Full Text for Confronting Current Christological Controversy (Text)

Volume 69:l January 2005 Table of Contents Confronting Current Christological Controversy Charles A. Gieschen ............................................................ 3 A Review of Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity James W. Voelz ............................................................ 33 Recent Research on Jesus: Assessing the Contribution of Larry Hutado David P. Scaer .................................................................... 48 Lukan Christology: Jesus as Beautiful Savior Peter J. Scaer ....................................................................... 63 Entering Holiness: Christology and Eucharist in Hebrews Arthur A. Just, Jr ................................................................ 75 Confronting Current Christological Controversy Charles A. Gieschen For most of us, the term clnistological catrol~~sy conjures up a lengthy List of challenges concerning the person and work of Christ that arose in the first centuries of Christianity. We think of teachings that were branded as heretical by church bishops and councils, such as Docetism, Ebionism, Momrchhism, Gnosticism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Apohiukmkm, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monophysitism, and Monothelitism? We are certain that these were the big christological controversies but are equally confident that they were resolved by the church councils that took place between the fourth and eighth centuries, espec~ally those at Nicea in AD 325 and Chalcedon in AD 451. We view these challenges from a rather distant and triumphant post-Easter perspective: "The strife is o'er, the battle done."* Despite the seriousness of these early heresies and the clarity of confession that arose fiom the crucible of conflict, they neither marked the end to duistological controversies, nor wen the climax. The past two centuries, in fact, have witnessed cluistological controversies that rival and surpass those early 0nes.3 What is the basis for this bold assertion? Many of those early controversies concerned the true humanity of Jesus, especially the relationship of the humanity to his divinity, but not a denial of his divinity:' The current situation is much worse: the divinity of Christ as true God is incessantly questioned or denied. Therefore, although Jesus' 1 For a discusdon of these controversies, see Aloys Griheier, Christ in the Christian Tndition: Votume 1, Frum thc Apostdic Age to CMcedon (451), 2nd ed., trans. John Bowden (Atlanta: John Knox, 1975), and also the short summary in David P. Scaer, Christology, Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics VI (Fort Wayne: International Foundation fox Lutheran Confessional Reseanh, 1489). 10-20. 2 Thge are the opening words of the Easter hymn "The Strife is O'er, the Bade k." 3 For example, see the esays in Crisis in Christdogy: Essays in Quest of Resolution. ed. William R Farmer (Livh. Dove Booksellers, 1995). 4 Larry Hurtado notes that it was espedy "proto-orthodox" auisths that regarded Jesus' humanity as crucial for his redemptive work; Lord Jesus Christ: Dmtion Charles A. Gieschen is Professor of Exegetical Theology and Ominnan of the Depmhnent of Exegetical Theology at Concordia TheoIogrcal Seminmy, Fort Wayne, Indinnu. historical existence as a human is acknowledged by most scholars, serious discussion about the two natures of Christ has ceased among those who deny his divinity. This study, therefore, will argue that the church can defend the divinity of the Son by showing, through rigorous historical research, that the formative period for the identification of Jesus within the mystery of the one God was the two decades that followed his death and resurrection as evidenced in the worship of Jesus by Jews. Furthermore, this study will set forth four often underappreciated theological categories that should be used in defending the divine identity of the Son. I. The Current Controversy Concerning Jesus' Divinity M us begin with a very terse overview of the past two centuries of christological controversy in order to set the stage for where the church finds herself at the start of the twenty-first century. Although there were several post-Enlightenment scholars who were products of the rise of rationalism and the scientific method that sowed the seeds which blossomed into modem christological controversies, it is perhaps best to begin with David Friedrich Strauss. In his 1835 book The Life of Jesus Cnticdly Examined, Strauss approached the Gospels from the perspective that they should be read as religious texts and not as historical texts.5 The point of his attack was the miracle stories, especially the resurrection of Jesus. He characterized the miracle accounts in the Gospels as mythic presentations that symbolized the truth that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the first to make the distinction between the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history. In his view, Chrisfs deification took place within the early church long after the death of Jesus. Although this early book was optimistic for the viability of Christianity after his attack on the historical foundation of Jesus, he offered this pessimistic assessment a few decades later: The founder (of Christianity] is at the same time the most prominent object of worship; the system based upon him loses its support as soon as he is shown to be lacking in the qualities appropriate to an ow of religious worship. This, indeed, has long been apparent; for an object of religious adoration must be a Divinity, and thinking men have long since ceased to regard the founder of Christianity as such.6 5 David Friedrich Strauss, The Lib of Jesus Cnticnlly Examined ed. Peter C. Hodgson, trans. George Eiiot (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972). 