2014-12-14

P.OST — Another Scholarly Biblioblog Well Worth Reading

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by Neil Godfrey

Its author, Andrew Perriman, describes himself as an evangelical. He sets out his agenda for all to see in plain view. Though we are in opposing camps I find his blog to be one of the most informative and interesting I have yet discovered. I wish I could address more books and ideas the way Andrew does, but then I suppose Andrew is doing a fine enough job and does not need a replica.

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The first post of his that I read was about an author I have also posted on here, Richard Hays. His post, Richard Hays and the God who walks on the sea, questions head on an interpretation I have adopted for some time now — that the Jesus of the Gospel of Mark was depicted as God or some sort of hypostasis of God (whatever that really means). AP spells out the arguments in favour of this interpretation and then sets out why he disagrees. (That such a method in a public blog deserves comment is itself a great shame — it should go without saying, of course.)

One phrase AP uses pulled me up short:

I’m not saying that the idea does not occur, in some form or other, elsewhere in the New Testament, or that the later church was wrong to construct its theology in formal trinitarian terms. I am well disposed towards the view that the divine emperor paradigm was a significant factor in the development of the “kingdom” argument. . . . But I am concerned that in our zeal to establish an early high christology we risk misrepresenting what is actually happening in the Synoptic Gospels . . . .

I have been aware of Larry Hurtado’s and Richard Bauckham’s personal theological bias when they argue for a very early high christology but for some reason I had not quite gone so far as to connect it with a defence of the doctrine of the trinity. I am also reminded of my own “zeal” to see a very early high christology for other reasons: it seems to me that this is inevitable if we are transitioning from Paul and the other epistles to the gospels. But that’s another question entirely. The point is AP’s reminder of the need for scholarly caution.

AP presents enough of the argument he is opposing for readers to begin to think independently themselves about the question he raises. I learned much just from this one discussion of his addressing Hays’ case for Mark’s portrayal of Jesus as the God found in the literature of the OT. (One tiny detail: Jesus’ making as if to walk on by his disciples at sea is taken from a passage in Job! Crash. There goes one of my own pet theories. Or at least I can not simplistically assume that Jesus walking on ahead of his disciples is a motif of theological significance to Mark.)

I need to think through AP’s engagement with the arguments. Perhaps Jesus should be understood to have been bestowed certain authority by God rather than being represented as that Person himself. It’s a question AP has re-opened for me. I’d like to take time to break the argument down into its parts and assess each aspect in the context of wider background information and the expectations set up by the gospel itself.

Another post engaging with the same book is Richard Hays: how is it that Jesus gets to pour out the Spirit of God?. Same sorts of questions are presented and discussed.

AP makes me question my own views and reminds me to think afresh.

I have not yet read Richard Bauckham: the throne of God and the worship of Jesus but I expect to find it just as thought-provoking.

I am reminded of a one-time favourite scripture verse of mine:

And a [scholar] shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

Thank the dna god and the web for P.OST.

 

 

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Neil Godfrey

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