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In the Name of God بسم الله

Leslie P

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  1. Hi there! I think a large part of the problem scholars face is that the issue goes beyond language to so much else. The example I ran of Matthew 8:20 perhaps illustrates this. Your earlier translation is spot on in terms of the contemporary meaning of the phrase 'Son of Man', and as one sentence taken on its own. However look at the Matthew 8 context (immediate, wider and Gospel-wide), and it is generally agreed that Jesus is talking about himself. But why use a phrase meaning 'humanity' or 'someone', where the word 'I' should be? That's where the problem comes. A further issue is that the meaning of 'Son of Man' varied over time. The usage seen in the Psalms changed following Daniel and subsequent messianic interpretation before/at the time of Jesus. I think we can do work with the usage of Son of Man in Mark 13,14 without necessarily having to get at its meaning too closely, but I'll do that next week for sake of brevity. If Jesus did use the phrase of himself, in an original and unusual way, it is important to ask what we can learn from that. On a side note, Jeremias identifies Jesus' Aramaic as a Galilean version of western Aramaic, which has minor differences with the Aramaic spoken in Judea. Matthew 26:73 is possibly evidence here.
  2. Thank you for the detailed analysis. Much as there are significant issues I have with it, I won't be engaging directly for the following reasons: 1) The issues involved with the phrase “Son of Man” are lengthy, detailed and technical, and need something of at least the length of an academic paper to deal with properly. 2) There is no consensus in any respect in academia about it. Bultmann's 3 way ministry/suffering-death-resurrection/future role division remains the mode. Geza Vermes 3 way circumlocution I/someone in my position/modest self-reference remains highly influential. Sanders has no solution, and Borg/Crossan simply remove the question from study. See Wikipedia for more. And so on. In short, if 150 years of intensive study by experts in the field have failed to even begin to approach a recognised solution, we're unfortunately not going to do it on this thread, and I would advise that it is not at all clear that 'someone' is the correct and exclusive usage. An unnamed colleague quoted by N.T.Wright sums it up “Son of Man? Son of Man? That way lies madness”.
  3. I would agree that the idea of “Son of Man” referencing Jesus' human nature is unlikely, since Jesus had no need to make that point. It was obvious by looking! The next thing to say about 'Son of Man' is that there is no clear consensus at this time how Jesus used it of himself. Some theologians dislike going there at all. It may be, as Ibn Al-Ja'abi suggests, an Aramaic phrase used as a circumlocution for 'I' or 'Someone in my position'; and there are may be instances where that could be how Jesus uses it (Mt 8:20 for example). However not all passages work so well with that usage, and it may be that Jesus was referring to Daniel 7 in its usage of 'one like a son of man'. This would self-identify Jesus as the one who rescued God's people, and established the Kingdom of God. This is reinforced by Mark 14:62 where Jesus is explicitly referencing Daniel 7.
  4. We don't have much of a choice? I think we may be muddling up two things here. For a Christian committed to a strong inspiration of the Bible, there would be an overwhelming argument in favour of viewing Jesus as God. However there is a second statement I think can be made: there is powerful historical evidence that Jesus himself taught things that pointed his listeners to his divine status. Further, there is historical powerful evidence that the Early Church rapidly concluded in the light of all they experienced that Jesus was the Presence of God in human form. This powerful historical evidence works independently of any particular belief. It is there for atheists, agnostics, Buddhists etc to see.
  5. Jesus definitely said things about himself or the whole 'Jesus is God as human' thing would never have been started. The disciples must have taught it, or the New Testament wouldn't have been filled with 'Jesus is God as human' writing. And Paul demonstrably taught it in his writings (for example compare Isaiah 45:23 with Phil 2:9-11). And that Paul was able to write in the way he did reinforces that the whole 'Jesus is God as human' thing was set in motion by Jesus and backed by the disciples, and that all this happened quickly after the resurrection.
  6. The phrase Son of Man can't really be dealt with properly in a brief way, but I can outline what it means as follows: It is a very distinctive phrase that the evidence says goes back to the historical Jesus as a way of talking about himself. The usage of the phrase goes back before Jesus, being there in the book of Daniel. It is something like a substitute way of saying 'I' that also implies a special mission or function.
  7. About the Original Post- The three authors are popular writers who have made no impact on professional scholarship. Their work is generally seen as highly imaginative, poorly thought out and irrelevant to the quest for the Jesus of history. What Jesus was trying, successfully, to do was to start off the Kingdom of God with himself at the head of it. The historical records we have tell us this unambiguously. Whether it's in the telling of parables, the speeches of Jesus, the writings of those who came after him or whatever else, Jesus intention is clear. Carrying out God's promises to sort things out. Not only is Christianity thoroughly Jewish, but could not exist without it's Jewish roots. This is where the writers in the OP got it very wrong. You can't go very far in the New Testament before you hit an Old Testament reference and the whole setup of Christianity needs its Jewish basis.
  8. Yes, Elohim can have a variety of meanings, depending on the context. The same is true of the word divine: “Was Jesus divine?” “That dessert was divine!” “Buy Divine chocolate, available in the United Kingdom and US, because it's Fairtrade which helps the poor.” In the context of the Burning Bush, the context is unmistakeable and uncontroversial. It means the One God of Israel. At the time of writing this, it is the quoted example for this meaning on Wikipedia. The general gist of the word is to do with power. A good explanation is here Thus one can talk of 'powers' and the One God using the same word Elohim. No conflict. We should note very carefully that the Christian viewpoint is NOT that Jesus is a separate God, but is the SAME God, in a different aspect.
