Friday, September 27

Exegesis on Early Christian Christology

In the introductory chapter of the book of Hebrews, curious comments are made in reference to Jesus of Nazareth, where he is called “God.” Assuming Pauline authorship of Hebrews simply for the sake of tradition and ease (recognizing issues with Pauline authorship), we find the notion of Jesus as God elsewhere in the New Testament. Popular notions put forth in works such as Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code place the consideration of Jesus as God in the early AD 300s. As a result, public opinion has continued to propagate this idea.

Theologically and philosophically, the notion of Jesus having a divine nature is a separate matter. Whether or not he was actually considered a god by followers prior to the Council of Nicaea is a matter of primary focus, and too often the claim is made that he was not before any actual historical research occurs.

The letter to the Hebrews appears to be primarily written to a Jewish audience. St. Paul assumes that his audience is familiar with many Jewish concepts found within the Hebrew Bible, such as the covenant given to Moses, the figure of Melchizedek, along with many other figures from the Hebrew Bible.

My methodology is a historical approach. Utilizing different Christian, Jewish and Pagan sources, we attempt to determine how early the belief in Jesus as God is. By tracing the belief backward in time, we can gain further elucidation into the issue and allow for a clearer understanding of the topic and provide us with what some may consider a startling conclusion. The question to ask then would be, was Jesus only considered God during the AD 300s, or did this belief arise in the early days of Christianity, possibly even during the life of Jesus himself?

Scripture under consideration: Hebrews 1:8-12
Scripture under scrutiny: Hebrews 1:1-4, 13:8; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-16; 1st Corinthians 8:6
Firm Foundations
Christology is essentially the study of the nature and person of Jesus of Nazareth, generally in relation to the Father, but also regarding Jesus’ nature, whether God or man or both. Before we attempt to understand early Christology of believers, it would be beneficial to examine the Jewish view of God. Indeed, the majority of Jesus’ early followers as well as those converted posthumously were Jewish; hence, the Jewish body of believers was bringing with them their belief in Yahweh. Even in the Pentateuch we find the express statement still upheld by most Jews, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4), known as the Shema Yisreal. There are a myriad of similar references before and after in the Hebrew Bible, many of which are found in Isaiah. This monotheistic belief was carried over into New Testament times.

In fact, we still see the notion of “one God” present throughout the New Testament itself. Jesus also taught that there was one God (Mark 12:29), as did the teachers of his time (12:32). Monotheism is also present in St. Paul’s letters (1st Corinthians. 8:4-6; Galatians 3:20; 1st Timothy 2:5, etc.) as well as St. James’ letter (James 2:19), Jude’s letter (Jude 25) among others. Intertestamental material also demonstrates the Jewish belief in one God (Ecclesiasticus 36:5; 2nd Maccabees 7:37, etc.). To be fair, Jewish mysticism may allow for more than one god, but Orthodox Judaism is monotheistic. With this in mind, we can then examine what the New Testament along with outside sources tells us about early Christology.

Non-Biblical Considerations of Early Christology
When we examine early Christology, there are two things to bear in mind. First, what do we mean by “early?” Second, whose Christology? Gnostic, Ebionite, Orthodox and other early Christian sects held different beliefs about Jesus. Concerning the first, “early” refers to Jesus’ life until the late 2nd century (c.AD 30/33-190). Regarding the second, the primary focus is that of Orthodoxy, as the letters we find within the canonical New Testament are considered Orthodox. Subsequently, it would also be beneficial to examine some of what the other sects were saying, because it would show early belief in the divinity of Jesus. Clearly, early Christians believed that Jesus was a man. The sects differed on the exact nature of his earthly existence, but there was a general consensus that he either was a man in part or had the likeness of a man, but was actually a spirit in a human body or an illusion. In Orthodoxy, Jesus came to be regarded as the “Godman,” both fully God and fully man. But how early did this develop, and can it be clearly seen in non-biblical references along with the book of Hebrews and other canonical Scriptures?

