My God, My God, how have we misinterpreted you?

Easter-message-picMy final thoughts on the so-called Cry of Dereliction, after which I promise to abandon this subject (pun intended). We should finally consider the relevant texts themselves. In CWG (pp 770-774) Greg expounds his understanding of Christ’s cry “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46 and Mk 15.34) as the “paradigmatic judgment of sin.” Greg takes the words of the Cry to be the “most profoundly revelatory” words found in Scripture, for here God “experiences his antithesis” by “becoming the sin of the world” (2Cor 5.21) as well as “our godforsaken curse” (Gal 3.13), though Greg does not consider this to be the Father acting violently toward Jesus.

Evaluating Greg’s objections to the Ps 22 connection
Greg notes the Cry has always troubled theologians who were “invested in preserving the classical understanding of God’s impassibility and immutability,” aspects of which (viz., actus purus or ‘pure act’) he summarizes and dismisses; “How could God the Son truly experience abandonment from the Father if the Trinity is ‘above’ suffering and ‘above’ experiencing any kind of change?”

I’m not sure how “troubled” by the Cry theologians are who seek to defend a classical understanding of God’s impassibility. Greg doesn’t give any examples. Given the classical view of transcendence, I suspect there’s far less likelihood the Cry would trouble a classical theist than a kenoticist – truth be told. However, I don’t mind agreeing with objections to aspects of classical theism (as I understand actus purus). We’ve made them repeatedly ourselves here. But Greg’s account makes it appear as though any rejection of actus purus classically understood is a default adoption of his understanding of the Cry as the Father’s abandonment of the Son. But it’s worth pointing out that one could agree with Greg on all his substantive objections to classical theism and yet reject Greg’s thesis of divine abandonment as equally objectionable as whatever aspects of classical theism one has a problem with. There’s no default win for Greg’s view of the Cry if classical theism is proved to be wrong. But I got the distinct feeling in CWG that Greg construes his view of the Cry as following logically from certain weaknesses of classical theism, which of course it doesn’t.

Classical theism aside, however, there are serious theological problems with divine abandonment on the Cross as Greg imagines it. I’ve rehearsed these already. Even a thorough-going kenoticist could have as great a problem with Greg’s thesis as she does with Chalcedon. But what about the exegetical particulars of the Cry itself? Let’s take a look at aspects of it that Greg brings up in CWG.

First, consider the Greek transliteration of Jesus’ Cry in both Mt and Mk:

Matthew 27:46: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
Mark 15:34: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

The transliterations in both Mt and Lk are followed by a similar “…that is to say, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Second, Greg offers two reasons for thinking Jesus is not alluding to Ps 22 but is in fact offering his own, original composition expressing his personal dereliction. First, he notes that if Jesus was alluding to Ps 22, he would surely have quoted it in Hebrew. But he speaks in Aramaic (which we have in the form of transliterated Greek). That Jesus speaks Aramaic suggests he does not have Ps 22 in mind. Secondly, Greg quotes R. T. France’s objection that “if we read into these words an exegesis of the whole psalm…we turn upside down the effect which Mark has created by this powerful and enigmatic cry of agony.”

Let’s look at this shall we?

(1) There’s no argument in France’s quote. Yes, if we take Jesus to be alluding to Ps 22 (“as an expression of confidence”), we understand Jesus’ pain as not indicative of a particular agony, namely, the agony of divine abandonment. But (a) this is the point of debate, so how is it an argument in favor of Greg’s view that if Jesus is alluding to Ps 22 his agony must be understood differently than Greg thinks? In addition, (b) no one who denies Jesus is abandoned by God thinks Jesus is not experiencing the agony of being crucified and left to die.

(2) More significant is the apparent fact that Jesus cries out in Aramaic. Jesus is a Jew whose Scriptures are written in Hebrew. It seems strange that in his dying moment Jesus should quote his Scriptures not in their original Hebrew but in his mother tongue, Aramaic. Greg reasons that this must mean Jesus is not alluding to the Hebrew Psalm 22 but authoring his own personal cry of abandonment.

It’s completely understandable that a dying person should cry out to God in his heart-language, which was Aramaic for Jesus, in spite of the fact that the text he alludes to is a Hebrew text. I don’t find this especially odd at all. There were Aramaic targums of Ps 22 that were popular in Jesus’ day, and he would not have been ignorant of these. Nor would it be at all strange for him to quote the Aramaic form rather than the Hebrew.

christ-on-the-mount-of-olives-1819But there are few other interesting facts about the Greek transliterations of the Cry found in Mt and Mk which Greg doesn’t discuss which I’d like to consider.

