Monday, January 6, 2014

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus - Wrighting the Course?

I hope all of you with me in the Midwest are staying warm.

In my earlier four part discussion of the identity of Jesus, two themes or categories stood out: Messiah and divine identity (perhaps not in Mark, but definitely in the other three gospels). The former seems to me to be the primary category. At the time when I wrote, these categories seemed to me to be distinct, with the Messiahship becoming less important over time as emphasis on divinity increased.

Over the past two months I have been reading Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Wright has argued strongly that divine identity and messianic status were entwined topics for the early church. My continued study of the gospel of John has colluded with Wright's suggestion and made me think that I need to take some time to explore that relationship. Wright, it seems to me, subsumes Messianic status within the notion of divine identity. Without considering the evidence, there's an attractiveness to that proposal because it brings the fourth century fathers into closer continuity with the primary emphasis of the New Testament.[1] However, I'm not convinced yet that it shouldn't be the other way around, with Messiah being primary and divine identity as something that Jesus the Messiah possessed. I am in strong agreement with Wright that understanding early Christian christology is critical.

So, at this point I'm Wrighting my course, and will be taking a longer look at early Christology. Specifically I'll be engaging with Wright, Hurtado, Bauckham, McCall, McGrath, and Ehrman to try to understand the relationship discussed above. Any others that I shouldn't miss?

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[1] I am not suggesting that Wright makes his argument for this reason, but from the perspective of conservative orthodoxy, it is a nice result.

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