Melito of Sardis, who died about AD 180 – and hence lived prior to the date – wrote one of the most eloquent homilies we have. Sardis is in Asia Minor, giving us another testimony to the notion. For Melito, Jesus was God himself, more than just the “Passover lamb.” He identified Jesus as being “by nature God and man,” and noted that “the almighty God has made his dwelling through Christ Jesus” (On the Passover 8; 45). Melito also wrote that “He who fastened the universe has been fastened to a tree [crucified]; the Sovereign has been insulted; the God has been murdered” (On the Passover 96). On the Passover was written about AD 170.

Athenagoras, in c.AD 178 wrote a work titled Embassy for Christians. In it we find a deeper understanding of Trinitarianism forming, although it should be noted that the term “Trinity” is never used either in the Latin (trinitas – first used by Tertullian c.AD 220) nor the Greek (trias – first used by Theophilus c.AD 168-183). According to Athenagoras, Christians spoke of “God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Embassy 10), and noted that there is “one God, uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is apprehended by the understanding only and the reason… the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in oneness and power of Spirit” (Embassy 10). Embassy 24 also demonstrates intimations of Trinitarian thought, “We say that there is God and the Son, his Word, and the Holy Spirit, united in power yet distinguished in rank…”

Irenaeus, at the close of the second century also referred to Jesus as theos. He taught that “God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin” (Against Heresies 3.21.1). In response to the Ebionites, Irenaeus writes, “how can they be saved unless it was God who wrought out their salvation upon earth?” (4.33.4). He also taught that “thus God is shown to be one according to the essence of His being in power; but at the same time, as the administrator of the economy of our redemption, He is both Father and Son” (Proof of Apostolic Preaching 47).

Justin Martyr (AD 150s-160s) also refers to Jesus as God. In his Dialogue with Trypho he calls Jesus our “Lord and God” (129). He later conveys to Trypho, “If you had understood what has been written by the prophets, you would not have denied that He was God, the Son of the only, unbegotten, unutterable God” (emphasis mine; 126). Justin uses Logos several times in his work. He also identified Jesus as the “Angel of the Lord” who appeared to Abraham, Moses and others, along with the title “I am that I am” (1st Apology 59; 63; 75). Philo of Alexandria also spoke of the “Logos,” but not in the same context utilized in the Johannine works (John 1; 1st John 1:1; Revelation 19:13) and Justin Martyr’s works (cf. Dialogue 55-56; 60).

Ignatius, who was a student of John the disciple and therefore part of the Johannine community, lived about AD 35-108. While the dates of his birth and death are a bit debatable (some hold that he was born around AD 50 and died about AD 117), three important references from his works are relevant to the topic. Ignatius referred to Jesus as theos on about a dozen occasions. For example, in his letter to the Romans Ignatius writes, “our God Jesus Christ, [who] is in the Father” (8:3). Here, Jesus is called God. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Ignatius called him “God come in the flesh” (7:2), and also referred to the “blood of God” (1:1), by which he meant the blood of Christ. In his letter to Polycarp he writes, “I pray for your happiness forever in our God, Jesus Christ” (Polycarp 8). He elsewhere refers to “Christ our God” (Smyrnaeans 1:1; 10:1). Also, the Gnostic Treatise on the Resurrection refers to Jesus as both Son of God and Son of Man, “possessing both the humanity and the divinity” (44).

