Christology Carnival

Christology Carnival June 1, 2014

The latest Biblical Studies Carnival has been posted on Jeff Carter’s blog. It includes an impressive range of posts ranging from Genesis to the Talmud, and includes a number of posts from the recent discussions of Christology in general, and Bart Ehrman’s recent book in particular.

I’ve been meaning to mention some of the more recent posts on that topic here, including Larry Hurtado’s blog review, Ken Schenck’s post on chapter 2 of Ehrman, and Chris Tilling’s response to Andrew Perriman. And so this seemed an appropriate place to give them a shout-out.

Image from an older post on Jeff Carter’s blog.


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  • Andrew Dowling

    The funny thing about conservative criticism of Ehrman is that, as a ‘Schweitzerite,’ he takes a lot more of the narrative aspects of the Gospels (for example, that Jesus called 12 disciples as an inner circle of his followers) as historical that a number of liberal scholars would not.

  • Sean Garrigan

    I like the image, which seems to symbolize nicely the biblical presentation of the place inhabited by God’s Son. Similarly, I’ve used the illustration that Jesus is like a river, with God on the one side, and creation on the other. It is by drinking from that river that we gain life, and a more complete understanding of God. However, I can no longer recall whether I heard that somewhere or came up with it myself. I have a suspicion that you may have said it in one of your early articles online.

    It’s too bad that such illustrations weren’t good enough for non-Jewish Christians, who, by the time Nicaea rolled around, manage to make a real pigs breakfast out of something that started out truly beautiful.

    • I used the analogy with a river to emphasize the fluidity of the boundary area. But moving from there to the image of drinking from the river is presumably your own idea – wish I’d thought of doing that with the imagery, but I didn’t!

      • Sean Garrigan

        Ah, well, it’s often said that two heads are better than one;-) So between the two of us we’ve come up with a winner of an analogy.

    • Andrew Dowling

      “too bad that such illustrations weren’t good enough for non-Jewish
      Christians, who, by the time Nicaea rolled around, manage to make a real
      pigs breakfast out of something that started out truly beautiful”

      Haha, very true. I think the majority idea of Jesus’s relationship to God in the 1st century was a form of adoptionism, which if one gets past the rantings of the heretic police really makes far more sense of the biblical texts and still enables the “Sophia” that indwelled in Jesus being eternal/one with God as stated in John.

      • Sean Garrigan

        When I first encountered Socinian-type Unitarianism via works by folks like Ezra Abbot, John Wilson, Andrews Norton, et al, I found it difficult to wrap my head around the interpretations of verses that exclude real preexistence. I had learned to read the Bible a certain way, and I just couldn’t help but see verses like John 1:1 as anything other than evidence for the Son’s preexistence. While I still hold to a pre-existent Son, or at least a preexistent being called LOGOS/Sophia, I’ve come to see both logic and poetic simplicity in the Socinian-type approach. For one, it eliminates the ambiguity that many proponents of the Son’s preexistence experience when looking at accounts like Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1. Adoptionists don’t hesitate as I do over whether this or that verse is speaking about Christ in relation to his pre-earthly existence and original creation, or his earthly life and new creation.

        I still favor an Arian-type Christolgy (“Arian” used loosely), as I find it impossble to hear John 8:58, as one example, as anything other than a declaration that Jesus had “…been in existence since before Abraham was born” (A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek: An Aspectual Approach), p. 42

        James McGrath offers an interesting interpretation of John 8:58 in John’s Apologetic Christology, i.e. that Jesus used EGO EIMI as a way of showing that he’s God’s agent. While I find that view interesting and unique — and agree completely that John presents Jesus as God’s supreme agent — I simply don’t think that particular reading fits well, here. First, contrary to some, I see little to no evidence that EGO EIMI was considered God’s name in the OT. In the LXX, God didn’t declare Himself to be EGO EIMI, but HO ON. God didn’t say EGO EIMI EGO EIMI at Ex 3; He said EGO EIMI HO ON.

        Jesus’ opponents inferred from Jesus’ previous statement that he had actually seen Abraham rejoice over his (Jesus’) day first hand. To respond “I am an agent of God” (to paraphrase) doesn’t answer the question, “How could you, someone not yet 50 years old, have seen Abraham rejoice?” On the other hand, if we accept McKay’s understanding that EGO EIMI at 8:58 is used as part of the Extension from Past idiom, then Jesus’ response fits exquisitely:

        “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it
        and was glad’. ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ they said to him,
        ‘and you have seen Abraham!’. ‘The truth is, I have been in existence
        since before Abraham was born!’”

        As I’ve said more than once, I find that take simply irresistible.