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According to Bart Ehrman, scholars have for a long time said that the Bible is filled with contradictions, and the central teachings of Christianity, like the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity, are not found in the synoptic Gospels. He said that Jesus was a human Messiah in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and then by the time John was written, He was viewed by the church as divine. Of course, what he means by "scholars" is "the scholars I agree with," but let's ignore that for now, because it wouldn't matter if all scholars really did make unanimous pronouncements about the Bible. What matters is what the Bible says, and Ehrman is just wrong about this. Jesus does not portray Himself as merely a human Messiah in the synoptic Gospels.
Why was Jesus sentenced to death by the high priest and handed over to Pontius Pilate? Matthew 26:63-65 says: "And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.' Then the high priest tore his robes and said, 'He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses?'" This incident is repeated in Mark and Luke.
So Jesus was sentenced to death for blasphemy. If the high priest thought that He claimed to be a human Messiah, why would He have been guilty of blasphemy?
And lest there be any ambiguity, in Matthew 22:41-46 Jesus asked a group of Pharisees, "'What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?' They said to Him, 'The son of David.' He said to them, 'Then how does David in the Spirit call Him "Lord," saying, "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet'"? If David then calls Him "Lord," how is He his son?' No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question."
The clear implication is that He is equal to God, even though He was also a descendant of David. So He said that He was fully divine and fully human, just like Christians have always believed. Jesus was using the Socratic method with the Pharisees rather than announcing to them that He was the Son of God. If He had been more explicit, they would have had Him arrested for blasphemy before the time set by the Father, so He chose His words carefully. They couldn't arrest Him for just asking a question about the Scriptures, regardless of the implications. This sheds further light on Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin because it tells us that although, as Ehrman said, the Jews expected a human Messiah, Jesus had earlier made the connection to Psalm 110:1, thereby subtly correcting them, but also probably stirring up the suspicions that would eventually lead to His arrest and death sentence.
In Matthew 11:27, Jesus says: "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." So the Son has a very unique relationship to the Father--so much so that He is the only one who knows Him and has the power to reveal Him to us--and all authority has been handed to Him. How could He possibly be just a human Messiah?
And in Matthew 28:19, after His resurrection, Jesus says to His disciples: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (italics added). That is the Trinity.
Ehrman is right that the Gospel of John is much more explicit about the divinity of Jesus than the synoptics, but Jesus still makes it clear in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that He is the Son of God, and not a human Messiah. Ehrman is also right that it took the church a while to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity into a creed. But all of the elements are in the Bible, including the synoptic Gospels.
Ehrman's words have interesting implications for the dating of the synoptic Gospels. He says that Jesus was "portrayed as a human Messiah in the earliest parts of Christianity" (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), but He eventually came to be seen as divine in the Gospel of John. But Paul makes it very clear that Jesus is the Son of God in the first letter to the Corinthians, which was written around 55 AD. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says that God called us "into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." And in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, Paul says that the person who has the Holy Spirit has the mind of Christ. Most scholars also think that the epistle to the Romans was written around 55 AD, and in it Paul says: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). Romans is widely considered the most important theological work in the Bible.
So Paul characterizes Jesus as the Son of God and gives the elements of the doctrine of the Trinity fifteen years before liberal scholars like Ehrman think the first synoptic Gospel was written. How do "scholars" explain this? Could it be that it's their thinking, and not the Bible, that is filled with contradictions?