Earl Doherty writes the following in response to the scholarly consensus that Jesus was not considered by the earliest Christians to be equal with god:
The difference between Paul’s Son of God and Philo’s Logos as an emanation of God is largely a matter of personhood. Philo does not personalize his Logos; he calls it God’s “first-born,” but it is not a distinct ‘person’; rather, it is a kind of radiant force which has certain effects on the world. Paul’s Son has been carried one step further (though a large one), in that he is a full hypostasis, a distinct divine personage with an awareness of self and roles of his own—and capable of being worshiped on his own.
But an “emanation” is not God per se. That is why Philo can describe him as “begotten” of God. He can be styled a part of the Godhead, but he is a subordinate part. (I have no desire to sound like a theologian, but to try to explain as I see it the concepts that lie in the minds of Christian writers, past and present. They are attempting to describe what they see as a spiritual reality; I regard it as bearing no relation to any reality at all.) Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:28 speaks of the Son’s fate once God’s enemies are vanquished, a passage which exercises theologians because it looks incompatible with the Trinity. For here Paul says that the Son “will be subjected” to God, in the apparent sense of being ‘subsumed’ back into God, who will then become One again—“so that God will be all in all.” There will only be one ‘person.’
So was Jesus an emanation of god? That seems to be the reasonable reading of Paul at Philippians 2:6-11.
And the question is what counts as “earliest Christians”. Is Mark earlier than Paul, or later? Paul is literally our earliest Christian writing, but Mark is depicting a time earlier than Paul. It is probably historical laziness to consider the literary situation in Mark as reflecting an actual historical situation. I’ll have to concede agnosticism on that one.
But I picked this post out because it is a perfect intersection between two of my interests: Video games and religion!
There are other people out there who like to point out the ways in which sci-fi and religion interact, but another more interesting – in my opinion – way in which they interact is between the new(er) media of video games and religion.
For those of you who know the name of the character in the image above, if you don’t know by now Sephiroth is a Hebrew word. It’s Hebrew for “emanations” (סְפִירוֹת or SPYRWT is plural, Sephira would be the singular). In this particular video game Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth is the bad guy; or at least the “son” of the bad guy (girl?) Jenovah. Isn’t that suspicious? Jenovah / Jehovah. Jehovah, as in, the god of the Jews.
Let that sink in for a moment. The bad guy in Final Fantasy VII is named “emanations” and is the “son” of a being named Jenovah. Jesus is an emanation (until later Christology made him equal to god) and is also the son of Jehovah. In the game, Sephiroth is conceived (normally? I don’t remember) and while in the womb he is injected with the cells of the alien being Jenovah. Analogously, Jesus is conceived through the holy spirit and a human woman. Sephiroth’s conception seems to be a naturalized interpretation of Jesus’ virgin birth.
This is a trend I’ve noticed in a lot of console RPGs. Most of the bad guys are gods. Sure, there are some good gods too, but they usually play only a minor supporting role. Most of the stories are about humanity’s struggle against the gods or god-like beings. Like a narrative about becoming self-sufficient and no longer needing the gods to help us. Or the gods are tyrants (really, the most powerful tyrant possible is a god) and the game is about our war for freedom instead of remaining a slave (Rom 1.1). It seems sorta… Gnostic. Which is in itself odd because divine emanations (sephiroth) are a key concept in a lot of Gnostic writings. Another point of intersection in FFVII is the battle against Safer Sephiroth. This was probably lost in translation since this version of Sephiroth that you fight looks like an angel. A seraph, specifically, with the multiple wings. Again, analogously, there were a few Gnostics who considered Jesus to be a sort of angel.
There are a lot of examples in both video games and Gnostic writings, but I’ll probably save that for another post if I have the time. Needless to say, I just wanted to point one thing out:
Jesus = Sephiroth! Especially since Sephiroth came back from the dead. It’s probably safe to assume that had Sephiroth succeeded in the game, subsequent history in that game’s universe would have progressed like Christianity, with Sephiroth in the Jesus role and Jenovah in Jehovah’s role.
“Veni mi fili”