What does Proskyneo

Good Catholic

In fact, nowhere in the traditional Gospels does Jesus claim: "I am God - Yahweh - The One and Eternal!" Or something like that. That makes things difficult, of course ... If it really should be the center of the message that Jesus is God incarnate, then he could have said it clearly, right?

The reason for this is simpler than it seems: If Jesus had simply called himself God, he would have been absolutely misunderstood - because then the Jews would have had to see Jesus as "Yahweh" - that is, the walking of the one God on earth as in the Roman one , Greek and Egyptian mythologies. At that time nobody had heard of "Trinity" or "Trinity" - and even if Jesus had introduced these terms, they would not have been understood. After all, it took almost 200 years of theological discussion and intensive reflection to create the horizon in which the new image of God ("One God" as in the faith of the Jews, and yet "three persons") could be understood. In other words: There was neither the vocabulary nor the indispensable philosophical background for Jesus' self-declaration.

Rather, the Jesus of the Gospels proceeds in a typically Jewish and psychologically skillful manner: The listeners of the sermons, partners in disputes and eyewitnesses of the miracles should come to the conclusion by considering the words and events themselves, who Jesus could be. Not only because Jesus claims we should believe Him as God, but because he "teaches with unaccustomed authority", because he "does things that only God can do" - and because he lets us take a look at a God who is much more divine than expected. Such a belief is the opposite of a blind belief: the belief gained in this way is then based on its own knowledge, even if one does not yet have appropriate words, concepts or conceptual systems available for it.
Everyone who meets HIM should be able to develop the claim to be God through the uniqueness of the appearance, work and life of Jesus himself. Either he who claims to be God's Son is insane - or he is right.

It is plausible that the evangelists worded Jesus' claim in the same way that Jesus himself did - but taught just as clearly that there was no doubt about the divinity of Jesus himself. But just because this "implicit christology" could be plausible does not necessarily mean that it is actually true. So what about the references to the divine nature of Jesus?

Jesus' divine claim to himself

Well, let's start looking for clues. The burden of proof lies with us Christians: It is our task to prove without any doubt that the evangelists' intention was to prove the divinity of Jesus. - Thank God we have an easy game. The Gospels are full of statements from Jesus that prove his divine claim to himself.

The miracles of Jesus
Anyone who expects me to list the miracles of Jesus as the first argument for the divinity of Jesus will be disappointed: The miracles or acts of signs are part of the sermon of Jesus and his message. But miracle workers exist in all religions and at all times; this criterion alone is not unambiguous.

Twelve disciples
Rather, a first indication is the fact that Jesus appointed twelve disciples as apostles and thus - with regard to the twelve tribes of Israel - founded a "new Israel". Mind you - Jesus appointed the twelve apostles; but he himself was not one of them. Unlike Joseph and his eleven brothers, Jesus is not one of the new people. He institutes the new people. Like Yahweh, who created ancient Israel in the Old Testament. (Thus it is said in the original text in the "election" of the twelve (Lk 6:13; Mk 3: 13-16 and Mt 10: 2): "And he created the twelve".)

Yahweh - "I am"
At one point Jesus said a grammatically incorrect sentence: "Amen, Amen, I say to you: Before Abraham became, I am" (Jn 8:58). That may sound strange to our ears - for the Jews of Jesus' time it was pure presumption; for the "I am" is ultimately the divine name Yahweh (And God said: I am the "I am" - Ex 3:14). It is not for nothing that the reaction of the Jews at this point is clear: They pick up stones to stone Jesus.
Likewise, the seven "I am" words (I am the life, I am the truth, the way, the light, the bread, the door, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the vine) also sounded very much like the concept of God " Yahweh ”.

But I tell you
In the Sermon on the Mount it says in five places: "You heard that it was said" (or: "It was said to the ancients"), "But I tell you ..." (Mt 5, and 43). Well, in these passages Jesus not only equates himself with Moses (at least in authority); for Moses received the law that he announced only from God on Mount Sinai. No - he deepens and corrects what "the ancients understood" with the authority of whoever spoke to them back then.
Therefore it is not irrelevant that this famous sermon, in which Jesus formulates HIS new law, also took place on a mountain - hence the name "Sermon on the Mount".

Thomas pronounces it
Contrary to the unsuitable nickname, "the unbelieving Thomas", Thomas is the only apostle who said it: when, after initial skepticism, he actually met the risen One, he said to Jesus: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28 ).

Fall down - kiss the hem - proskyneo
"When they saw Jesus, they fell down before him" (Mt 28:17). Well, not a clear argument at first glance. Because the Greek word "proskyneo" can be translated as "fall down", "kiss the hem" or "worship". But the way the word "proskyneo" is used in the New Testament makes it clear (no matter what the word "proskyneo" means) that doing "it" is reserved for God alone.

Rev 22: 8-9: “I, John, have heard and seen this. And when I heard and saw it, I fell at the feet of the angel who had shown me this to worship him ('proskyneo'). Then he said to me: Don't do that! I am only a servant like you and your brothers the prophets and all who keep the words of this book. Worship God ('proskyneo')! "

The forgiveness of sins
Another indication in various passages of the Gospels is the forgiveness of sins that Jesus grants to different people. The Jews rightly complain that Jesus is claiming something that belongs to God alone (Lk 5:21). Nevertheless, Jesus remains with it - he can even pass on this authority (Jn 20:23); this makes it clear that the power to forgive sins even emanates from him.

"I and the father are one"
There is so much evidence of the divinity of Jesus in John's Gospel that I will limit myself to two more here. On the one hand, Jesus says in John 10:30: "I and the Father are one" - with the corresponding reaction of the Jews, who in turn want to stone Jesus.

At the beginning of John's Gospel it says even more clearly: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God" (Jn 1: 1). The "word" here is undoubtedly Jesus, as the continuation of the prologue makes clear. In verse 1 of this prologue, Jesus is not only equated with God "and the word was God", but also receives divine attributes in the following: "He was before all time and through him all that existed became" (Jn 1: 2 -3). This statement can also be found in other New Testament hymns: 1 Cor 8: 6; Phil 2,6; Col 1,15-20; Eph 1.4; Heb 1: 2f.

Rabbi Neusner's problem
Rabbi Neusner, who rejects Jesus' claim to God and prefers to remain a Jew, clearly recognizes in his book "A Rabbi speaks with Jesus" that Jesus is putting himself in the place of God: Rabbi Neusner writes: "Everyone who accompanies Jesus When Matthew meets, he realizes that the evangelist has God incarnated before his eyes «.

He establishes this claim (and also the reasons why he rejects this claim) in many passages of the gospel; which - at least roughly speaking - all amount to the fact that by changing the commandments, Jesus not only presumes divine law - but also makes himself the meaning and object of the commandments. "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Mt 10, 37) - "And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me "(Mt 10:38) -" Whoever wants to gain life will lose it; but whoever loses life for my sake will gain it "(Mt 10:39) -" Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me "(Mt 10:40). "For the Son of Man is Lord over the Sabbath" (Mt 12: 8). “Jesus answered him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor; so you will have an abiding treasure in heaven; then come and follow me "(Mt 19:21).

Time and again, an in-depth analysis based on Jewish tradition leads to the same result: while the Jews obey the law because it leads them to God; Jesus expects us to obey the laws in such a way that they lead us to him. Jesus speaks to us as God. "And I refuse!" Concludes Jakob Neusner. But his knowledge remains.

Rabbi Neusner was not the first to gain this insight; When Edith Stein explained to her mother that she wanted to be baptized, her mother said - from a Jewish perspective - about Jesus: »He was a good man. If only he hadn't made himself God! «.

The resurrection
I would like to leave out the last and decisive point - the resurrection of Jesus - in this catechesis; Writing about the historical credibility of the Resurrection provides enough material for your own catechesis - which may still be written. For the time being, I refer to the thoughts on the resurrection that have already been written down. (link: Resurrection.htm)


The biblical passages cited here are only a fraction of what could be cited. It may be that one or the other Bible passage is still being discussed in the interpretation - but there is no getting around it: If the testimony of the Gospels is true (and there is no reason to doubt it), Jesus clearly has the claim for rose to speak to his people in the voice of God. May we, like many contemporaries of Jesus or like Rabbi Neusner, reject this claim today - it remains undisputed that Jesus made it.

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Tags: Resurrection, Divinity of JesusLast modified: May 22nd, 2020