Yorkminster Park Theological Forum
Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto
February 11, 1999
The title for our lecture, "The Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith," was coined over a hundred years ago, in 1892, by Martin K�hler to distinguish between the historical Jesus, or the Jesus of Historie, and the Christ whom the church proclaimed in its Gospels, or the Christ of Geschichte.1 Fortunately, English has only one word for History, and so English-speaking scholars cannot on a linguistic basis easily make the distinction between "history" and so-called "meta-history." Theologically, however, Christians have always asked the question: How are we to understand relations between the historical Jesus and the Christ proclaimed in the New Testament?
The question includes issues regarding the relationship of an academic study of Jesus and a confessional affirmation of Jesus. It is also part of the larger question regarding how to understand the humanity of Jesus and the divinity of Jesus in speaking about Jesus as the God-man. It is, in fact, implicit in the question that Jesus himself first asked his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29, par); that he then asked the Pharisees: "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" (Matt 22:41, par.), and that he continues to ask all people today: What do you think of Jesus? How should he be understood both historically and religiously? Of what significance is he for our lives - and for the Church and the world today?
The attempt to understand Jesus has produced a massive number of critical studies during the past two centuries, with certain distinctive approaches evident. In what follows I would like to divide my lecture into two parts: first, setting out a brief history of some of the most significant approaches in the critical study of Jesus; then, second, offering "some contemporary reflections" (as our title has it) on the matters raised - with a short appended "affirmation of my own convictions" at the end.
I. The "Jesus of History and Christ of Faith" Debates: Significant Approaches in the Critical Study of Jesus during the Past Two Centuries
1. Past Approaches in the Critical Study of Jesus - 1800-1975 (i.e., during most of the past two centuries):
To understand the situation today, one needs the broader perspective and background of the past two centuries. Four approaches, in particular, need be noted.
1. The Approach of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834): Jesus was the proclaimer of such great universal truths as (a) the Kingdom of God, (b) the Fatherhood of God, (c) the brotherhood of man, (d) the infinite value of the soul, and (e) the higher righteousness of love - and he called on his followers to establish Gods kingdom on earth through love and good will.
Schleiermacher was born into a family of clergymen. His father was a chaplain in the Prussian army and both grandfathers were Reformed pastors. Upon ordination, he served as a private tutor for four years, a hospital chaplain for five years, the pastor of a small Reformed church for three years, and a Professor of Theology in the University of Halle for three years. He was one of the founders of the University of Berlin, and from 1807 until his death in 1834 (about 27 years) he served as both a professor in the university and the pastor of Trinity Church in Berlin.
Schleiermacher is usually viewed as a systematic theologian - in fact, he has often been called the father of modern theology (or, the father of liberal theology). His book on systematic theology, The Christian Faith (first published in German [Berlin: Reimer, 1821; ET 1928]), is the best known of his writings. Yet beginning in 1804 at the University of Halle and continuing on throughout all of his time at the University of Berlin, Schleiermacher lectured mostly on the New Testament and hermeneutics, and, as a pastor, he preached almost every Sunday on a text of Scripture. From 1804-1834 (for thirty years or so) he repeatedly offered courses on almost all of the Pauline epistles (and Hebrews), and he was the first to offer courses in an academic setting on the life of Jesus.
Schleiermachers attempt in all of his New Testament study was to teach the Church how to read the Gospels and Pauls letters. It was, for him, a task in what he called "church leadership." So he is thought of in many circles as the founder of modern hermeneutics.
In so doing, Schleiermacher argued (a) that Christianity was a genuinely new faith (thereby setting aside the Old Testament as prolegomena to Christian faith; though he wanted to retain the Jewish Scriptures in the Bible as an Appendix to the New Testament, since early Christian preaching used the vocabulary and themes of the Old Testament for its own purposes), (b) that the only historically reliable accounts of Jesus are those given about the time after his baptism and before his arrest (thereby setting aside as non-historical accounts of his birth, baptism, judicial trials, death, and resurrection), and (c) that in those accounts of Jesus between his baptism and his arrest, it is only the underlying universal principles of what he taught that are important (thereby setting aside whatever Jewish features might appear, the miracle stories that were added later, and all later ecclesiastical teaching that had intruded into the texts).
