- So far as I can see there is no real discussion in your book of human fallenness or the ongoing effects of original sin on human nature, and this puzzled me not least since many of the early Christian interpreters thought that the virginal conception and the sanctifying of Mary’s womb (not her immaculate conception) was so that Jesus could be like Adam before the Fall, without an inclination to sin or a sin nature. Was there a reason you didn’t deal with that whole issue? I honestly think it’s important not least because Paul presents Jesus as the eschatological Adam, the last founder of the human race, unfallen Adam gone right, and Luke traces Jesus’ human origins back to Adam. Perhaps you will deal with this in your next book? In any case I think this is a crucial issue because there are so many, even in the Christian community who are arguing ‘God made me this way, so it must be good’ when in fact human beings are born fallen creatures, indeed self-centered creatures (none more than an infant where it’s all about feed me, hold me etc.) and people are born with flaws, including genetic flaws (e.g. sickle cell anemia). I don’t think you can have a proper theology of redemption without dealing with both creation and fall? How does this strike you?
- Excellent points. Yes, much of that material (largely in conversation with Paul) was cut for the next volume. Although I wonder if I land in a slightly different place, in that I find the Christological arguments that the Son took on fallen human flesh quite compelling. I have more work to do here.
- Let’s talk about the Incarnation for a minute in some detail. The earliest witnesses to the Gospel, namely Paul, and perhaps the Gospel of Mark basically say nothing directly about the centrality of the Incarnation as theological ground zero, unlike the later Councils at Nicaea and Chalcedon. Instead, the focus and most critical part of the story is the death and resurrection of Jesus, with Jesus’ birth as a human being as the necessary preamble, but not the main event or focus. I tend to agree with this. Paul does not say, if Jesus wasn’t virginally conceived in Mary’s womb, then your faith is vain. He says if Christ is not raised (after dying on the cross), you are still in your sins. 1 Peter also focuses on the suffering and death of Jesus as well, and the early preaching in Acts emphasizes this as well. It’s the later development in John 1 and elsewhere that really brings the focus back to the Incarnation and its importance. What do you make of this? One of the real problems with the focus on the Incarnation is that the early ecumenical councils never got around to really discussing and coming to good decisions about the nature of the atonement or even how we should view the Holy Spirit.
- I don’t disagree that the kerygma focuses on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Incarnation would not have been enough. Since my motivating issue involved women’s place in Christianity and God’s gender, however, it was the doctrine of the Incarnation that offered the most for this line of inquiry.