Saturday, August 9, 2008

LifeLine

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I have added some new posts on Christology in my LifeLine blogs at htp:??jachristo.blogspot.com and http://jtcchristology.blogspot.com

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Way to Chalcedon

Way to Chalcedon

The Chalcedonian Council which formed the two-nature Christological formula has been the most decisive Council with regard to Christology. Chalcedonia consolidated the eastern and western positions and attempted to work out a formula acceptable to most of the Churches. However, there were some Churches in the east who rejected the authority of Chalcedon for historical reasons rather than theological reasons. The Eastern Orthodox churches do not consider the Chalcedon as an ecumenical council and do not consider the formula as an adequate description of the person of Jesus Christ. For them the theological position of the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus and the Cyrillian formuala of Mia physis tou theou Logou sesarkomene (One incarnate nature of God the word) provided the necessarily authentic Christology.

Several developments in the early Church in the form of heresies led the early Church to three ecumenical Councils and the Chalcedon council. The First Council at Nicea (CE 325) met to solve the impasse created by the Arian definition of Homoiousion with regard to the divinity of Jesus Christ. Homoiusion meant that Jesus is a divine person “similar” to the divinity of God and Jesus divinity is created divinity secondary to the Supreme Divinity. This was not acceptable to the Council whose decision was finally guided by the poignant arguments of Athanasius, a deacon and secretary to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. The Council reaffirmed the traditional faith of the Church in terms of Homoousion without the Arian addition of iota (”i”) which meant “same” substance with the father, and rejected the Arian insertion of iota intended to describe Jesus less than equal to God. Arius argued that there was a time when the Son was not. The Nicene Council, at the insistence of Athanasius, made it an anathema to believe that there was a time when the Son was not. Athanasius’ Discourses Against Arius and his De Incarnatione Verbi (The Incarnation of the Word) remain the most important documents of the early church in defining Christology. The Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in CE 381 was a continuation of the first one in defending what Nicea declared and adding one more clause applying the Nicene formula to the divinity of the Holy Spirit which the semi-Arians denied. The Council of Constantinople affirmed the co-eternity and co-equality of the Holy Spirit with God and the Son by ascribing the term “procession” to the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the First person of the Divine Godhead; thus the Council firmly established the doctrine of the Trinity as the Christian definition of God. The Cappadocian Trio, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzen, who presided the council, and Gregory of Nyssa, played key roles in formulating the decision of the Council.

The Third Ecumenical Council (431) which met at Ephesus resolved the question regrading the nature of humanity and divinity in the person of Christ. The dispute this time was around the usage of the title, Theotokos (God-bearer) to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Nestorius and the Antiochene school challenged the title and argued that it is proper to use only the title, “Christotokos” (Mother of Christ). Cyril of Alexandria argued that this will sacrifice the divinity of Jesus in the womb of Mary. The Ephesus Council condemned Nestorius’ arguments and the Alexandrians got their Cyrillian phrase Mia physis tou theou Logou sesarkomene (One incarnate nature of God the word) accepted by the Council. To the Nestorians the unity of divinity and humanity was a moral unity and not a hypostatic unity at the deepest level; for them it was a union of two natures and not union of two characters as held by Nestorians. The human nature, in the Cyrillian formaula, had not a separate personality of its own as Nestorians understood. The Council also rejected the earlier interpretation of the same formula by Apollinaris of Laodicea who held that Jesus had no human soul (nous), but only divine Logos. Thus the Council rejected both extremes, the separation of humanity and divinity in Jesus as Nestorians interpreted and the replacement of human soul by the Divine Soul as interpreted by Apollinaris. With the help of the Cappadocian concept of Communicatio idiomatum (communication of properties) Cyril argued that Christ is one “out of two natures” (ek duo phuseon) which was later upheld by Chalcedon. Luther later endorsed this theory of communicatio idiomatum to describe the nature of unity of divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. However, scholars like Harnack accused Cyril of Monophysitism, making the humanity of Jesus absorbed by the Divinity. Many modern scholars consider that neither Monophysites nor Nestorians were guilty of Monophysitism or Nestorianism that were attributed to them by their opponents as there was some confusion and misunderstanding about the usage of the Greek term “hypostasis” between the Antiochean and Alexandrian schools. Hypostasis, or “subsistence” which was acutually a New Testament word used in the letter to the Hebrews (1:3) denoted actual concrete existence in the writings of early Church in contrast with abstract categories of Platonism. The Cappadocians used it to distinguish the three persons (hypostasis) from the One Essence Ousia (nature). The Cappadocians describedTrinity in the well known phrase: One ousis three hypostasis. Apollinaris on the other hand used hypostasis differently to denote ” one nature.” Eutychus, to whom Monophysitism is attributed, argued that Jesus had only one nature, divine merged into human. Chalcedon used hypostasis as the Cappadocian used (hypostasis to indicate “person” and not nature: Jesus Christ is one person (hypostatic unity) out of two natures (divine and human ousia). (For a detailed and accurate interpretation of these terms see V. C. Samuel,The Council of Chalcedon Re-examined: A Historical and Theological Survey (Madras: CLS for the Senate of Serampore College, 1977). In India one needs to ask seriously whether these disputation of the early church really matter in our context, whether they contribute to any knowledge of God or incarnation of Christ. Without these Greek terminologies Indian Christians can adequately explain their faith without any confusion.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Heresies

