Friday, March 7, 2014

Markan Christology

(last updated 4/4/17)

I've always wanted to write this blogpost but I haven't had the time. It is based on comments I made in response to a blogpost by Steve Hays titled, "God Came Down."

[[Update: This Blogpost still needs major proofreading regarding the possible claims Jesus made and how the Jewish Council interpreted it. Originally, I counted 6 possibilities. Now I count 9. That section is highlighted yellow like this sentence. One can ignore that section and still benefit from the rest of the blogpost.

I'll be proofreading and adding more evidences and arguments as I find them in my continuing reading of Mark.]]


This blogpost is meant to address challenges to the doctrine of the full deity of Christ on two fronts. 

Both believing Unitarians (including all sorts of anti-Trinitarians) and unbelieving skeptics have argued that on the basis of the teaching of Mark and the theory of Markan Priority that we can reasonably infer that the full deity of Jesus was not believed or taught among the earliest Christians. That it was a later development which can be seen by the fact that the other two synoptic gospels have a much higher Christology, while John has the highest Christology (being written last). Thus showing a progressive development of the doctrine. I'll be leaving aside the fact that many Unitarians believe in the inspiration of the entire New Testament, and how if they took its entirety seriously, then regardless of what development may have occurred, they should still accept Christ's full deity on the basis of the teaching of other New Testament books. I won't develop that argument in this blogpost.

First off I want to point out that Markan priority is just a theory. Some serious arguments have been made for Matthean priority. For the sake of argument I'll assume Markan priority.

Many of the following arguments in defense of Christ's full deity could be made to a much greater degree using Luke and Matthew. But in this blogpost I'm primarily limiting myself to the gospel of Mark. I do this to intentionally make the case for Christ's full deity more difficult for myself. Why? Because if the full deity of Christ can be demonstrated in Mark, then the claim that Jesus' deity was a later development that is missing in Mark would be refuted. Mark is the focus of those who question, doubt, or reject the full deity of Christ because most scholars believe it to be the most primitive gospel (and therefore the most historically accurate). 

One of many examples of an argument for the full deity of Christ that could be employed to a greater degree if Matthew and Luke were used is what I call the Christocentric Argument. Which I'll explain and develop more fully later in the course of this blogpost. In essence the argument points out how Christ requires from others an allegiance to Himself which one would think only belongs to God. Think, for example, of John Stott's statements in chapter 2 of his classic book Basic Christianity. I HIGHLY recommend reading that chapter either before or after reading this blogpost to get the full effect of the Christocentric Argument for Jesus' deity.


I'll now develop to a fuller degree the comments I posted at Steve Hays' blogpost "God Came Down", which I also HIGHLY recommend reading as a foundation for what follows. Since Hays makes some comments I would have too (but he says it better than I would have); along with other great comments which had never occurred to me. I'll systematically go through the gospel of Mark from beginning to end. By doing so, I think it'll be shown how not only is Christ's full deity strongly hinted at throughout the book and from the very start, but that it also crescendos to a loud dénouement (i.e. ending resolution, revelation, surprise) of its affirmation.

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Regarding Mark 1:3-4ff., compare it with Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1
Here the author of Mark cites two Old Testament passage that applied originally to the one true God (Yahweh/Jehovah) and surprisingly applies it to Jesus. Isaiah 40:3 actually uses the tetragrammaton (YHWH). In Mal. 3:1 the Hebrew phrase "ha adon" is used, meaning "the Lord" or "the [TRUE] Lord." It's the singular word for Lord with the definite article "the." In the Old Testament that phrase is used only in reference to the true God [i.e. Almighty God] as even an appendix acknowledges in older versions of the New World Translation of the Bible.  That's a translation by an organization that rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. So, it was in the interests of the Jehovah's Witnesses to remove that appendix in later editions of their translation. Since it's not too difficult to connect Malachi 3:1 and Mark 1:3. The other six places in the Tanach in which "ha adon" is used are  Ex. 23:17; Ex. 34:23; Isa 1:24; Isa. 3:1; Isa. 10:16; Isa. 10 33. All of them refer only to Almighty God.

By connecting the three passages of Mark 1:3-4ff.; Isa. 40:3; and Mal. 3:1 the logical inference is that John the Baptist is the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah and is the voice in the wilderness crying out "Prepare the way of Jehovah/Yahweh." With Jesus being the Jehovah who was prophesied to arrive.

[[Update: Apologist Tony Costa has said that Mark 1:1ff (esp. v. 2) alludes to Exodus 23:20 which refers to "the angel". Specifically, Costa says Mark 1:1ff is likely a cluster of three (3) quotations/allusion, not merely two (2). That's because Mark 1:2 in the Greek most closely resembles Exodus 23:20 (in the Septuagint) which refers to an angel/Angel whom God promised He would send. If 1. Mark really is alluding to this passage in Exodus, and 2. if that angel is The Angel of YHVH, then Mark is likely connecting Jesus with the Angel of YHVH. If so, then that kills at least two birds with one stone. It undermines versions of Unitarianism that 1. deny Christ's Preexistence and 2. versions of Unitarianism which affirm Jesus is only/merely a human savior.

Tony Costa made the above claim in the following debate at 1:18:05 into the debate.
https://youtu.be/9km_KBw81DQ?t=1h18m5s  ]]

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Regarding Mark 1:8 which has John the Baptist predicting that the Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

This seems to parallel Isa. 44:3 and Joel 2:28-29. where Jehovah/Yahweh promises to pour His Spirit on people.

3    For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
        and streams on the dry ground;
    I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
        and my blessing on your descendants.- Isa. 44:3


Since, Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (including Mark), that would suggest Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh. The other Gospels and Acts more fully develop the theology of Jesus as baptizer with the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that the Father doesn't give the Holy Spirit as well (Luke 11:13; 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33 etc.) Someone might complain that pouring and baptism are opposite since pouring comes from above, while baptism involves dipping into a liquid. While, I do believe that the normative way to baptize is by dipping or dunking someone in water, some theologians have argued that the the Greek word for baptism need not necessarily mean dipping or dunking (e.g. Here, Here, Here). But even if it does only mean to dip/dunk that doesn't limit the fulfillment to only dipping or dunking. That betrays a truncated understanding of the meaning of baptism and/or anointing with the Holy Spirit. Since, in the Old Testament there are examples of people receiving the Holy Spirit and it being associated with and symbolized by anointing with oil. With the oil being poured or applied from above. Think for example of the anointing of Saul or David as king (1 Sam. 16:13).

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.- 1 Sam. 16:13


Moreover, baptism with water and baptism with the Holy Spirit, while associated with each other in the New Testament are nevertheless distinct. In the book of Acts there are cases where people were first baptized in the Holy Spirit and then later water baptized. The point is that Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit is not something physical and therefore it's not a contradiction to say it is both a pouring and an immersion. As proof, we have Jesus Himself being baptized with water (in whichever mode) and the Holy Spirit descending (from above!) upon Him like a dove (Mark 1:9-11). Jesus' baptizing believers with the Holy Spirit is a figure of speech about the entrance of the Holy Spirit in someone's life. If the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus from above, then it only makes sense that Jesus' baptizing believers with the Holy Spirit is also "from above" in some sense. Having said all that, the point again is that Jesus is said to be the baptizer with the Holy Spirit even though in the Old Testament Jehovah/Yahweh promises to do it. Thus implying Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh.

