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The Philippians Hymn

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  • Peter Kirby
    I have a question: what do the readers here say to this argument? ... The major consideration here is that sometimes the primordial Revealer figure in
    Message 1 of 42 , Jul 14, 2001
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      I have a question: what do the readers here say to this argument?

      Robert Price writes the following (_Deconstructing Jesus_, pp. 84-85):

      ----
      The major consideration here is that sometimes the primordial Revealer
      figure in pre-Christian Gnosticism, as Schmithals shows, was an abstract
      personification like "Wisdom" or "Knowledge of the Life" or "The
      Anointing/Anointed." Might "Jesus," which means "salvation," have
      originally been such a personification?

      The Gospel of Matthew, though in its present form it obviously assumes a
      historical Jesus, draws attention to the theological character, implicitly
      the titular character, of the name "Jesus." "You shall call his name Jesus,
      for he shall save his people from their sins" (1:21). Only two verses
      later, Matthew grafts into his narrative a text from Isaiah, "and his name
      shall be called Emmanuel." If we did not take for granted that the baby
      will be named Jesus, we could be surprised to discover the holy child is not
      henceforth called "Emmanuel Christ," or some such. But the parallel between
      the two divine namings, one mandated by an angel, the other by a prophecy,
      further underlines the symbolic theological significance of the name Jesus.
      That "Jesus" might once have been a title of a god, only later concretized
      into the personal name of a historical founder of Christianity, was
      sometimes argued by Arthur Drews and other advocates of the Christ-Myth
      theory. But the argument was little heeded since it seemed to have little
      going for it but the bare possibility. However, I would suggest that
      Schmithals's parallels with Gnostic personifications of the principle or
      knowledge of salvation give the theory real credibility. I am not trying to
      say that there was a single origin of the Christian savior Jesus Christ, and
      that origin is pure myth; rather, I am saying that there may indeed have
      been such a myth, and that if so, it eventually flowed together with other
      Jesus images, some one of which may actually have been based on a historical
      Jesus the Nazorean. The old Christ-Myth theorists took for granted a
      single-root origin theory, just as orthodoxy did; it just chose a different
      candidate for the root.

      By far the strongest piece of evidence for an early use of "Jesus" for a
      mythic figure is the so-called Kenosis hymn quoted in Phil. 2:6-11. M.
      Couchoud long ago pointed out a startling detail never even mentioned in the
      great number of exegetical studies of the passage. What he was alone in
      noticing was the fact that the hymn has the exalted Christ being rewarded
      for his humiliation by the bestowal of the name of "Jesus." "Therefore he
      was highly exalted and given the /name/ that is above every /name/, that at
      the /name Jesus/ every knee should bow and every tongue confess that /Jesus/
      Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Exegetes universally take
      for granted that the "name that is above every name" is the title /Kyrios/,
      "Lord." But /Kyrios/ is not a name. "Jesus," on the other hand, is.

      The sense of the passage is also evident from the appositive parallelism
      between the two members, "at the name Jesus every knew should bow" and
      "every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Specifically,
      bowing the knee at the name of Jesus on the one hand, and swearing fealty to
      him, on the other, are equivalent. Neither reading fits convential
      orthodoxy very well; for a man already named Jesus to receive the title
      /Kyrios/ would suggest Adoptionism, but for the heavenly Christ subsequently
      to receive the name Jesus implies somthing even stranger, namely that the
      form of the salvation myth presupposed in the Philippians hymn fragment did
      not feature an earthly figure named Jesus. Rather, this name was a
      subsequent honor. Here is a fossil of an early belief according to which a
      heavenly entity (perhaps already called Christ, like the Valentinian
      Christ-Aion) subsequently received the cult name Jesus. In all this there
      is no historical Jesus the Nazorean. Nor, as Couchoud points out, could
      there be, since all the gospel tales of the wandering Jesus are at once
      revealed as later fabrications, taking for granted the naming of the savior
      as Jesus and reading it back anachronistically into his period of earthly
      servitude.
      ----

      I welcome comment on this argument.

      thanks,
      Peter Kirby
      http://home.earthlink.net/~kirby/writings/
    • Ronald Price
      ... Joseph, Jesus¹ symbolic enactment of the prophecy of Zech 9:9 attracted crowds (Mk 11:8-10). This would have come to the notice of the Roman authorities,
      Message 42 of 42 , Jan 17, 2011
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        Joseph Codsi wrote:

        > In the Passion narrative, Jesus is called "the king of the Jews." Pilate
        > and the soldiers use this expression in 15:2, 9, 12 and 18. Add to this
        > the inscription on the cross (15:26) and the sarcastic remark: "Let the
        > Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now" (15:32). If
        > this language is to be considered historical, how did the enemies of
        > Jesus acquire this knowledge?

        Joseph,

        Jesus¹ symbolic enactment of the prophecy of Zech 9:9 attracted crowds (Mk
        11:8-10). This would have come to the notice of the Roman authorities, who
        would have enquired what the commotion was all about. Finding that the
        person on the donkey was said to be a king (³Lo, your king comes to you
        ...²), and taking note of the crowds he had attracted, would probably have
        been quite enough in the eyes of the authorities to have Jesus arrested as a
        threat to Roman rule.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/

        >



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