More on Gathercole

I didn’t have my copy of The Pre-existent Son on hand when I wrote that last post, so it came off a little vague. There are a couple of points I would like to highlight from the first few chapters of his book.

One of the most significant pieces of evidence in the Synoptic Gospels of Jesus’ divine identity is that he is depicted as doing things that typically have a divine prerogative. In other words, they are the kinds of actions that belong exclusively to God. One of the most telling examples that Gathercole provides is in Jesus’ sea miracles (Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-52). Gathercole argues that in these miracles Jesus is not simply acting as “one uniquely endowed by God in a representative function,” but in fact acting as God himself. This may seem self-evident to most confessing Christians, and that is a good thing. But there is more to the story than what appears on the surface. The first example given is from Mark 4:38-39:

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling…And they said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

Compare this then to Psalm 107 (106 LXX):

He commanded and raised the stormy wind which lifted up the waves of the sea. Their courage melted away in their evil plight…They reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Even more remarkable is the miracle of Jesus walking on water, especially in light of LXX Job 9:8: “God who alone stretched out the heavens, walking on the sea as if on dry land… Mark 6:48-49 has:

…At about the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking on the sea, and he wanted to pass by them. But they saw him walking on the sea.

Gathercole notes that in the Job passage “walking on the sea” is something that is ascribed to God alone. He also notes the high christological claim that is implicit in Jesus’ statement: “I AM” (Mark 6:50). The point of these miracles is that they point to a “close identification of him with Yahweh in the OT” (Gathercole, p. 64). This is just a sampling of the opening chapters of Gathercole’s book, as he lays the groundwork for his main thesis, namely, that pre-existence is implied in the “I have come” + purpose clause formula sayings of Jesus in the Synoptics.

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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