The most likely reconstruction of the historical evidence indicates that Judaizers appeared in Philadelphia after the writing of Revelation and before Ignatius’ letter (Kostenberger, HO). In an essay, Paul Trebilco makes two points about Docetism: (a) since Docetists claim that Jesus’ physical body and death were only apparent rather than real, it actually presupposes an “underlying high Christology to start with.” (b) the letter to Smyrna in Revelation makes no reference to Docetism at all. Yet, Ignatius refers to Docetism in his letter“Christian communities in Western Asia Minor into the Early Second Century” JETS 49 (2006): 17-44.
The following from Tim Keller’s Reason for God, illustrates this view: “When I was in college in the late 1960s I took some courses on the Bible as literature and was confronted with the prevailing wisdom of the time. My professors taught that the New Testament gospels originated as the oral traditions of various church communities around the Mediterranean. These stories about Jesus were shaped by those communities to address the questions and needs peculiar to each church. Leaders made certain that the Jesus in these stories supported the policies and beliefs of their communities. The oral traditions were then passed down over the years, evolving through the addition of various legendary materials. Finally, long after the actual events, the gospels assumed written form. By then it was almost impossible to know to what degree, if any, they represented the actual historical events” (RG, 97-98).
Adam-christology: According to Dunn, Phil 2: 6-7 is an implicit reference to Adam’s creation in God’s image, the temptation and fall. However, in contrast to Adam, Jesus faced all the temptations of Adam but was victorious. “Texts such as 1 Cor 8:5-6; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:1-3 Dunn claims embody a Jewish wisdom Christology. Paul and other early Christian writers circumstantially attributed to Christ what pre-Christian Judaism had attributed to wisdom—i.e., existence with God in the beginning and a role in creation.” Further, he maintains that such a high Christology only begins to be seen with later writes such as the author of the Gospel of John. Thus, a high Christology is post-Pauline.
On the last point, compare with Ps 107: 25-27; 65: 5-8; Prov 30:4, all of which present Yahweh as the one who controls the winds, the waves, etc.
He adopts a “God-centered” approach not a “Christ-centered” approach.
Hick, Disputed Questions, 159; summary: Religions interpret their experience through their own culture and traditions.
Who do you say that I am?Facing some contemporary challenges in Christology
Traditional viewChrist is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ he wasconceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectlyrevealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself the demands andnecessities of human nature and identifying Himself completely withmankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personalobedience, and in His death on the cross He made provision for theredemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorifiedbody and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with thembefore His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at theright hand of God where He is the One Mediator, partaking of the natureof God and of man, and in whose Person is effected the reconciliationbetween God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge theworld and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in allbelievers as the living and ever present Lord
OVERVIEW OF THE 3CHALLENGES#1: Diversity:•Early Christianity was verydiverse.• It did not care about rightbelief as much .
Later views: Expansive & moreEarly view: simple & basic complex 2nd challenge: legendary development view
1st developed: Walter Bauer Expanded by many: Ehrman Diversity thesis
Diversity thesis A lot of diversity in early Christianity – examples:Ebionites Jesus = ordinary human beingMarcionites Jesus = God / appeared to be humanGnostics Jesus is different than the ChristProto-orthodox Jesus = fully God and fully human
Diversity thesis Bauer: ◦ Such diversity was ok for the “earliest” forms of Christianity. ◦ Distinction between ORTHODOXY & HERESY arose much later: Orthodoxy: (lit: “right belief”) essential beliefs that are central to Christianity. Heresy: rejection of the core and central doctrines of the Christian faith. ◦ Post-NT evidence indicates that the “earliest” forms of Christianity consisted of views that later Christians would call “heterodox.”
