Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

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

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - 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

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

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) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

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

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Man Attested by God, by J.R. Daniel Kirk

A Man Attested by God:
The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels

August 4, 2018

A thought provoking alternative perspective on the full humanity of Jesus Christ

In A Man Attested by God J. R. Daniel Kirk presents a comprehensive defense of the thesis that the Synoptic Gospels present Jesus not as divine but as an idealized human figure.

Counterbalancing the recent trend toward early high Christology in such scholars as Richard Bauckham, Simon Gathercole, and Richard Hays, Kirk here thoroughly unpacks the humanity of Jesus as understood by Gospel writers whose language is rooted in the religious and literary context of early Judaism. Without dismissing divine Christologies out of hand, Kirk argues that idealized human Christology is the best way to read the Synoptic Gospels, and he explores Jesus as exorcist and miracle worker within the framework of his humanity.

With wide-ranging exegetical and theological insight that sheds startling new light on familiar Gospel texts, A Man Attested by God offers up-to-date, provocative scholarship that will have to be reckoned with.

J. R. Daniel Kirk | Eerdmans Author Interview Series
Sep 6, 2016

Author of the new book A MAN ATTESTED BY GOD: THE HUMAN JESUS OF THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS, a thought-provoking alternative perspective on the full humanity of Jesus Christ, J. R. Daniel Kirk holds a PhD in New Testament from Duke University and has taught at North Carolina State University, St. Joseph's University, Eastern College, and Fuller Theological Seminary.
In A Man Attested by God J. R. Daniel Kirk presents a comprehensive defense of the thesis that the Synoptic Gospels present Jesus not as divine but as an idealized human figure.
Counterbalancing the recent trend toward early high Christology in such scholars as Richard Bauckham, Simon Gathercole, and Richard Hays, Kirk here thoroughly unpacks the humanity of Jesus as understood by Gospel writers whose language is rooted in the religious and literary context of early Judaism. Without dismissing divine Christologies out of hand, Kirk argues that idealized human Christology is the best way to read the Synoptic Gospels, and he explores Jesus as exorcist and miracle worker within the framework of his humanity.

With wide-ranging exegetical and theological insight that sheds startling new light on familiar Gospel texts, A Man Attested by God offers up-to-date, provocative scholarship that will have to be reckoned with.


trinities 155 - Dr. J.R. Daniel Kirk on A Man Attested by God - Part 1
Oct 17, 2016

trinities 156 - Dr. J.R. Daniel Kirk on A Man Attested by God - Part 2
Oct 24, 2016

Commentary by khanpadawan

http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-155... Do the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke discreetly but clearly imply that Jesus is God? This has become a popular reading lately among evangelicals, thanks in large part to the work of Dr. Richard Bauckham.

A popular argument strategy has been to focus on the earliest gospel, and the one which arguably has the least material from which to argue that Jesus is presented as divine. Even this gospel, it is argued, in its very first chapter, hints that Jesus is God himself, when this passage is said to be fulfilled:

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3, NRSV Open in Logos Bible Software (if available))

Clearly, in Mark Jesus is the one for whom a way is being prepared; so, by referencing this text, the author is telling us that Jesus is God, right? Wrong, according to Dr. Kirk. As he explains here (starting at around 15:13) and argues at length in the book, this is a misreading of Mark 1. When we pay careful attention to the texts and how the author is using them, it seems that he’s deliberately avoided calling Jesus “God” here. What is actually in Mark 1 isn’t exactly what is above, but rather, filling in the names of the three characters involved according to this gospel:

“See, I [God] am sending my messenger [John the Baptist] ahead of you [Jesus], who will prepare your [Jesus’s] way; the voice of one [John] crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord [Jesus], make his [Jesus’s] paths straight’”

As Dr. Kirk explains, here we are presented with three characters: God, Jesus, and John the Baptist.

Dr. Kirk’s overall thesis in this book is that in the first three gospels Jesus is presented as an “idealized human figure,” a category which he explains using numerous ancient Jewish texts, biblical and extra-biblical. In our conversation here, he focuses on the interesting case of Moses. In light of this whole ancient Jewish context, Dr. Kirk says that

…everything that is said about Jesus in the synoptic gospels has been said about other glorified, idealized human figures in the story of Israel. …we see these as stories about a messiah, a surprising messiah…

One surprising aspect of Jesus’s ministry is his authority to forgive sins. But as Dr. Kirk explains (18:25), the text itself (Mark 2:10) presents Jesus as an extraordinary man who has been granted this authority by God. Throughout the book Dr. Kirk distinguishes identifying Jesus with God from identifying Jesus as God. We discuss this distinction and Dr. Kirk’s contention that the synoptics frequently do the former but, contra Bauckham and others, never do the latter.

Dr. Kirk contrasts the christologies of the synoptics with that of the fourth gospel. In part 2 of our discussion next week, we’ll talk about this, and about the fact that in the synoptics people sometimes worship Jesus.
  • Links for this episode @ http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-155...
  • A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels
  • Dr. Kirk’s blog Storied Theology: Dr. Kirk’s home page
  • Dr. Kirk in conversation with Sir Anthony Buzzard and other biblical unitarians about A Man Attested by God,  the-mind-renewed-podcast: The Mind Renewed 111 : Dr. Mike Licona : On the Gospels and Their Contradifferences
  • Simon Gathercole, The Preexistent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke (kindle)
  • Rickki Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark
  • Richard Hays, Reading Backwards (kindle)
  • Echoes of Scriptures in the Gospels: Luke 7:33; Luke 5:32; Mark 1:1-3; Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Exodus 23; John 20:23; Daniel 7:13; Mark 1:11; Acts 2:22; Mark 15:34
  • “Only God can forgive sins.” False.
  • Does Mark teach that Jesus is God?
  • Mark: Jesus is God’s Son, the Messiah
  • Dr. James McGrath’s blog Religion Prof: A Lesson in Christological Rhetoric
  • podcast 99 – Dr. Larry Hurtado on early high christology
  • podcast 27 – Interview with Dr. William Hasker about his Metaphysics and the
  • Tripersonal God – Part 1
  • Restitutio podcast
  • Interview 6: Dale Tuggy’s Journeyrestitutio-podcast-logo
  • Interview 7: An Analytic Philosopher Unleashes Logic on the Trinity Doctrine
  • Weekly podcast exploring views about the Trinity, and more generally about God and Jesus in Christian theology and philosophy. Debates, interviews, and historical and contemporary perspectives. Hosted by philosopher of religion / analytic theologian Dr. Dale Tuggy.
  • This week's thinking music is "Piscoid" by Andy G. Cohen. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution International License https://andyg.co/hen
  • http://freemusicarchive.org/music/And... 

