The Deity Of Christ In The Synoptic Gospels -- By: Daniel Doriani

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 37:3 (Sep 1994)
Article: The Deity Of Christ In The Synoptic Gospels
Author: Daniel Doriani


The Deity Of Christ In The Synoptic Gospels

Daniel Doriani*

By neglecting the power and pervasiveness of Jesus’ indirect claims to deity in the synoptic gospels, evangelicals have given comfort to their theological adversaries and impoverished their own understanding of Jesus’ person. Jesus manifested his awareness of his deity throughout his ministry in frequent and varied actions and teachings that rightly issue from God alone.

I. A Playground For Fools?

A few years ago J. A. T. Robinson declared that “the self-consciousness of Jesus … has become a sort of ‘no go area’ for New Testament theology. It has been sealed off as a mine field which none but fools would dare to enter.”1 The evidence bears out Robinson’s assessment. For example, the section on Jesus’ self-understanding in Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Jesus—God and Man gives most of its space to Jesus’ and Paul’s view of the Mosaic law and refrains from genuinely probing Jesus’ mind.2 Pannenberg’s scattered, tentative remarks on Jesus’ self-consciousness are agnostic. As Jesus journeys to Jerusalem, Pannenberg opines: “Jesus probably expected that God would, in one way or another, acknowledge him, even in the case of his own failure.”3 Within evangelical scholarship the recent Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels lacks an article or even an index heading on Jesus’ self-consciousness—and rightly so, at least from an indexer’s perspective, for the topic arises only in scattered sentences.4 By contrast Friedrich Schleiermacher’s 1850 The Life of Jesus has two long sections, nearly eighty pages altogether, on Jesus’ self-consciousness and his teaching about himself.5 In 1920 an uninhibited B. B. Warfield suggested how much could be known about Jesus’ interior life in a reverent, lengthy article.6

Scholars might defend their reticence to probe Jesus’ mind by pleading an absence of hard data. The gospel narrators seldom penetrate the minds

* Daniel Doriani is associate professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141.

of the historical figures in their narratives.7 When they do, they rarely go deeply into their characters’ minds, and Jesus is no exception. We get significant reports on Jesus’ motives (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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