The following was a college essay written by Joseph Tuttle from Benedictine College. It has been edited and approved by Julia Peel. If you have a Theology essay that you would like published that received a grade of an A- or higher, please be sure to contact us.
Reliable Authorship of the Gospels
The main reason Dr. Pitre wrote The Case for Jesus was to discuss the issue of whether Jesus claimed to be God. In order to answer this question, Dr. Pitre begins by treating the misguided theory that the Four Gospels were anonymous.
There are four components to the “theory of the anonymous Gospels.” First, the Gospels were published without any title or indication as to who the author was. “Second, all four Gospels supposedly circulated without any titles for almost a century before anyone attributed them to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.” (Pitre 14) Third, the titles were added after the disciples of Jesus were dead. Fourth, since the theory believes that the Gospels were anonymous, it concludes therefore that they were not written by any eyewitnesses.
Dr. Pitre points out that the first major issue with this theory is that there are in fact no so called “anonymous” Gospels. The earliest recorded Gospels have titles and authors. A second major issue with this theory is “..the utter implausibility that a book circulating around the Roman Empire without a title for almost a hundred years could somehow at some point be attributed to exactly the same author by scribes throughout the world and yet leave no trace of disagreement in any manuscripts.” (Pitre 19) The third problem with this theory is the claim that the Gospels were falsely attributed to eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, “…a century later to give the Gospels ‘much needed authority.’” (Pitre 22) The main issue with this claim is: why would people attribute two of the Gospels to Mark and Luke, two people who were not apostles of Jesus! If you wanted to give the Gospels a “much needed authority” you would not have attributed the Gospels of Mark and Luke to Mark and Luke. You probably would have picked someone like Peter, the head of the apostles.
Continuing, Dr. Pitre turns to the authors of the Gospels. There are two types of evidence used to determine the author of a book. There is internal evidence, and external evidence. Internal evidence is “…evidence from within the book about who wrote it and, sometimes, when it was written and why it was written.” (Pitre 24) External evidence requires you to investigate what the contemporaries of a given text have said about that text or about the author of that text. Dr. Pitre investigates the internal evidence and briefly examines some of the external evidence for the authors of the Gospels. The greatest internal evidence we have are the early manuscripts of the Gospels, with their titles attributing them to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that Matthew was a tax collector, who left his job to follow Jesus. Jesus chose Matthew to be among His inner circle of friends, the twelve apostles. As Dr. Pitre mentions, some scholars believe that common fishermen at the time of Jesus, would not have been able to read or write, and thus could not have authored any of the Gospels. Matthew, on the other hand, being a tax collector, would have known how to read and write. Thus it makes sense that he would be one of the few people closest to Jesus who would be qualified to author a Gospel.
In Mark’s Gospel, the only internal evidence we have is its title: The Gospel according to Mark. “The reason is probably that Mark was a very well known figure in the first-century Church, both in Jerusalem and in Rome.” (Pitre 29) Thus, Saint Mark would not have needed an introduction, Christians would have already known who he was. In the Acts of the Apostles however, we learn more about Mark. His full name was John Mark. He was a disciple of both Saints Peter and Paul.
Once again, in Luke’s Gospel, the only internal evidence we have is its title: The Gospel according to Luke. “As with the Gospel of Mark, since Luke is never mentioned in the Gospel, we have to look at other first-century writings to deduce his identity.” (Pitre 31) In many of Paul’s letters, we hear of Luke, and learn that he was a gentile physician who converted to Christianity, and was a companion of Paul. St. Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Of key interest is the fact that “…Luke’s Gospel was not the first to be written.” (Pitre 32) In the beginning of his Gospel, Luke mentions that “many” others had written on Jesus. This statement in Luke’s Gospel would help support St. Augustine’s hypothesis on the Synoptic Gospels, mainly that the Gospels were written in the order they appear in the Bible, that is, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If St. Augustine’s hypothesis is right, then it would also help to disprove the erroneous Marcan Priority theory, developed by anti-papal Protestants during the Enlightenment, just to reject the papacy and not to truly discover the correct order of the Gospels.
