Jesus, John, and History


If you want to learn more about how world class biblical scholars view the gospel of John then this lecture by Dr James D. G. Dunn is highly informative. Like most New Testament scholars Dunn is a believing Christian. However, as a distinguished scholar he acknowledges that Jesus could not have said the famous self-identifying assertions in the gospel of John – the I am sayings:

I am the way, the truth, and the life.

Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

I am the light of the world.

I am the bread of life.

I am the resurrection and the life.

These utterances were created (ie invented) by the author of John’s gospel. They do not go back to Jesus. How so? See Dunn’s argument from 13 minutes onwards. His conclusion is shared by at least 99% of mainstream critical scholars.



Categories: Bible, Christianity, Christology, Gospels, New Testament scholarship

34 replies

  1. When I last discussed the “I AM” statements with Ken Temple on this blog he stated that only the divine will spoke the “I AM” statements not the human will. With this in mind i feel it proves that the “I AM” statements even if they happened are not unique in concept nor definite proof of divinity. After all, if its just the divine speaking through/overwhelming the human nature, how is that any different from other prophets?

    Liked by 3 people

    • the difference is the divine word speaking through the prophets (who remained completely human) in contrast to the Divine itself inhabiting a human being, God in human flesh. A significant ontological difference.

      Liked by 2 people

      • @Paul Williams

        True, but my point is the “proof” aspect of the “I AM” statements. As Christians seem to take the “I AM” statements as an indicator of such a ontological occurrence. Even though were they honest they’d have to apply the same standards to other prophets and even angels.

        Liked by 1 person

    • You are seeking to divide up Jesus too much and yet He is one Person with 2 natures. The virgin conception and birth points to this – even Islam acknowledges the virgin birth.

      You have to ask yourselves – “what was the purpose of Jesus being born of a virgin?” (Surah 3, 19)

      The purpose points to the Incarnation, the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, the 2 natures of Christ. God the Father is the father of Jesus (spiritual, no sex). Jesus is the eternal Son (John 17:5) and eternal Word (John 1:1-5, 14; Philippians 2:5-8) – even Islam calls Jesus, “the Word of God” – kalimat Allah” کلمه الله

      Like

      • @Ken Temple

        Hi Ken thank you for you’re comment. i’m afraid i don’t understand, how exactly am i “dividing up the persons” in my initial comment when i was using what you told me before as the basis? Are you suggesting then that you yourself divided the natures in saying that one acted while the other didn’t? Because if so, thank you that’s what i’ve been saying for awhile now in my discussions with you. If not then please correct me. Also i have to ask what then, would be an acceptable amount of dividing if what i (and by extension you) did was “too much?”

        please reply when you have the time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “dividing the persons” = ? (plural ?)

        no

        “you are seeking to divide the person of Jesus too much”

        He is one person with 2 natures. That’s it.
        you cannot divide Him up.
        Scripture demonstrates this.
        The Virgin conception of Christ points to this also.
        He got His human nature from Mary and God the Father by His power (Luke 1:34-35) and the Holy Spirit conceived Him in the womb of Mary – by God’s power and ability to do this, without any sex or physical touching, etc. – “the power of the Most High will come upon you, and the Holy Spirit will overshadow you” (Luke 1:34-35)
        harmonizes with John 1:1; 14; Philippians 2:5-8

        Like

      • @Ken Temple

        Apologies i meant “dividing up the natures” (I seem to keep typing person instead of nature in these instances) Apologies for the error on my part there but please do try to answer the rest of my questions without that error hampering you. as you’re reply doesn’t really answer my questions i’ll post them again without the error this time.

        1. how exactly am i “dividing up the natures” in my initial comment when i was using what you told me before as the basis?

        2.Are you suggesting then that you yourself divided the natures in saying that one acted while the other didn’t? Because if so, thank you! That’s what i’ve been saying for awhile now in my discussions with you. If not then please correct me.

        3. Also i have to ask what then, would be an acceptable amount of dividing if what i (and by extension you) did was “too much?”

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are right; I should not have tried to divide the 2 natures from one another from the unity of the one person of Jesus Christ.

