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The Case for Jesus Course Introduction: Bart Ehrman and the Transfiguration of Jesus on the Mountain (Part 3 of 5)

by Brant Pitre May 02, 2016


< Watch Part 2     Watch Part 4 >

In this video excerpt, which is part 3 of 5, taken from The Case for Jesus: The Reliability of the Gospels and the Jewish Roots of Jesus' Divinity, Dr. Brant Pitre continues his critique of skeptical scholars (e.g., Bart Ehrman and others) who claim that Jesus was not a divine Messiah in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Dr. Pitre does so in this video by following up on the last video with some final comments about the the walking on the water scene and with the divine Jesus you find at the theophany of the Transfiguration, as depicted in the synoptic Gospels.

Following up with the Walking on Water: One element that the Gospel of John gives us about this account that the synoptics do not is that Jesus was about 4 miles out in the Sea of Galilee, which is roughly 7 miles wide at its widest point. This small element further enforces the miraculous nature of the walking on water, for Jesus was not simply walking out on a sandbar near the shore or surfing on sheets of ice -- he was effectively in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, walking on water. Moreover, Matthew also gives us an extra detail stating that the Apostles began to worship him when they got back into the boat, which is the very thing that Jesus told the devil in his temptations in the desert earlier in the Gospel of Matthew that was owed to God alone. So the question remains: Why does Jesus accept the worship of his disciples if he's not divine when that is precisely what he states is due to God alone earlier in the very same Gospel?

The Transfiguration: In Mark 9, at the mount of the transfiguration with Peter, James and John, Jesus is not just revealing his power to his disciples, but is performing a theophany, when read in context. In this scene, Moses and Elijah appear, who are two figures in the Old Testament who did not get to see the face of God (Cf. Exodus 33 and 1Kings 19) -- they hid and covered their faces in the theophanies of the Old Testament when God passed them by. But, now it is in the Glory Cloud (Shekinah) of the Old Testament that Jesus reveals God's face to Moses and Elijah, and Moses and Elijah are finally able to see the face of the God whose face they could not see in their earthly life. In Jesus of Nazareth, God now has a face that these two figures longed to see.

Finally, Dr. Pitre asks, "How does Ehrman get around this?" For, in fact, Bart Ehrman, in his book, How Jesus became God, quoted by Dr. Pitre in this video, acknowledges that Jesus is divine in the synoptic Gospels and performs divine acts. But, Bart Ehrman then resorts not to denying that we have a divine Jesus in the synoptics (which he does earlier in the same book), but that it is the "anonymous" authors of the Gospels who made him divine (i.e., invented his divine identity) when penning the Gospels.

Thus, we have something of a fallacy of begging the question (Petitio Principii) happening with Bart Ehrman's book. Effectively, the circle goes like this:

(1) We know Jesus was not divine in the synoptics, according to Bart Ehrman.

And, how do we know that?

(2) Because there is no evidence for it, according to Bart Ehrman...except for the evidence that is there expressing Jesus' divinity. But, in those instances where Jesus is made out to be divine in the synoptics, we know it was simply made up, retroactively sensationalized and applied to the real, historical Jesus.

And, how do we know that?

(3) Because we know that Jesus was not divine, especially in the synoptics.

Therefore, to assert the argument, Jesus was not divine in the synoptics we must either ignore the evidence that is there or run into the circular argument as to why it was made up, assuming the very thing needed to be established.

You can find more videos and comment on this one at blog.catholicproductions.com.

You can also find Dr. Pitre's Bible studies on cd/dvd/mp3 and signed books at https://store.catholicproductions.com/collections/brant-pitre



Brant Pitre
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