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Online Synopsis Project

I have been thinking about new series for this blog. I am going to be continuing to add to posts under the “My Courses” tab and promoting my book, but I have also been thinking about going through the three Synoptic Gospels verse-by-verse and word-by-word and just writing down my rough observations without relying on any secondary scholarship. I will probably just get through the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, just in time for Christmas! For other synopses that put the first three Synoptic Gospels in parallel columns, see “Texts and Synopses” at NT Gateway (a few broken links can be found here and here) and the online discussion generated by Zeba A. Crook’s Parallel Gospels: A Synopsis of Early Christian Writing (see here, here, here, here).



The Johannine Epistles


And the same writer [Papias] uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.17)

“For everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ; and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the Cross is of the devil: and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord for his own lusts, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, – this man is the first-born of Satan.” (Polycarp, To the Philippians; cf. 1 John 4:2-3; 5:6-8; 2 John 7)

  • “I remember the events of that time more clearly than those of recent years. For what boys learn, growing with their mind, becomes joined with it; so that I am able to describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat as he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and the manner of his life, and his physical appearance, and his discourses to the people, and the accounts which he gave of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord.” (Irenaeus’s Letter to Florinus, in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.20.6)

“What marvel is it then, if John so consistently mentions these particular points also in his Epistles, saying about himself, ‘What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, these things we have written to you?’… two of the above-mentioned (or, bearing the name of) John are counted (or, used) in the catholic [Church]” (Muratorian Canon, Lines 27-31, 68)

“And John, the disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation, when he desires us not even to address to them the salutation of ‘good-spped'” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.16.3 [citing 2 John 1:11; cf. 3.16.5 [citing 1 John 2:18-19, 21-22]; cf. 3.16.8 [citing 1 John 4:1-2/2 John 1:7-8; 1 John 5:1])

“John, too, manifestly teaches the differences of sins, in his larger Epistle…” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 2.15.66 [citing 1 John 5:16-17])

“Following the Gospel according to John, and in accordance with it, this [first] Epistle also contains the spiritual principle… The second Epistle of John, which is written to Virgins, is very simple. It was written to a Babylonian lady, by name Electa, and indicates the election of the holy Church.” (Clement of Alexandria, Adumbrationes on 1 and 2 John)

“He [John] has left also an epistle of very few lines; perhaps also a second and third; but not all consider them genuine, and together they do not contain hundred lines.” (Origen of Alexandria, in Ecclesiastical History 6.25.10)

“But I cannot readily admit that he [the John who wrote Revelation] was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, by whom the Gospel of John and the Catholic Epistles were written” (Dionysius of Alexandria, in Ecclesiastical History 7.25.7, noting differences between the Johannine Gospel and Epistles from Revelation in terms of self-identification, vocabulary, and style)

“But of the writings of John, not only his Gospel, but also the former of his epistles, has been accepted without dispute both now and in ancient times. But the other two are disputed… next in order the extant former epistle of John [is undisputed]… those that are called the second and third of John [are disputed], whether they belong to the evangelist or another person of the same name.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.24.17; 3.25.2)

“He [John the apostle whom Jesus most loved] wrote also one Epistle which begins as follows ‘that which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes and our hands handled concerning the word of life’ [1 John 1:1] which is esteemed of by all men who are interested in the church or in learning. The other two of which the first is ‘The elder to the elect lady and her children’ [2 John 1:1] and the other ‘The elder unto Gaius the beloved whom I love in the truth’ [3 John 1:1] are said to be the work of John the presbyter to the memory of whom another sepulchre is shown at Ephesus to the present day, though some think that there are two memorials of this same John the evangelist.” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 9)

  • “‘But whenever someone who had followed the presbyters came along, I [Papias of Hierapolis] would carefully ask about the words of the presbyters, what Andrew or what Peter had said or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the disciples of the Lord, and which Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord say too’… It is also worth calling attention here to his [Papias’s] listing the name of John twice, as he includes the first John with Peter and James and Matthew and the remaining apostles, clearly indicating the evangelist, but the other John, with separate wording, he places among the others outside the number of the apostles, and putting Aristion before him, he clearly calls him a presbyter… for it is likely that the second, unless someone should prefer the first, beheld the revelation that is circulated under the name of John.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.4-6)
  • “And these things are borne witness to in writing by Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.33.4)


  • The Apostle John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” who leaned back against Jesus at the last supper (cf. John 13:23), published the Gospel and Epistles during his stay in Ephesus according to church tradition.
  • Some scholars identify the “elder” or “presbyter” in 2 John 1:1 and 3 John 1:1 with Papias’s “Elder John.” They note the parallels that Papias’s fragments have with the Johannine corpus including the seven “disciples” rather than “apostles” (cf. the order of the first four fits John 1:40-44 and 11:16, but the Gospel omits James, John, Matthew, and Aristion and the Elder John may not be in John 21:2), the Fourth Gospel’s excellent chronological and rhetorical arrangement, and the language of commandments given to the faith and in accordance with the truth.
  • Should πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros) be translated as an ecclesiastical title (“presbyter”) or as an elderly person. Note that this figure remains anonymous, though his identity was known to his addressees.
  • Does the “we” (the “we” of authoritative testimony or “I”, or a genuine plural?) imply that the author was an (apostolic?) eyewitness of Jesus, in continuity with the original eyewitnesses by preserving the communal tradition, or part of an authoritative group of teachers employing metaphorical law-court terminology to express their spiritual insight?
  • Do the similarities and differences (generic, vocabulary, style, themes) between the Johannine Epistles support or rule out common authorship? The same question can be applied to the sender of the Epistles and the evangelist behind John’s Gospel.