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by R.E. Slater
November 18, 2020

Please note: I write these notes to myself. They are not intended to be exact transcriptions from the speakers themselves. What I have written are not their words but my own thoughts. - res

Please note: All panelists provided textual statements for comments to attendees. These are not allowed to be publically published as they are intended to form to the moment-in-time not replicable beyond the panel discussions themselves as very specific conversations to one another in the AAR setting

Observations by Dr. Brittany Wilson

Brittany E. Wilson is associate professor of New Testament at Duke University Divinity School. Her most recent book, The Embodied God: Seeing the Divine in Luke-Acts and the Early Church (Oxford University Press, forthcoming April 2021), explores the question of divine embodiment in the New Testament. She argues that Luke-Acts emerges as an important example of a New Testament text that portrays God as visible and corporeal and that this portrayal has significant implications for how we are to understand early Christology. Her current book project (tentatively titled: Imaging the Divine: God’s Body in the New Testament) explores these questions in the New Testament more broadly and looks at the different ways that Jews and Christians did (and did not) express God’s corporeality. Overall, her research interests include issues related to embodiment, gender, and the senses within the New Testament and the ancient world, as well as Christology and the relationship between the New Testament and Israel’s sacred texts.
  • The portray of Jesus in the Synoptics is far different from His portrayal in the Gospel of John. The contrast re Jesus' divinity include his life in narrative form but unlike John they do not speak to Jesus as God from the beginning.
  • Is Jesus fully God and fully man or less in some way in either direction? Is Jesus higher than God, lower than God, equal to God. And other such historical arguments found through the centuries.

Book References:

In Christianity, Christology (from Greek Χριστός Khristós and -λογία, -logia), translated literally from Greek as "the study of Christ", is a branch of theology that concerns Jesus. Different denominations have different opinions on questions like whether Jesus was human, divine, or both, and as a messiah what his role would be in the freeing of the Jewish people from foreign rulers or in the prophesied Kingdom of God, and in the salvation from what would otherwise be the consequences of sin.[1][2][3][4][5]

The earliest Christian writings gave several titles to Jesus, such as Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, and Kyrios, which were all derived from the Hebrew scriptures.[web 1] These terms centered around two opposing themes, namely "Jesus as a preexistent figure who becomes human and then returns to God", versus adoptionism - that Jesus was human who was "adopted" by God at his baptism, crucificion, or resurrection.[web 1]

From the second to the fifth centuries, the relation of the human and divine nature of Christ was a major focus of debates in the early church and at the first seven ecumenical councils. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 issued a formulation of the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, one human and one divine, "united with neither confusion nor division".[6] Most of the major branches of Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy subscribe to this formulation,[6] while many branches of Oriental Orthodox Churches reject it,[7][8][9] subscribing to miaphysitism.

  • Jesus is embodied in some way that is both human and divine, as human and as Creator. As part of creation and as apart from creation in some idealized neo-Platonic way.

I don't think any of these speakers, including the author himself - who I know from my early days when starting Relevancy22 - are process theologians. Thus process relational panentheism is conspicuously absent in these mundane questions and would be very helpful in bringing Christology into this philosophical/theological paradigm. This is also the main reason why I am attending this conference to help refresh my Reformed Christology so that I might inform it from a Process Theological Philosophy. - RES 

A Process Christology Paperback – July 26, 1990

This book, originally published by The Westminster Press in 1973, was the first full-scale Christology based upon process thought. Its thesis: Whitehead's process philosophy provides a basis for explicating the idea that Jesus of Nazareth is God's decisive self-revelation, in a manner that is consistent with both modern thought and Christian faith. A Process Christology brings together three dimensions of recent theology: the new quest for the historical Jesus, the new-orthodox emphasis on God's self-revealing activity in history, and the theology based primarily on the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. This edition contains a new Preface.

Observations by Niels Henrik Gregersen
  • I have notices some Gaps of Omission:
  • Paul's theology is used almost exclusively over earlier and later additions of the bible such as the synoptics. Gaps which the Holy Spirit may not recognize.
  • Continental Theology will ask what is meant by an idealized human? And who may have symbolized this in ancient Israel? Adam, Moses, David, the prophets, priests, or kings, or the nation itself?
  • And how does Social Constructivism enter into this for good or for bad of the idealized Jesus?
  • He also seems to escape the pre-existent divine godhead located in Jesus by excluding John as well as the more definitive later church creeds.
  • Thus the question of Christology has to do with relationships, transactions, and fluidity. That Jesus is fully God and fully human and included into divine life and divine humanity is a unique and novel way beyond the normative Godhead/Human experience.
  • Lastly, did Jesus understand all this Himself? Did His disciples? Did the church that came about soon afterwards?
Observations by  Timothy Pawl
The Ideal Figure Paradigm better fits the Synoptics that other paradigms.
Refer notes by Pawl which were not to be cited or published as his outline of queries to Daniel.
Explanation of the Non-committal paradigm (re: Jesus may be pre-existent or not) vs Daniel's Idealized Human Figure paradigm found in the Synoptics vs no Divinity of Jesus found in the same Synoptics.