Schleiermacher was heavily influenced by the Enlightenment. Thus he denied that Christianity rested on the historical and doctrinal claims of the New Testament; rather, he insisted that it had to do only with the inward religious consciousness of Jesus, which was a consciousness of being in relation with God and absolutely dependent on God.
Orthodox critics denounced him as denuding the biblical narratives; radical critics (such as David Friedrich Strauss) thought he had not gone far enough and should have also denied theism. But it was Schleiermachers brand of philosophical theology, biblical criticism, and hermeneutics that gained ascendancy on the European continent during the nineteenth century. And it was the rise of the religionsgeschictliche school in the latter part of the nineteenth century - with its claims for Hellenistic encrustations as having obscured the message of the simple Galilean preacher - that gave an explanation in support of Schleiermachers thesis for how Jesus had been so grievously misrepresented in the New Testament.
2. The Approach of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) and the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Jesus was an apocalyptic, eschatological Jewish Messiah figure, whose message of total commitment, while bizarre in its details, has had a profound effect on all humanity and continues to inspire today.
Schweitzer was the son of a Lutheran pastor in the Upper Alsace of Germany. He studied philosophy, music, theology and medicine at the University of Strasbourg, earning Ph.D.s (or their equivalent) in philosophy, music and theology, and an M.D. in medicine. He published more than thirty books on philosophy, music, theology, and biblical studies - with ten or so being on theology and biblical studies. He was also an accomplished organist. But he is probably best known as a missionary doctor at Lambar�n� in the (then) province of Gabon in French Equatorial Africa, where he ministered for over fifty years and established a jungle hospital and leper colony (and was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1952 for his efforts on behalf of "the brotherhood of nations").
Schweitzer studied at Strasbourg under H. J. Holtzmann, who taught that Jesus was essentially a pious teacher of social ethics (� la Schleiermachers view) and that all of the eschatological elements and "high" Christology of the Gospels were added later by the evangelists.
But at the age of 19, while serving as a conscript in the German army, Schweitzer was reading Matthew 10, where Jesus sent out his disciples to announce his presence throughout Galilee. And while reading he came across Matt 10:23b: "You will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." Professor Holtzmann had taught him that ASon of Man" in the Gospels always referred to the eschatological Judge at the end of time and that Jesus is here represented as saying that the end of the world would come soon. But this, according to Holtzmann, was obviously an addition by a later church editor, and so could safely be removed from the Gospel story and expunged from our view of Jesus own self-consciousness; for Jesus was too sane to have believed such nonsense. But Schweitzers question was: Why would the evangelist Matthew, writing thirty or forty years after Jesus ministry and seeking to extol him through his Gospel, have placed such a statement on the lips of Jesus - that is, that the end of the world would come at the close of his Galilean ministry - when that certainly did not happen and so was patently false? It must be, Schweitzer concluded, that Matt 10:23b represents not a perversion of Jesus teaching but, rather, the very essence of Jesus self-consciousness: that he had high eschatological expectations and that he saw himself as the prophesied Son of Man - the expected Messiah of the final days.
In 1906, when he was 26 years old, Schweitzer published a withering attack against the Friedrich Schleiermacher - Adolf Harnack - Wilhelm Wrede consensus of his day in a book he entitled Von Reimarus zu Wrede: Eine Geschichte der Leben-Jesu Forschung, which was published in English in 1910 under the title The Quest of the Historical Jesus. In it, he denounced the renaissance views of Jesus made popular by Schleiermacher and Harnack (which he saw as having begun with Hermann Reimarus in the eighteenth century), the claimed Hellenistic accretions of the Religionsgeschichte school, and the rationalistic criticism of Wilhelm Wrede. Somewhat sarcastically he asked regarding the nineteenth century "Life of Jesus" investigators: "Have they hunted down their game according to fair forest law, or has their bag been poached?" And he answered his own rhetorical question with the dictum: "Their bag has been poached!"
But Schweitzers own positive proposals regarding Jesus were no less radical than those he denounced. For while he directed attention back to the world of first century Judaism as the proper context for Jesus and his ministry, his focus was entirely on the apocalypticism of first century Judaism. In fact, he insisted (1) that a rabid apocalypticism was the controlling feature of the Judaism of Jesus day (all other forms of Judaism being insignificant or of a later time), and (2) that Jesus own self-consciousness and ministry were entirely controlled by apocalyptic expectations.
