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

This is the fourth and final of a paper on Jesus as divine Messiah. See part 1, part 2, and part 3.

The closest parallel to the New Testament’s divine Christology is the Enochic Christology concerning the Son of Man in the Book of Parables in 1 Enoch 37-71.[1] There are many parallels between the ways Jesus is portrayed as Messiah in the New Testament and the Enochic Son of Man that are unparalleled claims concerning messianic figures elsewhere.[2] Key among those are pre-existence, the receipt of worship, and association with the figure of divine wisdom. Let’s look at 1 Enoch 48:1-49:4 as an example.

In the Book of Parables, the son of man is a messianic figure. The text we’re looking at begins in verses 2 and 3 with a clear statement of idyllic pre-existence on the part of the son of man.[3] He was known, named, and chosen by God for a specific task before creation. In verse 6, it goes even farther to posit actual pre-existence (not just as an idea, but as a being) prior to creation…

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

This is part 3 of a paper on Jesus as divine Messiah. See part 1 and part 2.

Possibly the clearest passage on the topic from the undisputed Pauline epistles comes in 2 Corinthians 3:1-4:7. We will focus on several key verses, starting with the climax in 4:4-6:

4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (NRSV).

Here, Paul describes Jesus in terms of light, glory, and the image of God. In other words, he is the supreme revelation of God. Here Paul is combining two strands of his Christology. Jesus is acting as the second Adam, being the perfect image, but he is far surpas…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus - Divine Messiah Part 2

This is part 2 of a paper on Jesus as divine Messiah. For part 1, click here.

Revelation is not exceptional in showing great devotion and worship to Jesus. As Larry Hurtado has argued in many places,[1] as far back as we can tell the churches exhibited a very high Christology that honored Jesus through a variety of devotional practices.[2] Particularly noteworthy is the way in which Jesus devotion was public and corporate, not private and individual like the worship of other intermediary figures like angels.[3] With the limited scope of this paper we will focus on fragments of confessional material that we find in the New Testament.[4]

The first text we will look at is Colossians 1:15-20.

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, a…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus - Divine Messiah Part 1

Unfortunately it didn't take much to push a winter release of my paper to the summer. Anyways, here it is:

In our last paper we looked at the identity of Jesus as presented in the Gospels. We noted that Jesus is primarily identified as Messiah. As I’ve studied further, I’ve become more convinced that Jesus messianic identity is the center of Christology. As Michael Bird put it, “the messianic identity of Jesus is the…most basic claim of early Christology.”[1] At the same time we noted that aspects of each of the Gospels suggest that the writers saw Jesus as divine, especially in the Gospel of John. Why? One could be the Messiah without being divine. It also seems that the clearest claims of divine identity are presented more in the way the Evangelists interpret the meaning of Jesus than at the core of the historical tradition.[2] Even before we get that far, though, we need to know what it means to call someone divine in the ancient world, as that may not have meant the same thing…