This is especially true in light of Zech. 12:10

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.- Zech.12:10

Here Jehovah speaks and says He will pour the spirit of grace and supplication and that people will to unto Him ("unto me") who they had pierced. I've addressed this passage more fully in THIS BLOG. Suffice it to say that we can't rule out the possibility that the Masoretic text is correct in rendering it "me" rather than "him." It would make sense if "me" is the right rendering since that would fit with Jesus, the pierced one, being the same one who pours out the spirit or (Spirit) of grace and supplication. This would fit in with John the Baptist's statement that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit. And why not, since, as I've shown above, Mark 1:2-3 strongly imply that Jesus is Jehovah.


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Regarding Mark 1:38 which has Jesus saying, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out."

This verse suggests Jesus' preexistence. As I have shown in my blog Pre-Existence of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels (based on Simon Gathercole's research and argumentation). While, Jesus' preexistence doesn't prove His divinity, it is consistent with it (especially in light of Micah 5:2; Isa. 9:6; Prov. 30:4 etc.). Also, it's necessary to point this out because there are some Unitarian believers in the New Testament who reject Jesus' preexistence (e.g. Anthony Buzzard).

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Regarding Mark 2:5ff. where Jesus forgives sins.
Forgiveness of sins was a prerogative that was thought to belong to God alone. So much so that in verse 7 the Jews say, ""Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Exactly, only God can forgive sins. Therefore, this suggests a possible claim to deity on Christ's part. Especially since Jesus refers to Himself as "the Son of Man" in this passage. Later on in this blogpost I argue that Jesus' self-designation of "the Son of Man" is a veiled (or not so veiled) claim to deity. It is true that Jesus later would give the power to forgive sins to His apostles (John 20:23), but that's only after He Himself breaks all cultural expectations. Whereas it's clear that Jesus was merely delegating that power & authority of forgiveness to His apostles; Jesus on the other hand seems to claim that authority inherently. By BOTH healing the man physically AND forgiving the man of his sins, Jesus seems to fulfill the twofold blessing of Jehovah in Ps. 103:3, "...who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases..."[cf. James 5:15, Isa. 33:24]. Again, something which is consistent with a claim to deity. The author of Mark may have intentionally included the statement by the scribes "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" precisely to intimate to the reader that Jesus actually was God and that He (Jesus) was implicitly claiming to be God. Notice too Jesus' statement about "the Son of Man on earth." The phrase "on earth" implies a contrast to heaven. In which case it's only natural to wonder whether in the back of Jesus' comment He had the concept of "the Son of Man IN HEAVEN." If so, then that may be a tie in to Dan. 7:13 which talks about the Son of Man "with the clouds of heaven." More on this later.

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Regarding Mark 2:19-20 and Jesus' claim to be the bridegroom.
Jesus identifies Himself as the bridegroom in all four Gospels. I argued in another blog that the kind of love Christians are required to have for Jesus is evidence of Christ's full deity. In that blogpost I also argue more fully there that Jesus' status as the bridegroom has STRONG implications for His full deity. I wrote:

In light of the points I've made above, it isn't surprising therefore that many Christians have interpreted the Song of Songs (i.e. Song of Solomon, or Canticles) as an allegory not only of the mutual love between Jehovah/Yahweh and Israel, but also of the mutual love between Christ and His Bride the Church. Even non-Messianic Jews have interpreted the Canticles as an allegory of God's love for Israel. For those who believe in the New Testament, this buttresses the identification of Jesus with Almighty God. Because just as the Church is the eschatological embodiment and fulfillment of Remnant (i.e. faithful and true) Israel (Rom. 9:6, 27; 2:28-29; 11:5), so Christ is the eschatological Lord who parallels Old Testament Jehovah who was married to Israel. Christ and the Church are the "End Times" New Covenant fulfillment of Yahweh and (spiritual) Israel.

For as a young man marries a young woman,
        so shall your sons marry you,
    and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
        so shall your God rejoice over you
.- Isa. 62:5

19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.- Hos. 2:19-20

"For your Maker is your husband…"- Isa. 54:5 [Literally in the Hebrew : makers (plural), husbands (plural),]

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Regarding Mark 2:27ff. and Jesus' claims to be "Lord of the Sabbath."

Since YHWH instituted the sabbath and Jesus claims to be "Lord of the Sabbath," Jesus is implicitly claiming to be YHWH. If not, then He's appropriating for Himself prerogatives which alone belong to YHWH. Something which no creature may do.
 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.- Gen. 2:3
Remember too that the Sabbath commandment is part of the Ten Commandments which Almighty God gave to the people of Israel. For Jesus to claim to be Lord of the Sabbath is implicitly to also claim to be Lord of the Ten Commandments. Which is an implicit (if not explicit) claim to full deity since He made this statement in a Jewish context. So, in terms of both 1. the Creation (Gen. 2:3) and 2. the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20; Deut. 5), Jesus appears to be claiming to be YHWH (at least in some sense) with respect to the Sabbath.

See my further comments on the implications of Jesus being "Lord of the Sabbath."

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Regarding Mark 3:28-30 and Jesus' comparison between speaking a word against Himself and the Holy Spirit.

28 "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"---30 for they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."- Mark 3:28-30
I wrote something in another blog that I want to adapt here. I can't quote it exactly because the comments were regarding Matt. 12:31-32 which is a parallel of this passage but fuller than what we have here in Mark 3:28-29.

The opposite of worship is blasphemy. Yet the New Testament talks about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. That suggests 1. the Holy Spirit can and should be worshipped, and therefore 2. suggests the full deity of the Holy Spirit. How so?

Well, we have to ask "What is blasphemy?" It is any reviling of God's name or person, or any affront to His majesty or authority. Or anything that takes away from the proper reverence and worship that God alone is rightly due.

Therefore, blasphemy is normally in reference to God. So, the first reference to blasphemy in this passage refers to blasphemy against God the Father. Yet, interestingly this passage also talks about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This would suggest that the Holy Spirit is God since it makes no sense blaspheming an impersonal force. Notice too that Jesus clusters criticisms against Himself in conjunction with blasphemy against the Father and the Holy Spirit. It may be claimed that a word against Jesus doesn't necessarily imply that it's blasphemy since it can be forgiven; therefore Jesus isn't necessarily God. However, using that logic, the Father isn't God either since blasphemy against the Father can be forgiven as well. Moreover, the fact that blasphemy against the Father and the Son can be forgiven while the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can't, strongly suggests the full deity of the Holy Spirit since it makes no sense for it to be more severe to blaspheme the Holy Spirit above God the Father if the Holy Spirit isn't God. Analogously, that would be like saying insulting the electricity and gasoline of your father's prized Porsche is worse than insulting your father directly. The fact that Jesus (and the author of Mark) compares criticisms against God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit together suggests not only that the Holy Spirit is God, but that Jesus is God as well. Therefore, this passage in Mark 3:28-29 suggests all three individuals should be identified as God. A Stronger case can be made using Matt. 12:31-32 (cf. Luke 12:10). Nevertheless, we have here in (probably) the earliest written Gospel (per Markan Priority) an apparent allusion to the Trinity. But that shouldn't be surprising as my other blogs point out (e.g. Here).
Another apparent allusion to the Trinity in the Gospel of Mark is the account of Jesus' baptism which makes reference to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together.