Thus the ministry of Jesus, as reconstructed by Schweitzer, is set out in the Gospels in two parts: (1) in the first part, believing himself to be Israels Messiah, Jesus tried single-handedly to call Israel to repentance and to turn the people back to God, but the nation was too wicked to respond; (2) then in the second part, beginning at Caesarea Philippi, he purposely began a program of confrontation with the nations rulers, believing that at a crucial and strategic moment God would vindicate him and the nation would accept him as its Messiah. So from Caesarea Philippi on he "set his face to go to Jerusalem," and at Jerusalem he confronted the Jewish leaders and arranged his own arrest, trial and crucifixion - expecting at the last moment that God would intervene on his behalf. But on the cross as he was dying he finally realized the folly of it all, and so cried out in the famous cry of dereliction: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Or as Schweitzer characterized the ministry of Jesus in The Quest: Jesus in the first part of his ministry attempted to turn the wheel of history singlehandedly, but it would not budge; then he threw himself upon it, and it turned and crushed him in its turning. That is his victory and that is his reign!
What Schweitzer means is that (1) Jesus was terribly deluded in his own apocalyptic understanding, which was the understanding of his day, but that (2) he used that apocalyptic understanding, even though it was utter folly, to effect tremendous good.2 Nonetheless, Schweitzer still called on people to be followers of Jesus of Nazareth - not by holding to what he believed about himself or to the specifics of what he taught, but by following him in his willingness to give himself for the sake of humanity. Thus the final words of The Quest of the Historical Jesus set out the challenge of Jesus for today:
He comes to us as One unknown, without a name - as of old, by the lake-side, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: "Follow thou me!" and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.3
For Schweitzer, it is not Jesus antiquated and mistaken teachings that are to be proclaimed, but Jesus heroic spirit - which is also latent in the hearts of people generally - that inspires and is to be lived out in our lives. So he called on people to be followers of Jesus and to have "reverence for life."
This "thoroughgoing eschatological understanding" of Jesus (or, so-called "Consequent Eschatology" or "Consistent Eschatology") was not immediately well received by most in Schweitzers day. But it soon became, in somewhat revised form, a dominant scholarly interpretation of Jesus and has framed much of subsequent discussion.
3. The Approach of Ernst K�semann (1906-1998) and the New Quest for the Historical Jesus: While the historical details of Jesus life and ministry cannot be recovered, certain central features of his consciousness and teaching can - such as his consciousness of standing at the turning point of the ages, his announcement of the imminent kingdom of God, his unrivaled authority, his attitude towards the law, and his offer of forgiveness to the ungodly and outcasts.
K�semann was a student and prot�g� of Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) at the University of Marburg. At a time when the historical facticity of the Gospels was commonly denied, Bultmann endeavored to preserve the essence of the Christian gospel as he found it in Pauls letters and Johns Gospel - all the while acknowledging the impossibility of reconstructing a "Life of Jesus." He did this, as we know, by a program of "demythologizing" the New Testament accounts - that is, by divorcing the proclamation of the gospel from the specific details ("myths" or "mythos") in which it is cast. As he saw it, what he was doing was an act of pastoral theology: for he wanted to preserve the message of the gospel while denying the facticity of the Gospel accounts. In the process, however, he made the personality of Jesus dispensable and denied any saving significance to the portrayals given in the Gospels as to how Jesus acted in Galilee and Jerusalem.
While agreeing at many points with Bultmann, K�semann objected strongly to Bultmanns excessive negativism towards the Gospel portrayals of Jesus. For K�semann, the logical outcome of Bultmanns denials was to make Christianity into a type of "docetism" (something that only appeared to have substance) - that is, to view the historical Jesus as merely a datum in history, but without any character; and his message and ministry as merely a cipher in history, but without any content. Rather, K�semann began a movement that attempted to reconstruct the essence of Jesus self-consciousness and certain central features of his message from the Gospels, but without giving too much credence to the historical details given in the Gospels.4
Thus, as for his self-consciousness, K�semann proposed that Jesus saw himself as situated at the turning point of the ages, and that he spoke with the authority of God. As for his message, K�semann believed that he could distill the central features of Jesus proclamation of the kingdom of God, his attitude towards the law, and his offer of forgiveness to the ungodly and outcasts.