(a) Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic were different but very closely related languages. For example, lama (some MSS have limi, “to what” or “for what”) is both Hebrew and Aramaic for “why.” There’s no deciding what language Jesus cried in based on this word. And both Hebrew and Aramaic indicate the perfect tense of the 2nd person singular with the attached pronoun “me” (as in “You ______ ed me” ) by suffixing the verb root with “—ani.” The verb conjugations are identical in Hebrew and Aramaic.

(b) “My God” doesn’t settle the matter either, since it is transliterated differently in Matthew and Mark. Most ancient Greek MSS traditions try to normalize these differences between the two. Only the Byzantine text consistently preserves the distinction. (Of course the Nestle-Aland preserved the differences as well.) What differences? Well, Matthew transliterates Jesus’ Cry with Eli (Ἠλί) for “My God” which, interestingly, mirrors the Hebrew of Ps 22. Mark has Eloi (Ἐλωΐ) which is Aramaic and not biblical Hebrew.

(c) Though there is some question over its precise origination and meaning, the verb shabaq is not biblical Hebrew but originally Aramaic. Were Jesus quoting the Hebrew text, he would have used azavthani (“forsaken” or “abandon”) which we find in the Hebrew of Ps 22.

(d) The verb shabaq, however, is not only Aramaic, it’s also Mishnaic Hebrew (a descendant of biblical Hebrew that developed under the influence of Aramaic following the Babylonian captivity). It’s entirely possible that Jesus is citing Ps 22 in Mishnaic Hebrew. And there are those who argued that presenting a biblical text in Mishnaic Hebrew was a well-known Rabbinic technique introducing a midrash (interpretation or teaching) on the text in question.

(e) What does seem unlikely is that Matthew would have changed the Aramaic Eloi to the Hebrew Eli and not change sabachthani to azavthani if he was interested in making the quote conform to the Hebrew text. But if Mishnaic Hebrew is in view, then things fit. In addition, there is the question of Aramaic targums that do use shabaq in their translations of Ps 22.

What’s the point of all this?
The linguistic data isn’t easy to assemble into a coherent picture. But it’s not altogether certain that Jesus was speaking Aramaic on the Cross. My point is that if he was, there is nothing about this that would suggest he was not alluding to Ps 22. Matthew’s account makes the Mishnaic Hebrew connection stronger because Eli is clearly Hebrew, and Mark’s passion narrative (cf. Rikk Watts on Mark’s use of Ps 22) has obvious allusions to Ps 22 besides the Cry. I take it to be virtually certain that Jesus is alluding to Ps 22.

However, Greg offers yet a further reflection. Let us assume, he suggests, that Jesus is alluding to Ps 22. This would not, he contends, “undermine the genuineness of Jesus’ experience of abandonment on the cross,” for it was only “after the psalmist had expressed his authentic sense of abandonment that he regained his composure, as it were, and expressed confidence that God would eventually rescue him.” So even if one understands Jesus as referencing Ps 22, it needn’t lead us to deny that Jesus “was genuinely experiencing godforsakeness” and “was even experiencing confusion as to why it was happening.”

But this seems confused. Does Greg want a genuine abandonment of the Son by the Father, a true withdrawal of the Father that occasions a genuine experience of godforsakeness, or not? It seems his cruciform thesis itself requires that Jesus’ feel this particular agony and that it not be the result of misperceiving. But Greg’s proposed reading of the Ps 22 (on the assumption that Jesus is alluding to it) concedes that God in fact never abandoned its author. The author only temporarily loses his composure and misinterprets his suffering; but this undermines Greg’s case for more than an apparent abandonment. So I don’t see how Greg can concede that Jesus has Ps 22 in mind and still secure the particular view of divine abandonment that defines his view of the Cross.

What in Jesus’ experience parallels Ps 22?
What about those who argue Jesus is alluding to Ps 22 in its entirety but who also argue Jesus never despairs of the Father’s love, presence, and filial affection? Surely there must be something in Jesus’ experience that parallels or fulfills the psalmist’s cry which, admittedly, seems to reflect some doubt or lapse in his belief or confidence in God’s faithfulness.