9    In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."- Mark 1:9-10


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Regarding Mark 4:38-39 which has Jesus calming the storm.
This seems to parallel Ps. 107:28-29; 89:8-9; Job 38:9-11; Job 26:11-13; Ps. 65:7; Jonah 1:15 and other passages where YHWH controls the weather, storms and the sea. Compare also how the storm died down when Jonah was cast into the sea. The Synoptic gospels portray Jesus as a mysterious figure whose identity is being slowly revealed by the author and slowly understood by the participants in the story. In this Markan passage, after Jesus calms the storm it says, "and they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?' " (Mark 4:41). Later Mark has Jesus saying, "Whom do men say that I am? (Mark 8:27). Clearly a central concern of the author of this gospel is the gradual revealing of the identity of this mysterious figure Jesus of Nazareth.
He made the storm be still,
        and the waves of the sea were hushed.- Ps. 107:29

8    O LORD God of hosts,
        who is mighty as you are, O LORD,
        with your faithfulness all around you?
9    You rule the raging of the sea;
        when its waves rise, you still them.- Ps. 89:8-9

9    when I made clouds its garment
        and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10    and prescribed limits for it
        and set bars and doors,
11    and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
        and here shall your proud waves be stayed'?- Job 38:9-11

11    The pillars of heaven tremble
        and are astounded at his rebuke.
12    By his power he stilled the sea;
        by his understanding he shattered Rahab.
13    By his wind the heavens were made fair;
        his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.- Job 26:11-13

who stills the roaring of the seas,
        the roaring of their waves,
        the tumult of the peoples,- Ps. 65:7

So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.- Jonah 1:15

Similarly, regarding Mark 6:48-52 (see especially verse 50):
Mark 6:48 has Jesus walking on the sea. Yet Job 9:8 says it is God who alone stretched out the heavens and [alone?] tramples (i.e. walks) on the waves of the sea. Both passages (Mark 4:39 and 6:48) indirectly imply Jesus is divine. God divided the Red Sea for Moses and the Jordan river for Joshua, but Jesus seemed to walk on the sea by His own inherent power and authority, and in a way reminiscent of Old Testament figurative descriptions of God.
who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;- Job. 9:8
What was figurative for God in the Old Testament, was literal in the person of Jesus. In Jesus what was poetically stated about God in the Old Testament was fulfilled as prophecy in the New Testament. In the case of Moses and Joshua, it was in a significant historical context. With Moses, the lives of the Israelites hung in the balance. With Joshua, it was the beginning of a new era and fresh start in God's dealings with Israel and the promised land. Both were public miracles with historic import. However, with Jesus, there was no immediate need for a miracle. Jesus could have waited out the storm. Instead, for His own sake, and without an intention to showboat or show off His powers and authority before an audience, Jesus walks on the water like a god. Or like God, viz. Jehovah/Yahweh. In fact, in verse 50 Jesus uses the Greek phrase "ego eimi" which can be translated as "I am" or "I AM." Here's what Bowman and Komoszewski wrote concerning this passage:
"As various scholars, both conservative and liberal, have observed, the Gospel accounts of Jesus walking on the sea [Mt 14:23-33; Mk 6:47-52; Jn 6:16-21] allude rather clearly to the account in Exodus 14-15 of the Israelites' crossing of the Red Sea. The Israelites walked in `the midst of the sea' (Exod. 14:16, 22, 27, 29 NASB) and crossed to the other side (Exod. 15:16). Likewise, the disciples' boat was `in the middle of the sea' (Mark 6:47 NASB) and they also `crossed over' the sea (Mark 6:53). A strong wind from the east blew across the Red Sea and, close to daybreak, the Egyptians found it increasingly difficult to drive their chariots as they attempted to follow the Israelites (Exod. 14:21, 24-25). Likewise, an adverse wind blew across the Sea of Galilee and, based on the geography, it also would have been blowing from the east; this wind also blew close to daybreak and made it difficult for the disciples to row their boat (Mark 6:48). According to Mark, the disciples had the same problem as the Egyptians: their hearts were hardened (Exod. 14:4, 8, 17; Mark 6:52). ... in this miracle account `Jesus is portrayed as filling the role ... of a greater Moses and of Yahweh. Jesus' response to the disciples' fear encompasses both roles. Moses had told the Israelites, `Take heart!' (tharseite, Exod. 14:13 LXX) and Jesus told the disciples the same thing: `Take heart!' (tharseite, Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50). But then Jesus added, `It is I [ego eimi]; do not be afraid' (Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20). This statement echoes statements by the Lord God in Isaiah, where he speaks of a kind of `new Exodus' when the Jews would be restored to their land: `Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; Do not fear, for I am with you; ... so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he [ego eimi] ... I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King:' Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters. (Isa. 43:1-2, 5, 10, 15- 16)." (Bowman, R.M., Jr. Komoszewski, J.E., 2007, "Putting Jesus In His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ," Kregel: Grand Rapids MI, p.205).[copy and pasted from this blog HERE]


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Regarding Mark 5:6 which has a demoniac bowing before Jesus.
While humans sometimes bowed before other human authorities without implying they were divine, this demoniac seems to acknowledge Jesus' superior status by bowing to Him. This was not just a human bowing to Jesus, but a demonically controlled human. It was the demons who were bowing to Jesus. To which of the other angels (fallen or not) do angels bow down to? I'm not aware of an instance in the canonical Scriptures of an angel bowing down to another angel. However, we do have passages like Deut. 32:43 and Ps. 97:7. The Septuagint of Ps. 97:7 is quoted in Heb. 1:6 and applied to Jesus even though it's original application was to Almighty God. But that's a different discussion. We're focusing on Mark in this blogpost. In such passages in the Old Testament the elohim or "gods" or angels are commanded to bow down to Almighty God. So, while the bowing down of demons to Jesus doesn't necessarily prove His full divinity, it is definitely consistent with it. And in light of the rest of the book, that might be the intended portrayal of Mark.

