
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."
In fact, the Son of Man cannot be God. First, God is already addressed here. He is "The Ancient of Days." The Ancient of Days is not equated with the one like the son of a man. In fact, question here, again, why does God have to give God glory and dominion? How is this man-being God... without glory? If he is God, then why did God have to give God glory and dominion? As a final hitter that the son of man described is not human, let's look at Numbers 23:19 and Psalm 8:4
"God is not man, that he should lie, or son of man, that he should change his mind."
"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"
This is the same term used to describe the figure of Daniel 7. God is not the son of man. Why? Because man is so far below God. By calling the Daniel 7 figure a "son of man," Daniel is negating any possible Divinity. Therefore, Mark is also negating Divinity
Gospel of Luke and Acts - Adoptionism and the Son of God
In the Gospel of Luke and Acts, which are essentially one work, the author has a very specific Christology: Adoptionism. Now, Adoptionism was the idea that Jesus was not always a divine figure, but was "adopted" by God and given rights like God's son. He was "exalted" above who He was before by God... but not God. (3)
But first, what does "Son of God mean?" Son of God was not a term of divinity. Lots of people were called the son of God in the Old Testament.
Israel is the "Son of God" Hosea 11:1
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son."
David is called the "Son of God" and God is called his father Psalm 89:26-27
"He shall cry to me,
‘You are my Father, my God,
and the Rock of my salvation.
And I will make him (David) the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth."
Any righteous man is called the "son of God" Wisdom 2:18
"For if the righteous one is the son of God,
God will help him and deliver him from the hand of his foes"
This term was more of a special standing with God, an honor. It is not a term of divinity. But, what of Adoptionism? Is Jesus claimed to be the pre-existent Son of God in this book? A logos of kinds? Far from it.
Here's a few quotes from Luke-Acts where it is clear that Jesus was "adopted" as God's son.
Acts has far more adoptionist theology than Luke. The reason is that Luke is much more of an action based narrative, while Acts is made up of several long speeches explaining what Jesus' life meant.
Luke 3:23 as testified by the Codex Bezae and the Ebionites
" and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; today I have begotten you.”
" Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Jesus was MADE Lord. He was not eternally Lord.
" the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus,
" for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed"
" how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."
Wait... so God was WITH Jesus? Jesus was not God. God GAVE Jesus power and He was only capable of miracles because God was with Him?
Hebrews - Much like Luke
Hebrews 1:5 contains adoptionist theology from Luke.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
Thanks to my opponent for a very concise and well thought out second round! I must admit, I have debated this topic more than a few times with those who were not so well versed as my opponent appears. I commend him for that!
Nonetheless, I've taken great pleasure in debating this issue with both Jews and Muslims alike. In their view, Jesus cannot be God 'YHWH' due to a variety of reasons that I ultimately find troublesome... Hopefully in this round, I will best display why I think otherwise.
*Note: I will be adopting the Instigators form of organization in order to keep the rounds better structured.
C). The Divinity of Jesus is compatible with Judaism in the first century and today
1). Doctrine of the Trinity does not contradict the Shema/OT depiction of unity
To begin, we must have a solid understanding of God's Triune nature as depicted in Christian theology.. Here is its essence in its most simplistic form:
"the Christian Godhead as one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
That is, God exists as one being in three persons
a being is the "what"
a person is the "who"
Therefore, when we say God exists as Father, Son, and Holy spirit. We are not alluding to 3 separate beings, but rather, 3 "who's" is 1 "what". Here is an illustration to further our understanding:
It is EXTREMELY crucial to understand this point. My opponent as well as other "non divine" Jesus holders will point to instances were Jesus prays to God as proof that Jesus cannot be God. This again, lies a huge misunderstanding of the Trinity... While Jesus and the Father are both God ("what"), they are separate persons ("who").. Therefore, it does not prove a contradiction that Jesus prayed to the Father.. Just like the Father sending the Son into the world (John 3:16).. The Son does not send the Father.. Each "Person" performs a different role within the Godhead.
The question now remains: Does the Trinity contradict the main tenets of the Shema "Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one"?
Not at all! Notice the word use to describe Gods Unity is 'ehad' (אֶחָד).. "The Lord is one(אֶחָד)". Does this mean an absolute unity or a complex unity?
absolute - completely and wholly one without any distinctive parts
complex - multiple parts comprising a singular unit
The issue with the absolute unity hypothesis is use of 'ehad' in other biblical verse's that display a complex unity.
