“The God Who Wasn’t There” and Jesus

Recently I’ve seen adverts and trailers all over the internet for a forthcoming film called “The God Who Wasn’t There“, which claims to do for religion what “Supersize Me” did for fast food. I checked it out, but I don’t think I’ll be parting with the Student Loan Company’s money to go and see it any time soon.

It really surprised me that the filmmakers claim that the early church were “unaware of the idea of a human Jesus” and (I surmise) that the gospel traditions that have Jesus being a real human being are therefore secondary. Logically, I guess, they must then proceed down the “Jesus never existed” avenue, which I really wasn’t expecting from something trying to portray itself as based on legitimate scholarship.

I’d be interested to know how the filmmakers substantiate their claim that the early church did not think of Jesus as being a human being, though. Usually the objection is the other way around – that Jesus’ earliest followers did not think he was a God!

Justin Martyr mentions in his second-century Dialogue with Trypho that he believes Christ to be both man and divine. Interestingly, he mentions that some “of his race” (either Christians, or Greeks more generally) struggle with the idea, but from the angle of ‘How could Jesus be divine?’ rather than ‘Was Jesus human?’.

Now assuredly, Trypho, [the proof] that this man is the Christ of God does not fail, though I be unable to prove that He existed formerly as Son of the Maker of all things, being God, and was born a man by the Virgin. But since I have certainly proved that this man is the Christ of God, whoever He be, even if I do not prove that He pre-existed, and submitted to be born a man of like passions with us, having a body, according to the Father’s will; in this last matter alone is it just to say that I have erred, and not to deny that He is the Christ, though it should appear that He was born man of men, and [nothing more] is proved [than this], that He has become Christ by election. For there are some, my friends, of our race, who admit that He is Christ, while holding Him to be man of men; with whom I do not agree, nor would I, even though most of those who have [now] the same opinions as myself should say so; since we were enjoined by Christ Himself to put no faith in human doctrines, but in those proclaimed by the blessed prophets and taught by Himself.
(Dialogue, 48:2 – emphasis mine)

Clement of Rome writes at the end of the first century AD that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham:

From him [Abraham] also was descended our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh…
1Clement 32

Of course, this is nothing that the New Testament authors have not already taught- Clement is alluding to Romans 9:5 which also calls Jesus “God”. Moments after describing Christ’s divine status and preeminence over all creation in Colossians 1, Paul can talk about his “body of flesh”, his afflictions and his death. The same divine-and-human Jesus is seen in Philippians 2. Disagree with the early church if you will, but don’t claim that they were unaware of the idea of a human Jesus, or, for that matter, of a divine Jesus.

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2 Responses to ““The God Who Wasn’t There” and Jesus”

  1. Benjamin Steele Says:

    Probably the best argument for a non-human Jesus is made by Earl Doherty. He has written a book about this, but his argument is extensively detailed on his website.

    http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/

    You may disagree with the argument, but it is logical and plausible. Doherty supports his view with New Testament scholarship.

    For further scholarly support of a non-historical Jesus, read Robert M. Price’s “Deconstructing Jesus” and D.M. Murdock’s “Who Was Jesus?”

  2. peacecrusader Says:

    20100228.2220

    The uncorrupted book of Revelation of the Holy Bible clearly reveals who the true God is. He is Jesus Christ. You may read about His deity at http://peacecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/is-jesus-christ-true-god-and-true-man/ using the book of Revelation.

    With love, your brother in Jesus,
    Aristeo Canlas Fernando, Peace Crusader and Echo of the Holy Spirit
    Motto: pro aris et focis (for the sake of, or defense of, religion and home)
    http://aristean.org/ and http://peacecrusader.wordpress.com/
    “The Internet is mightier than the sword.”

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