Those New Testament scholars who like to have their cake and eat it too..

A number of eminent New Testament scholars appear to make the same theological move: they practice rigorous adherence to the historical critical method which casts doubt on the historical accuracy of numerous articles of the Christian faith (for example the complete lack of historical evidence for the deity of Jesus), whilst on the other hand being personally convinced Trinitarian believers.

I am thinking of such scholars as James DG Dunn, Dale Martin and the late Raymond E. Brown.

I have it on good authority from a friend mine (Nazam) who has met Jimmy Dunn (professor of New Testament at Durham University) that he is a personal believer in the Trinity.

Dale Martin (professor of New Testament at Yale University) in a recent debate gave testimony to his belief in the Trinitarian God. Yet he freely acknowledged that there is no historical evidence that Jesus believed he was God in the Trinitarian sense.

Fr Raymond Brown (professor of NT at Union Theological Seminary) whom I had the privilege of meeting at Oxford University is “regarded as casting doubt on the historical accuracy of numerous articles of the Catholic faith”, yet remained a faithful Catholic priest in good standing with the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church (source).

Jesus scholar Géza Vermes succinctly described Brown as “the primary example of the position of having your cake and eating it” (The Nativity: History and Legend, London, Penguin, 2006, p21).

The following except from a review of Jimmy Dunn’s wonderful book Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation describes this theological move and how it is justified. (The important paragraph is highlighted in bold).

Belief in the God of Islam is sweet reason in comparison.

In A Valuable Contribution to the Study of Christology Stephen Triesch writes:

‘Dunn examines in detail the various titles of Jesus – Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, the Logos, God incarnate, etc. – and shows how these concepts were most likely understood at the time they were first used. He describes the history of these terms in Jewish thought, and traces how these terms evolved during the formative years of Christianity.’

‘Dunn generally leans towards the idea that the earliest Christian tradition viewed Jesus as a human being specially chosen by God for a unique role in the salvation of the Jewish people and – secondarily – of all people. Yet, somewhat inconsistently, at the end he claims that the late development of “high Christology” – of Jesus viewed as the divine second person of the Holy Trinity – is an acceptable and logical development of the earlier view of Jesus as a divinely chosen human being.’

‘That is my only quibble with a book that otherwise exhibits sound scholarship and reasoned argument. Perhaps most of us moderns – Dunn included – are infected with the Hegelian idea that whatever happens in the world – if it involves major historical trends and Ideas – somehow enjoys Divine blessing, even if it seemingly contradicts our understandings of the Divine Will. But I digress . . . as a thorough exploration of the progression and development of the Christian understanding of the nature and role of Jesus, this book is a “must have.”‘


Categories: Christology, God, History, Jesus, New Testament scholarship, Trinity

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14 replies

  1. I remember I told you this and gave you that quote from Geza Vermes a long time ago.

  2. Indeed. And it is still true that belief in the God of Islam is sweet reason in comparison to the trinity.

  3. The results of rejecting the revelation of the New Testament, the true Injeel and replacing it with a man-made religion of Islam:

    • The New Testament you have today did not exist till centuries after Jesus.

      • But it did exist in Muhammad’s day, right? 😉

      • Sam’s back! Still snow on the ground in Chicagoland i see 🙁

      • All the 27 books existed as separate scrolls, sent individually to different churches and different areas, by the year 96 AD. They just were not collected together under one “book cover”.

      • AD 96? thats a very precise dating. Most scholars however consider 2 Peter the last book to be written in the early to mid 2nd century. And as I said, the New Testament we have today did not exist till the 4th century at the earliest.

      • All the NT books were in existance by 96 AD. Revelation or Jude were the last books written.

        2 Peter probably written around 67 AD, before Peter is executed, probably dictated to Jude from prison – that is why so much in Jude and 2 Peter are similar.

        I know many liberal scholars think 2 Peter was written sometime between 90-120 AD (?), but there are good reasons to hold to the 67 AD date. See Gene L. Green’s commentary, which I showed you before.

        Nevertheless, all the NT books already existed long before the were all collected together under one book cover by a consensus of all the orthodox churches.

        There was no such thing as a book in the first and second century. (with a binding)

        The codex (loose sheets tied together) started coming into vogue in the mid to late 2nd and third centuries.

        So, all the NT books and letters EXISTED in the first century as individual scrolls.

  4. And when the present canon did come into existence, it was almost immediately discredited by several christian groups. Millions had to endure persecution, hundreds of thousands had to die for the canon to survive. Some pious ones did stick to it of course, but not without admitting that it is filled with the words of men. I suppose Ken Temple knows more than his ancient ‘brothers in Christ’ – those who lived while the battle for scripture raged at its peak did. That could be the reason why he is asking us to trust what he says. But….. I refuse. I think I am smarter than that.

  5. Christians keep saying that their bible had been existed before the prophet pbuh!
    Although this saying needs to be explained and detailed, but so what?
    What if jews told you that their bible had been existed before your god was even born, what are you gonna do?

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