Response to the diversity thesis: #1: Early and later NT docs show concern for “right belief” (orthodoxy). ◦ After AD 70: Revelation (chaps 2-3) 1 & II John ◦ Before AD 70: Hebrews 13:9; 2 Peter 2: 1; Galatians 1: 6-9; Colossians 2:8; Acts 20: 28-31 ◦ Problem with Bauer‟s approach: he ignored much data of the NT, which, from a historical methodological point of view, is irresponsible
Diversity thesis Bauer‟s methodological problem: “As we turn to our task, the New Testament seems to be both too unproductive and too much disputed to be able to serve as a point of departure…It is advisable, therefore, first of all to interrogate other sources concerning the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy, so that, with the insights that may be gained there, we may try to determine the time and place of their origins” (Heresy and Orthodoxy, xxv)
Response to diversity thesis #2: his conclusions are overdrawn: ◦ Existence of diversity does not entail lack of concern for unity and/or truth. ◦ Bock on early varieties of Christianity #3: Historical evidence indicates that in many places “orthodox” forms existed before “heretical” forms of Christianity.
ComparisonIgnatius of Antioch Book of RevelationHistorical context: Written toward the end of Domitian‟s•Late 1st century/ early 2nd reign (81-96); possibly 95-96.•Martyred ca. 110-115•letter to church of Philadelphia •Addresses church of Philadelphia (3:•Reference to Judaizers in the church 7-13) •No reference to Judaizers•Letter to Smyrna •Addresses church of Smyrna (2: 8-11)•Reference to the threat of Docetism •No reference to Docetism
2nd Challenge: legendary development Early Legendary Christian Oral stories developmentcommunities
Legendary development: An example of this type of argument: James Dunn, Christology in the Making (1980) ◦ High Christology = hellenized Christology ◦ Paul only advocates an Adam-christology in which Jesus‟ humanity is emphasized. (Phil 2) ◦ Move to claim Jesus was divine takes place not in Jewish framework but hellenistic one
Response: Evidence for high & earlyChristology is very good The various Christological hymns: ◦ Phil 2: 5-11 ◦ Col. 1: 15-20 A high Christology in the earliest Gospels, such as Mark ◦ Jesus does things only God can do: thus he baptizes people with the Holy Spirit. Compare Ezek 36: 24-28; Joel 2: 26-32 with Mark 1:8 ◦ He has authority to forgive sins: Mark 2:3, 5-12 ◦ Lord of the Sabbath: Mark 2:28 ◦ Authority over demons and nature: the demonic realm: Mark 1: 23-27; 3: 11-12;; 5: 2-8; nature: 4: 36-41
High Christology in Mark ◦ Jesus is the divine son of Man (Mark 14: 61-62 compare to Dan 7: 13-14) ◦ Jesus will judge the nations: Mark 8:38; 13: 26- 27.
#3: Religious Pluralism Basic claim: ◦ All religions are legitimate responses to the Divine Ultimate. ◦ Jesus‟ exclusivity is rejected. ◦ Motivation: tolerance of diversity of religious views.
Hick‟s religious pluralism Islam Judaism?Islam? Buddhism? Christianity God Buddhism Christ Judaism
Hick‟s Religious pluralism “But they [i.e., the world‟s religions] seem to constitute more or less equally authentic human awareness of and responses to the Ultimate, the Real, the final ground and source of everything” (SPW, 45)
Hick‟s Religious pluralism “…God is thought of and experienced through the conceptual „lens‟ of our own tradition. For each tradition functions as a kind of mental „lens‟ – consisting of concepts, stories (both historical and mythical”, religious practices, artistic styles, forms of life – through which we perceive the divine”
Hick‟s Religious pluralism “But if we define salvation as an actual human change, a gradual transformation from natural self-centeredness…to a radically new orientation centered in God and manifested in the „fruit of the Spirit,‟ then it seems clear that salvation is taking place within all of the world religions…” Different understandings of salvation “are all forms of the same fundamental human transformation from self-centeredness to a recentering in the ultimately real”
Hick‟s Religious pluralism What about Jesus? ◦ Acknowledges that if Jesus Christ is truly God incarnate and died for the sins of humanity then it follows that Christianity is the one true religion ◦ But he believes that the above claim about JC is a later development by Christians and do not represent what Jesus believed about himself
Evaluation of Hick‟s pluralism Christianity has to give up its distinctive claims to accommodate pluralism. The variety of world religions make incompatible truth claims. Because of such diversity, it‟s impossible to reduce religious claims to a single idea or theme that all have in common.