In John’s Gospel, we have of course the title which states that John is the author. Another piece of internal evidence is the mention of the “Beloved Disciple” who identifies himself as the author of this Gospel. This “Beloved Disciple” is a “…part of the innermost circle of Jesus’ disciples…” (Pitre 35) The Beloved Disciple’s place at the Last Supper is closer than that of Peter, because he was “lying close to the breast of Jesus.” (see John 13:23) Thus, we can conclude that, “…when the Beloved Disciple’s position at the Last Supper is combined with other evidence about John the apostle, the most plausible explanation is that they are one and the same person.” (Pitre 35) When it comes to the critics who think that St. John could not have authored a Gospel because he was a fisherman and therefore would have been illiterate, it is logical to assume that since he was the youngest of the apostles and lived a fairly long life, that his experience in preaching and teaching the faith for so long would enable him to author the Fourth Gospel.
While discussing St. John’s Gospel, Dr. Pitre makes it a point to emphasize the distinction between an author and a secretary. The author of a book of the Bible was inspired by God to author it, and the content within the book is from the author. On the other hand, the author could have dictated it to a secretary who could have written it down and made edits without changing the content from the author.
What does all of this mean for us? Well, as Dr. Pitre mentions in the first chapter, by studying such theories as the “theory of the anonymous Gospels,” he very nearly lost his faith: “By the time I was about to graduate, I didn’t know what to believe in anymore.” (Pitre 7) Such theories as the “theory of the anonymous Gospels,” and the Documentary Hypothesis can confuse and damage one’s faith. And, as we have seen, the “theory of the anonymous Gospels” does not actually hold up under criticism. Thus, we must be leery of such “theories” from so called “scholars.” This also shows us that these theories are prevailing on the teachers of the faith at prominent universities and colleges which claim to be “Catholic” or renowned for their biblical scholarship. These theories must be corrected by realizing that Scripture is not just another ancient book that we can study with pure reason and scholarship but the inspired and inerrant written Word of God, which we must study with both faith and reason. By understanding that the Gospels were not in fact anonymous, and by knowing that the authors are real, reliable, and historical sources, this helps to strengthen the truth they hold within.
The Biographical Nature of the Gospels
Continuing his discussion of the plausibility of the four Gospels, Dr. Pitre turns to more of the external evidence for the authenticity of the Gospels, found mainly within the writings of the early Church Fathers. Dr. Pitre mainly pulls from these Church Fathers: Papias, a disciple of St. John, St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus, (who was a student of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John) St. Clement, Tertullian, and the Muratorian Canon. He continues to discuss the apocryphal gospels and how the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are historical biographies of Jesus.
The early Church Fathers say that the Gospel of Matthew was indeed written by the apostle of the same name. Dr. Pitre points out: “Notice that there is not the slightest trace of an idea that the Gospel of Matthew was ever anonymous.” (Pitre 42) This is a recurring theme found throughout the writings of the Church Fathers, mainly, that none of the Gospels were anonymous like so many scholars like to believe. The Fathers tell us that it was written while Matthew was still alive. The Fathers also tell us that Matthew wrote his Gospel in his original language, meaning Hebrew, and then it was translated into Greek. The Gospel of Matthew was written, “…to provide Jewish Christians (“the Hebrews”) with a written record of Matthew’s oral teachings about Jesus before the apostle departed from them to preach the good news to others.” (Pitre 43)
As for Mark’s Gospel, the Fathers tell us that Mark’s Gospel was written by Mark, a disciple of St. Peter, the head of the apostles. His Gospel is based on the preaching and teaching of Peter. The Fathers do not, however, have a consensus as to when Mark’s Gospel was written. Some say that it was written while Peter and Paul were alive, while others say it was written after their death.
Once again, the Fathers tell us that Luke’s Gospel was written by Luke, a disciple of Paul. Luke’s Gospel is based on the oral preaching of Paul. “According to the early church fathers, the Gospel was composed by Luke for the ‘Gentile’ -that is, non-Jewish Christians.” (Pitre 47) The Gospel of Luke is the third Gospel to be written according to Origen and is believed to have been written while Paul was still alive.
The Fathers tell us that the fourth Gospel was authored by St. John. The dating of John’s Gospel is uncertain, some say that it was after the Synoptics were written, others say that John and Matthew’s Gospels came first. John’s Gospel was written to defend Christ’s divinity and “…to supplement the information about Jesus contained in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.” (Pitre 50) This would explain why much of what John says in his Gospel differs from the content of the Synoptics, not because they are contradictory but because they are complementary. We do not know how it was written. It could have been dictated, or St. John himself could have written it. The main point that we should focus on is that the content came from St. John.