Heresies, literally means, a different opinion. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Professor at Orthodox theological Seminary Kottayam, India writes: "Heresies are half-truths which claim to be the whole truth. Orthodoxy is the whole truth of the whole church and not the part truth of a part church. Most of the heresies emphasized the opposite half truths and canceled each other." He summarizes the various heresies thus: "
...while Gnosticism and Docetism stressed the divinity of Christ to the detriment of His humanity, Adoptionism taught that Jesus Christ was a perfect man whom God adopted as His Son at the time of Baptism or after the Resurrection. Again, the Antiochene school has produced heresies like Nestorianism which emphasised humanity of Christ over his Divinity and the Alexandrian school exaggerated His Divinity over his humanity in the so-called Eutychian heresy. Apollinarianism taught that in Jesus Christ the Logos substituted the human spirit (nous) and so christ was not in need of real moral growth as other human beings while Arius believed that Jesus Christ was a demi-god and a semi-man, who was not co-eternal with the father, nor of the same ousia as the Father. In other wordsa\, in Apollinarianism the humanity of Christ was incomplete and in Arianism, the divinity of Christ was imperfect. The Ebionites of the second century had rejected the virgin birth and regarded Christ as a unique prophet of moral purity as many in the west regard Him today; but Paul of Samosata (third cent., the forerunner of Arianism and Nestorianism accepted the virgin birth and taught a type of dynamic Monarchianism. The Modalistic Monarchianism of Sabbellius taught a false type of Trinity according to which God is one Who appeared as the Father in the Old Testament, as the Son in the Incarnation and as the Holy Spirit since Pentecost. This is also nick-named Patripassianism because it makes the Father suffer instead of the Son. Tertullian rightly points out that Praxeus (the Patripassian Monarchian, "put to flight the Paraclete and crucified the father."
(Geevarghese Mar Osthathios Metropolitan, My Lord and My God:An Outline of Christology Tiruvalla: Christava Sahitya Samithi [1971] 2005.

Metropoltian summarizes the traditional Orthodox views of heresies. However, modern theologians like Jurgen Moltmann rejects the view that patripassianism is a heresy. There cannot be any heresy in saying that a loving God suffers; without suffering love has no meaning. Perhaps we may have to rethink our view of heresy, in the post modern context, where the right of people to hold differing view points are acknowledged and no one has got absolute knowledge or right to declare what is absolute truth. All our knowledge of truth is partial and limited. And all of us are in search of truth. Many of the absolutes of the Old Testament were rejected or revised by Jesus. Many absolute positions of the New Testament writers need to be challenged from our current knowledge of world, social organizations and cultural anthropology. We need to rethink our attitude towards race, caste, gender and culture in the light of our contemporary knowledge with a readiness to revise them as new information and knowledge become available. Churches and individuals in all ages have the right and responsibility to say what is right and what is wrong and take particular positions and perspectives, but only in humility, accepting that we are sinful beings in need of correction and forgiveness.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Christology courses

To view detailed reading materials on Christology kindly go to the topic titles on the side bar.
Christology Syllabus 2007-8 by Goerge Zachariah
Gurukul Lutheran Theological College & Research Institute, Chennai 10

Department of Christian Theology

September and January Terms 2007-08

M. Th. 1 CT 22. Christology

Bibliography

Amaladoss, Michael. The Asian Jesus. Delhi: ISPCK, 2005.