6 David Friedrich Strauss, 7he Old and the New Faith, trans. G. A. Wells, 2 vols. (Anherst Prometheus Books, 1997) 1 54. Confronting Current Christological Controversy 5 This historical skepticism, which ceased to regard Jesus as divine, characterized those who followed Strauss during the latter half of the nkteenth century. After they scraped the Christ of faith off the pages of the four Gospels, the image that remained was Jesus as an ethical teacher. The accurakness of this research on Jesus was challenged by Albert Schweitzer at the beginning of the twentieth century in The Quest for the Historical lesus: The Jesus who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who reached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modem theology in an historical garb? Although Schweitzer debunked the simplistic portrait of Jesus painted by his predecessors and pointed instead to understanding Jesus as an apocalyptic visionary who was tragically martyred, he was even more skeptical than others about what could be known of Jesus. The complete dissembling of the Jesus of history from the Christ of faith, however, climaxed two decades later with Rudolf Bultmann. After applying his criteria of authenticity to Gospel traditions, he stated: "We can, strictly speaking, know nothing of the personality of Jesus. But this does not really matter, for it is not the historical Jesus that concerns us, but the kerygmatic Christ"8 Bultmann went on to become the dominant voice in twentiethcentury scholarship on the Gospels. He had been influenced by the work of WilheIm Bousset, whose name is synonymous with the well-known religionsgesclnchtliche Schuk (the History-of-Religions School)? Bousset had sought to use his vast knowledge of comparative religions to explain how Jesus came to be confessed as divine. He understood this confession as a late firstcentury development that resulted from the contact of Jesus' followers with the imperial cult, mystery religions, and Oriental religion outside of Palestine. Although Bousset died at a relatively early age, 7 Albert Schweitzer, The Questfor the Hist& jests, trans. J. W. Montgomery (New York MacMillan, 1970 [German origmal l906]), 398. 8 Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus rmd the Word (Berlin: Deutschetniothek, 1926), 147. 9 See Wilhelrn Bomset, Kyrios Christos: A History of the Bekef in Christ from the Beginnings of Christirmity to 1rwuaeu.s. trans. J. Steely, 5th ed. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1970). The first German edition was published in 1913. Bultrnann endorsed Bousset's flawed developmental model and extended its life through much of the twentieth century?O The closing decades of the twentieth century have witnessed a renewed interest in the relationship between the historical Jesus and the depictions of him in the Gospels, but this interest is stiU characterized by historical skepticism. The now infamous Jesus Seminar consisted of a group of scholars who voted on the historical probability of individual sayings and ations of Jesus from individual Gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas." Several of these scholars have produced monographs, but none has captivated as much popular attention as John Dominic Crossan's The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant.= He prides himself on his methodological rigor which leads him to conclude that Jesus was a poor, illiterate, peasant leader who Ied a social movement against the established religious and political powers of his day. Similar recent studies depict Jesus as a cynic teacher or an apocalyptic prophet, usually far short of one who is the divine Son, although serious voices have been raised against such portraits.'3 Two major paradigm shifts have occurred in the study of Jesus over the past two centuries. First, a very conscious and sharp separation of the Jesus of history from the Christ of faith has occurred in scholarship. The concIusion has been drawn that the Gospels teach us much about the Christ of faith but very little about the Jesus of history. This historical skepticism is seen in the movement from historical approaches to various literary approaches over the last half of the twentieth century.'4 Recent commentaries on the Gospels are no longer dominated by source criticism, '0 For Bulimann's endorsement of Bousset's flawed approach, see The Theology of the New Testament, 2 vols., trans. Kenneth Grobel (New YO*: Charles Scnier's Sons, 1951 and 1955). 1: 52 11 Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and The Jesus Seminar, The Fm Gospels: Wt Did Jesus Renlly Say? The Search fir the Authentic Words ofJesus (New York: MacMillan, 1993). For a helpful critique, see Jeffrey Gibbs, "The Search for the Idiosyncratic Jesus: A Critique of the Jesus Sands The Fiue Gospeb," Concoda Journd20 (1994): 368-384. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: 7he Lifi of a Mediferrrmen Peasant (San Francisco: Harper, 199l). 13 For example, see Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Isus: The Misguided Quest fir the Historid Jesus md the Truth of the Traditionnl Gospels (San Francisco: Harper, 19%). 14 Especially prominent among literary approaches to the Gcspels wer the past few decades is narrative criticism. This shift to the use of narrative criticism was seen first in the study of the Gospel of John; R. Alan Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (PhiIadelphia- Fortrrss, 1m). Confronting Current Christological Controversy 7 form criticism, or redaction criticism. While some celebrate this change, with it has also come a growing lack of engagement with the history of Jesus as interpreters increasingly focus exclusively on the literary artistry of the narrative. The historical research that has survived tends to focus on the social context of the evangelists and their communities, not Jesus. David Scaer warns us that we must not ignore the history of Jesus himseIf: "For those who have no firm confidence in the historicity of Jesus, a true Christology is impo~sible."~5 !%cond, the evolutionary or developmental model for understanding Jesus Christ has become firmly entrenched among New Testament scholars and theologians.'b This model presents Christology as gradually developing from understanding Jesus as a prophet in AD 30 to asserting that he is a divine being who is one with God in a few New Testament documents of the late first century (for example, the Gospel of John) and finally to confessing him to be "of one substance with the Father, very God of very God" at Nicea in the fourth century.17 This is a modem form of Adoptionism. IL The Search for Historical Evidence of Jesus' Divine Identity There have been three basic responses from within the church to these controversies. One response has been to follow the consensus. Even as Christmas and Easter articles in Newsweek and Time, TV network specials, and fiction like The DaVinn' 6de have all popularized the conclusion that the divinity of Jesus was a aeation of the later church, some within Christianity deny his incarnation and physical