Monday, December 1, 2014

The Mighty Works of Jesus Christ

I am thinking about what in Jesus gave rise to the very early and 'high' belief in Jesus' sharing the identity of the God of Israel which we find in the writings of the New Testament. The sceptical revisionist may disbelieve the faith of the Bible, but then has the puzzle of accounting for an unlikely belief by Jews of that era.
These blog thoughts are jottings, not a fully developed essay. Still, here's a start.
Jesus' miracles, also attested in the earliest strands of the tradition, pointed in the direction of his Divine sonship. H.P. Liddon summed up this fact: " The four Evangelists, amid their distinguishing peculiarities, concur in representing a Christ whose life is encased in a setting of miracles." 
He did works that were seen to be the work of God. It was these miracles, especially his own Resurrection, that formed the basis for the earliest proclamation about Jesus (1 Cor. 15).
It was not only his miraculous works (some of which were paralleled by other healers on record), but the way he did then, the number of them, the startling degree of power and the attribution of them to his special oneness with the Father (see Jn 10:38) , that combined to lead his witnesses to the conclusion of his nature.
Now the revisionists will dispute the historicity of these accounts, but the great miracle of the Resurrection is still found in the earliest tradition (see 1 Cor. 15), at a time when many eye-witnesses of Jesus were still alive.
In this matter the paths of the readers diverge, depending on assumptions about nature and the possibility of the larger "Nature" (Supernatural). If you don't believe a priori in the possibility of the miraculous, then the narratives will be explained away. However, it is worth noting the work of Craig Keener about the reality of solid claims to miraculous experiences. His substantial, two-volume work should be reckoned with in this question. (See also
The miracles of Jesus are of a kind and number beyond other historically-attested figures. It is also hard to remove the miracles from the story of Jesus and make sense of the other attributions to his Divine nature and uniqueness.
The remarkable claim of the New Testament writers about Jesus's unique Divine Sonship is in harmony with the  testimony to his remarkable, Divine works of power.

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