The Bible and the Development of the Trinity

In the discussion of the Bible and its relation to the Trinity there is a particular term Trinitarians use which I think is misleading and that is “development.” The word and other related terms and ideas refer to the course of the historical development of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity from the 1st to the 4th centuries, the New Testament to the Nicene Creed.

As a point of historical fact, it is perfectly acceptable to say it developed because the doctrine did not appear out of thin air but there were a series of events that led to it. It also correct to say that the path to the Trinity began with the New Testament (NT). The problem with the term development is how it is often used to suggest that given what the New Testament says, the formulation of Trinitarian doctrine was inevitable. Continue reading “The Bible and the Development of the Trinity”

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Understanding how oral tradition works

A Word in Edgewise

Jesus of Nazareth lived between 6-4 BC and 30-33 AD.  When he died, he was in his mid- to late-thirties. That’s about as good as we can get.  The documents and historical sources don’t allow us any more precision.  The first Gospels written about Jesus—perhaps in this order, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John—are not written until 30-40 years after his execution.  The period in between we call the period of oral tradition.  In this time, the stories of Jesus are told and retold, and then they are written down in the books we have today.  Now this does not mean there were not written sources during the period of oral tradition.  It means we just don’t have them.  Why? Because like most things written 2000 years ago they did not survive.  If, as some believe, the stories of Jesus are taken up in longer narratives like Mark or Matthew, going…

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Quotes on the Genre of the Gospels

THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

“Can we speak of the Gospels as biographies!? If by that what we mean modern, Western biographies, then of course not. Jesus lived in the Middle East, not in the West, and he lived long before the modern era. It would be sheer anachronism and a monstrous injustice to evaluate Matthew, Mark, and Luke by twenty-first century standards of precision, some of which they probably never could of imagined.” –Dr. Craig Blomberg

“In attempting to identify the gospels in terms of existing literary genres, it is not always recognized, as it should be, that Mark alone calls his book by that name…

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Creedal Orthodoxy and the New Testament

A creed is a formal statement of the beliefs of a religious organization. In Christian theology it is a technical term for historic summaries of Christian beliefs, particularly those from the 4th and 5th centuries, that are widely accepted as authoritative by mainstream Christian traditions and are regarded as the standard for doctrinal orthodoxy. There are equivalent terms like “symbol”, “confession” and “article” that are period or denomination specific. When the term creed is used it usually refers to the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed. These creeds appeared several centuries after the New Testament era and they are considered to represent orthodox Christianity. Given the importance of these creeds, the question is then asked if the New Testament itself contains creeds since the later creeds claim to be ultimately derived from that era.

Continue reading “Creedal Orthodoxy and the New Testament”

Paul’s Background

One of the leading scholars of Paul in the world, N.T. Wright, discusses the world that shaped one of the most influential individuals in human history, Paul of Tarsus. Continue reading “Paul’s Background”

Hurtado on Preexistence and other Questions

Leading New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado addresses various questions regarding New Testament Christology.

Larry Hurtado's Blog

Well, my postings over the last couple of days have certainly generated a number of responses, including several rather vigorous ones, and have raised some entirely understandable questions.  Instead of responding to the comments individually (thereby burying both questions and my responses down in the “comments” material), however, I thought I’d try to address them here in this blog-posting.  I’ll try to be as concise as clarity allows, but this will be a somewhat “longish” posting.

1.  First, in response to my emphasis that the NT makes God’s actions (esp. in raising Jesus from death and giving him glory) the basis for the “high” Christological claims and the remarkable devotional practice in which Jesus was included with God, what about the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ miracles, authoritative actions, etc.?  Doesn’t this suggest that Jesus was actually exercising his divine power during his earthly life?

The first thing to note is what the…

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In Fairness to the Pharisees (Part 2)

A few weeks ago I posted something on the Pharisees. They were an issue I had wanted to address for a long time because they have been unfairly characterised in the Christian world. “Pharisee” is now a Christianese synonym for “hater.” The truth is the Pharisees as a group are not just stock villains in Christian sermons but are actually very important, even to today’s Christian. Continue reading “In Fairness to the Pharisees (Part 2)”