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Re: [John_Lit] Evolution of high Christology

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    In a message dated 1/18/2004 7:33:06 PM Pacific Standard Time, ... Yes, and there s even a very high Christology in Matthew! Leonard Maluf [Non-text portions
    Message 1 of 19 , Feb 14, 2004
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      In a message dated 1/18/2004 7:33:06 PM Pacific Standard Time,
      bobschacht@... writes:


      > (b) advocates of a late development of high Christology often overlook or
      > have to explain away signs of high Christology present in both Paul's
      > letters and Mark.
      >

      Yes, and there's even a very high Christology in Matthew!

      Leonard Maluf


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bob Schacht
      ... I did not write the following quote, even though I agree with it. Bob ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Message 2 of 19 , Feb 15, 2004
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        At 08:30 PM 2/14/2004 -0500, Leonard Maluf wrote:
        >In a message dated 1/18/2004 7:33:06 PM Pacific Standard Time,
        >bobschacht@... writes:

        I did not write the following quote, even though I agree with it.
        Bob



        > > (b) advocates of a late development of high Christology often overlook or
        > > have to explain away signs of high Christology present in both Paul's
        > > letters and Mark.
        > >
        >
        >Yes, and there's even a very high Christology in Matthew!
        >
        >Leonard Maluf
        >
        >
        >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • McGrath, James
        The thing that seems to be ignored in these cases is the significant DIFFERENCES between John and Paul or Matthew. All three use Wisdom language in relation to
        Message 3 of 19 , Feb 16, 2004
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          The thing that seems to be ignored in these cases is the significant
          DIFFERENCES between John and Paul or Matthew. All three use Wisdom
          language in relation to Jesus, but that in itself could mean a number of
          things. Wisdom is depicted in what in the Gospels would be called 'the
          language of high Christology' in books like Ben Sira or Baruch, and then
          we are told that this is simply a way of speaking about the Torah.
          Depicting Jesus in such terms may simply have been a way of saying
          'Jesus is where Wisdom is found rather than in Torah', with no
          'metaphysical' implications being drawn. Note in particular that
          Matthew, although he shows knowledge of the Similitudes of Enoch, does
          not draw the implication that John does, namely that 'the Son of
          Man...came down from heaven'. I strongly agree that there is a great
          deal of continuity, but it is crucial to do justice to both the
          similarities and the differences if we are to offer convincing readings
          of these various pieces of early Christian literature.

          Best regards,

          James

          *****************************
          Dr. James F. McGrath
          Assistant Professor of Religion
          Butler University, Indianapolis
          http://religion.sytes.net
          *****************************



          -----Original Message-----
          From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@...]
          Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2004 6:30 PM
          To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Evolution of high Christology


          At 08:30 PM 2/14/2004 -0500, Leonard Maluf wrote:
          >In a message dated 1/18/2004 7:33:06 PM Pacific Standard Time,
          >bobschacht@... writes:

          I did not write the following quote, even though I agree with it. Bob



          > > (b) advocates of a late development of high Christology often
          > > overlook or have to explain away signs of high Christology present
          > > in both Paul's letters and Mark.
          > >
          >
          >Yes, and there's even a very high Christology in Matthew!
          >
          >Leonard Maluf
          >
        • Matson, Mark (Academic)
          James: I agree that one must be very careful in not over-emphasizing the similarities. But I would be interested in pursuing the similarities (and differences)
          Message 4 of 19 , Feb 16, 2004
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            James:

            I agree that one must be very careful in not over-emphasizing the
            similarities.

            But I would be interested in pursuing the similarities (and differences)
            a bit. Working with your category of wisdom (which I have come to
            believe is the strongest influence on the prologue in John), don't we
            have similar themes related to Wisdom/Jesus relationship to creation in
            both the Johannine prologue and Colossians 2:15 ff.? And even if
            Colossians is not Pauline (though I still think it kind of sounds
            Pauline), Col 2:15 seems to be an imbedded hymn or poem, and thus is
            earlier than the letter. Here at least wisdom/creation theology has
            similar outworkings with regard to Jesus -- although expressed now in a
            more ecclesiological format.

            Similarly, you point up the Johannine theme of the Son of Man come down
            from heaven (as in Jn 3:13), and yet this same theme of
            descending/ascending being is found in both John and Philippians 2.