        They are distinquished, but not divided; we worship the one person of Jesus Christ as a unified person, but only because He is Deity from eternity past who became a human in time, – because of His eternality, Deity, we worship Him – John 1:1; John 17:5 (eternally with the Father with same glory); etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Ken Temple

        Also since in my last discussion with you ended without an answer to some questions, i’ll post them here in addition to ones i’ve asked you today.

        4. isn’t you’re worship of only one nature of the hypostatic union separating the natures?

        5. Actually i did some digging and some Christians are of the opinion that you don’t worship the natures, you worship the persons themselves.

        such as here https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2015/is-worship-of-jesus-idolatry

        “It needs only to be added that we as Christians worship the person Jesus Christ. We do not worship his nature(s); we worship him. We don’t worship God’s properties; we worship Him. Since Christ is a divine person, and since there is no person who is Christ and is human, there just is no room at all for idolatry.”

        you’re thoughts on that Ken?

        Like

      • @Ken Temple

        “You are right; I should not have tried to divide the 2 natures from one another from the unity of the one person of Jesus Christ.

        They are distinquished, but not divided; we worship the one person of Jesus Christ as a unified person, but only because He is Deity from eternity past who became a human in time, – because of His eternality, Deity, we worship Him – John 1:1; John 17:5 (eternally with the Father with same glory); etc”

        since you admitted you’re past answer to my question was wrong i feel i must ask again,

        A. When the divine nature uttered the “I AM” statements what was the human nature doing?

        B. When you worship the “godman” is he still fully human when receiving worship?

        please answer when you have the time Ken.

        Like

      • And this marks like the 5th time that Kennywise has been tripped up by Vaqas on the issue of the trinity. It shows that even die-hard trinitarians don’t have the first clue on how to justify their pagan trinitarianism.

        I’m telling you Vaqas. You keep this up and you will become a legend in the glorious field of trinity-busting, inshaAllah.

        Liked by 3 people

      • @ QB

        Gotta agree that’s a Trinity slayer right there.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I have a feeling that Kennywise will pretend like he’s too “busy” and avoid this topic, as he has done in the past.

        Vaqas, whenever Kennywise shows his fat face, let him have it. Tell him to answer the unanswered questions about his trinity.

        Liked by 2 people

      • @Ken Temple

        So Ken, with our recent(though still unfinished) discussion in mind I wanted to pick you’re brain a little more.

        “A. Jesus is one unified person when He said, “I am” – but obviously that is a claim to be Yahweh ( I am that I am) and so it is only about His Divine Nature, even though He is one unified person.”

        so the human nature said the “I AM” statements but applied it only to the divine nature? you realize this makes it impossible to claim the “I AM” statements (if they even happened) are proofs of divinity right? for example let me give you two scenarios-

        1.a human Jesus(a.s) says the “I AM” statements but with the intention that they are applied to the father.

        2. a human Jesus(a.s) says the “I AM” statements but only because the father is speaking through him and is actually the one saying them.

        these scenarios are in the same formula as what you are suggesting. if i’m off base please feel free to correct me.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. ” Even though were they honest they’d have to apply the same standards to other prophets and even angels.”

    For example?

    Like

    • This video by Rabbi Tovia Singer gives examples of prophets, angels, and even the city of Jerusalem as being identified as God. Not only as “Elohim” but with sacred name as well.

      Jeremiah 33:16 is my favorite verse that illustrates this. https://biblehub.com/jeremiah/33-16.htm

      “in those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name with which she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.”

      Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

      (16) This is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.—It will be noticed that, while this reproduces the language of Jeremiah 23:6, it does so with a remarkable difference. There the title, “The Lord our Righteousness,” is given to the future King, and the passage has accordingly been used as a proof of the full divinity of the Christ, who is that King. Here it is given to the city, and, so given, can only mean that that name will be, as it were, the motto and watchword of her being. She will be a city marked by a righteousness which will be the gift of Jehovah; He will inscribe that name on her banners, and. grave it on her portals. It is obvious that this throws light on the meaning of the title as applied to the King.

      Pulpit Commentary

      Verse 16. – Wherewith she shall be called; viz. Jerusalem; in Jeremiah 23:6, the parallel passage, the subject is “Israel,” unless there is a corruption of the text. The Lord our righteousness; rather, The Lord (is) our righteousness.

