“High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5422
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Peter Kirby » Mon Dec 16, 2013 2:48 pm

I'm not sure that a single, obscure text, completely unknown to rabbinical Judaism ("The Wisdom of Solomon"), can be used to broadly claim that "Judaism had already taken a turn for the Arian." Melito, I believe, classified it within the New Testament canon.
People who think they know Second Temple Judaism and its (lack of) variety (because they know rabbinic Judaism) have been the greatest force for misunderstanding and misrepresenting the religious milieu of the early Christians for a very long time now. But if you want to be part of that trend, it's your perogative.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

User avatar
Blood
Posts: 899
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:03 am

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Blood » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:07 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
I'm not sure that a single, obscure text, completely unknown to rabbinical Judaism ("The Wisdom of Solomon"), can be used to broadly claim that "Judaism had already taken a turn for the Arian." Melito, I believe, classified it within the New Testament canon.
People who think they know Second Temple Judaism and its (lack of) variety (because they know rabbinic Judaism) have been the greatest force for misunderstanding and misrepresenting the religious milieu of the early Christians for a very long time now. But if you want to be part of that trend, it's your perogative.
I think we need to make distinctions between Hellenistic/Greek/diaspora Judaism and the home grown variety, though neither was hermetically sealed off from the other. Sure, Philo and the Greek-speaking author of "The Wisdom of Solomon" rhapsodized about Sophia, but I don't see that kind of quasi-gnosticism making too many inroads with the rabbinical schools. To say that "Judaism" was somehow represented by "The Wisdom (Sophia) of Solomon" and/or Philo is claiming a lot for what was probably a minor aspect of one school of Judaism.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5422
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Peter Kirby » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:28 pm

Blood wrote:
Peter Kirby wrote:
I'm not sure that a single, obscure text, completely unknown to rabbinical Judaism ("The Wisdom of Solomon"), can be used to broadly claim that "Judaism had already taken a turn for the Arian." Melito, I believe, classified it within the New Testament canon.
People who think they know Second Temple Judaism and its (lack of) variety (because they know rabbinic Judaism) have been the greatest force for misunderstanding and misrepresenting the religious milieu of the early Christians for a very long time now. But if you want to be part of that trend, it's your perogative.
I think we need to make distinctions between Hellenistic/Greek/diaspora Judaism and the home grown variety, though neither was hermetically sealed off from the other. Sure, Philo and the Greek-speaking author of "The Wisdom of Solomon" rhapsodized about Sophia, but I don't see that kind of quasi-gnosticism making too many inroads with the rabbinical schools. To say that "Judaism" was somehow represented by "The Wisdom (Sophia) of Solomon" and/or Philo is claiming a lot for what was probably a minor aspect of one school of Judaism.
I would say this instead:

I think we need to make distinctions between Hellenistic/Greek/diaspora Judaism and the Judean variety, though neither was hermetically sealed off from the other. Philo and the Greek-speaking author of "The Wisdom of Solomon" rhapsodized about Sophia. To say that "Judaism" was somehow represented by "The Wisdom (Sophia) of Solomon" and/or Philo is to describe what was an aspect of one school of Judaism.

I don't find the value judgments relevant. I would be cautious about using the Talmud negatively to limit the scope of ideas among Jews in the first century.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

andrewcriddle
Posts: 1902
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:36 am

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by andrewcriddle » Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:50 pm

We should note that Wisdom of Solomon is a development of passages such as Proverbs chapter 8. It is not simply alien to the canonical Hebrew Bible.

Andrew Criddle

User avatar
Blood
Posts: 899
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:03 am

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Blood » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:35 am

andrewcriddle wrote:We should note that Wisdom of Solomon is a development of passages such as Proverbs chapter 8. It is not simply alien to the canonical Hebrew Bible.
The Gospel of Mark is a development of passages such as the Elijah-Elisha narrative in Kings. It is not alien to the canonical Hebrew Bible. And yet most Jews didn't know it existed. It is an example of Judaism's influence, not Judaism itself.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

andrewcriddle
Posts: 1902
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:36 am

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by andrewcriddle » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:15 pm

Blood wrote:
andrewcriddle wrote:We should note that Wisdom of Solomon is a development of passages such as Proverbs chapter 8. It is not simply alien to the canonical Hebrew Bible.
The Gospel of Mark is a development of passages such as the Elijah-Elisha narrative in Kings. It is not alien to the canonical Hebrew Bible. And yet most Jews didn't know it existed. It is an example of Judaism's influence, not Judaism itself.
I think my point is that Proverbs on its own can be interpreted as referring to a quasi-divine wisdom figure. One doesn't need the Wisdom of Solomon.

