The gospel traditions in the New Testament portray Jesus as teacher, prophet, Messiah, Son of God, Son of man, and therefore one who has come to bring to fulfilment God's plan for his people both by his actions and by his words. 'No man spoke as this man', said his audience. He shocked people by forgiving sins. He faced a rising tide of hostility from conservative experts on the Law of Moses which showed how things would end, but in Mark 10: 45 foretold that he would be giving his life as a ransom for many. The authority with which he taught was derived from certainty that he was speaking for God his Father. In the synoptic gospels he is not described as God nor did he call himself God. But a very short time elapsed before the disciples felt sure that in him God had visited his people. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that in him God was reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor. 5: 19). In Philippians 2 terms applied to Jesus are taken from Isaiah's language about Yahweh. In St John's prologue he is the divine Word (Logos) who was made flesh and brought 'grace and truth' in contrast with Moses who brought the law. To see Jesus is to see the Father. The first chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews has polemic against the evaluation of Jesus as a ministering angel.
The synoptic gospels present a man, though one through whom miracles may be wrought. In Luke the child grew in wisdom. In Mark he is ignorant when the end will come, and on the cross experienced a sense of dereliction, which his dying would certainly have meant to his then disillusioned disciples. Even in St John's gospel 'Jesus wept'. Any Gentile educated in the liberal arts and in the commonplaces of eclectic Stoic and Platonic philosophy would be aware that ascribing to a divine figure the capacity to be ignorant or to suffer was stretching accepted ideas to breaking point, unless one could use the analogy of heroes like Dionysus or Heracles who heroically suffered and struggled to the benefit of the human race and were rewarded with
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Publication information: Book title: The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great. Contributors: Henry Chadwick - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 515.
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