And?

I’ve just started reading “The Spirit in Second Temple Jewish Monotheism and the Origins of Early Christology” by Andrew W. Pitts & Seth Pollinger. This essay appears in the recently published second volume of Christian Origins and Hellenistic Judaism: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament, edited by Stanley E. Porter & Andrew W. Pitts.

After describing Bauckham’s argument for Jesus being included in the divine identity, the authors say:

Yet, in terms of the development of early Christology, Bauckham’s proposal remains problematic, since, by dismissing the significance of intermediaries, there is now no direct analogy for the origin of the christological doctrine. (142)

I fail to see how that criticism even begins to highlight something that is problematic. Why would there need to be a direct analogy for the origin of Christological doctrine in the first place? And granting that there isn’t one, why would it have to be intermediaries?

For the record, Bauckham does suggest an analogy, namely God’s Word and Wisdom, which he judges to be intrinsic to the divine identity. The authors judge Word and Wisdom to be “too closely identified with Yahweh’s primary instantiation of the divine identity to form a convincing analogy with the incarnate Christ” (135). Okay, but that doesn’t mean that Bauckham sees no analogy.

What’s more is that we can argue that the direct analogy is God himself. Tilling examines several Second Temple texts and compares their constellation of intermediary-language and God-language with the Paul’s Jesus-language and finds that the analogy is between God and Jesus; not the intermediaries and Jesus. This also proves true when comparing the OT/NT’s God-language with Paul’s Jesus-language.

Perhaps the authors get to this later in the essay and I’ve spoken too soon, but as it stands, this is a facile criticism. Let’s hope the remainder of the essay gets better.

B”H

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7 thoughts on “And?

  1. Dear Nick,

    Interesting post. There does not need to be “intermediaries.” This sounds to Neo-gnostic is its formulation. About a year ago, I was involved in a discussion with several persons on the use of EGW EIMI in John 8:58. Several thought that Jesus was using the Exodus 3:14 passage for claiming His identification with YHWH. In one sense, that is correct, but the actual usage goes back to Isaiah 40-66 where EGW EIMI is used 17x (20x in OT). Here are some of the conclusions:
    . . ἐγώ εἰμι (EGW EIMI) is used 20x (17x in Isaiah) with several verses having double use for emphasis.
    You will note that אֲנִ֣י ה֔וּא (ani hu), אָנֹכִ֨י (anoki), אֲנִי֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ (ani YHWH eloheyka), אֲנִ֤י יְהוָה (ani YHWH),אֲנִי־אֵ֖ל (ani-EL) are all used interchangeably along with אֲדֹנָ֣י יֱהוִ֔ה (adonai YHWH) etc.
    The LXX uses ἐγὼ ὁ θεός (EGW hO QEOS), ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεός (EGW EIMI hO QEOS), ἐγώ εἰμι ἐγώ εἰμι (EGW EIMI EGW EIMI), ἐγὼ ὁ κύριος (EGW hO KURIOS), etc. interchangeably, BUT ἐγώ εἰμι (EGW EIMI) is used here more than anywhere else with reference to God = יֱהוִ֔ה (YHWH),אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ (eloheyka), אֲדֹנָ֣י (adonai), θεός (QEOS), κύριος (KURIOS), etc.

    (BTW, I can email the full list of passages from Isaiah 40-66 giving the Hebrew words with the LXX equivalent). This is not by accident since the Book of Isaiah is one of the more frequently quoted OT books in the NT. Christ’s understanding of who He “was and is and is to come” (pun intended) is directly connected to Isaiah. This leads to the question, Where did the Apostolic Church get this highly developed Christology to begin with? It was not made up from thin air. If one looks at the NT it is obvious that it came from Jesus and was passed down by Him to the Apostles, cf also Luke 24:44-45. In fact, Hebrews 1:1-4 quite clearly indicates that “God spoke in His Son.”

    Of course, I could touch on other areas, but I think you get the point.

  2. Did you mean “granting there IS one, why would it have to be intermediaries”? If not, I don’t unrest and what you meant there. Did the essay get better?

  3. Joshua: No, I meant “isn’t.” In other words, let’s assume that there is no analogy—which I don’t personally believe since I think God is the analogy—why would we then look for an analogy in intermediary figures rather than somewhere else?

    Hope that clears things up. And I haven’t read any more of the essay so I can’t say if it gets better yet. I’ll keep you posted.

  4. I’d be interested to know whether Chris is planning to write anything in a similar vein on John’s gospel, the Johannine epistles, or Revelation. That would be fascinating.

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