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Good Friday--He Trusted in God that He Would deliver Him

For good Friday, a little Handel. Scripture from Psalm 22, of course, which we read last night at the stripping of the altar:

Related note: I have been told recently of a well-known New Testament scholar who attempts in a recent book to make a "conflict" between the gospels by saying that in one of the gospels Jesus suffered without knowing the reason for it. This astonishing statement supported by, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Reference to Psalm 22 is, apparently, missing in this shallow exposition of the Gospels.

Comments (9)

Thanks for posting this, Lydia!

I guess that New Testament scholar never went to church on Good Friday.

Or Maundy Thursday.

The second half of Psalm 22 is pretty explicit. Would hope that most parishioners would know this.

What is a NT scholar doing writing a whole book making this mistake?

My impression is that he makes the mistake in only one place in the book. I am getting this second hand. But NT scholarship generally is...in sad shape. If the standards that pass there, and that have passed there for a hundred years and more, were used in any other discipline, it would be a joke.

There are some fine people working in NT Studies, people of admirable erudition with high standards of scholarship. But there are all too many -- and they often the most vocal -- who give their own discipline a black eye. One hears far more in the popular press about the Ehrmans and the Crossans than about the Metzgers and the Hengels. It is a fallen world.

Comment with a question. In my opinion, this is why Jesus' statement can only be understood as a rhetorical question, though it seems like most of my fellow Christians (at least the ones that I've talked to and many that I've read) seem to believe that Jesus was literally forsaken by the Father and somehow separated from him, with the explanation being that the sins of the world were in some way literally placed upon Jesus, and God is too holy to look on sin (which is also why the land was covered by darkness as God "hid his eyes" from Jesus or something). I have come to believe that this interpretation is pretty wrong-headed in a whole bunch of different ways, like it's apparent denial of both the Trinity (can one person of the godhead be actually separated from another, even for a brief moment?), and the Incarnation (if God is too holy to look on sin, how could he have handled taking on human form and living among, and looking on a whole bunch of sinners for 33 some odd years?). The other problem is that it would make half of this question rhetorical (these same Christians wouldn't say, like this boneheaded NT scholar, that Jesus didn't know what was going on), while the other half was literal (Jesus literally being forsaken by the Father).

My question is, does anyone else have a problem with this idea, or is it just me?

It seems to me that some sense by Christ of "forsakenness" on the cross makes sense. And I would also say that if (as I understand to be true) this writer didn't make any reference either to the theological interpretation you mention, John, though it is so common, this is yet another level of denseness on his part. In other words, there are plenty of ways of understanding the passage that are much less boneheaded than his. I myself have no problem with Jesus' understanding what was going on but quoting the passage (knowing, of course, that he was indicating a fulfillment of prophecy) with reference to the sense of forsakenness that was a theologically freighted aspect of the situation. In what sense the Father literally even _could_ have forsaken Him (since they were one), I have never pretended to understand, and I wouldn't push too hard on that. But it seems to me not a biggie for, as you say, half of the quotation to have a real reference to what Jesus was experiencing and half of it (the "why" part) not to be literally borne out in the situation. I can certainly imagine his crying out the quotation as apt in his situation even though, at one level, he knew why.

There is also the vicariousness of the entire act. As He suffered for all our sakes, so He cried out for us. His cry was our cry. But these different levels of understanding His words and acts aren't of much interest to the the de-divinizing minimalists.

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