A basic defining issue among Christians is the question of who Jesus is. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as
- the only Son of God,
- eternally begotten of the Father,
- God from God, Light from Light,
- true God from true God,
- begotten, not made,
- one in Being with the Father.1
- The creed describes Jesus as unique, eternal, true God and one in being with the Father.
Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski argues that, based on what the first generation of Jesus' followers have written, they understood Jesus in the way he is described in the Nicene creed. They argue convincingly that "the deity of Christ is . . . a major theme throughout the New Testament."
The book is a very readable and thorough treatment. The material is organized around an acronym developed by one of the authors - "Jesus shares the HANDS of God:
Honors: Jesus shares the honors due to God.
Attributes: Jesus shares the attributes of God.
Names: Jesus shares the names of God.
Deeds: Jesus shares in the deeds that God does.
Seat: Jesus shares the seat of God's throne."
The authors cite numerous biblical passages and discuss various issues of interpretation in making their case. They do a good job of dealing with contemporary biblical scholarship and provide a wealth of references for further study in the endnotes and bibliography.
There are two questions that can be raised about this argument for the deity of Christ-
First, can we rely on the New Testament texts to know what Jesus did and what his followers believed? I think we can. There are many resources that present good arguments for the reliability of the material we have. One recent example is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham.
The other question has to do with whether those first Christians were even able to give a clear picture of what Jesus was about. Perhaps they were confused or self-deluded (or, in some scenarios, even intentionally misleading). A New Testament introduction such as An Introduction to the New Testament by D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo is a good place to start in sorting out those issues.
Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ is a very helpful approach to understanding who Jesus is.