RES - Kind of hard to ignore the miracle passages and self-referentials of godhead by Jesus. Thus the Synoptics seem to me to argue for both Jesus' humanity and divinity.

Speaker J.R. Daniel Kirk
Humorous opening and thankfulness to each critic.

DK will now focus on explaining why he wrote of Jesus in a very human way through the Synoptics. Myself, having not read the book, I suspect this was his only objective as versus speaking to Jesus' divinity. And all this in a positive, helpful way to our present day experiences.

DK says he's not arguing against Jesus' divinity so much as arguing for his humanity while not denying Jesus' divinity thus confirming my suspicion. That too many recent Christology pieces have over-emphasized Jesus' divinity over His humanity. 

RES - My early Relevancy22 articles articulated this along with Scott McKnight's similar observations (see further below).

DK - High vs. Low Christology differentials in relationship with the life of piety and Spirit filled living.

DK - Finally, we have recognized too much that Jesus is God but not given enough thought to Jesus as Lord.

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J.R. Daniel Kirk, A Man Attested by God

August 26, 2016

John Frye’s review of A Man Attested by God, part one.

Like many pastors I am intrigued by ongoing scholarship in Jesus studies. Authors like the late Ben F. Meyer, N. T. Wright, Scot McKnight, Larry Hurtado and Richard Bauckman (and many others) keep the Jesus conversation vibrant and fascinating. A new Eerdmans Publishing release is J. R. Daniel Kirk’s A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. I am grateful to James D. Ernest at Eerdmans and Scot X. McKnight of Jesus Creed for inviting me to review Kirk’s latest contribution to Jesus studies. In Part 1 of the review we will consider Kirk’s Introduction (1-43).

Why is it important for local church pastors to keep in touch with some aspect of ongoing biblical and theological scholarship?

Kirk, Ph.D. in New Testament from Duke, sparks the Jesus conversation by proposing the hypothesis that the Synoptic Gospels present Jesus as “an idealized human figure” based on Peter’s first post-resurrection sermon that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through him…” (Acts 2:22). Kirk will established that “idealized human figures” populate 1st century Jewish literature and that these figures are strongly identified with deity, but not identified as deity. “I [Kirk] show that identification with God is not tantamount to identification as God in the ways that other scholars suggest…” (24). A few of the “idealized human figures” (to be considered later) are Adam, Moses, and Enoch.

These Jewish idealized human figures share in demonstrating God’s sovereignty, receive worship, and play the role of God among people; the very features attributed to Jesus in the Synoptics. Kirk suggests that the Synoptics offer a “high (human) Christology” versus a “high (divine) Christology.” Scholars like Richard Bauckman, C. Kavin Rowe, Richard B. Hays, Larry Hurtado, Simon J. Gathercole, Daniel Boyarin, and Crispin Fletcher-Lewis are weighed in Kirk’s “idealized human figures” balance and found wanting. Very brief summary:

  • Bauckman— creates category for “divine identity” but is pressed to find all the features in the Synoptics (17-21).
  • Rowe— identity with God does not mean identity as God (22-23).
  • Hays— does not pay close attention to what Jesus actually says about himself in Luke 24 (23-26).
  • Hurtado— avoids texts that show cultic devotion to Jesus as an idealized man (26-29).
  • Gathercole— against the evidence puts Jesus on the creator side of the creator/creature divide (29-31).
  • Boyarin— makes too much of the Daniel 7 “Son of Man” title (31-33).
  • Fletcher-Lewis— creates the category of “angelomorphic humans” (34-37).

These authors see a high divine Christology, yet also in many ways see Jesus as truly (almost only) human. Some of the authors take, according to Kirk, an extra interpretive step by importing in criteria not in the dataset of the Synoptics themselves. These scholars cross some non-Synoptic gap to conclude that Jesus is ontologically divine.

Kirk attributes “vagueness” to Darrell Bock’s “suprahuman Jesus” (Bock’s term) in Luke’s Gospel. Bock is an example of “the conceptual quandary of early high Christology” (37-38). “Importantly, Bock never explains how the Christ is divine, as he understands it, while the Lukan narratives consistently depict the character of ‘God’ who acts as an agent distinguishable from Jesus throughout” (38). In summary, Kirk believes his “idealized human figures” hypothesis applied to Jesus best fits all the Synoptic material. Kirk offers “a better paradigm for reading the Synoptics” (39).

What do you think of the category of Jewish “idealized human figures” applied to Jesus? What questions would you ask Kirk?

What is Kirk not saying? “While the force of my argument is, throughout, to show the sufficiency of the human category for explaining the many Christologies narrated in the Synoptic Tradition, this book should not be read as constituting the claim to the effect that Jesus is not, in fact, God in the way confessed by many Christian traditions or that idealized human Christologies are incompatible with divine Christologies” (3-4). The question Kirk wrestles with is: “what assumptions about the identity of Jesus make sense of the [Synoptic] Gospel stories as told” (6)? “Divine and preexistence Christology is attested to in other early Christian literature” (4). Kirk admits the Gospel of John and many New Testament letters offer a high divine Christology. His sharp focus is on the Jesus presented in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

I imagine more conservative scholars will react too quickly to Kirk’s hypothesis. What we all need to do, pastors and scholars alike, is to give Kirk latest work a fair reading.

* * * * * * * * *

A Man Attested by God: Reviewing

by Scott McKnight
Septembre 2, 2016

John Frye’s review of A Man Attested by God, part two

In part 1 of the review of J. R. Daniel Kirk’s A Man Attested by God, Kirk’s hypothesis is that Jesus in the Synoptics is best understood as “an idealized human figure,” which is an established category in 1st century Jewish literature. Rather than understanding Jesus in a high divine Christology (Jesus is ontologically God), Kirk proposes a high human Christology.