Dr. Pitre then turns to some of the apocryphal Gospels. He discusses four of them: Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Judas, and Gospel of Peter. A couple of them in particular have some rather outlandish stories about Jesus. Dr. Pitre’s main reason for discussing these apocryphal texts is to show that they do not hold the same authority that the actual Gospels do. Since the Fathers would have been contemporaries of these Gospels, their comments are extremely beneficial.
Beginning with the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Dr. Pitre shows us that St. Irenaeus attributed the the Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, “…he emphatically describes the book containing this story [the one that Dr. Pitre discussed on page 63] about the child Jesus as a ‘spurious’ forgery.” (Pitre 63) As with the Gospel of Judas, once again St. Irenaeus tells us that it is not true. With the Gospel of Peter, the Church Father, Serapion, “…ultimately rejects the Gospel of Peter because it was ‘falsely’ ascribed’ or, more literally, a ‘false writing’ (Greek pseudepigrapha).” (Pitre 64) Once again, the Church Fathers tell us that the Gospel of Thomas was indeed “…a ‘false writing’ (Greek pseudepigrapha), one of the ‘forgeries (Greek anaplasmata) of heretics.’” (Pitre 65) Thus, as we can see by the testimony of the Fathers of the Church, the apocryphal Gospels do not hold any credence whatsoever and should not be considered historically plausible.
Continuing, Dr. Pitre treats the question of whether or not the Gospels are actually biographies of Jesus. In order to determine the answer, we have to look at other ancient biographies of the time. There are five parallels which Dr. Pitre points out between ancient biographies and the Gospels. The first is that the ancient biographies focus on the life and death of a person. Clearly the Gospels contain accounts of Jesus’ life and death. Second, ancient biographies were only about 10,000 to 20,000 words in length. “When we examine the length of the four Gospels, they fall within this ballpark.” (Pitre 72) Third, many ancient biographies would begin with the ancestry of the person. Matthew and Luke’s Gospels both begin with the Infancy Narratives of Jesus. Fourth, “Another significant parallel between Greco-Roman biographies and the four Gospels is that they are not necessarily strictly chronological account’s of a person’s life.” (Pitre 74) This would explain so called discrepancies between certain events within the Gospels. Fifth and finally, ancient biographies were not an exhaustive volume on someone’s life. The Gospels do not contain everything that Jesus said and did. St. John even tells us at the end of his Gospel, that it is not a complete account of Jesus’ life. Thus, with all these parallels in mind, we can conclude that the Gospels are indeed ancient historical biographies of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Pitre discusses whether or not the Gospels contain the the verbatim words of Jesus. Since the Gospels are historical biographies, “it does not mean that the Gospels are verbatim transcripts of what Jesus said and did…On the other hand, the historical character of the Gospels does mean that the authors intend to record the substance of what Jesus really said and did.” (Pitre 81) Therefore, the Gospels may not contain the exact words of Jesus but they still convey His message. Also, we must keep in mind biblical inspiration and inerrancy. We must not forget that the primary Author of the Bible is God Himself, so anything that the human authors wrote in the Bible is also what God wants to reveal to us.
It is important for us to keep in mind the teachings of the Church Fathers, since much of Sacred Tradition is contained in their writings. By seeing the witness of the Fathers, it helps us to strengthen the historical plausibility of the Gospels, by knowing that they have contemporaries who were even disciples of some of the apostles. By discrediting these so called “gospels” it helps us to keep our minds focused on the true Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, contained within the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. By showing the amazing parallels between the Gospels and other ancient historical biographies, Dr. Pitre disproves those who believe that the Gospels were merely stories of Jesus but real reliable sources.
Jesus’ Nature as God
Dr. Pitre continues his discussion of the historical Jesus by treating the dating of the Gospels. He then turns to some of the things Jesus said and did which fulfilled the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah. And finally, Dr. Pitre begins to answer the question of whether or not Jesus believed He was God.
The main issue Dr. Pitre wishes to treat in Chapter 7, is to disprove the theory that the Gospels were written many years after the time when Jesus lived. Beginning, Dr. Pitre points out three stages of the writing of the Gospels. First, Jesus had to actually have preached and taught. Second, Jesus’ students would then preach and teach. And third, eventually they would have written down these teachings. Dr. Pitre gives us some convincing evidence based on common sense. “First, Jesus’ disciples were students who remembered what he did and said.” (Pitre 86) Second, the disciples would have had to prepare and practice their preaching. “Third, even if the Gospels weren’t written until the late first century AD, they would still have appeared well within the lifetime of Jesus’s apostles and their followers.” (Pitre 88) Another interesting point Dr. Pitre suggests is that if Matthew and John outlived the other apostles, it would make sense that someone would have asked them to give an account of Jesus before the last of they died. Thus, Dr. Pitre is not suggesting a specific date for the writing of the Gospels, he is merely trying to show that the supposed “hard and fast” dating of the Gospels by most modern scholars is not in fact “hard and fast” at all.
