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Source: (consider it) Thread: The historicity of the resurrection
Martin60
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B62. The penny dropped pretty quick for some ordinary, ancient Jewish guys: John 20:28
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”. They correctly concluded on what they had seen and heard over nearly 1300 days. Helped a little by the Holy Spirit. Where's the adoptionism? You're all too clever for them and me.

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Martin60
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And Tim, I don't care that you don't care. 'Paul' wrote them. 'Paul' knew. You're too clever to. Unlike the apostles.

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Barnabas62
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Oh, you don't need to go to Thomas, Martin. John 1 will do nicely. But I don't think too many commentators claim that John's gospel was written earlier than the undisputed Pauline letters. Or deny that it is distinctly different from the synoptic gospels. There probably is history in the fourth gospel, but it is pretty hard to tease it out from its devotional portrait painting.

And this thread is primarily about historical perspective. A perspective which is pretty low on trust, and high on verification needs. A relatively faithless perspective. There is no need to play on that playing field if you don't want to. But if you do, there are rules of engagement.

I'm not trying to be clever at all. But I am trying to honour the rules of engagement, as best I understand them.

[ 18. April 2017, 01:49: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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mr cheesy
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Well isn't this fun - academic claims that there is no possible way to understand something other than the edifice he was erected.

I return to the point that these things are about faith not historicity. We can't know for sure what was in Paul's mind (or whoever the epistle writer actually was) when he wrote the passages; it is possible to read them with a Trinitarian understanding, it is possible to read them as suggesting that he was a believer in adoptionism. That's stating the obvious, given that we know various writers were believers in adoptionism and saw support for their position from the scriptures.

Of course it is possible to erect a theory that says the early church believed something which was completely different to those agreed by the Church Councils. Ehrman writes interesting books.

But all of this depends on some level of reading backwards; it depends on the idea that one can get a full understanding of a position from a few words recorded in the apostles, it depends on the idea that one can get an idea of an intention based on the way that words have been changed over time as they were transcribed.

Maybe Paul (or whoever) didn't spell out his Trinitarian beliefs because he thought that was obvious to the readers. Maybe someone dropped coffee on the section of the letter where he did that. Maybe a whole load of things.

Personally, I'm not so keen on the idea that someone can sum up my entire beliefs based on a single post out of everything I've ever written on these boards. Someone reading anything I've written could only make sense of it within the context of the discussion we were having at the time.

The scriptures can only be understood within the faith and context of the church - which I appreciate might be completely wrong - because it is not possible to look backwards at historical evidence and be completely impartial. Everything else is guesswork.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

Personally, I'm not so keen on the idea that someone can sum up my entire beliefs based on a single post out of everything I've ever written on these boards. Someone reading anything I've written could only make sense of it within the context of the discussion we were having at the time.

Absolutely agree. But discussions on Pauline beliefs and theology have a lot more to go on than a single post.

The linguistic and theological analyses of the disputed letters does have a value from that POV. It's drawing boundaries around texts which seem to have come from the same pen and saying "we can be pretty sure these represent the thoughts and ideas of one man which he thought sufficiently important to record". What these analyses also do is to provide reasons why it doesn't seem very likely that he wrote "this" if he also wrote "that". It's a pretty forensic process.

Of course such a process doesn't give us access to all his thoughts, his changes of mind and understanding or the reasons why his thinking might have developed. He's an important figure in the development of the early church, so there seems some value in trying to get at where he was coming from.

I don't think it's all guesswork. People need to document their premises and their means of analysis - and the best ones always do that. So we can check their workings, and make of them whatever we like. An open process which seems absolutely fine to me.

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Martin60
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Barnabas62. Beautifully put. My apologies to you and even to Tim for failing to engage with the rules of engagement: So, we can only use the all but undisputed Pauline epistles? Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon? And we must divide the bone from the marrow of the Greek to establish Paul's Christology which predates all others?