In part 2, the category “idealized human figures” is affirmed by Kirk’s analysis of the Jewish Old Testament and non-canonical writings—the purpose of chapter 1- “Idealized Human Figures in Early Judaism” (44-176). Kirk defines idealized human figures as “non-angelic, non-preexistent human beings, of the past, present, and anticipated future…playing some unique role in representing God to the rest of the created realm, or in representing some of the created realm before God ” (45). Kirk elaborates, “The category of ‘idealized human figure’ seeks to chart a third way between ‘low Christology’ that defines Jesus as ‘a mere human being,’ and a ‘high’ Christology that depicts Jesus as the God of Israel” (47). The idealized human figures are:

Adam as past and future. Kirk probes Genesis and the verbs “rule,” and “subdue,” and the terms “likeness” and “image.” “…[A]n image was not merely a representation, but was seen as the embodiment of the thing signified” (53). Kirk discusses Psalm 8, Ezekiel 28, the Wisdom of Solomon, the Dead Sea Scrolls (numerous texts), Philo, 1 Enoch, Life of Adam and Eve, and Testament of Abraham. The recurring key feature is “the God who is sovereign (Pss 22:28; 47:2) shares sovereign rule with humanity, especially idealized human figures” (77).

Moses and the Prophets. Kirk discusses Moses in the Bible, Philo’s Moses, The Exagogue of Ezekiel the Tragedian, and Moses at Qumran. Often, Moses’ “shining face” is equated with “may YHWH’s face shine upon you.” Tight identity. Kirk’s conclusion about Moses is “The ascription of the title God, the actions of conquering hostile, even cosmic powers, sitting on God’s throne, and receiving celestial adoration—all these place Moses in a unique standing vis-à-vis God, yet without transforming the identity of God in any other way than binding God’s identity to the identity of this human agent through whom God has chosen to act” (87). Prophets past and future. Kirk considers Elijah in the Jewish Scriptures (along with Elisha as his Great Successor), Elijah in Sirach, and Elijah in several Qumran texts. These human prophetic figures are “tasked to play the role of God on earth” (96).

Kings in Worship and Rule. David and Solomon in the biblical text are primarily featured, with comments about Psalm 2—nations responding to the son are responding to God himself; Psalm 45—a king of Israel (or Judah) as an idealized human figure “might well be be included in Israel’s worship…” and “the king himself is the object of praise” (99); Psalm 72—“The idea would be that God is worshiped through this service [see vss 9-11] because God stands behind the king” (101); Psalm 89—the king is invested with sovereignty over creation (vs 9) that is reserved for God alone. Solomon’s throne and worship in 1 Chronicles 29:20, 23) includes this phrase “They bowed to the LORD and to the king.” Solomon is on the throne (sovereignty) and receives worship. Isaiah 9 presents a human child who is declared to be “almighty God, Everlasting Father” and sovereignly rules. Ezekiel 34, Micah 5 and Zechariah 12 are discussed.

The “exalted depictions” of these kings (historical and predicted) are presented without the least concern that they might “infringe on some realm supposedly reserved for God alone” (110). Kirk discusses kings in post-biblical Judaism with this conclusion: “Idealized kings in biblical and post-biblical Judaism shared in God’s sovereignty over the earth, sitting on God’s throne, ruling the nations, governing God’s people, manifesting God’s wisdom and righteousness.” … “Kings show such adoption of divine identity by being called God, receiving worship, being God’s stand-in in rule, bearing God’s spirit, executing God’s judgments, fulfilling Scripture of which God is the subject, and standing in filial relationship to God” (118, 120). The tie to Jesus as king is apparent.

Priests of Divinity. Melchizedek in Scripture and at Qumran and Priests in Sirach are examined. Priests in The Testament of Levi and Jubilees and at Qumran (DSS) are presented. Kirk’s conclusion: “Idealized priests provide another lens through which to see that early Jewish monotheism plays little role in limiting how Jewish writers can depict (human) figures whom they and their communities recognize as being specially endowed for some task or function” (139). Prerogatives of God are shared by these idealized priests.

Son of Man. This title in Daniel 7 and in Enochic Literature and 4 Ezra receives careful scrutiny and this title comes up again in Kirk’s chapter 3- “Son of Man as the Human One.” Kirk prefers Boyarin’s view that “‘the one like a human being’ speak[s] of the human beings who make up the faithful people of Israel” (157-58).

The Community of the Elect. From his biblical and post-biblical citations, Kirk’s main point is to affirm that the community is called “the Son of God,” that is, God is on display in Israel. “…Zion on earth is a proxy for God” (164).

Kirk’s Four Conclusions. “1. Idealized human figures are a wide-spread and wide-ranging reality in the literature of early Judaism. … 2. Although there are angelic figures who play such [God] roles as well, early Judaism maintained a special role for humans as God’s idealized agents. … 3. Idealized human figures are identified with God in various ways in early Judaism, including sharing in God’s sovereignty and receiving worship. … 4. Despite the assertions of some early Jewish writers, we discover a notable absence of anxiety about applying divine attributes to people in both biblical and post-biblical Judaism” (173-174). A recurring point made by Kirk is that idealized human figures do not jeopardize fierce Jewish monotheism.

As the one reviewing, I admit, I still need convincing about why Kirk’s hypothesis is necessary.

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Paolo Veronese, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (ca. 1560).

In ChristianityChristology (from Greek Χριστός Khristós and -λογία-logia), translated literally from Greek as "the study of Christ", is a branch of theology that concerns Jesus. Different denominations have different opinions on questions like whether Jesus was human, divine, or both, and as a messiah what his role would be in the freeing of the Jewish people from foreign rulers or in the prophesied Kingdom of God, and in the salvation from what would otherwise be the consequences of sin.[1][2][3][4][5]

The earliest Christian writings gave several titles to Jesus, such as Son of ManSon of GodMessiah, and Kyrios, which were all derived from the Hebrew scriptures.[web 1] These terms centered around two opposing themes, namely "Jesus as a preexistent figure who becomes human and then returns to God", versus adoptionism - that Jesus was human who was "adopted" by God at his baptism, crucificion, or resurrection.[web 1]

From the second to the fifth centuries, the relation of the human and divine nature of Christ was a major focus of debates in the early church and at the first seven ecumenical councils. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 issued a formulation of the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, one human and one divine, "united with neither confusion nor division".[6] Most of the major branches of Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy subscribe to this formulation,[6] while many branches of Oriental Orthodox Churches reject it,[7][8][9] subscribing to miaphysitism.

