A reader responding to an earlier posting of mine drew attention to a forthcoming book in which apparently the author asserts that the view of Jesus as somehow divine or partaking in divine honor arose sometime in the 40s and in places such as Antioch (where, supposedly, the influence of pagan religion with the frequency of divinized heroes would have helped to generate a divine Jesus).
As I’ve invested some 25 years in the relevant questions and evidence, it’s always disappointing to find apparently senior scholars so much out of touch.
It provides the warm and fuzzy schadenfreude that will help the rest of this series go down easier. Isn’t it lovely to see their “scientific theory” disproved by their own research? Now make sure you have an empty stomach, because the “Geology – the Earth Speaks” chapter is about to make you toss your cookies.
To such a person a theory is a lie until it is proven and then it becomes a truth or a fact.
But there's no joy in it.” -John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters So what do most scholars think about the dying-and-rising gods or the Jewish conception of Jesus?
They babble about how astronauts have to exercise to prevent weightlessness from weakening their bones and muscles, and how we’d get tired real quick if Earth’s gravity was higher. Or, y’know, that we evolved to cope with this planet’s particular gravitational pull.
What’s really precious is this: their bullshit about the plates being separate “has influenced the rise of diverse human cultures and has resulted in the development of a vast variety of living things from the original created kinds.” Dude, just give up.
But Bousset insisted that this couldn’t have characterized the “primitive Palestinian community” (also his term), for in the Jerusalem setting of Jewish “monotheism” it simply was unthinkable.
So, he proposed that it erupted in Antioch shortly after the flight of refugees from the persecution that broke out after the death of Stephen (as described in Acts 7).
So, even the old history-of-religions school granted an “early high christology”, and very early, not in the 40s or thereafter but within the first few years at most.
The remaining question, however, is whether Bousset was correct to judge that this devotion to Jesus as sharing in divine honor did not erupt first in the earliest circles of Jewish believers and in an authentically Jewish setting such as Jerusalem.
It feels like shit to find out that you're little more than a potential notch on someone's conversion belt.