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Source: (consider it) Thread: The historicity of the resurrection
Barnabas62
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From me too. Far better than me looking up quotes which I think may be representative.

(PS - I did enjoy this your first post from a thread now in Oblivion. Seemed spot on

quote:
Yes, I've just come aboard after traffic to my blog alerted me to this thread. Though I have lurked on and off in the past. I am at work at the moment, so will respond to several things in this thread when I get home.

I found the claim above that I "stuggle with basic politeness" pretty amusing. Most people who read what I had to endure on that RatSkep thread say I actually have the patience of a saint. Suffice it to say I give back what I get, though not always in equal measure.



[ 15. April 2017, 20:53: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:

Jesus' apocalyptic theology is not out of step with contemporary Jewish theology but very much part of a branch of it. But we see a drift away from it in the later New Testament texts as (i) the expectations of a imminent arrival of the apocalypse are disappointed and (ii) the Jesus sect drifts from its Jewish roots and becomes a Gentile saviour cult.

(Italics are mine) I believe you are right about apocalyptic pronouncements in the gospels and the letters.

But isn't there evidence for "the Gentile Saviour cult" - or at the very least its beginnings - in the epistle to the Galatians? Which I think is generally accepted to pre-date the written gospels and most - if not all - of the Pauline letters.

Maybe I'm confused by the terminology? Wouldn't be the first time.

[ 15. April 2017, 23:30: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:

Jesus' apocalyptic theology is not out of step with contemporary Jewish theology but very much part of a branch of it. But we see a drift away from it in the later New Testament texts as (i) the expectations of a imminent arrival of the apocalypse are disappointed and (ii) the Jesus sect drifts from its Jewish roots and becomes a Gentile saviour cult.

(Italics are mine) I believe you are right about apocalyptic pronouncements in the gospels and the letters.

But isn't there evidence for "the Gentile Saviour cult" - or at the very least its beginnings - in the epistle to the Galatians? Which I think is generally accepted to pre-date the written gospels and most - if not all - of the Pauline letters.

Maybe I'm confused by the terminology? Wouldn't be the first time.

The key word there is "Gentile". Paul's epistles present a Jewish apocalyptic theology, where Jesus is a pre-existant angelic being who takes on human form and becomes the Messiah with his death and so is raised by Yahweh and exalted. Paul believes that Jesus will return when the apocalyptic kingdom of God comes and is sure this will be very soon (see 1 Thess. 4:15-17). So Paul's Messiah is a "saviour", but very much a Jewish one.

I would argue that in much of the later NT material the emphasis on the coming apocalyptic kingdom recedes and the emphasis on the redemptive death of Jesus as a saviour figure becomes increasingly prominent.

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Enoch
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The argument that Jesus never existed at all is quite different from argument about which bits happened as described and which bits were read back into the story by the first generation of Christians.

It is on a par with those that claim that a birth that happened in Honolulu on 4th August 1961, didn't. I.e. there are some opinions that the only people that hold them are those that are determined to hold them because it desperately suits them to do so.

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Barnabas62
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@ TimO'Neill

I think that by "Paul's epistles" you mean the undisputed ones - and therefore exclude Colossians and Ephesians? What cannot be disputed is that those two epistles show distinct linguistic and theological differences from Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians. That is I think common ground for serious students, whether or not they are people of faith. So on those grounds, I think your argument is very plausible. What gives me a little pause for thought is that the Marcionite scriptures (early 2nd century) did include Colossians and Ephesians as a part of the Pauline collection. That does allow plenty of time for pseudopigraphical letters to have been added to the collection and attained some measure of acceptance in various Christian communities (whether or not they became regarded as heretical).

So what I'm not so sure of, not having studied the point in any detail, is the evidence for these epistles being significantly later than the undisputed ones. An argument can no doubt be made on the grounds that the theology has developed within the community to meet post-AD 70 needs, following the destruction of the Jerusalem community. Views would be appreciated from better scholars than me.

I appreciate also that this is a tangent from the main topic (albeit a very interesting one).

Back on the main topic, given that Galatians and 1 Corinthians are generally accepted (by both Christian and non-Christian scholars) as both contemporary and early (50's AD), I think the tangent has helped to demonstrate that belief in the resurrection already existed for some time prior to those two letters. That strikes me as a minimal belief, based on such evidence as we have. There is still room for argument about that of course. But it seems very reasonable to claim it. The resurrection can not be proven by historical-critical examination, of course. It is a matter of faith.

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TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
[QB] @ TimO'Neill

I think that by "Paul's epistles" you mean the undisputed ones - and therefore exclude Colossians and Ephesians?