  • 1 John lacks any kind of epistolary features such as an address and may have been a tractate or sermon addressing a specific situation among a network of domestic congregations, while both 2 and 3 John conform to the epistolary format (length, sender, addressees, thanksgiving and blessings, body, conclusion, benediction).
  • ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ (eklektē kyria) or “To the elect lady” (2 John 1:1; it is less likely that ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ should be translated as a personal name such as the “lady Electra” or the “elect Kyria”): was this a prominent individual or a symbol for a church? Note the reference to the elect lady’s sister (biological sister or fellow church?) and children (biological children or faithful believers) in verses 1, 4, and 13.
  • 3 John 1:1 was addressed to a householder named Gaius. Note the non-Jewish names Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius.
  • Ephesus: supported by the church tradition about the evangelist (cf. Irenaeus, Polycrates, Acts of John) and the text’s impact in Asia Minor (e.g. Quartodeciman crisis), the early reception of 1 John (Papias of Hierapolis, Polycarp of Smyrna), the existence of a Johannine “school” or network of churches explaining the shared parallels between the books of the so-called Johannine corpus (Gospel, Epistles, Revelation), and the cultural milieu that accounts for Johannine features (e.g. competition with local synagogues and Graeco-Roman socio-religious formations, possible affinities of the opponents of 1 John with Cerinthus of Ephesus).
  • Alexandria: supported by the manuscript evidence from Egypt, the affinities of the Johannine Prologue (John 1:1-18; 1 John 1:1-3) with the thought of Philo of Alexandria (e.g. Logos, spiritualizing or allegorical hermeneutic), and the schism in 1 John as a precursor to the debate over John’s Gospel by proto-Orthodox and Valentinian interpreters.
  • Syria: supported by the affinities of John’s Gospel with the Syriac Odes of Solomon and Ignatius of Antioch, including possible affinities of the opponents of 1 John with “docetists” who viewed Jesus as a phantom who only seemed or appeared (Greek δοκέω) to suffer (Ignatius, To the Smyreans 2.1), and the Gospel’s familiarity with nearby Judaea.


  • Papias of Hierapolis seems to establish the terminus ad quem (“limit to which”) and his five-volume work Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord has been dated in the first quarter of the second century CE with an increasing majority dating it around 110 CE.
  • There is debate over whether the Epistles postdate an earlier version or final edition of John’s Gospel, even constituting an orthodox commentary on it (e.g. reasserting the incarnation and vicarious death of Jesus against those whose divine Christology devalued Jesus’s earthly existence in 1 John 2:1-2; 4:2-3, 10; 5:6-7; 2 John 1:7), or whether they predated the Gospel (e.g. more primitive features such as the prologue in 1 John 1:1-3 or the apocalyptic eschatology in 2:18, 28; 3:2; 4:17). See my bullet points on the date of John’s Gospel.


  • 1 John can be read as a polemical response to a recent, traumatic schism among a network of congregations, community, or school over Christology (1 John 2:22; 4:1-3; 5:1, 6, 10; 2 John 7) and ethics (1 John 1:8, 10; 2:9-11, 19; 3:8, 10, 17; 4:6, 20). There are a range of identifications for the successionists including docetists who denied Jesus had a corporeal body or physically suffered on the cross, Cerinthians or other advocates of a separationist Christology where Jesus was temporarily possessed by a divine entity (“Christ”), pneumatic Christians who downplayed Jesus’s earthly ministry and vicarious suffering in favour of the image of his as a revealer and dispenser of the Spirit and his death as an exaltation, or apostates who denied Jesus’s messiahship and returned to the synagogue. Alternatively, 1 John can be read as more of a pastoral exhortation to the audience to live in the light, obey the commandments, and love the fellowship of believers. The warnings against apostasy, against becoming an unspecified “them” (i.e. “anti-Christs”, “false prophets”) who abandoned the community to join the “world,” is more about strengthening the group’s internal boundaries.
  • 2 John encourages the elect lady and her children (for the referent see above) to remain united in obeying the love command and avoiding false teachers who create disunity; the itinerant false teachers are not to receive any greetings or hospitality in a household congregation (1:10-11).
  • In contrast to Gaius’s hospitality towards the “brothers [and sisters]” who served as itinerant ministers (3 John 1:5-8), Diotrephes rejected the authority of the “elder” via his letter and missionaries and maligned him (1:9-10). It is uncertain whether the “presbyteros” or Diotrephes held an official church office, which one had the higher rank or better reputation among the churches in the area, and whether their dispute was related to the schism in 1 John or another personal, ecclesial, or theological matter.


Jesus and the Gospels: Online Bibliographies

Here are some bibliographies to accompany the unit Jesus and the Gospels:

My Book “The Beloved Apostle?”

My latest book The Beloved Apostle: The Transformation of the Apostle John into the Fourth Evangelist is now listed on the catalogue for Cascade Books. Here is the description of the contents:

Second-century Christians had a significant role in shaping the import of the literary sources that they inherited from the first century through their editorial revisions and the church traditions that they appended to them. Michael J. Kok critically investigates the supposed clues that encouraged select Christian intellectuals to infer that John, one of Jesus’ chosen twelve apostles, was the mysterious “disciple whom Jesus loved” and to ascribe the fourth canonical Gospel as well as four other New Testament books back to him. Kok outlines how the image of Saint John of Ephesus was constructed. Not all early Christians approved of the fourth canonical Gospel and some expressed strong reservations about its theology, preferring to link it with a heretical adversary rather than with an authoritative Christian founder figure. Discover how the moves made in the second century were crucial for determining whether this Gospel would be preserved at all for posterity, much less as part of the scriptural collection of the developing Orthodox Church.

Here are the endorsements for the book:

“In this compelling volume, Michael Kok enters a conversation fraught with centuries of complications—the identity of John’s beloved disciple. How did it happen that the beloved disciple became synonymous both with John, the son of Zebedee, and the author of the fourth gospel? Kok’s treatment carefully walks the reader through the various traditions, connecting them to the acceptance of John’s Gospel within early expressions of Christian orthodoxy. This is a substantive and worthwhile read!”

—Christopher W. Skinner, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Loyola University Chicago

“In The Beloved Apostle? Michael Kok does for the question of the authorship of the Gospel of John what he had previously done for Mark, namely offer an impressively even-handed treatment of both the traditions of the ancient church, and the internal evidence, neither uncritically embracing nor uncritically dismissing the traditional attribution to John the son of Zebedee. I only hope that Kok will go on to provide similar treatments for Matthew and Luke!”

—James McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University

If you are interested in learning more about who was the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in John 13-20, how he became remembered as the creative inspiration for the whole Fourth Gospel (John 21:24), how he became identified with the Apostle John, and why the question of whether the New Testament books were written by apostles or their close associates has mattered to so many ancient and modern readers, I hope you will pick up a copy of the book.

Update: if you are at the SBL/AAR conference, check out the Wipf and Stock Publishers’ booth in the book hall. If you are willing to take a picture displaying the book, you can email it to me and I can post it on this blog if you would like.