P.S. mr cheesy, perfick.

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Barnabas62
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Martin, sorry for any confusion as a result of my post. As usual, anyone can post anything in accordance with the 10Cs and the Purg Guidelines. I was outlining my personal approach, basically because I think it leads to constructive dialogue. There are other ways of posting on the thread.

It's probably worth adding that Tim has made his premises very clear so if we want to engage we can work within those premises or challenge them. But that's common to all threads. It's part of sticking to the point.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Absolutely agree. But discussions on Pauline beliefs and theology have a lot more to go on than a single post.

The linguistic and theological analyses of the disputed letters does have a value from that POV. It's drawing boundaries around texts which seem to have come from the same pen and saying "we can be pretty sure these represent the thoughts and ideas of one man which he thought sufficiently important to record". What these analyses also do is to provide reasons why it doesn't seem very likely that he wrote "this" if he also wrote "that". It's a pretty forensic process.

No. It's a process that works in its own terms but doesn't make any sense in any other way.

For example the dating of NT books is based on the idea that the writer could not have known about certain events before they happened. Because the supernatural doesn't exist and prophesy doesn't happen.

Now, it stands to reason that if you do have faith and do believe that the supernatural exists and prophesy is possible then you've got no particular reason to accept that way of dating things.

Whilst it is comforting to believe that it is possible to be objective and that the irreligious are more likely to be clear-sighted than those who invest the text with religious meaning, the reality is that nobody - believer or unbeliever - is able to see the texts without some kind of bias, which is going to affect the way they understand the dating and is going to have other effects on the way they understand the text.

quote:
Of course such a process doesn't give us access to all his thoughts, his changes of mind and understanding or the reasons why his thinking might have developed. He's an important figure in the development of the early church, so there seems some value in trying to get at where he was coming from.
I'm absolutely not trying to pretend that people who are doing this stuff are blasphemous or poor scholars or doing something which isn't worthwhile in the sense of an academic pursuit. The text is an old text and like many old texts there are people who are fascinated by the way the words are arranged, the old parchments, the different ways that the letters can be read and then the additional layer of scholarship which takes this and seeks to form a theory which explains them.

What I am saying is that there is no way of knowing absolutely any of this stuff, that everyone is working on various assumptions and are building their own towers of theory which are essentially untestable outwith of the parameters they've already set themselves.

As we've seen above, the best we can do is to make claims about what is or isn't likely, and then decide whose argument we attach more weight to, depending on various factors.

quote:
I don't think it's all guesswork. People need to document their premises and their means of analysis - and the best ones always do that. So we can check their workings, and make of them whatever we like. An open process which seems absolutely fine to me.
Well I think you're wrong. Without a way to test if theory A is correct and theory B is wrong, then it is guesswork based on the prior knowledge of the person putting forward the theory.

It might be clever guesswork and certain ideas might appear to better explain the evidence than another idea, but it is still guesswork - which the person of faith has no obligation to accept whatsoever.

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Barnabas62
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mr cheesy

Happy to agree to disagree. Probably best if I quote myself here.

quote:
And this thread is primarily about historical perspective. A perspective which is pretty low on trust, and high on verification needs. A relatively faithless perspective. There is no need to play on that playing field if you don't want to. But if you do, there are rules of engagement.
Of course you are right; one can work on different premises and come to different conclusions as a result. That would not be historical-critical examination, but that doesn't make it wrong.

The real question is whether there is any value at all in historical-critical examination of faith documents. Since one of its techniques includes form criticism of old documents, and one of its successes has been the illumination of the synoptic problem, I think it's been shown to have some value and use. But YMMV.

[ 18. April 2017, 15:36: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Sheesh! I take a couple of days off for R&R over Easter, and come back to find this has taken off!