Yes. We find a consistent theology and Christology in the seven epistles that are generally accepted as genuinely by Paul: First Thessalonians, Philippians, Philemon, First Corinthians, Galatians, Second Corinthians and Romans. Even Carrier and most of the less-crazy Mythers accept that.

quote:
So what I'm not so sure of, not having studied the point in any detail, is the evidence for these epistles being significantly later than the undisputed ones.
I certainly wouldn't say "significantly later", just several decades later than the 50s AD. As such, they reflect a later stratum. I'd put both somewhere in the last two decades of the first century, but most likely closer to c. 100 AD.

quote:
Back on the main topic, given that Galatians and 1 Corinthians are generally accepted (by both Christian and non-Christian scholars) as both contemporary and early (50's AD), I think the tangent has helped to demonstrate that belief in the resurrection already existed for some time prior to those two letters. That strikes me as a minimal belief, based on such evidence as we have. There is still room for argument about that of course. But it seems very reasonable to claim it. The resurrection can not be proven by historical-critical examination, of course. It is a matter of faith.
That Paul believed in a resurrection of Jesus in some sense is pretty clear from 1 Corinthians on its own. Whether what he believed the resurrection to be conforms to what a modern orthodox Christian believes, on the other hand, is another issue entirely.

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quetzalcoatl
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History doesn't do proof, in any case, does it? In fact, neither does science. Both are probabilistic.

The problem with the resurrection is that it's supernatural, so does not conform with naturalistic reality, or whatever you call it. Therefore you wuoldn't expect either history or science to look at it - how do you look at something not in nature?

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:

That Paul believed in a resurrection of Jesus in some sense is pretty clear from 1 Corinthians on its own. Whether what he believed the resurrection to be conforms to what a modern orthodox Christian believes, on the other hand, is another issue entirely.

Indeed. That is a big issue about which much has been written. Oversimplifying madly, the gospel accounts major on the physical, 1 Cor 15 is more metaphysical, more about significance both for faith today and the (imminently expected) general resurrection. It also seems clear (from Romans 6V9) that Paul saw a distinction between resuscitation and resurrection, both for Jesus as first-fruit and for the general resurrection.

One of the major challenges in understanding 1 Cor 15 is that the mixture of Jews and Gentiles to whom the letter was addressed were likely to have very different prior conceptions about life after death. I think some of the language reflects that.

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ThunderBunk

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The other point that occurs to me is that, depending on which translation and which scholars one reads, a lot of such passages in both Acts and the epistles seem to be liturgical, and thus to be recitations and/or records of forms of words pre-established in their own communities. It may be, for example, that Paul is quoting the community back to itself to reinforce its faith and unity at a time of weakness. Is this interpretation generally held, and what (if anything) does it do to the place of those passages in the historicisation (horrible word, but I'm sure you see what I mean) of the resurrection, and indeed the life of Jesus itself (cf. the "form of a servant" passage from Ephesians)

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Barnabas62
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I'm sure your hand slipped - "form of a servant" is Phil 2:7 - though you are right that folks have claimed that the passage containing it was an early liturgy (cf 1 Cor 13).

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ThunderBunk

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I'm sure your hand slipped - "form of a servant" is Phil 2:7 - though you are right that folks have claimed that the passage containing it was an early liturgy (cf 1 Cor 13).

It did indeed. Mea culpa (what is that in NT Greek, btw?) (tr. I am guilty)

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Sarah G
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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:
The key word there is "Gentile". Paul's epistles present a Jewish apocalyptic theology, where Jesus is a pre-existant angelic being who takes on human form and becomes the Messiah with his death and so is raised by Yahweh and exalted. Paul believes that Jesus will return when the apocalyptic kingdom of God comes and is sure this will be very soon (see 1 Thess. 4:15-17). So Paul's Messiah is a "saviour", but very much a Jewish one.

I think the problem may be resolved by close definition of terms, but surely Paul's writings present Jesus as the one God of Israel doing what God said He would do? As such, he was never angelic, but was always the anointed one/Messiah.

Indeed, a lot of Paul's language describes the Kingdom as present in some sense (e.g. 2 Cor 6:1-2, ) although clearly there is to be a 'Kingdom comes part 2'. Granted that when Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians, he is talking about the Second Coming in his lifetime, but by the time of e.g. Philippians 1 and 2 Cor 4 he realises that may well be at an unknown time after his death.

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ThunderBunk

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The effect I see on the historicity is that liturgical use means that the statements do not originate with their apparent author, and that they are not "natively" of the same genre as the rest of the text. In both senses, they are interpellations: into the writings of the author and into the letters as texts. Presumably, this means that they have been incorporated from an earlier, anonymous source of unknown location.

In summary, from being a statement from an identified author at a theoretically identifiable time to an identified audience, to an earlier statement by a community to itself. A very different contribution to proving anything.

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quetzalcoatl
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I don't really understand this use of the term 'historicity'. What does it mean here?

A supernatural occurrence cannot be historic. In fact, to call it an event seems erroneous, since events are part of nature.

The more brutal atheists would call it a guess - well, that's brutal.

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I think what Barnabas62 and ThunderBunk are discussing is the suggestion that certain parts of the Pauline epistles are 'recycled' liturgical texts. If so, their existence demonstrates that what they state had become established Christian belief some time prior to their appearance in the epistles.