Dr. Pitre then turns in Chapter 8 to how Jesus fulfilled certain prophecies from the Old Testament, particularly from the book of Daniel. In the Gospels, Jesus often preaches about the coming of the Kingdom of God. What does Jesus mean by this phrase? In order to answer this question, we must go back to the book of Daniel. In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar has a vision in which a statue is depicted, being made of four specific parts, which, according to Daniel, are four pagan kingdoms that will rule over the Jewish people. During the reign of the last kingdom, that of the Roman Empire, a fifth kingdom appears: the Kingdom of God. At the time of Jesus, the Jews would have recognized this prophecy of Daniel, “…the long awaited kingdom of God will come sometime during the reign of the Roman Empire.” (Pitre 107) Thus, when Jesus preached about the coming of the kingdom, He is referring to the fulfillment of the kingdom of God prophesied in the book of Daniel.
In the Gospels, Jesus’ favorite title for Himself is “Son of Man.” Once again, if we go back to the book of Daniel, Daniel has a dream about four beasts (which represent the four pagan empires) and the coming of “one like the son of man” (Daniel 7) Dr. Pitre emphasizes that “…although the beasts represent the various empires, they first and foremost symbolize the pagan rulers of those empires.” (Pitre 110) If this point is understood, then it should be obvious who the “son of man” is: “…the son of man is the king of the fifth kingdom-the everlasting kingdom of God.” (Pitre 111) Thus, we can see that Jesus is the Messiah and is ushering in the fulfillment of the prophecies from the book of Daniel. Dr. Pitre makes it clear that the Jews, at the time of Jesus interpreted the prophecies in the book of Daniel in the same way we have just done.
The last prophecy from the book of Daniel that Dr. Pitre discusses is Daniel’s prediction of the death of the Messiah. In the Gospels, Jesus predicts His death fairly often. Dr. Pitre tells us that “…the messianic Son of Man spoken of by Daniel…must suffer and die.” (Pitre 114) There are a few key points to take away from Daniel’s prophecy. First and foremost, “…there will be 490 years between the restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the coming of the ‘messiah.’” (Pitre 115) Second, the Messiah will be put to death. And third, the prophecy links the death of the Messiah to the destruction of the Temple. This prophecy is very important for us to understand. Not only does Daniel tell us when the Messiah will come, he also tells us that the Messiah will die! In fact, Daniel tells us almost the exact time in which the Messiah will come. The prophecy dates back to ca. 457 B.C. And if you count 490 years down the line, you arrive at ca. 33 A.D. – the traditional dating of Jesus’ death. Thus, at the time of Jesus, many Jews were putting two and two together and began following Jesus, or they began to wonder whether or not He was indeed the long awaited Messiah.
Once again, Dr. Pitre turns to the question of whether or not Jesus thought He was God. He begins by discussing the false view that Jesus is not depicted as divine in the Synoptics. The only way to hold such as position, “…is to completely ignore both the miracles of Jesus in which he acts as if he is the one God, as well as the sayings of Jesus in which he speaks as if he is the one God.” (Pitre 121) Dr. Pitre then turns to an examination of three of Jesus’ most significant deeds: the stilling of the storm, the walking on water, and the Transfiguration to help answer this question.
In the stilling of the storm, Jesus has power over the storm and calms it. “Over and over again, the Old Testament emphasizes how the God of the universe displays his power by controlling two of the most powerful forces in creation: the wind and the sea.” (Pitre 123) The Gospel writers are clearly depicting Jesus as having the power of God. To back this up, Jesus does not call upon the power of God to still the storm because He is God and therefore has the power to do it Himself.
