Making Jesus a Christ

The basis of information for the proposition that Jesus is the Christ is suspect. Unlike the mythicist's view of a mythological origins we find a movement from human to legendary. The intentional re-workings of the Gospels by their authors are responses to historical events. The mythological elements are the later work of Paul and those that influenced him attached to the legendary aspects that are reflected in the Gospels. While the Gospels are later in writing than the authentic Pauline Epistles, they have a closer geographic and ethnic origin to Jesus and his followers than Paul and the Hellenistic mythological language.

The discrepancies in the Gospels can be analyzed for motivation by the authors. For example John changed the time of the crucifixion reflected in Matthew so that Jesus's death in his Gospel would coincide with the slaughter of the lambs. This in turn builds the theological theme that Jesus is the Passover Lamb and proposing that Jesus is a sacrifice for sin. These dependencies are often minor but are cumulative and add up to significance.

Looking at the various re-workings of Mark by Matthew and Luke shows that they had an agenda to overcome; the idea that Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist, to create an apology for why he would have been baptized for the remission of sin, and to subordinate the Baptist to Jesus as a precursor. Matthew drops the statement from Mark that John's baptism was for the remission of sin. Again we see the human Jesus of Mark elevated in the later gospels' re-workings.

Looking at the way Matthew handles various texts one can see the elimination of normal human behavior from Mark's presentation to a more supernatural figure. Mark's “Why do you call Me good? There is none good but God.” is reworked to “Why do you ask me about the good?” For now with the addition of the virgin birth Matthew presents Jesus with supernatural powers and born with the Holy Spirit. He knows the thoughts of others unlike in Mark 5:21ff, when he questions, “Who touched my garment?” Like God in Matthew, Jesus is now good. The Gospel of John will make Jesus the very incarnation of God's reason as Logos, the Word.