Manual The Christian Mystery: Lecture 8 of 18

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This illustrated lecture examines the historical evidence for the places in the Gospel, some already known, some presented for the first time. It shows how this evidence has clear implications for the reliability of the Gospel narratives. Even in the first century the disciples of Yeshua Jesus had difficulty understanding Paul and his writings for several reasons.

One reason Joseph Shulam proposes is that Paul was a lawyer and wrote like a lawyer. Mike Bird argues that the invasive action of God declared in the gospel still stands within a promise-fulfillment scheme that Paul utilizes in his theological discourse. Over the years the Bible has been quoted in support of both abolishing slavery and keeping slaves. Today people often object to the Bible as a document that supports slavery. In his lecture, Peter Williams examines the key Old Testament and New Testament texts involved and looks at the Biblical words commonly associated with slavery and how their translation has changed over time.

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He also looks at the logic of the Old Testament world and the way ancient societies were structured quite differently from ours. In her lecture, Lynn H. Cohick explores Paul's desire to know Christ, as expressed in Philippians In this passage, Paul contrasts redemption in Christ with both his former way of life as a Pharisee and with Roman imperial propaganda. The lecture discusses how the New Perspective on Paul brings Second Temple Judaism into sharp focus, thereby illuminating Paul's discussion of righteousness and the Law.

Paul's claims about resurrection challenge Rome's political ideology. How might Paul's view of Jewish life shape our understanding of Christian faithfulness? Is Paul's critique helpful for our engagement with current uses of political and military power? What might it mean for readers in late modernity to take seriously the interpretative methods employed by the Gospel authors? Are Christian claims about Jesus bound inextricably to these interpretative methods? There is no more fundamental biblical imperative than that of avoiding idolatry. The Book of Daniel has been a major battleground between believers and non-believers for two thousand years.

By studying the ancient debate over the prophetic and historical nature of one chapter in Daniel, we may come to our own understanding of issues that are at the very heart of the impasse between different modern scholars and readers of the Bible. Two fundamentally different Christologies developed in the early Church, namely a "low" or adoptionist Christology, and a "high" or "incarnation Christology.


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The "low Christology" or "adoptionist Christology" is the belief "that God exalted Jesus to be his Son by raising him from the dead," [56] thereby raising him to "divine status. Since the s, these late datings for the development of a "high Christology" have been contested, [70] and a majority of scholars argue that this "High Christology" existed already before the writings of Paul.

Wright , and Richard Bauckham , [70] [web 11] this "incarnation Christology" or "high Christology" did not evolve over a longer time, but was a "big bang" of ideas which were already present at the start of Christianity, and took further shape in the first few decades of the church, as witnessed in the writings of Paul. The study of the various Christologies of the Apostolic Age is based on early Christian documents.

The oldest Christian sources are the writings of Paul. The Pauline epistles use Kyrios to identify Jesus almost times, and express the theme that the true mark of a Christian is the confession of Jesus as the true Lord.

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The Pauline epistles also advanced the " cosmic Christology " [note 20] later developed in the fourth gospel, [78] elaborating the cosmic implications of Jesus' existence as the Son of God, as in Corinthians "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. The synoptic Gospels date from after the writings of Paul. They provide episodes from the life of Jesus and some of his works, but the authors of the New Testament show little interest in an absolute chronology of Jesus or in synchronizing the episodes of his life, [79] and as in John , the Gospels do not claim to be an exhaustive list of his works.

Christologies that can be gleaned from the three Synoptic Gospels generally emphasize the humanity of Jesus, his sayings, his parables , and his miracles. The Gospel of John provides a different perspective that focuses on his divinity. John "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Following the Apostolic Age , from the second century onwards, a number of controversies developed about how the human and divine are related within the person of Jesus.

In contrast to prevailing monoprosopic views on the Person of Christ, alternative dyoprosopic notions were also promoted by some theologians, but such views were rejected by the ecumenical councils. For example, Arianism did not endorse divinity, Ebionism argued Jesus was an ordinary mortal, while Gnosticism held docetic views which argued Christ was a spiritual being who only appeared to have a physical body.

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Although some of the debates may seem to various modern students to be over a theological iota, they took place in controversial political circumstances, reflecting the relations of temporal powers and divine authority, and certainly resulted in schisms, among others that separated the Church of the East from the Church of the Roman Empire.

In , the First Council of Nicaea defined the persons of the Godhead and their relationship with one another, decisions which were ratified at the First Council of Constantinople in The language used was that the one God exists in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ; in particular, it was affirmed that the Son was homoousios of the same being as the Father. The Nicene Creed declared the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus. In , the First Council of Ephesus was initially called to address the views of Nestorius on Mariology , but the problems soon extended to Christology, and schisms followed.

The council was called because in defense of his loyal priest Anastasius, Nestorius had denied the Theotokos title for Mary and later contradicted Proclus during a sermon in Constantinople. Pope Celestine I who was already upset with Nestorius due to other matters wrote about this to Cyril of Alexandria , who orchestrated the council. During the council, Nestorius defended his position by arguing there must be two persons of Christ, one human, the other divine, and Mary had given birth only to a human, hence could not be called the Theotokos , i.

