Markus Vinzent's Blog

Friday, 26 March 2021

The oldest titles for Jesus

 I have just received an interesting email with a question on the oldest titles for Jesus:

I would like your views on Mark 5:7 and Luke 1:32. In both of these quotes, Jesus is called Son of The Most High.

There is a Margaret Berker proposal that maybe Jesus is YHWH himself.

“Yahweh was one of the sons of El Elyon; and Jesus in the Gospels was described as a Son of El Elyon, God Most High. In other words, he was described as a heavenly being. Thus the annunciation narrative has the term ‘Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1,32) and the demoniac recognized his exorcist as ‘Son of the Most High God’ (Mark 5,7). Jesus is not called the son of Yahweh nor the son of the Lord, but he is called Lord. We also know that whoever wrote the New Testament translated the name Yahweh by Kyrios, Lord … This suggests that the Gospel writers, in using the terms ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God Most High’, saw Jesus as an angel figure, and gave him their version of the sacred name Yahweh.” Margaret Barker (1992.  The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God, p. 4-5)

Second option is that we have just a powerful phrase used by the author to elevate Jesus without deep justification copied from M to L or from L to M depends which synoptic model we will use

Third option, maybe we have a profound statement of Marcion's gospel who is Jesus - true Son of the Most High, "hellenistic brother" of YHWH. Statement copied from Mc to L to M ? And Unknown God is Most High.
Kyrios for Jesus in Pauline Corpus is used +100 times. Kyrios for YHWH in LXX is used +500 times.

To this email I replied:

thanks so much for your mail. You are asking an important question. How was Jesus seen and by which titles was he called.
From Marcion, we know that he gave Jesus a series of titles: The "Holy One of God" (*Ev. 3,24),[1] den „Propheten“ (*Ev. 4,24), „the Son of God“ (*Ev. 4,41; 8,28), den „Lord“, „Jesus“ (*Ev. 5,12), „Son of Man“ (*Ev. 5,24) und „Doctor“ (*Ev. 5,31), an angel (*Ev. 24,36-53).
In the verse *Ev. 8,28, taken over by Mark 5:7, Klinghardt rightly reconstructs: 
Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοίἸησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦδέομαί σουμή με βασανίσῃς. [2]
And it is from the Lukan redaction, following Mark that the τοῦ ὑψίστου ("of the Most High") has been introduced.
Hence, I think from the evidence that we have, that Marcion did not call Jesus "Son of the Most High", but simply "Son of God" and "Son of Man", amongst other titles mentioned above. That the "God" of whom Jesus is called "Son", is, however, the "supreme God" ("deus optimus"), not the Creatorgod or the Judge, hence, not the God of the Jewish Scriptures, is highlighted by Marcion. [3]

[1] For the Abbreviation *Ev. for Marcion's Gospel see Klinghardt, M. (2021). The Oldest Gospel and the Formation of the Canonical GospelsLeuven, Peeters Publishers. 

[2] Ibid. 685: "The canonical version of the majority text reads: Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου. The manuscript readings, however, are important: The name Ἰησοῦ is absent in P75 D and in two Old Latin manuscripts(d e)τοῦ θεοῦ is also absent in D and in a series of other manuscripts. On the other hand, τοῦ ὑψίστου is attested almost throughout and absent only in aeth. This attestation situation clearly suggests that the address may have originally read υἱὲ τοῦ ὑψίσ­το υ, if D and the Old Latin manuscripts still exhibited traces of the pre-canonical text. Tertillian's attestation does not quote but only summarize this passage. Nevertheless, it reveals that his copy of *Ev read Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ gelesen hat. [4] The trustworthiness of Tertullian's attestation is illustrated by his rhetorical question / as whose God's son did the demon witness Jesus? Again, Tertullian focuses on the uniformity of God's image, which was disputed by the Marcionites 

[4]      Tert. 4,20,5: dei filium Iesum legio testata est. 

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