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Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?

Note from Rowland: I believe this is an excellent article addressing a very important question. Note that Dr. Vincent Taylor is not denying the Divinity of Christ (and, interestingly, capitalizes personal pronouns relating to Christ, a practice which is not customary among contemporary progressive/liberal – and even most conservative – scholars). For more on this mainline NT scholar see http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-Taylor.htm or to track down more on Vincent Taylor in Expository Times see http://ext.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/75/6/164 ).

Anyone out there want to modify the ideas/phrasing here from the works of later scholars?


[From Expository Times, January 1962, Vol. 73, pp. 116-118]

by Vincent Taylor, D.D., F.B.A.

THIS is a question of considerable importance since it not only concerns the interpretation of a number of New Testament passages, but also bears on the modern problems of Christology. It should be recognized at the outset that the question is not whether Jesus is divine, but whether He is actually described as THEOS and whether we… are justified in speaking of Him as ‘God’. Some scholars do speak of Him in this way, while others who hold the highest estimate of His Person hesitate to use this name and feel a sense of uneasiness when they hear it applied to Him. By way of example we may compare the way in which Professor Leonard Hodgson speaks of Jesus in his Gifford Lectures, For Faith and Freedom, and the usage of Professor James Denney discussed in his correspondence with Sir W. Robertson Nicoll as revealed in the Letters of Principal James Denney to W. Robertson Nicoll [1883-1917], 120-126.

Professor Hodgson says that the life of Christ was the life of One for whom we can find no place in our thought ‘short of acknowledging Him as God’, and again that we cannot account for what He was and did by thinking of Him ‘as anything less than God’ (pp. 83-86). In a letter to Principal Denney, Robertson Nicoll said that, for all his apparent orthodoxy, there was a singular vein of scepticism in Denney, and Denney admitted that the aversion he had to such expressions as Jesus is God was linguistic as much as theological. ‘Jesus’, he wrote, ‘is man as well as God, in some way therefore both less and more than God; and consequently a form of proposition which in our idiom suggests inevitably the precise equivalence of Jesus and God does some kind of injustice to the truth’ (p. 57).

The contrast between these two points of view is very marked, and it must be considered which of them commands the greater support on exegetical and theological grounds.


The relevant New Testament passages are comparatively few. Bultmann observes that ‘in describing Christ as “God” the New Testament still exercises great restraint’. Except for Jn 1:1, Bultmann observes, ‘where the pre-existent Logos is called God, and Jn 20:28, where Thomas reverences the risen Christ with the exclamation, “My Lord and my God” this assertion is made


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