Later in chapter 9 when the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn't successfully exorcise a demoniac, Jesus said it was because those types of possession required them to pray (Mark 9:28-29). Yet, Jesus was able to do it without any apparent prolonged persevering prayer. By His own inherent authority. Which again is consistent with His divinity. Admittedly, there does seem to be some delay of the exorcism performed by Jesus in this passage (Mark 5:1-20) according to verse 8. But that doesn't necessarily disprove Christ's full deity since a Trinitarian understanding of the incarnation affirms both the full divinity AND the full humanity of Christ. And so any seeming limitation in His power can be on account of the fact that Jesus was also meant to be the human Messiah who operated by dependence on God His Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. That's not to say that Jesus never performed a miracle by His own inherent authority or power. There are indications in the gospels that He sometimes did.

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Regarding Mark 5:19-20
This verse has Jesus saying, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." Yet, how does the author of Mark record what the person actually did? The next verse says, "And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled." Apparently, the author of Mark intends to imply that Jesus is "Lord" in some sense. Maybe even THE Lord. Meaning, YHWH. If Mark were as scrupulous as some modern Unitarians, he (and I myself when I was a Unitarian) would have made absolutely sure not to accidentally confuse or give the wrong impression that Jesus is Jehovah God. Yet, the author of Mark has no problem with that possible identification or misidentification. Especially since this seems to parallel a verse in the Psalms.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.- Ps. 66:16

19 And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.- Mark 5:19-20
If I were still a Unitarian, I'd have to seriously ask why Mark wasn't that concerned or careful enough in his story telling. But as a current Trinitarian, it makes perfect sense for Mark to have written it that way.

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Regarding Mark 7:37 which has people saying about Jesus that He "has done all things well."
 This echos the creation account in Genesis where God is said to have appraised His own works as "good." Again indirectly implying Jesus is God.
The same verse (Mark 7:37) also says, "He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak." This might find an opposite parallel in Exo. 4:11 which says, "So the LORD said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?..." If God can make people mute, deaf, or blind who can reverse it but God alone? Yes, an agent in God's name could do it too. So, this isn't absolute proof of Jesus' divinity.
12    The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both.- Prov. 20:12
Healing eyes and ears was so difficult that being able to do so could almost require the powers of creation. Something which only God can do (or one enabled by God), as implied by the statement of the man who was born blind but healed by Jesus in John 9:32-33. Is it any wonder that when Jesus did heal the blind and deaf it was said of Him that He did "all things well/good"? Again indirectly implying Jesus is the creator God of Genesis and the one who causes ears to hear and eyes to see (Prov. 20:12).

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Regarding Mark 8:34, 38 and surrounding verses.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."- Mark 8:34-38
Firstly, Jesus says the Son of Man will come "in the glory of his Father." This suggests that the Father shares His glory with Jesus His Son. How can that be when Almighty God emphatically states that He does not and will not give or share His glory and praise to others? See, Isa. 42:8; 48:11. This therefore strongly suggests that Jesus is fully God.
8    I am the LORD; that is my name;
        my glory I give to no other,
        nor my praise to carved idols.- Isa. 42:8

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
        for how should my name be profaned?
        My glory I will not give to another.- Isa. 48:11
Secondly, from this passage we see that Jesus requires allegiance and commitment to Himself which only God has the right to require or claim. Not even Moses or Elijah claimed to require or deserve such devotion. Thus indirectly implying Jesus is Himself God. Like many of the other Markan passages I cite in this blogpost, this one has parallels in Matthew and Luke which are stated in a stronger sense and therefore teach an even higher Christology. But I'm focusing on passages in Mark in this blogpost.
Similarly, the same thing could be said about Jesus' repeated use of phrases like "My name", "My sake", "My name's sake" (or word's to that effect). Either Jesus was an egotistical and narcissistic megalomaniac or Jesus rightfully required such loyalty, devotion and centrality. Here are some passages where Jesus uses those type of phrases Mark 8:35; 9:37; 9:39; 10:29; 13:6; 13:9; 13:13. Beyond loyalty and centrality, the Jesus of Mark requires a devotion that only God can rightfully claim (see also Mark 1:17,20; 2:14, 19-20; 8:34, 38; 9:7, 42; 10:14, 21, 28-30; 11:13-14; 12:6; 14:4-7, 21, 22-25)
Each one of the above passages should be read individually to get the full effect of the point being made. But to save space, I've only given their citations. It seems to me that consistent Unitarians should agree that such devotion and allegiance should be reserved for Almighty God alone. Either that, or Almighty God is intentionally or unintentionally confusing His followers since the entire history of the Old Testament majored on the exclusive devotion that His followers are to place in Him alone. Then, under the New Covenant He seems to completely reverse His long standing position and says you can now express similar (or equal, cf. John 5:23) devotion on another being, "my Son who is ontologically inferior to Me." That didn't make sense to me in my last months as a Unitarian. And that's one of many reasons why I became a Trinitarian. If such devotion really does belong to Jesus, then that would suggest, at the very least, that Jesus is in some sense God (to say the least). Such devotion is also revealed not only in the other Gospels but in the epistles which were generally written much earlier than any of the Gospels. This line of reasoning is what I called above the Christocentric Argument for Jesus' deity. As I said above, to get the full effect of the argument one should read not only the verses I cited but also chapter 2 of John Stott's classic book Basic Christianity.

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Regarding Mark 9:13 which has Jesus apparently identifying John the Baptist "as" Elijah.
The Jews expected Elijah to come before the arrival of the Messiah according to Mark 9:11ff. This fact is attested to by other extra-Biblical documents and Jewish traditions. This universal expectation was based on the prophecy of Mal. 4:5. But Mal.4:5 also speaks specifically of the coming of the LORD/YHWH after the coming of Elijah. Yet, Jesus, in this passage (Mark 9:13), says that in a manner of speaking, Elijah has "come" in the person of John the Baptist. Once again, this indirectly implies Jesus is Himself Jehovah/Yahweh since Jesus arrived on the scene after John the Baptist.

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Regarding Mark 10:17-18.
17    And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.- Mark 10:17-18
This passage has universally and perennially been used by skeptics, and Unitarians like Arians, Socinians, Muslims (et al.) to prove that Jesus claimed not to be God since Jesus says only God is good. However, in the same book demons are recorded to have referred to Jesus as the "Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24 cf. Isa. 49:7; 54:5 and 55:5) with the author's apparent endorsement. So, clearly Jesus was good. In light of that, here's a relevant quote from Richard N. Davies' book The Doctrine of the Trinity page 18-19
QUOTE: Christ said to a certain ruler: "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." (Mark x, 17, 18.) Christ did not deny that he himself was "good," nor did he deny that he himself was God; but the ruler had not acknowledged him to be God, and our Lord's question to the ruler was based upon that fact. It was as much as to say, As you do not confess me to be God, why call me good? Our Lord said: "There is none good but one, that is, God." It would follow from this that whoever is perfectly good must be God; but our Lord is perfectly, infinitely good, hence must be God........The dilemma, as regards the Socinians, has been well put (see Stier II, 283, note), either, 'There is none good but God; Christ is good; therefore Christ is God;' or, 'There is none good but God; Christ is not God; therefore Christ is not good.' " (Alford, in loco) END QUOTE [bold and underline by me]
Unitarians must pick one of the horns of the dilemma. Either affirm that Jesus is Almighty God, or affirm that Jesus is not truly good and holy (and so contradict Mark 1:24 which has demons calling Jesus the Holy One of God, with Mark's apparent approval).

