Saturday, July 29, 2006 

The Proper Starting Point of All Theology

Recently, I stated my goal of reading more works on systematic theology. I have begun this committment by reading (though intermittently) Robert Jenson's Systematic Theology: The Triune God(vol1). Already I am impressed with Jenson. Why? Because Jenson recognizes the true starting point of all subsequent theological reflection:

"To attend to the resurrection is to attend to God self-identified as 'the one who raised the Lord Jesus'. Whoever-and, indeed, whatever-did that, the church says is the reality we mean by 'God.' To attend to the Resurrection and to attend to this particular putative God, to take either as the object of our reflection, are the same." (Jenson, 12)

My kind of theologian.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 

One Book Meme

Ben Meyers has started a one book meme (here) that is being duplicated around the blogosphere. Be sure to read the lists on Ben's comments pages as well as Chris Tilling, Jim West, and Kyle Potter's lists. Here is my own contribution:

1. One book that changed your life:
Bart Ehrman's "Introduction to the New Testament" (this work stimulated my interest in NT studies)

2. One book that you've read more than once:
N.T. Wright's "Resurrection of the Son of God."

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island:
John Meier's "A Marginal Jew" work (yes, I know that's technically more than one book).

4. One book that made you laugh:
"Wizard's First Rule"

5. One book that made you cry:
"Lord of the Rings"

6. One book that you wish you had written:
Dale C. Allison's "The End of the Ages Has Come"

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Anything promoting fundamentalist pre-dispensationalism

8. One book you are currently reading:
Brevard S. Childs' "Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments".

9. One book that you've been meaning to read:
"The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged version)

10. One book that you wish had been written:
Jesus' autobiographical reflections.

11. Tag five people:
I tag Q, Loren, Rick Sumner, Derek, and Sven.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 

Some Noteworthy Posts

Here are some quality posts that I want to mention:

1.) Loren Rosson has posted a functional outline of the Epistle of Romans here.

2.) Q continues his Christological series with a post concerning the connection between resurrection and exaltation here.

3.) And Tyler Williams continues his series of posts on Old Testatment Textual Criticism here.


Friday, July 21, 2006 

James Dunn and the Resurrection

Many thanks for everyone who gave me advice as to whether or not to keep "Resurrecton Dogmatics" as the name of my site. It was pretty much unanimous that I do so, thus this will remain the name of my site. I have just finished James Dunn's Jesus Remembered. Once again Dunn was impressive. I wish I had time to give a thorough review but right now I do not. Perhaps soon I will. For now, in honor of keeping my site name, here is a brilliant quotation on the Resurrection as metaphor from this erudite scholar:

"Christians have continued to affirm the resurrection of Jesus, as I do, not because they know what it means. Rather, they do so because, like the affirmation of Jesus as God's Son, 'the resurrection of Jesus' has proved the most sastisfactory and enduring variety of options, all of them inadequate in one degreee or other as human speech, to sum up the impact made by Jesus, the Christian perception of his significance. They do so because as a metaphor, 'resurrection' is perceived as referring to something otherwise inexpressible, as expressing the otherwise inchoate insight that this life, including Jesus' life, is not a complete story in itself but can be grasped only as part of a larger story in which God is the principal actor and in which Jesus is somehow still involved. In short, 'the resurrection of Jesus' is not so much a criterion of faith as a paradigm for hope." (Dunn, 879).

Many thanks once more to everyone who helped me in my decision.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 

Concerning Theology and a Possible Name Change

I must confess to the dismay of many of my theologian friends that I have never cared too much for "systematic theology." If you take a glance at my library you will find that it is heavy on biblical studies and light on theology, particularly systematic theology. My problem with much systematic theology is its presupposition about revelation being propositional. And because of the assumption of the nature of revelation as propositional it is a small step forward to systematization. The reason I have a problem with systematization is that it assumes an exhausitive continuity in revelation that I do not think is there in our biblical witness. But I also prefer biblical studies over systematic theology for a more practical reason: I am a fan of all things historical. To put this another way, when I read works related to the field of biblical studies I feel more grounded in history. Yet when I read systematic theology it is more often than not an engagement in asbstract thinking which in turn causes me to feel divorced from history.