Aulen, Gustaf. Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1969.

Boff, Leonardo. Passion of Christ, Passion of the World. New York: Orbis Press, 1988.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Christ the Center. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1978.

Borg, Marcus. Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship. Pennsylvania: Trinity Press, 1994.

Brock, Rita Nakashima. Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power. New York: Crossroad, 1992.

Brock, Rita Nakashima and Rebecca Ann Parker. Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves Us. Boston: Beacon Press, 2001.

Brown, Joanne Carlson, and Rebecca Parker. “For God so Loved the World?” In Christianity, Patriarchy, and Abuse: A Feminist Critique. Ed. Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole R. Bohn. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989.

Bultmann, Rudolph. Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate. New York: Harper & Co. 1962.

Chakkarai, V. Jesus the Avatar.

Clarke, Sathianathan. Dalits and Christianity: Subaltern Religion and Liberation Theology in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Cone, James. God of the Oppressed. New York: Orbis Books, 1997.

Crossan, Dominic. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1992

Dupuis, Jacques. Who do you say I am? Introduction to Christology. New York: Orbis Press, 1994.

Ela, Jean-Marc. “The Memory of the African People and the Cross of Christ” In The Scandal of a Crucified World: Perspectives on the Cross and Suffering. Ed. Yacob Tesfai. New York: Orbis Books, 1994.

Ellacuria, Ignacio. “The Crucified People,” In Systematic Theology: Perspectives from Liberation Theology. Ed. Jon Sobrino and Igacio Ellacuria. New York: Orbis Press, 1996.

Farley, Wendy. Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy. Kentucky: Westminister, 1990

Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schussler. Jesus: Miriam’s Child, Sophia’s Prophet: Critical Studies in Feminist Christology. New York: Continuum, 1995.

George, N. V. The Doctrine of Incarnation in Vaishnavism and Christianity: A Critical and Comparative Study. Delhi: ISPCK, 1997.

Grant, Jacquelyn. White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989.

Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion. Philadelphia: Fortress Pres, 1978.

Hick, John. The Myth of God Incarnate. London: SCM Press, 1977.

Isherwood, Lisa. Introducing Feminist Christologies. Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 2002.

Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. Christology: A Global Introduction. Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2003.

Knitter, Paul. Jesus and the Other Names. New York: Orbis Press, 1996.

Macquarrie, John. Jesus Christ in Modern Thought. London: SCM Press, 1990.

Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology. Michigan: Eerdmans, 2004.

Moltmann, Jurgen. Theology of Hope. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.

Moltmann, Jurgen. The Crucified God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

Norris, Richard A. Jr. The Christological Controversy. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980.

Panikker, Raimundo. Unknown Christ of Hinduism. Bangalore: ATC. 1982.

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Jesus, God and Man. London: SCM Press, 1968.

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Systematic Theology II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Pieris, Aloysius. “The Christhood of Jesus and the Discipleship of Mary: An Asian Perspective” Logos, Vol. 39, No. 3.

Pui-Lan, Kwok. Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.

Queirnga, Andres Torres, et al. Eds. The Resurrection of the Dead Concilium 2006/5. London: SCM Press, 2006.

Rhoads, David. “The Political Jesus: Can there be any other?” In Mission with the Marginalized. Ed. Samuel W. Meshack, Tiruvalla: CSS Books, 2007.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Sexism and God-Talk. Boston: Beacon Press, 1983.

Samartha, Stanley J. One Christ Many Religions: Toward a Revised Christology. New York: Orbis Press, 1991.

Samuel, V. C. The Council of Chalcedon Re-examined: A Historical and Theological Survey. Madras: CLS, 1977.

Schillebeeckx, Edward. Jesus: An Experiment in Christology. London: Collins, 1977

Schillebeeckx, Edward. Christ: Christian Experience in the Modern World. London: SCM Press, 1980.

Schmiechen, Peter. Saving Power: Theories of Atonement and Forms of the Church. Michigan: Eerdmans, 2005.

Soares-Prabhu, George M. The Dharma of Jesus. New York: Orbis Books, 2003.

Sobrino, Jon. Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological View. New York: Orbis Books, 1999.

Solle, Dorothee. Thinking about God: An Introduction to Theology.