Regarding the phrase, "Holy One of God" and the apparent parallels to  Isa. 49:7; 54:5 and 55:5, it's interesting that in those passages (and similar ones) one could read them to imply there being two persons being mentioned. If so, then God the Father is being referred to along with God the Son. See my links below regarding Michael Heiser's documentation of early and long standing Jewish Binitarianism. Finally, the fact that the Holy Spirit is called the HOLY Spirit in Mark is consistent with His full deity. Since, "only God is Good/Holy." I say "consistent" because Mark 8:38 does refer to the "holy angels."

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Regarding Mark 11:3 and the statement "the Lord has need of it" (i.e. the colt). 
This could be interpreted in a Unitarian way in that God the Father, who is Lord, needs it for His messiah to ride on. However, it could also be interpreted to mean that Jesus is the "Lord" who needs the donkey. In which case, Jesus might be Lord in a creaturely OR a divine sense, since the word "kurios" can refer to either. However, as noted above the same word is sometimes also the Greek translation of the Hebrew YHWH in the Septuagint and in Mark 1:3. Also, like I said above, if Mark were a more scrupulous Unitarian, then he should have been more careful how he used the phrase Lord. Yet, this seeming looseness in terminological use is perfectly understandable if Mark believed and was hinting at Jesus' full deity.
"Josephus remarked that the early Jews refused to call the emperor kurios because they regarded it as a name reserved for God (Jewish War 7.10.1). In short, Greek-speaking Jews both wrote and spoke kurios in place of YHWH (Encountering the Manuscripts, 209)." [quotation found HERE]

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Regarding Mark 13:9 and Jesus' statement that His disciples will and should "bear witness" (ESV) to or give "testimony" of Jesus.
This seems to parallel the passages in Isaiah about being YHWH witnesses (i.e. Isa. 43:10, 12; 44:8-9). The very passages that the most famous modern Unitarian sect derives its name (i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses). Again, this indirectly implies Jesus' full Divinity. Compare what Luke wrote in Acts 1:8.
"But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them.- Mark 13:9

10    "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD,
        "and my servant whom I have chosen,
    that you may know and believe me
        and understand that I am he.
    Before me no god was formed,
        nor shall there be any after me.
11    I, I am the LORD,
        and besides me there is no savior.
12    I declared and saved and proclaimed,
        when there was no strange god among you;
        and you are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and I am God.
- Isa. 43:10-12

8    Fear not, nor be afraid;
        have I not told you from of old and declared it?
        And you are my witnesses!
    Is there a God besides me?
        There is no Rock; I know not any."
9    All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame.- Isa. 44:8-9

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Regarding Mark 13:26-27 which has Jesus referring to Himself as the Son of Man and the gathering of "His elect"
This passage teaches that the elect are "his" (i.e. belong to) the Son of Man. The Old Testament referred to God's "elect" or "chosen" along with God gathering His scattered people. By Jesus referring to the "elect" as belonging to Him, He and/or the author of Mark are making parallels between descriptions of Almighty God in the Old Testament and the Son of Man, Jesus. This is true regardless of how one interprets the phrase the "elect." Also, regardless of whether the "elect" here are the same or a different group than the "elect/chosen" in the Old Testament. The point is that in His authority and prerogatives Jesus corresponds in the New Testament to Almighty God's prerogatives in the Old Testament. Here's a list of some of the places in the Old Testament where God promises to gather His scattered people: Deut. 30:3; Isa. 43:6; Jer. 32:37; Ezek. 34:13; 36:24. Here's a posting of some passages that show God has a chosen people in the Old Testament.

4    For the sake of my servant Jacob,
        and Israel my chosen,
    I call you by your name,
        I name you, though you do not know me.- Isa. 45:4

9    I will bring forth offspring from Jacob,
        and from Judah possessors of my mountains;
    my chosen shall possess it,
        and my servants shall dwell there.- Isa. 65:9

22    They shall not build and another inhabit;
        they shall not plant and another eat;
    for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
        and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.- Isa. 65:22
 In the parallel passage in Matthew it refers to the angels as belonging to the Son of Man as well (Matt. 13:41; 16:27; 24:31; cf. 2 Thess. 1:7). In Matthew the ownership of the angels and the elect belong to both the Father and the Son. Implying that Jesus is true and full deity. However, according to the modern critical Greek texts of Mark, the author doesn't record Jesus calling the angels His own (unlike the KJV). However, as noted previously, Jesus is bowed down to by demons (Mark 1:24). Also, the angels minister to Jesus (Mark 1:13). Things consistent with His rulership and ownership over them.
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Regarding Mark 13:31 which has Jesus saying His words will not pass away even if heaven and earth did.
This seems to CLEARLY parallel Isa. 40:8. Again, indirectly implying that Jesus' words are God's Words and therefore Jesus is God.
8    The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.- Isa 40:8
Compare with:
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.- Mark 13:31
Even as a Unitarians I saw this to be a clear parallel.
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Regarding Mark 14:4-7 where Jesus makes seemingly outrageous statements.
What mere prophet would behave in the following way?
4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that?5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her.6 But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.- Mark 14:4-7 
Such behavior and statements aren't becoming of a holy prophet of God. Yet, if Jesus was God in the flesh as has apparently been hinted at by the author of Mark, then it's perfectly fitting.
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Regarding Mark 14:58-59 where Jesus is accused of threatening to destroy the temple.

58 "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'" 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.- Mark 14:58-59

This passages seems to allude to what John later records in John 2:18-22 and 10:18.

18    So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?"19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.- John 2:18-22

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."- John 10:18

If John records accurately what Mark might be alluding to, then we have here, in plausibly the earliest Gospel, a cryptic hint that Jesus not only predicted His own death and resurrection, but that He Himself would effect that resurrection. Thus implying Christ's full deity since the Father is also described as resurrecting Christ (along with the Holy Spirit Rom. 8:11; 1:4; 1 Pet. 3:18).