This is an excellent question. My own sense is that there is nothing in Jesus’ experience that parallels any suspicions the psalmist might have in God’s faithfulness, nor must we suppose there to be in order to make sense of Jesus alluding to the psalm. To begin with, assuming the psalmist genuinely interprets his suffering as God’s having abandoned him, it does seem strange that he would go to this same God in prayer. Biblical prayer presupposes at least some confidence in the faithfulness of God, some belief that God hears one’s prayer and is open to responding. Is his opening cry a poetic-rhetorical device to heighten suspense and drama? When we cry “God where are you?” does it follow that we’ve concluded God has forsaken or abandoned us? If so, why are we addressing our prayers to him at all? No prayer to God can be motivated by a belief that God has absolutely forsaken and abandoned us.

7511534I don’t want to belabor the point. I’ve already drawn out this series on divine abandonment too long. My point here is that whatever the precise belief of the psalmist may have been, there is no one-for-one parallel between every belief and attitude held by the psalmist from the beginning of his experience to his vindication, on the one hand, and existential carbon copies of each of those beliefs and attitudes that must obtain in Jesus. There’s no warrant for insisting on this kind of ‘fulfillment’ simply because Jesus alludes to Ps 22. It’s enough that Jesus responds to the taunting crowds who provoke him with their “Where’s God now?” and “Come on down if God’s on your side!” by offering them a well-known account of an innocent, scapegoated victim who was not in fact abandoned by God but who was vindicated: “You think God has abandoned me here? You think I’m cursed by God as I hang here on this tree? Go read Ps 22 and think again.”

What about the Garden?
It occurred to me that Jesus’ sufferings en route to the Cross have an important role to play in deciding what Jesus took to be the meaning of his pain and suffering, and the intensity of his suffering in the Garden (Mk 14:32-34; Mt 26.36-46; Lk 22.43-44) came to mind. How are we to understand this suffering relative to claims that it is divine abandonment experienced as godforsakeness which gives Jesus’ suffering its redemptive value? In the Garden Jesus suffers beyond description, sweating blood. He confesses that he is at the point of death. He offers his humanity in all its finitude and natural weakness to God, truly wishing for there to be another way.

There is, however, no divine abandonment here. In fact, Jesus converses with his Father and is comforted by angels. At the center of his storm of pain there is the eye of the Father’s filial affection mediated to him by the Spirit. He is not alone (as he had made clear to his disciples – Jn 16.31-33). He knows the Father’s love and presence and still he sweats blood and feels like dying. So it doesn’t seem that divine abandonment either constitutes Jesus’ understanding of his own suffering or that it is necessary to give his suffering their unique healing, redemptive value – unless we wish to argue that Jesus’ suffering in the Garden, his flogging, or the pain he bears en route to Golgatha all have no healing, transformative value in our lives simply because they were accompanied by his belief that the Father was personally and affectionately with him through it all.

My fundamental point is that this suffering is healing and transformative in our lives precisely because the Father’s personal presence and affection are present, defining Jesus’ own self-perception and understanding of his pain at a level nothing could deconstruct or wrest from his heart. There, friends, is our saving act. The reason nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Rom 8) is because nothing can separate God from himself in Christ.

Happy contemplating!

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14 comments on “My God, My God, how have we misinterpreted you?

  1. Mike H says:

    Tom,

    Your earlier thoughts on the lack of a definition as to what constitutes “divine violence” were very good. Lots of nuance needed.

    Along those same lines, since Boyd identifies the experience of divine abandonment as necessary for the cross to be salvific, does he identify specifically what he means by the “experience of divine abandonment” in the book?

    I don’t think “divine abandonment” can be treated as a sort of abstract variable in a salvation equation…Jesus + divine abandonment = salvific cross.

    Since he is not arguing for the penal substitution-ish “God turning his face away”, there must be some concept of what this abandonment experience is and why the experiences that constitute “divine abandonment” (whatever they are) are themselves objectively salvific (he distinguishes between subjective and objective atonement theories in a recent blog post).

    Is the experience neurological/intellectual? As the experience of doubt or a crisis of identity? An unshakeable suspicion of being wrong and a corresponding deep and terrifying conviction of having been abandoned? Is divine abandonment primarily physical/emotional? Just the sheer fact of fear and pain? If this is an experience of “spiritual” abandonment, what does that mean? What form does a misperceived metaphysical “abandonment” experience take? Is God “learning” how to save sinful humanity by Jesus “becoming sin” and misperceiving God’s abandonment?