For me historicity in the context of this thread is simply 'did it happen?' One of the features of Christian belief in the supernatural actions of God is that they impinge on history. While the supernatural or divine action may be outwith historical investigation, its impact on the natural world is open to investigation in the usual way. We can't historically investigate whether Jesus was God incarnate, but we can investigate whether he existed or not. We can't historically investigate whether God raised Jesus from the dead, but we can consider the evidence for the tomb being empty, or for Jesus having appeared to his followers after his execution.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
A supernatural occurrence cannot be historic. In fact, to call it an event seems erroneous, since events are part of nature.

This is circular. What part of "event" means "can't be supernatural"?

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Also, it presumes a very particular understanding of 'supernatural'.

As far as I can see there is no particular reason why a 'supernatural event' cannot impinge on, and be addressed, historically, and for that matter scientifically, since the 'event', however caused, must have some impact/presence in time and space or it would have no effect.

Presumably, as we are in no position to say that we are anywhere near having a complete understanding of 'reality', let alone simply the material 'universe', we are in no position to pass any final judgement on the probability or actuality of events we have no current explanation for. The best we can say is that, with our present level of understanding we have no definitive explanation, and must do the best we can with context and outcome.

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TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Sarah G:
I think the problem may be resolved by close definition of terms, but surely Paul's writings present Jesus as the one God of Israel doing what God said He would do?

Nowhere does Paul say Jesus was Yahweh. Throughout his letters he distinguishes Yahweh from his Messiah Jesus:

  • Romans 1:7, 'Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!'
  • I Corinthians 1:1, '...called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God'
  • I Corinthians 1:4, '...the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus'
  • II Corinthians 1:2, 'Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!'
  • Galatians 1:3, 'Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ'
  • Philippians 1:2, 'Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!'
  • I Thessalonians 1:1, '... to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you!'

Paul also consistently talks about how Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead. Nowhere in the Pauline material or in Acts do we find references to Jesus "rising" from the dead by his agency or "raising himself" from the dead. E.g. see Galatians 1:1 where Paul calls himself "an apostle--sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead" (actually the key verb is ἐγείραντος which is "having raised [him]" - the active aorist participle). It's only thanks to centuries of reading these texts through a Trinitarian filter that people can somehow still maintain the doublethink of Jesus being Yahweh.

quote:
As such, he was never angelic, but was always the anointed one/Messiah.
Philippians 2:6 says that Jesus did not consider equality with Yahweh "something to be seized/taken/plundered in war". You can't seize, take or plunder something you already have, so orthodox translators have to fiddle with the meaning of ἁρπαγμὸν to somehow make it mean "grasped, retained", which is not what the word means. This is a classic case of the translation being driven by an assumed theology and then being used to prop up the original theology.

quote:
Indeed, a lot of Paul's language describes the Kingdom as present in some sense (e.g. 2 Cor 6:1-2, ) although clearly there is to be a 'Kingdom comes part 2'.
Yes. And I think saying 2 Cor 6:1-2 is talking about the kingdom being already present is stretching the text. Of course he considered the death and resurrection of Jesus to be the first step in salvation - he uses the image of the "first fruits of the harvest" in 1 Cor. - but he was still looking forward to the coming apocalyptic kingdom.

[ 16. April 2017, 19:57: Message edited by: TimONeill ]

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An event may be supernatural, meaning that some of its input (cause, whatever) comes from outside the normal natural chains of causation already existing; but once it has occurred within the setting of nature/history, it's going to have natural and historical consequences. It joins the other chains of causation as they all go on flowing and recombining to the end of ages.

For example, one consequence of the resurrection is that we are all here discussing this. (If you think it a non-event, you would say "one consequence of the hoax" or whatever, and count all of its antecedents as wholly natural. Regardless, in either case the consequences would join the rest of nature.)

[ 16. April 2017, 19:59: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Martin60
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Ahhhhhhh Tim. And I had such high hopes.

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Barnabas62
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Tim's right, Martin; this famous Philippian passage (whether or not it is a lift from a very early liturgy or hymn) is actually a pretty good support for a form of adoptionism (which of course was later classified as a heresy).

In general, the undisputed Pauline epistles demonstrate a pretty low Christology. By sharp contrast, Colossians demonstrates a high Christology (Col 1:15 ff). Those who still hold on to Pauline authorship (despite the linguistic and theological differences with the undisputed letters) don't in my mind have a very good case.

But as Tim says, these later epistles, whether Pauline or not, are not a lot later than the undisputed epistles. Suffice to say that a church becoming increasingly refocused towards Gentiles and less influenced by traditional monotheistic Judaism may have found it easier to speak of Jesus "the image of the invisible God" etc than they would have before AD70.

I'm not a fundamentalist and have no problems with folks detecting theological movements and developments within the NT text, as the early church expanded, dispersed, and evolved.

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TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Ahhhhhhh Tim. And I had such high hopes.

Of what? I go where the evidence leads. If that doesn't stroke some orthodoxy of yours any more than it strokes the orthodoxies of the Mythicists, I really don't care.