More IMPORTANTLY, Mark's recording of the witnesses claiming Jesus claimed something about the destruction of some temple and the building or reconstruction of a temple lends support to (or at least consistent with) what the Gospels of Matthew and John say. Namely, that Jesus indentified Himself as being analogous to the temple of Jerusalem. Thus, implying His full deity since Almighty God dwells in the temple. I develop this evidence using the other Gospels in a different blog here:

Jesus' Claim to be the Temple of God Proves His Full Deity


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Regarding Mark 14:62 and Mark 13:26 which allude to Dan. 7:13
This passage refers to the son of man "coming in the clouds." This is a clear reference to a divine being since in Semitic cultures only the gods (e.g.YHWH, Baal and other deities) rode on the clouds. They were the vehicles and chariots of the gods. According to Old Testament scholar Michael Heiser, Baal was the primary pagan God described and understood by pagans as the god who rode the clouds. [cued up at 1:29:32]. Everyone in the Semitic world knew about Baal. Baal was a major God. The cult of Baal was so pervasive and long lasting it endured till the time of the Romans. The Jews were in constant theological war against Baal worship. The Jews, in order to assert and make clear that YHWH (the God of Israel) was the true God rather than Baal, began describing YHWH in the Old Testament as the one who rode the clouds. Heiser goes on to say that in every instance of the Old Testament where a figure is riding the clouds it refers to YHWH (Deut. 33:26; Ps. 68:4, 33; Ps. 104:3; Isa. 19:1). With the one exception being Dan. 7:13 where the son of man is the one riding the clouds. This therefore strongly implies the divinity of the "Son of Man." Yet, Jesus applies that "Son of Man" passages to Himself. Jesus claimed to be the one who would be "coming with the clouds of heaven." The Septuagint in Dan. 7:13 states that people would "serve" the "son of man." According to James White (in his debate with Adnan Rashid) the underlying Greek word used in the LXX for "serve" refers to the highest kind of worship and service which only belongs to God. It's true that the Septuagint isn't an inspired translation of the Hebrew. Nevertheless, many of the 1st century Jews and Christians would have known this passage as it's found in a textual variant in the LXX and have known how Mark's claim that Jesus applied the passage to Himself is an indirect claim to full deity. This is why the High Priest and chief priests charged Jesus with blasphemy. He was claiming deity. Also, as noted previously, Mark 2:10 has Jesus referring to the Son of Man "on earth." The phrase "on earth" may be in contrast to the Son of Man "in heaven" or as Dan. 7:13 puts it "with the clouds of heaven."
It should also be noted that in Mark 14:62 Jesus says "I am" (ego eimi in Greek). It's true that Jesus could merely be saying "I am [the Messiah]" without claiming to be deity. However, it's possible that the author of Mark is having Jesus use the Greek phrase "ego eimi" in order to have Jesus claim absolute deity, as the author of John in John 8:58 almost certainly did. Especially since Jesus uses the phrase in the context of claiming to be the Son of Man in Dan. 7:13. When Jesus responded in the way He did, the high priest charges Jesus with blasphemy.

What is blasphemy again? It is any reviling of God's name or person, or any affront to His majesty or authority. Or anything that takes away from the proper reverence and worship that God alone is rightly due. Therefore, one can blaspheme without claiming to be deity. One can also falsely claim to be deity and so commit blasphemy. In what way did the Council conclude that Jesus committed blasphemy?

Jesus doesn't seem to revile God's name or person. Apparently, the Jewish Council believed Jesus gave an affront to God's majesty and authority by 1. claiming to have or share God's authority OR possibly also 2. claiming to be deity. To commit the second includes the first but goes way beyond it.
At the beginning of this blog I mentioned a crescendo to a loud dénouement (i.e. ending resolution, revelation, surprise) of the fully deity of Christ. Hopefully, this is it. Let's examine the options.

This yellow highlighted section still needs to be corrected and/or proofread. Originally there were 6 alternatives, now I realize there should be 9. I'm not sure I've properly written out all the possibilities.

Here are the 9 possibilities as best as I can figure:

1. Jesus did not make an affront to God or claim to be deity and the Jews did not interpret Him as making an affront to God or as making a claim to deity.
2. Jesus did not make an affront to God or claim to be deity but the Jews did interpret Him as making an affront to God though not making a claim to deity. 

3. Jesus did not make an affront to God or claim to be deity but the Jews did interpret Him as making a claim to deity (which the Jews would naturally interpret as an affront to God).
 

4. Jesus did make an affront to God but did not claim to be deity and the Jews did not interpret Him as making and affront to God or interpret Him as making a claim to deity.
 

5. Jesus did make and affront to God but did not claim to be deity and the Jews only interpreted Him as making an affront to God without claiming to be deity.
 

6. Jesus did make an affront to God without claiming to be deity but the Jews interpreted Jesus as claiming to be deity (which the Jews would naturally interpret as an affront to God).
 

7. Jesus did claim to be deity and the Jews did not interpret Him as making an affront to God or make a claim to deity.
 

8. Jesus did claim to be deity and the Jews only interpreted Him as making an affront to God but not as making a claim to deity.
 

9. Jesus did claim to be deity and the Jews interpreted Him as making a claim to deity (which the Jews would naturally interpret as an affront to God).



Let's address these one by one. 

First of all, it needs to be pointed out that a claim to merely be the Messiah was not blasphemous or deserving of death in Jewish law or Old Testament law. In fact, many Jews of the time were expecting the Messiah to arrive. If Jesus were merely claiming to be the Messiah, then the Jews would have and should have interviewed Him and examined His credentials for being the Messiah.  
1. Jesus did not make an affront to God or claim to be deity and the Jews did not interpret Him as making an affront to God or as making a claim to deity.
This logical possibility wouldn't explain why Jesus was on trial. So, it's patently false. The only possibility of this being the case is if they had Jesus killed out of pure envy. Mark 15:10 does say that the Jewish Council pursued Jesus' death out of envy, but it is highly unlikely that it was out of pure malicious hate and envy. This is patently false. It would require absolutely every and all members of the Council to be cold hearted and cold blooded murderers. That's highly unlikely and therefore not a viable option.

2. Jesus did not make an affront to God or claim to be deity but the Jews did interpret Him as making an affront to God though not making a claim to deity.
What is is the affront to God that the Jews believed Jesus committed that was deserving of death? Again, it wasn't blasphemous to claim to be the Messiah. So, that can't be it. Since Jesus didn't make an affront to God, the Jewish sentence was certainly unjust. The only candidate of a perceived affront that I can think of is Jesus' claiming to have the authority of God. But that's either a claim to deity, or a claim to have received such authority as the Messiah. If the former, then we'll deal with that later. If the latter, then that's not blasphemous since the Messiah was expected to have divinely given authority without claiming to be deity.

3. Jesus did not make an affront to God or claim to be deity but the Jews did interpret Him as making a claim to deity (which the Jews would naturally interpret as an affront to God).
 Like #2, the Jewish sentence would have to have been unjust since Jesus neither made an affront to God or claimed to be deity. Though, if Jesus did claim to be deity, His guilt or innocence would depend on whether the claim was true or not.

4. Jesus did make an affront to God but did not claim to be deity and the Jews did not interpret Him as making and affront to God or interpret Him as making a claim to deity.
 This possibility makes no sense since Jesus would be guilty of sin which may or may not be deserving capital punishment (depending on the nature of the affront); yet the Jews condemned Him to death even though they did not interpret  Jesus as either making an affront to God or claiming to be deity. This possibility is like #1 in that it would mean the Jews would irrationally condemn a man to death whom they thought was innocent. This possibility is patently false.
 