Tim - welcome back. I had entirely forgotten you were a registered shipmate, so it's good to be reminded and to get your contribution on this subject. You were good enough to engage with something I said earlier, so I'd like to get your views on an extension of that, and a couple of other things peripheral to it. But I'll need to get my thoughts together first.

I used to enjoy reading your book reviews on your old blog and still miss them!

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
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?
The Pastor

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Sarah G
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quote:
Originally posted by TimONeill:
Sorry? You know this how, exactly?...So I'm afraid your very emphatic statement above is more rhetorical than authoritative.

We're talking about the Shema, Tim. The very statement of Judaism. The core of Jewish belief. The prayer that Akiba repeated over and again during his torture to death. The heart of daily prayer for all observant Jews. Gamaliel II, challenged by his students for not using the legal permission to not say the Shema on his wedding night, replies he will not remove the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, even for a moment. If you stick Jesus in the middle of the ultimate statement of Jewish monotheism, you're making a massive statement yourself.

(History doesn't record what Mrs Akiba thought about being kept waiting in her knickers.)


Philippians 2 for ease of reference
quote:
Really?...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...but as a reading of what Paul actually says, it is not so clear as a "best reading" at all.
Harpagmos is only used in Phil 2:6 in the NT, never in the LXX, and only rarely in extra-biblical Greek, with most instances being patristic quotations of Phil 2:6. That's why there's problems translating it, with a wide range of meanings possible. There's no way to start with 'the meaning of the word' here; in order to work out what Paul is saying you have to work with the context of the passage. For a full (mind-numbingly tedious and detailed) analysis of how that would go, I recommend chapter 4 of (my fan club can guess the author).

quote:
Or a name above all names other than Yahweh's.
You can't just add words to something, and say 'Look, it means something else'. Jesus was given the name above all names, period. That means YHWH.

quote:
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.
Here's the link again for your careful perusal. It's kinda obviously God speaking about Himself from 18 through to 24.

quote:
That's a lot of eisegesis to put on three words about knees bending.
If you make it four words, you get 'every knee shall bow', which includes Caesar and all other Romans. Although it seems pretty meh now, at the time having a king other than Caesar tended to lead to A Lot Of Pain. Given that in the KoG there was no King but God, and Paul thinks he's in the KoG, it all follows.

quote:
...the fact that the "obeisance and acclamation will be 'to the glory of God the Father'" actually subordinates Jesus to Yahweh.
I don't see that at all. What I do see is that to declare Jesus as kyrios (the Septuagint term for YHWH) is something that itself glorifies YHWH. In other words, the act of acknowledging that Jesus is Lord God is an act of worship to God the Father. What is clear is that the route is via declaring Jesus as kyrios, which is back to the Shema as declaring him to be God.

(I love an inclusio.)

quote:
"Enough"? Not much, actually.
I meant enough for the poor hosts, who actually have to read my sad posts all the way through.

I did think it was going rather well, but I'm now starting to think you might not be about to bow the knee to Jesus before the end of the thread. If you do change your mind, I promise we can sing Meekness and Majesty together.

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Martin60
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My ignorance runneth over. I'll stick to any rules you clever boys make up.

How do we get from the ancient and Conservative Jewish (human) Messiah to an angel in Paul? ... Join KER-CHINGGGG! Ehrman's forum? Nope. Buy KER-CHINGGGG! 'How Jesus Became God'? Nope.

Can anyone show me in Paul? The 7 minimally maximally allowable epistles of course? You know a finger paint job for the kiddies? Back of a fag packet proof texts? A decent blog?

I AM fascinated in the evolution of Christology. Which of course has a LONG way to go yet. Especially as nobody will ever discuss that here.

But being in the wee-wee end of the pool, I don't understand how the 'red-letter' Christology of the decades later written gospels, can't have been known before Paul's early epistles. By Paul. Pathetically naïve of me I'm sure.

Unless 'Matthew', 'Mark', 'Luke' and 'John' anachronistically turned their telescopes round and projected Jesus' made up divinity back.