The Epistle of James


“Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother… when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised…. for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. (Galatians 1:18-19; 2:9, 12)

“… he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done…” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1)

“James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel… [after throwing James off the temple and stoning him] And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ. And immediately Vespasian besieged them.” (Hegesippus, in Ecclesiastical History 2.23.4-6, 18)

“Listen also to James, the brother of the Lord, testifying in similar fashion when he says, ‘Whoever wants to be a friend of this world makes himself an enemy of God.'” (Origen, Commentary on the Epistle of Romans 4.2)

“To sum up briefly, he [Clement] has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture, not omitting the disputed books, — I refer to Jude and the other Catholic epistles, and Barnabas and the so-called Apocalypse of Peter” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.14.1; cf. Photius, Bibliotheca 109).

“Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.25.3)

“James, who is called the brother of the Lord, surnamed the Just, the son of Joseph by another wife, as some think, but, as appears to me, the son of Mary sister of the mother of our Lord of whom John makes mention in his book, after our Lord’s passion at once ordained by the apostles bishop of Jerusalem, wrote a single epistle, which is reckoned among the seven Catholic Epistles and even this is claimed by some to have been published by some one else under his name, and gradually, as time went on, to have gained authority… The Gospel also which is called the Gospel according to the Hebrews, and which I have recently translated into Greek and Latin and which also Origen often makes use of, after the account of the resurrection of the Saviour says, but the Lord, after he had given his grave clothes to the servant of the priest, appeared to James (for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he drank the cup of the Lord until he should see him rising again from among those that sleep)” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 2)


  • James, the son of Zebedee, was martyred too early (ca. 41-44 CE) to be the author (Acts 12:2) and we have little information about other candidates (e.g. James the son of Alphaeus, James the father of Judas) besides Jesus’s brother. James does not elaborate on his familial relationship with Jesus either because of authorial modesty or because his reputation was so well-established that he needed no introduction.
  • The address to diaspora Jews (1:1) who meet in a synagogue (2:2), the influence of Jewish wisdom and Jesus traditions, the praise of the “perfect” or “royal” law (1:25; 2:8), the attack on antinomianism (2:8-26), and the rebuke of the rich who oppress their land tenants or labourers (5:1-5) fits a pre-70 Jewish writer from Judaea like James. The text does not address circumcision and kosher food since it presumes the authority of Torah and does not address would-be Gentile proselytes.
  • There are parallels with the letter containing the apostolic decree sent out under the authority of James (Acts 15:23-29; cf. 15:13-21).
  • The text exhibits a range of Greek vocabulary and Hellenistic tropes (e.g. rudder of a ship) and consults the Septuagint, but there are questions about the Greek literacy of the Galilean family members of Jesus. Some neutralize this point by arguing that James used an amanuensis or his preaching was recorded with editorial additions by a literate disciple.
  • There are issues surrounding the dating of the epistle based on its parallels with other literary texts (see below).
  • The external attestation of the text before Origen of Alexandria is not strong, so the text may have been slowly accepted as authoritative and there was some debate in the early church about its authorship.


  • Conjectured dates for the writing of the epistle have ranged from the mid-first to the mid-second century CE.
  • If written by James, the text has to date before his martyrdom around 62 CE. Some scholars (e.g. Daniel B. Wallace) date it even before the question of whether non-Jewish Jesus followers were required to Judaize was debated at the Jerusalem Council (ca. 49 CE).
  • In James 2:8-26, did the writer intend to combat the theology of the Apostle Paul (based on a second-hand report of his preaching or an epistle such as Romans?), of Paulinist’s who misinterpreted Paul’s teaching on justification by faith(fullness), or of Marcion of Sinope who divorced the Christian revelation from its Jewish roots based on an (edited?) version of Paul’s Epistles (cf. David R. Nienhuis)?
  • Is James in touch with oral traditions in a pre-Matthean form (see Mark Allan Powell’s “Parallels between James and the Sermon on the Mount“)?
  • Is there a literary relationship between James and 1 Peter, 1 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas and, if so, what is the direction of influence? Or are the parallels based on shared traditions or a common cultural milieu? See the parallels between James and 1 Peter listed by Dale Allison and the analysis in The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers and The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers.
  • There is debate about the external attestation of the text before Origen (ca. 184-254 CE) and the earliest manuscript evidence from the third century CE is P20, P23, and P100.


“To the twelve tribes in the dispersion” (James 1:1)

  • A general Christian audience: note how 1 Peter addresses a predominantly non-Jewish, Christ-following audience with Israelite and exile imagery (1 Pet 1:1, 17; 2:9-11; 5:13).
  • A Jewish Christian audience: the authority of James, a straightforward reading of the epistolary address, the influence of Jesus’s ethical teachings, and the intra-Christian debate with Paulinism.
  • A non-Christian Jewish audience: some scholars even went as far to argue that the text was a synagogue homily that has been lightly Christianized in 1:1 and 2:1; the parousia (“coming”) of the kyrios (“Lord”) could be taken in reference to either God or Jesus (5:7; cf. 5:4, 7-9).


  • Primarily ethical exhortation rather than a systematic theological or Christological treatise.
  • A mere expression of belief (e.g. confession of the Shema or the oneness of God) is insufficient if it is not accompanied by action (2:14-26). The examples given are biblical (e.g. Abraham offering his son and Rahab protecting the spies) and practical (e.g. well-wishes to the poor without providing for their material needs).
  • Traditional wisdom and (eschatological) retribution theology: asking for wisdom (1:5; 3:13, 15, 17-18), obedience to the law (1:22-25; 2:10-13; 4:11), self-control over emotions (1:19-21), caring for the poor and showing non-partiality (1:17-18, 27; 2:1-6, 8-9, 15-16), taming the tongue (1:26; 3:1-12), avoiding envy and dissension (3:14-16; 4:1-2, 11-12; 5:9), having resolve without double-mindedness (1:5-8; 4:8; 5:12), and requesting prayer and healing (5:13-18). Innocent suffering in trials and temptations are acknowledged, including the biblical example of Job, but they have a character strengthening function (1:2-4, 12-16; 5:7-11).
  • Countercultural wisdom: prophetic denunciations of rich oppressors and the accumulation of wealth (1:9-11; 2:6-7; 4:3-4, 9-10, 13-16; 5:1-6).

