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The Case for Jesus Course Introduction: Is Jesus Divine in the Synoptic Gospels? (Part 2 of 5)

by Brant Pitre April 28, 2016


< Watch Part 1     Watch Part 3 >



In part 2 of 5 of Dr. Brant Pitre's introductory videos to The Case for Jesus: The Reliability of the Gospels and the Jewish Roots of Jesus' Divinity, where he engages skeptical approaches to the Gospels (e.g., by Dr. Bart Ehrman and others), he discusses two miracles that, *when read in context*, help answer the question - is Jesus Divine?: The Stilling of the Storm and The Walking on the Water.

 

First, Dr. Pitre discusses the famous stilling of the storm in the synoptic Gospels (in this instance, in Mark's account). This miracle of Jesus stilling the storm elicits from the Apostles to ask about Jesus' identity, "Who is this?"

Moreover, Dr. Pitre shows the parallel in the book of Psalms how it is YHWH in Psalm 107 that stills the storm. So, in context, both in the narrative and the larger historical context of Jesus' time and place, it is not just anyone who stills the waters, but God himself. Additionally, the structure of the narrative in Mark 4 parallels the structure of Psalm 107 such that it's quite clear that Jesus' divinity is precisely what Mark is *intending* to relay to the reader -- it's not just the calming of the storm, but the cumulative parallels that Mark is wanting his readers to recall that leads to the obvious conclusion that Jesus is divine in Mark's Gospel. As such, Jesus, in Mark 4, plays the part of YHWH in Psalm 107 in addition to the two narratives being replete with parallels.

Secondly, Dr. Pitre discusses Jesus' theophany of the Walking on the Water/Walking on the Sea found in Mark 6. For, as some skeptics, such as Dr. Bart Ehrman can and do say, power over the elements is not tantamount to being divine because, for example, Moses parts the waters in Exodus 14 and Elijah stops the rain in 1Kings 17 and, yet, they are not divine -- they were simply God's prophet/emissary/agent. But, in Mark 6, for example, what is distinctive about the Walking on the Water scene is not that Jesus simply shows power over the elements, but that he performs a miracle in the context of taking the divine name, "I AM," from Exodus 3 (the burning bush scene with Moses on Mt. Sinai). Moreover, we are told that Jesus meant to "pass them [the disciples] by" who were in the boat, which is precisely what YHWH does when he performs a theophany in the Old Testament with Elijah and Moses: he "passes by" them.

And if that were not enough, Job 9 is being alluded to by Mark in the Walking on the Water as well. In Job 9, it is God who alone tramples on the waves of the sea as on dry ground and "lo he passes me by."

So, all of this language of theophany present in the walking on the water from Exodus 3, 2Kings 19, Job 9, and Exodus 33 indicates that this is not just a miracle -- which could be performed by both God or simply a divine agent who is not God -- but a theophany whereby Jesus is revealing his divinity through a miracle whilst ascribing the divine name to himself - YHWH, who has now come in person.

So, in conclusion if a skeptical interpreter of the synoptics, such as Bart Ehrman, asks the question, "Is Jesus Divine in the Synoptic Gospels?" there is ample evidence to support (and not just limited to these 2 miracles -- more on that can be checked out in the book and the forthcoming CD set release) that, in fact, the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels is a divine Jesus.



Brant Pitre
Brant Pitre

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