[Review continued from above posting:]<blockquote><font color="0000ff">If, however, one wants to argue historically that Jesus "became" God, then one has to look at the writings of the first century, not the fourth. There is plenty of evidence in the New Testament that Christians in the first century already believed that Jesus was in some sense God (Phil. 2:5-11, Col. 1:11-20, John 1:1, John 17:11, Matt. 11:25-27). The decisive break between Judaism and Christianity that Rubenstein places in the fourth century actually took place three centuries earlier (see especially James D. G. Dunn, The Partings of the Ways). Rubenstein's laudable desire to bridge the differences between Judaism and Christianity leads, however inadvertently, to tendentious history, which then produces misleading theology, in this case an idealized view of Arianiam over against Nicene Christianity. For Rubenstein, Arianism "represented a radical impulse in Christianity: the drive to infuse worldly existence with the spirit of Christ" (p. 218). Nicene Christianity, by contrast, because of its "majestic Christ incorporated into the Godhead," had-has-a "pessimistic view of human nature" (p. 224). These conclusions then prompt Rubenstein to suggest that because of Emperor Theodosius's Nicene-Constantinopolitan settlement, "a long wave of religious violence followed" automatically against the Jews (p. 226). On this reading, the Council of Constantinople held in 381 becomes the precursor of Kristallnacht.
As I first read When Jesus Became God, I was impressed with the author's forthrightness and admired his respect for both his subject and his audience. That respect and admiration has not changed. If I now have serious reservations about a well-intentioned and personable book, it's because the stakes-historical, theological-are so high. It's just not enough to produce a good read. With its occasionally shaky historical method and especially because of its misplaced ecumenical agenda, When Jesus Became God may unintentionally mislead a lot of readers with both its history and its theology, not because Jesus is (or is not) God, but because of bad history beguilingly offered.</font></blockquote>