Nevetheless, theology is a necessary discipline. In fact my favorite statement, "God raised Jesus from the dead" is itself a theological indicative that I myself have tried to unpack in a theological manner (see this post in particular). For those of us who are believers whenever we read our Bible and reflect upon on it or when we present the gospel message we engage in a theological task. Thus I hope no one thinks I am dismissing theology altogether. My problem is that sometimes systematic theology goes further than it should, sometimes beyond the "Wholly Other" that it seeks to present.

But as this post by Chris Tilling nicely pointed out there has arisen a broad, unhealthy division between those rooted in biblical studies (Tilling uses the term "exegetes") and theologians. This gulf has caused both groups to make egregious errors in their respective disciplines. For this reason, I am committing to reading more theological works than I have in the past. Therefore, to my readers, do not be surprised if some of my future posts become a bit more "theological." However, the vast majority of my blog will still be devoted to the general field of biblical studies which brings me to a question that I would like to ask my regular readers.

Initially when I started this site I wanted to chiefly focus on issues concerning the resurrection, thus its title. The problem is that my own interests have always been much more broad (as my recent series has exhibited). Moreover, I realize that eventually I could exhaust material on which to blog about concerning the resurrection. This has occasioned the possibility of changing the name of my blog which I am definitely considering. But before I decide I would like to have some input from my regular readers as to whether or not this would be a good idea. (For one thing I realize it would mean those who are linked to me will have to change their link addressess and so I'm not sure if I want to cause that). If you do not wish to leave comments then feel free to e-mail me. I would appreciate any feedback you all are willing to offer.

Monday, July 17, 2006 

The Value of E.P. Sanders' "Jesus and Judaism": Conclusion

In this series of posts concerning the value of E.P. Sanders' work in historical Jesus research I have called attention to three aspects of Sander's particular methodological procedure. By way of summary, they are:

1.) To commence the reconstruction process from the facts about Jesus' life that many scholars regard as probably historical rather than to focus on the sayings of Jesus as the principal means to recovering the "historical Jesus."

2.) To assign the "sayings" of Jesus to a secondary role and to incoporateinto the historical data only those sayings which can most probably be said to have originated from Jesus.

3.) To develop a plausible hypothesis which seeks to incoporate data from 1 and 2 above and which accounts satisfactorally for three factors:

a. It situates Jesus believably within Judaism.
b. It explains why the movement eventually broke with Judaism.
c. It provides a plausible connection between Jesus' mission and subsequent death.

This is a very concise summary of the methodological procedure Sanders presents in the introduction to his book. Obviously, to gather a more comprehensive understanding of Sanders' particular reasons for adopting this method I can do no better than simply point you to the book itself.

The result of the appropriation of this method leads Sanders, in my opinion, to reconstruct the most plausible "historical Jesus" to date. And though I by no means agree with every one of Sanders' conclusions (particularly his stance on Pharisees) I think Sanders' method provides the surest way to reconstructing the historical Jesus. Of course, I never discussed whether such a resconstruction was possible or even needed at all. But that is obviously a discussion for another time.

Oh and while we are on the subject of the historical Jesus be sure to check out this series of posts on the historicity of Jesus by Michael Pahl: parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Also there is a new blog by Matthew Hopper called Historical Jesus and Paul which if you cannot guess by the title is devoted to historical Jesus and Pauline studies. Welcome, Matthew to the biblioblogosphere.