            What is interesting is that both Colossians and Philippians also work
            off the "image of God" motif, based it would seem on Genesis creation
            language. But isn't the Johannine theology based to a great extent on
            just this image, where Jesus is the more perfect image (and hence agent)
            of God e.g.If you have seen me you have seen God.

            SO in some signficant ways, both the Pauline (and/or deutero-Pauline)
            and Johannine images work off similar transformations of the wisdom
            idea, don't they? And given that John has more of an apologetic purpose
            (as you have pointed out), this may explain contextually some of the
            differences. Or are they still fundamentally different?

            mark

            Mark A. Matson
            Academic Dean
            Milligan College
            http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm


            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: McGrath, James [mailto:jfmcgrat@...]
            > Sent: Monday, February 16, 2004 10:05 AM
            > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: [John_Lit] Evolution of high Christology
            >
            >
            > The thing that seems to be ignored in these cases is the
            > significant DIFFERENCES between John and Paul or Matthew. All
            > three use Wisdom language in relation to Jesus, but that in
            > itself could mean a number of things. Wisdom is depicted in
            > what in the Gospels would be called 'the language of high
            > Christology' in books like Ben Sira or Baruch, and then we
            > are told that this is simply a way of speaking about the
            > Torah. Depicting Jesus in such terms may simply have been a
            > way of saying 'Jesus is where Wisdom is found rather than in
            > Torah', with no 'metaphysical' implications being drawn. Note
            > in particular that Matthew, although he shows knowledge of
            > the Similitudes of Enoch, does not draw the implication that
            > John does, namely that 'the Son of Man...came down from
            > heaven'. I strongly agree that there is a great deal of
            > continuity, but it is crucial to do justice to both the
            > similarities and the differences if we are to offer
            > convincing readings of these various pieces of early
            > Christian literature.
            >
            > Best regards,
            >
            > James
            >
            > *****************************
            > Dr. James F. McGrath
            > Assistant Professor of Religion
            > Butler University, Indianapolis
            > http://religion.sytes.net
            > *****************************
            >
            >
            >
            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@...]
            > Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2004 6:30 PM
            > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Evolution of high Christology
            >
            >
            > At 08:30 PM 2/14/2004 -0500, Leonard Maluf wrote:
            > >In a message dated 1/18/2004 7:33:06 PM Pacific Standard Time,
            > >bobschacht@... writes:
            >
            > I did not write the following quote, even though I agree with it. Bob
            >
            >
            >
            > > > (b) advocates of a late development of high Christology often
            > > > overlook or have to explain away signs of high
            > Christology present
            > > > in both Paul's letters and Mark.
            > > >
            > >
            > >Yes, and there's even a very high Christology in Matthew!
            > >
            > >Leonard Maluf
            > >
            >
            >
            >
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            >
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            >
            >
          • McGrath, James
            Thanks for your insightful question! I think that, in essence, John and Paul are certainly working in the same realm of ideas. The only question is the degree
            Message 5 of 19 , Feb 16, 2004
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              Thanks for your insightful question! I think that, in essence, John and
              Paul are certainly working in the same realm of ideas. The only question
              is the degree to which John may have developed ideas further, or more
              likely in my view, reflected more on possible IMPLICATIONS of language
              that had been used earlier. I think that, on the topic of Wisdom, Paul
              (and/or the author of Colossians, if someone else) and John are fairly
              close to one another. I'd see a greater degree of development between
              Paul and John on the idea of Jesus as bearer of the name of God: in
              Philippians 2, Jesus receives the name when he is exalted after being
              raised from the dead, while in John the name is his from before the
              foundation of the world. The difference is definitely one of degree
              rather than kind (IMHO), but the original post seemed to be downplaying
              the differences between John and his predecessors. Does Paul anywhere
              unambiguously make clear that he takes the language of pre-existence
              applied to Jesus literally? Perhaps in his reference to Jesus having
              been rich and wilfully become poor for our sake. So I am convinced that
              there is a difference, and that it is one of degree; I am less certain
              about the EXTENT of that difference of degree! :)

              Hoping to continue this conversation,

              James


              *****************************
              Dr. James F. McGrath
              Assistant Professor of Religion
              Butler University, Indianapolis
              http://religion.sytes.net
              *****************************



              -----Original Message-----
              From: Matson, Mark (Academic) [mailto:MAMatson@...]
              Sent: Monday, February 16, 2004 3:22 PM
              To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Evolution of high Christology


              James:

              I agree that one must be very careful in not over-emphasizing the
              similarities.