One of our earliest non-biblical references is found in a letter written by Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger), who was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor c.AD 112. In this letter addressed to Emperor Trajan (AD 98-112), he writes that that the Christians “were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god” (emphasis mine, Epistle X.96). Evidently by AD 112 the Christians in Asia Minor had been worshiping Jesus as a god, according to Pliny. There are also various other references to Jesus as God in the second century. Polycarp (c.AD 115) referred to “our Lord and God Jesus Christ” (Philippians 12:2). In a Syriac version of the Apology by Aristides written about AD 125 we read, “it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh” (2).In the Sibylline Oracles, book 6 we read, “O blessed tree, on which God was hung!” The Epistle to Diognetus 7 says, “As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so God sent Him (Jesus Christ). He sent Him as God.” Also, the Address to the Greeks from Tatian notes that “God was born in the form of a man” (21). 2nd Clement 1:1 says, “Brothers, we must think about Jesus as we think about God” (written c.AD 150).

Along with many other Gnostic texts, by about AD 100 there appears to be a belief held by at least some members of the church that Jesus was God. The 2nd and 3rd centuries onward are replete with references to Jesus as God or as a god, particularly from the Gnostics. So much so, apparently, that a third-century writer as quoted by Eusebius asserts of a series of teachers in the second-century “in all of whose work Christ is spoken of as God” (Ecclesiastical History 5:28). The Johannine works found in the New Testament - John, 1st-3rd John and Revelation – make several clear references to the divinity and humanity of Jesus, as has been recognized by both Christian and non-Christian scholars. While these works were likely written in the late 1st century, between AD 86-95, this does not negate the notion that Jesus could have been considered God earlier than the 80s. The question remains, then – was Jesus considered God (or a god) prior to the AD 80s?

The Christology of Hebrews
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.”
Hebrews 1:1-4

“But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’ He also says, ‘In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.’”
Hebrews 1:8-12

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
         Hebrews 13:8

While there may be other relevant passages in the book of Hebrews, these three citations are sufficient to demonstrate the overall Christology of the work. The first verse is sometimes considered an early Christological hymn. Here, Jesus is identified as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,” and as the one “through whom also he made the universe.” Elsewhere the canonical New Testament writings call Jesus “Christ, who is the image of God” (2nd Corinthians 4:4), as well as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Hebrews was likely written between AD 60-96, possibly in Italy (Hebrews 13:24), with 2nd Corinthians dated to about AD 55 and Colossians to AD 60. These references do not implicitly call Jesus “God” but rather “the image” or the “exact representation” of God.

This has often been compared to the Wisdom of God. The concept of the Wisdom or “Word” of God is seen in later wisdom literature. Philo of Alexandria, a 1st century Jewish philosopher, is known for discussing the Wisdom/Logos. The process of describing this Logos took on a form of hypostatization, wherein it became a personal entity within God, somewhat like how later Trinitarian doctrine held that the Son and Spirit were one with the Father. This concept can also be seen in the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon (100 BC-40 AD), where we read, “For in wisdom there is a spirit intelligent and holy, unique in its kind yet made up of many parts… Like a fine mist she rises from the power of God, a pure effluence from the glory of the Almighty… She is the brightness that streams from [or is the reflection of] everlasting light, the flawless mirror of the active power of God and the image of his goodness” (Wisdom 7:25-26).

Clearly, the concept of a personal entity within God is not without precedence. Outside of the Johannine works, a high Christology of Jesus is sparse but non non-existent. Some references can be found in the Pauline and Petrine works, along with various instances in the gospels and elsewhere in the New Testament documents. Before considering the second of the Hebrews citations, it is relevant to consider the third, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is often referred to as immutability, and is typically paired with several texts from the Hebrew Bible, such as Malachi 3:6, “I the LORD do not change,” “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind (1st Samuel 15:29).

Next, we consider the second and perhaps most relevant citation, that of Hebrews 1:8-12. Here, Psalm 45:6-7 and Psalm 102:25-27 (traditionally attributed to the sons of Korah and David, respectively) are quoted. F.F. Bruce once replied to the claim that the author of Hebrews did not consider Jesus to be God. However, it is significant that the citation was used in the first place, indicating that the author (presumably St. Paul, Barnabas or Apollos) saw nothing wrong with the usage of this title for Jesus. The title “God” is an old English word that developed from an Indo-European word, which means “that which is invoked.” The Indo-European word is also the linguistic ancestor for the German word “Gott” as well as the Danish “Gud,” which both mean “God.”