But though the endeavors of Bultmann and K�semann were pastorally motivated - and though both were people of faith and thought that they were saving the essence of the gospel in Paul and John from the ravages of criticism in the Gospels - most people today believe the Christian gospel cannot long endure if it is cut off from its historical roots. Nonetheless, "demythologizing" and "the New Quest of the Historical Jesus" continue on today within the Church in many popular forms.
4. The Approach of such scholars as Oscar Cullmann, W. D. Davies and George B. Caird: The New Testament generally and Jesus in particular must be understood in light of a Jewish background, and when so understood the Gospel portrayals are historically credible and the proclamation of Jesus religiously significant - both for that day and today.
Oscar Cullmann (1902-1999) was born and educated in Strasbourg. At first he was enamoured with the liberal theology of his day, but he became disillusioned in his studies with the positions of Schleiermacher and Harnack. And the stance of Albert Schweitzer, a fellow Strausborgian, repelled him. In concert with Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann, his contemporaries, he felt that German theology had become captive to Enlightenment perspectives and German culture. But while sympathetic to the endeavors of Barth and Bultmann, Cullmann developed much more respect for the historical data presented in the Gospels and for the Jewish background of the Christian faith. These emphases come to the fore in his The Earliest Christian Confessions (ET London: Lutterworth, 1949) and The Christology of the New Testament (ET London: SCM, 1959).
W. D. Davies (1911 - ) was born in Wales and educated at the University of Wales and the University of Cambridge. He served for a time as a congregational minister in a parish outside Cambridge, then for four years as Professor of New Testament at Yorkshire United College, Bradford, England. But in 1950 he moved to the United States, where he served as Professor of New Testament at three institutions: Duke University (1950-1955; 1966-1981); Princeton University (1955-1959), and Union Theological Seminary in New York (1959-1966).
Probably the most important intellectual influences on Davies in his formative years were C. H. Dodd at Cambridge and the Jewish scholar David Daube, who was then teaching at Oxford. The impact of Dodds careful, non-spectacular scholarship and Daubes Jewish orientation have remained hallmarks of Davies work through his long teaching and writing career - as witness his Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (London: SPCK, 1948) and Christian Origins and Judaism: A Collection of New Testament Studies (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1962).
"Daviess work," as E. P. Sanders has noted, "clearly caught the tide at its turning."5 For in the rising tide of dissatisfaction in the 1950s and 60s with the stances of Schleiermacher, Schweitzer, and Bultmann or K�semann, W. D. Davies articulated a Jewish background for the New Testament - first with regard to Paul, but also with respect to Jesus - that, while not unanimously accepted, at least clearly has become dominant in the last twenty or thirty years.
George B. Caird (1917-1984) was a Scot, born in London, who studied at Birmingham, Cambridge and Oxford. After pastoring a Congregational church in London during the war, he moved to Canada and became first Professor of Old Testament at St. Stephens College, Edmonton, and then Professor of New Testament at McGill University and Principal of the United Theological College of Montreal. In 1959 he returned to Mansfield College, Oxford, where he served until his death as Professor of New Testament and also from 1970-1979 as Principal.
Caird always insisted on the importance of history within the theological enterprise and accepted the essential trustworthiness of the apostolic witness of the New Testament. In particular B with some qualifications B he believed that the Gospel accounts of Jesus provide good and accurate history. For him, the most important continental scholars were Bo Reicke, Martin Hengel and (especially) Joachim Jeremias, scholars whose historical criticism was constructive and positive. Most of the other German theologians and New Testament professors, however, he treated with "enlightened disdain," often marveling at their influence when their work had so little to commend it.
One of Cairds lifelong preoccupations was with ALife of Jesus" research and the importance of Judaism for an understanding of Jesus, as witness his book Jesus and the Jewish Nation (London: Athlone Press, 1965). Caird was not a "New Quester," for he had never given up on the "old quest." What he argued was that, using proper historical and critical tools, the life and teaching of Jesus shine through the Gospels not only with remarkable uniformity but also with a high degree of historical credibility - that is, if the Gospels portrayal of Jesus is seen in the context of first-century Jewish thought and politics.