resurrection. Another response has been to ignore these controversies as scholarly rubbish that does not merit Christian response. More than a few have chosen this path. Let the academy discredit its Jesus and the church adore her Lord. The third response has been to challenge these controversies by refuting assertions claiming to be historically trustworthy. Since many Christians wiU be mesmerized by sensational scholarship, Christian scholars must respond. Even as we confess the Nicene Creed, we must defend the divine identity of Jesus through careful and credible historical research in the Scriptures that are the Iiving foundation for this confession. " Scaer, Christdogy, 16. '6 I am using these terms as synonyms. Some scholars distinguish between the use of these two terms; for example, see C. F. D. Mode, The Origin of ChrisMogy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, lq, 2-3. '7 For example, see Manrice Casey, From leurish Prophet to Gentile God: The Origins and Dewlopment of New Testament Christology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1991). Historical research has identified the earLiest extant evidence for identification of Jesus with the one God of Israel. This was not a development that occurred over the first few centuries or even over the course of the first century. The evidence points us to the earthly ministry of Jesus and the two decades that followed, namely between AD 30 and 50. Despite the divergent dating of New Testament documents by scholars, we can be certain that the first ones were written no later than the early 50s. They contain evidence that Jesus was worshipped, which is very significant evidence for his divine identification Such worship, moreover, must predate the documents themselves. In light of this, consider this provocative assertion by Martin Hengel, the highly respected New Testament scholar who taught many years at Tiibingen: . . . one is tempted to say that more happened in this period of less than two decades than in the whole of the next seven centuries, up to the time when the doctrine of the early church was completed. Indeed, one might euen ask whether the finnation of doctrine in the early church was essentially moTe than a consistent dmelapment and completion of what has already been unfolded in the primal mt of the first two decades, but in the languuge and thght-fi of Greek, whch was its necessary setting.18 Hengel's statement stands against the sea of scholarship that has eroded the understanding and confession of Jesus' divine identity. Historians must deal with the evidence that Jesus was worshipped as Lord by Jews already in the earliest years of Christianity, and not only by Gentiles in the final decade of the first century. m. The Worship of Jesus The most important evidence for Jesus' divine identity is the worship of him by Jews prior to the first New Testament writings. The First Commandment testifies that worship of any beiig other than YHWH is idolatry (Exodus 20:3-6). For first-century Jews to worship Jesus and to reflect this veneration in their writing, they would first need to believe that the fleshly Jesus is within the mystery of YHWH, otherwise they would be practicing blatant idolatry. Although the New Testament documents undoubtedly nurtured future worship of Jesus, these documents did not 18 Martin Hengel, The Son of W The Origin of Christobgy and the History of Jewish Hellenistic ReIigion (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), 2 his emp-, see also his logy and New Testament Chronology," Between Jesus und Pal, trans. John Bowden (London: SCM, I=), 30-47. Confronting Current Christological Controversy 9 create or commence such worship; they reflect, rather, the worship of Jesus that existed to their composition. Larry Hurtado has defended this thesis in his Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Emliest Christianity.19 In this volume he demonstrates that devotion to Jesus arose in the first decade or two after Jesus' death and resurrection, was intense, and was widespread among monotheistic J~ws.~~ Hurtado resifts the historical sources in order to show that Jesus' position in prayers, hymns, confession, baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Gospels, all understand "the reverence given to Jesus as an extension of the worship of God."P After reviewing the evidence for the multiple ways devotion was shown to Jesus in the early decades of Christianity, he then offers these conclusions: Moreover, devotion to Jesus as divine erupted suddenly and quickly, not gradually and late, among firstcentury circles of followers. More specifically, the origins lie in Jewish circles of the earliest years. Only a certain wishful thinking continues to attribute the reverence of Jesus as divine decisively to the influence of pagan religion and the influx of Gentile converts, charaderizing it as developing late and incrementally. Furthermore, devotion to Jesus as the "Lord," to whom cultic reverence and total obedience were the appropriate response, was widespread, not confined or attributable to particular circles, such as "Hellenists" or Gentile Christians of a supposed Syrian "Christ cult"" The Gospels contain some testimony that Jesus was even worshipped during his earthly ministry. For example, Matthew records the posture of worship (~pomwh) towards Jesus being taken by different individuals on different occasions: the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:11), those who seek a miracle (Matthew 8:2, 918, 15:25), the mother of the Zebedee brothers (Matthew 20-a), the women at tomb after the resurrection (Matthew 28:9), and the disciples after the resurrection (Matthew 28:17). The sigruficance of apol~t& as implying actual veneration is made clear by its use in the temptation narrative where Satan requests that Jesus take such a posture before him (Mathew 49). Even if such evidence is dismissed by critical 19 It should be noted that Hurtado prefers the nomenclature of devotion wer worship because it is M~I and more inclusive of the type of evidence he discusses. m !