Christ’s Estimate Of Himself -- By: Herbert William Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 083:329 (Jan 1926)
Article: Christ’s Estimate Of Himself
Author: Herbert William Magoun

Christ’s Estimate Of Himself

Herbert W. Magoun, Ph.D.

A newcomer in any place is expected to tell who and what he is. Men listen to his account of himself and give it full credence, unless there is something about it that savors of exaggeration or of deceit. When that sort of thing is present, they withhold their opinion until the matter can be looked into in some way, or further testimony is available.

Christ was evidently different from ordinary men, and the natural thing for us to do is to inquire what he had to say about himself. He was a newcomer, in a sense, in this world of ours, and he could fairly be asked to explain who and what he was, and what his business was among the sons of men. It is therefore pertinent to ask whether he gave any definite account of himself when on earth.

That he did, no one questions. His testimony began when he was but a lad of twelve years; for when Joseph and Mary missed him and returned to Jerusalem, they found him in the temple communing with the doctors of the law, and he expressed surprise that they did not know where to look for him,—”Why was it that you searched after me? didn’t you know that it behooved me to be in my Father’s house?”

While the word “house” is lacking in the Greek, it is plainly understood, and, according to the testimony of a learned woman who claimed a residence of thirty years in Palestine, there is a tradition in Jerusalem to this day to the effect that the doctors then present were angered by his supposed blasphemy, and that one of them would have struck him had not Mary stepped between and said: “He is not yet of legal age, strike me.” Nevertheless, they never forgot or forgave him for making such a remark. It is Luke, the educated gentile, who relates the incident (11:49).

Observe that the only word that can be supplied without making the tradition pointless is something that refers to the temple. The article used is in the plural, and the Greek word commonly employed to designate a house of any pretentions is likewise in the plural (οίκία). The other word (οίκος) is a general term, meaning any sort of a place to live in, even a room. It could be and was used of the temple; but the more dignified word was οίκία, and that was the word understood. It could sometimes be rendered “buildings.”

He thus implied directly, when only twelve years of age, that God was his Father, and his words were regarded as blasphemous by his hearers. It is useless to sneer at the tradition; for it fits into...

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