Saturday, 13 December 2008

Q and A: Divine Identity

There was a period for questions and answers. I fear that perhaps the best questions weren’t always asked or were presented without sufficient clarity for my mind. To be sure there were several really good questions, but I didn’t take notes, and my mind only conjures up my own question and Peter Head’s question on messianism and its impact on divine identity. Dr. Head’s question was especially significant since I’m not sure that the speakers spent much time dealing with Jesus’ Messiahship as a part of his divine identity.

My own question was this:

“We’ve been working under the higher criticism template that the New Testament documents had a low Christology, and that Christology evolved over the centuries until it reached full Trinitarian expression at Nicaea and Chalcedon. Yet you [Profs. Bauckham and Hays] have attempted to smash this template, and to argue for a high Christology in the New Testament writings, along with others such as Prof. Bockmuehl, Prof. Fee in his Pauline Christology, Dr. Gathercole in his The Pre-Existent Son, Prof. Hurtado in his Lord Jesus Christ, and others. My question is, Are you being persuasive, and would you prophesy to us about the future state of the question in about ten years?”

I was satisfied with the answers, and also struck in several ways. Prof. Bauckham expressed his hope that their message would fall on listening ears especially among younger scholars, confessing that many seasoned scholars may already be too entrenched to hear. He also shared with us his own experience of moving away from the old template with which he could have been pleased to keep as his own, except that the evidence itself pushed him to abandon it (as I blogged earlier).

Prof. Hays then stated that the two lines of interpretation have been clearly delineated, and that the conflict between the two sides was fierce. He stated that there are some on the other side of the line who dismiss arguments from his side as poor scholarship. He said much more, but sad to say, I can’t recall several other aspects of his response. I myself have not read the book reviews or heard the polemics play out at meetings such as Society of Biblical Literature, etc. However, I have read one review—James D.G. Dunn’s review of Dr. Gathercole’s The Pre-Existent Son, and judging by Dunn’s comments, I’d have to say that Prof. Hays’ characterisation of the raging conflict is justified.

1 comment:

Jc_Freak: said...

Personally, I think the old template will die out, though it may take longer than 10 years. I believe the high Christology opinion will be the dominant one in 20 years or so though.

My reason has to do with the shift of epistemology that is going on in our culture. We no longer accept the old manner of thinking that produced "high criticism". I don't think it is dissatisfaction with the answers of the formal perspective that will drive change, but a disinterest in their kinds of questions.