Saturday, July 15, 2006 

The Value of E.P. Sanders' "Jesus and Judaism": Part III

The Sayings of Jesus

I know that I said I was going to conclude this series of posts in this one but I realized there was one more methodological procedure of Sanders of which I wanted to discuss. In the last two posts I emphasized the problem that plagues many Jesus research scholars, namely, the exclusive focus on Jesus' sayings. In contrast to this, Sanders' method is to concentrate on those facts of Jesus' life which are agreed upon by many scholars and to develop a hypothesis which accounts adequately for these facts. In this scheme, the sayings of Jesus are given a somewhat subsidiary role, mainly because of the problems associated with trying to authenticate the sayings of Jesus. However, this does not mean Sanders views an analysis of Jesus' sayings as unimportant. On the contrary, Sanders says:

"Although the sayings material has just been assigned a relatively secondary role, especially considering the dominance which it has generally enjoyed, it remains important in this study." (Sanders, p 13)

But then how does Sanders utilize the sayings? Here it is perhaps best to quote Sanders at length:

"I belong to the school which holds that a saying attributed to Jesus can seldom be proved beyond doubt to be entirely authentic or entirely non-authentic, but that each saying must be tested by appropriate criteria and assigned (tentatively) to an author-either to Jesus or to an anonymous representative of some stratum in the early church. This appears to be a neutral stance, placing the burden of proof equally on those who would assign a saying to Jesus and those who would assign it to the church. If one were writing a history of the synoptic sayings material, such a position probably would be neutral. When one writes about Jesus, however, this attitude has the effect of shifting the burden of proof to the shoulders of those who affirm the authenticity of a saying or group of sayings. I find that I am not neutrally canvassing the material, assigning it as best I can to an appropriate place. I am looking for information about Jesus, and looking somewhat with a skeptical eye; I want to be convinced that a given saying is at least probably by Jesus before employing it." (Ibid)

Sanders' method of approach to the sayings of Jesus is one that attempts to be neutral but with a leaning towards skepticism. He, quite reasonably, wants to be sure a saying attributed to Jesus was probably said by him before including it his historical data. From a historian's perspective this is, I think, the best approach to take concerning the logions of Jesus. Because of this, the historian must not and cannot take into account things such divine inspiration and so forth. They have to be inclined to deal with the possibility of faith-embellished tradtion. And if the possibilty for that exists then the historian has to reckon with the possibility that the tradition could have become embellished extensively. For this reason, the historian is quite justified in taking a skpetical approach to the sayings of Jesus.

Yet, I must admit that from a faith-persepctive such as I adopt, this position is somewhat unsatisfactory. Because I am a believer, and because I am inclined to view the gospels as an (overall) faithful witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (though I am no inerrantist) I would want to give the sayings of Jesus the benefit of the doubt and place the burden on those who would wish to assign attributed sayings of Jesus to the category of "unhistorical". But from the perspective of a historian who should attempt as much as possible to engage in "objective" history (and yes, I'm well aware that it's quite impossible to be completely objective), adopting a skeptical standpoint concerning Jesus' sayings is a must.

For those who are curious Sanders provides three reasons which cause him to adopt a skeptical view concerning the sayings of Jesus.They are, with much brevity, as follows:

1.) The discipline of form criticism has shown that the traditions have been handed down by the early church and adapted for use by that church. (p. 14)

2.) Form-critical tests that were often used in attempts to discover earlier forms of tradition which in turn were used to make judgements of authenticity are ultimately unreliable. Sanders, "I have in mind principally Semitisms, brevity and details, Saying sin general do not tend to become either more or less Semitic, longer or shorter, or more or less detailed."(p. 15)

3.) The lack of knowledge concerning "the practices and interests of the early church (apart form the Pauline mission) before the Gospels were written." (Ibid)

Okay, next time I promise to complete and summarize the value of Sanders work on the historical jesus. I just thought it best to provide Sanders position on the sayings of Jesus and the reasons for his skepticism.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 