Is there a, how can I put it, faithful story of the evolution of Christology, deduced from the chronological order of NT writings determined most scholarlarlily authored by whomsoever? By faithful I mean one that accepts the premiss, the conclusion prior to all else, of the Incarnation.

Does Tom Wright do that? If anyone he, surely?

Or must we stick to the 'rules'? I.e. pure, forensic, physicalist rationalism.

[ 18. April 2017, 22:32: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:

But being in the wee-wee end of the pool, I don't understand how the 'red-letter' Christology of the decades later written gospels, can't have been known before Paul's early epistles. By Paul. Pathetically naïve of me I'm sure.

It could have been, or something very like it. Elaine Pagels is hardly seen as orthodox, and not everyone sees much of value in her writings on the early church, but I am pretty sure she argued that there were "John Christians" from early on, for whom the Word had become flesh. This as part of the many variations in understanding "who was Jesus?" in the infant church communities. One might call it incarnational belief as opposed to cross and resurrection centred belief. I don't find that unlikely.

I think Pagels also argued that the "triumph of John" (i.e. the centrality of "God became man") was one of the 2nd century consequences of the battles with Gnosticism, in which Irenaeus played a key part. Can't remember the details of the argument, I'll look them up.

A lot of this is about timing. Was the marriage between incarnational belief and cross-resurrection redemption a matter purely of later reflection, or did both sets of beliefs exist from very early on? There is a kind of skewed relationship to Gnostic Christianity as well, since Jesus coming to earth as an "aeon" is sort of incarnational as well, but more the incarnation of an angelic being as divine teacher of vital knowledge.

Short hand, Martin. There were probably a lot of ideas floating around from very early on.
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:

Or must we stick to the 'rules'? I.e. pure, forensic, physicalist rationalism.

The 10Cs and Purg Guidelines are the only minimal you need to observe!

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Oh, you don't need to go to Thomas, Martin. John 1 will do nicely. But I don't think too many commentators claim that John's gospel was written earlier than the undisputed Pauline letters. Or deny that it is distinctly different from the synoptic gospels. There probably is history in the fourth gospel, but it is pretty hard to tease it out from its devotional portrait painting.

And this thread is primarily about historical perspective. A perspective which is pretty low on trust, and high on verification needs. A relatively faithless perspective. There is no need to play on that playing field if you don't want to. But if you do, there are rules of engagement.

I'm not trying to be clever at all. But I am trying to honour the rules of engagement, as best I understand them.

Ah, but 'John' 1 was written 90 AD at the earliest and Thomas, only quoted by John, would have purportedly declared Jesus divine in 31. So John made it up? They were such liars these guys!

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
So John made it up? They were such liars these guys!

I thought the discussion was about the assessment of Pauline thought re resurrection and the Godhead. I'm not accusing anyone of making up things, or lying.

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Martin60
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I know you're not! So, if that's where we're at now, the 7 epistles with no support from the gospels, fine.

If the apostles 'misremembered' then it's all a crock.

If they didn't, then Sarah G has match point on Philippians 2:5-11, which could easily indicate that 25+/- years after Jesus' ministry Paul believed He was divine and may well have done so for most of that time. Since he fell blind off his horse.

I accept that we are here too:

quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
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.

I can't see how he could as the concept is late C3rd Roman.
quote:

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.

Agreed.
quote:

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

Agreed.
quote:

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

Agreed.
quote:

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.

Agreed.
quote:

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.

Agreed. BUT, it would have been in their face. Adoptionism be damned.
quote:

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?

What Peter said. As Paul knew. I find it absurd to exclude what the late writers knew two generations before they wrote. They believed everything without integrating it. Because it can't be done. The way we STILL all do, ALL do, re the hypostatic union.

The greatest mystery of all.

