The Divine Son of God, God Incarnate, Lord, Redeemer, and Saviour of the World

by Doug Mason 18 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    Before Jesus was born or even if he had never existed—another human being was already proclaimed Son of God and, indeed, God Incarnate within the same first common-era century and within the same Mediterranean world. In fact, almost all the sacred terms and solemn titles that we might think of as Christian creations or even Pauline inventions were already associated with Caesar Augustus, the first undisputed ruler of the Roman Empire, from 31 BCE to 14 CE.

    Augustus was Divine, Son of God, God, and God from God. He was Lord, Liberator, Redeemer, and Savior of the World—not just of Italy or the Mediterranean, mind you, but of the entire inhabited earth. Words like "justice" and "peace," "epiphany" and "gospel," "grace" and "salvation" were already associated with him. Even "sin" and "atonement" were connected to him as well. …

    All those assertions, terms, and titles were at home within Roman imperial theology and incarnated in Caesar the Augustus before they ever appeared in Pauline Christian theology and were incarnated in Jesus the Christ. (The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church’s Conservative Icon, pages 93, 94, by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, HarperOne 2009)

  • fulltimestudent

    Absolutely Doug. The Imperial cult was seen as the great enemy by the early church, and yet few contemporary churches show any awareness of this.

    But there are some great studies made by some scholars. Examples are:

    1. Allen Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order: Concepts and Images of Authority in Paganism and Early Christianity before the Age of Cyprian, Brill 1999.

    2. J.Nelson Kraybill, Imperial Cult and Commerce in John's Apocalypse, Sheffield Academic Press, 1996.

    And to have a point of comparison,

    Ananthea E. Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism, Eerdmans Publishing, 2011.

    Analyses the competing religious systems of the Seleucid (Hellenic) Empire and Judaism, which just may have (to my fevered mind-smile) provided a model for the early church in its competition with the Imperial cult.

    PS: If your embarking on a study of the Imperial cult and early Christianity, I suggest its worth have look at the speech on divorce, placed in the mouth of Jesus by Matthew (Matthew 19). It should be compared to the rules that Augustus promulgated.

  • fulltimestudent

    I thought you may also find this image interesting:

    Image result for the imperial cult

    The sculpted relief (161 CE) illustrates the apotheosis of Antoninus Pius and Faustina his wife

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    Thanks fulltimestudent,

    I am reaching the first Draft stage of a study into the first 200 years of the Jesus-followers. Yes, I know that tens of thousands of pages already exist, but a writer writes in order to learn, to understand. I also know that when people read anything, they come away with ideas and thoughts that the original writer never imagined.

    I am interested in your guidance, and I shall ponder on it.

    I have another most interesting quote from that same book that throws the conventional "substitutionary death" theory out the window.


  • HowTheBibleWasCreated

    Actually Im about to post a video on the Gospel of Peter and why in the 70s ce some educated men felt Titus might have been the messiah...

    I do not believe in a historical Jesus other then possibly the street preacher in War of the Jews... but even him I doubt...

  • Crazyguy

    Wasn't the early Christian church being run by the same priests Rome used for thier worship of thier Cesar gods and thier worship of the gods of the sun and stars? Also at some point the Romans made it mandatory that a statue of thier Cesar God was put into all temples in the empire.

  • Magnum

    Thanks all. I feel so ignorant compared to you guys. The older I get, the more I realize how much I don't know.

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason


    I am old and there is so much that I do not know and will never know. I write because I want to know; writing is a strict discipline that forces me to argue with myself.

    I am a graduate of the University of Life, from the Faculty of Hard Knocks.

    We must keep our minds active, prepared to remain open to change, to new ideas. I learn something every day that I spend writing, and my current project is teaching me so much.

    We must never think that we know it all. Recognising that we do not know it all enables us to keep learning, to enjoy the excitement and challenge of discovery.

    It is important to question our assumptions.


  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason


    I am not aware of the practices you describe. I would not be surprised (although I would need to see verifiable sources), given the Roman insistence on peace (Pax Romana). Constantine intervened in the trinitarian debate because Rome did not appreciate dissension.

    We must not think of the "Christian Church" as a homogeneous unit. Right from its start, the Movement was ripped by dissension and disagreement. Paul's correspondence is evidence for that.

    The Jerusalem Group was decimated in 70 CE, moving to Pella and likely evolving into the Ebionites. The Jews outside Jerusalem were not so badly affected and we see a spectrum of movements such as the Paulines (followers of Paul), Gnostics, and so on and on.

    The Western Church (Paulines, who ultimately formed the NT Canon), were strongly represented in North Africa, particularly Carthage and Alexandria, whereas the Eastern Church formed another block. During these early centuries, up to say the 5th century, Rome was not a dominant force.

    However, the bloody "Jesus Wars" of the 4th and 5th centuries in North Africa so weakened the Church that the Muslims moved into the void and Christianity moved northwards, where it became the European religion.

    Do not limit the concept of the early Movements through the biased vision of the early Church Fathers.


  • jaydee

    I'm looking forward to this one too Doug....

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