The Value of E.P. Sanders' "Jesus and Judaism": Part II

Not so long ago Richard M. Weaver in his classic work Ideas Have Consequences observed that when one becomes obsessed with focusing on the particulars of a certain concept the result is inevitably the loss of perspective of the "whole" or "unity" of the object under scrutiny. Weaver's work was in particular a reaction to the philosophical thought typically associated with William of Ockham known as nominalism which denies "universals" in favor of particulars only. In Weaver's opinion Ockahm's victory, as exhibited in the scientific method for example, led to society's obsession with particulars. The result was a society which lost a vision of a metaphysical dream. For Weaver, having a "metaphysical dream" was an important framework for attempting to understand how to, in a sense, "unify" reality. Without this framework the loss of ultimate "truth" was, for Weaver, a certain outcome. Weaver pointed to many things during his lifetime which he felt proof of this degredation of society, especially mankind's "moral stupidity."

Now you may be asking yourself at this point what does any of this have to do with E.P. Sanders or the historical Jesus. Simply this: many historical Jesus studies commit the same error as nominalism in that those scholars who focus exclusively on Jesus' sayings and the use of various criterion by which to authenticate these sayings lose sight of the entire "picture" of the historical Jesus and ultimately engage in a futile pursuit of this Jesus.

Okay, so the correlation I was attempting to make is not exactly one to one. My aim is to show how inconclusive and bizare the results can be when one attempts to reconstruct the historical Jesus from his authentic sayings which in turn have to be authenticated themselves by various criterion that are never wholly agreed upon. In other words, many scholars start at the "bottom" by focusing on the particulars of the Jesus tradition, i.e. the sayings of the tradition and then attempt to "build up" from there. In my opinion such a methodological approach can only yield fruitless results and so is ultimately a futile endeavor, not least because of the problem of the lack of the criterion to provide the kind of "proofs" that the, say, scientific method can provide.

The better and more fruitful alternative is to begin with a good hypothesis which, according to Sanders, must do at least three things:

1.) "situate Jesus believably in Judaism" (Sanders, 18)
2.) "explain why the movement initiated by Jesus eventually broke with Judaism" (Ibid)
3.) "offer a connection between Jesus activity and his death" (22)

Now it should be noted that Sanders is not the only historical Jesus scholar who views the presentation of a viable and essentially verifiable hypothesis as the starting point in Jesus research. I am thinking particularly of N.T. Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God, the second volume to his present undertaking, Christian Origins and the Question of God. In a way Wright's prolegomena volume, The New Testament and the People of God, functions as Wright's setup for his hypothetical model that he uses in JVC, namely, "restoration and exile." Unfortunately, Wright is a good example of the problem of beginning historical Jesus research with first developing an hypothesis or paradigm by which to construct the historical Jesus. The problem is that one can become overly dependent on one's hypothesis resulting in the forcing of the Jesus tradition to fit the hypothesis in question. Case in point is Wright who, in order to uphold his "restoration and exile" paradigm is forced to interpret apocalyptic images in a wholly metaphorical fashion.

Nevertheless, I still believe beginning with a paradigm or hypothesis which seeks to incoporate those facts known about Jesus and which can be derived from the Jesus tradition provide a better method to a reasonable, historical reconstruction of the mission and message of Jesus of Nazareth. But just as one should proceed in caution when attempting to use various criterion by which to authenticate Jesus' sayings so should one proceed in caution so as not to get caught up in one's controlling paradigm such that it causes one to force interpretations onto the Jesus tradition.

In the next post I will conclude this series by summarizing Sanders' methodological proceedure and its value for historical Jesus research.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 

The Value of E.P Sanders "Jesus and Judaism": Part I

In my last post I provided a list of my personal favourite ten historical Jesus works. My number one spot went to E.P. Sanders' Jesus and Judaism. I promised to provide an explanation for why I accorded this work as my number one among historical Jesus studies. Perhaps the best way to approach this is to provide a few common problems that plague many historical Jesus reconstructions and to offer Sanders' particular remedy. The first error is the following:

1.) The conviction that Jesus' words and teaching are the securest way forward to recovering the historical Jesus' message and mission.

