I'm continuing my way through Ben Witherington III's The Christology of Jesus.
what did Jesus believe that he was, according to Witherington? In my
reading so far, Witherington is open to the notion that Jesus saw
himself as God's Shaliach, which was an "agent, someone endowed
with divine authority and power, the very authority and power of the
sender" (page 51). Witherington refers to Larry Hurtado's point that
early Judaism applied a concept of divine agency to "everything from
personified divine attributes, to patriarchs, to special angels" (page
51). My impression is that Witherington also holds that Jesus viewed
himself as pre-existent, for Witherington argues that Jesus thought that
he was Wisdom incarnate.
Witherington regards as historical
certain Gospel passages in which Jesus nullifies or claims to supersede
parts of the Torah, such as the Sabbath and the dietary laws.
Consequently, Witherington concludes that Jesus regarded himself as
special. But Witherington holds that Jesus had reasons for going
against the Torah: because Jesus thought that the Kingdom was breaking
into human history, bringing a new situation, and because Jesus felt
that he had to disregard purity rules in order to reach out to sinners
as a spiritual physician and bring them to repentance.