Something that I struggle with

The thing that I struggle with is the "improving upon Christ’s deity through the Gospels. Why is the Deity of Christ so absent from the Gospel of Mark, or at least if not absent, very minute. Scholars agree that Marks Gospel is the earliest. Matthew and Luke come next. In these Gospels the Deity of Jesus becomes more clear and directly implicit. The next Gospel to be written, John, takes the thought of the deity of Jesus to a brand new level. The language suggestive of his divinity is very strong and unmistakeable. How and why did this come to be?

Some critics of the faith (which I am not) have argued that this is highly suggestive that the doctorine of Jesus’s divinity therefore developed over time and that the earliest followers of Christ did not see him in the light in which He is portrayed in the Gospel of John. How do Christian/Catholic apologetics handle this charge?

God Bless and happy weekend!!

What do you mean? Mark is chock full of miracles. From Wikipedia:

Mark contains twenty accounts of miracles and healings, accounting for almost a third of the gospel and half the first ten chapters, more, proportionally, than in any other gospel

Im not at all talking about miracles.

Unlike John, Mark never calls Jesus “God”, nor does he claim that Jesus existed as a divine being prior to his earthly life.

John has a very High “Christology” as opposed to the synoptics

But it’s not just in John, in certain stories in Mark Jesus is called teacher, but in similar stories, or similar sentences He is refered to as Lord rather than teacher. Critics say that this means that his deity was developed over time. I understand that there are great arguments against this. But this ONE argument that they do have is interesting. There does appear to be an increasing of Christ’s presented deity as the Gospels progress during their timeline.

I am neither an historian, nor a biblical scholar.

My understanding is that the canon of the new testament was not established until the end of the fourth century. If the divinity of Christ had been an invention of first century Christians - an evolution of sorts - then most likely the gosple of Mark would have been eliminated precisely because Jesus did not appear divine enough.

Just my two cents’…

Gertie

Book of Saint Mark Chapter 14:

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 **“I am,” **said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked.

Please notice that Jesus answered, “I am”. This is the exact answer that God gave Moses: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:14). This reference would not have missed and absolutely would have been blasphemy to the Jews.

So there you have it Jesus Christ Himself declaring His divinity amongst the Jewish high priest even under the threat of death, in the book of Saint Mark.

This is true, also, unless Im mistaken, the letters of Paul predate the Gospel of Mark. And their is a high level of Christological deity in his letters.

St Redemption#1
Scholars agree that Marks Gospel is the earliest. Matthew and Luke come next.

Real Catholics don’t put “scholars” above the Church’s teaching.

From 1907 to 1933 the Pontifical Biblical Commission emphatically stated:

  1. ‘Matthew wrote his Gospel before the other Gospels
  2. Scholars are not free to advocate the two-source theory whereby Matthew and Luke are dependant on Mark and the “Sayings of the Lord” (“Q”).’
    The New Biblical Theorists, Msgr George A Kelly, Servant Books, 1983, p 34].

**No. 94 Roman Theological Forum July 2001
REDISCOVERING THE DECREES OF THE PONTIFICAL BIBLICAL COMMISSION
by Sean Kopczynski **
“Sadly, however, the scholars went modern and embraced the rationalistic Protestant scholarship. Consider the following from the Jerome Biblical Commentary under the title Emergence of Catholic Critical Scholarship:
“Over-all, modern Catholic NT scholarship has consisted in a judicious selecting and combining of acceptable elements in Protestant scholarship; it is not yet following its own new paths. It has succeeded in convincing more intelligent Catholics that the ultraconservative biblical positions of the past are no longer tenable.”

“By adhering faithfully to the teaching of the Church, I now had enough information to complete my paper on the Synoptic Question. In my paper on ‘who wrote first?’ I employed the PBC decrees and other authoritative external evidence from the Fathers and Tradition. Happily, I was able to argue for Matthew first followed by Mark and then Luke. This approach and solution soothed my conscience, strengthened my faith, and made me smile at the narrowness of using only internal arguments.”
rtforum.org/lt/lt94.html

No they do not.

Could all of this have much to do with the persecution aspect during this time?

Not that the persecution lifted between Mark and Matthew, but that the individual writers struggling over how to write about Jesus in a manner that would depict heavy Christology without coming out and saying the words he, the writer, only knew. These men were not the most intellectual people and, like myself, probably struggle to communicate exactly what I want to and I do not have the added burden of persecution. At least not the kind the early Christians had to deal with.:smiley:

Peace!!!

In Mark 14, Jesus stands accused at His trial before the High Priest. “Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:61-62). Here, Jesus is harking back to the Old Testament book of Daniel where the prophet Daniel states, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

In this reference to Daniel’s vision, Jesus is identifying Himself as the Son of Man, a person who was given “dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.” The Son of Man has a dominion that is everlasting and will not pass away. One immediately wonders what kind of person has a dominion that is everlasting. What kind of a person is given a kingdom and will have all men serve Him? The High Priest, who immediately recognized Jesus’ claim to divinity, tore his robe and declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy.