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Barnabas62
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TimO'Neil

This may become more appropriate for our Kerygmania section, but I'm interested in your take on μορφή morphē in the context of Philippians 2 v 6. That might be seen as as much of a key to meaning as ἁρπαγμός harpagmos, about which you have made, in my mind anyway, a very sound point.

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TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
TimO'Neil

This may become more appropriate for our Kerygmania section, but I'm interested in your take on μορφή morphē in the context of Philippians 2 v 6. That might be seen as as much of a key to meaning as ἁρπαγμός harpagmos, about which you have made, in my mind anyway, a very sound point.

μορφή (morphē) often gets the theological twisting treatment in translations so that it comes out as "nature". But it means "shape". It's hard for us to to work out, at a distance of 2000 years, what Paul meant by "being in shape divine" or "being God-like in shape", but that the fact that ἁρπαγμός (harpagmos) in the next part of the sentence strongly indicates he did not consider the pre-existent Messiah to be Yahweh or even be equal to Yahweh, my feeling is that he is indicating something close to words like "being celestial (as opposed to earthly)" or, given the context of what he says next, "being angelic (as opposed to human)".

Like most of Paul's stuff, it can be read all kinds of ways. But I find the attempts to read this passage in a Nicean and Trinitarian way highly unconvincing. And without this one passage in all of the seven Pauline those who want to argue this devout Jew thought Jesus was God don't have much to hang their hats on.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Alisdair:
Also, it presumes a very particular understanding of 'supernatural'.

As far as I can see there is no particular reason why a 'supernatural event' cannot impinge on, and be addressed, historically, and for that matter scientifically, since the 'event', however caused, must have some impact/presence in time and space or it would have no effect.

Presumably, as we are in no position to say that we are anywhere near having a complete understanding of 'reality', let alone simply the material 'universe', we are in no position to pass any final judgement on the probability or actuality of events we have no current explanation for. The best we can say is that, with our present level of understanding we have no definitive explanation, and must do the best we can with context and outcome.

Well, fair enough about not understanding reality, but I would take an event normally to be an occurrence in time and space, involving mass/energy.

One might say that that's a fairly arbitrary distinction, but I could go on and demonstrate events to you, e.g. by blowing my nose, or throwing a ball in the air. Can you demonstrate a supernatural event to me?

Well, let's call it a guess. After all, angels (or devils) might well be helping me with my post this morning, which is nice, or not. Or I suppose the sun may be a chariot driven across the sky each day, why not?

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Barnabas62
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@ TimO'Neill

Another issue is that both of these Greek words are very little used in the NT. Harpagmos occurs only in Phil 2:6, morphe only in Phil 2:6 and 7, and in Mark 16 (in the disputed ending). So it may not be sound to make too much of either in context.

The more powerful argument for your viewpoint may be the ending of the passage. Jesus is pictured as being rewarded by being exalted, not being restored to previous fullness after self-emptying and self-sacrifice. That was my adoptionist-like point.

But I remain cautious, simply because the real purpose of the passage is to exhort human humility. In that sense it bears some resemblance to Paul's personal identification with the crucifixion of Christ in Gal 2.

I do accept your general argument that there is nothing apart from this in the Pauline undisputed letters to suggest that Paul saw Jesus as a pre-existent person of the Godhead, rather than in some way God-like. For that you have to look at Colossians and of course John 1. Where the Word was what God was, and became flesh.

[ 17. April 2017, 09:32: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Martin60
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Yeah G. Paul was making it up as he went along of course. His utter acceptance on his knees of the divinity of Christ starts on the road to Damascus of course. None of us have worked that greatest of mysteries out yet. The legalistic interpretation of words doesn't make them evidentiary.

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Barnabas62
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Martin60

Acts 9 and Paul's own testimony tell us that Paul had a massive change of heart and mind following the Damascus Road encounter. Floored he was. Dumb and blind, he was. The text indicates that he did not know what to make of it, until Ananias called him brother. By his own testimony it was an encounter with the risen, ascended, glorified Lord; indeed that was the basis for his claim to be an apostle, even if "the least of them".

But it doesn't tell you anything about his personal understanding of the divinity of Jesus; rather that the experience in some way vindicated the "risen Messiah" claims of those he was persecuting.

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TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
[QB] @ TimO'Neill

Another issue is that both of these Greek words are very little used in the NT. Harpagmos occurs only in Phil 2:6, morphe only in Phil 2:6 and 7, and in Mark 16 (in the disputed ending). So it may not be sound to make too much of either in context.

