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Christology In The Letters Of St. Paul

Presentation by Fr. Scott Brodeur

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Christology In The Letters Of St. Paul

  1. 1. Christology in the Letters of St. Paul A Critical Comparison of Three Leading Exegetes: Aletti, Schnelle and Fee Rev. Scott N. Brodeur, S.J.
  2. 2. 1. Introduction <ul><li>Who is Jesus of Nazareth and what has he done for sinful humanity? </li></ul><ul><li>How does Paul describe Jesus’ relationship with God and with us? </li></ul><ul><li>What titles and descriptions does Paul use to best portray Jesus’ saving act as Son of God and Lord of all? </li></ul>
  3. 3. 1. Introduction <ul><li>First an analytical presentation, then a critical comparison of the works of three leading exegetes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jean-Noel Aletti </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Udo Schnelle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gordon D. Fee </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. 2. An Analytical Presentation of Pauline Christology <ul><li>A Critical Look at the Works of </li></ul><ul><li>Aletti, Schnelle and Fee </li></ul>
  5. 5. 2.1 Jean-Noel Aletti <ul><li>Fr. Aletti’s article would be entitled in English “Pauline Theology.” [1] </li></ul><ul><li>[1] Cf. Jean-Noël Aletti, “Théologie paulinienne,” in Jean-Yves Lacoste, éd., Dictionnaire critique de théologie , Paris 19982, 866-872 ; Italian trans. , “Paolina (teologia),” in Jean-Yves Lacoste, éd., Italian ed. by Piero Coda, Dizionario critico di teologia , Roma 2005, 970-977. </li></ul>
  6. 6. 2.1 Jean-Noel Aletti <ul><li>In his article the exegete divides his work into two principal parts. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The first he calls “A Christologized Theology,” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The second he names “A Paradoxal Theology.” </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. 2.1 Jean-Noel Aletti <ul><li>In the opening paragraphs Aletti argues that Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel has to be essentially christological since the Apostle of the Gentiles was sent to preach the Gospel, i.e. Jesus Christ. </li></ul><ul><li>Cf. 1Thess 3:2; 1Cor 9:12; 2:2; 2Cor 1:19; 2:12; 4:4ff; 9:13; 10:14; Gal 1:7; Rom 1:1ff; 15:19; 16:25; Phil 1:12-18,27; Col 1:27; etc. </li></ul>
  8. 8. 2.1 Jean-Noel Aletti <ul><li>Let us now take a closer look at what Fr. Aletti means by the phrase “a christologized theology.” </li></ul><ul><li>The phrase means “the progressive theologization of his Christology,” [1] and it describes the tendency to put Jesus beside God as his equal. </li></ul><ul><li>[1] Cf. J.-N. Aletti, “Paolina (teologia), 972. </li></ul>
  9. 9. 2.1 Jean-Noel Aletti <ul><li>However what is most striking in Paul’s thinking is how he christologizes his theology, hence Aletti’s captivating expression “the christologization of theology.” [1] </li></ul><ul><li>[1] Cf. J.-N. Aletti, “Paolina (teologia), 972. </li></ul>
  10. 10. 2.1 Jean-Noel Aletti <ul><li>What Fr. Aletti means by “the christologization of theology” is that the Apostle Paul never speaks of God’s redeeming and saving work without simultaneously mentioning Jesus Christ every time. </li></ul>
  11. 11. 2.1 Jean-Noel Aletti <ul><li>Hence Aletti’s article is most helpful since his two expressions (the “theologization of Christology” and the “christologization of theology”) beautifully capture Paul’s parallel approach to his own understanding of the divine participation in the world. </li></ul>
  12. 12. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>Prof. Schnelle’s monumental work on the vocation, apostolate and theology of the Apostle of the Gentiles represents a stunning achievement in NT scholarship. </li></ul>
  13. 13. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>As with the case of Aletti’s brief article, Schnelle’s book, Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology , [1] is also neatly divided into two halves: </li></ul><ul><li>[1] Cf. the original German title by Udo Schnelle , Paulus: Leben und Denken , Berlin 2003; English trans., Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology , Grand Rapids 2005. </li></ul>
  14. 14. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>“ Part One, The Course of Paul’s Life and the Development of His Thought;” and </li></ul><ul><li>“ Part Two, The Basic Structures of Paul’s Thought.” </li></ul>
  15. 15. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>Prof. Schnelle covers all the bases in his treatment of this essential aspect of Paul’s theology. </li></ul>
  16. 16. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>In section 16.4 of this important chapter, Prof. Schnelle develops Paul’s treatment of three essential christological titles in a detailed way: “Christ,” “Lord,” and “Son of God.” </li></ul><ul><li>Let us now take a closer look at these important terms, beginning with the most frequent: “Christ.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>1) There is no doubt that, for Schnelle, the most significant christological title employed by Paul is “(Jesus) Christ.” </li></ul><ul><li>This title (meaning “the anointed one”) held much meaning for both ethnic groups in the Pauline churches. </li></ul>