Referring to the quotation utilized in Hebrews 1:8, the early church historian Eusebius (AD 263-339) in his Ecclesiastical History commented, “In the first line the passage calls Him God; in the second it honours Him with a royal scepter; then next, after divine and royal power, it goes on in the third place to portray Him as having become Christ, anointed not with oil made of physical substance but with the divine oil of gladness. Furthermore, it signifies the special distinction that makes Him far superior to and quite different from those who in earlier ages had received in imagery a more physical chrism” (3.15). In other words, the author of Hebrews evidently felt that there was nothing wrong with ascribing the title of “God” to Jesus of Nazareth. There is another way of translation this passage, used by Jehovah’s Witnesses for doctrinal purposes, “God is your throne forever and ever” (New World Translation), neglecting to remove the proceeding section that implies the author’s view of Jesus divine nature. This translation is not generally agreed upon by scholars, and it is worth noting that the quotation is from the Hebrew Bible, and the fact remains that the reading of “Your throne, O God…” is found in the Psalms as is.

As a result, it appears as though the Hebraic author considered Jesus to be “God.” From the quotation (which itself derives from the Psalms) alone we can determine that Jesus was considered God (v.8-9), he was considered the creator (v.10), and unchanging (v.11-12; cf. 13:8). While it is also true that Hebrews emphasis the human nature of Jesus in various places, it also places a distinct emphasis on his divine nature. Hebrews 2:9, which is similar to the Philippians 2 Christological hymn which we will come back to shortly, records, “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Setting the author’s words against the view of Jesus as an angel, in the first two chapters of the sermon or homily, he (or she) establishes the notion that Jesus is not an angel, and is in fact superior to angels and men alike. But if Hebrews was written sometime between AD 60-95, do we have any earlier material found in the New Testament?

Other Biblical Considerations of Early Christology
The New Testament refers to Psalm 110:1 over a half dozen times in reference to Jesus. It reads, “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” It appears to be one of the most alluded to and quoted verses from the Hebrew Bible found within the New Testament, along with its “twin,” Psalm 8:6. Whether or not modern readers believe that Psalm 110 is a reference to the Trinity or Jesus’ deity is irrelevant. The point is not in modern interpretation, but the way in which the passage was used by early Christians. During the Second Temple age, Christians were about the only group using this passage, supported by the fact that the Jewish literature of the time has nearly no allusions to the passage.

Also, the aforementioned Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is relevant to this topic. During the time of Jesus and Paul, the Shema was recited thrice a day. It was recited not only as a reminder of God as well as what he had done for Israel in the past, but also as a rejection of the pagan deities. As traditional authorship of Hebrews is given to Paul, it would be pertinent to examine other Pauline writings. It is generally agreed, for example, that Paul wrote 1st Corinthians. From this letter we can see that early Christians (or at least Paul) utilized the Shema and inserted a reference to Jesus. 1st Corinthians 8:6 says, “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”

In essence, St. Paul is claiming that Jesus is God, the Creator, and also explicitly noting that Christians nevertheless remain monotheistic. Jesus was not a new god, but was a manifestation of the God of Israel. According to scholar Richard Bauckham, “Paul has in fact reproduced all the words about YHWH in the Shema…, but Paul has rearranged the words in such a way as to produce an affirmation of both one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ. It should be quite clear that Paul is including the Lord Jesus Christ in the unique divine identity.” Reflections of this belief are seen elsewhere in Paul’s writings. 1st Corinthians 10:4 implies Jesus’ involvement with the Israelites in the desert, as a pre-existent figure. There are two explicit references where Jesus is called “God” in Pauline writings, but on the basis of textual or interpretative grounds these are sometimes dismissed.