2. Current Approaches in the Critical Study of Jesus - 1975-Present:
The past twenty to twenty-five years have been particularly turbulent in discussions regarding "the Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith." Some call this period the days of the Third Quest (the "First Quest" by Albert Schweitzer; the "Second Quest" that of Ernst K�semann, et al.).
Four important developments deserve mention - though, in many cases, what we see today tend to be revisions and reaffirmations of positions that were already taken during the past two centuries, from 1800 to 1975, as set out above.
1. One prominent position today is that of Marcus J. Borg, who in his book Jesus, A New Vision6 argues that Jesus was a charismatic healer or "holy person," a subversive sage who undermined conventional wisdom and taught an alternative wisdom, a social prophet, and an initiator of a movement the purpose of which was the revitalization of Israel. In effect, he was the revealer of a new experience of God and his Spirit, a vision that was first revealed by Jesus to Judaism. But since Judaism was not prepared to receive Jesus message, that message is now given to the whole world.
Borg completed his doctorate under Caird at Oxford, defending in 1972 a dissertation7 that followed closely the approach of his mentor, and argued for Jesus as a social prophet whose vision was the revitalization of the nation Israel. But after graduating from Oxford, Borg came to what he calls a profound "conversion experience," an experience that led him (1) to focus solely on the religious experience of Jesus himself, apart from the historical details and confessional statements about Jesus in the Gospels, (2) to see Jesus religious experience as a new experience that was divorced from his Jewish background, (3) to turn for an analysis of Jesus experience to the religious experiences and spiritual formation of people today, and (4) to proclaim a gospel that builds on the latent religious impulses of people (especially those of a more pluralistic persuasion) and that parallels closely the theological tenets of Schleiermacher and Harnack. It is a vision of Jesus that resonates with much of liberal theology today and is widely proclaimed.8
2. Another stance is that of Richard A. Horsley, who presents Jesus as a social revolutionary in the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds of his day, whose message in its principles has important ramifications for our day.9
Horsley works primarily from the sayings of Jesus, and - based on an analysis of ancient society in the Greco-Roman world -he engages in a rigorous social reading of Jesus teaching. Thus as Horsley reads Jesus teaching in the Gospels, he views him as a prophet of his day whose message had far greater implications than for his day alone: Jesus had primarily a social vision for the renewal of Judaism; his vision, however, was too great for the "confines" of Judaism alone, but rather was destined ultimately to alter the entire fabric of human society. Included in Jesus vision, as Horsley spells it out, were (1) egalitarian relationships, (2) economic cooperation and autonomy, (3) inclusion of all ethnic groups, and (4) realignment of family relations. It is a view of Jesus that overlaps somewhat with that of Borg, and is no less compatible with the thought of many today.
3. Also working from the Sayings of Jesus is the approach of Robert W. Funk, John Dominic Crossan, and the "Jesus Seminar"10: Jesus was a Cynic-like Jewish charismatic peasant, whose teaching was witty, clever and counter-cultural, but not eschatological and certainly not focused on himself. All portrayals of Jesus of a messianic, sacrificial, redemptive, or eschatological nature in the Gospels (and in the rest of the New Testament) are the products of later church theology, which grew up around the figure of this Mediterranean cynic-like teacher and turned him into a cult figure.
The work of the Jesus Seminar highlights three lines of evidence:
1. What is known about wandering Cynic teachers in the Greco-Roman world (thereby establishing the category);
2. Our knowledge of Q (the so-called Sayings source, consisting of approximately 230 verses of Sayings found in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark) - though with these sayings arranged by vote into four categories:
Red = Jesus said it, or something like it (Thats Jesus!)
Pink = Not quite sure that Jesus said it (Sounds like Jesus)
Gray = Probably Jesus didnt say it (Well, maybe)
Black = Certainly not what Jesus said (Theres some mistake)
3. The Nag-Hammadi Gospel of Thomas, with its 114 Sayings of Jesus, viewed as an important fifth Gospel alongside the four Gospels of the New Testament - and, in some cases, as providing evidence of greater significance than that of the four canonical Gospels.
The position of the Jesus Seminary is eminently attractive to many academics in the North America scene, particularly those who come to the data of the New Testament with a "hermeneutic of suspicion." All three of the positions outlined so far have, in effect, largely separated Jesus from his Jewish roots and divorced New Testament interpretation from its Jewish background.