              But I would be interested in pursuing the similarities (and differences)
              a bit. Working with your category of wisdom (which I have come to
              believe is the strongest influence on the prologue in John), don't we
              have similar themes related to Wisdom/Jesus relationship to creation in
              both the Johannine prologue and Colossians 2:15 ff.? And even if
              Colossians is not Pauline (though I still think it kind of sounds
              Pauline), Col 2:15 seems to be an imbedded hymn or poem, and thus is
              earlier than the letter. Here at least wisdom/creation theology has
              similar outworkings with regard to Jesus -- although expressed now in a
              more ecclesiological format.

              Similarly, you point up the Johannine theme of the Son of Man come down
              from heaven (as in Jn 3:13), and yet this same theme of
              descending/ascending being is found in both John and Philippians 2.

              What is interesting is that both Colossians and Philippians also work
              off the "image of God" motif, based it would seem on Genesis creation
              language. But isn't the Johannine theology based to a great extent on
              just this image, where Jesus is the more perfect image (and hence agent)
              of God e.g.If you have seen me you have seen God.

              SO in some signficant ways, both the Pauline (and/or deutero-Pauline)
              and Johannine images work off similar transformations of the wisdom
              idea, don't they? And given that John has more of an apologetic purpose
              (as you have pointed out), this may explain contextually some of the
              differences. Or are they still fundamentally different?

              mark

              Mark A. Matson
              Academic Dean
              Milligan College http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
            • John M. Noble
              Dear James, It seems to me that the evolution goes the other way round and if there is a progression in New Testament writing, then it is from a high
              Message 6 of 19 , Feb 18, 2004
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                Dear James,

                It seems to me that the evolution goes the other
                way round and if there is a progression in New
                Testament writing, then it is from a 'high'
                Christology to a 'low' Christology. That is, the
                full Christology seems to be already there in the
                Pauline writings and there seems no evolution
                within Paul. Although perhaps not explicitly
                stated, the Christology of John is certainly
                implied in Paul and underpins everything.

                Perhaps the apparently 'lower' Christology that
                you allude to in Matthew (which is a degree of
                emphasis rather than an absolute difference)
                could indicate that Matthew is a later work?
                written with some sort of docetist tendencies in
                mind that had to be countered? and the high
                Christology of John would indicate that it was
                earlier work.

                The problem with the early church was perhaps not
                that their Christology was too high, but rather
                that they had a tendency to forget the humanity
                of Christ.

                To me, Paul's Christology would indicate that
                'high Christology' was the natural approach,
                taken from the beginning.

                (It would be helpful if the height of Christology
                could be measured in feet and inches).

                John Noble
                (amateur)
                Linköping
              • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                John: Thanks for your note on this. Why do we need to think that these concepts always run in trajectories, either from high to low, or low to high? Could not
                Message 7 of 19 , Feb 18, 2004
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                  John:

                  Thanks for your note on this.

                  Why do we need to think that these concepts always run in trajectories, either from high to low, or low to high? Could not various ideas have been circulating at the same time, in similar areas, even within a given congregation or set of believers? Gosh, in my church we have widely varying views of Jesus' relationship to God. Why not then?

                  If we follow your idea, then we end up with Matthew later than John. OK, I don't have a problem with that (as many know, I think John is early). But what do you do with Mark, which has a much more "human" Jesus than even Matthew? Is that then later still? I am sure the Two-gospel theorists will jump on this, but it seems to me the problem is using something like theology, and even more a developmental approach to theology, to date texts. It's not enough for me. I just am very suspicious of such approaches to dating or document relationships.

                  mark

                  Mark A. Matson
                  Academic Dean
                  Milligan College
                  http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm


