Remember this heated thread from November? I was listing some alternative to Jesus being the Messiah or a madman (CS Lewis's two options) when he claimed things like "The Father and I are one."
My first possible option was:
'1) Jesus claimed "to be God," but meant this in the way a Hindu would, where, if the acolyte says "I am God," the sage says, "You've finally figured this out, hey?"'
Some fellow David chided me, saying:
'1) Jesus was a Jew and not a Hindu. This is not a legitimate alternative, because God Almighty/Yahweh does not have alternative meanings to a Jew (at least in the first century AD).'
At the time, I noted that there had been Buddhist missionaries through the Near East by that time. But, I neglected a much more prevalent, possible source for such an idea in 20 AD Palestine: Stoicism. The Stoics taught that all souls are just sparks of the divine fire, and actually are parts of God. And Stoicism had tremendous influence in Jewish thought at that time. So, far from it being impossible for a Jew of 20 AD to think that way, it is a near historical certainty that there were many Jews who were thinking thoughts just like that.
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