Jesus in the Bible – Authority of Written Works

I am reading a book by Geza Vermes right now – the ‘Many Faces of Jesus’.  It has brought some more coordination to some of the things I have been reading about Jesus over the past 4 years…namely with what the bible says about him and where it says it about him.

In John’s gospel we find the divinity of Jesus (5 or 6 places in total) – and in very select pieces of Paul. John also slightly mentions some aspects of being the messiah and the ‘lamb of God’ idea.

In Paul’s letters we find the Jesus of mysticism – a Jesus Paul admits to never meeting ‘in the flesh’. Paul develops the ideas of atonement and many church doctrines we see today.

I notice it always these 2 people that are quoted when one wants to prove either theory – divinity or atonement ideas – and not much anywhere else. I wonder if someone did not have these works would they arrive at many of the orthodox conclusions they do.

Some notes on both writers:

(a) John never wrote his gospel (written between 100 and 125 AD at best). The church had a chance to develop within Gentile communities by this time (some 70 – 100 years after Jesus’ life). It is no wonder this gospel alone develops some bitterness towards the Jewish nation (uses Jew over 60 times in it’s gospel), has divinity attributed to Jesus, uses the lamb of God idea, and has Jesus in many speeches defending himself and his position as the messiah (or even God). No other gospel even so much as see’s the need to do this to Jesus – who does not make big speeches (as Geza would say – ‘like a Roman orator’).

(b) Paul, the first Christian writer with actual written works, is written solely to Gentile communities. Paul also is quite fierce with Jewish components of the ‘gospel’ and see’s a need to defend his apostleship from letter to letter. Probably a great reason for that – this man never knew Jesus nor could he be an apostle according to Acts 1:21-22. It also would seem Paul was arguing against the version of the gospel that grew from Jerusalem – from the people that followed Jesus first-hand – Peter, James, and John. Paul’s arguments against people that preached the gospel contrary to his version of the gospel were obviously from those schools of thought. Paul makes some room concerning the Gentiles and their inclusion, but to become the main teacher for the church without any real apostleship bestowed upon him – well leaves one to wonder why he is the person orthodoxy is built upon.

It is becoming more clear to me the development of the orthodox positions in early Christianity and whom they valued and whom they devalued to arrive at these conclusions. The orthodoxy is Gentile in nature – this is most assured…argue with someone orthodox – be prepared for a defence that knows nothing about the Judaic roots of this faith (extreme ignorance) and quotes from Paul and John alone as proof texts. It doesn’t take one much more thought to realize the orthodox position is defending from the last to print gospel (so many changes could be attributed to Jesus) and a missionary solely to Gentiles (who’s message was bent in their favor) – who’s own apostleship was in question – never meeting Jesus or knowing nothing about his ministry in Israel.

All things added up we have a gospel which may about 100 removed from Jesus’ real life and an apostle/missionary that spent his whole life amongst Gentiles and without any tutorship (unless you count 15 days) with the original group that knew Jesus.

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