Definition and approaches

Christology (from Greek Χριστός Khristós and -λογία-logia), literally "the understanding of Christ,"[10] is the study of the nature (person) and work (role in salvation)[note 1] of Jesus Christ.[1][4][2][need quotation to verify][3][web 1][web 4][note 2] It studies Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two aspects;[5] and the role he plays in salvation.

"Ontological Christology" analyzes the nature or being[web 5] of Jesus Christ. "Functional Christology" analyzes the works of Jesus Christ, while "soteriological Christology" analyzes the "salvific" standpoints of Christology.[13]

Several approaches can be distinguished within Christology.[note 3] The term "Christology from above"[14] or "high Christology"[15] refers to approaches that include aspects of divinity, such as Lord and Son of God, and the idea of the pre-existence of Christ as the Logos (the Word),[14][15][16] as expressed in the prologue to the Gospel of John.[note 4] These approaches interpret the works of Christ in terms of his divinity. According to Pannenberg, Christology from above "was far more common in the ancient Church, beginning with Ignatius of Antioch and the second century Apologists."[16] The term "Christology from below"[17] or "low Christology"[15] refers to approaches that begin with the human aspects and the ministry of Jesus (including the miracles, parables, etc.) and move towards his divinity and the mystery of incarnation.[14][15]

Person of Christ

Christ Pantocrator, Holy Trinity's monastery, Meteora, Greece

A basic christological teaching is that the person of Jesus Christ is both human and divine. The human and divine natures of Jesus Christ apparently (prosopic) form a duality, as they coexist within one person (hypostasis).[18] There are no direct discussions in the New Testament regarding the dual nature of the Person of Christ as both divine and human,[18] and since the early days of Christianity, theologians have debated various approaches to the understanding of these natures, at times resulting in ecumenical councils, and schisms.[18]

Some historical christological doctrines gained broad support. We show them here with simplified summaries; see the linked articles for details.

Influential Christologies which were broadly condemned as heretical[note 5] are:

  • Docetism (3rd-4th c.) claimed the human form of Jesus was mere semblance without any true reality
  • Arianism (4th c.) viewed Jesus as primarily an ordinary mortal, albeit in contact with or infused by the Divine
  • Nestorianism (5th c.) considered the two natures (human and divine) of Jesus Christ almost entirely distinct

Various church councils, mainly in the 4th and 5th centuries, resolved most of these controversies, making the doctrine of the Trinity orthodox in nearly all branches of Christianity. Among them, only the Dyophysite doctrine was recognized as true and not heretical, belonging to the Christian orthodoxy and deposit of faith.


In Christian theologyatonement is the method by which human beings can be reconciled to God through Christ's sacrificial suffering and death.[21] Atonement is the forgiving or pardoning of sin in general and original sin in particular through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus,[web 6] enabling the reconciliation between God and his creation. Due to the influence of Gustaf Aulèn's (1879-1978) Christus Victor (1931), the various theories or paradigma's of atonement are often grouped as "classical paradigm," "objective paradigm," and the "subjective paradigm":[22][23][24][25]

Other theories are the "embracement theory" and the "shared atonement" theory.[40][41]

Early Christologies (1st century)

Early notions of Christ

The earliest christological reflections were shaped by both the Jewish background of the earliest Christians, and by the Greek world of the eastern Mediterranean in which they operated.[42][web 1][note 13] The earliest Christian writings give several titles to Jesus, such as Son of ManSon of GodMessiah, and Kyrios, which were all derived from the Hebrew scriptures.[web 1][15] According to Matt Stefon and Hans J. Hillerbrand,

Until the middle of the 2nd century, such terms emphasized two themes: that of Jesus as a preexistent figure who becomes human and then returns to God and that of Jesus as a creature elected and “adopted” by God. The first theme makes use of concepts drawn from Classical antiquity, whereas the second relies on concepts characteristic of ancient Jewish thought. The second theme subsequently became the basis of “adoptionist Christology” (see adoptionism), which viewed Jesus’ baptism as a crucial event in his adoption by God.[web 1]

Historically in the Alexandrian school of thought (fashioned on the Gospel of John), Jesus Christ is the eternal Logos who already possesses unity with the Father before the act of Incarnation.[45] In contrast, the Antiochian school viewed Christ as a single, unified human person apart from his relationship to the divine.[45][note 14]


The notion of pre-existence is deeply rooted in Jewish thought, and can be found in apocalyptic thought and among the rabbis of Paul's time,[47] but Paul was most influenced by Jewish-Hellenistic wisdom literature, where "'Wisdom' is extolled as something existing before the world and already working in creation.[47] According to Witherington, Paul "subscribed to the christological notion that Christ existed prior to taking on human flesh [,] founding the story of Christ [...] on the story of divine Wisdom."[48][note 15]


The title Kyrios for Jesus is central to the development of New Testament Christology.[49] In the Septuagint it translates the Tetragrammaton, the holy and unpronounceable Name of God. As such, it closely links Jesus with God - in the same way a verse such as Matthew 28:19, "The Name (singular) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost".

