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Re: [John_Lit] Mysticism vs. Evolution of high Christology

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  • John M. Noble
    ... That is a difficult question, but I don t think that a less developed Christology at the time of writing answers it. I m inclined to Mark Matson s view
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 25, 2004
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      James McGrath wrote:

      >Only John's Gospel presents Jesus as speaking of having 'come down from
      >heaven'. Does this go back to the historical Jesus? If so, why did the
      >other Gospels not mention it?

      That is a difficult question, but I don't think
      that a 'less developed Christology at the time of
      writing' answers it. I'm inclined to Mark
      Matson's view that the variations between authors
      don't indicate a general trend. As far as GMark
      goes, he does at the very beginning describe
      Jesus as '*The* Son of God' with no apparent need
      of explanation.

      There may be a slight difference between the bold
      Christological assertions of Paul in his letters
      to the Colossians or the Philippians and John,
      but the Logos Christology seems to be there, so
      the post Pauline doctrine can't add much. In the
      entire Pauline literature, there is no trace of a
      Christological controversy. Paul never evaded a
      difficulty where purity of doctrine was
      concerned, so this question seems to have been
      firmly settled at the time of Paul's writing; it
      was not one of the controversies then. Even if
      the Logos Christology isn't in the synoptics, it
      seems to be in Paul.

      I don't believe that John is a mystic; I don't
      believe that the Johannine Jesus is a mystic.
      John's gospel becomes mystical only when Christ's
      human form is confused with His Divine Humanity.
      The leading theme 'we saw his glory' would be
      mystical / docetic if it were taken to mean that
      they perceived it directly. But I believe that
      neither John nor Paul are mystics. For both, the
      main thing is faith in a personal Mediator.
      Mysticism always seems connected with the self
      movement of man towards God, bypassing the

      > There is a famous Sufi mystic al-Hallaj who
      >reportedly said (in very Johannine fashion) 'I
      >am the truth/ultimate reality'. He was crucified
      >for this, as it happens. From a Sufi
      >perspective, however, the words were not
      >illegitimate, because they do not represent an
      >arrogant claim, but a self-emptying one, so that
      >one's own 'I' is lost in God.

      I believe that this is an example of the self
      movement of man; namely, a form of mysticism. It
      exhibits a self confident optimism (self
      emptying) so there is only an apparent lack of
      arrogance. I believe that it is the opposite of
      what John and Paul are writing about.

      All the best,

      John M. Noble
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