According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

N.T. Wright, "Paul and the Faithfulness of God" (Vol 4) - Re-Envisaging Israel's Election in Jesus

Not “Christ” but “Messiah”: NT Wright on Translating Christos

by Scot McKnight
November 26, 2013

“The purpose for which the covenant God had called Israel had been accomplished, Paul believed, through Jesus. The entire ‘theology of election’ we have examined in the preceding pages is not set aside. It is brought into fresh focus, rethought, reimagined and reworked around Jesus himself, and particularly around his death, resurrection and enthronement. Christology, in the several senses that word must bear, is the first major lens through which Paul envisages the ancient doctrine of Israel’s election” (815-816).
One of the more interesting features of NT scholarship is a widespread (radical) minimization of “Christ” meaning “Messiah.” Instead of a direct royal perception, this term is understood by many scholars to mean a second/last/family name, that is Jesus Christ is little more than Jesus’ name. NT Wright’s work won’t get off the ground until this is critiqued.
I want to [also] add that this interpretive approach owes some (not all) of its origin in (i)  the de-Judaization of Christianity and to the idea (ii) that making Jesus a Jewish Messiah makes Jesus less universally relevant. (The same happened to the word “kingdom” in NT and theological scholarship.)
NT Wright’s response:
1. Paul’s use of royal passages from the Psalms and Isaiah — and here he points to Romans 1:3-4, where there are clear and loud echoes to 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2. Inheritance theme in Romans, then Romans 15:1-13 and 1 Cor 15:20-28 (Psalm 110 and 8:6)… Ephesians 1:20-23.
2. Wisdom theme, a royal house theme (David and Solomon).
3. Narrative role in Pauline letters, like Galatians, where Jesus’ narrative role is that of Israel’s Messiah: e.g., “seed.” Romans 9:6–10:13.
Then there’s another element, often overlooked, now brought out by Novenson: “For a start, there is the linguistic evidence, set out recently by Matthew Novenson, that Christos is in fact neither a proper name (with denotation but no necessary connotation) nor a ‘title’ as such (with connotation but flexible denotation, as when ‘the King of Spain’ goes on meaning the same thing when one king dies and another succeeds him). It is, rather, an honorific, which shares some features of a ‘title’ but works differently” (824).
Thus: “The Messiah", then, " 'ho Christos," is for Paul not simply an individual, Jesus of Nazareth, who happens to have acquired a second proper name through the flattening out of the royal title that other early Christians were eager still to affirm. The royal meaning of Christos does not disappear in Paul’s writings. It is present, central and foundational. Though sometimes the word seems to function more or less as a proper name (any word, repeated often enough, can appear to have its surface indentations worn smooth), its connotations are never far beneath the surface and often show clearly through” (824).
Wright’s big point, of course, is that in Jesus we find an “incorporative Messiah,” that is, in Jesus we find someone in whom the identity and vocation of all Israel has been assumed. When one looks at Jesus one sees all Israel, the whole of Israel’s Story, and the plan of God incarnated in one person. Here is how Wright puts it:
Paul, I propose, exploited the notion of ‘Messiahship’ in such a way as to say two things in particular.
First, the vocation and destiny of ancient Israel, the people of Abraham, had been brought to its fulfilment in the Messiah, particularly in his death and resurrection.
Second, those who believed the gospel, whether Jew or Greek, were likewise to be seen as incorporated into him and thus defined by him, specifically again by his death and resurrection
The full range of Paul’s ‘incorporative’ language can be thoroughly and satisfactorily explained on this hypothesis: that he regarded the people of God and the Messiah of God as so bound up together that what was true of the one was true of the other. And this becomes in turn the vital key to understanding the close and intimate link between ‘incorporation’ and ‘justification’, between ‘participatory’ and ‘forensic’ accounts of Paul’s soteriology – not to mention the themes of salvation history, ‘apocalyptic’ and transformation (826).
This incorporative language, Wright is arguing, is not typical Judaism but more of a revising by Paul’s own belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, “Israel” would be raised up in the general resurrection; it happened though only to Jesus (Tom skips Matt 27 but it might have helped a tad); therefore the general resurrection did happen but our resurrection is “in” Jesus. This is the kind of thinking that went on in Paul’s head. Israel’s king was representative and incorporative. He has backed off seeing some of this, as he once did, in other OT and Jewish texts, but he maintains it is taught by Paul — in Romans 3:1-26; Galatians 2:15-4:11; Phlippians 3:2-11.
Also the “in” and “with” Christ passages abound, and they are incorporative.

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