Thomas, M. M. The Secular Ideologies of India and the Secular Meaning of Christ. Madras: CLS/CISRS, 1976.

Weaver, Denny J. The Nonviolent Atonement. Michigan: Eerdmans, 2001.

Westhelle, Vitor. The Scandalous God: The Use and Abuse of the Cross. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006.

Yoder, John. The Politics of Jesus: Behold the Man! Our Victorious Lamb. Michigan: Eerdmans, 1972.

Requirements

1. Regular and active class participation and presentation of reading reports.
2. Four written assignments.



Class Schedule and Readings

Week 1. Introduction

Autobiographical Christologies. “Who do you say I am?”

R. Brock and R. Parker. Proverbs of Ashes.15-50

Week 2. Recapitulating

V. Karkkainen. Christology: A Global Introduction. 19-58

D. Rhoads. “The Political Jesus: Can there be any other?” 51-91

R. Norris. The Christological Controversy. 1-31

V. Karkkainen. Christology: A Global Introduction. 265-285

Week 3. Methodology

W. Pannenberg. Jesus God and Man. 21-37

W. Pannenberg. Systematic Theology II 278-297

D. Bonhoeffer. Christ the Center. 27-39

P. Tillich. Systematic Theology II. 19-96, 97-165

Week 4. Methodology

G. Soares-Prabhu. “The Jesus of Faith,” 75-101

A. Pieris. “The Christhood of Jesus…” 3-45

E. Fiorenza. Jesus: Miriam’s Child, Sophia’s Prophet. 3-63

S. Clarke. Dalits and Christianity. 178-217

Week 5. Methodology

J. Moltmann. The Crucified God. 82-111

J. Sobrino. Jesus the Liberator:A Historical-Theological View. 11-63

J. Grant. White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus. 63-90

K. Pui-Lan. Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology. 168-185

Week 6. Incarnation

D. Bonhoeffer. Christ the Centre. 69-113

N. V. George. The Doctrine of Incarnation… 87-156

V. Chakkarai. Jesus the Avatar. 1-14, 216-228

M. Amaladoss. The Asian Jesus. 127-148

Week 7. Incarnation

Rita Brock. Journeys by Heart. 25-70

W. Farley. Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion. 95-114

L. Isherwood. Feminist Christologies. 52-70

Week 8. Suffering and Death

M. Hengel. Crucifixion 1-90

Pannenberg. Jesus, God and Man. 47-49, 245-280

Aulen, Gustaf. Christus Victor.

P. Schmiechen. Saving Power. 313-352

Week 9. Suffering and Death

P. Tillich. Systematic Theology Vol. II. 165-180

J. Moltmann. The Crucified God. 200-290

D. Weaver. The Nonviolent Atonement. 179-228

V. Westhelle. The Scandalous God: The Use and Abuse of the Cross. 76-176

Week 10. Suffering and Death

L. Boff. Passion of Christ, Passion of the World. 9-24, 44-136

J. Ela. “The Memory of the African People and the Cross of Christ.” 17-35

L. Isherwood. Feminist Christologies. 87-102

Brown/Parker. “For God so Loved the World.” 1-30

Week 11. Resurrection

R. Bultmann. Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate. 34-43

E. Kasemann. “The Pauline Theology of the Cross.”

W. Pannenberg. Jesus, God and Man 53-114

Week 12. Resurrection

J. Moltmann. Theology of Hope. 139-229

J. Sobrino. Christ the Liberator. 11-112

A. Queirnga. The Resurrection of the Dead. 35-130

Week 13. Contemporary Significance

D. Migliore. Faith Seeking Understanding. 197-222, 301-329

J. Dupuis. Who do you say I am? 140-167

A. Pieris. “The Christhood of Jesus…” 45-69

Week 14. Contemporary Significance

S. Samartha. One Christ Many Religions. 87-161

J. Hick. The Myth of God Incarnate. 167-185

M. M. Thomas. The Secular Ideologies of India…193-203


Week 15. Contemporary Significance

D. Sole. Thinking about God. 102-119

L. Isherwood. Feminist Christologies. 103-132

J. Cone. God of the Oppressed. 99-126

I. Ellacuria. “The Crucified People.” 257-278

Week 16. Evaluation

Revised autobiographical christologies

Monday, June 23, 2008

Primitive Christology: Analysis of Titles of Jesus

Oscar Cullman identified ten main titles of Jesus in the New Testament. He grouped them under the categories of "earthly work" of Jesus (with titles like Prophet, Suffering Servant, High Priest), "future work" (Messiah, Son of Man), "present work" (Lord,Saviour) and ""pre-existence" (Word, Son of God, God) of Jesus. Cullmann traces most of the titles of Jesus to the Old Testament though he is inclined to find two titles influenced by other traditions, "Son of Man" title to the "heavenly man" concept of oriental religions and "Logos" to the Greek mythology.