The fact that he didn't use the words much isn't too significant, though it's true it gives us fewer anchor points for how Paul meant them. But that still leaves us (i) how others used them and (ii) the context of what he's saying. As you note, that supports the reading that he is not saying the pre-existent Messiah was equal to God.

quote:
The more powerful argument for your viewpoint may be the ending of the passage. Jesus is pictured as being rewarded by being exalted, not being restored to previous fullness after self-emptying and self-sacrifice.
Yes.

quote:
But I remain cautious, simply because the real purpose of the passage is to exhort human humility. In that sense it bears some resemblance to Paul's personal identification with the crucifixion of Christ in Gal 2.
I cant' see who Paul can't exhort human humility by pointing to the far greater humility of a pre-existent angelic being who humbled himself, took on human form and died.

quote:
I do accept your general argument that there is nothing apart from this in the Pauline undisputed letters to suggest that Paul saw Jesus as a pre-existent person of the Godhead, rather than in some way God-like. For that you have to look at Colossians and of course John 1. Where the Word was what God was, and became flesh.
Which indicates to me these ideas developed later. Those who want to stick with an orthodox Trinitarian Christology can, I'm sure, find ways to accommodate that later development with their theology, but to me it's pretty clearly a Jewish idea developing in new and unJewish ways. And ultimately becoming a new religion entirely.

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
[QB His utter acceptance on his knees of the divinity of Christ starts on the road to Damascus of course.

Please show from the writings of Paul that he made this "utter acceptance on his knees of the divinity of Christ". Try doing it without reading in your beliefs or later story elements from the author of Acts. Good luck.

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alienfromzog

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Philippians 2 v 6 as a starter for 10?

AFZ

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alienfromzog

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I realise if we get into a proper discussion about the Greek and the translations, I will be seriously out-gunned.

Flicking back through the thread you dealt with the potential understanding of the second part of verse 6. Of course Pauline theology runs through all of his work and one should look for consistency and themes (if they are present) but in the first part of v6 it simply says "Being in very nature God" how is that anything other than a claim that Jesus was/is divine?

AFZ

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quote:
Originally posted by alienfromzog:
I realise if we get into a proper discussion about the Greek and the translations, I will be seriously out-gunned.

Flicking back through the thread you dealt with the potential understanding of the second part of verse 6. Of course Pauline theology runs through all of his work and one should look for consistency and themes (if they are present) but in the first part of v6 it simply says "Being in very nature God" how is that anything other than a claim that Jesus was/is divine?

AFZ

No, the theologically skewed translation says that. What Paul actually says is something like "being God-like in shape" or perhaps "being in shape divine". Exactly what that means is not clear, but the next part of the sentence indicates that it does not mean he was God or was somehow equal to God.

As for the rest of his Christology, there is nothing else in his epistles to indicate equality with God or Godhood of his own in any clear way. And many verses, as I note above, where Paul is differentiating between Jesus and God and attributing all the power to God in things like Jesus' resurrection and his subsequent exaltation.

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alienfromzog

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As I said, when it comes to arguments about the Greek, I'm going to be seriously out-gunned. However, how do you think it should be translated? and I would be interested to know how you approach Romans 3: 21-26? This is what I mean about the overall themes. I think it's easy to argue that Paul is very implicitly trinitarian in this passage.

AFZ

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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:
μορφή (morphē) often gets the theological twisting treatment in translations so that it comes out as "nature". But it means "shape". It's hard for us to to work out, at a distance of 2000 years, what Paul meant by "being in shape divine" or "being God-like in shape", but that the fact that ἁρπαγμός (harpagmos) in the next part of the sentence strongly indicates he did not consider the pre-existent Messiah to be Yahweh or even be equal to Yahweh, my feeling is that he is indicating something close to words like "being celestial (as opposed to earthly)" or, given the context of what he says next, "being angelic (as opposed to human)".

I know little Greek but does morphe naturally take the sense 'shape-as-opposed-to-nature'? Changing from a man to a donkey and back is a change of morphe (Lucian), as is changing from a goddess to a tree (Ovid).

It doesn't appear to me that many Christians were much bothered to address the question, Jesus as celestial being vs Jesus as aspect of YHWH until the Arian controversy. But I do think that a monotheistic system has problems accommodating celestial and angelic beings if those beings have any substantive part to play in the metaphysical or salvific economy. The question isn't so much what precisely Paul thought about Jesus' divinity (assuming he expended much intellectual energy on the question) as whether how what he thought about Jesus could be reconciled with a commitment to monotheism. If you're going to accommodate a celestial being in the shape of God that is higher than the angels in your monotheistic system you're going to end up performing manoeuvres along the lines of multiple persons in one substance.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
quote:
But I remain cautious, simply because the real purpose of the passage is to exhort human humility. In that sense it bears some resemblance to Paul's personal identification with the crucifixion of Christ in Gal 2.
I cant' see who Paul can't exhort human humility by pointing to the far greater humility of a pre-existent angelic being who humbled himself, took on human form and died.
Oh I agree; my point was that the humility argument works regardless of how Paul saw the person of Jesus.

quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
quote:
I do accept your general argument that there is nothing apart from this in the Pauline undisputed letters to suggest that Paul saw Jesus as a pre-existent person of the Godhead, rather than in some way God-like. For that you have to look at Colossians and of course John 1. Where the Word was what God was, and became flesh.
Which indicates to me these ideas developed later. Those who want to stick with an orthodox Trinitarian Christology can, I'm sure, find ways to accommodate that later development with their theology, but to me it's pretty clearly a Jewish idea developing in new and unJewish ways. And ultimately becoming a new religion entirely.
I adhere to an orthodox Trinitarian theology - and that's not always easy - but I do try to be honest about where the evidence leads. And I do think the Western Church has often ignored the Jewishness of Jesus and the very early kerygma, often at its cost. Something of the heritage has been lost that way. And I find something quite horrifying about the way the church, historically, gave aid and comfort to anti-Semitism.