Kyrios is also conjectured to be the Greek translation of Aramaic Mari, which in everyday Aramaic usage was a very respectful form of polite address, which means more than just "Teacher" and was somewhat similar to Rabbi. While the term Mari expressed the relationship between Jesus and his disciples during his life, the Greek Kyrios came to represent his lordship over the world.[50]

The early Christians placed Kyrios at the center of their understanding, and from that center attempted to understand the other issues related to the Christian mysteries.[49] The question of the deity of Christ in the New Testament is inherently related to the Kyrios title of Jesus used in the early Christian writings and its implications for the absolute lordship of Jesus. In early Christian belief, the concept of Kyrios included the pre-existence of Christ, for they believed if Christ is one with God, he must have been united with God from the very beginning.[49][51]

Development of "low Christology" and "high Christology"

Two fundamentally different Christologies developed in the early Church, namely a "low" or adoptionist Christology, and a "high" or "incarnation Christology."[52] The chronology of the development of these early Christologies is a matter of debate within contemporary scholarship.[53][54][55][web 7]

The "low Christology" or "adoptionist Christology" is the belief "that God exalted Jesus to be his Son by raising him from the dead,"[56] thereby raising him to "divine status."[web 8] According to the "evolutionary model"[57] c.q. "evolutionary theories,"[58] the christological understanding of Christ developed over time,[59][60][61] as witnessed in the Gospels,[54] with the earliest Christians believing that Jesus was a human who was exalted, c.q. adopted as God's Son,[62][63] when he was resurrected.[61][64] Later beliefs shifted the exaltation to his baptism, birth, and subsequently to the idea of his pre-existence, as witnessed in the Gospel of John.[61] This "evolutionary model" was proposed by proponents of the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, especially Wilhelm Boussets influential Kyrios Christos (1913).[62] This evolutionary model was very influential, and the "low Christology" has long been regarded as the oldest Christology.[65][66][web 8][note 16]

The other early Christology is "high Christology," which is "the view that Jesus was a pre-existent divine being who became a human, did the Father’s will on earth, and then was taken back up into heaven whence he had originally come,"[web 8][67] and from where he appeared on earth.[note 17] According to Bousset, this "high Christology" developed at the time of Paul's writing, under the influence of Gentile Christians, who brought their pagan Hellenistic traditions to the early Christian communities, introducing divine honours to Jesus.[68] According to Casey and Dunn, this "high Christology" developed after the time of Paul, at the end of the first century CE when the Gospel according to John was written.[69]

Since the 1970s, these late datings for the development of a "high Christology" have been contested,[70] and a majority of scholars argue that this "High Christology" existed already before the writings of Paul.[52][note 18] According to the "New Religionsgeschichtliche Schule,"[70][web 10] c.q. "Early High Christology Club,"[web 11] which includes Martin HengelLarry HurtadoN. T. Wright, and Richard Bauckham,[70][web 11] this "incarnation Christology" or "high Christology" did not evolve over a longer time, but was a "big bang" of ideas which were already present at the start of Christianity, and took further shape in the first few decades of the church, as witnessed in the writings of Paul.[70][web 11][web 8][note 19] Some 'Early High Christology' proponents scholars argue that this "High Christology" may go back to Jesus himself.[72][web 7]

There is a controversy regarding whether Jesus himself claimed to be divine. In Honest to God, then-Bishop of Woolwich John A. T. Robinson, questioned the idea.[73] John Hick, writing in 1993, mentioned changes in New Testament studies, citing "broad agreement" that scholars do not today support the view that Jesus claimed to be God, quoting as examples Michael Ramsey (1980), C. F. D. Moule (1977), James Dunn (1980), Brian Hebblethwaite (1985) and David Brown (1985).[74] Larry Hurtado, who argues that the followers of Jesus within a very short period developed an exceedingly high level of devotional reverence to Jesus,[75] at the same time rejects the view that Jesus made a claim to messiahship or divinity to his disciples during his life as "naive and ahistorical".[76][failed verification]  According to Gerd Lüdemann, the broad consensus among modern New Testament scholars is that the proclamation of the divinity of Jesus was a development within the earliest Christian communities.[77] N. T. Wright points out that arguments over the claims of Jesus regarding divinity have been passed over by more recent scholarship, which sees a more complex understanding of the idea of God in first century Judaism.[78] But, Andrew Loke argues that if Jesus did not claim and show himself to be truly divine and rise from the dead, the earliest Christian leaders who were devout ancient monotheistic Jews would have regarded Jesus as merely a teacher or a prophet, but not as truly divine, which they did.[79]

New Testamentical writings

The study of the various Christologies of the Apostolic Age is based on early Christian documents.[80]


Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515

The oldest Christian sources are the writings of Paul.[81] The central Christology of Paul conveys the notion of Christ's pre-existence[47][48] and the identification of Christ as Kyrios.[82] Both notions already existed before him in the early Christian communities, and Paul deepened them and used them for preaching in the Hellenistic communities.[47]

What exactly Paul believed about the nature of Jesus cannot be determined decisively. In Philippians 2, Paul states that Jesus was preexistent and came to Earth "by taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness." This sounds like an incarnation Christology. In Romans 1:4, however, Paul states that Jesus "was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead," which sounds like an adoptionistic Christology, where Jesus was a human being who was "adopted" after his death. Different views would be debated for centuries by Christians and finally settled on the idea that he was both fully human and fully divine by the middle of the 5th century in the Council of Ephesus. Paul's thoughts on Jesus' teachings, versus his nature and being, is more defined, in that Paul believed Jesus was sent as an atonement for the sins of everyone.[83][84][85]

The Pauline epistles use Kyrios to identify Jesus almost 230 times, and express the theme that the true mark of a Christian is the confession of Jesus as the true Lord.[86] Paul viewed the superiority of the Christian revelation over all other divine manifestations as a consequence of the fact that Christ is the Son of God.[web 4]

The Pauline epistles also advanced the "cosmic Christology"[note 20] later developed in the fourth gospel,[88] elaborating the cosmic implications of Jesus' existence as the Son of God, as in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." The Bible begins with the story of alienation (Genesis 1-11). Christ came in the middle of time to draw all back to God: "Through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven" (Col 1:20).[89] Also, in Colossians 1:15: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation."[82][87]

