What if scientists built a time machine and a biologist traveled to Israel 30 AD? She could perhaps obtain a skin cell scraping or a lock of hair from Jesus and genetically analyze it. What would she find?
It follows from Jesus’ being truly human that he would have DNA in his cells but whose DNA would he have? It follows from current scientific understanding that Jesus must have had a blood type compatible with Mary and hence, a genetic affinity with her. If Jesus was truly human, this biological necessity would be fulfilled. Here we have an interesting irony in the biological descent of Jesus in that Adam (the first) begat Eve, whereas Adam (the second) was begotten of Eve (Mary). Further, the descent from Adam indicates that biologically, Jesus is begotten of God because Adam, genetically, was begotten of God. So this genealogy is very important as indicating descent from the original, divine genome. Moreover, it is (narratively) from this divine genome that apparently all humans are descended (barring, of course, the problematic narrative accounts indicating that there already were humans in the world before Adam and Eve descended from Eden.)
It seems the biblical accounts describe all human DNA as divine in nature and origin. It follows that Mary’s DNA is also ‘Adamic’ and this would not contradict the divinity of Jesus as a human begotten of God, since this is exactly what Adam was. So the scientist’s analysis would probably at least identify the x component of Jesus DNA to be from Mary. The y component would not correspond to Joseph. Statistical analysis might indicate that there is a slight probability of a complete zygote occurring spontaneously and this would explain the immaculate conception indicated by the witnesses.
Adam was not God, yet Adam’s DNA was constructed entirely by God. So what, exactly, is the difference between Jesus and Adam if it is not purely biological, since both posses DNA and both were not the result of ‘natural’ zygotes formed by the combination of the DNA of a natural mother and father? The question is one of identity. How did Adam know his identity – how did he define himself? Self-definition is the prerogative of consciousness, not biology. God gave Adam a DNA-produced ‘consciousness-machine’ and God communicated with this machine. According to the narrative, God’s presence was perceived by Adam’s consciousness-machine.
The story of Genesis 2 reveals that God walked in Eden, God was there and Adam perceived him and spoke with him. So God was perceived on a sophisticated level, the level of speech. God had already provided an environment for Adam, and created Adam’s perceptual apparatus to perfectly correspond to this environment. The environment was perceived as it was by the consciousness-machine. Since he could speak, Adam demonstrates a level of consciousness capable of self-definition (according to Dennett), so even if Adam is ‘metaphorical’, he represents an advanced stage of human development, a moral stage.
Adam was able to make sophisticated discriminations about himself and his environment, and to articulate these, such as naming the plants and animals, for example. Therefore, Adam is able to discriminate between himself and God, the person presenting on his visual and auditory fields. Via the simple discriminations offered to his consciousness-machine, according to the narrative, Adam concludes, “I am not God.” As an aside, some apocryphal manuscripts indicate an altered physical state of Adam after the Fall – it is described that he wore a ‘garment’ which was taken away when he left Eden. It is also described that the animals in Eden could speak, therefore demonstrating a type of consciousness they now (post-Fall) do not. One could describe this as a ‘broken symmetry of consciousness’, in that where once there is believed to have existed a higher level of consciousness, this is not evident at our current lower level of consciousness.
In Adam’s naming of the plants and animals, he demonstrates a highly sophisticated discriminatory process and creative linguistic ability, thereby defining himself as well – “I am not any of these.” So Adam becomes an individual, self-defined, and discovers that he is alone. He discriminates differences as well as similarities between himself and God that rule out identity with God, even in ‘kind’. Adam has specified (i.e. ‘species’) himself. When God creates Eve, Adam defines her differently and even names her accordingly as attached to himself in ‘kind’ – ‘Adam’, ‘Adamah’.
The similarities between Adam and Eve and God are apparently overwhelmingly visual, hence, ‘image’ of God is the term used to specify ‘human’. Extra-canonical literature punctuates this similarity of God and his ‘image’ by giving the image special status among all created things. Adam and Eve are then given simple instructions about ‘what to do next’. They are to administrate their environment, which is given to them to look after. They are given one simple moral condition, a choice regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What is good and evil? Do they know or don’t they (assuming the snake is a liar)?
Yes they do, because on their own they comply with the moral imperative and once they break it, they know they have. Their consciousness already possesses this moral capacity, which is a thought-based conceptual realm, an abstract realm. How else could these abstract characters even live in this abstract ‘story’ environment – i.e., the story about them is the story from them. They possess the qualities from which the story derives. And so, we have ‘the fall’ of Adam and Eve. There is a distinct change in Adam’s perception of his identity, which he is able to articulate, meaning that he is conscious of it, and he is conscious of his alienation in time-space.
Alienation implies before/after (time-space). Eden was eternal for Adam – no before-Eden, no after, just ‘forever-Eden’, continual growth, beauty – consciousness of a different order, seeing the presence of God, speaking with the animals, eating the fruit of the Tree of Life. It is a static (myth-like) picture, as opposed to the dynamic, changing environments post-Fall. He is now separated from his former Eden-identity, his Eden-consciousness, his Eden-self. He now must redefine himself completely apart from God, a moral definition schematized in narrative. So he calls it ‘punishment’. Death is the result. Adam’s immediate physical perception, consciousness of God, had continually sustained and restored him. His alienation has real, physical consequences and so, Adam dies and returns to dust.
Contrast the identity of Jesus as it is revealed by his self-definition. Jesus is not conscious of alienation; in fact, he is conscious of complete identity – “I and the Father are one.” How he is conscious of this is a good question, which probably cannot be answered definitively, but there is evidence in favor of it. This evidence is presented by the witnesses, i.e., the New Testament documents, numerous historical persons, The Church, etc. This evidence is not for Jesus in the shaping of his consciousness, it is evidence of Jesus, given by him because of his conscious identity. Many of his speech-acts resulted in the evidence, indicating his sophisticated moral self-understanding: the resuscitation of Lazarus when he spoke to the corpse, as well as other resuscitations cited by the witnesses; his speaking to the physical elements, such as the storm which responded to his command. Jesus was born with this identity and he exhibited his self-differentiation in terms of ‘kind’, his species, by his authority over the whole entire created order as demonstrated by ‘miracles’.
There is no recorded period of Jesus’ life which exhibits any lack of this self-realization on his part. So, in terms of the question of genetics and their importance for the identity of Jesus as God as human, it seems the genetics are the physical setting for Jesus’s consciousness-machine which ran only the identity, “I am God” as his narrative centre of gravity. What it was like to be Jesus is impossible (and you know we do not use this word lightly in these days of probability theory) for us to know beyond the extent of our own conscious experiences, which for the most part do not include storms responding to our command or corpses coming back to life.
All I am saying, apart from the question of how he could have this consciousness, is that he did, and this is what defines him as God. We have also argued that the presence of DNA in his body does not rule out his divine identity but rather, was necessary as the seat of his consciousness, however mysterious the relation between the two remains at this point.