Father, send Lazarus!: Abraham’s son among Israel’s lost sheep

The Jesus of primitive Christianity—and indeed the Jesus of history—was a Jewish prophet sent to the children of Israel's Patriarchs. Much like Amos, Elijah, or John the Baptizer before him, Jesus operated within this particular religious framework as a member of the Hebrew prophetic caste. Accordingly, Jesus acted in a manner befitting the type: he … Continue reading Father, send Lazarus!: Abraham’s son among Israel’s lost sheep

The Lord among lords: Christ’s imperial cult

Proponents of the early emergence of divine christology sometimes appeal to Paul's creedal formulation in 1 Corinthians 8:6. These interpreters maintain that the Apostle attests to the widespread acceptance of Christ's deity just two decades after the death of Jesus. For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for … Continue reading The Lord among lords: Christ’s imperial cult

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

God’s functional word: sectarian Christology in John 1

The traditional Christological discourse surrounding John 1:1 seeks to assess the nature of God's word as it relates to the nature of God the Father. Interpreters involved in this enterprise attempt to understand how the Word can be both God (θεός) and yet distinct from God (ὁ θεός). Early Christians appropriated Greek philosophical terms like "substance" … Continue reading God’s functional word: sectarian Christology in John 1

The Cross at time’s end: Atonement and the crossroads of history

*As the title suggests, this post concerns Christ's atonement—as it was known to the first Christians and as it is known today. But before we turn our attention to the issue of atonement it is helpful to comment on the factors that motivate our contemporary christological discourse. These notes will prove important for understanding how … Continue reading The Cross at time’s end: Atonement and the crossroads of history

Skeletons in God’s closet: Jesus and the crusader king

To the chagrin of many Christians, the Hebrew Bible occasionally depicts Israel's God as a "man of war" who leads his people into battle, often for the cause of vengeance. Even more troublesome for modern readers are the wars of herem (חֵרֶם) in which God instructs Israel to exterminate the enemy—man, woman, child, and goat, … Continue reading Skeletons in God’s closet: Jesus and the crusader king

Did early Christians interpret Old Testament violence “through Jesus”?

Christians have long viewed Jesus as a hermeneutical key of sorts to the Old Testament. Because of this, the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and indeed the whole of Israel's story, is made to serve Christian ends. Behind every passage, behind every event in the history of the Jewish people, there must lie Christ's sacrifice … Continue reading Did early Christians interpret Old Testament violence “through Jesus”?

The man who would not be god: Jesus as deified king

I argued last time that when the Johannine Jewish establishment stigmatizes Jesus as a man who "makes himself God" (John 10:33, cf. 5:18, Mark 2:7, 14:67) they do so with certain self-aggrandizing pagan emperors in mind; the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28), the king of Egypt (Ezekiel 29), the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14), and, … Continue reading The man who would not be god: Jesus as deified king

The king who would be god: Jesus as blasphemous pagan king

Was Jesus accused of blasphemy? Those who are committed to a low or human Christology sometimes argue that the charges of blasphemy leveled against Jesus in the Gospels are late and fabricated additions to the Jesus-tradition. Just as claims to deity were artificially ascribed to Jesus, so too were accusations like those found in John … Continue reading The king who would be god: Jesus as blasphemous pagan king