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Barnabas62
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I'm not sure if Sarah G has "match point" quite yet on the linkage between Phil 2:10-11 and Isaiah 45:18-23, but it looks like a pretty good argument to me. Paul might indeed have believed that Jesus had in some way been taken up into the Godhead and become the one to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess. Let's see what Tim has to say.

Here's what I say

The seven undisputed Pauline letters show virtually no interest in Jesus birth and no indication of miraculous conception. "Born of a woman" in Galatians is about as much as you get.

And the metaphorical argument re the Great Stoop (in Phil 2) does actually depend on what sense you make of harpagmos. On that point, I've got Tim ahead on points.

So that does begin to look like a means of arguing that Paul might have had an adoptionist-type view of how Jesus got taken up into the Godhead, not restored to his former pre-eminence.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Oh, you don't need to go to Thomas, Martin. John 1 will do nicely. But I don't think too many commentators claim that John's gospel was written earlier than the undisputed Pauline letters. Or deny that it is distinctly different from the synoptic gospels. There probably is history in the fourth gospel, but it is pretty hard to tease it out from its devotional portrait painting.

And this thread is primarily about historical perspective. A perspective which is pretty low on trust, and high on verification needs. A relatively faithless perspective. There is no need to play on that playing field if you don't want to. But if you do, there are rules of engagement.

I'm not trying to be clever at all. But I am trying to honour the rules of engagement, as best I understand them.

Ah, but 'John' 1 was written 90 AD at the earliest and Thomas, only quoted by John, would have purportedly declared Jesus divine in 31. So John made it up? They were such liars these guys!
John Robinson dated the johannine epistles between 60 and 65 CE

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
And the metaphorical argument re the Great Stoop (in Phil 2) does actually depend on what sense you make of harpagmos.

I suppose it also depends on how much stress you place on the 'although'. If you start clause A with 'although' that implies that clause B could reasonably be expected to follow on from clause A but doesn't.
In addition it seems to me that the primary intention of the clause is not to assert anything in regards of Christ's status but to assert a contrast between Christ and some entities or other who do regard equality with God as something to be seized. (Who might be earthly emperors, or Satan, or Adam - we can't tell.) The contrast is between those who oughtn't try to seize it but do and Christ who has the opportunity but doesn't.

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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The problem with that line of argument, B62, is that:
quote:
... The seven undisputed Pauline letters show virtually no interest in Jesus birth and no indication of miraculous conception. "Born of a woman" in Galatians is about as much as you get...
- is true, but means next to nothing, as the epistles are not the sort of documents where you would expect to find such data routinely. They are written for purposes various, but they are not intended to be his "gospel". That may never have been written down. We don't know what his proclamation involved unless bits of it float into view for other reasons entirely. So I honestly don't think you can draw any conclusions from that.

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Barnabas62
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Dafyd

The other way of looking at that "although" (and you make a good point) is that Jesus did not put himself forward with any such claim (unlike others) but in fact assumed the opposite role, that of an obedient servant. Which is why God exalted him. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed in these things.

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Barnabas62
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Honest Ron

Cross post of course. Fair point. I still think the natural reading of the text is more redolent of Jesus being rewarded by God for his humility and self-sacrifice, than the traditional Great Stoop interpretation. But I wouldn't want to make too much of silence.

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Sarah G
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Is there a, how can I put it, faithful story of the evolution of Christology, deduced from the chronological order of NT writings determined most scholarlarlily authored by whomsoever? By faithful I mean one that accepts the premiss, the conclusion prior to all else, of the Incarnation.

Does Tom Wright do that? If anyone he, surely?

As if I'm going to pass up the invitation.

NTW is not totally impressed by Jesus proof texts, although “without the personal impact of Jesus himself it is impossible seriously to imagine anyone inventing the christology which was already in place by the mid-50s”.

The main driver for the Early Church was that God had promised to do certain things- return to Zion, save His people, get the world to join in Abraham's blessing etc etc.

