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Episode 159 Jesus among the Gods with Michael Bird

Episode 159 Jesus among the Gods with Michael Bird

David Capes and Michael Bird have been friends for many years.  And they share some common academic interests.  Recently, Michael released an important new book.  He joined David Capes from his home in Australia to talk about it.

Who is Michael Bird?

Michael (Mike) Bird is a New Testament scholar, an Anglican priest, and he is Deputy Principal at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. 

He loves the Bible and takes delight in calling himself a Bible nerd.  Mike has a wonderful sense of humor, and he knows more about American politics than most Americans. 

He loves tennis, and he hates coffee.  Mike is the author of lots of books.  You can find many of them at the Lanier Theological Library.

Jesus among the Gods

Jesus among the Gods: Early Christology in the Greco-Roman World (Baylor University Press, 2022) is one of Michael’s newest books. 

He dedicated it to David for the years of friendship and his contributions to Christology. 

In the book Mike looks at the question: what does it mean to call Jesus “God” or “god”?  That may seem self-evident 2000 later, but the question is more complex. 

Bart Ehrman’s work encouraged Mike to look into this question. What he found is a spectrum of divinity from unbegotten and absolute gods. To begotten gods, who were often people elevated to some divine status or deity, like Caesar or Heracles. 

So did this way of thinking influence early Christians as they were struggling to express the significance of Jesus?

More topics in the discussion

The conversation weaves through a number of topics including whether monotheism is a term that is useful or should it be retired.

And the depth of Hellenistic culture in the Bible, and the unlikely prospects that Judaism and Hellenism are petitioned off and did not influence one another. 

The book is fascinating and a must read for anyone interested in understanding the earliest Jesus communities. 

Jesus among the God endorsed by Capes

David Capes endorsed the book before he knew Michael was going to dedicate it to him:

With his characteristic good humor and judicious attention to detail, Michael Bird pushes the conversation regarding early Christologies in new and constructive directions. 

Having an ear attuned to both Jewish and Greco-Roman voices, Bird offers a straightforward taxonomy of what constituted ‘divinity’ in the ancient world and makes a serious case that elements of early Christologies are inherently ontological.

David B. Capes, Director, Lanier Theological Library

Additional Resources

You can watch Michael Bird’s lecture, An Invasive Story: Paul’s Theology Between Messianic Event and Salvation History at the Lanier Theological Library in 2016 by clicking here.

To learn more about Michael Bird click here.

For a transcript of this podcast, click here.

More resources

Want more Stone Chapel Podcasts on some great topics? Just click here.

What’s more, you can get information on upcoming lectures at Lanier Theological Library by clicking here.

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