The Gospels

The Four Evangelists, by Pieter Soutman, 17th century

The synoptic Gospels date from after the writings of Paul. They provide episodes from the life of Jesus and some of his works, but the authors of the New Testament show little interest in an absolute chronology of Jesus or in synchronizing the episodes of his life,[90] and as in John 21:25, the Gospels do not claim to be an exhaustive list of his works.[80]

Christologies that can be gleaned from the three Synoptic Gospels generally emphasize the humanity of Jesus, his sayings, his parables, and his miracles. The Gospel of John provides a different perspective that focuses on his divinity.[web 4] The first 14 verses of the Gospel of John are devoted to the divinity of Jesus as the Logos, usually translated as "Word", along with his pre-existence, and they emphasize the cosmic significance of Christ, e.g. John 1:3: "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." In the context of these verses, the Word made flesh is identical with the Word who was in the beginning with God, being exegetically equated with Jesus.[web 4]

Controversies and ecumenical councils (2nd-8th century)

Post-Apostolic controversies

Following the Apostolic Age, from the second century onwards, a number of controversies developed about how the human and divine are related within the person of Jesus.[91][92] As of the second century, a number of different and opposing approaches developed among various groups. In contrast to prevailing monoprosopic views on the Person of Christ, alternative dyoprosopic notions were also promoted by some theologians, but such views were rejected by the ecumenical councils. For example, Arianism did not endorse divinity, Ebionism argued Jesus was an ordinary mortal, while Gnosticism held docetic views which argued Christ was a spiritual being who only appeared to have a physical body.[19][20] The resulting tensions led to schisms within the church in the second and third centuries, and ecumenical councils were convened in the fourth and fifth centuries to deal with the issues.

Although some of the debates may seem to various modern students to be over a theological iota, they took place in controversial political circumstances, reflecting the relations of temporal powers and divine authority, and certainly resulted in schisms, among others that separated the Church of the East from the Church of the Roman Empire.[93][94]

First Council of Nicaea (325) and First Council of Constantinople (381)

In 325, the First Council of Nicaea defined the persons of the Godhead and their relationship with one another, decisions which were ratified at the First Council of Constantinople in 381. The language used was that the one God exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); in particular, it was affirmed that the Son was homoousios (of the same being) as the Father. The Nicene Creed declared the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus.[95][96][97] After the First Council of Nicaea in 325 the Logos and the second Person of the Trinity were being used interchangeably.[98]

First Council of Ephesus (431)

In 431, the First Council of Ephesus was initially called to address the views of Nestorius on Mariology, but the problems soon extended to Christology, and schisms followed. The 431 council was called because in defense of his loyal priest Anastasius, Nestorius had denied the Theotokos title for Mary and later contradicted Proclus during a sermon in Constantinople. Pope Celestine I (who was already upset with Nestorius due to other matters) wrote about this to Cyril of Alexandria, who orchestrated the council. During the council, Nestorius defended his position by arguing there must be two persons of Christ, one human, the other divine, and Mary had given birth only to a human, hence could not be called the Theotokos, i.e. "the one who gives birth to God". The debate about the single or dual nature of Christ ensued in Ephesus.[99][100][101][102]

The First Council of Ephesus debated miaphysitism (two natures united as one after the hypostatic union) versus dyophysitism (coexisting natures after the hypostatic union) versus monophysitism (only one nature) versus Nestorianism (two hypostases). From the christological viewpoint, the council adopted Mia Physis (But being made one κατὰ φύσιν) - Council of Ephesus, Epistle of Cyril to Nestorius, i.e. One Nature of the Word of God Incarnate (μία φύσις τοῦ θεοῦ λόγου σεσαρκωμένη mía phýsis toû theoû lógou sesarkōménē). In 451, the Council of Chalcedon affirmed dyophysitism. The Oriental Orthodox rejected this and subsequent councils and continued to consider themselves as miaphysite according to the faith put forth at the Councils of Nicaea and Ephesus.[103][104] The council also confirmed the Theotokos title and excommunicated Nestorius.[105][106]

Council of Chalcedon (451)

Christological spectrum during the 5th–7th centuries showing the views of the Church of the East (light blue), the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches (light purple), and the Miaphysite Churches (pink).

The 451 Council of Chalcedon was highly influential, and marked a key turning point in the christological debates.[107] It is the last council which many Anglicans and most Protestants consider ecumenical.[7]

The Council of Chalcedon fully promulgated the Western dyophysite understanding put forth by Pope Leo I of Rome of the hypostatic union, the proposition that Christ has one human nature [physis] and one divine nature [physis], each distinct and complete, and united with neither confusion nor division.[91][92] Most of the major branches of Western Christianity (Roman CatholicismAnglicanismLutheranism, and Reformed) and Eastern Orthodoxy subscribe to the Chalcedonian Christological formulation, while many branches of Oriental Orthodox Churches (Syrian OrthodoxyAssyrian ChurchCoptic OrthodoxyEthiopian Orthodoxy, and Armenian Apostolicism) reject it.[7][8][9]

Although the Chalcedonian Creed did not put an end to all christological debate, it did clarify the terms used and became a point of reference for many future Christologies.[7][8][9] But it also broke apart the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the fifth century,[107] and unquestionably established the primacy of Rome in the East over those who accepted the Council of Chalcedon. This was reaffirmed in 519, when the Eastern Chalcedonians accepted the Formula of Hormisdas, anathematizing all of their own Eastern Chalcedonian hierarchy, who died out of communion with Rome from 482–519.