The implications for this should be obvious. Once one is committed to finding Jesus' message in his teachings and sayings (exclusively) then one must attempt to ascertain the authenticity of the various sayings attributed to Jesus in the gospel accounts. Sanders indicates two flaws with this particular methodology. First, he points to the problem of such few consensus by scholars as to which sayings are authentic. Moreover, the few sayings that are generally agreed to be authentic are just that: few. In other words one cannot hope to recover Jesus' message and aims from only a few sayings. Secondly, when one focuses exclusively on Jesus' sayings as the key to discovering the historical Jesus there is an important assumption being made, namely:

"that what he really was, was a teacher. ( and if so) He is then either a clear, straightforward teacher whose parables make his message about God and the kingdom plain, or, as in some recent studies, a difficult, riddling teacher, whose meaning is not and was not altogether clear, or even one who intended to be ambiguous. Whatever sort of teacher he is held to have been, it is difficult to move from 'Jesus the teacher' to 'Jesus, a Jew who was crucified, who was the leader of a group which survived his death, which in turn was persecuted, and which formed a messianic sect which was finally successful'." (Sanders, p. 4, parenthetical remark added)

Sanders observation is simply that an undertaking of extracting Jesus mission and message soley from his teachings leads to Jesus as a teacher whom spouts out parables and aphorisms, which in turn is problematic because it lacks the explanatory power necessary to properly account for Jesus' own death and the rise of Christianity itself (p. 1). What is needed is secure evidence, the kind of evidence that "everyone can agree and which at least points towards an explanation..." (5) In light of this observation Sanders provides his own surer, firmer way to reconstructing (at least minimally) the historical Jesus' message and mission. Sanders' more secure method in historical Jesus reconstruction is to begin with the facts about Jesus' life and its consequences. In other words to pivot historical research of Jesus on those incidents in Jesus' life which the mass of scholars agree to be historical and to move from this pivot point while making the study of the sayings of Jesus secondary.

I myself am convinced of this particular method of proceeding with historical Jesus research. In many ways it is very commonsensical. It seems much more reasonable to begin with those things generally agreed to be historical concerning Jesus than to start from the ground up. Moreover history shows that people are more remembered for what they did as opposed to the things that they said. Thus Jesus facts and actions reasonably appear the best way forward. Of course the situations will always be more complex and less linear than we would like. But overall this method does seem to be a better way than trying to authenticate Jesus' sayings to the exclusion of his actions by way of criteria and such which leads us into the second flaw with many historical Jesus studies. This, as well as Sanders remedy, we will look at in the next post. In the meantime, for those who are interested in what initial facts Sanders believe are generally held to be historical by most scholars, here they are:

1. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
2. Jesus was a Galilean who preached and healed.
3. Jesus called disciples and spoke of there being twelve.
4. Jesus confined his activity to Israel.
5. Jesus engaged in controversy about the temple.
6. Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem by the Roman authorities.
7. After his death Jesus' followers continued as an identifiable movement.
8. At least some Jews persecuted at least parts of the new movement (Gal. 1.13,22; Phil.3.6), and it appears that this persecution endured at least to a time near the end of Paul's career (II Cor. 11.24; Gal 5.11; 6.12; cf. Matt. 23:34; 10:17)

Taken from page 11 of Jesus and Judaism.

Saturday, July 08, 2006 

My Top Ten Historical Jesus Works

Currently I am finishing up James Dunn's Jesus Remembered (Christianity in the Making: Volume 1). Since this is the last book on the historical Jesus that I will probably read for quite some time (I will be reading much literature on biblical theology to prepare for a future class) I wanted to give my own, as of right now, top ten personal favorite books on the historical Jesus.

