mikedsjr wrote:So this my starting point for Jesus' divinity. My first case. This, at the very least, supports the Liar, Lunatic or Lord case.
1. Do you agree Jesus uses the same I AM from Exodus 3:14 to profess who he is in John 8:58 to the Jews, who then pick up stones?
2. Do you agree that John 10:33 is claiming the Jews are seeking to stone Him for claiming Himself as God?
Ok, good starting point. And to answer both of the above. The short answer would be no, but it's more complicated than that, so I'll go into detail below on each verse:
1) John 8:58
John most likely used the LXX as his version of Scripture as acknowledged by Dunn:
Dunn, Christology in the Making; pg 14 wrote:It is evident that the LXX is the Bible of the fourth evangelist. This Greek translation is the source of the large majority of John’s OT quotations, not only the three quotations that agree entirely with the LXX (10:34; 12:38; 19:24), but also – with various degrees of certainty – of the quotations in 1:23; 2:17; 6:31, 45; 7:38; 12:15; 15:25; 19:36.
And if that is the case, then unfortunately the Ex 3:14 argument has a difficult obstacle to overcome. The LXX version of Ex 3:14 says:
Ex 3:14 LXX wrote:And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am <EGO EIMI> THE BEING <HO ON>; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING <HO ON> has sent me to you.
The reason this is significant is that the Greek terms are different. Jesus says in Jn 8:58 "I am" ("ego eimi
") and God claims in Ex 3:14 to be "The Being" ("ho on
") or other translations translate it "the One Who Is". This significant
discrepancy is evidenced by most early church fathers who quoted the verse (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV
, Chpt XIII; Origen, Against Celsus
, Book VIII, Chpt XII; Novation, Concerning the Trinity
, Chpt XV). The argument was made by them that this verse proved the pre-existence of Jesus, but the early apologists who were reading the text in Greek had no idea of this alleged claim to be YHWH.
What makes this modern argument even more difficult to subscribe to is this later interpretation of what was "obviously" meant by Jesus with his use of the phrase "I am" doesn't appear to be all that evident to those religious leaders at the time. Let's look at the context a few verses earlier to apparently the same religious leaders:
John 8:24-25 NASB wrote:"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He <EGO EIMI>, you will die in your sins." So they were saying to Him, "Who are You?" Jesus said to them, "What have I been saying to you from the beginning?”
So in spite of the fact that Jesus says the exact same thing 34 verses earlier, you don't hear modern orthodoxy espousing this verse because it doesn't help their argument. Jesus says "I am" and the religious leaders extremely versed in the names of YHWH respond, "Who are you?"
2) John 10:33
My initial response to this verse is absolutely the religious leaders thought that by claiming that He and His Father were "One" that this was a claim to be "God." That is evidenced in the text. The question I have is "Were they right?" The best way to answer that question is to look at Jesus' response, which is remarkably left out of almost every orthodox commentary you'll find on this subject (even your context above):
John 10:34-36 wrote:34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? 35If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken—36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?”
I believe the majority of theologians leave out Jesus’ response because it is, in their opinion, unnecessary to hear what Jesus says about the accusation against Him. This oversite is largely because these theologians agree that “oneness” infers equality as the Jewish leaders did here. Except it looks above that the Jewish leaders thought Jesus meant “I and the Father are one and the same” because they accused Him of claiming to be God, who they knew to be solely “the Father,” better known as YHWH. So they only could have thought Jesus was claiming to be the Father, not united with the Father as a triune yet singular God as Christian orthodoxy would speculate a few hundred years later. They could only have been anti-Modalism, not anti-Trinitarianism.
And so before we jump on the bandwagon, claiming that these Jewish leaders were accurate in their assessment of Jesus’ claims, know that they must have thought that He was claiming to be the Father, not just united with Him. In defense of the Jewish leaders Jesus encountered though, they weren’t privy to Jesus’ prayer, as recorded by John in chapter 17 of his Gospel a few chapters later, where Jesus conveys to us His definition of this “oneness” that He spoke of in verse 30 above. Many modern theologians, on the other hand, seem to be intentionally avoiding this clarifying prayer in John, and somehow believe that the accusation of these Jewish men who believed that Jesus was claiming to be the Father somehow supports their theories. So it seems that the Jewish leaders perceived that Jesus was making a different claim than Trinitarians believe He was making in regards to His “oneness” with the Father. But this doesn’t stop modern orthodoxy from soliciting the opinions of these accusers in support of their theories. So in reality, modern orthodoxy doesn’t agree with these Jewish leaders after all. They don’t believe Jesus was claiming to be the Father either. So they also actually recognize Jesus’ claim to be “united” with His Father in spite of the fact that they petition this verse to support their theory that Jesus was somehow equal to “God” as well because He claims He and His Father are united. So now that neither Trinitarians nor non-Trinitarians believe that Jesus was claiming to be the Father with this claim to be “one” with Him, Jesus’ response to this accusation of deity becomes extremely significant.
Jesus responds to their charge of blasphemy first with a quotation from the Old Testament. The “Most High,” or God, is presiding over a court of “gods,” or judges, where He is reprimanding them for unjust practices:
Psalm 82:6-7 wrote:"I said, ‘You are "gods" <ELOHIYM>; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”
But Jesus claims in John above, as paraphrased, “if your Scripture calls the sons of the Most High ‘gods’ to whom God’s Word came, would it be blasphemy for me also, as God’s Son, to be called a ‘god’?” He then goes on to clarify, again paraphrased, “and regardless, just for clarity, what I claimed was, that I am ‘God’s Son,’ so why would that be considered blasphemy?” Jesus "answers
" them and dissents directly to their accusation of claiming to be God, and seems to believe that claiming to be God’s Son should not be considered blasphemy, or a claim to be “God” for that matter, unless you are referring to the use of the term “god” that the other “sons of the Most High” are described as being in Psalm. And in that case, He is a “god” in the same way that they were “gods,” solely because they have been given authority from the one true God
, but neither would be considered equal to this one true God