  18. 18. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>2) Throughout the OT God is commonly referred to by the name “Lord.” </li></ul><ul><li>By calling Jesus “Lord,” his first disciples conveyed his unique relationship with God (Jesus was exalted to the Father’s right hand and now shares in God’s glory and divine authority) and with human beings (Jesus alone reigns and all other powers and authorities are subservient to him). </li></ul>
  19. 19. 2.2 Udo Schnelle <ul><li>3) In spite of the scarcity of its occurrences (only 15 times, as we noted above), the title “Son of God” conveys a very important meaning for St. Paul, as we read in 2Cor 1:19a: “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I…” </li></ul>
  20. 20. 2.3 Gordon D. Fee <ul><li>Perhaps it is simply a coincidence, but the final exegete we’ll consider this evening, Gordon D. Fee, also divides his work, Pauline Christology , [1] into two principal parts. </li></ul><ul><li>[1] Cf. Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study , Peabody 2007. </li></ul>
  21. 21. 2.3 Gordon D. Fee <ul><li>Fee for his part partitions his monograph into two unequal sections: </li></ul><ul><li>the first, analytical and exegetical in nature, makes up two-thirds of the book </li></ul><ul><li>while the second section, synthetic and theological in nature, composes the final third. </li></ul>
  22. 22. 2.3 Gordon D. Fee <ul><li>In this sense the book’s subtitle, An Exegetical-Theological Study , accurately describes the work’s contents. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In fact “Part I: Analysis,” brilliantly examines the Christology of every single letter in the Pauline Corpus. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Part II: Synthesis” brings together the various exegetical threads into one comprehensive tapestry. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. 2.3 Gordon D. Fee <ul><li>“ The answer proposed here, and spelled out in detail in these two chapters, is twofold: (1) the risen Jesus was none other than the preexistent Son of God , who came present among us to redeem; and (2) the risen Jesus is the exalted Lord “seated at the right hand of God” in fulfillment of Ps 110:1...” </li></ul>
  24. 24. 2.3 Gordon D. Fee <ul><li>“… In the first instance, we will note that there is some awareness, if not emphasis, on the relationship of the Son to the Father. In the second instance, the emphasis is altogether on the exalted Christ’s relationship to us and to our world.” [1] </li></ul><ul><li>[1] Cf. Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study , 530. </li></ul>
  25. 25. 2.3 Gordon D. Fee <ul><li>Although it would take the Church several more centuries to articulate its faith in the three divine Persons, we can nevertheless safely affirm that Paul was in fact a proto-Trinitarian. [1] </li></ul><ul><li>[1] Cf. Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study , 586ff. </li></ul>
  26. 26. 3. Conclusion: A Critical Comparison and Brief Evaluation <ul><li>What significant points do these three major exegetes have in common and what differentiates their works? </li></ul><ul><li>We must now undertake a brief assessment of the material that I have presented during the course of this talk, comparing and contrasting our most noteworthy findings. </li></ul>
  27. 27. 3. Conclusion: A Critical Comparison and Brief Evaluation <ul><li>Aletti rightly asserts that to adhere to the Gospel is equivalent to believing in Jesus, and vice versa. </li></ul><ul><li>For him Paul’s most important Christological title is “Lord.” </li></ul>
  28. 28. 3. Conclusion: A Critical Comparison and Brief Evaluation <ul><li>For his part Schnelle accurately insists on the central role of Paul’s conversion and mission experience of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus as the very basis of his theology. </li></ul><ul><li>His insight that the crucified Jesus is only revealed in light of the resurrection places the correct emphasis on these two pivotal events in salvation history. </li></ul>
  29. 29. 3. Conclusion: A Critical Comparison and Brief Evaluation <ul><li>Lastly Fee, like Aletti, also considers the title “Lord” to be the most important of all the titles applied to Jesus. </li></ul><ul><li>For Fee Jesus has a special role in relation to his fellow Jews since he is in fact the Jewish Messiah and the preexistent Son of God. </li></ul>
  30. 30. 3. Conclusion: A Critical Comparison and Brief Evaluation <ul><li>In conclusion, all three exegetes are in agreement on all the major aspects of Paul’s understanding of the Christ event and its consequences for the Church and the world. </li></ul>
  31. 31. 3. Conclusion: A Critical Comparison and Brief Evaluation <ul><li>Each has his own way of various shades of meaning with regard to Paul’s most significant doctrines, yet their positions on important theological matters in no way contradict one another. </li></ul>
  32. 32. 3. Conclusion: A Critical Comparison and Brief Evaluation <ul><li>Although their nuances express subtle differences, nevertheless these scholars are for the most part in broad agreement as far as Paul’s Christology is concerned. </li></ul>