The Early Church/Paul realised that Jesus had done the things that God had always said he would do. The monotheism was non-negotiable, but they rethought what that monotheism meant. NTWs insight here deserves a lot of attention.

Further, given the Messiah was exalted to heaven and enthroned as 'lord', and was in a real sense present with them in power (see John 14), “Jesus first followers found themselves not only permitted to use God-language for Jesus, but compelled to use Jesus-language for the one God. All this seems to have taken place before Paul ever put pen to paper.”

NTW points out that, unlike the furious debate over the need to follow Torah, what Paul is saying about Jesus is uncontroversial- accepted by the everyone from Peter to Paul's opponents. Paul is writing about Jesus' role as being the bit of God that sorted it all out as being settled shared belief.

Richard Bauckham: “The highest possible Christology- the inclusion of Jesus in the divine identity-was central to the faith of the early church even before any of the NT writings were written, since it occurs in all of them”.

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Sarah G
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I'm not sure if Sarah G has "match point" quite yet on the linkage between Phil 2:10-11 and Isaiah 45:18-23, but it looks like a pretty good argument to me.

I would regard the Shema/1 Cor 8:6 argument as even stronger. Sticking a non-God person into the middle of the most holy prayer in Judaism, the ultimate affirmation of Jewish monotheism, is like asking the Queen to write a rap to go after the third line of the National Anthem, or putting a pork pie as the second tier of Pippa Middleton's wedding cake. Actually, far worse.

quote:
And the metaphorical argument re the Great Stoop (in Phil 2) does actually depend on what sense you make of harpagmos. On that point, I've got Tim ahead on points.

So that does begin to look like a means of arguing that Paul might have had an adoptionist-type view of how Jesus got taken up into the Godhead, not restored to his former pre-eminence.

I'd like to know how you're scoring. Harpagmos is such an obscure word that it's quite impossible to place any weight on what it might mean. Furthermore, the idea that Jesus decided that stealing God's divinity wasn't an option, so better go and die a very nasty death on earth instead, is a rather bizarre thing for Paul to write, and fits with nothing else anywhere.

Jimmy Dunn's whole approach to Phil 2 is something called Adam Christology, which has had about as much impact on theology as a slug on a brick.

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Martin60
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@leo. Thanks. What a blindingly obvious point! Why is it ignored?

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Barnabas62
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@ Sarah G

1 Cor 8:6 isn't as clear cut as you say. The Nearly Infallible Version at work again (cf Romans 9:5). The connection with the Shema is very powerful however; there is a pattern in the Greek text which does indeed suggest divinising of the Messiah. I'm doing some more research into that and will post again after detailed digging. It's an open issue for me and you may be right. I don't have the same reservations about the Phil 2 and Isaiah connection, as I've explained. For Paul, the risen exalted Messiah has clearly been given Divine authority which Deutero-Isaiah clearly asserts is God's. For me the only issue is whether Paul saw that as being conveyed to Jesus by God as reward for his humble servanthood, rather than a pre-existent authority he laid aside in earthly life and was taking up again.

Harpagmos. Tim O'Neill quoted Ehrman on extra-biblical use of the word in a response to you. I haven't checked that out in detail but Ehrman's quote does give support to Tim's view.

ETA -here's the excerpt from Tim's post on the previous page.

quote:
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.



[ 20. April 2017, 08:32: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Martin60
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This is all excellent. My bloke on the bus response: despite the apostles realising "This bloke's God." after the Resurrection and doing the lurching approach-avoidance dance, a fast elliptical orbit with it, "Nah, CAN'T be!", "... this bloke's ...", let's posit that Paul, although fully aware of what these peasants thought, took the adoptionist view of the fully human Messiah.

This takes a LOW view of divinity. A very low view. Any one random bloke (including Ehrman's angel) can become the most powerful entity in creation if he's good enough. Which I don't see Paul as having. It's graceless and otherwise heretical. And just my straw man?