+e fuxthe~ the rrviews of Hurtado's book by James Voelz and David Scaer that follow this article. Hurtado, Lord Jms Christ, 151. Hurtado, Lord Jesus U?ist, 650. historians as reflecting later Christian practice, these texts remain solid evidence that Jesus was indeed being worshipped by Jews prior to the composition of Matthew. Like most literary traditions, these presuppose actual practice. N. Undeappreciated Categories for the Divine Identity of Jesus Based upon the evidence of the worship of Jesus by Jews, which was both very early and extensive, this question arises: What were the theological categories that allowed for the identification of Jesus within the mystery of the one God of Israel YHWH, which must have taken place prior to, or in conjunction with, the actual worship of Jesus? There are two categories that have been traditionally used as support for Jesus' divine identity. First, Jesus did divine deeds during his earthly ministry (for example, miracles), the foremost being his own resurrection from the dead.= It is difficult to overstate the role that Jesus' resurrection played in confirming his divine identity. It must be realized, however, that the primary deed of Jesus upon which New Testament writers focus much attention is his death. The sigruficance of the death of Jesus for his divine identity is expressed well by Richard Bauckham: The profoundest points of New Testament Christology occur when the inclusion of the exalted Christ in the divine identity entails the inclusion of the crucified Christ in the divine identity, and when the Uuistological pattern of humiliation and dtation is recogmad as revelatory of God, indeed as the definitive revelation of who God is.Z4 Moreover, New Testament documents evinte that many of the other deeds of Jesus were understwd primarily in relationship to YHWH's past deeds in the history of Israel; the same God is understood and presented to be acting in both. Second, the divine tides which are given to Jesus are a category frequently used as support for the identification of Jesus within the mystery of YHWH.5 Here ~~oc ("Lord") and &oD ui& ("Son of For example, see espedally N. T. Wright, 7he Resurrection 4 Ute Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God Volume 3 (Phhdelphia: Form, 20M). 21 Richard Baudcham, God Cncafiut. Monotheism Pnd ChristoIogy in the New Testament (Grand Rapids. hdmans, 1999), 46. My use of the "divine identity" nomenclature is iduemed by Bauckham. For an important discusion of Jesus' title, see Oscar Cullmann, 7hr Christdogy of tk New Testmnenf, rev. ed., trans. Shirley C Guthrie and Charles A. tvi. Hall (F'hiladelphk W-, 1963). Confronting Current Quistological Controversy 11 God") usually receive pride of place. Less frequent are discussions about the significance of Jesus possessing the divine name (transliterated "YHWH") or Jesus' use of b uik to5 &vOpdnou ("the Son of man") as testimony to his divinity and preexistence (and not his humanity as an offspring of humans). Within these two broad divisions are theological categories that are marginalized in discussions of the divine identity of Jesus. Four such underappreciated categories that were important among first-century Jewish Christians are: Jesus' Death as Universal Atonement; The Son's Preincarnak Existence; Jesus' Possession of the divine name; and Jesus' Self-Identification as the Son of Man. Each of these will now be examined for important historical evidence that testifies to the divine identity of JesusasYHWH. Jesus' Death as Universal Atonement The passion narratives dominate the presentation of Jesus in the four Gospels. Even skeptical historians have difficulty denying the crucifixion of Jesus. A natural question arises: If the church was out to transform the human Jesus into the divine Christ as critics allege, why would they focus doggedly on the crucifixion as central to understanding him? It is noteworthy that historical research often attacks the reliability of miracle accounts in the Gospels. If miracles are so important to the identity of Jesus, why do the Gospels depict Jesus discouraging those who are healed from speaking about them (for example, Mark 1:44)? The Gospels, instead, focus on the necessity of Jesus' death and resurrection as his definitive work: "From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised" (Matthew 16:21).% The message of a crucified God was scandalous to Jews and foolishness to the Hellenistic world, yet it took center stage in the preaching of the apostles (1 Corinthians 1:1&25). For Paul this message was the creed of first generation Christians "For I handed over to you as of first importance See also Matthew 1722-23.20.17-19, as well as paralIels in Luke (9:22: 944; 18:31- 33) and Mark (831; 932 1e.3-34). John records Jesus pointing to his own death in a different manner, using language such as the destroying of his temple (219). the coming of his hour @4; 7:W, %a, 1223; 133; 17:l). the lifting up of the Sa of man (514; 8:28; 1232-34). the glorification of the Son of man (7:39; 1223; 13:31), the giving of his flesh (6:51), and the laying down of his entire being (lQ11,15,18). what I also received, that Christ died on behalf of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 1554). Nils Dahl has made this important observation about Jesus' death: The end of Jesus' life stands at the heart of the gospel; this historical Jesus, like the kerygmatic Christ, is the crucified Messiah. There is no gap between the historical Jesus and the preaching of the church; rather, there exists a close and inseparable connection." The connection is the death of Jesus. This tradition which Paul received contains the phrase ETL Xprmk C~GBavcv Grip sBv t+mpr~Bv +v ("that Christ died on behalf of our sins"). This pre-Pauline formula reflects an early and nevertheless complex understanding of Christ's death as substitutionary atonement. Rather than understanding the death of Jesus as having to do primarily with Christ's humanity, it is apparent that many early Christians viewed Jesus' death as the ultimate revelation of his divinity. While it was certainly noble martyrdom, it was primarily understood and proclaimed as universal atonement.= The interpretation of Jesus' death as universal atonement is visible in synoptic Gospel texts that use the language or imagery of both Passover (Exodus 12 and 24) and the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).29 The theme of atonement is presented already in Matthew's baptismal narrative with Jesus' words to John the Baptist. "It is necessary for us to fuIjll all righteousness" (3:15).w This statement is probably a reflection of Isaiah 5311, "By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities."" This theme is made explicit when Matthew explains Jesus' healing5 in terms of atonement with a quotation that calls to mind all of Isaiah 53: "This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, 'He took our infirmities and bore our diseases"' (Matthew 817 quoting Isaiah 534). Both Matthew and z7 Nils Alstrup Dahl. Iesus the Christ: The Historical Origins of Ulristological Doctrine, ed. Donald H. Juel (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 44. Peter J. Saer traces the theme of a noble death in Luke's passion narrative; The Lukan Passion d the Praiseworthy Death (Shefield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, mS). " See John Kleinig. Leuiiicus, Concordia Commentary (St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004). 