The Miracles of Jesus

Triple Tradition:

  • Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31; Matt 8:14-15; Luke 4:38-39)
  • exorcism in the Capernaum synagogue (Mark 1:21-27; Luke 4:31-36; omitted in Matthew)
  • evening of healings/exorcisms (Mark 1:32-34; Matt 8:16; Luke 4:40-41)
  • summary statement (Mark 1:39; Matt 4:23-24 [?]; Luke 5:15)
  • healings/exorcisms in Galilee (Mark 1:39; 3:10-12; Matt 4:23-24 [?]; Luke 6:17-19)
  • leper (Mark 1:40-45; Matt 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16)
  • paralytic (Mark 2:1-12; Matt 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26)
  • man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6; Matt 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11)
  • apostles as exorcists/healers (Mark 3:15; 6:7, 13; Matt 10:1; Luke 9:1, 6)
  • Beelzebul accusation (Mark 3:22-30; Matt 12:24-26, 29, 31; Luke 11:15, 17-18, 21-22; see here for triple, double, or single tradition in this so-called “Mark-Q overlap”)
  • stilling the storm (Mark 4:35-41; Matt 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25)
  • Demoniac at the tombs (Mark 5:1-20; Matt 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39)
  • hemorrhaging woman (Mark 5:25-34; Matt 9:19-22; Luke 8:43-48)
  • resurrection of the synagogue ruler’s daughter (Mark 5:35-34; Matt 9:23-26; Luke 8:49-56)
  • Limited healings at the Nazarene synagogue (Mark 6:5; Matt 13:58; omitted in Luke 4:16-30)
  • Ministry in the villages (Mark 6:6; Matt 9:35; Luke 8:1)
  • feeding 5000 (Mark 6:32-44; Matt 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17)
  • healings at Gennesaret (Mark 6:53-56; Matt 14:34-36; omitted in Luke)
  • walking on water (Mark 6:45-52; Matt 14:22-27; omitted in Luke)
  • Syro-Phoenician (or Canaanite) woman’s daughter (Mark 7:24-30; Matt 15:21-28; omitted in Luke)
  • feeding 4000 (Mark 8:1-10; Matt 15:32-39; omitted in Luke)
  • epileptic child (Mark 9:14-29; Matt 17:14-19; Luke 9:37-42)
  • rival exorcist (Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50; omitted in Matthew)
  • blind man/men at Jericho (Mark 10:46-52; Matt 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43)
  • withered fig tree (Mark 11:12-14; Matt 21:18-19; omitted in Luke)
  • resurrection of Jesus (Mark 16:1-8; Matt 28:1-8; Luke 24:1-8)

Double Tradition:

  • centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10; Matt 8:5-13)
  • response to inquirers sent by the baptizer (Luke 7:18-23; Matt 11:2-6)
  • demon causes muteness (Luke 11:14; Matt 9:32-33; 12:22)
  • Beelzebul accusation (double tradition in Matt 9:34/12:24-32 and Luke 11:15-26/12:10 such as Matt 12:27-28/Luke 11:19-20; see here for triple, double, or single tradition in this so-called “Mark-Q overlap”)
  • commissioning the apostles to heal (Luke 10:9; Matt10:7-8)
  • mighty works in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (Luke 10:13-15; Matt 11:21-23)

Single Tradition:

  • deaf-mute man (Mark 7:31-37; cf. replaced by the summary statement of healings in Matt 15:30-31)
  • two-stage healing of blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)
  • two blind men (Matt 9:27-31)
  • the twelve are to freely offer their healing services (Matt 10:8)
  • coin in fish’s mouth (Matt 17:24-27)
  • healing in the temple courts (Matt 21:14)
  • miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11; cf. John 21:1-14)
  • Jesus’s speech in the Nazarene synagogue (Luke 4:16-27)
  • widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
  • exorcism of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2; cf. Mark 16:9)
  • seventy disciples as exorcists (Luke 10:1, 17-20)
  • crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17)
  • man with edema or swelling (Luke 14:1-6)
  • ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19)
  • the ear of the high priest’s servant (Luke 22:51)


  • clairvoyant perception of Nathaniel (1:47-51)
  • water to wine (2:1-12)
  • royal official’s son at Cana (4:46-54)
  • paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (5:1-9)
  • feeding 5000 (6:1-14)
  • walking on water (6:16-21)
  • blind man at the pool of Siloam (9:1-12)
  • resurrection of Lazarus (11:38-44)
  • resurrection of Jesus (20:1-29)
  • miraculous catch of fish (21:1-14)

Controversial Sabbath Healings: A Closer Look

  • The man with the withered hand (Mark 3:1-6), the crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17), the man with edema (Luke 14:1-6), and the healings at the pools of Bethesda and Siloam (John 5:1-17).
  • The Sabbath command in the Decalogue (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; cf. Exodus 31:14; 35:3-4). Note that the practice is justified by God’s rest on the seventh day of creation (cf. Genesis 2:2-3) or the reminder of deliverance from their heavy labour in Egypt.
  • The Pharisees, and later the Rabbis (cf. Mishnah Shabbat 7.2), efforts to “build a fence around the Torah” and to define work in their oral tradition.
  • Permissible exceptions: self-defense (1 Maccabees 2:41; Tosefta Eruvin 3.5; but cf. Jubilees 50:12-13) and saving life (Mishnah Yoma 8.6Bavli Yoma 85b).
  • Did healing by speaking a word constitute work? Did picking up one’s mat (John 5:10) or making mud (John 9:6, 15-16) constitute work?
  • Synoptic defenses: the precedent of David eating the sacred bread perhaps on a Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28; cf. 1 Samuel 21:1-6; Leviticus 24:8), rescuing an animal in a pit (Matthew 12:11-12; Luke 14:5; contra Damascus Document 11.13-14), and the principle of doing good and the kingdom overcoming Satan.
  • John’s defenses: circumcision on the Sabbath (John 7:23) and Jesus’s equality with the Father (John 5:17-18)
  • A short bibliography:
    • Bockmuehl, Markus. Jewish Law in Gentile Churches: Halakhah and the Beginning of Christian Public Ethics. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000.
    • Casey, Maurice. Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian’s Account of His Life and Teachings. London: T&T Clark International, 2010.
    • Collins, Nina. Jesus, the Sabbath and the Jewish Debate: Healing on the Sabbath in the 1st and 2nd Centuries CE. LNTS 474. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.
    • Crossley, James. The New Testament and the Jewish Law: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: T&T Clark International, 2010.
    • Doering, Lutz. “Sabbath Laws in the New Testament Gospels.” In The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature. Edited by R. Bieringer, F. García Martínez, D. Pollefeyt, & P. Tomson. JSJSup 136. Leiden: Brill, 2010.
    • Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew, Volume IV: Law and Love. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009.
    • Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985.
    • Vermes, Geza. Jesus the Jew: A Historians Reading of the Gospels. London: Collins, 1973.

