Who is Jesus?

Brother David Steindl Rast writes " “Son of God” as well as ONLY SON are expressions that have come into the Creed from the Hebrew Bible, They must therefore be understood in the sense they had in their original Jewish context, not in a Hellensistic sense. Jesus in not proclaimed to be the son of a god as, for instance, Castor and Pollux were sons of Zeus in Greek mythology. Not unlike the English expression " son of a gun", the Hebrew idiom " Son of God" refers to likeness, not descent. The biblical prototype of a son of God is Adam ?the earthling, “the human par excellence) created like every human being, “in God’s image” and destined to show forth “Godd’s likeness”. Jesus is called “Son of God” and “the second Adam” for having fulfilled that destiny to such a degree that others saw in him what God is like”. Further on down on page 53 in his book “DEEPER than WORDS he goes on to say that Isaac is called “Abrahams’s only son” although his brother also figures in the story. He says that “uniquely beloved” would be a more accurate English rendering and less misleading, ONLY SON in the sense of " Uniquely beloved”, carries no exclusive connotations each child of a parent is " uniquely beloved, no matter how many there are. Jesus" divine sonship is not exclusive but inclujdes every single human being. John 8:58 Jesus says " Amen amen, I say to you before Abraham came to be, I AM". So my question is (please help) is Rast wrong or what is Rast saying? What is Rast implying when he says Jesus is in God likeness not a descentent?

I’m not completely sure I understand your good Rast correctly.

Is he trying to deny Jesus’ Godhood? If so, he’s wrong. In saying that Jesus is “son of God” in that He is the image of God and not a descendent of God would stand to reason that Jesus can’t be God. I would offer up Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary in Luke’s Gospel as proof - “And who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me”.

I think his reasoning becomes faulty with the sentence, “Brother David Steindl Rast writes " “Son of God” as well as ONLY SON are expressions that have come into the Creed from the Hebrew Bible, They must therefore be understood in the sense they had in their original Jewish context, not in a Hellensistic sense”. The term “Son of God” does not HAVE to be understood in the Hebrew sense, since Hebrew had become forgotten in the 300 years between Jesus and the Nicene Creed. Just as the Old Testament had taken on the meaning that was understand by the Septuagint, or Greek translation (which is what most of the New Testament references to the OT were drawn from), the Greek and the Latin understandings of “Son of God” and were further developed via Sacred Tradition.

More: If we are going to argue that we must understand “Son of God” in a Hebrew sense–and the Old Testament uses are for chosen humans like King David (Psalm 2:7?), or the just man beset by the wicked (Wis 2:13), then we should also by right re-examine “Son of Man” in a Hebrew sense.

Here, while Ezekiel sometimes uses it in the sense of “the prophet” in self-reference, Daniel uses it in contrast to the four beast/empires, as a divine figure.

So, while “son of God” originally perhaps meant a chosen human person, “Son of Man” might have had divine implications. Which means that you can’t get away from the divine reference that easily.

God instructed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah but then stopped him. Jesus died on Mount Moriah for our sins-coincidence?

It goes much deeper than that.

Isaac carried the wood for the Sacrifice up Mt. Moriah, just as Jesus carried the Wood of the Cross up to Calgary.

Isaac was roughly 16 years old during this incident, making Abraham over 100. This means that he willingly offered himself up for sacrifice, just as Jesus did… unless you believe a 100+ year old man can hog-tie his teenage son and place him on a pile of kindling.

Also, the early Church taught that Abraham, His un-named servant, and Isaac pre-figure the Holy Trinity.

Abraham, of course, pre-figured God the Father.
Isaac, his beloved son, pre-figured Jesus (for many of the reason previously listed).
the un-named servant, who is sent out to retrieve a bride for the son, pre-figures the Holy Spirit (who is also un-named), Who goes out into the world gathering the Bride of Christ (the Church) for the Son.

Hence, to continue this analogy, Rachel (Isaac’s wife) pre-figures the Church, the Bride of Jesus.

Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God
God from God
Light from Light
True God from True God
Begotten, not made
consubstantial with the Father.

I think that Brother David has been teaching his own theology and not the theology of the Church. Read Scott Hahn or other authors recommended by Catholic Answers. It is not worth the mind contortions and headaches to read any other.

bcuster, its really disapointing, because I read a lot of Ron Rolheiser ( I have grown to admire him- even though he says we will all have sex with each other in heaven or somehting like that), because a few years ago a priest told me that he was mainstream meaning “in the middle” not liberal or too conservative concerning catholocism. Conseqently i read people who Rolheiser quotes, and thats how I stumbled onto Brother David Stendl Rast. Now brother Rast is talking this kind of nonsense. A asked a nun a couple of weeks ago (shes a hispanic immigrant) who her favorite author is, and she said, Demello, well I had never heard of Demello, but i looked him up and he is very " far out there". So its sad that in our own church there are people who expouse beliefs that are not mainstream catholic at all!