  9. Elohim is one of the Hebrew names for God. In the context of the Burning Bush it is universally (Jews and Christians) recognised that it refers to the One God of Israel (see this and this as examples of the Jewish view ). Elohim and Jehovah are two different Names for the same One God. But we are both Christians and therefore we surely won't be using the Qur'an as the foundation for belief? I'm not sure which NIV you're using, but it seems to have 'and' in there. I should also add that Christians generally don't regard the NIV as 'Saheeh', and certainly wouldn't use that translation as the basis for belief against all the others. The Greek has 'kai' in there which means 'and'. A card 'from Placid and family' implies that Placid is a member of the family being referred to as sending the card. I could say that First Century Jewish apocalyptic language doesn't function that way, that the metaphor is about the two different roles of God rather than number of seats needing to be put out, but that would lead to a lengthy piece on how it does function. So let me help you out with a clearer, non-metaphorical example of the separation you seem to think is there. At Jesus' baptism, a voice spoke to Jesus. If the voice was God, you would surely say, how could Jesus be God? The One God is not limited to one place. So if God can be present in the Burning Bush, He can also be elsewhere at the same time, doing other things. If God was present in Jesus, He can also be present in a Voice talking to Jesus. We mustn't try to say what God can't do! The expression 'Lord said to my Lord' (Matthew 22:44 ref Psalm 110) used is capable of multiple interpretations. Many commentaries say it points clearly to the divinity of Jesus. I would say it is part of a package which does that, but not directly. I think Jesus was asking a dense, challenging question to His opponents, to which He knew the answer, but where the time to reveal the answer had yet to come. The whole Psalm quoted is about the Messiah; the nature of the Messiah was not at that stage a question being asked. I'm comfortable discussing these issues. It's important that this happens.
  10. I would think most Christians would go along with that. It would be worth making this clear: Christianity believes in One God in exactly the same way as Judaism and Islam do. No ifs, no buts, no qualifications. We believe there is only One God. End of. Where there might be a difference is that we don't see the same sorts of restrictions being on God that Islam does. Can God be present in some unusual sense in a Pillar of Fire? Yes. Can He be present in some unusual sense in a Tabernacle? Yes. In a Burning Bush? Yes. (Judaism has the same answers.) Can God be present in an unusual sense in a person? In the same sort of way, yes.
  11. I'm not sure what you mean by this. It may need unpacking. The text as I read it wasn't clear on that point, but it doesn't matter- the key thing is there was a direct conversation between God and Moses. That is to say, Moses experienced the Presence of God in a different, more direct way than usual. Holding a conversation with Jesus would also have been experiencing a different, more direct way of talking to God. Although I am intrigued to know- what do you mean by “God conversed to Hazrat Moses through fire”?
  12. There's a lot of detail here, and space permits picking up only some of the most important. It's not just Christians who think the Burning Bush is God/Moses speaking all the way through, it's Jews as well; the context and vocabulary used don't allow any alternative. Jesus making a bird fly is not in the Bible. As a human, clearly Jesus did not possess all the powers of God. However he was still the presence of God. Water can float a liner, but my glass of water can't. They're both water. The 'division' isn't- in fact when Paul talks about 'God our Father and Jesus Christ' he's bracketing them together as one. In the same way, a birthday card might be signed, “Greetings from Placid and all the family”. On the right hand thing- you're heavily reading too much into a symbolic image. The right hand of God thing is a reference to Psalm 110/Daniel 7 etc where the Messiah is invited to sit at the right hand of God. Jesus was the Messiah That's all it's about. By Nicea the whole thinking had got overcomplicated. The simpler descriptions of the first Christians of Jesus as a Presence of God are to be preferred.
  13. Some interesting ideas there. I think before a contradiction can be seen, there is much, much more term definition needed; in particular the sense in which a human can be contingent needs further clarifying. However I don't think we need go there yet. If I write 2 + 2 = 4 on paper, the statement is necessarily true, but the writing of it is not. That is to say, the content is necessary, but the 'wrapper' of writing is contingent. I wouldn't say that is a guide to how it works with Jesus as God, but it illustrates that something can be necessary in one sense but contingent in another. Further, it is not the case that the presence of God is immutable in all senses. The Pillar of Cloud became the Pillar of Fire, and back again, in the OT. Both were different in appearance to the presence in the Tabernacle and the Burning Bush.
  14. Not really. 'Be present in' and 'be contained in' are not the same thing. The sense in the Koranic version (Surah 20) is a bit less defined than the OT one, but the idea that God was present and communicating with humans with a different type of presence to that normally experienced is certainly not dissimilar. God was speaking directly to Moses, using words that could be heard through sound, in both Surah 20 and Exodus. Moses was replying with hearable words. Yet God would be more and beyond that presence in that time and place. In the same way, if Jesus was talking with you, it would be the presence of God speaking directly with you. Yet God would be more and beyond that presence in that time and place.
  15. I'm not sure it's correct to say “even in early Christianity there was no unity upon the nature of Christ”. One of the very striking things about Paul's writing is that he had tremendous arguments with those trying to keep the Early Church following Torah, but no problems at all with the things he was saying about Jesus' relationship to God. The disagreements came in later centuries when people foolishly started trying to define the indescribable God. In Judaism they had plenty of examples to draw on of God's actual presence in the world. The Pillar of Fire and Cloud, the Presence in the Tabernacle, the Burning Bush etc. Paul and the Early Church said that Jesus was another occurrence of the Presence of God. So to the OP- God was present in the Burning Bush (Exodus 3), but was more than the Burning Bush. God was present in Jesus, but was more than Jesus. I hope this helps.
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