5. Jesus did make and affront to God but did not claim to be deity and the Jews only interpreted Him as making an affront to God without claiming to be deity.
Like #2, what is this supposed affront to God that is deserving of death? Did the Jews correctly identify the affront(s) Jesus made to God? Were the affronts (whether real or perceived) worthy of death?

6. Jesus did make an affront to God without claiming to be deity but the Jews interpreted Jesus as claiming to be deity (which the Jews would naturally interpret as an affront to God).
This could explain why the Jews condemned Jesus to death if they believed Jesus claimed to be deity and that His claim was false. However, in this possibility they misinterpret Jesus because He doesn't claim deity, though they think He did.

7. Jesus did claim to be deity and the Jews did not interpret Him as making an affront to God or make a claim to deity.
Like #1 and #4, this makes the Jewish condemnation of Jesus completely irrational because they condemn Him for no reason at all. So, this also patently false.
8. Jesus did claim to be deity and the Jews only interpreted Him as making an affront to God but not as making a claim to deity.
Again, what is the supposed affront to God that's worthy of death but does not rise to the level of falsely claiming to be deity?

9. Jesus did claim to be deity and the Jews interpreted Him as making a claim to deity (which the Jews would naturally interpret as an affront to God).
This possibility seems to be most likely to be true since a false claim to deity would be deserving of capital punishment according to Jewish law and Old Testament law. If Jesus wasn't claiming to be deity, what then was His claim and how does one account for the evidence I provided above that He did claim it in this passage (Mark 14:62ff.) along with the evidence I provided above strongly suggesting that the author of Mark was intending to portray Jesus as God throughout the entire book? If the Jews misunderstood Him to be claiming to be deity when  he wasn't, why didn't Jesus correct them? From all the evidence and arguments I've provided, I think the best interpretation is that Jesus did make a claim to deity and that the Jews interpreted Him as making that claim.

The following are some relevant questions asked in no particular logical order, along with answers that make sense to me. There will be repetitions in both questions and answers.

If Jesus really was a blasphemer by claiming to be God even though he wasn't God, then he actually deserved to die. But the author of Mark clearly intends to teach that Jesus' crucifixion was undeserved.

If Jesus was only misunderstood to be claiming to be God, then Jesus, as a pious Jew, would have certainly clarified His statement and corrected His hearers for the sake of 1. God's glory, 2. his own orthodoxy, 3. his own eternal salvation, 4. the orthodoxy and salvation of His hearers, 5. His current physical life, since blasphemy was punishable by death according to the Old Testament law. His life, both physically and spiritually, was on the line.
To allow Himself to be executed for a misunderstanding on the Jews' part would take away from the theme of the rest of the New Testament that God vindicated Jesus' understood claims. It's a logical possibility that Jesus allowed Himself to be sentenced to death on account of a full blown misunderstanding if we restrict ourselves only to Mark, but not if one incorporates the rest of the New Testament. However, I did say that I would limit myself to the gospel of Mark. But before I do return to that focus there is still the question of to what degree the Jews understood Jesus' claims. The statement in Luke 23:34, "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do," is a textual variant whose authenticity is highly dubious. But even assuming it's canonicity and passages like 1 Cor. 2:8, they're not really problematic since it's logically possible to know the truth to some degree but not fully. As well as to interpret something sufficiently correct, yet apply it incorrectly in a specific instance. 
 So, it's possible that the Jewish Council understood Jesus' claims to deity while not fully understanding it or His credentials. While at the same time properly condemning someone for something that would normally be blasphemous, even though in this case it wasn't. That is to say, if an ordinary human did claim the things Jesus claimed, then he would be deserving of capital punishment. It just so happens that Jesus really was God in the flesh and therefore in this instance it was wrong for the Jewish Council to have determined that Jesus was deserving of death. Though, that doesn't leave them blameless because there is also a sense in which they should have known better. That is, if they had known the Old Testament better and how Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecies. And if they were spiritually in tune with God enough, then they would have realized that Jesus was who He claimed to be (like Joseph of Arimathea [Mark 15:43; John 19:38] and Nicodemus [John 3:1ff.; 7:50; 19:39]). In addition to that, they could also be guilty on account of being hasty in their verdict and in choosing a verdict that was convenient and selfishly beneficial to themselves (i.e. without a serious regard for the truth and justice but malice and envy [Mark 15:10]).
Again, it seems to me that Jesus did claim to be God, was crucified because the Jews properly understood His claim to full deity, and God the Father resurrected Him from the dead to vindicate Jesus' claims to being Messiah and God. A Muslim or modern Jew might object and say this implies there are two Gods. In response to this, see my later links to Michael Heiser's videos, website, and article.
Matthew and Luke are said to have a more elevated Christology because of doctrinal development, yet it is in this Gospel of Mark where Jesus said "I am" when being interrogated by the Jewish leaders during His trial (in Mark 14:61-64; compare that with Mark 6:50). And immediately after Jesus says "I am" and identifies Himself with the "Son of Man" in Daniel He is summarily condemned for being a blasphemer by the high priest and with the consent of the whole Council.

Again, notice that the high priest's question, if answered in the affirmative, was not necessarily a blasphemous confession. The high priest merely asked, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" (Mark 14:61). For a human to say he was the Messiah was not blasphemous. Nor was calling oneself a son of God or the son of God necessarily blasphemous. It could be if understood to mean equality with God (cf. John 5:18). But it need not be blasphemous since it was understood in Jewish culture and from Old Testament theology that the King of Israel could be considered God's son. As even the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia itself admits. How much more would this be an appropriate designation of the Messiah, who was to be the greatest of the Kings of Israel. Rather, Jesus' response went far beyond the high priest's question in that Jesus apparently affirmed His full divinity and equality with God by saying "I am" and identifying Himself with the Son of Man in Daniel. It would be analogous to a policeman pulling over a driver and asking whether he correctly understood that the driver was claiming to be an United States Senator; and the driver saying, "No, on the contrary I'm claiming to be the President of the United States."


I mentioned how Mark 6:50 also has Jesus saying, "ego eimi"  ("I am"). In the parallel passages of Matt. 14:27 and John 6:20 Jesus also says it there too. In other words, in all three Gospels where this event is recorded Jesus says, "ego eimi." Which makes sense if from the earliest times Christians interpreted Jesus' use of the phrase "ego eimi" to be a veiled claim to being Almighty God. Moreover, Jesus also said in that verse, "do not be afraid." This is something which angels often said to human beings (2 Ki 1:15; Matt. 28:5; Luke 1:13; 30; 2:10). But it's also said by the God of Israel and more emphatically either directly or through an inspired prophet (Gen. 15:1; Jos. 1:9; 2 Chron. 20:17; Isa. 41:10,13,14; 43:1, 5; 44:2; 51:12-13).
The difference between the angelic or merely prophetic statement of "fear not" with Jesus' statement of "fear not" is that when Jesus commanded the disciples not to be afraid, the REASON He gave was "it is I" or more literally, "I am." No mere human prophet would say not to be afraid on account of his being the one who is present with them (i.e. in their presence). Only God could say that. The author of Mark seemed to be hinting at Jesus' real identity of being God as early as that 6th chapter with Jesus saying "I am." And then returning to it here in the 14th chapter, with Jesus repeating the "I am" statement. Apparently the author expected us to reflect on Jesus' use of "I am" (ego eimi) in light of the rest of the book.