In the account of Jesus walking on water, He walks on the water midst the waves and wind, intends to pass by His disciples in the boat, and then He tells them “I am; do not be afraid.” There are quite a few interesting points to make here. First, when Jesus says to His disciples, I AM, He is referring back to the name of God revealed to Moses, YHWH, which means I AM. “He is revealing his divine identity to them.” (Pitre 129) Thus, this event is a theophany. Second, if we look at St. Mark’s account, he tells us that Jesus “meant to pass by” His disciples. (Mk. 6:48) In the Old Testament, “passing by” is used to describe God when He appears to humans, consider the accounts of Moses and Elijah. (See Exodus 33:19, 22; 34:6 and 1 Kings 19:11) Third and finally, when Jesus gets to the boat, the disciple worshiped Him, and called Him the “Son of God.” The Greek word used in this instance for “worship” (proskyneō) can refer to giving a human king homage, however, given the context, it is the worship that the Jewish people would offer to God alone.
In the account of the Transfiguration, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain and is transfigured before them. Moses and Elijah are also present. Although many common interpretations say that Moses and Elijah are present because they represent the entire Old Testament and Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, there is another explanation which Dr. Pitre offers us. Dr. Pitre says that they are present because they both received theophanies in the Old Testament. Both went up a high mountain and both were not permitted to look upon God. At the Transfiguration however, “…Moses and Elijah are finally allowed to see what they could not see during their earthly lives: the unveiled face of God.” (Pitre 133) And how are they able to see the face of God? They are able to see the face of Jesus Who is truly God.
Dr. Pitre’s final statements about how we cannot ignore the evidence found within Sacred Scripture for Jesus’ divinity are very pertinent. It is extremely important for us to understand these correlations because of the increase of scholars who lack faith and try to ignore the evidence instead of actually analyzing it. Once again, biblical scholars continue to divorce the relationship between faith and scholarship.
To Jesus, Through Faith and Reason
Continuing to give evidence for why Jesus knew He was God, Dr. Pitre turns to the question of why Jesus did not openly announce to the Jews that He was indeed the Messiah. He also reviews the evidence for Jesus’ divinity found in the accounts of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
“Why did Jesus not openly tell people that He was indeed the long-awaited Messiah?” we might ask. The answer to this question may seem rather simple, and yet it is very true. As Dr. Pitre says, “…the best explanation is that he is biding his time.” (Pitre 138) This is also why Jesus does not explicitly tell everyone that He is divine. Jesus did not, however, say He was not God. He said that He was God using parables and riddles. Jesus did this in order to “…reveal his identity to those who were open to believing and to conceal his identity from those who would oppose him.” (Pitre 140) Dr. Pitre then turns to examine three different events in which Jesus taught in this way in the Synoptic Gospels.
The first event Dr. Pitre discusses is the healing of the paralytic. In this story, a paralytic man is brought to Jesus, Who forgives him of his sins. After having said this, the Pharisees say that only God can forgive sins. Jesus responds that the “Son of Man” has this authority, and then tells the paralytic to take up his pallet and walk. There are a few things that need to be pointed out here. “First, notice that Jesus’ initial words to the paralytic are focused exclusively on the forgiveness of his sins.” (Pitre 141) Second, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of blasphemy because He forgave the man’s sins. Jesus, however, instead of denying that He is indeed God, refers to Himself as the “Son of Man” from Daniel. Dr. Pitre points out that not only is the “Son of Man” the long-awaited Messiah, but He is also a divine being. Dr. Pitre makes two very important observations for us to see the divinity of the “Son of Man” in Daniel: “First, he ‘comes on the clouds of heaven’ -something only God does in the Old Testament. Second, the book of Daniel says that he is ‘like a son of man’ -that is, appears to be a merely human figure but is in fact a heavenly being (Daniel 7:13).” (Pitre 143-144)
The second event is when Jesus is in the Temple and interprets Psalm 110 for the Jewish people. He asks how the “Lord” mentioned can be both a descendant of David and his “Lord?” Jesus points out that the “Lord” mentioned in Psalm 110 is referring to the Messiah who will be a descendant of David. Jesus also points out that, “The Messiah is also David’s Lord.” (Pitre 146) Thus, Jesus is telling the Jewish people that the long-awaited Messiah will not only be of the line of David but also be divine.
