Was Jesus’ Divinity Invented After His Death?
As I've written previously, the question of whether or not Christ's divinity has been asked and answered: yes, Jesus is G-d in the flesh. As Scripture itself declares,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)
Earlier this week, HarperOne (owned by HarperCollins, the parent company of Zondervan) published a 416-page book by Bart Ehrman entitled "How Jesus Became God- The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee". In his book, Ehrman expands upon many of the same arguments that critics have been exercising for the past century or more:
- Jesus' divinity was a "copy and paste" by the early church from ancient Greek and Roman polytheism where the gods of the pantheon came down to earth and had sexual relations with women who later gave birth to "demigods"
- Jesus never thought of Himself as G-d or claimed to be G-d
- Nobody in Jesus' lifetime ever thought He was G-d
- Scripture originally left many things unsaid about Christ's death and later Christianity invented the story of the crucifixion and resurrection
- One early [but erroneous!] teaching was that Jesus was an angel who became human: a powerful spirit but not Divine
Five theologians, Michael Bird, Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles Hill, and Chris Tilling have stepped forward to rebut these claims. Zondervan published their 240-page rebuttal entitled "How God Became Jesus- The REAL Origins of Belief in Jesus Divine Nature" at the same time Ehrman's book was released. All eminent scholars, they have brought their expertise to bear on each of Ehrman's arguments and debunked them in full.
In an interview with one of the authors, Michael Bird, Emily Varner of Academic Publish Services, notes
"One refrain that seems to echo throughout the book is a criticism of Ehrman for not accounting for how deeply rooted Early Christianity was in Judaism."
Indeed, it was this flaw in Ehrman's thinking that was key to debunking his claims. I have found that a great many of the errors that exist in modern thought regarding Christ and a life of faith in Him stem from this exact issue. This is why my efforts in ministry have been focused on bringing the life of our Jewish Messiah and the Jewish roots of Christianity to light.
But let's get back to the original question: was Jesus' divinity invented after His death?
The testimony of both history and Scripture is a resounding "no".
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only G-od, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. - 1 Timothy 1:17