Gen 2.24--the man and his wife will be one (ehad) flesh--clearly a complex unity.
2 Samuel 2:25--many soldiers made themselves into one (ehad) group
Joshua 9.2 -- the western kings agree to fight Joshua as "one (ehad) force"
In all of these examples, we see the word 'ehad' used to describe oneness within multiple parts. Therefore, the Shema does not limit us to an absolute unity of God.
2). Divine incarnations in the OT
Now, in Jewish understanding, It is impossible for God to cease to be God and inhabit a human form (Jesus) in which, seeing Jesus would literally mean seeing God in his exact nature. It is however, possible for the Jews to believe that God is capable of revealing Himself in the "tent of a human body while remaining in heaven.
Its interesting that in multiple passages in the OT, we find this exact thing happening. I.e God revealing Himself in a specific form.
Exodus 24:9-11 - Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of Israel's elders, and they saw the God of Israel. . . . God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank.
We see that the God of Israel actually ate and drank with the Israelites, they actually saw Him! How can this be if it is impossible for God to inhabit a form?
Their are also numerous passages of "The angel of the Lord" where this angel is worshipped as God and proclaimed as God..
Jacob stayed apart by himself, and a man wrestled with him until dawn broke. -He said to Jacob, “What’s your name?” and he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel, because you struggled with God and with men and won.”
29 Jacob also asked and said, “Tell me your name.”
But he said, “Why do you ask for my name?” and he blessed Jacob there. 30 Jacob named the place Peniel, “because I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.”
Interesting that after Jacob wrestles with the Angel, he claims to have seen God face to face...
14 He said, “Neither! I’m the commander of the Lord’s heavenly force. Now I have arrived!”
Then Joshua fell flat on his face and worshipped. Joshua said to him, “What is my master saying to his servant?” - Joshua 5:14
This angel is worshipped as the Lord? How can that be since other angels would never dare accept worship... This all starts to make sense when we look back to Genesis in which God is seen inhabiting the form of an angel:
The Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he sat at the entrance of his tent in the day’s heat. - but Abraham remained standing in front of the Lord. - they ate and drank" Genesis 18
This verse couldn't be any more clear, we see that the Lord had dust feet (Genesis 18:8) and literally ate and drank with Abraham and Sarah.. This is no more different from the doctrine of the incarnation, in which, God reveals Himself in the form of Jesus Christ while also remaining God of the universe. The Trinity then stands perfectly in line with Jewish thought.
D). The New Testament claims divinity for Jesus
It is understood that the 13 Pauline epistles (including Philippians, Ephesians, Romans) were generally written earlier than even the gospels themselves.. Mostly in the range of 50-60A.D. They provide the earliest attestation to the Christian conception of Jesus and are pinnacle scriptures regarding early church history.. Lets take a look at what they display:
(Jesus) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. - Philippians 2:6
I want to stress the importance of this verse.. This again, is an early Christian creed/hymn that Paul is quoting in his exhortation to the Philippians which MODERN SECULAR scholars date to within 3-4 years after Jesus death! Paul is clearly identifying Jesus as "in the form of God"! How much more closer to a divine depiction can you get?
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” - Colossians 1:15-18
We see here that Jesus is said to be "the firstborn of all creation".. In which all things are made. Sounds like a eternally divine depiction does it not?
We also see many, many instances where Paul inserts certain phrases which are attributed to YHWH in the OT to Jesus.. Take for example Philippians 2:10-
God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is a direct reference to Isaiah 45 in which YHWH proclaims that every knee will bow to His glory..
It is extremely clear that Paul saw Jesus as more than an angel or some heavily being.. but rather, Lord of all creation. YHWH Himself.
2). Hebrews Christology
To further understand NT Christology, we will look at the book of Hebrews. The writer of this book is anonymous and is dated to about 64 A.D.. Lets look at what it proclaims.. All we have to do is look at the first chapter..
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
We also see:
"After making purification of Sins, he sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high."
All of these verse's show the context in which Jesus is to be seen in Hebrew's Christology. Namely, that Jesus is superior to the angels and is the only begotten Son of God.. In whom, the entire world is created and upholded by HIS word of power.
Very clear indeed.
Getting off of my theological soap box.. I sincerely hope I portrayed both the NT view of Jesus and Jewish doctrinal connections to Christianity as objectively and accurately as possible. I want to leave this round with the main 'take a ways' that I think we should keep fresh in our minds...