                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: John M. Noble [mailto:jonob@...]
                  > Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 5:49 AM
                  > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Evolution of high Christology
                  >
                  >
                  > Dear James,
                  >
                  > It seems to me that the evolution goes the other
                  > way round and if there is a progression in New
                  > Testament writing, then it is from a 'high'
                  > Christology to a 'low' Christology. That is, the
                  > full Christology seems to be already there in the
                  > Pauline writings and there seems no evolution
                  > within Paul. Although perhaps not explicitly
                  > stated, the Christology of John is certainly
                  > implied in Paul and underpins everything.
                  >
                  > Perhaps the apparently 'lower' Christology that
                  > you allude to in Matthew (which is a degree of
                  > emphasis rather than an absolute difference)
                  > could indicate that Matthew is a later work?
                  > written with some sort of docetist tendencies in
                  > mind that had to be countered? and the high
                  > Christology of John would indicate that it was
                  > earlier work.
                  >
                  > The problem with the early church was perhaps not
                  > that their Christology was too high, but rather
                  > that they had a tendency to forget the humanity
                  > of Christ.
                  >
                  > To me, Paul's Christology would indicate that
                  > 'high Christology' was the natural approach,
                  > taken from the beginning.
                  >
                  > (It would be helpful if the height of Christology
                  > could be measured in feet and inches).
                  >
                  > John Noble
                  > (amateur)
                  > Linköping
                  >
                  >
                  >
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                  >
                  >
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                  >
                • John M. Noble
                  Mark Matson, February 18, wrote ... The more I see concerning gospel dating on this list, the more sceptical I find myself concerning all of the theories
                  Message 8 of 19 , Feb 24, 2004
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                    Mark Matson, February 18, wrote

                    >
                    >Why do we need to think that these concepts
                    >always run in trajectories, either from high to
                    >low, or low to high? Could not various ideas
                    >have been circulating at the same time, in
                    >similar areas, even within a given congregation
                    >or set of believers? Gosh, in my church we have
                    >widely varying views of Jesus' relationship to
                    >God. Why not then?
                    >
                    >If we follow your idea, then we end up with
                    >Matthew later than John. OK, I don't have a
                    >problem with that (as many know, I think John is
                    >early). But what do you do with Mark, which has
                    >a much more "human" Jesus than even Matthew? Is
                    >that then later still? I am sure the Two-gospel
                    >theorists will jump on this, but it seems to me
                    >the problem is using something like theology,
                    >and even more a developmental approach to
                    >theology, to date texts. It's not enough for
                    >me. I just am very suspicious of such
                    >approaches to dating or document relationships.

                    The more I see concerning gospel dating on this
                    list, the more sceptical I find myself concerning
                    all of the theories posted. Possibly there does
                    not exist a theory that makes sense and fits all
                    the facts. It is very easy to criticize a theory,
                    but very difficult to construct one which stands
                    up.

                    (One of my colleagues had a cartoon posted in his
                    office showing God, highly entertained, reading a
                    book entitled 'The Laws of Physics'. It's the
                    same thing with anything entitled 'Dating the
                    Gospels').

                    I believe that the high Christology must have
                    been understood right from the beginning (and I
                    believe that Paul's writings, which I believe to
                    be the earliest) show a full Christology, with no
                    signs of development within his writings.

                    As Christianity developed, I see a greater
                    temptation to forget the humanity and hence a
                    greater need for the later writings to emphasise
                    this.

                    It seems like a bad idea to base theological
                    conclusions on gospel dating. This tends to lead
                    to circular reasoning: one dates the gospel based
                    on an impression of the theological needs of a
                    particular situation and one then uses the dating
                    to read in theological implications, using
                    statement (P) to prove statement (P).

                    For example: Raymond Brown seems to think that
                    John's gospel is anti sacramental. This hadn't
                    occurred to me before I read Raymond Brown, but
                    seemed clear to me after I had read some of his
                    works. But I'm not so sure any more. He reaches
                    this conclusion because of the absence of any
                    real explicit mention of the sacraments
                    (Community of the Beloved Disciple) and not
                    because of any negative remarks made about them
                    in GJ. I think that the author/s of GJ would have
                    been more explicit if they'd wanted to make such
                    an important point. After all, they are very
                    negative about other things. I get the impression
                    that RB reached this conclusion based on a late
                    dating of John's gospel, when a theology behind
                    the sacraments was already well established. Is
                    he reading in too much here? If one takes an
                    early dating of John's gospel, then the omission
                    could have been simply because the theology of
                    the sacraments was not yet developed. After all,
                    Paul makes mention of them, but I don't see a
                    clear theology there. I also get the impression
                    that much of RB's attitude towards the 'Johannine
                    Community' was based on his conclusion concerning
                    the attitude of GJ towards the sacraments.

