Thursday, 9 October 2014

Son of God, Messiah, Jewish Religious Establishment's expectation on national salvation

Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’

62‘I am,’ said Jesus. 

This quote is from Mark chapter 14. The key point of this quote for me, as with my other post about Mark 12's present tense descriptions of the Messiah, is that we are able to access a 1st century jewish worldview here, because we can consider that we are accessing (for the moment, see the obvious assumption below) what a Jewish LEADER is thinking, teaching and upholding at the time of Jesus' ministry. That is a pretty cool peace of research if we can claim it.
For this high priest, we could say that he is aiming for total unambiguity here. Because he does not want any confusion to surround the "blasphemous" claims of Jesus, he makes it totally plain to us that for Jews at this time, there is a truly great Messiah to be expected, and who is also defined as the Son of God. The priest takes his vocation very seriously here of course and refers, like Matthew frequently does, to a synonym for God, "Blessed One". So for the Jewish establishment, represented here by the high priest, we can see that


The assumption we must recognise of course is that the report we are reading through a follower of Jesus, Mark, has accurately reported the words of the high priest. I am very happy with this assumption, especially as we generally see a less stylised and earlier account through this gospel.

I would like to think that while the Jewish establishment were theologically favourable toward resurrection, that we do not have as much solid evidence that they were expecting a triune God to show up in his second hypostasis taking on flesh in Jesus in a hypostatic union (!). For the Jewish establishment, what is blasphemous here IS NOT that God would have a son, that was a given, but the issue of blasphemy here is that JESUS WOULD CLAIM HE WAS GOD'S ANOINTED ONE WHEN HE WAS NOT (or so it was presumed). It is difficult for us to imagine what is going through the High Priest's mind at this stage. The outrage. The fury. This man is trying to shake up and down his life, responsibilities, doctrine...

We have not even looked at the centurion's reaction as Jesus "breathed his last", but the implications of this mini-study on Jewish establishment perception on Messiahship and son of God, while less far-reaching perhaps on the unitarian vs trinitarian debate, can perhaps help us (certainly me) in dialogue with other faiths that do consider being "son of God" to be a blasphemous statement on totally different premises.

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