High on Christology Smack(down)?

High on Christology Smack(down)? May 28, 2011

Mike Bird has a post reflecting on some of the interactions about Christology in the latest issue of Expository Times, which included reviews of books on this subject both by my Doktorvater James Dunn as well as by me.

I look forward to Bird’s own contribution to the discussion, which will be named “Can You Get High on John’s Christology?” We may not see eye to eye on Christology, but I love Mike’s sense of humor.

The only point I would make in response to Mike’s post is the following: I don’t think that the statement “McGrath does not deal with the full range of relevant phenomena of Jesus-devotion, focusing almost entirely on christological beliefs and so not doing justice to devotional practices” accurately reflects the content and emphasis of my book, The Only True God. I actually look into the question of devotional practices, and note that while some Jews may have objected to direct prayerful address to an intermediary figure such as an angel, not all Jews shared such scruples. Based on textual and epigraphic evidence, I conclude that the one make-or-break devotional practice that all Jews (with one possible exception) seem to have agreed on as defining their allegiance to one God alone was that animal sacrifice was to be offered only to him. And since there was no sacrificial worship aimed at Jesus carried out by Christians, this prevents us from concluding on the basis of their devotional practices that they thought of Jesus as somehow intrinsic to the God of Israel. Those devotional practices which Christians engage in are not ones that it is impossible to imagine devout monotheistic Jews offering to the exalted Messiah, without feeling that they were either departing from or redefining the nature of God or appropriate worship as understood by at least a significant number of Jews in their time.

Be that as it may, I look forward to the ongoing conversation, and hope that we can all “get high on John’s Christology” together. Whether the cause of the high is some sort of sacrifice producing a “soothing aroma” we’ll just have to wait and see.

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