The Gerasene Demoniac: A Closer Look

  • The text critical issue: Gerasa was 55 kilometres (34 miles) from the lake and Gadara was 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the lake. Origen thought the location may be “Gergesa” in his Commentary on John (6.41)
  • A dramatic account of an exorcism of a multitude of demons, a politically subversive story, or both?
  • Earthly empires represented in the heavens (cf. Daniel 10:13, 20-21).
  • Invaded and colonized by a foreign power.
  • A Roman legion could have up to 5100 soldiers.
  • The Legio Decem Fretensis had a boar’s head as one of its emblems and played a role in the Jewish War.
  • The herd of pigs drowning in the Sea is reminiscent of the fate of Pharaoh’s army in Exodus 14:26-28.
  • A short bibliography:
    • Dormandy, Richard. “The Expulsion of Legion: A Political Reading of Mark 5:1-20.”Expository Times 111 (2000): 335-37.
    • Horsley, Richard A.  Hearing the Whole Story: The Politics of Plot in Mark’s Gospel.  Louisville; London; Leiden: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001 (see also Robert Gundry, “Richard Horsley’s Hearing the Whole Story: A Critical Review of its Postcolonial Slant” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 26 [2003]: 131-149 and Horsley’s response on pages 151-169).
    • Incigneri, Brian J.  The Gospel to the Romans: The Setting and Rhetoric of Mark’s Gospel.  Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2003.
    • Myers, Ched. Binding the Strongman: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus. Second Edition. Marynoll: Orbis, 2008.
    • Newheart, Michael Willett. My Name is Legion: The Story and Soul of the Gerasene Demoniac. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2004.

Walking on Water: A Closer Look

  • The Ancient Near Eastern Combat Myth (cf. the Babylonian/Akkadian myth Enuma Elish and the Ugaritic/Canaanite Baal Cycle)
  • The defeat of the chaotic sea monster (Job 26:12; Psalm 74:13-15; Isaiah 27:1); compare this with the sovereignty of Elohim over the formless void and waters in the priestly creation account (Genesis 1:2).
  • Yahweh trampling upon the waters of chaos (Job 9:8; 38:16). There are Greek and Roman stories of deities (or the horses pulling Poseidon’s chariot) running at super-speed across water.
  • Moses and Elijah divided the waters (Exodus 14:21–29; 2 Kings 2:8; cf. Joshua 3:14-17) and multiplied food (Exodus 16:1–36; Numbers 11:1–9; 1 Kings 17:14–16). Philo praises Moses’s command of the elements (Life of Moses 1.55-58). Note the sequence of sea and feeding miracles, alluding to the sea-crossing followed by the provision of manna in the wilderness.
  • The hubris of imperial rulers: the Persian emperor Herodotus commands that the Hellespont receive 300 lashes after a storm thwarts his efforts to cross over it on a bridge of boats (cf. Herodotus, Histories 7.35-57) and Antiochus IV Epiphanies imagines that he could sail on the land and walk on the sea (2 Maccabees 5:21; 9:8).
  • Yahweh extends his power over the sea to king David (Psalm 89:9-10, 25)
  • Does Mark 6:48-51 use the imagery of a theophany in the description of Jesus passing by the disciples (cf. LXX Exodus 33:17–23; 34:6) and use of ego eimi (“I am” or “it is I”)?
  • Peter is invited to walk on the water, but he begins to sink in doubt before Jesus takes hold of him in Matthew 14:28-31.
  • Compare the disciples’ hard hearts in Mark 6:51-52 with their confession and worship in Matthew 14:33.
  • A short bibliography:
    • Collins, Adela Yarbro. “Rulers, Divine Men, and Walking on the Water (Mark 6:45-52).” In Religious Propaganda and Missionary Competition in the New Testament World: Essays Honoring Dieter Georgi, 207-227. Edited by L. Bormann, K. del Tredici, and A. Standhartinger. Leiden: Brill, 1994.
    • Cotter,  Wendy J. The Christ of the Miracle Stories: Portrait through Encounter. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.
    • Hays, Richard. Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness. Waco: Baylor, 2014.
    • Kirk, Daniel and Young, Stephen L. “I Will Set his Hand to the Sea: Psalm 88:26 (LXX) and Christology in Mark.” Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (2014): 333-340.
    • Mcphee, Brian D. “Walk, Don’t Run: Jesus’s Water Walking is Unparalleled in Greco-Roman Mythology.” Journal of Biblical Literature 135.4 (2016): 763-777.


Christology and (Human, Angelic, Divine) Intermediary Agents: A Bibliography

*Note: this is a preliminary bibliography that will be continually revised and aims to assist you in your study of Christology and the human, angelic, and divine intermediary agents in Second Temple Judaism and the early Christ movement. I am also going to just include books rather than articles in journals or edited volumes. Email any suggestions that could be added to the bibliography.


Barker, Margaret. The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God. London: SPCK, 1992.

Barker, Margaret. The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity. Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 1985.

Bartlett, David L. Christology in the New Testament. Nashville: Abingdon, 2017.

Bates, Matthew. The Birth of the Trinity: Jesus, God, and Spirit in New Testament and Early Christian Interpretations of the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Bauckham, Richard. God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2008.

Bird, Michael F. Are You the One Who is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.

Bird, Michael F. Jesus is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels. Downers Grove: IVP, 2012.

Bird, Michael F. et al. How God became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.

Bird, Michael F. Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christologies. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017.

Boccaccini, Gabriele. Editor. Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of Parables. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Bockmuehl, Markus. This Jesus: Martyr, Lord, Messiah. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994.

Bousset, Wilhelm. Kyrios Christos: A History of the Belief in Christ from the Beginnings of Christianity to Irenaeus. Translated by John E. Steely. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2013.

Boyarin, Daniel. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2004.

Boyarin, Daniel. The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. New York: The New Press, 2012.

Brown, Raymond. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. New York: Paulinist, 1994.

