Bishop Wright makes several argument about his position from Scripture. Remember is argument is best framed by this quote:
no first-century Jew could think of a human being, far less than himself, as the incarnation of God. Jewish monotheism prohibits it; and even if it didn’t (If we take Alan Segal’s point about pluriformity within early Jewish God-talk), there is no actual model for it within Judaism. (Jesus’s Self Understanding)
Bishop Wright begins by stating that all title such as Christ, Son of Man, and Son of God only point to the Messiahship of Jesus, his vocation, rather than being the Second Person of the Trinity. This fact is generally granted for the title of Jesus except Son of God and perhaps Lord. More in-depth argumentation against the idea that the Son of God title means Second Person of the Trinity can be found in a 9 part series of posts by Rev. Jeff Meyers. I believe Rev. Meyers is arguing along a similar path as Bishop Wright with regards to the title ‘Son of God’. Now, I do think that the title Son of God refers to the divinity of Jesus, but I am simply going to grant his point here. I do not think that the self-knowledge of Jesus as the Second Person of the Trinity hinges on the title Son of God. So I will just pass this point, but noting my disagreement for now. Perhaps in a future post series we can take that subject up.
The first point that any discussion of Jesus as a self-aware Second person of the Trinity should start is with John 1:1-18. This familiar passage gives us a clear picture of the Incarnation and is the traditional defense of Jesus as God. Bishop Wright of course deals with this passage.
The Word became flesh, and tabernacled in our midst’: eskenosen is of course a Temple-image, and if we understand John 1:1-18 in terms of its Jewish roots, and its parallels in, for example, Sirach 24, this should not surprise us. Word, Wisdom, Spirit and ultimately Temple and Torah—these are the themes which, in Judaism, speak of the one, true and living God active within the world in general and Israel in particular, promising future decisive personal action to save Israel and the world. These are the themes of the Prologue, and of the whole Gospel; and I suggest that they are also major themes in the Synoptics.
Bishop Wright seeks to make John 1 about a picture of the Temple. The Word tabernacles with us. I have no objection to the Word tabernacling with us, I have disagreement with the spin placed on it and the use of the other words. Bishop Wright takes ‘Word’ as a reference to 2TJ’s manner of speaking about the work of God. Wright’s reference to Sirach 24 is puzzeling as it speaks of Wisdom tabernacling and relates Wisdom to the Torah, but nothing about the Word. But here is where Wright’s methodology dominates his Christology. There are ways to use the Logos (the Greek of Word) that do not involve Wright’s 2TJ. For example the term ‘Word’ had a long Greek history. The Stoics, a major philosophical force in the first century used the term freely to mean the principle through which all things came to be and to which all returned. Hellenistic Jews used the term often to refer to Divine Reason. So the term obviously found its way into widespread Jewish usage too. John could be communicating here with the Greek philosophy of the age by calling out their Logos that created all things is actually God and with God and now has taken on flesh. It would fit more with the audience of John since it appear he is not directing his gospel to the First Century Jew.
Of course the other problem that Wright does not address in his on-line articles is that John (no matter whose reading one takes) is beginning with the Word who is God and with God. This Word is what takes on flesh. John begins with the eternal divine nature of Jesus and then tells us Jesus took flesh, the human nature. When we begin with the Second Person of the Trinity and move to that Person of the Trinity taking to himself a human nature, then it becomes hard to imagine a Jesus who is not self-conscious of his divine nature. In fact, the method of Wright to ask what a first century Jew could possible have thought is the exact opposite of the method of John in his gospel.
As for John 1:14 where the Word tabernacles among us somehow being a reference to the Temple which overthrows the centrality of persons and natures in Christology, I think there is a better explanation. John 1:14 seems to me to be alluding to the much repeated formula of God being our God, we being his people, and he dwelling among us. Leviticus 26:11-12 comes to mind. There we find out that the tabernacle should be among the people because He is our God and we His people, and He will walk among us. Jesus is fulfilling the picture the tabernacle gave us. I do think John 1:14 is referring to the picture of the tabernacle and the temple, but instead of reading John 1:14 as a First Century Jew and think of Jesus serving like the Temple as a way God works among his people, we ought to view the temple as a picture of Jesus. In short, it seems to me Wright wants to take his First Century Judaism and let that dominate his view of Jesus, and I think we should take out view of Jesus and let that dominate the view of Judaism.
In summary then I do not buy Bishop Wright’s explanation of John 1:1-18 because he seems to brush aside too much by claiming the Temple view, and because John is clearly beginning with the self away Second Person of the Trinity and taking to himself a human nature. This more than implies a divine-human who is more than self-aware. The only way to get to Wright’s self aware human who is unaware of his divine nature is to fall into Nestorianism by making two persons. The text does not allow it.