30 David P. Scaer, Discourses in Matthew: leas Teaches Ule Church (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004), 245-263. 31 Pilate's wife wen refers to JBU~ as the "righteous man" in Matthew's passion narrative (2739). Confronting Curtent Christological Controversy 13 Mark include important testimony of Jesus himself to his atoning work: "The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and give his entire being as a ransom [botva~ jv Jruxiv ahto6 A6tpovl in the place of many [&mi aoMr3v; that is, the masses of humanity]" (Matthew 20:28; see also Mark 10:45). Luke lacks this explicit statement, yet he uses Exodus- Passover imagery in his interpretation of Jesus' death as the eschatological release from captivity. This is signaled already in Jesus' programmatic sermon in Nazareth (note the use of E+EOLV and &+Ccw~ in Luke 4:1&19), and reinforced in his transfiguration account (note the use of jv i .. . ("I am who I am") is rendered iy4 ~ip~ 6 cjv ("I am the one who is"). This relationship has been demonstrated by previous scholarship.50 If these absolute iy4 rip1 sayings were not closely related to the divine name, why does one cause the Jews who heard it to reach for stones (859) and another cause his arresting party to fall to the ground (18:6)? Even though this formula in John should not be understood simplistically as the divine name that Jesus has been given (17:6), nevertheless these absolute sayings are very closely related to it and function as a way of indicating that Jesus is the possessor of the divine name, as will be discussed below. The message these absolute sayings convey is bold: Jesus' seven self- declarations are a complete revelation of YHWH who discloses his identity a9 Catrin H. Williams, I mn He: The Inte~prefntion of 'Ani Hic' in Jewish and Ear& Christian Literature, WUNT Il.113 piibingen: Mohr Siekk 2LW). 5W.. There are nine divine disclosure statements in the MT and seven in the LXX: R'l7 lJU lJ5 @euteronomy 3239) x'ln .)I( (hiah 41:4; a:lo, 13; 464; 48.12; 526. n?n '=jy '$y (Isaiah 43:25; 51:12) and tyir Lip (Deuteronomy 3239; Isaiah 414; 43:lO; 4518) kycj CL~L iy& ctp~ (Isaiah 43:25,46:4; 51:12). Bauckham notes that John has seven absolute Gycj E~+L sayings, but in the last occume in Gethsanane it is spoken three times (for a total of nine). so For example, Sean M. McDonough, YHWH at Patmos: Rm. 1:4 in its Hellenistic and Emtylewish Setting, WLJhT 11.107 (Tiibingen: Mohr SieW 19991 171-176. Confronting Current Christological Controversy 21 with the same phrase the same number of times in the Old Testament. Jesus is thereby fully identified with YHWH.51 This understanding of the Son as YHWH who is visible and speaks in the Old Testament is summarized succinctly with these words of Jesus in John: "You search the Suiptures . . .; it is they that bear witness to me . . .. Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you behe my words?" (John 5:39,45-47) 52 Does this mean that since the Father is unseen, he was somehow unknown to patriarchs and prophets? No, because what Jesus said to Philip also applies to his preincarnate existence: "The one who has seen me, has seen the Father'' (John 149). lesus' Possession of the Divine Name The primary area where interpreters have long acknowledged some relationship between Jesus and the divine name, YHWH, is in explanations of the frequent title K~LW ("Lord) that is ascribed to Christ in the New Testament53 One typical basis for asserting a relationship between these two is the pre-Christian practice by translators of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek of rendering m;P with K~~Lw." Although there have been some skeptics, the early confession K+LW ?wok XPLOT~ ("Jesus Christ is Lord) can be seen to reflect Jewish identification of Jesus with YHWH." 51 Bauckham, "Monotheism and Christology in the Gospel of John." 52 For a similar christological reading of the Old Testament, see Luke 24.25 and 2:444- 447. 9 For example, Christopher M. Tuckett, Qlristology and the Nezo Testmnent: Jesus and His Ediest FoUuwers (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 19-22 Albert Pietersma, "Kyrios or Tetragram: A Renewed Quest for the Original Septuagint," De Septuagintc Studies in Honour of John William Wm~s on his sixthfifth birthday, ed. Albert Pietersma and Claude Cox (Mississaug, Ontario: Benben Publications, 1984), t3510l; see also McDonough, YHWH at Patmos, 60-61. 55 This is widely understood as the foundational confession or creed of the early . . Chnslmw esp. Romans 109, 9,ppians 211 and 1 Corinthians 123 (6. John W.28). Wieh Bousset argued in the early twentieth century that this title and confession was adapted by Christians like Paul outside of Palestine under influence from Hellenistic understandings of K~LK and rupior; see his Kyrios Christos. Although many challenged Bousset over the years, his theory held considerable sway until the important study by Joseph Fimyer, "The Semitic Backgound of the New Testament KyriosTitle", The Discussion of the divine name in early Christology usually fades fast after one reads beyond the important K+LW title because scholars argue that interest quickly shifted to the personal name Jesus." Pre-Christian texts from the Old Testament and late Second Temple Jewish literature, however, tes* to interest in the figure who possesses the divine name or Tetragrammaton.9 Because the early Christian evidence has been presented in detail elsewhere, the discussion that follows will be limited to the Gospel of John in order to illustrate the importance of the divine name as a theological category used to express Jesus' divine identity.