      So when such language is applied to the messiah it means divinity. But when the same language is applied to the city suddenly its not literal…

      Liked by 3 people

      • Applied to the city………. in what sense?
        The name itself identifies the bearer of that righteousness.
        You guys are desperate to believe anything.

        Like

    • @Watson

      “Applied to the city………. in what sense?
      The name itself identifies the bearer of that righteousness.
      You guys are desperate to believe anything.”

      I assume you didn’t watch the video? Then let me ask you a question Waston. do you as many Christians do, hold Jeremiah 23:6 to be proof that the messiah will be divine?

      Like

    • @Watson

      So it’s been a few days Watson. Have you watched the video and considered my question?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did watch it. It was interesting. He tends to waffle on without making a point.

        Three angels is not a proof of the trinity. I have never seen it used that way.

        God seems to use agents to inflict evil. It was that way in Job’s case. God said he did it but it was clear that he used Satan to carry it out on his behalf.

        “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

        still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

        Does that mean that the agent can call itself God by name? No. Singers theory that creatures are called God because they do supernatural things on God’s behalf doesn’t work here because the one of the angels identifies himself with God to a point at which one is compelled to believe that it must be God himself who is speaking.

        So when the angels say that they will destroy Sodom and God will destroy Sodom they are just saying that they are God’s agents or instruments through which God works. The distinction between God and his finite creatures is not blurred in the process.

        Gen 18 v 1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

        2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

        Jehovah appeared to Abraham. That is a fact. He appeared personally. That can’t be something that someone else does on your behalf now can it?

        It appears that one of the angels was the Angel of the Lord, or the theophanic Jehovah, the Word who would be made flesh in the future.

        The other two angels were just “regular” angels, if one can use that word to describe such a creature.

        If the trinity is something that the church made up 300 years after it was first formed then surely the church has had enough time to scrap the doctrine and re-write the creeds has it not? But it hasn’t. It simply reaffirms the doctrine in each new generation.

        As far as Jeremiah goes I wouldn’t say that the verse by itself is incontrovertible proof that the Messiah is divine.

        One would have to know more fully why that name was given to him in the prophecy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ Watson

        Yes somebody can appear on your behalf we call this an “agent” nowadays i.e. a “messenger”

        It is something they came up with 300 years later. The “scrapping” of doctrines was the 300 years leading up to the adoption of the Trinity (which itself was almost scrapped when Constatine’s brother took power and threw it out)

        Liked by 2 people

    • @Watson

      Thank you for the reply.

      “Jehovah appeared to Abraham. That is a fact. He appeared personally. That can’t be something that someone else does on your behalf now can it?”

      It can. He appeared in the same way that he spoke to ahaz, through an intermediary. unless you want to argue that king ahaz received divine revelation everyone agrees that the prophet Isaiah(a.s) spoke to ahaz. What happened to Abraham(a.s) was the same only with an angel.

      “It appears that one of the angels was the Angel of the Lord, or the theophanic Jehovah, the Word who would be made flesh in the future.

      The other two angels were just “regular” angels, if one can use that word to describe such a creature.”

      That interpretation is not necessary as the context later on in the passage states that the angels were sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Therefore one of, if not both of the “LORD’S” in Genesis 19:24 are angels. Also the word angel means messenger so the messenger of the Lord being the lord himself is ridiculous.

      That’s the point that Rabbi Tovia singer and I were making. That angels, a prophet, and even a city can be called by the sacred name and still not be God.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The funny thing about the Genesis story is that “God” claims he has “come down” to see if Sodom and Gamorrah are as wicked as the stories have claimed. If “God” really was present with Abraham, then he is a god that is not at all omniscient. How that helps trinitarians like Iggy is beyond me.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Like most New Testament scholars Dunn is a believing Christian.

    How can he be a believing Christian, if he does not think the “I am” statements are historically true?

    Liberal theology and presuppositions guts the core out of the Christian faith.

    Like

    • It’s not ‘liberal theology’ but good historical analysis.

      Liked by 2 people

      • that kind of “historical analysis” has lots of assumptions and presuppositions along with it that don’t harmonize with God’s ability to inspire Scripture.

        So, how can he be a “believing” Christian ?