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Martin -

Larry Hurtado - one of the other regular writers on the early church would agree with you about adoptionism, but points out that the issues in later disputes over adoptionism are not what Paul is addressing in these texts. As always, it's too tempting to unconsciously pick up on later manifestations such as disputes and formulations, and anachronistically apply them to earlier texts. Tim has already pointed out the risks of doing that with the later trinitarian disputes.

Incidentally, I meant to mention at an earlier stage that Larry Hurtado is one of the other authors worth looking out for in this area of very early church development. He has a pretty active blog which is worth a visit. Indeed there is a recent post on the passages we have just been discussing, but looking instead at the use of morphe (shape or form) in the context of shape/form of a god. There's an interesting dialogue to be had between the observations Tim made and Hurtado's comments which might serve to clarify things a bit more.

It's over here.

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Martin60
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Thanks Ron. Hurtado does look good. I didn't think I was engaging in post hoc reasoning from anti-adoptionism, but it's impossible not to emotionally. Soooo ... Psalm 2:7 DOES lend itself to adoptionism. And MUST have occurred to the apostles including Paul. They will have been fuzzy.

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Anglican_Brat's use of "fuzzy" was one of a number of comments in this thread I found helpful. Being quite fuzzy myself, no doubt because of both my adherence to Trinitarian understanding and my desire to be honest about the text. No harm in a bit of cognitive dissonance, but too much can do your head in!

[ 20. April 2017, 12:23: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Sarah G
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Harpagmos:

It's hardly as clear cut as Tim makes it out to be!

Here's a detailed analysis from a grammatical POV, vs NTW. Note particularly the conclusion at the end- even if one goes with the sorts of translation Ehrmann suggests, Trinitarian interpretations are still perfectly valid.

Here's another analysis, again hostile to NTWs work, which again makes the point that even accepting Ehrmanns approach gives a range of Trinitarian interpretations. The alternative passive interpretation is favoured by a number of scholars.

Finally, here's an interesting discussion- the quote from the NIV translation team is especially worth noting.


The gist of all this is that we don't know what Paul meant, and it's quite impossible to assert that the only sensible reading of the text is that Paul didn't think Jesus was divine.

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Barnabas62
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Thanks Sarah G. Fascinating links.

Following the insights you provided re the Isaiah 45 connection to Phil 2:10-11, there is a strong case for arguing that Paul saw the risen exalted Jesus as Divine. He is "at the right hand of God". And that is consistent with what I think is orthodox Trinitarianism that God the Father is pre-eminent in the Godhead.

So far as the Incarnation is concerned, I'm inclined to think we need to look outside the 7 undisputed Pauline letters for clearer indications. I'm not sure how 'fuzzy' Paul really was. The clear emphasis in those 7 letters is that he 'preached Christ crucified'. I take him at his word that he saw the resurrection as 'of first importance'. But based on those 7 letters I remain unclear about what he believed about the Incarnation, or how important it was to him.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
So far as the Incarnation is concerned, I'm inclined to think we need to look outside the 7 undisputed Pauline letters for clearer indications.

I admit to not following this disucssion closely, but the passage that springs immediately to my mind in this respect is Galatians 4:4-7:
quote:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
It might not make Paul's thinking explicit but I note that:

- I read the phrase "born of a woman, born under the law" as suggesting this is to be understood as "surprisingly enough": "born of a woman!1!! born under the law!!11!" - which in turn suggests this is no ordinary birth.

- the Trinity is all over this passage, especially that bit about "the Spirit of his Son crying Father"

- the whole of this process is described as being "through God".

Just my €0.02.

[ 21. April 2017, 06:24: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Sarah G:


Here's another analysis, again hostile to NTWs work, which again makes the point that even accepting Ehrmanns approach gives a range of Trinitarian interpretations. The alternative passive interpretation is favoured by a number of scholars.