I just found this off Steindl’s web page:

| MoreKnowing Brother David

— by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Knowing Brother David is a special grace. I have seldom taught a course without trying to make David a part of it, because I know that the thousands of people who hear him speak in churches, classrooms and retreat centers never forget him. Whenever he speaks, it always is much more than a brilliant lecture. It is something of an event. When Brother David enters into the heart and mind of his listener something new happens to them and they know it.

A freind told me that what Bro David Stendl Rast meant when he said that Jesus is made in the likeness of God and not descended from him was: In that phrase he didn’t mean that Christ was not divine, but rather the opposite: He is speaking against various heresies that see Jesus as “descended” from God and therefore not equally divine because, having descended, makes him somehow less than the Father. That is a popular idea within a number of heresies – like Arianism and Adoptionism. So I learned something today and wanted to clear this up about Bro David Stendl Rast, Randy

But Jesus was not “made” in the likeness of God. Jesus was not a Created Being (like Arianism teaches). That phrase, “made in the likeness” is not orthodox.

Jesus **IS **The Son of God. His **Humanity, however, **descended from God.But His Divinity has been there since the beginning, “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

Bro David Rast is simply confusing the issue if he denies that Jesus descended from the Father. Jesus Himself makes that claim numerous times.

Well this is what Jesus said, isn’t it? Go for it ! “Before Abraham was” should implicate NO TIME AT ALL - am I not right? Which is the eternal. Seems absolutely right and good to me.

Now for us confused catholics additional questions arise: what about His church? What about development of thinking in this church?

But these are secondary questions of course. Keep to John 8:58. Why speculate?

To this one could add that Isaac was the “Beloved son” of Abraham and Jesus is called the “Beloved Son” twice by the voice of God the Father at Jesus’ baptism and on mount Tabor at the Transfiguration.

…wow… it’s a wonder that more scholars do not explode or implode… (yeah, you could say that I’m allergic to intelligentsia)–so Jesus’ contemporaries wanted to kill Him because He claimed to be in God’s likeness? So every Word spoken by Jesus that clearly denoted that He and the Father are One and the Same God must be mute? Were the masters of the Law, the Pharisees and Sadducees just a whole bunch of morons that thought that Jesus was passing Himself as the likeness of Yahweh God or did they actually stated and believed that “you, being a man, make yourself equal to God…?” (paraphrased).

…but Jesus is not only a human/flesh reflexion of God; He is Perfect because He is God and it is the Father, God, Himself that welcomes Jesus, the Son God, into the flesh and acknowledges Him (Son) as God as He (Father God) Commands His servants to Worship the Son (God) and goes as far as calling the Son “God”–not the likeness of a god or of God but “your throne, God, will last forever…”

…it’s been a while since I read that particular passage in Scriptures… but I remember the emphasis being put else where… Isaac is called the first-born, which carries both the blessings and the Promise made to Abram as he was renamed Abraham (check Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Essau, and Jacob’s descendants Ephraim and Manasseh); Jesus on the other hand is God’s Only Begotten Son, hence only God’s True Son: Only Son… had there not been a very specific and unique inference then why did Jesus’ comtemporaries seek to kill Him as Israel is called God’s firstborn, consequently making every male Israelite God’s son? …a fact that Jesus expertly uses to remind them that they cannot object to Him since Scriptures calls them gods (sons of God)–can those made in the image and likeness of God object to He Who is the Image and Likeness of God, God’s Only Son?

…so you or I or any other human being can grant other human beings the power to become sons/daughters of God? Jesus’ Divine Sonship is exclusive!

Jesus is the Word that existed with God and was God from the Beginning; He, the Word, made everything that exists (both visible and invisible) and nothing exist if not by Him; He, the Word, the Light, made the world and every creature in it; it is in His Divine exclusivity that mankind can gain access to the Father, not merely as a simple creature, created in the image and likeness of God, but through actual divinity as we are remade in the Spirit through Faith in Jesus, the Only Son of God.

It is understandable, to me, that well-meaning deep-thinking men (and women) can get so caught up in their exegesis that they miss chunks of pertinent and exremely important matter as they slowly gravitate towards tangents that lead then away from the Truth–Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas are two exellent examples of this!

Maran atha!


…problem is that we, mankind, believe that we can create God in our image and likeness… as some wise guy once said: ‘what the mind of man can conceive the mind of man can create’ (or something to such effect–I’m not much of a reader, outside of Sacred Scriptures)… the other truth is that today, more so than before, people are mostly concerned with “image;” being perceived as “cool” or ahead of the crowd trumps even Christ Himself! (Catholics, including the clergy and religious, are no exception.)

Maran atha!


…is that person not spouting heresy? …was that not what was said of the likes of that fellow in wacky Texas or that heart and mind mover adolf?

The question really is, is he and his followers, seeking to follow and obey Jesus?

Maran atha!