Did Christianity in its development become a new religion entirely? Or did it find an escape from a relatively ethnic "chosen people" view of God's revelation to humanity? In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. And how do these thoughts connect with understandings about the nature of God? These questions are very much alive in my mind.

It may be a bit mystical for you, but I am impressed with the following saying by Evagrius of Pontus. "God cannot be grasped by the mind. If he could, he would not be God." That seems to me to be a humble, rather than an evasive view. Regardless of future Western developments, the musings of the Cappadocean fathers were not initially intended to be turned into a rigid theory; they were "theoria" (humble contemplation of the ineffable) rather than "theory".

[ 17. April 2017, 11:31: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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anteater

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Tim O'Neil:
IMO Philippians gives more support for the divinity of Christ than you allow. My thoughts on this passage and others in Romans are honed by hours of discussion with Jehovah's witnesses.

And my argument tends to be about how Jesus functions in Paul and the NT generally. So when he writes:
quote:
so that at the name of Jesusvevery knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
I would say that he is strongly implying the legitimacy of acts of worship to Jesus.

I would not press the fact with you that kyrios is the regular LXX translation of Jehovah, (though I might with JWs due to their dodgy practice of selectively taking advantage of that in their translation of the bible). But my own personal take on that is that is it close enough to saying that Jesus Christ is Jehovah that if that was totally against what Paul believed, he would have found other words.

Now you can debate whether the expressions imply worship (I would say they do) and you can debated whether Paul would allow worship to any being other than God (I would say not).

But I do not for a moment believe that Paul believed the Trinity as we now define it in our creeds. Any more than I believe he advocated the right of all men to be free. But I would see the seeds of both in his writings.

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Martin60
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Perfick anteater.

Language eh?

◾Romans 1:7, 'Grace and peace to you from God (our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!)'
◾I Corinthians 1:1, '...called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God'
◾I Corinthians 1:4, '...the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus'
◾II Corinthians 1:2, 'Grace and peace to you from God (our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!)'
◾Galatians 1:3, 'Grace and peace to you from God (the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ)'
◾Philippians 1:2, 'Grace and peace to you from God (our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!)'
◾I Thessalonians 1:1, '... to the church of the Thessalonians in God (the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ). Grace and peace to you!'

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
[QB His utter acceptance on his knees of the divinity of Christ starts on the road to Damascus of course.

Please show from the writings of Paul that he made this "utter acceptance on his knees of the divinity of Christ". Try doing it without reading in your beliefs or later story elements from the author of Acts. Good luck.
Hyperbole TimONeill (or should it be Tim O'Neill?). But true nonetheless. Saul would have known Jesus' claim to divinity which is why He was killed after all. According to the gospels written a generation after the event of Paul's Christologically inferior letters? The moment he was blinded ... he knew. Wouldn't you? Or is that me being led astray by 'Luke'?

Did it take Paul 20-30 years to get to the divinity of Christ?

Romans 9:5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Colossians 1:15–20

The Supremacy of the Son of God

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form

1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ

Or the blink of an eye?

And we mustn't attribute Hebrews to Paul must we?

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Regarding the earliest Christian witness that Jesus is divine, my view is that we have to allow for a bit of theological fuzziness with our early apostolic forebears.

Pliny the Younger I believe, records Christians singing to Christ "as to a god." Now does this mean, that early Christians equated Jesus with YHWH, or does it mean that early Christians acted like modern RCs with the Blessed Virgin Mary, singing hymns to Mary, but insisting that she is not the same as God?

We don't know and we must leave room for the doctrinal development of the church, that Nicaea and Chalcedon was simply cleaning up the fuzziness of the apostolic witness concerning the divinity of Jesus.

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ

Or the blink of an eye?

And we mustn't attribute Hebrews to Paul must we?

Nor the pastorals

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Barnabas62
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Martin60

Romans is not disputed as a Pauline writing, but the others are. So Romans 9:5 is interesting, but the Nearly Infallible Version may have caught you out.

Blue Letter Bible Link

Although it isn't completely clear, the following translation is probably better " ....the Messiah, who is over all, God be forever blessed".

As a Trinitarian, I would be happy to be wrong! But I think the NIV translation is not the best, since it associates the Messiah with God (Theos) whereas the Greek associates God with blessed (eulogētos). So I think God is being praised for sending the Messiah.

[ 17. April 2017, 17:27: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Sarah G
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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:
Romans 1:7, 'Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!'...Paul also consistently talks about how Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead...reading these texts through a Trinitarian filter... Philippians 2:6..talking about the kingdom being already present is stretching the text

I agree that putting on Trinitarian glasses tends to make things blurry, However...

