James Dunn: Jesus said, “I am not God.”

“Why do you call me good?” : Jesus claimed he was not God

Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCoLLT

According to the eminent scholar on the historical Jesus Dr. James Dunn who is Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology at the University of Durham, the reply that Jesus gave to the rich man in Mark 10 was a clear denial on Jesus’ part that he was in any way God. He makes this most important point in ‘The Evidence for Jesus.’

“In this case it would appear that it was the opening exchange between the man and Jesus which caused the problems. The man addresses Jesus as ‘Good Teacher’. And Jesus replies with a mild rebuke: ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone’ (Mark 10:17-18). Luke sees no difficulty with these words and reproduces them more or less exactly . Not so with Matthew-as we see in the synopsis. The difficulty for Matthew presumably lay in the fact that Jesus was being shown by Mark to disdain any right to the description ‘good.’ And by his own logic, Jesus was thereby disclaiming any right to be regarded as divine. If only God is ‘good’, and Jesus rebukes the address ‘Good Teacher,’ the most obvious corollary is that Jesus is not God.” (Dunn, J. D. [1985]. The Evidence for Jesus. Louiseville, Kenticky: The Westminster Press. P. 20)

In a nutshell, despite the juggling act of missionaries to avoid the plain meaning that the text conveys, when Jesus said,”No one is good except God alone” he really essentially said, “I am not God.”

For a more in depth look on this topic, proceed to Jesus Refused to be Called Good

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