                    John M. Noble
                    (amateur)
                    Linköping
                  • David Trapero
                    ... wrote: ... I couldn t agree with you more. There s ample room for humility here and very little room for being dogmatic. The issue of the
                    Message 9 of 19 , Feb 24, 2004
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                      --- In johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com, "John M. Noble"
                      <jonob@m...> wrote:>
                      > The more I see concerning gospel dating on this
                      > list, the more sceptical I find myself concerning
                      > all of the theories posted. Possibly there does
                      > not exist a theory that makes sense and fits all
                      > the facts. It is very easy to criticize a theory,
                      > but very difficult to construct one which stands
                      > up.

                      I couldn't agree with you more. There's ample room for humility here
                      and very little room for being dogmatic. The issue of the dating and
                      sequence of the Gospels seems to be more open now than at any other
                      time in recent memory. For the record, I've come to the tentative
                      conclusion that the order was 1) Proto-Matthew (very similar in
                      content to canonical Mark) 2) Mark 3) Luke 4) Matthew 5) John (with
                      John going through three major editions/revisions and having at its
                      core very early/primitive tradition, John being the Alpha and Omega
                      of our Gospels).
                      >
                      > I believe that the high Christology must have
                      > been understood right from the beginning (and I
                      > believe that Paul's writings, which I believe to
                      > be the earliest) show a full Christology, with no
                      > signs of development within his writings.

                      And, I would add, this high Christology originated with Jesus
                      himself. The early church played a role in Christology, not in
                      creating/fabricating it out of whole cloth but in giving a specific
                      nuance and resonance to Jesus' own Christology. They drew out
                      certain aspects of it and ignored, downplayed others. They tilled a
                      rich, fertile soil and had much to work with.
                      >
                      > As Christianity developed, I see a greater
                      > temptation to forget the humanity and hence a
                      > greater need for the later writings to emphasise
                      > this.
                      >
                      > It seems like a bad idea to base theological
                      > conclusions on gospel dating. This tends to lead
                      > to circular reasoning: one dates the gospel based
                      > on an impression of the theological needs of a
                      > particular situation and one then uses the dating
                      > to read in theological implications, using
                      > statement (P) to prove statement (P).

                      Agreed. And yet this is done frequently.
                      >
                      > For example: Raymond Brown seems to think that
                      > John's gospel is anti sacramental. This hadn't
                      > occurred to me before I read Raymond Brown, but
                      > seemed clear to me after I had read some of his
                      > works. But I'm not so sure any more. He reaches
                      > this conclusion because of the absence of any
                      > real explicit mention of the sacraments
                      > (Community of the Beloved Disciple) and not
                      > because of any negative remarks made about them
                      > in GJ. I think that the author/s of GJ would have
                      > been more explicit if they'd wanted to make such
                      > an important point. After all, they are very
                      > negative about other things. I get the impression
                      > that RB reached this conclusion based on a late
                      > dating of John's gospel, when a theology behind
                      > the sacraments was already well established. Is
                      > he reading in too much here? If one takes an
                      > early dating of John's gospel, then the omission
                      > could have been simply because the theology of
                      > the sacraments was not yet developed. After all,
                      > Paul makes mention of them, but I don't see a
                      > clear theology there. I also get the impression
                      > that much of RB's attitude towards the 'Johannine
                      > Community' was based on his conclusion concerning
                      > the attitude of GJ towards the sacraments.

                      Others see 4G as "Ultra-sacramental" (my word). You may want to
                      check out Oscar Cullman's "Early Christian Worship" in which the
                      author argues that 4G is concerned almost exclusively with Baptism
                      and the Eucharist. He sees 4G in its entirety as a theological
                      exposition/meditation on these sacraments. I'm not sure I agree with
                      him but it's difficult to read 4G as "anti-sacramental" after reading
                      Cullman's book.

                      I'm with you in that I see 4G's lack of a "Lord's Supper" as
                      indicating its primitive origin. As you may recall, the Didache also
                      has this feature, connecting its Eucharistic meal to the Multitude
                      Feeding (which John also seems to do). I think much of the early
                      church's theological work/development consisted not in Christology
                      per se but in this: Coming to grips with, developing and
                      articulating its understanding of the Passion. The Passion literally
                      swells in size/significance over the first two decades. And, as a
                      result, so does the "Lord's/Last Supper". It is, in my opinion, this
                      shift in emphasis towards the Passion that accounts for the Last
                      Supper superceeding the Multitude Feeding as the source/inspiration
                      for the Eucharistic Meal.
                      >
                      Kindly,

                      David

                      David Trapero M.Div.
                      818 2nd St. PL NE # 95
                      Hickory, NC 28601
                      Dtrap303@...
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