Burkett, Delbert. The Son of Man Debate: A History and Evaluation. SNTSMS 107. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Capes, David B. The Divine Christ:  Paul, the Lord Jesus and the Scriptures of Israel. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2018.

Capes, David B. Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992.

Casey, Maurice. From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God: The Origins and Development of New Testament Christology. Cambridge: James Clarke and Co, 1991.

Casey, Maurice. The Solution to the Son of Man Problem. LNTS 343; London: T&T Clark, 2007.

Charlesworth, J. H. Editor. The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.

Chester, Andrew. Messiah and Exaltation: Jewish Messianic and Visionary Traditions and New Testament Christology. WUNT I.207. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.

Collins, John J. The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

Collins, Adela, and Collins, John. King and Messiah as Son of God: Divine, Human and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

Cotter, Wendy J. The Christ of the Miracle Stories: Portrait through Encounter. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.

Cullmann, Oscar. The Christology of the New Testament. Translated by Shirley Guthrie and Charles Hall. London: SCM, 1959.

Douglas, Sally. Early Church Understandings of Jesus as the Female Divine: The Scandal of the Scandal of Particularity. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016. 

Dunn, James. Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation. Second Edition. London: SCM, 1989.

Dunn, James. Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The New Testament Evidence. London: Westminster John Knox, 2010.

Ehrman, Bart D. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne, 2014.

Endo, Masanobu. Creation and Christology: A Study on the Johannine Prologue in the Light of Early Jewish Creation Accounts. WUNT II.149. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002.

Eskola, Timo. Messiah and the Throne. Jewish Merkbah Mysticism and Early Christian Exaltation Discourse. WUNT 2.142. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001.

Fee, Gordon D. Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The One who is to Come. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Fletcher-Louis, Crispin. Jesus Monotheism Volume 1, Christological Origins: The Emerging Consensus and Beyond. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2015.

Fossum, Jarl E. The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1985.

Fredriksen, Paula. From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ. Second Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Fuller, Reginald H. The Foundations of NT Christology. New York: Scribner, 1965.

Gathercole, Simon J. The Pre-existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.

Gaventa, Beverly R., and Hays, Richard B. Editors. Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

Gieschen, Charles A. Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence. AGJU 42; Leiden: Brill, 1998.

Grindheim, Sigurd. God’s Equal: What can we Know about Jesus’ Self-Understanding in the Synoptic Gospels? LNTS 446. London: T&T Clark, 2011.

Hamerton-Kelly, R. G. Pre-Existence, Wisdom, and the Son of Man: A Study of the Idea of PreExistence in the New Testament. Society of New Testament Studies Monograph Series 21. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

Hannah, Darrell. Michael and Christ: Michael Traditions and Angel Christology in Early Christianity. WUNT 2.109. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999.

Harnack, Adolf. A History of Dogma, Volume 1. Translated by Neil Buchanan. New York: Dover, 1961.

Harvey, A. E. Jesus and the Constraints of History. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982.

Hays, Richard. Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014.

Heiser, Michael S. “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Canonical Second Temple Literature.” PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin. 2004.

Hengel, Martin. The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish-Hellenistic Religion. London: SCM, 1976.

Henrichs-Tarasenkova, Nina. Luke’s Christology of Divine Identity. LNTS 542. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Hillar, Marian. From Logos to Trinity: The Evolution of Religious Beliefs from Pythagoras to Tertullian. Cambridge; New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Himmelfarb, Martha. Jewish Messiahs in a Christian Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017.

Holladay, Carl R. Theios aner in Hellenistic-Judaism: a critique of the use of this category in New Testament Christology. Missoula: Scholar’s Press, 1977.

Hooker, Morna. The Son of Man in Mark: A Study of the Background of the Term ‘Son of Man’ and Its Use in St. Mark’s Gospel. London: SPCK, 1967.

Horbury, William. Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ. London: SCM, 1998.

Hurtado, Larry W. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

Hurtado, Larry W. How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.

Hurtado, Larry W. One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. Third Edition. London; New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Hurtado, Larry W. Honouring the Son: Jesus in Earliest Christian Devotional Practice. Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2018.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology. New York: Crossroad, 1995.

Jonge, Marinus de. Christology in Context: The Earliest Christian Response to Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1989.

Juel, Donald. Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.

Kaiser, Christopher B. Seeing the Lord’s Glory: Kyriocentric Visions and the Dilemma of Early Christology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014.

Keith, Chris and Roth, Dieter T. Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado. LNTS 58; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015.

Kingsbury, Jack Dean. The Christology of Mark’s Gospel. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983.

Kinlaw, Pamela E. Christ is Jesus: Metamorphosis, Possession, and Johannine Christology. Atlanta: SBL, 2005.

Kirk, J. R. Daniel.  A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016.

Klausner, Joseph. The Messianic Idea in Israel: From Its Beginning to the Completion of the Mishnah. New York: Macmillan Company, 1955.

Lee, Aquila H. I. From Messiah to Preexistent Son: Jesus’ Self Consciousness and Early Christian Exegesis of Messianic Psalms. WUNT II.192. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

Lee, Simon S. Jesus’ Transfiguration and the Believers’ Transformation: A Study of the Transfiguration and Its Development in Early Christian Writings. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.

Litwa, M. David. IESUS DEUS: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014.

Loader, William. Jesus in John’s Gospel: Structures and Issues in Johannine Christology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017.

Longenecker, Richard N. The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity. London: SCM, 1970.

Longenecker, Richard N. Editor. Contours of Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.

MacDonald, Nathan. Deuteronomy and the Meaning of “Monotheism.” Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

Marcus, Joel. The Way of the Lord: Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Mark. London: T&T Clark International, 1992.

Marshall, I. Howard. The Origins of New Testament Christology. London: IVP, 1976.

Matera, Frank. New Testament Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999.

McDonough, Sean M. Christ as Creator: Origins of a New Testament Doctrine. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

McGrath, James F. John’s Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

McGrath, James F. The One True God: Early Christian Monotheism in its Jewish Context. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

Moule, C. F. D. The Origin of Christology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Meeks, Wayne A. The Prophet-King: Moses Traditions and the Johannine Christology. NovTSup 14. Leiden: Brill, 1967.

Mowinckel, Sigmund. He That Cometh. The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism.  Oxford: Blackwell, 1956.

Müller, Mogens. The Expression ‘Son of Man’ and the Development of Christology: A History of Interpretation. London: Equinox, 2008.

