Bart Ehrman’s ‘How Jesus Became God‘ offers great insight into church history, history being his academic background, on the development of the trinity. I really enjoyed that refresher on church history of the early church structure.
As usual, it raised an obvious issue about Jesus becoming God and his place in the trinity…why develop something out of nothing?
Jesus never once says he’s God in the Synoptics and even within John he may not be making the case for godhood. Paul, alludes to the idea, but even Ehrman has Paul stating Jesus is ‘the angel of the Lord’ – still subjected to the Father.
It’s after 100+ CE that we see a long line of church officials making a mountain (ie: Jesus is God) out of a mole hill (ie: Jesus is messiah). They decide in about 325 CE to determine the trinity and Jesus as God – although the beliefs took 200 years or so to develop. Most of it is philosophical mumbo-jumbo about how Jesus existed with God, was God, and was not God the Father. In essence, a development in futility.
But what were they developing?
It’s abundantly clear ‘God is One’ to Israel…There were no 2 or 3 gods about that. This is the pivotal statement in Judaism, the one you cannot alter or break. Would Jesus claim to break it as a Jewish person? No.
Not once is Jesus claiming to be God’s equal, heck he’s barely even claiming to be the messiah in the texts. If he had made such claims, of godhood or trinity, he surely would have been the talk of Josephus’ writings (or Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius) – as it stands – but one paragraph on Jesus. He doesn’t even register a blip on the historical radar of the times. (John the Baptist gets way more attention)
That historical record alone means Jesus had to be similar to the Jewish sentiments of his time, so similar that writing about it seemed unnecessary. The only records we have of Jesus are second hand letters and gospel narratives that pretend to be biography when they are clearly theologically ridden (agenda based).
The trinity develops out of that history. Or maybe it develops out of the hijacking of that history? Either way, it’s a philosophical idea with zero merit.