The third event is the story of the rich young man. In this account, a rich young man comes to Jesus and says that He is “good,” to which Jesus responds that only God is good. Many scholars see this passage as Jesus directly denying that He is divine. This is not the case, however. Knowing that Jesus uses parables and riddles to help His audience, comes in handy in this account. Jesus does not say that He is not God. The essence of what Jesus is saying is this: Only God is good. Therefore if you call Me good, you are recognizing My Divinity, you are calling Me God. Jesus does this to people because “He wants them to freely arrive at their own conclusions about who he is and how they are going to respond to him.” (Pitre 151)
Continuing, Dr. Pitre turns to the account of Jesus’ Crucifixion. The Crucifix is seen as a symbol of contradiction. Why was Jesus crucified? Many suggest that Jesus was killed because the Jews did not like what He said about the Temple, especially foretelling its destruction. This is not the actual reason. The actual reason was that Jesus admitted to being God. According to the Jews, He committed blasphemy. “They condemn him to death because of who he claims to be.” (Pitre 157) Jesus openly admitted that He was the Messiah. Is claiming to be the Messiah condemnable by death!? The answer is no. After claiming to be the Messiah, “…he also implicitly claims to be divine.” (Pitre 159) Caiaphas’ response, tearing his garments and declaring Him guilty of blasphemy is even more evidence that Jesus claimed to be God. Dr. Pitre also points out that Jesus had been accused of blasphemy a few times before this trial. Thus, Dr. Pitre concludes, “The evidence presented here suggests that the now popular idea that Jesus never claimed to be anything more than an ordinary human being totally fails to deal with the actual historical evidence.” (Pitre 163)
Dr. Pitre then turns to one of the most common objections to the idea that Jesus was God: If Jesus was God, how could He say “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) This line is the very first line of Psalm 22. A few things about Psalm 22 should be noted in order to understand why Jesus says what He does. “First, Psalm 22 is a song of trust that God will save his suffering servant despite the appearance that God has abandoned him.” (Pitre 165) Second, Psalm 22 is attributed to David, but there are parts of the Psalm that never happened to him. Finally, “…although Psalm 22 begins with David’s experience of feeling abandoned by God, it ends with the conversion of the non-Jewish peoples and the coming of the kingdom of God.” (Pitre 167) Jesus is showing us that, although He appears to be forsaken by God, it is by His death that the whole world will come to worship the one true God.
The last point Dr. Pitre wanted to point out about what we can learn about Jesus’ divinity from the account of the Crucifixion, is that Jesus is the new Temple. The Temple was God’s dwelling on earth. The Temple is where animals were sacrificed for the sins of the Jewish people. When the priests made sacrifices, they poured out the blood into the Kidron, which would then be a mix of blood and water flowing downstream. St. John the evangelist tells us that blood and water flowed from the side of Jesus when the soldier pierced His side with a lance. Thus, “…the piercing of Jesus’ side after his death reveals that he was the presence of God on earth.” (Pitre 171) Since this is true, then Jesus’ death was not an execution, it was a sacrifice. Jesus was sacrificed in expiation for our sins.
Dr. Pitre continues and treats the accounts of the Resurrection. One of the most interesting questions that Dr. Pitre asks is “…what Scriptures did Jesus’ resurrection fulfill?” (Pitre 185) Jesus says that the Son of Man will be in the earth for three days and three nights. Jesus says that this fulfills the “sign of Jonah.” But what is this “sign of Jonah?” Dr. Pitre points out that the book of Jonah never explicitly says that he is alive while in the belly of the whale. “In fact, it pretty explicitly says that Jonah died and went to the realm of the dead.” (Pitre 186) There are a few things that should be considered in the account of Jonah. First, Jonah called out to God from the realm of the dead. “Second, when Jonah says that his “soul” (Hebrew nephesh) fainted within him, this is another way of saying that he died.” (Pitre 187) Third and finally, God tells Jonah to “arise,” the same verb used by Jesus to raise Jairus’ daughter. After this, Jonah went on the preach to the Ninevites who miraculously repented. Thus, we can conclude that “According to Jesus, it is not just his resurrection from the dead that will be a reason for believing in him. It is also the inexplicable conversion of the pagan nations of the world-the Gentiles.” (Pitre 189)
In conclusion to his book, Dr. Pitre finishes with one of the greatest pieces of evidence we have for Jesus’ divinity, that is, Peter’s confession that Jesus is the “Son of the living God.” Jesus begins by asking who people think the “Son of Man” is. Once again, we have already discussed the Son of Man, so we need not delve further into this topic. In the account, Peter not only affirms that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, he “…goes beyond messiahship when he confesses that Jesus is also ‘the son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16).” (Pitre 196) Peter does not say this because he has put two and two together and figured it out, but because he “…is open to receiving the mystery.” (Pitre 196) Since Peter has faith, the Father gives him the grace to understand. This is true for us today. We must have faith in order to believe. We cannot follow Jesus by reason alone, we must have a living faith.