One of the major concerns of the earliest christologies was to show that Jesus is the Christ of God. Ferdinand Hahn, a student of Gunther Bornkamm, argued that between the Palestinian Jewish Church and Gentile churches there existed another group, the Hellenistic Jewish Church. He argued that various christological titles reflected the Christologies of these communities. For him the exaltation of Jesus was not present in the earliest of christologies. It was the Hellenistic Jewish Church which applied the titles of Lord and Christ to the risen Jesus, as they emphasized the present work of Jesus while the Palestinian Church conceived Christ to be inactive during the interim period of resurrection and parousia.

The Son of Man title which in the teaching of Jesus reflected his expectation of an eschatological functionary other than himself, was quickly identified with Jesus as they hoped for the return of Jesus as Judge. During the earthly ministry Jesus rejected the Jewish concept of Messiah and probably the very word, but his followers liked to interpret him in messianic categories.The titles "Son of David" and "Son of God" were linked to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah, the anointed one, the Greek form of which is Christ (from the Greek root, "chrio," to anoint). According to Pannenberg, "The special significance of the title, Christo, lies in the breadth and capacity for change in its content, which in addition, also could take up the entire tradition about Jesus, including, the passion tradition" Jesus-God and Man, p.32). Christ signified Jesus fate and Israel's eschatological expectation. While most other titles disappeared from usage, the title Christ even overshadowed the name Jesus.

R. H fuller in his Foundations of New Testament Christologies (1965) accepted Hahn's method but reversed it to argue that each title was redefined during the three stages of Christological development, namely, Palestinian, Hellenistic, Jewish, and Hellenistic Gentile transitions. Christology reflected only the thinking of the Church about Jesus, not of Jesus consciousness of himself.
It was the Hellenistic Gentile church which in the title, Lord, expressed the divinity of Jesus and read it back to Jesus' earthly career.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Christology: Methodological Issues

Christological studies have been always confronted with a methodological problem: Where to start, “from above” or “from below.” From above refers to the ontological aspect of Christology, beginning from the second person of trinity, stuffed with Greek metaphysics and the Jewish concept of the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed Son of God, and the preached Christ of faith . From below refers to the incarnate Jesus, historical person and the work of Christ as a human being, the historical Jesus. The new Testament records a growing awareness of Christians, from Jesus the son of Mary and Joseph, to Son of David and Son of Man to Son of God, and the second person of Trinity. It can be said that the Synoptic Christology is a “from below” Christology while that of John as “from above” christology. Ignatius of Antioch, second century Apologists, Alexandrian Christology of Athanasius and Cyril all followed "from above" pattern. They found their warrant in the Pauline statements in Philippians 2:5, Romans 8:3, and Galatians 4:4. Nevertheless,as Pannenberg notes, the "historical process of the development and transmission of tradition, in the course of which the unity of man the man Jesus with God became recognized, runs contrary to the kind of concept that speaks of God's becoming man" (Jesus God and Man, p.33).

Luther, Schleiermacher, the Ritschlian school of historical Jesus all favoured a "from below" approach. The quest for historical Jesus which started in the ninteenth century certainly challenged the Chalcedonian Christology which was based on the discussions on the two-nature christology: how divinity and humanity in Jesus coexisted in Jesus. Though Chalcedon wanted to maintain a balance between the Alexandrian tradition which emphasized the divinity of Christ and the Antiochean tradition which high lighted the humanity of Christ, both were revolving around Greek metaphysical considerations.