    I think it’s nonsense, but I at least understand why the PSA “taking our punishment and appeasing God’s wrath” makes sense within a certain set of presuppositions. It’s awful, but I get it.

    I can’t understand why Jesus “misinterpreting his experience” (since Boyd concedes that there was no REAL divine abandonment) would be inherently salvific in any way.

    Any thoughts? How does he characterize the experience of divine abandonment?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rob says:

      Mike, this is a question to which Boyd has provided no satisfactory answer. According to his thesis, the Father somehow withdrew from the Son in a way that allowed judgment for all of humanity’s sin to come upon the Son. But quite what that actually meant in ontological, theological and metaphysical terms remains unclear.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tom says:

      Really good questions Mike.

      There is a traditional reluctance to speculate what Jesus’ subjective state of mind was. How can we really get inside his head and say what his first-person perspective was on the Cross? And while there are obvious limitations to any such speculations, I think some position on these questions is unavoidable. Just from the conversations surrounding CWG, you can see how loaded the subject is.

      While CWG is more general in the description Greg gives of what he thinks is involved in Jesus’ experience of godforsakeness, it seems the reviews and discussions have given Greg an opportunity to clarify things ,which he recently did on ReKnew here: http://reknew.org/2017/05/christus-victor-atonement-girards-scapegoat-theory/. There’s more of a description of what Greg supposes is behind that experience.

      Tom

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      • Mike H says:

        There is a traditional reluctance to speculate what Jesus’ subjective state of mind was.

        Yeah, and I completely agree with that. And that’s part of the problem that I’m having understanding it. Ultimately though, if the ‘experience of abandonment’ holds a place of such prominence in the salvific drama of the cross, it seems unavoidable that we’ll want to understand what exactly that ‘experience of abandonment’ is.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Tom says:

      Back to you, Mike. Sorry for the delay.

      Mike: Since he is not arguing for the penal substitution-ish “God turning his face away”, there must be some concept of what this abandonment experience is and why the experiences that constitute “divine abandonment” (whatever they are) are themselves objectively salvific (he distinguishes between subjective and objective atonement theories in a recent blog post).

      Tom: That’s right. As far as I can tell from reading Greg, the question about PSA only applies to God’s affective state and motivation in abandoning Jesus. In his qualified rejection of PSA, Greg only means to deny any felt angst the Father may have toward Jesus. So God isn’t “hatin’ on” Jesus or venting pent up rage. On an affective level, Greg agrees the Father only feels love and affection for Jesus. But the Father does turn his face away (i.e., ‘withdrawal’), and this withdrawal is in fact an expression of “wrath” (Greg uses the word “wrath” in CWG to describe all this – so there’s no mistaking that). So: Jesus is experience the felt absence of God (i.e., godforsakenness) which is God’s wrath as the natural (“intrinsic” is Greg’s word) consequence of our sin. Because the experience of godforsakeness is the natural “death consequence” of sin, it is also an experience of “cursedness” (to invent a word). So though the Father doesn’t feel rage or hate for the Son, he does will that the Son experience the godforsakeness that is the consequence of sin, and so he withdrawals from the Son on the Cross and abandons Jesus to experience the full horror of this cursed, godforsaken state.

      Mike: Is the experience neurological/intellectual? As the experience of doubt or a crisis of identity? An unshakeable suspicion of being wrong and a corresponding deep and terrifying conviction of having been abandoned? Is divine abandonment primarily physical/emotional? Just the sheer fact of fear and pain? If this is an experience of “spiritual” abandonment, what does that mean?

      Tom: I think Greg should have focused on this more because it’s precisely the sort of thing folks have questions about. Just take Greg’s kenotic Christology in hand and it should be clear. If Jesus is experiencing godforsakeness, it can only be described in terms your questions hint at. Jesus’ physical sufferings ‘occasion’ an existential crisis within the matrix of beliefs and convictions that have formed Jesus’ identity and self-understanding for his entire life. The inner, subjective sanctuary of Jesus’ most fundamental, self-defining acts of identity – which have never suffered the existential trauma of godforsakeness – come on the Cross to be vacated of all the truths that have defined Jesus up till now and are replaced by the belief that the Father has forsaken him.