        Like

      • The assumptions are pretty normal in historical research. Your assumptions in the other hand hamper historical questions by assuming a priori all the important questions about authorship and historical reliability. So who wrote 2 Peter? No need to investigate. The text claims Petrine authorship. End of story! This is not how historians of the ancient world operate.

        Liked by 2 people

      • But the ability of God to inspire Scripture is also your assumption and presupposition about the Qur’an. Who wrote the Qur’an? Allah ! Al-hamdule’Allah! no need to investigate. End of story. . .

        no . . . it is obvious it is not inspired by God because of so much that is obviously from apocryphal gospels, heretics, Jewish Midrash, and legends and fables (the cave of seven sleepers, etc.)

        But in the Muslim world, scholarship that questions the Qur’an is not allowed. Remember students who threw a professor out the window in Egypt a few years ago? (for using these kinds of anti-supernatural presuppositions and questioning.)

        There are verses in the Qur’an that say “don’t question too much”

        Only in the west where there is freedom to think and question and investigate and also accountability for wrongs and secrets (your video rant against Muslims who are afraid to speak out or hypocrites to not call out bad or terrorist leaning Muslims, etc.)

        Like

      • Just right wing American propaganda 🙄

        Liked by 2 people

      • Peter obviously used an amanuensis (secretary who had authority to correct grammar and style, after writing down what the author orally spoke – he says this in 1 Peter 5:12; and since Peter did this in 1 Peter, it is reasonable and logical that he also did this in 2 Peter, and given the similarities with Jude, and that Jude is the half-brother of Jesus – Jude could have listened to Peter dictate the details orally to him from prison or close to that time, and Jude or Jude got a Greek writer (amanuensis) to write it out – so that the Petrine and apostolic authority is behind the content.

        Like

      • What a dizzying intellect Kennywise possesses! 😂 “Let’s just assume it happened this way because who needs evidence?”

        More likely, Peter had nothing to do with 2 Peter, because it was written long after he was dead. It explains why the author went to such lengths to explain why the world hadn’t ended yet, as people were expecting. This wouldn’t have been necessary if Peter was still alive.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Surah 5:101(don’t ask too many questions – it will distress and upset and hurt you) and 33:36 (cannot question Muhammad’s decision in a matter) created environment in Islam against asking too many questions.

    Many Muslims have told me this.

    Like

  5. @ Ken
    Nobody cares what alleged “Muslims” told you. You simply don’t follow any type of law from God (other than your feelings) so don’t understand the meaning of both ayah:

    5:101. Believers, do not ask about matters which, if they are made known to you, might make things difficult for you or you would not like it. If you ask about them while the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be made known to you. God has already forgiven those kinds of questions, because God is the Most Forgiving and Understanding..
    5:102. These kinds of questions were asked by people who came before your time, and they then became disbelievers because of them.

    Obviously referring to asking questions to make things harder for everyone instead of following a simple command. An example of this would be the Jews and the Sabbath. The rule is simply don’t go to work on the Sabbath. They upped it to 39 things that branch off into more by asking a bunch of questions (usually without the intent to even follow it) :

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activities_prohibited_on_Shabbat#The_commandment

    And then most fail to keep it and the ones that do have to go through unnecessary difficulties. That’s asking too many questions. Next one quoted:

    33:36. When God and His Messenger have decided on a matter that concerns them, it’s not appropriate for any believing man or believing woman to claim freedom of choice in that matter ˹because˺ whoever disobeys God and His Messenger is far astray .

    Obviously if God says something humans don’t really have a choice. Prophets have also been given authority to make their opinions binding. If they make a mistake God Himself will correct it otherwise wise one has to do it. However God also says about this:

    3:161. It is not for any prophet to swindle or exploit others. Anyone who does so will carry it with them on the Day of Resurrection, when every soul will be repaid for what it’s done and no one will be done wrong

    A prophet is sent to deliver God’s communications and be obeyed as he is speaking on His behalf. This would be akin to if a woman listens to her husband (who is not telling her to sin) even though she disagreed with his opinion because he has been given the authority to do so. If he does something wrong or exploitive the sin falls on him alone.

    Anyways, you simply cannot argue with a prophet on a matter. For example, if Jesus(as) himself were to come back and say Muslims must come to city x it becomes a sin not to do so as he has the authority to give this command.

    Liked by 3 people

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