Truth never changes. I originally wrote this on August 21, 2012, at the other blog I sometimes write at; and it is still true.
Richard Bauchkam calls Mark 10:17-18 “a wonderful double entendre” and shows Jesus is actually claiming to be God! (see below for exact place in a radio interview.)
A double entendre (literally: double meaning) is a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is devised to be understood in either of two ways. Often the first (more surface) meaning is straightforward and direct speech, while the second meaning is indirect and “underneath the surface” and usually the real intention behind the bare words.
Oriental cultures, Middle Easterners, especially Iranians, use this kind of language and technique all the time in their poetry and their culture of “saving face” and “honor vs. shame”; has made them over the centuries experts at “indirect speech”.
Jesus is indirectly claiming to be God, using an eastern method of indirect speech; but westerners think it is straight forward speech.
Muslims love to use Richard Bauckham to try and cast doubt on the NT and the gospels. While Bauckham is not an inerrantist, and not as conservative as I am or as Dr. White is; Bauckham is hardly a good source for Muslims to use, because on this particular radio discussion, Bauckham believes Jesus is claiming to be God in Mark 10:17-18.
Shabir Ally and Paul Bilal Williams use some quotes from Bauckham as somehow trying to show that the gospels are not reliable and changed, yet in this program, Bauckham takes Paul Williams’ favorite passage (Mark 10:17-19) and demonstrates that Muslims are wrong on its meaning. Williams brings up Mark 10:17-19 many times at his own blog. see here:
Update to this article, Sept. 28, 2015: I took out the old url of Paul B. Williams old blogs, because there is some kind of malware/scam there.
(No longer available as Williams keeps changing his blog; several times. One time he even left Islam for a few days and then came back and repented.) Williams new blog, as of Jan. 2015, is www.bloggingtheology.net
and here, What must I do to be saved? (no longer available)
and here, “Why do you call Me good? (no longer available)
In all three of these articles, he leaves out verses 23-27.
At Williams’ three different blogs which he has changed, if you could look around, it seems that he has a blog article on Mark 10 or the gospel of John and/or liberal scholars every several blog articles. He especially likes Mark 10:17-19 about “Why do you call Me good?” or about “keep the commandments”, and seeing that from a Muslim viewpoint, he thinks Jesus said that in order to teach that someone is able to keep the law and be saved. His Islamic worldview has blinded him from seeing the real meaning of this great passage, especially if one reads all the way until verse 27. Of course, only the Holy Spirit can lift the blinders off sinners’ hearts.
Williams constantly quotes the Mark passage, but always leaves out verses 23-27 in his polemics. Williams constantly uses Mark 10:17-18 to try and say that Jesus is denying His Deity; and he constantly uses Mark 10:19-22 to try and say that Jesus teaches that salvation comes by obeying the law of God. He is wrong on both accounts. By leaving out verses 23-27, Williams is avoiding the deeper meaning of why Jesus approaches the rich young ruler the way He does. We will address that issue later, Lord willing.
Bauckham on “why do you call me good?”
I am not going to type out every word in this section of the interview; I invite the reader to listen to the whole thing. However, I want to include key phrases and sentences of Bauckham, and intersperse with my own comments.
Beginning at the 43:31 mark – Richard Bauckham – “can I come back to Mark ?
because in Mark chapter 2 – who can forgive sins but God alone?”, he is “expressing precisely one of these uniquely divine qualities” – qualities of God .
Mark 6 – “What kind of man is this who the wind and waves obey his voice? Only God can rule the chaos – Order out of chaos; a very OT idea about God.”
Mark 10:17 ff – “Why do you call me good, only God is good. Actually works the other way, Jesus is good, so Jesus is God. Bauckham calls this a “wonderful double entendre”, and “if you are not thinking, you would say that Jesus is saying I am not God”; but Jesus is actually trying to get the rich young ruler to think about true goodness. Thus, Bauckham is confirming the orthodox position of how to interpret this passage. Jesus is not denying that He is good or God, but in an indirect way, Jesus is actually claiming to be God. In effect, Jesus is saying, “If you recognize Me as good and call Me good, then you should see that I am God, since only God is good.” But the man didn’t really understand absolute goodness.
This is a very clear passage that Jesus is claiming Deity. Even the Jews know that the Messiah is going to be “the Son of the blessed one”! The Jews know Psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7:13-14 and Proverbs 30:4 and Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13-14.
Jesus quotes from Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13-14 and the Jewish leaders tear their robes and say that Jesus has committed blasphemy by claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus also said, “I am” ( ego eimi = εγω ειμι ) in verse 62. Muslims and other skeptics like to make a big deal about the “I am” statements in John, and they claim that there are none of them in the Synoptic gospels. Well, here is one. Mark 6:50 is another “I am” statement.
Bauckham says the clear claim of deity is there in Mark, so it is not only in the gospel of John, as some, particularly Muslims are saying, but the Deity of Christ is clear in Mark also.
Dr. White’s recent Five sermons on the Gospel according to Mark:
In his first message, “The Bookends of Mark” – he shows that Mark 1:1 (the Son of God – for an article about the textual variant here, see this.) and Mark 15:39 (“truly this man was the Son of God!”) – the centurions’ confession that Jesus is “the Son of God”, demonstrates Mark’s purpose of testifying that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. Dr. White made a great point about the Roman Centurion and his familiarity with death, in Mark 15:43-45. The Roman Centurion better be sure Jesus was dead, since he had to give testimony to Pilate himself. If he was wrong, he would have been executed. The seriousness with which the Romans dealt with soldiers and guards who did not do their job well is seen in Acts 16:27. The Philippian jailor was about to kill himself, because he had fallen asleep earlier, and he thought that Paul and Barnabas had escaped in Acts 16:27, after the earthquake.
There are a lot of nuggets there that Dr. White brings out in these five sermons. Because Muslims are not only using liberal scholars, but now they are using (and abusing) more conservative scholars to attack the New Testament and the gospels, we need to equip ourselves to be “ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us” to Muslims, and take up our cross in discipleship. (see Mark 8:34-38)
For two other articles on the unity of the gospel of Mark and the Deity of Christ in Mark, see here, and on the testimony to the resurrection of Jesus in Mark, see here.
Credit goes to someone named “Monty” in the aomin chat channel, a few days ago (last week)[at the time I originally wrote this in 2012); for pointing to this particular Unbelievable Radio program, the discussion between Bauckham and Crossley.