4. A fourth approach today, however, sees Jesus firmly rooted in the Judaism of his day and a prophet to his own nation, but also accepts him as having had a Messianic consciousness, as rightly proclaimed by the Gospels as the nations Messiah, and as acting redemptively for his people and for the world.
Carrying on the stances of Oscar Cullmann, W. D. Davies and George B. Caird (cited above), and often appealing for support to the work of Bo Reicke, Joachim Jeremias, and Martin Hengel, this view is argued today (with varying emphases) by such scholars as Ben Meyer (recently deceased) of McMaster University11, Bruce D. Chilton of Bard College12, New York, and N. Thomas Wright, Dean of Lichfield Cathedral in England.13
Wright, for example, sets out the following scenario: Jesus saw himself as the eschatological prophet of the nation, who offered to Israel redemption and the end of exile. He presented himself to the nation as its Messiah. He died to counter the temple system and entered Jerusalem to fulfill the end-time Jewish hope of the return of God to Zion. In so doing, he acted out what God would do at the end of history; and in so doing, he provided redemption for all people.
There are many who generally favor such a Jewish approach to Jesus and the New Testament writings - even though there are a variety of views among them with respect to the specifics (as, e.g., the Jewish scholar Geza Vermes, and E. P. Sanders).14
II. Some Contemporary Reflections
The title of our lecture, however, also commits me to offer "some contemporary reflections" on the history of Jesus discussion and the issues outlined above. Much of what I would like to say should be given in a course in "The Christology of the New Testament," such as the one I offered a year and a half ago at McMaster Divinity College. But some comments need be made - perhaps best more anecdotally than in detail.
1. With respect to Schleiermachers position of the early nineteenth century and its continuance today.
In many respects I agree with James S. Stewart (1896-1990), my Professor at New College, Edinburgh, who, after reading the classics and English literature at the University of St. Andrews, read theology at the Universities of Edinburgh and Bonn and became convinced that Schleiermacher was right. In fact, it was Stewart who translated and co-edited (with H. R. Mackintosh) Schleiermachers massive systematic theology of 1821 (translated as The Christian Faith ), thereby making it available to the English-speaking world . But he later came to believe that Schleiermachers treatment of the New Testament was cavalier and his vision of the Christian faith, while idealistic, quite impossible.
World War I ended Stewarts studies at Bonn, and he returned to enlist in the British army, serving on the Western Front from 1916 to the wars end in 1918. From that experience he carried with him a profound consciousness of human depravity and an acute realization of the depth of injustice to which we as humans can sink, apart from Gods grace. And though in his early pastoral ministry he carried on much of Schleiermachers theology, he began to feel more and more troubled. As Stewart frequently said in class: What he found in Schleiermacher was a liberal theology that was exciting in its advocacy of Jesus as some bright shining star - but he came to believe that that message, like any bright star of the heavens, was aloof, distant, and far removed from humanitys real needs. So Stewart re-read his New Testament and came to appreciate anew the realism, historical truthfulness, and life changing power of the New Testaments proclamation. And having experienced such a conversion in his own thinking, he was driven to write the two books for which he is best known: The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1932; rpr. Nashville: Abingdon Press) and A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Pauls Religion (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1935).15
With Stewart, and a host of others, (1) I cannot treat the message of the Gospels as something like a bunch of cut flowers, however beautiful, but must always see it rooted in the Jewish soil of its day; (2) I cannot deal with the historical and doctrinal details of the Gospels in any cavalier fashion (i.e., any offhand, carefree, "ham-fisted," or incidental manner), but must always bow before their presentations in my efforts at criticism (like a discerning gardener dealing with prize roses); and (3) I cannot bring myself to understand Jesus and his ministry as simply the concentration of the universal principles of love and goodness, which need only be deculturalized and applied to the social conditions of our day, but must stand in awe in face of the realism, divine action, and life-changing message that the Gospels proclaim.