      I take it this means Jesus comes to believe the filial affection, person presence, spiritual provision – all the things that human being derives its sense of personal value, meaning, and purpose from – that have been his entire life are no longer true. I think Greg has to say this much, because if Jesus continues to ‘believe’ the Father loves him, is faithful to him, his present with/to him, mediating filial affection and support via the Spirit, that would NOT constitutes an experience of godforsakeness. Quite the opposite. An experience of godforsakeness would by definition have to include the subjective falsification of all those convictions that constitute the belief structure and content of spiritual death and suffering which are the intrinsic/nature consequences of our sinfully removing God from our worldview. But where we suffering godforsakeness because we remove God from that structure, in Jesus’ case it’s the Father who removes himself from that structure so that an experience of godforsakenness can be obtain.

      Remember too that Greg makes an distinction between God’s essential, unchanging triune “being” (or “existence”) and God’s triune “experience” of himself. The former is ontological. It can’t be dissolved or broken or compromised. But – note – it is NOT itself an experience. God’s actual experience of himself is fully passible, mutable, determinable by us, and not even essentially triune. When the Son is gestating in Mary’s womb, remember, kenoticists hold that the divine “experience” is binary. Just the Father and Spirit are doing their thing. The Son is offline, out of touch.

      Mike: I can’t understand why Jesus “misinterpreting his experience” (since Boyd concedes that there was no REAL divine abandonment) would be inherently salvific in any way.

      Tom: Well, Greg posits the unchanging, ontological unity of the triune persons (an orthodox sort of thing to maintain) as a kind of unconscious, sometimes inaccessible, something-or-other, while the God’s experience of himself can be subject to all the changes and limitations of created being. In the former, unconscious, sometimes inaccessible, non-experiential/non-existential, “essence” of the triune persons there can be no godforsakeness. But it’s the latter dimension of ‘experience’ which Greg supposes comes to be defined by godforsakeness. So there there definitely is a REAL divine abandonment in God. It’s just limited to God’s ‘experience’ of himself.

      With you, Mike, I simply don’t see how God experiencing godforsakeness in the terms and existential categories Greg describes constitutes a redeeming, saving act – not once you concede (as Greg does) that God’s forgiveness of us precedes the saving act as its motivation.

      Tom

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      • Mike H says:

        Thanks for the thoughtful response Tom.

        Really interesting stuff. While the terminology is different & denying God’s “felt angst” does change the nature of things, I still see hints of a penal aspect. Reading all this, I can’t quite figure out if the whole thing is “misperception” or not.

        Perhaps Greg wants to go with a classical sort of “what Christ assumes, Christ heals” or envisions a “singular human nature” that Christ “brings to God” when he talks about “total solidarity”. Some of that is Christus Victor language. (And though that might all sound “logical”, none of that is self-validating – it can also be abstract and formulaic.) It just doesn’t seem to me that the “experience of forsakenness” is necessary for that – God was in Christ reconciling the world…..

        Also, does Greg discuss the presence of “Into your hands I commit my spirit” if there is this total experience of forsakenness?

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      • Tom says:

        Mike: Does Greg discuss the presence of “Into your hands I commit my spirit” if there is this total experience of forsakenness?

        Tom: I’d have to check. Don’t recall off hand. I know that some who defend divine abandonment do so on the basis of the fact that Jesus addresses the Cry to “God” (“My God, My God”) in the Cry and not to “Father” (“My Father, My Father”) and they construe this as evidence that at that moment Jesus doesn’t see God as his Father but merely as God (a more impersonal term). Then when Jesus dies he’s back to “Father” which means the abandonment must be finished. All the divine abandonment some need is a minute’s abandonment. Because even a moment of experienced “estrangement” from what is “infinite” delight and joy for the Persons would be sufficient to save us (IF, that is, we’re saved by God’s self-estrangement). Moltmann, if I recall, holds that the estrangement endures until the resurrection, and he does so by arguing that Jesus’ final words (“Father, into your hands…”) are an interpolation into the text – Jesus couldn’t have addressed God as his Father then because he was still in despair of his identity and mission.