A non-Christian (e.g. a Muslim or atheist) might ask why Jesus didn't directly and unambiguously claim to be God. Well, Jesus didn't directly and unambiguously claim to be the messiah for most of His public ministry either. How much more would Jesus refrain from the greater claim of Godhood since this latter claim could result in His premature trial and death. See my blogpost The Most Plausible Anti-Trinitarian Complaint for a fuller answer to this question.


The gospels seem to imply that Jesus veiled His messiahship (and by extension His divinity), as well as speaking in parables and mysteries for various reasons.

For example:

1. so that He wouldn't be persecuted to death before the time. While messianic claims weren't punishable by death, Jesus could have been killed by the Jewish leaders out of jealousy. If Jesus directly and publicly claimed to be deity early in His ministry, He would certainly have been trialed and condemned to death earlier then God's schedule. Jesus wouldn't want to derail the divine plan;

2. to demonstrate His messiahship (and by extension His divinity) first by His deeds more than His claims;

3. to fulfill the exact timing of the public revealing of the Messiah to Israel on Palm Sunday according to the prophecy of Daniel 9;

4. as a judicial manifestation of national punishment (cf. Isa. 6:9-10ff.);

5. in order to only save the elect who have been given ears to hear (cf. Mark 4:9-12; Matt. 13:10-17; Luke 8:8-10; John 12:37-40).

That's not to say that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah or never claimed to be God during His ministry. Most agree that in the Gospel of John Jesus is portrayed as overtly claiming deity. While people dispute whether Jesus did so in the Synoptics. The difference between the Synoptics and the gospel of John can be partly explained by the fact that the Synoptics record the more public aspects of Jesus' ministry while John records the more private aspects and to fill in the gaps left in the Synoptics. Also, it has to be understood that about half of the 21 chapters of the of Gospel of John records the last days and hours of Jesus on earth. Whereas the Synoptics record much of the preceding years of ministry. Also, by the author(s) of John's own admission, he is being selective about Jesus' teaching. It should also be pointed out that the Gospel of John doesn't always record Jesus' exact statements. The author(s) seemed to distill Jesus' teaching in a way that expressed the gist of Jesus' doctrine without limiting himself/themselves to a more precise and woodenly literal dictation style of recounting the life and teachings of Jesus.

The Gospels must also be read in light of the principle of Progressive Revelation where God slowly reveals His truth as the people of God can receive, absorb, understand and accept it. Once they are read in light of progressive revelation and with greater depth, it's clear that Jesus did claim to be both the Messiah and God. I think I've demonstrated how an in depth look at Mark shows all the fingerprints of the author intending to portray Jesus as divine even though at first glance (and also by the author's design) it doesn't appear to teach Jesus divinity by a cursory surface level reading of the text.

To interpret Mark as teaching Jesus' true divinity is not a misunderstanding of Jesus' original teaching since the earliest disciples had that understanding soon after Christ's resurrection. That's why the books in the New Testament which were the earliest written (even before the Gospels) have such a high Christology. For example, some in the Pauline corpus. Yet, we know that Paul claimed that he preached essentially the same gospel the original Apostles did before him.

The Gospels should also be read in light of the "two powers" understanding of God that was going around in Judaism at the time. Along with the concept of the "Word of the Lord" ("debar" in Hebrew and "memra" in Aramaic) that developed in Judaism. Along with how the Targums often personified "the Word of the YHWH." There are many other things during that period that helps make the concept of the full deity of Jesus and the doctrine of the Trinity less of a theological novum. The fact is there is much
precedent for it. As I've documented in other blogposts and links.

One of the major things that Muslims boastfully point out is that Islam (according to them) has a greater claim to be the true fulfillment of Old Testament religion (rather than Christianity) by the fact that with the Jews they believe in one unified God and were themselves unified in their rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity. When in point of fact, the OT hints at God's plurality in oneness multiple times and in multiple ways.

At one of his websites (Two Powers in Heaven) Dr. Michael Heiser continues to argue rabbinical scholar Alan Segal's claim (nearly 30 years ago) that up until the 2nd century C.E., it was permissible in Judaism to believe in the concept of there being "two powers" in heaven without being heretical or pagan or polytheistic. It was a sort of Jewish Binitarianism.

I've collected some of Heiser's videos on The Trinity in the Old Testament HERE.

See also his paper: “Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Honest (and Orthodox) Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible” by Dr. Michael Heiser

Dr. Benjamin Sommer, a professor in Bible and ancient Near Eastern languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary [sic !!!] recently wrote in his book The Bodies of God:
“Some Jews regard Christianity’s claim to be a monotheistic religion with grave suspicion, both because of the doctrine of the trinity (how can three equal one?) and because of Christianity’s core belief that God took bodily form. . . . No Jew sensitive to Judaism’s own classical sources, however, can fault the theological model Christianity employs when it avows belief in a God who has an earthly body as well as a Holy Spirit and a heavenly manifestation, for that model, we have seen, is a perfectly Jewish one. A religion whose scripture contains the fluidity traditions [referring to God appearing in bodily form in the Tanakh], whose teachings emphasize the multiplicity of the shekhinah, and whose thinkers speak of the sephirot does not differ in its theological essentials from a religion that adores the triune God.”  

See also these other blogs of mine:

Old Testament Passages Implying Plurality in God

Quotes from "Of A Plurality In The Godhead" by John Gill

Proving That There Is A Plurality In The Godhead (by John Gill)

The Aaronic Blessing is Highly Suggestive of the Doctrine of the Trinity

All Three Persons of the Trinity Mentioned In Scripture (Directly or Indirectly)

Identifying Jesus with Yahweh/Jehovah

Pre-Existence of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels
The "Cup and Table of the Lord" As Evidence for Christ's Full Deity

The Tempting/Testing of Christ Is Evidence of Christ's Full Deity

The Requirement to Love Jesus Is Evidence of Jesus' Divinity

God in the Midst

Some articles from the Jews for Jesus website:
Jewishness and the Trinity

The Trinity: Questions and Answers

A Look at the Trinity From a Messianic Jewish Perspective

Kabbalah's Best Kept Secret?


Finally, I want to repeat what I said above. It's important to take fresh notice that many of the epistles of the New Testament have a very high Christology even though many of them were written BEFORE the Synoptic Gospels (including Mark). That fact also shows how the early church believed in Christ's divinity (in some sense) VERY early on. I'm convinced that a sincere and thorough perusal of this blogpost should lead one to conclude that the author of the Gospel of Mark does indeed intentionally set out to portray, if not by explicit statement, then by implicit teaching the full deity of Jesus of Nazareth.





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