European Leadership Forum 2018: ‘Defending an Early High Christology from Archaeology and New Testament Letters (with special reference to the Epistle of James)’

May 28, 2018

My afternoon workshop at the European Leadership Forum 2018 on 'Defending an Early High Christology from Archaeology and New Testament Letters (with special reference to the Epistle of James).' The idea that Jesus was divine was not invented at the Council of Nicea in the fourth century (a claim one can disprove from archaeological finds alone), nor was it a second century idea that seeped into Christianity from pagan mythology. Rather, it was an idea that burst upon the first century religious landscape amongst the eyewitness generation of Jewish followers of Jesus, as shown by the multiple independent witness of the first century New Testament letters and the early sources they quote. I pay particular attention to the Epistle of James, arguing that a) it pre-dates the Jewish war and could be as early as c. 45 A.D, b) that whoever wrote it was a Jew writing to Jews, c) that it was probably written by James the (half) brother of Jesus - a man who'd formerly been sceptical about Jesus' claims, and that the best explanation of this data given Jesus' embarrassing crucifixion is that Jesus himself laid claim to divinity and rose from the dead in evidence of this claim.

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