* The Gospel of John unambiguously asserts that Jesus shares the name of the Father: "I have come in my Father's name [iy& iA+da iv r6 6+rr TOO aarpk pou], and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive" (5:43). "I have come in my Father's name" has been interpreted as asserting that Jesus has come by and with the authority of the Father. Although there is certainly a relationship between the word name and authority, this statement sipdies a more intimate connection: Jesus has come as the one who possesses and shows forth the divine name. This Gospel depicts Jesus demonstrating what his true name is by what he says and especially by what he does: "The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me" (10:25b; see also 14:lO-11). John depicts Jesus as the embodiment of the divine name of the Father, to the extent that Jesus even prays, "Father, glody your name [a&rcp, €&KG& aou rb Bvqrar (1228). This is not simply a pious prayer that God's name be honored though Jesus' sacrifice; it is the identification of Jesus as the one who possesses the divine name. This indicates that he can simply be identified a. the Name, much like the visible manifestations of YHWH in Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. This personal identification of the divine Semitic Background of the New TestOmOIf (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1997), 11 5-142 This is a revised and expanded version of "Der semistische Hintergruud des neutestamentlichen ~~ri&tels," jesus Christus in Historie und Thedogie: ~eu&tamenliche Festschrift fir Hans Cmlelmmrn zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. G. Wer (Tiibingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1975), 267-298. % is the understanding of Hurtado; Lord lesus Christ, 381-392. 57 Charles A. Giesdren. "The Divine Name in AnteNicene Christology," Vigrliae ChriSfianae 57 (2003): 121-127. 5~ The evidence is presented in Gieschen, "The Divine Name in Ante-Nicene (hristology," 115-157. The discussion of John that follows is a slightly revised fonn of material from this article. A significant text not discussed below ithe w of Psalm 110 in the synoptic Gospels in order to testify to the pre-existence of the Son as David's Lord with the LORD (Matthew 2241-46; Mark 1235-37; Luke n41-44). Confronting Current Qlristological Controversy 23 name as Jesus is supported by the parallel announcement that comes shortly before this prayer: "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified" (1223). The "Son of man", therefore, is also known as "your [the Fathefs] name."59 That "your name" could be understood in this way by the intended readers of this Gospel is apparent from the use of cb bvb as a title-indeed the only title-of Jesus in 3 John: "For they departed on behalf of the name [hkp y&p coir du&cq 45.iiAieov] and have accepted nothing from the heathen" (v. 7). The Gospel of John most clearly presents Jesus as the possessor of the divine name in the prayer of Jesus at the close of the farewell discourse (John 17): I revealed your name to those you gave me from the world. (17:6a) Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, in order that they be one, as we are one. WhiIe I was with them, I proteded them m your name that you have given me. (1211 b) I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known. (17:26) Several conclusions can be drawn from these petitions. First, the repeated use of the personal pronoun makes it evident that the name discussed here is the divine name of the Father, to whom this prayer is directed." Second, the divine name was given to the Son (17:llb). Based upon the testimony in this prayer that the Son received the Fathefs glory before the foundation of the world (17:24), the giving of the divine name is also understood to have taken place before creation.61 Third, Jesus has made the 9 The relationship between this divine name tradition and the prominent Son of man sayings in John can be understood in light of traditions like those in 1 Enodr 37-?l discussed above. It is apparent that this Gospel challenges some of the Jewish understandings of the Son of man figure in its portrait of Jw, see Baudcham, God crucified, 63-79. Most commentators argue that here "name" denotes the "revealed character and nature of God" rather than the divine name; see Williams, 1 I He, 280 n. 85. Gills Quispel argues that these verses refer to the Divine Name that was hidden, but has been revealed by Jesus; see "John and Jewish -9," lohn rmd Qumm, ed. J.H. Charlesworth (London: Chapman, lm), 148-155. 61 ThiS condudon is also based upon the identification of the preexistent Word as the divine me in both the prologue and the farewell prayer; see discussion below and GiesEhen, Ange- Chrisrology, 27l-280. divine name, which is normally a hidden mystery in this world, known to his disciples. Fourth, the divine name that was revealed to the disciples by Jesus has protecting power (17:llb). This power is espeaally reassuring to the disciples because earIier in the farewell discourse Jesus gives some emphasis to how much they will suffer "on account of my name" (15:21), a theme that is aIso found in Ads (541; 9.16; 15%; 21:13). This power of the divine name for the one who believes in the true identity of Jesus (that he is YHWH) is a subject that is explaii several times earlier in the farewell discourse (14:12-13; 15:16; 1623-24; 16%). Here is but one representative example: Amen, amen, I say to you, the one who beIiwes in me will aIso do the works that I do; and greater works than these wiU he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name [iv TQ bvt$m~i pu], I will do it, that the Father be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name [iv ry 6vt$m~i pu], I will do it (1412-13) This certainly does not refer to usmg the personal name Jesus as some kind of theurgic formula, but asking in the confession that Jesus' true name is YHWH, a word of power. Testimony to the vital importance of knowing the name possessed by the Son is frequent in John. Already in the prologue, this bold assertion is made: But to all who received him, who believe in his name [rot< RLUKE~WLV ri~ ~b iwqra ah~ou], he gives power to become children of God. (1:12) It is noteworthy that the focus is not only believing in Jesus, but speafically believing m his name (that is, his true identity as YHWH in the flesh). In light of Jesus having the divine name of the Father as discussed above, "believe in his name" here should be understood as trusting that Jesus possesses the divine name and, thus, he is identified as being within the mystery of YHWH. This idea is also expressed in the reaction of the disciples to Jesus' sign at Cana. "Many believed in his