Fifth-seventh Ecumenical Council (553, 681, 787)

The Second Council of Constantinople in 553 interpreted the decrees of Chalcedon, and further explained the relationship of the two natures of Jesus. It also condemned the alleged teachings of Origen on the pre-existence of the soul, and other topics.[web 12]

The Third Council of Constantinople in 681 declared that Christ has two wills of his two natures, human and divine, contrary to the teachings of the Monothelites,[web 13] with the divine will having precedence, leading and guiding the human will.[108]

The Second Council of Nicaea was called under the Empress Regent Irene of Athens in 787, known as the second of Nicaea. It supports the veneration of icons while forbidding their worship. It is often referred to as "The Triumph of Orthodoxy".[web 14]

9th-11th century

Eastern Christianity

Western mediaeval Christology

The term "monastic Christology" has been used to describe spiritual approaches developed by Anselm of CanterburyPeter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux. The Franciscan piety of the 12th and 13th centuries led to "popular Christology". Systematic approaches by theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, are called "scholastic Christology".[109]

In the 13th century, Saint Thomas Aquinas provided the first systematic Christology that consistently resolved a number of the existing issues.[110] In his Christology from above, Aquinas also championed the principle of perfection of Christ's human attributes.[111][112][113]

The Middle Ages also witnessed the emergence of the "tender image of Jesus" as a friend and a living source of love and comfort, rather than just the Kyrios image.[114]


John Calvin maintained there was no human element in the Person of Christ which could be separated from the Person of The Word.[115] Calvin also emphasized the importance of the "Work of Christ" in any attempt at understanding the Person of Christ and cautioned against ignoring the Works of Jesus during his ministry.[116]

Modern developments

Liberal Protestant theology

The 19th century saw the rise of Liberal Protestant theology, which questioned the dogmatic foundations of Christianity, and approached the Bible with critical-historical tools.[web 15] The divinity of Jesus was problematized, and replaced with an emphasis on the ethical aspects of his teachings.[117][note 21]

Roman Catholicism

Catholic theologian Karl Rahner sees the purpose of modern Christology as to formulate the Christian belief that "God became man and that God-made-man is the individual Jesus Christ" in a manner that this statement can be understood consistently, without the confusions of past debates and mythologies.[119][note 22] Rahner pointed out the coincidence between the Person of Christ and the Word of God, referring to Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26 which state whoever is ashamed of the words of Jesus is ashamed of the Lord himself.[121]

Hans von Balthasar argued the union of the human and divine natures of Christ was achieved not by the "absorption" of human attributes, but by their "assumption". Thus, in his view, the divine nature of Christ was not affected by the human attributes and remained forever divine.[122]


Nativity and the Holy Name

The Nativity of Jesus impacted the christological issues about his Person from the earliest days of Christianity. Luke's Christology centers on the dialectics of the dual natures of the earthly and heavenly manifestations of existence of the Christ, while Matthew's Christology focuses on the mission of Jesus and his role as the savior.[123][124] The salvific emphasis of Matthew 1:21 later impacted the theological issues and the devotions to Holy Name of Jesus.[125][126][127]

Matthew 1:23 provides a key to the "Emmanuel Christology" of Matthew. Beginning with 1:23, Matthew shows a clear interest in identifying Jesus as "God with us" and in later developing the Emmanuel characterization of Jesus at key points throughout the rest of his Gospel.[128] The name Emmanuel does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament, but Matthew builds on it in Matthew 28:20 ("I am with you always, even unto the end of the world") to indicate Jesus will be with the faithful to the end of the age.[128][129] According to Ulrich Luz, the Emmanuel motif brackets the entire Gospel of Matthew between 1:23 and 28:20, appearing explicitly and implicitly in several other passages.[130]

Crucifixion and resurrection

The accounts of the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus provides a rich background for christological analysis, from the canonical Gospels to the Pauline Epistles.[131]

A central element in the christology presented in the Acts of the Apostles is the affirmation of the belief that the death of Jesus by crucifixion happened "with the foreknowledge of God, according to a definite plan".[132] In this view, as in Acts 2:23, the cross is not viewed as a scandal, for the crucifixion of Jesus "at the hands of the lawless" is viewed as the fulfilment of the plan of God.[132][133]

Paul's Christology has a specific focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. For Paul, the crucifixion of Jesus is directly related to his resurrection and the term "the cross of Christ" used in Galatians 6:12 may be viewed as his abbreviation of the message of the gospels.[134] For Paul, the crucifixion of Jesus was not an isolated event in history, but a cosmic event with significant eschatological consequences, as in Cor 2:8.[134] In the Pauline view, Jesus, obedient to the point of death (Phil 2:8), died "at the right time" (Rom 5:6) based on the plan of God.[134] For Paul, the "power of the cross" is not separable from the resurrection of Jesus.[134]

Threefold office

The threefold office (Latin munus triplex) of Jesus Christ is a Christian doctrine based upon the teachings of the Old Testament. It was described by Eusebius and more fully developed by John Calvin. It states that Jesus Christ performed three functions (or "offices") in his earthly ministry – those of prophet (Deuteronomy 18:14–22), priest (Psalm 110:1-4), and king (Psalm 2). In the Old Testament, the appointment of someone to any of these three positions could be indicated by anointing him or her by pouring oil over the head. Thus, the term messiah, meaning "anointed one", is associated with the concept of the threefold office. While the office of king is that most frequently associated with the Messiah, the role of Jesus as priest is also prominent in the New Testament, being most fully explained in chapters 7 to 10 of the Book of Hebrews.


Some Christians, notably Roman Catholics, view Mariology as a key component of Christology.[web 16] In this view, not only is Mariology a logical and necessary consequence of Christology, but without it, Christology is incomplete, since the figure of Mary contributes to a fuller understanding of who Christ is and what he did.[135]

Protestants have criticized Mariology because many of its assertions lack any biblical foundation.[136] Strong Protestant reaction against Roman Catholic Marian devotion and teaching has been a significant issue for ecumenical dialogue.[137]

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) expressed this sentiment about Roman Catholic Mariology when in two separate occasions he stated, "The appearance of a truly Marian awareness serves as the touchstone indicating whether or not the christological substance is fully present"[138] and "It is necessary to go back to Mary, if we want to return to the truth about Jesus Christ."[139]