10.) Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium by Bart Ehrman. I include Ehrman's very short work on the historical Jesus because it was one of the first books I ever read on the subject and was important in stimulating my interest in historical Jesus research. Its chief drawback is that it is written for general audiences and so lacks interaction with important sources in the field of historical Jesus research.

9.) Jesus of Nazareth by Gunther Bornkamm. Though Ernst Kasemann is generally credited as being the catalyst for the so-called "Second Quest" for the historical Jesus, Bornkamm's was the first actual detailed work on the subject from this renewed quest. I found this to be a most refereshing read but the work ultimately suffers from very little interaction with sources and still exhibits a Jesus who was constantly in conflict with the terribly legalistic Jews.

8.) The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant by John Dominic Crossan. As far as an overall reconstruction of the historical Jesus, Crossan's is the least persuasive on my list. However, Crossan's work is still highly valuable not least for its detailed inquiries into the anthropological and sociological structures of the Mediterranean world.

7.) Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 2) by N.T. Wright. Some of my Wright fans will wonder why this work is far down my list. Though Wright's piece on the historical Jesus is very informative, a pleasant read, and very engaging but I remain unconvinced of Wright's overall picture of the Historical Jesus, namely his grand-narrative approach (the theme of exile) which forces Wright to see more continuity between the Israel and Christian story than there actually is.

6.) The Christology of Jesus by Ben Witherington. A valuable work in that it seeks to understand Jesus' self-consciousness via the various relationships that he had with both his allies and those who opposed his mission. A weakness of this approach is that it inevitably leads one to infer things from these relationships that do not necessarily follow.

5.) Jesus Remembered (Christianity in the Making: Volume 1) by James D.G. Dunn. The significance of Dunn's work is indicated by its title, Jesus Remembered. Rather than attempting to reconstruct the historical Jesus in the sense of the actual Jesus who lived and walked in Galilee and Judea, Dunn is more concerned with the impact Jesus had on his disciples and the early believers. Dunn also emphasizes the neglect of the role of oral tradition in historical Jesus studies in favor a predominately literary pardigm and states his work is meant to focus more on this oral aspect and thinks oral tradition offers a better way of reconstructing the tradition than does a literary one. An obvious weakness of Dunn's work is that he goes to the opposite end of the spectrum of those whom he criticizes and so winds up stressing the oral dimension of tradition to the extent that he neglects its literary aspects.

4.) The Quest of the Historical Jesus by Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer work was of monumental importance in that it brought to a halt the so-called "First Quest" by exhibiting how the various scholars of that quest formed Jesus into their own likeness and introducted the apocalyptic dimension of Jesus thought and mission. Unfortunately, Schweitzer was rather uncritical of his sources and built much of his interpretation of the Jesus tradition stemmed from Matthew 10 and the so-called Messianc woes.

3.) Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet by Dale C. Allison. Those of you who read my blog regularly know I plug Allison quite a bit. This is one of my favorite works by this scholar. The value of this work is that it takes a refreshing, skeptical view on the various so-called criterion that are often used in a mechanistic manner to construct the historical Jesus. Allison also has a very detailed and persuasive critique of Crossan's work on the historical Jesus.

2.)A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus by John P. Meier. This is without a doubt the most comprehensive work on the historical Jesus and still remains unfinished awaiting a fourth and final volume. Unlike many historical Jesus works Meier extensively interacts with his sources. The amount of information contained in his endnotes is mind-boggling and overwhelming at times. Another plus of Meier's work is its sections that are dedicated to the miracles of Jesus. Too often much historical Jesus research tends to exclusively focus on the words of Jesus rather than his deeds. This criticism certainly cannot be leveled against Meier. Meier's work would probably be my number one choice on my list but isn't for three reasons:

a.) It still stands incomplete and so we as of yet do not have Meier's take on Jesus parables, self-understanding, the passion events, and his execution. All of these we can expect in the much anticipated fourth volume.

b.) Meier at times uses his criterion too mechanically even after warning against such appropriation in his first volume.

c.) Meier's reconstruction is much to0 dependent on the hypothetical Q document. The reason this is problematic for me is that I have recently become a Q skeptic thanks to Mark Goodacre's persuasive arguments in The Case Against Q.

