A light in the dark: Dualistic ideology within and without Johannine community

Last time I attempted to articulate the rhetorical function of logos christology as it pertained to the Johannine community. I argued that the identification of Jesus with God's word represented and at the same time provoked a radical break between John's own dissident form of Judaism and the mainstream Judaism of the synagogues. Once the … Continue reading A light in the dark: Dualistic ideology within and without Johannine community

Christology in crisis: Johannine Judaism outside the synagogue

In the previous post I began to make the case that the experience of expulsion from the synagogue (ἀποσυνάγωγος—John 9:22, 12:42, 14:2) sparked the development of the logos christology found in John 1. I suggested that in order to cope with the dissonance caused by their estrangement from mainstream Judaism, Johannine Jewish Christians came to … Continue reading Christology in crisis: Johannine Judaism outside the synagogue

Saved by the bell: Noble pagans in Christ’s kingdom

Prior to the coming of Christ's spirit upon God-fearing gentiles, and before the penetration of Paul's gospel into greater pagan society, Jesus' mission was directed exclusively towards the people of Israel (cf. Matthew 10:5-6, 15:24, Romans 15:8, Hebrews 2:16, cf. Galatians 2:7): "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" … Continue reading Saved by the bell: Noble pagans in Christ’s kingdom

Inverted sonship: Jesus as prodigal son

Food, sonship, & rebellion The Jewish scriptures associate rebellion against parents with excessive eating and drinking. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is the seminal text in this regard. There, the "stubborn and rebellious son" is brought before the elders of the town where, prior to being stoned, he is accused of "drunkenness" (οἰνοφλυγέω) and revelrous "gluttony" (συνβολοκοπέω) (21:20, cf. … Continue reading Inverted sonship: Jesus as prodigal son

What kind of blessings did the churches inherit from Israel?

Following the pattern set down by the New Testament writers themselves, Christians often speak of Jesus as the fulfillment and culmination of Old Testament covenant promises (cf. 2 Cor 1:20, Luke 24:27). While the precise meaning of such claims is sometimes difficult to ascertain, the consummation of God's promise to Abraham is usually prominent in … Continue reading What kind of blessings did the churches inherit from Israel?

Jesus: homeless homeowner

Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. (Matthew 8:20/Luke 9:58) Popular perceptions of Jesus' day to day experience are often informed by the above saying. The idea that Jesus was not only poor, but homeless, has become something of an axiom: … Continue reading Jesus: homeless homeowner

Jesus’ family reconsidered

Mary did you know? The Matthean and Lukan infancy stories are the dominant sources for our traditional understanding of Jesus' familial relations. Based on their testimony, we tend to picture the holy family as a harmonious unit; as a family supportive of their son's prophetic and messianic vocation from the very beginning. With the opening … Continue reading Jesus’ family reconsidered

As I have loved you: Christ’s other example to the churches

In the post Was Jesus tempted in every way? I examined Jesus' example as it pertained to the temptations and trials faced by early Christians. I asked: In what ways was Jesus' sinless triumph over temptation relevant to the New Testament writers and their readers? I argued that just as Jesus was tempted to repudiate … Continue reading As I have loved you: Christ’s other example to the churches

How did the first Christians spread the gospel?

While many are familiar with the ways Christian doctrine has changed over time, few recognize just how novel modern evangelistic practices are. Just as the Christian message developed and evolved, particularly with the blunting of its apocalyptic edge, so too have the ways in which Christians transmit their message to the outside world. This shift … Continue reading How did the first Christians spread the gospel?

Did early Christians associate with idolaters?

God-fearers and idolaters I made the argument last time that Luke's story of Cornelius' conversion is best understood as a narrative apology for Gentile God-fearers. Luke intended to demonstrate that those Gentiles who "do what is right and fear [Israel's] God" by turning from idols have been cleansed of their impurity. Jews therefore need not … Continue reading Did early Christians associate with idolaters?