Martin Kähler’s book, The So-called Historical Jesus and the Historic, Biblical Christ, edited and translated by Carl E. Braaten, Fortress Press, 1964) made proclamation of the early church as the most significant event in the study of Christology. Schleiermacher and the Erlangen School of Theology earlier suggested that historic Christ can be really apprehended only in the faith of the Christian community.
Kähler was attacking the quest for historical Jesus prevailing in the 19th and the early 20th centuries. Those who were after the "Quest" set Jesus in opposition to Paul. Harnack was the most prominent one who contrasted Jesus with Pauline theology. Against this tendency Kähler asserted, “The real Christ is the preached Christ.”
It is now clear that the early church faced similar problem. The way they solved it was by presenting Jesus from various angles, Jewish, Gentile, Popular and Philosophic angles. They were trying to build a Christology after the model of how the disciples answered Jesus’ question at Caesaria Philippi: What do people say that I am? The result was the four Gospels of the New Testament. While selecting four they had to discard several other interpretations of Jesus. This method makes sense in the context of religious and cultural context of today. Multiplicity of interpretations can not be avoided, but the Church has the responsibility to say which constitutes more authentic among the interpretations, but should not fall into the trap of proclaiming any one interpretation as the authentic, which the early Church also found to be unfeasible.

The form-critical study of the Gospels help us to distinguish Jesus’ person and work from “the particular perspective in which it is transmitted this or that New Testament witness.” (Pannenberg, Jesus- God and Man, 23). The form critical study, however, does not help us to understand the chronological sequence of the life and ministry of Jesus, “for the sequence of presentation in all four Gospel has been proved to be determined by consideration of composition.”The form criticism of Bultmann was succeeded by that of his students. Bultmann’s disciples, Kasemman, Fuchs, Bornkamm and others tried to overcome the historical constraints by assuring themselves that historicity of Jesus is no longer important through their traditio-historical criticism. For them what has been communicated through the Gospels were enough to arrive at a knowledge of Christ's life and work. The historical-critical approach to the Gospels tried to explore how the early Christian proclamation of Christ “emerged from the fate of Jesus” (Pannenberg). They counted New Testament as a vehicle for Kerygma understood in universal as well as existential terms. There remained an unresolved question of an antithesis between historical Jesus and the primitive Christian Kerygma. To make the connection between the two has always been a difficult methodological task for Christology.Oscar Cullmann suuggested his theory of "salvation history" as an alternative to the global view. He emphasized that salvation is made possible by what God does in history and not simply on the basis of accepting a message which is independent of history.
The earliest document of the Christian Church, the Pauline letters, do not provide any evidences to determine Jesus’ life. What Paul has attempted is to present a Jesus as it has appeared to faith: to present Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one, promised in the scriptures. Since the Jews rejected him, as Paul explained in his theology of the Cross, Christology refocused its attention from the Palestinian Judaism to a Hellenistic-Judaic-Roman context. Going beyond this faith proclamation seemed impossible to any rational search for Jesus.
As Schweitzer concluded the Quest, though it showed the significance of historical Jesus, has failed to go beyond the mystic, kerygmatic, mythic experience of the early Christian Church. Bultmann closed the Quest by absorbing the person of Jesus in the Word. (Bultmann, Jesus and the Word, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958). He was satisfied with his demythologized Christ, preached Christ of faith. In the twentieth century Karl Barth held a "from above to below" approach which invited Panneberg's comment that Barth is closer to Gnostic Redeemer myth, than of incarnational christology.

The discussions on the importance on the starting point in christological methodology has acquired significance from the inception of contextual theologies in the late sixties of the last century. The contextual theologies of the 1960, the Black, the Liberation and the Feminist streams, were anxious to establish Jesus’ historicity as it strengthened people’s struggle to establish, equality and justice, which they considered as the most important contribution of the historical Jesus.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The great question of Christology: Who is Jesus Christ today?

Wolfhart Pannenberg in his masterpiece, Jesus - God and Man,points out that the great question in the development of Christology is how to solve the problem of the relationship with humanity and divinity in Jesus Christ. The name Jesus Christ, coined by the early Church itself point to that problem
bringing together Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and Christ, the Messiah promised by God. Generally saying the Alexandrian school fused Jesus with God and the Antiochean school emphasized the separation between Jesus and God. There has been attempts all through the long history of the Church to go behind and beyond these "contrasting impulses". The search for the real person of Jesus Christ, in terms of his person and work is the subject matter of Christology. To raise the question who is Jesus Christ for us today in our religious, political, social cultural context of India and give our own particular answer is what is expected of every student of Christology