Skip to main content

Philippians 2:6-11 and Adam Christology

When I was preparing for my sermon, the argument I found that raged the strongest was whether or not there is an Adam Christology present in the passage. What thinketh I? Well I'm glad you asked! If you listened to my sermon, you might get the idea that I do subscribe to the Adam Christology theory. To channel my inner Lee Corso, 'not so fast my friend!' At the same time I want to say, 'of course there's an Adam Christology here!'

What gives? If one is doing a historical-critical reading of Philippians 2:6-11, I do not think that there is a tie back to Adam. The alleged parallels (like the alleged form/image parallel) simply are not strong enough to make the claim that Paul was intentionally playing Jesus against Adam (I won't rehash the argument here - see, O'Brien 263-8). However, does that mean that it's illegitimate to contrast Jesus and Adam when discussing this passage? Absolutely not. I'll have my cake and eat it too. It's a perfectly valid inference from the text at the level of biblical theology and it's certainly not in tension with the original meaning of the passage. The Philippians themselves very well may have made the same connections when listening to Paul.

This point is similar to one that Michael Bird makes in The Saving Righteousness of God (a fantastic book, by the way), when discussing imputation. In his opinion, no text of Scripture directly teaches imputation, but that doesn't make it an invalid concept in systematic theology. It's necessary to see more in the text than the human author intended. There's no reason why sensus plenior can't apply to the New Testament as well. Yes there are difficulties in doing this, but if we don't rise above the level of merely describing the original intentions of the author we have a dead text. We need to use and develop the ideas of the biblical author, and do it in conversation with the rest of the cannon. However, we need to be clear that that's what we're doing. I find too often that this work is often mistakenly understood to be unpacking the original meaning of a text, it's not. It's at a level removed.

So is there an Adam Christology in Philippians 2:6-11? Yes! and no. It just depends on what type of interpretation you're doing.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Doctor Who: Rose Tyler - Traitor?

The end of season four was very, very controversial. When I first saw it, I felt cheated. I was angry. The more I think about it, the more I think I see what Russell Davies was doing. He is too good of a writer and the show is too carefully crafted for him to screw up Rose's character and the end of a four season storyline. So while the ending isn't strictly part of our series, it is tangentially related, and I've agonized over that scene in Bad Wolf Bay so much that I have to write about it. :)

To briefly set things up, near the end of the final episode of season four, there is a meta-crisis, that results in a part human. part Time Lord Doctor being generated. He has all of the Doctor's memories, and thinks and acts like the Doctor. However, importantly, he only has one heart and cannot regenerate. He only has one life to live. The meta-crisis Doctor brought full resolution to the battle fought against the Daleks, and in the process, wiped them out. Thus, the real Doc…