Neusner, Jacob. Messiah in Context: Israel’s History and Destiny in Formative Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.

Neusner, J., Green, W. S., and Frerichs, E. Editors. Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Newman, Carey C., James R. Davila, and Gladys S. Lewis. Editors. The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism. Leiden: Brill, 1999.

Neyrey, Jerome H. Christ Is Community: The Christologies of the New Testament. Wilmington: Glazier, 1985.

Nickelsburg, George and John J. Collins, eds. Ideal Figures in Ancient Judaism. Chico: Scholars Press, 1980.

Novenson, Matthew V. Christ among the Messiahs: Christ Language in Paul and Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Novenson, Matthew V. The Grammar of Messianism: An Ancient Jewish Political Idiom and its Users. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

O’Collins, Gerald. Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Orlov, Andrei A. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 107. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

Papandrea, James L. The Earliest Christologies: Five Images of Christ in the Postapostolic Age. Downers Grove: IVP, 2016.

Peppard, Michael. The Son of God in the Roman World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Porter, Stanley E. Editor. The Messiah in the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Powell, Mark Allan, and Bauer, David R. Editors. Who Do You Say That I Am? Essays on Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999.

Rowe, C. Kavin. Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2006.

Rowland, Christopher. The Open Heaven. A Study of Apocalyptic Judaism and Christianity. New York: Crossroads, 1982.

Scholem, Gershom. The Messianic Idea and Other Essays.  New York: Schocken, 1971.

Segal, Alan F. Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism. Leiden: Brill, 1977.

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. Angel Veneration and Christology: A Study in Early Judaism and in the Christology of the Apocalypse of John. WUNT 2.70. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995.

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. and North, Wendy E. S. Editors. Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism. JSNTSupp 263. London: T&T Clark, 2004.

Talbert, Charles H. The Development of Christology during the First Hundred Years: and Other Essays on Early Christian Christology. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 140. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

Tilling, Chris. Paul’s Divine Christology. WUNT 323. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.

Tuckett, Christopher M. Christology and the New Testament: Jesus and His Earliest Followers. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001.

Vermes, Geza. Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea. London: Penguin, 2012.

Vermes, Geza. The Changing Faces of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2000.

Waddell, James. The Messiah: A Comparative Study of the Enochic Son of Man and the Pauline Kyrios. Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013.

Watts, Rikki E. Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Whitenton, Michael R. Hearing Kyriotic Sonship: A Cognitive and Rhetorical Approach to the Characterization of Mark’s Jesus. Leiden: Brill, 2016.

Wink, Walter. The Human Being: The Enigma of the Son of Man. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001.

 Witherington III, Ben. Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of Wisdom. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994.
Witherington III, Ben. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990.

Wright, N. T. Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 4. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013.

Wright, N. T. The New Testament and the People of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.

Zetterholm, Magnus. Editor. The Messiah in Early Judaism and Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.

Other helpful bibliographies:

The Christological Titles of Jesus

The Christ (ho Christos)

  • The Greek “Christ” (Χριστός) translates the Hebrew noun mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ) or “anointed one.” The Hebrew verb mashach (מָשַׁח) means to “smear/anoint with oil.”
  • Prophets, priests, and rulers could all be anointed to perform particular tasks; even the non-Jewish Persian ruler Cyrus II (“the Great”) was an “anointed” one who permitted the Jewish exiles to return from Babylon to the land (Isaiah 45:1).
  • To uncover the range of messianic ideas, should scholars restrict their analysis to texts that use the terminology for “anointed” or wider their search to figures who perform messianic functions (e.g. idealized ruler)? Note that the absolute usage of “anointed one” without qualification is rare (but cf. 1QSa 2.11-12; Mark 8:29)
  • Diverse messianic expectations in the Second Temple period:

The Son of God (ho huios tou theou)

  • Divine or angelic beings (Genesis 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Psalm 29:1; 82:6; Daniel 3:25)
  • The nation of Israel collectively (Hosea 11:1; cf. Matthew 2:15)
  • The righteous (Wisdom of Solomon 2:13-20; Matthew 5:9)
  • The heir to David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:12-14; Psalm 2:7-9)
  • Octavian “Augustus” (“venerable”), the great-nephew and adopted son of the deified Julius Caesar, had the title divi filius (son of god) minted on his coins. See also the Priene Calendar Inscription (9 BCE).
  • Did Jesus receive the title Son of God at his resurrection (Romans 1:3-4; Acts 13:32-35), his baptism (Mark 1:9-11; cf. 9:2-8; 15:37-39), or his birth (Luke 1:30-35)? Or was he eternally the Son of God before he became human (Romans 8:3-4; Galatians 4:4-5; Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:18; cf. Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; John 1:1-18)?

The Son of the Human (ho huios tou anthropou)