If Christianity today can work with the idea Romans 1:7 et al represents a message from the one God, and John can talk about the creator of the universe as being “with God”, I see no reason to suppose that Paul couldn't talk about 'from YHWH-and-Jesus', and God raising Jesus.

Indeed, in the context of adapting the Shema, we see Paul does two names again. Which makes a massive point. You absolutely don't mess around with that prayer, in that way, unless you're including Jesus in with the one God.

This idea wasn't new in Judaism- the Burning Bush, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, and the Shekinah in the Tabernacle and Temple. We see God's presence. For Paul, Jesus follows in that tradition, but Paul is pushing eschatological monotheism. Jesus did what YHWH had long said He would do. He's brought forgiveness of sins, fulfilled the promise to Abraham and sent God's Spirit to be with His people. These all say that the Kingdom of God (KoG) has been inaugurated, by God.

That Philippians 2, all of it.
Firstly, because of the lack of use of harpagmos in Greek, it's really very hard to know what it means, but 'did not regard being God as something owned to be exploited, but instead used as a vocation to obedient death' seems the best meaning.
Secondly, it's a statement about God's triumph (KoG).
Thirdly, 'the name above all names' must be the divine name.
Fourthly, verse 10 has a straightforward reference to Isaiah 45:23, and Paul is clearly applying that to Jesus as kyrios/Septuagint YHWH.
Fifthly, the knee bowing is a snub to Caesar, referencing 'No king but God'.
Sixthly, confessing Jesus as kyrios/Septuagint YHWH is bringing glory to God the Father. Also note, no problems with two names, one God.
Seventhly...enough. I'll stop there.


Those who have yet to develop the habit of scrolling past my hard-to-read posts will have noticed that parts of this covers very similar ground to earlier in the thread, when I was actually talking about the resurrection, why it best explains the beliefs of the Early Church. So to return on topic, I submit that the best explanation for Paul being able to write about Jesus this way was that the resurrection actually happened.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ

Or the blink of an eye?

And we mustn't attribute Hebrews to Paul must we?

Nor the pastorals
If not, then whom? Junia again?

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Martin60

Romans is not disputed as a Pauline writing, but the others are. So Romans 9:5 is interesting, but the Nearly Infallible Version may have caught you out.

Blue Letter Bible Link

Although it isn't completely clear, the following translation is probably better " ....the Messiah, who is over all, God be forever blessed".

As a Trinitarian, I would be happy to be wrong! But I think the NIV translation is not the best, since it associates the Messiah with God (Theos) whereas the Greek associates God with blessed (eulogētos). So I think God is being praised for sending the Messiah.

I sit corrected. So a non-divine being can be over all.

And what is the first word of Colossians?

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Martin60
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@Sarah G. Not a habit I intend to start.

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Barnabas62
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Martin60, I think the argument is about whether the undisputed 7 Pauline letters show that Paul believed in the Divine, pre-existent, second person of the Trinity.

Messianic belief (1st century Jewish standard) did see the Messiah as king overall in the restored kingdom, and so entitled to the title Lord. But it did not see him as the Divine Logos, the Word made flesh and dwelling amongst us.

The victorious Messiah did not contradict Jewish monotheism, even if, like Elijah, he was "taken up" into the very presence of God.

Tim O'Neill is well able to speak for himself, as you will have seen, but I think this is his point.

From my point of view, it isn't a very big journey from the risen Messiah to an adoptionist view of his relationship with God. But that isn't orthodox Trinitarian belief.

As Anglican_Brat put it, nicely, there may well have been a certain "fuzziness" in apostolic belief about the divinity of Christ. Indeed, being Jewish monotheists, they might very well have thought such an idea blasphemous, no matter how much they loved and venerated Jesus.

What Jesus would have thought (or thinks) about this shift in understanding really depends on the answer to the basic question; who do we say that he is?

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TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by anteater:

And my argument tends to be about how Jesus functions in Paul and the NT generally. So when he writes:
quote:
so that at the name of Jesusvevery knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
I would say that he is strongly implying the legitimacy of acts of worship to Jesus.
I'd would say it's strongly stating that Yahweh's Messiah has a unique status and must be honoured. As James D. G. Dunn notes in his excellent Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? "... the hymn does not actually say that Jesus as Lord is to be worshipped as the one God is to be worshipped. The hymn could simply be saying that the worship of the one God is now to be expressed by confessing Jesus as Lord. Here, the final line of the hymn should not be forgotten. The obeisance and acclamation will be 'to the glory of God the Father'" (Dunn, p. 106)

quote:
I would not press the fact with you that kyrios is the regular LXX translation of Jehovah, (though I might with JWs due to their dodgy practice of selectively taking advantage of that in their translation of the bible). But my own personal take on that is that is it close enough to saying that Jesus Christ is Jehovah that if that was totally against what Paul believed, he would have found other words.
I don't think that is clear at all. Vermes has shown that the Aramaic term "'mar' (lord) was applied by disciples to a teacher they considered preeminent, so we can see how this title attached itself to Jesus very early on without conflating it with the LXX usage.

quote:
Now you can debate whether the expressions imply worship (I would say they do) ...
Dunn doesn't. Or at least, he doesn't believe it does so with any lack of ambiguity. And he's hardly some radical agnostic loon. This stuff is not as clear as many try to pretend and a solid case can be made for Paul regarding Jesus as a Jewish-style exalted Messiah who takes on a new preeminent status after his resurrection, but who Paul did not regard as equal with God, let alone one and the same being.

