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Christology

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Christology

  1. 1. Who is Jesus?
  2. 2. Introduction Biblical Christology Conciliar Christology Contemporary Christology
  3. 3.  The Question of Relevance: Why Important? Jesus is God’s response to our deepest human longings.
  4. 4. 1. Christology “From Above” An approach which begins with the pre-existent Word who is in heaven/from eternity, and who descends into human history, becoming incarnate in Jesus Focal point: Incarnation Starting point: Church’s dogma
  5. 5. 2. Christology “From Below” An approach which begins with the human Jesus of Nazareth, and traces his story from birth to mission, culminating on his death and resurrection Focal point: Resurrection Starting point: Jesus of history (esp. as contained in biblical accounts
  6. 6.  over/exclusive emphasis on “From Above” may result to a denial of Christ’s humanity (e.g. docetism – physicality, crucifixion, death were all illusion)  over/exclusive emphasis on “From Below” may result on a rejection of Jesus’ divinity (Arianism – Jesus as the highest creature, subordinate to the Father)
  7. 7. Preference for the “From Below” Approach: Why? - Helps us appreciate the full humanity of Jesus and hence his solidarity with us - Inspires discipleship in the context of a world which identifies more with stories rather than dogmas
  8. 8.  The Gospels As Principal Source for the Life and Teaching of Jesus  Other historical sources are scarce and authenticity is suspect  Mark: between 60 – 70 AD  Matthew, Luke (Acts): 80 AD  John (Revelation): 90 AD  Synoptic Gospels – Gk syn + optic meaning “seen together”; taken from same source(s)
  9. 9.  The Nature of the Gospels: Are they strictly historical accounts?  “testimonies of faith” = historical basis + faith interpretation  not histories or biography in the modern sense  stages in the development of the Gospel tradition: words and deeds of Jesus → the preaching of the apostles → writing of the gospels
  10. 10. “basileia tou theou”  best translated as “reign of God”: dynamic, not static; a situation/event, not a place  “a situation wherein the will of God is perfectly upheld”  eschatological tension: both present and future (“already but not yet”)  It is present in the person and ministry of Jesus but its definitive form is yet to come.
  11. 11. Problem: How to understand the meaning of the parables (which are many and varied)? John Dominic Crossan  suggests a basic and helpful framework to approach the study of the parables  three-fold pattern in most, if not, all of the parables: advent, reversal, and action  two parables in Matthew as paradigmatic of this pattern: hidden treasure, pearl of great price (Mt 13:44-46)
  12. 12.  Advent - the Reign of God is coming as a gift; something unprecedented, something beyond expectations is coming or is found which is a cause of great joy  Reversal - the encounter with the Reign of God turns the values of the world upside down; change in outlook and priorities  Action - the Reign of God is not a mere information; calling for a response/transformative action
  13. 13. o Mt 13:44-46 44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
  14. 14.  In some parables, the element of advent/discovery is the focus: e.g. lost sheep, lost coin  In other parables, the element of reversal/change is the focus: e.g. rich man and Lazarus (sin as omission), prodigal son (mercy and forgiveness)  Still in others, the emphasis is on the element of action/new praxis: talents, unmerciful servant
  15. 15.  sickness or infirmity was attributed to demonic power and sin  healings show that the power of evil over human beings is broken  The miracles may be understood as symbolic anticipations and foretastes of what the fulfillment of the Reign of God will bring to the lives of people: holiness, healing, liberation, reconciliation, a new unity and integration of life or wholeness.
  16. 16.  importance of meals in the ministry of Jesus; frequency  Cf. Mt 11: 18-19 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.
  17. 17.  in the Middle Eastern culture even today, to share a meal is a sign of communion  in Judaism of Jesus’ day, it signified fellowship with God  a proclamation of forgiveness of sins in deeds; in God’s reign everyone is welcome; we are all brothers and sisters in the family of God
  18. 18.  cf. Ben Meyer, The Aims of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1979), 159-161 Jesus’ openness to sinners did not mean that he submitted passively to or tolerated sin. He reversed the normal pattern – conversion then communion. His offer of communion with sinners triggered repentance – “conversion flowered from communion”.
  19. 19. The Death of Jesus  The meaning of the cross Today, no longer seen as a scandal, as instrument of torture and humiliation More an article of jewelry, a fashion accessory, mark of episcopal authority, an ornament Sometimes misunderstood as promoting passive acceptance of suffering and injustice
  20. 20. The Death of Jesus 1. Cross as salvific - (scholastics) by the cross Jesus has redeemed the world 2. Cross as sign of misinterpretation – (Bultmann) Jesus’ religious message was misinterpreted as a threat to Roman rule; Jesus’ purposes were misunderstood 3. Cross as not salvific or redemptive – (Schillebeeckx) a rejection of Jesus; not willed but permitted by God; death as negativity that God overcomes by the resurrection
  21. 21. The Death of Jesus  International Theological Commission 1979: “A death undergone in a purely passive manner could not be a ‘Christological’ saving event. It must be… the willed consequence of the obedience and love of Jesus…”  What is salvific is the entire Christ-event, the perfect life of obedience of Jesus which culminated in the cross and vindicated in the resurrection.
  22. 22. The Resurrection of Jesus  Importance and centrality 1. CCC 638: the crowing truth of our faith, regarded as central truth by first Christian communities 2. 1 Cor 15:14-17: without the resurrection, in vain is our preaching and faith 3. Source of hope for us; our own promise of eternal life  Origin/Basis: empty tomb tradition + resurrection appearances
  23. 23.  Transition in Language: From Stories to Concepts (hypostasis, substantia, homoousios, phusis, prosopon, persona)  Challenge when church expanded: how to express the faith in a manner understandable to a new audience  From biblical to philosophical language: difficult but necessary
  24. 24.  Nicea (325) - issue: divinity of Christ - Arius: Jesus as greatest, most perfect creature - Church: Jesus is “homoousius” (of the same substance) with the Father, “true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being...” - Hence, not subordinate but equal to the Father
  25. 25.  Constantinople (381) - issue: full humanity of Christ - Appolinarius of Laodicea: Logos took the place of the rational soul in Christ hence Christ is not fully human because he does not have a rational soul - Church: Jesus had a human soul
  26. 26.  Ephesus (431) - issue: two natures but one person - Nestorius: a human Jesus, “indwelt… as in a temple” by the divine Christ, hence two persons (the human as ‘shell’ of the divine person); Mary as the mother of Jesus but not the mother of God - Church: the two natures (divine and human) are united in the one person of Christ; Mary as Theotokos
  27. 27.  Chalcedon (451) - issue: distinction of the two natures of Christ - Eutyches: monophysitism – the union of the divine and human natures in Christ result in only one divine nature; the human is absorbed by the divine - Church: the human and divine natures are united “without confusion, without change” and “without division, without separation”
  28. 28. Some Christological issues today:  Humanity and Knowledge: What sort of knowledge did Jesus possess?  Humanity and Sinlessness: Without concupiscence, what was it like for Jesus to be tempted?  Ecological Crisis: What does our faith in the incarnation and resurrection say about environmental issues?  World Religions: Is Jesus the savior of non- Christians as well?

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