Jesus Christ, The Son of God

Throughout Great Lent the Sunday Scripture lessons do give to us the clear understanding that Jesus is the Son of God.  This no doubt is the case because early on in church history Great Lent was a main catechetical season of the Church year, preparing candidates for baptism and reception into the Body of Christ.   

Biblical scholar Stanley Porter (HEARING THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, pp 95,97)) writes regarding the Roman Empire in which Jesus and His first disciples lived: 

“Recognition as ‘son of God,’ of course, was reserved for the Roman emperor (as seen in many public inscriptions) … not for a Jewish would-be Messiah.” 

Porter reports that Roman historical sources claim that when Julius Caesar died the sun itself was hidden in darkness.  The Jewish historian Josephus also reports the sun being darkened by Caesar’s death.   The claims of the apostolic witness to the miracles associated with Jesus were thus a direct challenge to imperial Roman religious claims.  When Vespasian became emperor, Roman historian Suetonius wrote: 

“Vespasian as yet lacked prestige and a certain divinity, so to speak, since he was an unexpected and still new-made emperor; but these also were given him.  A man of the people who was blind, and another who was lame, came to him together as he sat on the tribunal, begging for the help for their disorders which Serapis had promised in a dream;  for the god declared that Vespasian would restore the eyes, if he would spit upon them, and give strength to the leg, if he would deign to touch it with his heel.  Though he had hardly any faith that this could possibly succeed, and therefore shrank even from making the attempt, he was at last prevailed upon by his friends and tried both things in public before a large crowd; and with success.” 

Interestingly, it was the emperor who needed the faith to heal, unlike the healings which Jesus did in which the people had faith in Him.  Lent was originally a time to teach catechumens the truth about Christ and to reaffirm to all believers the basic facts about Jesus as Lord.  This teaching was done within the context of the Roman Empire whose self-understanding included a mythology about Rome having a special place in the eyes of the gods and in which the emperor was proclaimed a god.

God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:19-24 (a)

See:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:16-18 (b)

4:19 And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Na’amah.

23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”

Unusual in these early genealogies Lamech’s wives are not only mentioned but their names are given – Adah and Zillah.  Some scholars think they are mentioned because they are disapproved of.   Is it possible that the author of the text so despised these women of Cain that their names are in the text for the same reason that Pontius Pilate’s name is in the Creed?  As can be seen in the other genealogies, not only are woman seldom named, often no woman is even mentioned with men fathering sons without reference to woman.   The first mention of wive’s names in the Seth lineage will come only in 11:29 with Sarai wife of Abraham. 

“…took two wives…”    The first mention in the Bible of polygamy occurs in the genealogy of the accursed Cain.   In Genesis 1-3,  God intends for the man to leave his parents and cling to his wife implying monogamy.  God does not command or bless polygamy here, Lamech simply takes two wives just as Eve took the forbidden fruit.  Lamech son of Cain is the only man in Genesis 1-11 to practice polygamy.  Later in Genesis Abraham will take a concubine to bear him a child, but that is not within the scope of our interest. 

“…the father of those…”   In some sense the text introduces an inconsistency.  Since all these people will supposedly be destroyed by the flood, in what sense they can be claimed to be the father of all tent dwellers, or musicians or metal workers is unknown.  Perhaps if different sections of the bible were actually written by different authors as Source Theory suggests, this source may be one that did not know of a flood tradition.

“Jabal…dwell in tents… have cattle”    This is the first mention of domesticated cattle.   It also is the first mention of any dwelling place for humans – tents.   Tents are the only housing mentioned directly in Genesis 1-11.  Noah also slept in a tent (9:21).  There are references to cities which one would assume implies some form of housing.  Genesis remains surprisingly barren of references to tools, transportation, furniture, housing, clothing, cooking utensils, food, weapons, commerce, or technology of any kind.

Jubal…lyre and pipe…”   The first mention of musical instruments.  Civilization and culture are appearing.  The fact that this is occurring in Cain’s lineage may indicate the scriptural author somewhat disapproved of this development.   Same is true of “Tubal-cain…forger of bronze and iron.”  This is the first mention of industry and technology.  The Iron and Bronze Age have arrived.  A certain degree of sophistication and technical knowledge is needed to make iron and bronze yet the text gives us little evidence of these emerging technologies.

“sister…was Na’amah”    This is the first mention of a daughter/sister by name. Among the descendents of Seth, the lineage which the Bible clearly favors and follows, neither wives nor daughters will be named until Abram takes Sarai to be his wife in  Genesis 11.   We are given virtually no insight into the domestic lives of these men of God.

“Lamech said to his wives…”    This is the only time in Genesis 1-11 that a man says something directly to his spouse or that any man directly addresses a woman – and he addresses them by name.  Adam spoke in the presence of his wife but the Scriptures record no words directed to her.    St. Paul commented that women should learn from their husbands at home (1 Corinthians 14:35), but Genesis might give an idea as to how hard that would be since the only man who spoke to his wife in these chapters is a vile and violent man.  In the more godly lineage of Seth through Noah, there is no record of the men talking to their wives.

“Lamech said…”   This is considered to be the first poem recited by a human in the bible.  Historical scholars do consider it to be poem from antiquity – thus representing the development of culture. 

Next:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:19-24 (b)