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Tim O'Neill

History for Atheists - New Atheists Getting History Wrong

Posts: 19 | From: Sydney | Registered: Jul 2013  |  IP: Logged
TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Hyperbole TimONeill (or should it be Tim O'Neill?). But true nonetheless. Saul would have known Jesus' claim to divinity which is why He was killed after all. According to the gospels written a generation after the event of Paul's Christologically inferior letters? The moment he was blinded ... he knew. Wouldn't you? Or is that me being led astray by 'Luke'?

Ummm, no - that's that you assuming your conclusion and then circling back and triumphantly concluding it. And the claim that Jesus was executed for claiming divinity can only be based on gJohn, which is too late to help you here. There is nothing in Paul's material to indicate he believed any such thing.

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Did it take Paul 20-30 years to get to the divinity of Christ?
You need to actually show that Paul believed in any "divinity of Christ", not just assume it.

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Romans 9:5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Barnabas62 has already been kind enough to explain to you the problem with the translation you're using here.

quote:
Colossians 1:15–20 ... Colossians 2:9 ... 1 Timothy 1:17 ... Titus 2:13 ... Hebrews
Those texts are generally agreed to be non-Pauline and later in date. So it seems you have nothing but your a priori assumptions. You can take your theology on faith if you like - I really don't care. But unless you've got something Pauline that unambiguously indicates he considered Jesus to be God, you can colour me deeply unconvinced.

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Tim O'Neill

History for Atheists - New Atheists Getting History Wrong

Posts: 19 | From: Sydney | Registered: Jul 2013  |  IP: Logged
TimONeill
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quote:
Originally posted by Sarah G:
Indeed, in the context of adapting the Shema, we see Paul does two names again. Which makes a massive point. You absolutely don't mess around with that prayer, in that way, unless you're including Jesus in with the one God.

Sorry? You know this how, exactly? Whatever we believe about Paul's Christology and theology generally, he was in uncharted territory. Regardless of whether he believed in a full Nicean Trinitarianism, some half-understood approximation of it or (as I would argue) a Jewish conception of the Messiah as exalted to a position second only to Yahweh, there were no rules as what he could or could not do. So I'm afraid your very emphatic statement above is more rhetorical than authoritative.

quote:
That Philippians 2, all of it.
Firstly, because of the lack of use of harpagmos in Greek, it's really very hard to know what it means, but 'did not regard being God as something owned to be exploited, but instead used as a vocation to obedient death' seems the best meaning.

Really? Seems best on some objective grounds? Because I can't see that at all. There is a lack of use of harpagmos in New Testament Greek, but my understanding of the use of the word outside the NT is that it supports my reading. Here's Ehrman on the subject:

"(I)n reality, the word (and words related to it in Greek) is almost always used to refer to something a person doesn't have but grasps for - like a thief who snatches someone's purse. The German scholar Samuel Vollenweider has shown that the word is used this way widely in a range of Jewish authors; moreover, it is the word used of human rulers who become arrogant and so try to make themselves more high and mighty (divine) than they really are. This seems, then, to be what is meant here in the Philippians poem." (Ehrman, How Jesus Became God p.263)

So it may seem "the best reading" to preserve an a priori theological position, but as a reading of what Paul actually says, it is not so clear as a "best reading" at all.

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Secondly, it's a statement about God's triumph (KoG).
Fine.

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Thirdly, 'the name above all names' must be the divine name.
Or a name above all names other than Yahweh's.

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Fourthly, verse 10 has a straightforward reference to Isaiah 45:23, and Paul is clearly applying that to Jesus as kyrios/Septuagint YHWH.
This is not "clear" at all. Paul, as a Jew, would be reading Isaiah 45:23 as being about the Jewish Messiah - exalted, but subordinate to Yahweh.

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Fifthly, the knee bowing is a snub to Caesar, referencing 'No king but God'.
That's a lot of eisegesis to put on three words about knees bending.

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Sixthly, confessing Jesus as kyrios/Septuagint YHWH is bringing glory to God the Father. Also note, no problems with two names, one God.
And that's just assuming your conclusion as well. As I quote James Dunn noting above, the fact that the "obeisance and acclamation will be 'to the glory of God the Father'" actually subordinates Jesus to Yahweh.

quote:
Seventhly...enough. I'll stop there.
"Enough"? Not much, actually.

--------------------
Tim O'Neill

History for Atheists - New Atheists Getting History Wrong

Posts: 19 | From: Sydney | Registered: Jul 2013  |  IP: Logged



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