In this week’s Article of the Week, N. T. Wright made this simple, but important, point:
To the suggestion…that it might be yet another projection of Synoptic or Johannine Christology back on to Jesus, I make the response I made in [Jesus and the Victory of God]…what was thinkable for the early Jewish church must have been thinkable for the early Jewish Jesus. (p. 55)
Often we are confronted with accusations that the historical Jesus is drastically different from the Jesus of the Bible. Without a faith in the text, it is easy to make this leap, and so I understand why people might think in this way. I used to be one of them. There are all kinds of theories about how the texts were changed, some of them plausible, and that the real Jesus was just a Jewish preacher going about his business in the Galilee.
The very notion of the Jewish Jesus can be used by an apologetics ministry as justification for the idea that Jesus understood himself to be more than merely a carpenter/preacher. Wright’s point above cannot be understated: if it’s possible for first century Jews to think it, then it’s possible for Jesus (a first century Jew) also to think it—even of himself.
It’s so cleverly simple.