These two passages are Romans 9:5 and Titus 2:13. Some manuscripts of Romans 9:5 say, “…the Messiah, who is God over all” (emphasis mine). Concerning Titus 2:13 we read, “while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (emphasis mine; cf. 2nd Peter 1:1). On textual grounds it is difficult to say whether or not these were the original readings. However, it is significant that if both readings are genuine (with the assumption of Pauline authorship for Titus), the letters were written between AD 57-64, with scholars usually dating Romans to the late 50s. If this reference in Romans is the correct reading, we then have a seeming reference to Jesus as God in the late AD 50s, a rather significant notion.

The Synoptic Gospels are also useful for demonstrating possible early belief. Although scholars tend to date the Synoptics from AD 50-85 (with more conservative scholars giving an earlier dating than the 70s and 80s), various evidences have been put forth elsewhere for the historicity of the writings and the preservation of actual sayings and events. If this is the case, one wonders what the early followers thought of Jesus forgiving sins, something Jews understood only God to be able to do (Mark 2:5-7), teaching on his own authority (Matthew 7:28-29), receiving worship (Matthew 14:31-33; 28:9, 17), changing someone’s name – held to be something in the Hebrew Bible that only God could do (Mark 3:16), among other factors. Surely the early Jewish followers would have at least taken notice of some of the traditions and had to reconcile this with their monotheistic belief.

Perhaps one of the better examples from the Synoptics was pointed out in a work written by Morton Smith titled Jesus the Magician. In the work, Smith details evidences that Jesus was considered a magician, but for our consideration, citing the name of a magician in a spell was thought to be invoking their name as a god. More significantly, according to Mark 9:38, Jesus name was invoked as such during his own lifetime. The passage says, “’Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us’” (emphasis mine). In magic, using a name in this fashion implied deity. This is also seen in Acts 19:13, “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out’” (emphasis mine).

Early magical papyri and other related items provide further credence for this understanding. Jesus’ name was used in a myriad of pagan spells and exorcisms, and was usually identified as a god. For example, a lead tablet from the third century found in Carthage says, “… the god having authority over this hour in which I conjure you, Jesus.” It also names Hermes, the Greek god and others. Another ancient pagan papyri says, “I conjure you by the god of the Hebrews, Jesus” (PGM IV, line 3020). Line 2929 of the same papyrus may also contain an anagrammatized mention of Jesus in an invocation of the sexual goddess Aphrodite for a love charm. Given the context, his name appears to be used as a deity. While the magical papyri is after the first century, it evidently reflects a tradition found in the earliest of gospels, seemingly demonstrating that even during Christ’s lifetime, some considered him a god.

While not specifically a Biblical consideration, it follows as an offshoot of the opposition considering Christ a god that archaeology should also be consulted before returning to the Christological hymns. The earliest depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion we have is a graffito scratched on the plaster of a schoolroom at Palatine hill in Rome. The crucified figure has typical features, the most interesting of which is the fact that the figure has a donkey head. It is usually called the Alexamenos depiction. It is dated to about AD 200, although it is also thought to have been created slightly before. But why does Jesus have the head of a donkey? There was a legend that the Jewish god was a donkey, or donkey headed. This probably came from the notion that the donkey was the sacred animal of Seth from the Egyptian pantheon, and was usually thought to be the god of the foreigners. There are various reasons for this identification, but that God was thought to bear the head of a donkey is borne out by accusations recorded by Josephus (Against Apion 2:80), Tacitus (Histories 5.3), Epiphanius (Panarion, Heresy 26:10), and others. Tertullian reported that Jews and Christians were accused of worshipping a god with the head of a donkey (Ad nations 1:11, 14). We also find a depiction from a non-observant Jew prior to AD 197 that shows a similar image with the inscription “The god of the Christians.”