  • Present:
    • Markan Tradition: Mark 2:10 (cf. Matthew 9:6; Luke 5:24); 2:28 (cf. Matthew 12:8; Luke 6:5)
    • Double Tradition: Luke 6:22/Matthew 5:11 (Matthew has “my account”); Luke 7:34/Matthew 11:19; Luke 9:58/Matthew 8:20 (cf. Gospel of Thomas logion 86); Luke 11:30/Matthew 12:40 (was the sign of Jonah about Jesus’s preaching?); Luke 12:10/Matthew 12:32
    • M or L Tradition: Matthew 13:37; 16:13 (but cf. Mark 8:27; Luke 9:18); Luke 19:10 
    • Johannine Tradition: John 1:51 (?); 3:13; John 5:27 (?); 6:27; 6:53 (?); 9:35
  • Suffering and vindication:
    • Markan Tradition: Mark 8:31 (cf. Luke 9:22; Matthew 16:21 indirect summary of Jesus’s suffering); 9:9 (cf. Matthew 17:9; Luke 9:36 omits the reference to the resurrection); 9:12 (cf. Matthew 17:11-12; omitted in Luke); 9:31 (cf. Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:44); 10:33-34 (cf. Matthew 20:18-19; Luke 18:31-33); 10:45 (cf. Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:27 has “I” and omits the ransom saying); 14:21 (cf. Matthew 26:24; Luke 22:22)
    • Double Tradition: Luke 11:30/Matthew 12:40 (was the sign of Jonah about Jesus’s death and resurrection?)
    • M or L Tradition: Matthew 26:2 (but cf. Mark 14:1-2; Luke 21:1-2); Luke 22:48 (but cf. Matthew 26:49-50; Mark 14:45); 24:7 (but cf. Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:6-7)
    • Johannine Tradition: John 3:14; 6:53 (?); 8:28; 12:23; 12:34; 13:31
  • Eschatological:
    • Markan Tradition: Mark 8:38 (cf. Luke 9:26; Matthew 10:33 has “I”); 13:26 (cf. Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27); 14:62 (cf. Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:69)
    • Double Tradition: Luke 12:8/Matthew 10:32 (Matthew has “I”); Luke 17:24/Matthew 24:27; Luke 17:26/Matthew 24:37
    • M or L Tradition: Matthew 10:23; 13:41; 16:27; 16:28 (but cf. Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27); 19:28a (but cf. Luke 22:30/Matthew 19:28b); 24:30a; 24:39b (cf. Luke 17:27/Matthew 24:38-39a); 25:31; Luke 17:22; 17:30; 18:8; 21:36
    • Johannine Tradition: John 1:51 (?); 5:27 (?)
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 on the Lord’s descent on the clouds.
  • The Aramaic bar enasha may be an idiomatic expression that was either a circumlocution for “I” or humanity in general with a particularizing reference to the speaker. See Mark 2:27-28; Luke 7:34/Matthew 11:19; Luke 9:58/Matthew 8:20; Mark 3:28-29/Luke 12:10/Matthew 12:31-32.
  • The vision in Daniel 7: is the human-like figure a symbol for the saints of Israel who were oppressed by foreign empires but vindicated by God (cf. 7:27), the angelic representative of Israel in heaven (e.g. Michael), or the messianic “king” of the kingdom of the saints (cf. 7:17)?
  • There is little evidence that “the Son of Man” was used as a title or for a common expectation of such a cosmic figure, but there is evidence that Daniel 7 was interpreted in an individualizing, messianic direction in the Gospels, the Similitudes of Enoch (chapters 37-71), and 4 Ezra 13:1-58. The date of the Similitudes (ca. 40 BCE – 70 CE) and its influence on the Gospel traditions (especially Matthew 25:31) is very contested.
  • Do the Similitudes interpret the human-like figure of Daniel 7 as the heavenly “anointed one” (48:10; 52:4), who is pre-existent (48:3, 6; 62:7) and will sit on a cosmic throne to receive worship and hand down judgment (45:3; 48:5; 51:3; 55:4; 61:8-9; 62:5-6, 8-9; 69:27-29), or does Enoch see a vision of his own exaltation or his heavenly double (71:14)?
  • Ezra’s vision of a human from the sea who flies on the clouds is interpreted as a messianic figure or “my son” (4 Ezra 13:32, 37, 52). He was kept hidden for ages but emerges at an unknown time to rule on Mount Zion, to judge his enemies according to the law, and to re-gather the lost tribes of Israel. Interestingly, the Messiah dies after a 400-year reign (7:28-29) before the last judgment and general resurrection.
  • See the work of the Enoch Seminar.

The Lord (ho kyrios)

  • To prevent the misuse of the divine name in oaths or magical curses, the divine name YHWH or the Tetragrammaton  was replaced with “Lord” in Hebrew (adonai) or Greek (kyrios). This convention is followed in English biblical translations that have the LORD in capital letters.
  • A polite form of address to a social superior (e.g. sir, master). This may be the intended meaning when a person from the crowd, a recipient of a healing, or a disciple addresses Jesus.
  • The kyrios or owner of property.
  • As the patronage system was foundational in the ancient Mediterranean, the Roman Emperor was the supreme lord or patron who governs, provides, and protects and is owed honours and allegiance by his subjects. “Why, what harm is there in saying, Caesar is Lord, and offering incense” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 8:2)
  • Maranatha (Μαραναθα) is a transliteration of an early Aramaic prayer for the Lord to come (1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20; Didache 10:14).
  • Kyrios texts that referred to Yahweh that were reapplied to Jesus: for example, see Mark 1:3 (Isaiah 40:3 LXX; cf. Mark 5:19-20), Romans 10:13 (Joel 2:32), and Philippians 2:9-11 (Isaiah 45:23-24).

Wisdom (sophia) and Word (Logos

  • Lady Wisdom: the remnants of goddess worship, a personification of a divine attribute, or a divine hypostasis? See Proverbs 2; 8; Sirach 24; Wisdom 6:12-25, 7:7-11:1; Baruch 3:9-4:4; 1 Enoch 42:1-2; Matthew 11:19, 28-30; 23:34; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:2-3.
  • God’s creative and prophetic “word” (Genesis 1:3; Psalm 33:6; 107:20; 119:9, 11, 89, 105, 114; Isaiah 40:8; 55:11)
  • Heraclitus of Ephesus (535-475 BCE):
    • “Though this Word is true evermore, yet men are as unable to understand it when they hear it for the first time as before they have heard it at all. For, though all things come to pass in accordance with this Word, men seem as if they had no experience of them, when they make trial of words and deeds such as I set forth, dividing each thing according to its kind and showing how it is what it is.” (DK B1)
    • “Though the logos is common, the many live as if they had a wisdom of their own.” (DK B2)
  • The Logos in Stoicisim and Middle Platonism
  • The synthesis of Jewish and Hellenistic philosophy in Philo of Alexandria: see “Philo’s Logos as Divine Mediator” (Masanobu Endo)

Here is a bibliography for further research.

My Review of “Jesus the Eternal Son” for RBECS

My review of Michael F. Bird’s Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology (Eerdmans, 2017) has been posted at the online publication Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies. You can get a preview of Bird’s argument in his interviews for Eerdmans and the OnScript podcast and his post at the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins blog. His own popular blog is entitled Euangelion (“Gospel”). I wanted to write this review not only to evaluate Bird’s well-argued case that what is typically labelled as “adoptionism” (i.e. the notion that Jesus was merely human and transformed into the divine Son at his baptism or his resurrection) does not surface until the late second century CE, but also to reflect on the valuable conversation between the historical study of what different individuals or groups believed about Jesus at different times and places with the theological study about what Christians who embrace the whole canon and creeds confess about Him.

Biblical Studies Carnival for Ocotober 2017

Doug Chaplin has posted the biblical studies carnival for October 2017. There is lots of helpful links on the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament (my post on 2 Peter made the cut), textual criticism, translation theory, and book reviews. Enjoy.