FWIW the 4th century Arians used Proverbs chapter 8 as a central scriptural support for their position.

Andrew Criddle

User avatar
Blood
Posts: 899
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:03 am

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Blood » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:04 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Blood wrote:
andrewcriddle wrote:We should note that Wisdom of Solomon is a development of passages such as Proverbs chapter 8. It is not simply alien to the canonical Hebrew Bible.
The Gospel of Mark is a development of passages such as the Elijah-Elisha narrative in Kings. It is not alien to the canonical Hebrew Bible. And yet most Jews didn't know it existed. It is an example of Judaism's influence, not Judaism itself.
I think my point is that Proverbs on its own can be interpreted as referring to a quasi-divine wisdom figure. One doesn't need the Wisdom of Solomon.

FWIW the 4th century Arians used Proverbs chapter 8 as a central scriptural support for their position.

Andrew Criddle
Interesting stuff, I hadn't considered that.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5422
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Peter Kirby » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:10 pm

Larry Hurtado has issued some clarification:
http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2013/ ... positions/
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

User avatar
Blood
Posts: 899
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:03 am

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Blood » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:28 pm

But the earliest clear indications of believers treating Jesus as sharing in divine honor and as rightful co-recipient of worship are found in our earliest texts, dated ca. 50-60 CE. And, indeed, in these texts, this treatment of Jesus is taken for granted and as uncontroversial among believers, which suggests that it was by the time of these letters already traditional. As Martin Hengel once observed, in historical terms, more happened christologically within those first few years than in the ensuing 800 years of theological development.
And it is in those same texts where "the historical Jesus" is scarcely to be found. Paul worships a disembodied spirit whose only important act was his execution at some unstated time and place, not a man who taught ethics to Galileans.

I guess Hurtado has spent so long ignoring the elephant in the room, it would be pointless to start now.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

Bernard Muller
Posts: 3586
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:02 pm
Contact:

Re: “High/Early Christology”: A Crack in the Foundations?

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:18 pm

But the earliest clear indications of believers treating Jesus as sharing in divine honor and as rightful co-recipient of worship are found in our earliest texts, dated ca. 50-60 CE. And, indeed, in these texts, this treatment of Jesus is taken for granted and as uncontroversial among believers, which suggests that it was by the time of these letters already traditional. As Martin Hengel once observed, in historical terms, more happened christologically within those first few years than in the ensuing 800 years of theological development.
My view point: This high Christology started around 53-54 through the effort of Paul & Apollos of Alexandria.
Motives:
A) Explain why a Christ would be crucified (a thorny issue) and what consequence that would have for the ones "in Christ". That is salvation at a time when it was expected a new Divine order was coming soon (with God's wrath to be delivered on the non-elects).
B) The Gentiles converts did not want to be second to Jews (or for the males to circumcise) and not sure if they were eligible. They needed their own stand alone religion, based on a heavenly Savior (with human experience), with all kind of reassurances. Consequently, Jesus was elevated as a god, and one with the power to collect (& later even resurrect) elects for the Kingdom of God. (however, the Jewish origin of Jesus and of the ensuing sect could not be denied and remained at the core, despite many later attempts to get rid of that).
C) Competition in 50-60 was fierce, almost like war among different apostles, forcing some of them to be innovative, in order to find on the fly (and forcefully preach) new christological claims attractive (even if they were considered controversial by others) to Gentiles.

Note: most of these Christological innovations were made away from Jerusalem and even away from the then center of Jewish Christianity, Antioch. That was done in areas around the Aegean sea, where, through the efforts of Paul, Christianity had just been introduced, in places where Jews were not very numerous (more so for Philippi and Galatia).

All of that would explain the Christological advances on a relative short time, even if many of these claims were not fully accepted right away.

Cordially, Bernard
Last edited by Bernard Muller on Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I believe freedom of expression should not be curtailed

Post Reply