D). The Divinity of Jesus is compatible with Judaism
1). Understanding the Trinity
2). the Trinity does not contradict the Shema
3). Previous incarnations in the OT displays how its possible for Jesus to be God and man in Jewish understanding
E). NT claims Divinity of Jesus
1). Pauline Christology displays Jesus as YHWH and Creator.
2). Hebrew Christology displays Jesus as the Son of God and Creator, in line with Pauline Christology
Lets also note that taking the entire NT into context, we find that it is impossible to make a case for a "non-divine" Jesus and have the NT be inherent in its very nature.. I will display this in the later rounds.
Thanks for reading! Back to Pro
This round is a rebuttal round. There will be no counter rebuttals or the like. No new arguments. One can only address previous rounds and their arguments through quotes, reducing underhanded or subtle means of rebuttal that often happen.
For this, I will simply identify specific arguments, via quotes, that I will rebut.
My arguments about the meaning of the Son of Man and Son of God have been put forth in a positive argument, but now I will address the "acceptance of worship" argument that is very flawed.
Round Two Objections
1) Acceptance of worship
My opponent argues:
" In the Gospels, Jesus is worshipped a multitude of times by his disciples and others."
I must admit, back when I was clinging to anything to keep me Evangelical, this was an argument made by Dr. Bird that kept me going... until I really looked into it. What does the word "worship" mean in this context and understanding?
Unfortunately, our modern concept of "worship" and our English translations really mess this one up.
The Greek verb here "proskyne!;" (1) is a derivative of the words "pros" and "ky!3;n." "pros" is a Greek preposition which means "to, towards, unto." "Ky!3;n" is also in the Greek and means "dog." Essentially putting these two words together, it would be "as a dog." A term of extreme humility.
Let's see why a strict "worship" interpretation makes no sense in like of a passage in which someone is "proskyne!" to Jesus: the mockery of Jesus before the crucifixion. Here's a literal translation:
"They struck Jesus' head with a reed, and their knees worshipped (proskyne!) him."
Their knees worshipped Jesus? What the heck? With a better understanding of the Greek word, is is obvious a better translation would be "they kneeled to" or something similar. Obviously, these guards were not worshipping Jesus. They were mocking Him. This word is used as a kneeling or humility statement, and even then it does not always mean that. Sometimes it is simply an act of kneeling, which can happen to anyone.
Here is another example from the Septuagint that clearly shows that you do not need to be God to be knelt to with this Greek verb.
2 Chronicles 24:17
"Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage (proskyne) to the king."
Clearly, that word does not mean worship. In fact, it only does if you are an evangelical translator with an agenda or dishonest.
2) The Petrine Literature and Divinity.
" Simon Peter, according to Christian tradition, is attributed to have written 1-2 Peter around AD 65-68. In these letters he wrote:
our God and savior Jesus Christ. May you have more and more grace and peace through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord."
This is indeed a claim to divinity. Ironically, it supports my claim of a late understanding of the divinity of Jesus. As we've seen, John, the latest Gospel, is the only one that is explicit about "Logos" style divinity. And Peter, ironically, is a forgery from the end of the first century. This solidifies the fact that this is a late theological addition.
How do we know 1 Peter was a forgery, a written work not by who the author states to be?
1. The Petrine Epistles were written in Greek using extensive knowledge of the Septuagint. Peter could not read or write and was an illiterate fisherman. Even the Bible attests to this. Not only that, John was too.
" Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and illiterate men, they were amazed, and began to recognise them as having been with Jesus."
2. Even if Peter learned to read in the years between that verse and his death, it is unlikely that he became fluent, familiar with the Septuagint, trained in rhetorical composition, and finally wrote this. We haven no knowledge of adult education in the Roman world, and why would he have done this? And when? This would take 10+ years of training, and Peter seemed busier on missionary journies.
So, this was a later writing long after Peter was dead by someone far more educated... solidifying the late addition of logos-Christ theology.
3) In the form of God?
"Though he (Jesus) was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit"
Oh. You're right. Jesus was equal to God. I concede. Pack up. Go home.
My opponent's entire argument rests on his translation of the Greek word "harpagmos." However, this word only appears once in the Bible... so how do we know how to translate it? Without other uses of the word with context, I could easily say "thought it not possible to be equal."