        More mythology.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rob says:

        My feeling is that Boyd never even mentions Jesus’ utterance “Into your hands I commit my spirit”. I’ve just done some searches in both volumes and can’t find any mention of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tom says:

        I think so, Rob. If I didn’t know Greg spent ten years researching, discussing, engaging in back-and-forths, composing – I would never guess that all that time and investment stood behind it. It just doesn’t read like it was that thoroughly thought-through at all – unlike his previous stuff actually.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob says:

    Again, really great work, Tom. I left this comment elsewhere earlier this morning:

    Greg wants to say that Jesus experienced the fullness of the human feeling of abandonment by God, but that he was not actually abandoned by the Father. But he also wants to say that God *withdrew* from Jesus to allow him to become the object of the due judgment upon sin.

    Anyone see the glaring contradiction here???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom says:

      Looking at his audio podcast where he says “all three are estranged from one another” and his ReKnew post where he says the abandonment of the Cry is analogous to a woman giving birth who in her pain temporarily loses her bearings and cries out to her husband, “What have you done to me!” … I think the only thing that remotely keeps Greg a monotheist is the mysterious, subterranean, unconscious, inaccessible realm of unity he posits underneath an otherwise purely polytheist drama of the divine life. Greg is a tritheist on all counts and in all respects except for this knot he ties underneath it all. This deserves a post of its own, but I’m off it for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom, you wrote: “No prayer to God can be motivated by a belief that God has absolutely forsaken and abandoned us.”

    Yes, and the idea that Mark 15:34 is a cry of prayer recalls a third interpretation, different in kind from the ‘dereliction’ hypothesis and independent of the idea that Jesus was ‘preaching Psalm 22’ from the cross.

    I think the least complicated interpretation is that Jesus was in his last hour engaged in a very common Jewish devotional exercise – praying the Book of Psalms from memory.

    This prayer-practice would usually be silent or inaudible, a personal devotion. The private aspect of Jesus’ prayer on the cross would explain why those who overheard him just at this point (opening verse of Ps 22) had no context for his words, but thought he was suddenly calling Elijah. I don’t doubt his voice might have suddenly elevated at this point due to emotions aroused by the content of the Psalm itself (the parallels). Of course there is a supreme irony in this interpretation – it means that the public hearing of these words was actually inadvertent on Jesus’ part.

    But the prayer-theory also justifies his vernacular speech – it is, as you say: “completely understandable that a dying person should cry out to God in his heart-language,”

    There is a second Passion text that I have never seen applied to this praying-the-psalms theory. The record shows (Mk 15:37/Mt/Lk) that Jesus cried out a second and last time, after he was offered a drink, and just before he expires. What did he say in that instance? I don’t think he let out an inchoate scream as if he were some cowardly movie villain falling off a cliff! At this point Luke, given to digging into these questions, claims it was “Father into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Lk 23:46).

    Many scholars aren’t sure they believe Luke, but I am sure of one thing at least: those words have also been prayed from the psalms for thousands of years (Psalm 31:5). So the few minutes required for a dying man to pray his way from Ps22 to Ps31:5 might yield the true interval between the first cry and the second – and open a precious window upon the thoughts of the Son in his last incarnate moments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tom says:

      Thank you John.

      Interesting. So Jesus isn’t quoting Ps 22 for anyone but himself. Others overhear him inadvertently. I’m not sure how we’d establish that for sure, but I don’t mind it.

      I don’t think it changes anything in this sense: Jesus’ understanding of Ps 22 relative to his circumstances wouldn’t change whether he was just contemplating these psalms for himself or intending them for others. They still reflect the sense in which he integrates these psalms into his own suffering, and that’s the point of debate for me (re: Greg). Greg could totally agree with you on who Jesus intends should hear his cry but still see the words as expressive of Jesus’ experience of being abandoned by his Father. I could also agree with you but see Jesus relating to these texts differently than Greg. That’s the essential point for me.

      But if one could establish the first-century popularity of what you’re saying, it’d be interesting for sure. It would just mean Jesus is narrating to himself the truth of his innocence in the face of the taunts of others and his confidence in vindication. If some are confused about what he said, evidently others hear it well enough to preserve a record of it Matthew and Mark trust – which we have. But either way, it’s a beautiful window into the enduring intimacy of God’s love and presence with Christ.

      Tom

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Tom says:

    Just ran across Bluth’s paper on the Cry and Ps 22. Interesting.

    https://www.scribd.com/document/349166939/Randall-Bluth-Ps-22

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