Hard to give that link a whole lot of credit given it appears on a website that declares "The King James Version is Demonstrably Inerrant".

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hatless

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If Colossians has a sufficiently high Christology to keep a full on Trinitarian happy, why does it matter what we find in the seven primary Pauline epistles? If scripture supports divinity, why is what Paul thinks important?

Is the issue whether or not there is diversity within scripture?

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Barnabas62
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hatless

I think it's about what is generally judged to be the earliest written evidence of Christian beliefs. So far as this part of the thread is concerned, it's been an excursion into what might be learned from that, initially about the resurrection, but now on a broader canvas.

That's my take, anyway.

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
hatless

I think it's about what is generally judged to be the earliest written evidence of Christian beliefs. So far as this part of the thread is concerned, it's been an excursion into what might be learned from that, initially about the resurrection, but now on a broader canvas.

That's my take, anyway.

So is earlier more important?

I think there is a real value in being able to point to different Christologies (and ecclesiologies and what have you) in scripture, because it writes diversity into the Church. 'Your position, though unlike mine, is also supported in scripture' we can say.

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hatless

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Thinking about it I see that earlier is more important if you're looking for evidence for the resurrection. But in that context, Paul offers us a more spiritual, less physical take on the resurrection than the gospels do.

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Martin60
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Nice one Eutychus. I'm doing the classic thing of agreeing with the last speaker if their rhetoric is good enough. Paul doesn't make a big deal of the Incarnation of God in Christ. He unquestioningly accepts it, paradoxes and all, since he fell blind off his horse. And well done Sarah. Projecting back on the apostles including Paul from our end of the forensic telescope is not exactly postmodern is it?

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Barnabas62
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I suppose another way of looking at it is that the understanding of Messiah may have been different at the start, may well have evolved. If so, why did it evolve?

The argument is, I also suppose, that the Jewish monotheists of the early church would have found it much easier to accept Jesus as fulfilment of Jewish Messianic expectations (the resurrection turning defeat into victory) then seeing him as fully divine. Paul, because of the Damascus Road vision which turned his thinking upside down, not only saw the ascended Jesus "at the right hand of God" (Romans 8:34) but also given Divine Authority (Phil 2:10-12). His experiences were not the same as the earliest apostles. I think we can argue safely that his earliest letters show him at the very least well on his way to seeing Jesus as Divine.

Once the church became predominantly Gentile (after AD 70, and after the martyrdom of Paul) then it's reasonable to argue that there was more scope for revised ideas about who Jesus was.

But mr cheesy had a point earlier. Depending on premises, there is much more room for speculation about what really happened than any kind of historical certainty.

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Martin60
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Aye. Just thought that the ancient Jewish response to Jesus' claims to divinity in everything except the utterly unambiguously explicit, including in the apostles, is obviously mirrored in the Islamic. Paul seems to be on the same cusp as Jesus' claims; everything but the utterly unambiguously explicit. He knew. He just couldn't bring himself to say what he knew.

It's the key claim. There are no others worth the candle.

Back to the OP. To the apostles, including Paul, there was no doubt of the Resurrection, the later history, including the gospels and all the epistles, validates that historicity.

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Martin60
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I like the point about the gentiles not having unitarian hangups.

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hatless

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The scope for speculation seems a very good thing to me. There is also the scope for reinterpretation - speculation about what happened, interpretation about what it means.

We've been doing this forever. Our scriptures are a landscape which we mine for the resources we need today, and about which we make many maps and tell many stories.

There is another way, which is to say there is one meaning, one correct reading, one unchanging God. And generally to add 'and this is it'.

I think reinterpretation is actually in the DNA of Christianity. "You have heard it said, but .." I think it's as we should expect that the NT contains not only various Christologies, but evidence of reinterpretation during the time of its creation, and during the ministry of Paul. 1 Thessalonians to Romans 8 is quite a journey.

Resurrection itself is faith in a God who breathes new life into the dead.

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