Jesus’ use of the title “Son of Man” has surprisingly strong apologetic value. For a skeptic of Christ’s deity cannot simply dismiss this particular self-designation of Jesus very easily. That Christ referred to Himself in this manner enjoys multiple attestations as it is found in all of the Gospel sources. The phrase “Son of Man” is used of Jesus only a few times outside of the Gospels themselves (Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; 14:14). Given its scarce usage by the early apostolic church, it is unlikely that this title would have been read back into the lips of Jesus if, in fact, He had not used this particular self-designation. And yet, if it is established that Jesus really did use this title of Himself, it becomes apparent that Jesus considered Himself to have everlasting power and a unique authority beyond that of a mere human being.

Read more: gotquestions.org/divinity-of-Christ.html#ixzz3YQzNxL5c

Couldn’t a greater emphasis on the divinity of Jesus Christ is later writings have been a reaction to increasing influence of those who denied the truth of His divinity?

According to traditional understanding, the Gospel of Mark was written for a primarily Roman audience, who would not understand the theological concepts very well; therefore Matthew focuses primarily on Jesus’s miracles more than anything.

I really don’t have much of a horse in this race but I do have to correct you here; we most certainly do.

Or rather, every Theologian and Biblical Religious Studies expert I’ve encountered so far does. In light of 19th Century German “Higher Criticism” as it was known and Q theory the Catholic Church is really rather alone when it comes to claiming Matthew was first; an overwhelming majority of contemporary scholars believe Mark was written first and the writers of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source for creating their Gospels (John being a considerably later arrival).

They usually go further and claim Mark didn’t write it at all, but that’s a whole other can of worms that doesn’t offer much here.

Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament (1997) offers the evidence behind the claim rather succinctly, although there are more detailed expositions of the theory drawing from a wider range of sources.

Cake or Death #13
In light of 19th Century German “Higher Criticism” as it was known and Q theory the Catholic Church is really rather alone when it comes to claiming Matthew was first; an overwhelming majority of contemporary scholars believe Mark was written first and the writers of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source for creating their Gospels (John being a considerably later arrival).

Of course the Catholic Church is alone in teaching the fullness of Truth – the Christ gave no other person or body that unique distinction of His only pathway for that fullness – “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.”

Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament (1997) offers the evidence behind the claim rather succinctly, although there are more detailed expositions of the theory drawing from a wider range of sources

See post #7.

“Fr Brown never fully nor objectively reports the content or portent of Vatican documents. A good case in point is his frequent use of the 1964 Instruction of the Pontifical Biblical Commission *The Historical Truth of the Gospels *to ‘prove’ that Rome endorses modern exegesis without qualification.”

In counseling exegetes and teachers of biblical studies the Commission states: “Let him always obey the Magisterium of the Church.” Brown omits this and much else from his summary of the Instruction in his *Crises Facing the Church *(1975).
[Refer: *The New Biblical Theorists, Msgr George A Kelly, Servant Books, 1983, p 134-5, 141].

On being challenged to square his theories with Catholic teaching, these are typical responses of Fr Raymond Brown:
When he was asked at lecture about statements from Fr John Hardon’s Catholic Catechism, Fr Brown’s reply was: “That book is a disaster, his is pre-1910 theology.” The questioner persisted: “But Father, Cardinal Wright has written a preface for the book”. His answer was: “His is a pre-1910 theology, too.” (National Catholic Register, Nov 30, 1975, p4).

When asked in a letter about his assertion that when Matthew wrote the “Thou art Peter” passage it was really an interpolation of a redactor and not a real saying of Jesus, as against Pius XII’s proclamation of the validity of all four Gospels, Brown’s answer was that Pius XII had lived long before Vatican II. But, get this, Pius XII’s encyclical *Divino Afflante Spiritu *is used frequently by Brown to justify his own “freedom” in exegesis! (Julia Grimes of Pennsylvania, July 6, 1980, p 4, National Catholic Register).

Well, that is a matter of faith I don’t seek to challenge. I merely stepped in to confirm the OP’s idea that modern academia supports the priority of Mark. It does, and has done so increasingly since the late 18th century when Gottlob Christian Storr first put forward his case.

By all means believe in it, it is clearly something you are obliged as a Catholic to believe in and considering this is a Catholic forum I’m not going to attempt to convince you otherwise. It does not change the fact to which OP was referring that outside of Catholic circles and in Academia however Matthean priority is today more or less considered debunked in favor of two source theory (the concept that “Q” and Mark were the source material used to create Luke and Matthew).

OP was correct that this is the state of play, whether two source theory is correct or not is not the issue.

I don’t understand this part of your post, I said Brown offered a succinct explanation and possibly one of the more accessible to the layman. I never said it was the best, and I must say I challenge the notion it was not objective. Certainly it does not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church, but it was never written with Catholic readers in mind since they are obliged to believe in Matthean priority. He may have been a Catholic priest, but he was also an academic.

It wasn’t a full explanation, I don’t think three volumes would have been adequate for that but it outlaid the basics as intended.

Some say Mark was written first, some say Matthew.

Well, they wanted to kill Him when He said “I Am” because he was claiming to be God and they knew it. That was while He walked the Earth in the flesh, not some later “development over time”.

Mark 16:61-64
61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
62 And Jesus said, I am… .
63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64 Ye have heard the blasphemy. And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.

There are many more passages like this. To see it though, they need to know that the name of God in Hebrew translates to “I Am”.

It is their utter lack of good scholarship that keeps them ignorant of this.

:thumbsup:

Romans were also not monotheistic (yet). So linking Jesus to God the Father wouldn’t make sense to them (yet).

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