Fortunately, Plutarch uses it in his work multiple times, and his context makes it clear that it is in the act of theft or robbery. (2)
The word for "form" as well does not mean copy, simply outward similarity. (3)
So a better translation based on contextual passages would be
"Though Jesus similar to God, he did not consider equality with God as something to steal."
Ironically, again, giving support to my point of God giving a position to Jesus as a heavenly being.
Verse nine of the same creed solidifies it.
"Therefore, God highly honored Him, and gave Him a name above all names."
So God gave God a name above all names? This is a simple impossibility and lends itself to an earlier, less "God from very God" Christology.
Round Three Objections
I'd ask my opponent to please remember the rules against rebuttals not during the rebuttal round and be careful about that as we go on. The line seemed to be crossed or almost crossed in this round multiple times, especially with the use of the Shema.
Regardless, I will continue.
1) Trinity and the concept of YHWH.
Although it is possible that "ehad" means a kind of "complex" instead of "simple" unity, it simply makes no sense in a Jewish context. YHWH is a single being. He is referred to in Third Masculine Singular instead of Third Common Plural verbs, pronouns, adjectives, etc. When YHWH speaks of Himself, He is using First Common Singular verbs, pronouns, adjectives, etc.
This means YHWH is a singular being in every way. The only way out of that is to say that YHWH is simply the "Father," but that means there is more than one divine being of YHWH. YHWH is clearly defined as an individual.
2) "Divine" incarnations in the OT
My opponent attempts to use theophanies as evidence for the possibility of a human-divine form of an existing pre-Jesus. I will take a couple seconds to look at why these are incorrect understandings.
First, Joshua 5:14 actually, again, improves my look at Jesus as Paul's version of a high angel. He is identified not as God or the Lord, but as the commander of the Lord's forces, differentiating him from God. Ironically, if my opponent wants to say this is Jesus, he is saying Jesus is the commander of the angels and an angel himself, not God.
Second, as with Genesis, just because God is shown to be human, it does not mean he was Jesus. There is a logical disconnect. In some older Torah traditions, especially J, YHWH is very anthropomorphic, but that does not mean Jesus is this being.
And again, if my opponent wants to say Jesus is YHWH, that provides logical issues.
3) Colossians and Hebrews understanding of Christ.
Again, my opponent seems to like certain attributes given to Jesus and forget others. For instance, the "firstborn of all creation" is in Hebrews and Colossians. This is literally "Creation's firstborn" if you translate the geminate differently. Jesus is a created being in these verses. Used in creation, yes, but a creation Himself.
So, let's sum up what we've seen
1) Acceptance of "worship" in the English translation, proskyne, is not the same as accepting worship as God.
2) The Petrine Epistles were forged and help show a late understanding of Jesus' divinity.
3) Jesus was commended, not for "exploiting" equality with God, but for not stealing equality.
4) The Trinity does not match with Hebrew language structures for YHWH logically or grammatically.
5) Theophanies are never identified with Jesus.
6) Colossians and Hebrews equate Jesus with a created being.
Quite glad this discussion was focused more on the actual Biblical text this round.
I need to concede this round due to personal reasons. Hopefully I can continue with my rebuttals in the concluding round.
My sincerest apologies.
That's quite alright. You are permitted to give rebuttals of my original arguments from Rounds 2 and 3, but there can be no counter rebuttals of Round 4.
On with the show.
Let me pull this all together for the readers of voters of this debate.
1) Jesus never claimed to be God because:
A. In the earliest Gospels, there are several verses where Jesus says He is not God.
B. Jesus sins in the earliest Gospel, Mark, a very clear statement that He is not God.
C. There is no claims at all to divinity in the Synoptic Gospels which are the earliest accounts of Jesus.
D. John is a metaphorical, fabricated, and LATE account of Jesus' life filled with contradictions, inaccuracies, and unauthentic words of Jesus
2) The earliest apostles did not claim divinity for Jesus because:
A. Mark and the early Q Gospel that makes up much of Matthew and Luke did not claim divinity for Jesus.
B. Pauline literature, including early creeds in Philippians and Corinthians tell of a non-divine Jesus, but instead a heavenly being, perhaps an angelic figure.
C. The claimed Petrine epistles of 1 and 2 Peter that contain evidence of Jesus' divinity are not written by the illiterate and uneducated Peter, but instead by a later author around 90 AD. Gives more credibility to a late divine understanding of Jesus.
