A Third Christological Option?
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?