name" (223). Knowing the true name of Christ is the source of life according to the thematic conclusion of the Gospel: "in order that, because you believe, you have life in his name" (m31). Conversely, the lack of belief that Jesus possesses the divine name brings eschatologKd judgment "he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (318). Confronting Current Qvistological Controversy 25 The prominence of the divine name in Johannine Christology is further accentuated by seeing its relationship with A6yoc ("Word) theology in this GospeL The l.6~~ Quisblogy of the prologue is widely recognized (1:1, 14), but its source is often sought solely in wisdom tradition rather than in angelomorphic traditions where the theophanic figure who possesses the divine name is called "the Word" or "the Word of God" .62 In light of the prominent focus of the prologue on the Word's involvement in creation (1:3) as well as Jewish evidence linking creation to the divine name, there is a firm foundation for the conclusion that the divine name is central to John's understanding of b Gyo~. It is also important to note that the Gyq tradition is found in John beyond the prologue, wen though it often fails to be noticed. It is natural b expect this Gospel, with its dominant prologue on "the Word," to continue this theme in some way in the body of the narrative. Although one does not find further examples of 6 A6y~ after the prologue, A6yw is found in the sin- form modified by a personal pronoun in chapters 5, 8, and 17." For example, Jesus states in the polemical dialogue of chapter 5: "Neither his voice have you wer heard, nor his image have you ever seen, and his word you do not have abiding in you [~ai ~bv k6yov absoO oh ZXETE 6v hpiv ~ivovra)" (5:3%38a). Based upon the reciprocal relationship between the terms word and nmne in the prologue, and the prominence of name theology elsewhere in John as discussed above, including in this immediate context (5:43), the referent of "his word in 538 should be interpreted to be "his name" rather than "his communication or teaching." The sense of the sentence is this: These Jews have obviously never heard the voice of YHWH nor seen the image of YKWH nor had the name of YHWH in them, otherwise they would not be rejecting Jesus (in whom one hears YHWH, sees YHWH, and has the divine name revealed). The technical understanding of here as "name" is confirmed in part by the observation that the immediate context (5:47) uses a plural form of bh-not Gyq-to refer to words in the sense of teachings: "But if you do 61 For a corrective, see Jar1 E. Fossum, "In the Beginning was the Name: Onomanology as the Key to Johannine Christdogy", The lmge of the Inmsible God: Essays on the Influence of Jeraish Mysticism on Early Chrisfdogy, NTOA 30 (Univesitiitsverlag Freiburg Schwiez and Vandenhod & Ruprecht mgeq 1995). 109-133. 63 Even though this theory has much merit, John 14:23-24 does not fit neatly into the puzzle because it shifts between L5y~ (singular), )ct?o~ (plural), and lhuw (singular). Even here, however, keeping 'my word [name]" could be understood as the key to the keeping "my words [teachings)". not believe his Noses's] writings, how will you believe my words [rra rot< IpoZc bbtv n~or~krc]?" This technical usage of Aky~ is es@y dense in the polemical dialogue of John 8: If you abide in my word [%v &LC ~iwc &u rQ AkYy rw &I, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will free you. (831) I know that you are seed of Abraham, yet you are seeking to kill me, because my word finds no place in you ["or1 b Aky~ b i& ot xwi Cv i]lLIv]. (8:37) Why do you not understand my speech [dJ ri Aak~hv 4v &fiv 06 y~vciolrcrc]? Because you are not able to hear my word ["os~ 06 66v& dutok~v sbv Akyov rbv Wv]. (8:43) Amen, Amen, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word FL rLc rbv Cpbv Akyov +], he will surely not see death unto the ages. (8:51) But I know him [that is, God/the Father] and I keep his word [~ai 5bv k5yov aCr06 -1. (855) The identity of Jesus is a central question throughout John, including this chapter. As demonstrated earlier, it is belief "in his name" that brings life. The sayings here about "my word", therefore, can be better understood if their referent is interpreted as Jesus' name rather than his teaching. For example, this approach enables one to make sense of John 8:43. "Why do you not understand my speech? Because you are not able to hear my word (that is, "If you confessed my word, my name, to be the divine name, you would receive and understand my speech as the speaking of YHWH"). Understanding 8:31 in the sense of "abide in my name" fits better with the organic and personal union described later with the same verb "Abide in me, and I in you" (154). Furthermore, "keeps my word in 8:51 fits better with the soteriology of the rest of the Gospel if understood in the sense of "confesses my name", rather than in the sense of "obeys my teaching". This reciprocal relationship between the terms wd and nmne in John is woven tightly together in the prayer of John 17 at the close of the farewell discourse, a prayer that returns the reader to the central themes of the prologue: Confronting Current Christological Controversy 27 I revealed your name ['E&wipd oou rb iivgm] to those you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word [~al rbv Gyov oou renipma]. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words [rh bkra] that you gave to me I have given to them@ (176-8) I have given them your word [rbv Gyov UOU], and the world hated them. (1734) Sanctify them in the truth; your Word is truth [b A6yq b ok &li&c& &UTLV]. (1717) This evidence from John is meant to confirm the important role of Jesus' possession of the divine name in his divine identity. These texts clearly reflect that long before the Nicene Creed confessed the Son to be of "one substance with the Father," firstcentury Jews were confessing the full identification of the Son with the Father on the basis of the divine name they share. Jesus' Serf-Identification as the Son of Man Much about Christ's divine identity has been discussed to this point with little reference to the many titles of Jesus that typically dominate discussions of Christology. Although critical scholars tend to see many of the titles of Jesus as the reading of later confessions back into the earthly ministry of Jesus, "the Son of man" (b uik roi, drvOpisrou) is one title that makes it through the sieve of theii criteria of authenticity.