3) The Divinity of Jesus is and was incompatible with Judaism in the first century or today because:
A. The Divinity of Jesus is incompatible with the Shema creed of unity for Jews
B. The verbal forms pertaining to God in both the Old Testament and much of the New Testament is singular.
C. A virgin born Messiah is an impossibility. To be of the Davidic lineage, your father must be of the Davidic lineage. To not have a father is to not have Davidic lineage and negate your eligibility as Messiah
4) The New Testament, primarily, does not proclaim the divinity of Jesus because:
A. Matthew portrays Jesus as a physical man: the Messiah, who was not to be an incarnation of God, but a simple human being. Matthew also does not portray Jesus as God.
B. Luke-Acts portrays Jesus as a human being exalted to be the "Son of God," which is a title of respect, not a claim to divinity.
C. Mark portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, which was shown as a human being and differentiated from God.
D. Hebrews also portrays Jesus as a created and exalted human being.
E. Paul portrays Jesus as an angelic being, not God.
Let me pull this all together into a simple statement to close:
The earliest apostles and the accounts that we have of them do not show Jesus as divine nor record claims that He was. Instead, portrayal of His divinity as written in the Nicene Creed and John 1 was an evolved tradition from around the turn of the 2nd Century as seen in Petrine epistles and John's Gospels and epistles.
I hope this was an interesting and healthy debate for my opponent and the voters. Peace be with you.
Round 2 Rebuttals:
1). Mark's alleged absence/denials of divinity
My opponent claims: "there are no instances where Jesus calls Himself God in Mark."
This is a claim that is simply not true, and is firmly rooted in the presupposition that because Mark is the earliest Gospel, it most be the most accurate depiction. It does not take into the account the doctrine of Holy Spirit inspired scripture wherein, the different Gospels highlight the different aspect of Jesus life/ministry (we will get to this later)
Although little in comparison to John, we find claims of Jesus to be the special Son of God (as in the parable in the tenants), we find that Jesus links himself to "the one like a son of man" who receives worship only designated for deity (Daniel 7:13), we see Jesus entering Jerusalem humbly on a donkey which is a direct fulfillment of Zech. 9:9 in which "the Sovereign Lord will suddenly appear at the temple"
There are plenty more examples but in these, it is quite obvious that Jesus thought Himself as the physical manifestation of God in the direct fulfillment of prophetic events and His own claim to be God's only Son.
This is what caused the High priest to rip off his clothes and proclaim "you have heard his blasphemy!"
My opponent then claims "there are places where Jesus explicitly states that He is not God."
He gives one example in Mark 14 wherein, Jesus allegedly states that He is not good and only God is, therefore He is not God.. When one carefully looks at this verse however, this is actually a claim too Deity!
Jesus is calling the young mans assertion to question, "why do you call me good?" It's Jesus' way of trying to get the 'rich young ruler' to fully understand the gravity of his original assertion. Here's a syllogism to better understand what Jesus is actually claiming.
I. No one is good but God
II. You call me good
III. therefore, I am God.
This is also paralleled in John where Jesus is called the "Good Shepard"
My opponent then states: "Mark records a time when Jesus sinned"
He gives 1 manuscript (Codex Bezea) as the basis for his conclusion and remarks "most textual critics would label it as the preferred reading".. So far, I have found no textual critics that refers back to this manuscript as the 'preferred reading' or anything of the sort. Regardless, the logic following this textual inclusion just doesn't make since..
Why would the original New Testament writers (the apostles) include such an erroneous detail that would completely dismantle all of their claims of Jesus perfection? It just doesn't add up..
One would have to come to 2 conclusions, either they actually wrote "compassion" and the single manuscript my opponent gave is wrong, or they sincerely believed that Jesus anger was not a sin.. Either way it proves nothing to my opponents original claim.
2). John's Christology called into question
"A great deal of John uses wordplay that only works in the Greek. - The problem, however, is that 1st century Jews, they would have spoken Aramaic."
This entire claim lies on the assumption that Greek was not a common language spoken by the first century Jews. Although, there is MOUNDS of archaeological evidence to the contrary!
Out of the 1600 Jewish funerary inscriptions, 70 % of them are Greek from this time period! We also know that the dead sea scrolls displayed a form of trilingualisim between the Jews in which, they spoke Hebrew and Greek.
