The Process of Jesus’ Deification and Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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  • 1 Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Department of Philosophy, Paseo Senda del Rey, 7, 28040 Madrid,
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The starting point of this article is the paradox that the first-century Jew, Jesus the Galilean, came to be considered divine by a sect belonging to a religion which is often deemed to be monotheistic, to the extent that many scholars refer to this phenomenon as “striking” and “puzzling.” Although a complete survey of the cultural and religious (Jewish, Greco-Roman) contexts in which the sect of the Nazoreans — the original core group from which Christianity grew — developed its beliefs and practices is of paramount importance for understanding this phenomenon, my contention is that a historical approach should be supplemented by social science theories. In this article, I argue that cognitive dissonance theory, after having been enriched and modified by quite a few criticisms in the last several decades, contributes to making the psychological and social processes which led to Jesus’ exaltation and deification more intelligible.

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