And the number one on my list is:

1.) Jesus and Judaism by E.P. Sanders. This remains for me the most persuasive reconstruction of the historical Jesus. If I had to pinpoint my viewpoint concerning the historical Jesus it would ultimately be Sanders eschatological restorationist perspective (with a bit more apocalyptic flavor). But since this is my favorite work I want to provide a bit more extensive review of my reasons for thinking so and this I'll do next time. Until then enjoy the list.

Friday, July 07, 2006 

Around the Biblioblogosphere

Here are some good posts that I have been reading lately.

1.) At Theology and Biblical Studies Sven Harris has a great post concerning whether or not theological reflections are detrimental to one's faith.

2.) At the The Busy Body Loren Rosson in celebration of his one year anniversary of blogging has archived and categorized 61 of his best posts here. This particular post is one of my favorite of Loren's. Be sure to at least read this one.

3.) As I stated previously, Q is starting a series of posts on Christology which commenced here. (also Derek and Jonathan continue their series as well: here and here)

4.) Lastly, Professor James Tabor (author of The Jesus Dynasty) enters the blogging community and has an intriguing post on the identity of the beloved disciple here.


Thursday, July 06, 2006 

The Subconscious and Q on Christology

The other night I had a dream in which I was at a bible study and someone was teaching on Paul's view of the law, or at least I think they were, that part is a bit hazy but what I do remember is that they were formulating Paul's view of the law in the context of Jewish legalism. It was at that point that I launched into Sanders mode and explained the New Perspective view. I don't remember anything after that so who knows if I was persuasive. This is a case of my academic studies becoming so ingrained in my brain that it found places to dwell in my subconcious.

There are other things like this that continually occur. One thing that I always do is when my pastor or teacher asks us to turn to the book of Mark I almost always go to the very beginning of the NT because Marcan priority is so ingrained within my mind. I do the same with the OT because I tend to follow the Tanak or Jewish order of the canon. I do this especially with the historical writings and the Psalms.

I'm just curious if any of you guys have had the same kinds of experiences where your academic studies spilled over into your subconcious.

At any rate be sure to read Q's first installment of his Christological series here. His first post deals with the Trinity and whether it is necessary for one to believe in this concept in order to be a believer. I know that I will catch fire from a lot of my evangelical readers for saying this but I am in agreement with Q on this matter. I do not see the Trinity as necessary for the Christian faith in the sense that one has to believe in it or they cannot be a Christian. In a soon post I will give some reasons of my own for believing this. Till then be sure to read Q's post.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 

A Third Christological Option?

Since I have been caught up in my "Future Resurrection of the Body" posts I have been unable to read very many blogs this past month . But there is one issue I have been following and that is the various Christological discussions going on at Derek's Eucatastrophe (especially these two posts: here and here) and Jonathan's According to Jonathan (see this post). I would encourage you to read these posts from Derek and Jonathan as well as Q's comments on their posts. Though I am entering late into the discussion, here are some of my own brief thoughts on the subject.

When discussing the process of Christological reflection generally only two options are presented for how one must understand this process. To those who have studied Christology these two options should be familiar: the evolutionary model and the developmental model (both terms are taken from C.F.D. Moule's The Origin of Christology, particularly pp 1-3). An evolutionary concept concerning the genesis of Christology betokens images of the change of one species into that of an entirely different and new species such that the Christological process can be understood in successive stages. In contrast, a developmental view of Christological genesis means "something more like the growth, from immaturity to maturity, of a single specimen from within itself." (Moule, p 2). The point is that both perceive of the development of Christology as progressional or successive in some sense.