Why is this significant? Usage of Jesus’ name in pagan spells and exorcisms, coupled with the depiction of Jesus as the Jewish God – clear from portraying him with the head of a donkey along with the second image bearing the inscription – demonstrates that some non-Christians thought Jesus to be a god, and used his name as such. As noted, this tradition is seen as early as Mark’s gospel, where Jesus’ name is invoked during an exorcism, which historically, would have been considered the name of a deity as invoked in such a way. While the majority of the evidence comes from the second and third century, the inclusion of the invocation in the New Testament documents lends further credibility to this idea. If Mark was written around AD 50-65, the idea of Jesus as God may not only trace to the early 50s, but also during the life of Jesus himself.

Early Christological Hymns
            The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or authorities: all things have been created through him and for him.
                                                                                                            Colossians 1:15-16

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
                                                                                                Philippians 2:5-11

Scholars have noted in recent years the apparent usage of hymns and early creeds within the New Testament, the most famous being the 1st Corinthians 15 creed. Assuming that the above two passages are early Christological hymns (with the exception of Philippians 2:5), what can we glean from these texts? Both are a matter of theological debate, particularly among Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. It should also be noted that the reading “in very nature God” can also be translated as “in the form of God.” There are several things we can learn from these passages if taken in a straightforward, historical context. As with the introduction to Hebrews, Jesus is called “the image of the invisible God.” Assuming Pauline authorship of Colossians, we have a date of about AD 60 for the letter, likewise in the case of Philippians. The Colossians hymn also implies that Jesus is considered the Creator, or at least the conduit of the Father’s creation, “all things have been created through him.”

Subsequently, the Philippians hymn certainly appears to call Jesus “God.” The pre-existence of Jesus is assumed, and we are told that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue [confess] that Jesus Christ is Lord,” which reflects a passage found in another of St. Paul’s letters, Romans 14:11, itself a quote of Isaiah 45:23. Adapting the passage from Isaiah into the hymn lends further credibility that the early Christians considered Jesus to be God, as this activity was to be done in reverence of God only. It is therefore significant that these hymns are dated to the early years of the church, to the mid AD 30s. It is thought that Paul received several traditions, creeds and hymns during his visits to Jerusalem as mentioned in Galatians, and these two hymns are also thought to be included. If the date is correct, this pushes belief in Jesus as God to within a mere two or three years after his crucifixion. Also, if the invocation of his name seen in the gospels was actually used in the typical magical context, then belief in Jesus as God existed even during his lifetime.

The first chapter of Hebrews clearly has a high Christology. That Jesus was considered God (or a god) even during his lifetime is borne out through various evidences, such as textual and archaeological evidences. The invocation of Jesus’ name by early followers and subsequently the early church in a similar manner to magical spells of that time evidently demonstrates that Jesus’ name was invoked as that of a god. The earliest crucifixion graffito also lends to the argument. Along with the Biblical considerations, the non-Biblical considerations further support the notion that Jesus was considered a god early on.

By the time of the council at Nicaea in AD 325, Jesus was considered to be God by many orthodox Christians. As we have seen, this belief did not simply spring up from nowhere, but is also found in third century texts, second century texts, and more significantly, in some early material derived from the first century, parts of which were likely compiled within less than five years of Jesus’ crucifixion – the Christological hymns. What does this mean for the Muslim view that Jesus was not considered a god until much later? What does this mean for Christians as a whole, and what does this mean for further studies of early Christianity? In the words of Jesus, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. Print.

Hartog, Paul. "Jesus as God in the Second Century." Christian Research Institute. CRI,   2006. Web. 18 April 2012. .

Metzger, Bruce M., and Michael D. Coogan. "Jesus Christ." The Oxford Companion to the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print.

Price, Christopher. "Jesus's Divinity Within Jewish Monotheism." Christian Colligation of Apologetics Debate Research & Evangelism. Christian CADRE, 2003. Web. 18 April 2012. 

Smith, Morton. Jesus the Magician. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1981. Print.

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