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Tag Archives: Christology
One of the blogs I like to follow is by Larry W. Hurtado, retired Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins from the University of Edinburgh. He is one of the most adept readers of the New Testament text that I know.
Recently, he reviewed favorably a paper I wrote for conference at the University of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, I was not able to be there to give the paper, but it was still discussed anyway.
Here is a brief summary and review of my paper by Professor Hurtado:
Cut and paste the following URL:
or click here.
Carey Newman, director of Baylor University Press, recently announced the (re)publication of a number of books under the series title “The Library of Early Christology.” Newman, a NT scholar in his own right, has looked over the past forty years at some of the most interesting and influential books published on the earliest Christian assessments of Jesus’ significance. In part these books have contributed to the emerging consensus that an early high Christology originated in the first years or decades of the Jesus movement, most likely in a Jewish context. Carey Newman has taken Baylor University Press from obscurity to become one of the most important university presses in North America.
Newman had already published one of the late Alan Segal’s signature books, Two Powers in Heaven (see Hurtado’s article here). The publisher’s page is found here. Wilhelm Bousset’s classic work, Kyrios Christos, has also been republished by Baylor (check it out here) . These are two of the most influential books published on the topic in the past 100 years.
There are other books in the series (I’m grateful to Larry Hurtado, who on his blog, pulled together the list and the links). Here are the first books published in the series:
- Charles A. Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence (originally Leiden: Brill, 1998; reprint edition information here).
- Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Angel Veneration and Christology, (originally, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995; reprint edition information here).
- David B. Capes, Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology (originally Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992; Baylor information here)
- April D. DeConick, Seek to See Him: Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 1996; Baylor reprint information here)
- Carey C. Newman, Paul’s Glory Christology: Tradition and Rhetoric (Leiden: Brill, 1992; Baylor reprint information here)
- Jarl E. Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism (Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1985; Baylor reprint information here)
- Donald H. Juel, Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity (Fortress Press, 1988; Baylor reprint information here)
- The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus, eds. Carey C. Newman, et al. (Leiden: Brill, 1999; Baylor reprint information here)
In addition to this list I must include Larry W. Hurtado’s contribution in this series: Ancient Jewish Monotheism and Early Christian Jesus-Devotion (publisher’s information here). This volume of essays contains some of the “best of” Hurtado over the last 30 years).
Early in 2016 a group of scholars gathered at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to debate the question: how did Jesus become God? I wish I had been there, because it is a question of interest to me. For those who know me and my work, I’ve worked on aspects of this question since the late 1980s when I was writing my dissertation.
Well, thanks to YouTube we can all be there to at least hear the comments and arguments of these scholars. I want to help you find them so I’ll post them here and eventually pull them together.
The first is a debate between Bart Ehrman and Mike Bird.
Click here for the link.
Or if you prefer, cut-and-past the URL to your browser:
James McGrath, professor of New Testament at Butler University in Indiana, is somebody you need to know. He’s a good scholar and a faithful blogger. He’s worth reading on a variety of subjects. He has good judgment and sound methods.
. In a recent post he collected some of the hubbub going on right now on the web regarding “an early high Christology,” a topic I have some interest in. In fact over the next few years I hope to return to the topic–though I never really left it, I got distracted–with what I trust is a more measured and mature reading of certain texts. In the meantime I thought I’d link to his Patheos blog.
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or type the URL below into your browser.
I met Crispin Fletcher-Louis in 1998 at a conference at St. Andrews. He was a rising star in historical and theological matters relating to the origins of Christianity. His star continues to rise.
Recently he published the first volume of a four volume series entitled Jesus Monotheism. This particular volume is Christological Origins: The Emerging Consensus and Beyond (Cascade, 2015).
In this series Fletcher-Louis hopes to explain how it happened that early Jesus-followers came to see him as divine and worshiped him in continuity with the worship of the One God of Israel (what I like to call an early high Christology). His purpose is historical: where did it happen? With whom? What caused it? What shape did it take?
I’ll have more to say on this in an upcoming article. For now at least let me introduce the key elements.
Fletcher-Louis thinks that there are antecedent traditions which anticipate the inclusion of Jesus in the divine identity (Bauckham’s phrase). While the worship of Jesus alongside God and beliefs in his divine identity are new and surprising, they could have been anticipated if we were attuned correctly to certain movements and ideas within second temple Judaism.
Fletcher-Louis situates the causative factor for an early high Christology not in powerful religious experiences post-resurrection but in Jesus’ own self-awareness. He claims that the historical Jesus had an incarnational self-consciousness. The resurrection, of course, is a key event. For the crucifixion appears on the surface to deny Jesus’ messianic and divine claims. In the event Christians call the resurrection something happened to reverse the negating elements of Jesus’ death and confirm not only that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah but that he is also the incarnation of a divine being. Now, for those of you who’ve been following the scholarship in this arena, that is a bold claim.
Fletcher-Louis starts with the emerging consensus. Frankly, I don’t know recall who coined the phrase but it is a good one. The emerging consensus among many scholars is that a divine Christology is indeed early (that’s why I am a founding member of the early high Christology club) and located historically within Jewish milieu. It did not arise late in the first century only after Gentiles had streamed in and overtaken the Jesus movement. Divine Christology means that early followers included Jesus within the divine identity and engaged in actions toward him which can only be described as worship, or as Larry Hurtado has put it “Christ devotion.”
There are scholars, however, who haven’t emerged. These include Maurice Casey, Jimmy Dunn, James McGrath, and Bart Ehrman.
To this point Fletcher-Louis finds himself in broad agreement with the emerging consensus and its leading lights, Hurtado and Bauckham. Where he goes “beyond” is to try to locate (historically) the belief in a divine Messiah in pre-Christian Judaism and in the self-awareness of Jesus. Jewish writings which could have a pre-Christian origin such as the Life of Adam and Eve and the Similitudes of Enoch can be read in such a way to suggest that Jews before Jesus had a messianic expectation which included a divine Messiah who comes from heaven.
Hurtado has made the case that it is powerful religious experiences post- resurrection which caused these early, Jewish followers to consider Jesus divine and to worship him. Apparently, through visions and prophetic utterances early Christians “saw” Jesus enthroned at God’s right hand and came to believe that worshiping Jesus was the will of God. While Fletcher-Louis applauds Hurtado’s sense that we need to take seriously the role of religious experience, he does not consider it is enough to account for what happened so quickly after Jesus’ execution. The problem, as he sees it, is that with no precedent for the worship of a divine person or Messiah in pre-Christian Judaism or without taking seriously the possibility that Jesus’ himself had a sense of his own divine identity, it is hard to account for the speed and exact shape Christ devotion took in the first decades after Jesus’ execution. It is more believable, according to Fletcher-Louis, that Jesus had a divine self-consciousness.
Well, his chips are on the table. Scholars, emerging and otherwise, are likely to agree with some of his points and disagree with others. Three more volumes to come. These are a welcome additions to the conversation.