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Showing posts from September, 2013

John: An Introduction to Urban von Wahlde's Theory of Composition

The week of September 9th I took a staycation. One of the things I did during that time was to begin to engage with Urban von Wahlde's recent commentary on the gospel of John. I am keenly interested in the Christology of John, so I wanted to get one more recent commentary. In my first two posts, which cover the first 34 verses of the gospel, I had not commented at all on any of the source theories as I by and large found them unsubstantiated. It seems clear that there is some sort of editing process, but I did not think anyone had provided adequate criteria for determining what material came from what literary strata.

Enter von Wahlde's commentary. He has provided both criteria and an explanatory framework for studying the composition history of the gospel. At the moment I am not yet certain if von Wahlde is correct, but if he is, it marks a major advancement in our understanding of the development of early Christology (and impacts our doctrine of Scripture as well). Along wit…

John 1:35-51: Let's be Clear About Who Jesus Is

35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was fro…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus Part 4

This is the fourth and final part of a paper on the identity of Jesus. Here are parts one, two, and three.

Luke expands upon Jesus salvific role more fully in his announcement story. Fitzmyer is very perceptive in this regard, subsuming soteriology under Christology.[1] Jesus is the controlling category and his salvific action flows out of his personal identity. In the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-56 there is the repeated theme of mercy. God is showing his mercy to Israel through Jesus. It is by God’s merciful act through Jesus that God would fulfill the promises to Israel.[2] Jesus was the coming redeemer. This is fully consonant with the Jewish messianic expectations described above. This was his role, from conception.[3] Verses 52-53 give the clearest explanation of Jesus program: ‘52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty’ (NRSV). Jesus was going to bring divine victory, bu…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus Part 3

This is part three of a paper on the identity of Jesus. Here are part one and part two.

We’re getting there in our portrait of Jesus, but we still have more work to do. Mark may provide us with the major brushstrokes, as indeed what we have said could have been drawn from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or Paul (e.g., Rom 1:1-7). What does John have to say? The prologue (John 1:1-18) contains the fullest summary of John’s vision of Jesus. Those 18 verses provide us with several avenues for exploration, but I want to focus on one in particular. First, let’s look at the first 5 verses.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 NRSV)

According to John 1:1, Jesus is th…