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The debate about the single or dual nature of Christ ensued in Ephesus. The First Council of Ephesus debated miaphysitism two natures united as one after the hypostatic union versus dyophysitism coexisting natures after the hypostatic union versus monophysitism only one nature versus Nestorianism two hypostases. In , the Council of Chalcedon affirmed dyophysitism. The Oriental Orthodox rejected this and subsequent councils and continued to consider themselves as miaphysite according to the faith put forth at the Councils of Nicaea and Ephesus. The Council of Chalcedon was highly influential, and marked a key turning point in the Christological debates.

The Council of Chalcedon fully promulgated the Western dyophysite understanding put forth by Pope Leo I of Rome of the hypostatic union , the proposition that Christ has one human nature [ physis ] and one divine nature [physis] , each distinct and complete, and united with neither confusion nor division. Although the Chalcedonian Creed did not put an end to all Christological debate, it did clarify the terms used and became a point of reference for many future Christologies. This was reaffirmed in , when the Eastern Chalcedonians accepted the Formula of Hormisdas , anathematizing all of their own Eastern Chalcedonian hierarchy, who died out of communion with Rome from The Second Council of Constantinople in interpreted the decrees of Chalcedon, and further explained the relationship of the two natures of Jesus.

Philippians —11 ; and it applied to him titles used of God in the Old Testament Philippians f. Romans —12 and Isaiah ; 1 Peter ; cf. Psalm The Old Testament contained references to the Spirit of God as one of the means by which God spoke and acted in the world.


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  7. This Being was more fully revealed in New Testament times. He was spoken of as "another comforter" i. He was described in personal terms Romans f; ; 1 Corinthians ; Ephesians ; 1 Timothy and regarded as divine 2 Corinthians f. The striking thing is the way in which the earliest Christian writings name God the Father and Jesus his Son alongside each other Galatians ; 1 Thessalonians in a way that must have shocked the Jews with their belief in the uniqueness of God the Father.

    The Holy Spirit too was linked with the Father and Son in a way which suggests irresistibly that all three Beings stood on the same level Matthew ; 2 Corinthians ; Ephesians ; —6; 2 Thessalonians f. The actual term "God", however, is rarely used directly of Jesus and never of the Spirit. This understanding of the Father, Son and Spirit arose out of Christian experience as God revealed himself in Jesus and then in the life of the church, and the New Testament writers seem to have accepted it without thinking too deeply about its implications.

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    But the problem was inevitable: how could this belief in three divine Persons be reconciled with the Old Testament idea of only one God? During the first two or three centuries of Christian history, many attempts were made to solve this problem. Various solutions were tried that proved inadequate. One solution was to suggest that the Father alone was God and that the Son and Spirit were lesser, created beings, superior—quality angels, so to speak. Another suggestion was that "Father", "Son" and "Spirit" were three roles played by God, rather like one actor appearing in three different parts in a play.

    Neither of these solutions did justice, however, to the plain facts revealed in the New Testament, namely that the three Persons were each fully God, and that God was at one and the same time existent as three Persons. It is doubtful whether the problem of the being of God can be solved in the sense of giving an explanation of it.

    Christians have been content to affirm the doctrine in a form that takes account of all the facts, and to try to find human analogies that may throw some light on it. Some people find these analogies helpful, although obviously none of them must be pressed too far. All of them start from the point that the biblical teaching reveals one God the basic Old Testament doctrine who is nevertheless revealed in a threefold way the New Testament revelation. The problem is then to state how one God can combine unity and diversity.

    At an impersonal level we may think of how an atom is a unity composed of various kinds of particles. A biological organism consists of a unity of different indispensable parts. The human personality unites intelligence, feeling and will in such a way that we can hardly conceive of the whole without its parts or the parts without the whole.

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    Other analogies have been drawn from personal relationships. Thus a husband and wife who are bound together by the closest ties of love can be one in thought and purpose and yet are clearly capable of independent action, which is nevertheless in harmony with the wills of both of them. In the same way, Jesus spoke of his relationship as a Son to the Father in terms of mutual knowledge and a common purpose John f. These two types of analogy may be of some help.


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    The former emphasizes the unity and the latter the distinctness of the parts of the whole. Together they point to the need to stress the oneness of God and the distinctness of the Father, Son and Spirit. The term that has come to be used for the three members of the Godhead is "Persons. This development in usage is understandable and legitimate.

    Father, Son and Spirit do each show the characteristics that we associate with human person—hood, and in particular the capacity to enter into relationships with other persons. It may be most helpful to think of the Trinity as a unity of three Persons, joined by the closest ties of love and common purpose, so that they appear as one God.

    This is certainly suggested by the way in which Jesus is regarded as the Son of the Father. This way of speaking was misunderstood in the early church to mean that the Son was "begotten" by the Father at some remote point in time past, but it was generally realized that to say this was to press the metaphor of human fatherhood further than was legitimate; what it means is that the Son stands in a perpetual relation of sonship to the Father. The Bible does not offer any comparable way of speaking about the relation of the Spirit to the Father, but the early church developed the thought that the Spirit "proceeded" from the Father and the Son cf.

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