But is there a third option to choose from, one that does not necessarily include any kind of progression in Christological reflection? John P. Meier seems to think so. After a lengthy discussion concerning the passage in Mark 6:45-52 and its OT background in epiphany miracles, Meier says:

"the application of these motifs to Jesus in the brief miracle of the walking on water is nothing less than astounding. It must be especially astounding for anyone accustomed to charting the development of NT christology via a neat progression from a pre-Synoptic "low christology" of Jesus the prophet and teacher, endowed with special power from God, to John's "high christology of the eternal Word made flesh. Such tidy evolutionary schemas should always be suspect, and in reality they simply do not mirror the complexity of NT christology." (John P. Meier, Mentor, Message, and Miracles (A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume 2), p. 919)

Meier here condemns conceptions of Christology that are evolutionary (whether in an evolutionary or developmental sense). But then what is the alternative that Meier proposes? In short, Meier offers the conception of Christology as a theological grab bag set off by the belief that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Meier explains:

"once the early Christians believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead, a theological explosion was set off that assured both creativity and disorder for the rest of the 1st century A.D. When it comes to understanding NT christology, it is best to recite this mantra: in the beginning was the grab bag. The next couple of centuries would be taken up sorting out the grab bag. Many early Christians were quite content to make both 'low' and 'high' affirmations about Jesus, with no great concern about consistency, systematization, or synthesis." (Ibid)

In other words, in the very beginnings of Christology there were both "high" and "low" Christologies from which one could choose (thus Meier's "grab bag" terminology). If this was indeed the case then to speak of Christology as evolutionary or developmental would be erroneous. Or would it? I would like to know what you guys (particularly Derek, Jonathan, and Q) think about this third option? Is it a valid third option? If not, why? And are there other Christological options (in terms of its "genesis") that have yet to be considered?

Sunday, July 02, 2006 

The Future Resurrection of the Body: Conclusion

I am now going to quickly wrap up this series of posts on the Future Resurrection of the Body.
Just as a refresher, I argued in the last few posts for two important aspects of Jesus' resurrection:

1.) That Jesus' resurrection acts as the "first fruits" (1 Cor 15:20) of the resurrection event and indicates an integral, symbiotic relationship between Jesus' resurrection from the dead and the future resurrection of the believer.

2.) The resurrection functions as the redemption of Jesus' body and further cements his role as Last (or second) Adam. As the new Adam, Jesus not only participates in the salvation process but his salvation acts paradigmatically for the believer.

I believe when these insights are combined the believer can have a firm hope for their own resurrection in the future. Take point number one for example, Jesus' own resurrection as "first fruits" would not make since if the believer did not participate in their own resurrection from the dead. As noted before the concept of "first fruits" has in view the rest of the harvest that will soon follow. Paul's example of the two resurrection moments would make no sense if we tried to narrowly focus salvation on the personality of the individual alone. If this were the case then Paul's entire ranting on the future resurrection of the believer in 1 Cor 15 becomes meaningless.

As for the implication of point number two, this should be obvious. Because Jesus (as Last Adam) forms a new paradigm for humanity, namely, one of salvation, and since Jesus participated in this salvation paradigm which climaxed in the resurrection of his body the believer can therefore have the hopeful expectation of the climax of their salvation being the redemption of their own body (which in the ordo salutis is called glorification).

Many other reasons can be given which could provide a reasonable basis for the hope for a future resurrection of the believer. One of the chief ones has been brought forth in some of the comments on my posts, namely, since God desires to redeem his entire creation this would include our bodies. But I've lingered much too long on this issue. For what it's worth these are just some of the reasons I have for hoping that when Christ returns and "the trumpet is sounded" my body will be raised from the dead and transformed into the likeness of Christ. This is my hope and, I believe, it was the hope of Paul and the early believers which was itself grounded in the belief that God had raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead.

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