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Re: Evolution of high Christology

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  • 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 1 of 19 , Feb 24, 2004
      --- 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.


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