This information paired with the fact that Greek was widespread used in the Roman Empire and certain instances where Jesus spoke to Hellenistic Greek speakers in the NT (7:26), leave the conclusion that Jesus did in fact, speak in the Greek language...
Check this link for a more examples....
"Did Jesus arrive by boat to a great crowd, or did Jesus go to a mountain and the crowds followed Him?"
I'm not sure why my opponent got his information for this assertion, the stories are identical in that Jesus arrives on a boat.
"When he went ashore he saw a great crowd" (Mark 6:34)
"After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee" (John 6:2)
"Did Jesus send His disciples to Capernium, or did He send them to Genneserat?"
Capernium IS in the land of Genneserat.. The 1st century historian Josephus puts it plainly:
"the land of Genneserat was watered with a very excellent spring, which the inhabitants of that place called Capernium(h)"
"Was Jesus betrayed with identification by a kiss from Judas, or did Jesus identify Himself?"
the account of Jesus identifying himself in Johns Gospel does not restrict us to only one account, it would logically follow that Judas identifies him to the Roman guards while John gives the fuller account of Jesus identifying Himself.
1). Jesus as a lesser cosmic being?
My opponent makes the audacious claim that according to 1 Cor. and Galatians, Paul saw Jesus as "a cosmic being, but NOT God Himself." Lets deal with each of these passages separately
A). During his interpretation of 1 Cor 8, my opponent seems to have overlooked the context.. Lets look at the entire verse:
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through (di') whom all things came and through (di’) whom we live." 1 Corinthians 8:4-6
Now according to Paul, there is only one true Lord Jesus amongst many "so called lords". According to my opponents logic, The Father (God) could not be Lord then, since Jesus is the only true Lord.. Its clear that Paul was not somehow dening Jesus deity but rather establishing it in this claim..
We also see in the Sheema: "Hear O Isreal, the Lord your God, the Lord is One!".. How is it that God is only Lord while Paul establishes Jesus as Lord? I think it is very clear, Paul is invoking Jesus into the Sheema to display God's Tri-unity.. How else do you explain Pauls idea of Jesus' pre-eminesne? "through whom all things came".
B). As shown by my opponent, Paul refers to Jesus as an angel in Galatians 4:14. This does not somehow imply that He cannot be God... It seems my opponent has agian, misunderstand the core tenets of the Trinity..
For the perspective of a Trinitarian.. Yes, Jesus was a messenger (angel).. He revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27) and proclaimed the Good News (Matt. 4:23).. He was also the uniquly begotton Son of God who share deity with the Father as One Being. As you have seen, my opponent gives 1 verse to support his claim of a "cosmic being" depiction of Jesus but continuly overlooks the other verses in which, Jesus is creator and preminent (Colossians 1:15) and will share in the Glory of the Father (John 17:5).
Round 3 Rebuttals:
*I have already dealt God's unity/tri-unity in light of the Hebrew language in my previous round.
1). "Impossibility" of a virgin born messiah
Let me give 2 answers to this assertion:
A). The "Messiah" is David's Lord
We find that in Psalm 110, David writes: "The Lord says to my Lord: sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feat".. Ask any Jew and they will plainly state that this is David speaking about the coming Messiah.
We also see multiple prophecies where the Messiah would be a heavenly figure worthy of worship and service (Daniel 7, Zech. 9:9). This leaves us with a conundrum: how can the Messiah be both a heavenly and human figure? The virgin birth is the only solution.
B). Luke's Genealogy traces to Mary
Since we know that Mary descended from the tribe of Judah and holds Davidic ancestry, it is perfectly reasonable to accept the idea that Luke traces his genealogy through her, especially when it starts by naming her father "Heli" and tracing back to king David.
1). Differing representations of Jesus in the Gospel accounts
A). Matthew - Messiah
My opponents entire section of Matthew relies on the claim that "no passage in the Old Testament where the Messiah is claimed to be the incarnation of God.".. Since Mathew displays Jesus' Messiahship, therefore He cannot be God
Let me show you the direct error in his claim:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
"The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)." Isaiah 7:14
There are plenty of verse in the OT that display the Messiah as God, these being the most blantent. It would seem that displaying the Messiahship of Jesus in Matthew IS in fact, a claim to His deity.. Not to mention the Son of God claims and the connection to the exulted figure in Daniel 7...
*Unable to finish rebuttal due to lack of space.