The Canaanite Gospels
Christianity began as a movement within the Jewish community. It did not take long for this movement to spread to the Gentile world. At a very early stage of Christian history, the Gentile segment of the Church outnumbered and overpowered the Jewish segment of that community.
Many historians have proposed that this demographic shift that took place in the Church influenced the theology of the Church. These scholars argue that the deification of Jesus became the norm in Church theology only under the influence of Gentiles who brought their pagan ideas with them when they joined the Church.
Daniel Boyarin seems to be disturbed by the possibility that the Christian ideas about God are rooted in paganism and his book; “The Jewish Gospels” is presented as a refutation to this historical model. Boyarin claims that after his own theory is introduced into the discussion; “It won’t be possible any longer to think of some ethical religious teacher who was later promoted to divinity under the influence of alien Greek notions” (The Jewish Gospels, pg. 7). Boyarin goes on to argue that the concept of a divine Messiah has its roots in the Jewish Bible and should therefore be identified as “Jewish” concept.
Modern-day Christians who insist on identifying themselves as Jews have also been disturbed by the position of many historians that proposes pagan origins for the deification of Jesus. These Messianics have seized Boyarin’s latest book and commended it as a positive contribution to the theological and historical discussion.
What these Messianics have failed to notice is that Boyarin still attributes pagan origins to the theology which deifies Jesus. On page 45 of his book, Boyarin argues that the Israelites were part of the ancient Canaanite community and that they inherited some theological baggage from that pagan community. It is to this Canaanite influence on Judaism that Boyarin attributes the theological underpinnings for the deification of Jesus.
According to Boyarin, the theological roots of the trinity are not Greek; they are Canaanite. Either way they are pagan. The fact that the Messianic community grasps so excitedly at this straw that the world of liberal academia has extended to them can only mean one thing; they have nothing else to hold on to.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal