At any rate, we cannot follow Schonfield and attempt to divorce Jesus’ message from what the earliest sources indicate concerning him, for in so doing we destroy the basis that is needed to establish that division. Additionally, to assume that Jesus did not consider himself deity while ruling out the Gospels, is to do so on the grounds of the presumed first century Jewish thought, which is a circular argument that presupposes Jesus did not teach anything different. This is the very point to be demonstrated.
2.No evidence for the Roman plot
Second, there is no evidence for any such plot on the part of Christians at Rome, as presumed by Schonfield. Of course, one can argue anything without the
45 Ibid., pp. 50–51.
46 See Habermas, The Resurrection of Jesus: An Apologetic, chapter 3 for several additional indications of Jesus’ claims to deity. For an argument for the deity of Christ even for those who do not accept the trustworthiness of the New Testament, see Terry L. Miethe and Gary R. Habermas, Why Believe? God Exists!(Joplin: College Press, 1993), chapter 27.
47 Joachim Jeremias, The Central Message of the New Testament(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965), pp. 9–30; Reginald Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology(New York: Scribner’s, 1965), p. 115, for instance.
appropriate support, but others are not obliged to accept it. Similarly, no one is constrained to accept Schonfield’s thesis without the proper evidence.
Since we do not know that Jesus denied deity and especially since there are reasons to assert that he did claim such deity then why would there be a need for Roman Christians to “invent” the message? In other words, we can only begin to contemplate the alteration of Jesus’ words if we know that he did not teach the message of his deity in the first place. But since the point is invalid, as just shown, one cannot leap to the next step of a conspiracy by the Christians at Rome.