Page 4, 4th May 1984

4th May 1984
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Page 4, 4th May 1984 — Jesus the messiah

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Jesus the messiah

I FEEL that I can deal with the errors in Channel 4's "Jesus: the evidence" easily enough, but coping with Fr. Wansbrough's rebuttal (April 20) of the series is a bit more complicated.

Fr. Wansbrough approvingly quotes the Jewish writer, Verme, as saying that Jesus never thought of Himself as God. Well (to use a famous quotation), he would say that, wouldn't he?

Jewry has a long ancestral memory, and 2000 years after the event it is still strictly forbidden for a Jew to acknowledge Jesus even as the Messiah, let alone acknowledge his divinity.

If I understand Fr. Wansbrough correctly, he says that, while Jesus was indeed God, he did not think of himself as God.

After recovering from an awed silence, I will say only that Our Lord in fact never seemed to have the slightest doubt as to who he was, and on occasion pressed the mystery of his person on his hearers.

One episode thought important enough to be included in all three synoptic gospels was Our Lord's question to the Pharisees: "If David (in the psalms) calls him (the Messiah) Lord, how can he be David's son?" (Matthew 22:45 and parallels).

Matthew tells us that the Pharisees were unable to answer a word, and were afraid from then onwards to ask any more questions. The inference must be that they saw a claim to divine rank.

Finally, Fr. Wansbrough says it is undeniable that Jesus never called himself God in the gospels. Not so; could this come of reading the experts rather than the original sources? In John 8:58 Our Lord tells the Jews: "Before Abraham came into existence, I am". The Jews recognised the "I Am" as one of the titles of God, and prepared to stone him, stoning being the penalty for blasphemy.

G. Robinson Bristol

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