* This title is found primarily on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels (except John 12:34), and is frequent in all four Gospels." It is clear the Son of man is not a confessional title of the later church since it is not the content of the major confessions in the Gospels, but is Jesus' public self-designation used during hi. earthly ministry as he established the kingdom or reign of a That the reader is to understand "word" here in the sense of "name" is alluded to by the careful switch from the singular rw G,pv (17:6) m the plural ra hra (17:7) in consecutive sentences. fi For a good summary of the philologml issues, see Joseph A. Fitzmyer, "The New Testament Title'San of Man'," A Wnndering Ammenn: Collected Ardc Essays, SBLMS 25 (Missodil: Scholars Press, 1979), 143-160. For &assion of the history of scholarship on the subject, see Delbert Burkett. 7he Son of Man Debuk A History rmd Evaluation, SNTSMS 107 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). It is found 30 times in Matthew, 14 in Mark, 25 in Luke, and 12 in John; see Douglas R A. Hare, The Son of Nlnn Ttnditiun (Mmneapok: Fortress, 1990). G0d.6~ Scholars have found it difficult to understand the meaning of this self-designation, largely because of attempts to escape the huge shadow cast by the use of a similar phrase in Daniel 7:13 @IT W% 12 uik &u@&T~ou). This title has not been used extensively by &tiam after the New Testament, except mistakenly as a designation for the human nature of Jesus.68 This understanding of the title is still promulgated in some hymns.69 Absolutely crucial to understanding the significance of this title as revelatory of Jesus' divine identity is seeing the influence of DanieI El3 on the later use of this title among first-century Jews, including Jesus.m It must be remembered that Daniel 793 was not a marginal text in first- century Judaism and Christianity. Both its relationship to the depiction of YHWH as the enthroned likeness of "the man" in Ezekiel 1:26-28 as well as its signifcant influence upon later apocalyptic texts Like I Enoch 37-7l, the book of Revelation (1:13; 14:14), and 4 Ezra 13 testify to its irnp~rtance.~ Grouping the Son of man sayings into three neat categories can be helpful for study purposes (for example, Earthly Son of man sayings, Suffering Son of man sayings, and Eschatological Son of man sayings), but rigid categorization can distract from understanding how these sayings function together within each Gospel. Just as it is obvious that Daniel 7:13 played an important role in understanding several of the eschatological Son of man sayings in the Gospels (for example, Matthew 67 See Jack Dean Kingsbury, Matthew, Proclamation Commentaries, Second Edition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, I%), 33-65. @ See the discussion in Cullmann, The Chnstology of the Nm Testmetit, 188-192 64 See the understanding that the referent of "Son of man" is Christ's human nature (in apposition to "Son of God" which refers to Christ's divine nature) as expressed in the hymns "Stricken. Smitten, and Afflicted" (stanza 4) and "Beautiful Saviof (stanza 4). m Contrary to the assessment of Hurtado, Lord jesus Christ, S306. 1 Enoch 37-7l is especially important testimony concerning how the Son of man of Daniel 7 was being interpreted among first-century Jews as a preexistent person within the mystery of YHWH who would bring deliverance on the last day; see James C. VanderKam, "Righteous One, Messiah, Chosen One, and Son of Man in 1 En& 37-7l", The Messiah: Developments in Emty juduism and Christianity, ed. James H. Charlesworth (h4mneapolis: Fortress, 1992) 169-191. For the dose identification of the Son of man with the Ancient of Days in these chapters, see Charles A. Gieschen, "The Name of the Son of Man in 7 Enoch," Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of Pambles ed. Gabriele Bocwcini (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, forthcoming in 2006). Confronting Current Christological Controversy 29 25-31), it is also simplistic to argue that Daniel 7:13 plays no role in the origin and interpretation of the earthly and suffering Son of man sayings. What was puzzling for Jesus' followers was not that he speaks of himself as the Son of man, but specifically how he speaks of himself as the Son of man. The Son of man is not only seen enthroned in heaven at the end of time, but-most importantly-on earth upon the cross in time (for example, Matthew 2464; John 12:23, 32-34). Interpreters are so familiar with the depiction of Christ enthroned that some fail to see the profound theological sigruficance of enthronement as idenwing Jesus within the mystery of YHWH.* The so-called earthly and suffering Son of man sayings show how Jesus redefines some Jewish Son of man expectations in light of humiliation (Psalm 8) and suffering (the servant songs of Isaiah). Oscar Cullmann refleded upon this redefinition process decades ago and explained it in this manner: One may ask why Jesus preferred the title Son of Man to that of the ebed Yahweh rather than the reverse. This becomes quite understandable when we consider that the Son of Man idea is more comprehensive. It both refers to Jesus' future work, and at the same time, with regard to kus work as the incarnate one, visualizes his humanity as such. It was therefore more appropriate to subordinate the ebed Yahweh concept to that of the Son of Man. Jesus did this in such a way that the vocation of the ebed becomes, so to speak, the main content of the Son of Man's earthly work. As soon as the Son of Man concept was applied to the earthly life of Jesus, the two central Qlristological titles, Son of Man and Suffering Servant of God, have to come into contact Both the 'Suffering Servant' and the 'Son of Man' already existed in Second Temple Judaism. But Jesus' combination of precisely these two titles was something completely new. 'Son of Man' represents the highest conceivable declaration of exaltation in Judaism; ebed Yahweh is the expression of the deepest humiliation. . . . This is the unheard-of new act of Jesus, that he united these two apparently contradictory 72 See Richard Bauckham, "The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus," 7he Iewish Rook of atristologicnl Monotheism: Popen from the St. Andrews CDnference of the Wolshtp of Jesus, edited by Carey C. Newman, James R. Davila, and Gladys S. Lewis, JSJSup 63 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 43-69. tasks in his self