2. With respect to Schweitzers position of the early twentieth century and its continuance today.
In the spring of 1958 I had the opportunity to attend the lectures of Karl Barth and Oscar Cullmann at Basel. Barth was a very warm, out-going, even volatile person; whereas Cullmann in his public lectures was deliberate and fairly reserved. And whereas Barth was peripatetic and seemingly extemporaneous, Cullmann usually sat at a desk beside the lectern and read his lecture. But once during the course of that semester when referring to Albert Schweitzer, Cullmann got up from behind his desk, walked to the side of the platform, and said with evident agitation: "Imagine the nerve of the man! He denies the validity of Jesus" own self-consciousness, calling it all some bizarre hallucination of the day. Yet he still wants to call himself a follower of Jesus, and so a Christian. What he should call himself is a "Schweitzerian", for he finds his controlling thought within himself and only tries to enlist Jesus in support."
Schweitzer, of course, was a great humanitarian, who saw in Jesus a man with total commitment and whose radical attempt to express the thought of his day (however bizarre it may have been) for the benefit of others sets an example to be followed. Schweitzer had no problem with the facticity of the evangelists" accounts of Jesus in their Gospels. Theirs was an accurate depiction of what Jesus did, what he thought, and what he taught. It was not a question of historical or literary criticism for Schweitzer, but of interpretation. For in Schweitzers view, Jesus was saturated in the apocalyptic thought of the day and he really did think of himself as Israels Messiah and of his ministry as redemption for his people. But that was all part-and-parcel of the delusion of the day, which certainly cannot be accepted in our day. Rather, what we need today is to plumb the depths of our own existence and there to discover humanitys basic religious orientation, that of "reverence for life" - which Schweitzer tended to spell out in a Pantheistic fashion - and then (like Jesus in his day) apply those convictions in a manner helpful to others.
Schweitzer, indeed, can be commended for redirecting our attention back to the world of Judaism. And he can be applauded for insisting that the Gospels have not misrepresented either the self-consciousness of Jesus or the record of what he did in carrying out that Messianic consciousness. But his understanding of both Judaism and Jesus was, I believe, terribly flawed - so much so, that both the Judaism of the first century and Jesus have been made into caricatures beyond recognition.
3. With respect to Bultmann"s "demythologizing" of the New Testament, which seeks to preserve the essence of the Christian gospel amidst the destructive effects of contemporary criticism, and K�semann"s "New Quest," which seeks to discover Jesus self-consciousness and the essence of his teaching apart from any real reliance on the portrayals of the Gospels - both of which are phenomena of the mid-twentieth century.
While sympathetic to their pastoral concerns, I believe such stances to be unstable, both critically and religiously. This kind of approach is terribly schizophenic in its separation of religious reality from historical-critical concerns - often causing its proponents to live in one world religiously and another world historically. In many ways it has turned the Christian gospel into something that K�semann himself feared: a type of docetic religiosity. While seeking to protect the gospel apart from its historical trappings, it has, in effect, cut the cord of communication between the gospel and the world of humanity, with the result that the message of the gospel has seemed irrelevant to many outside the Church. While seeking to uphold the gospel within the Church, it has in effect emptied the churches.
4. With respect to those endeavors that (a) attempt to understand Jesus and his ministry apart from his rootage in Judaism, and/or (b) propose an interpretation which differs from that of the New Testament writers - which are stances frequently taken in the past and very common today.
History is not self-interpreting. There are many ways to interpret the same historical data, whatever the subject - as the plethora of works entitled "A History of This" or "A History of That" attests. The questions of history are not only "What is the data?", but also "Where does one start in accounting for the data?" and "What perspective does one have in understanding the data?" For my part, F. J. A. Hort of Cambridge long ago succinctly characterized the proper attitude towards the New Testament portrayals when he said:
Our faith rests first on the Gospel itself, the revelation of God and His redemption in His Only begotten Son, and secondly on the interpretation of that primary Gospel by the Apostles and Apostolic men to whom was Divinely committed the task of applying the revelation of Christ to the thoughts and deeds of their own time. That standard interpretation of theirs [i.e. that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor 5:19a)] was ordained to be for the guidance of the Church in all after ages, in combination with the living guidance of the Spirit.16
We may, of course, debate regarding the content of the apostolic message and the nature of its development in the New Testament, as well as the various writers intentions in presenting certain portions and the extent of their shaping of that material. I have no assurance we will all agree on everything, for interpretation is a human enterprise. Nonetheless, that is where I start - with (1) Jesus situated in a first century Jewish milieu, and (2) the apostolic interpretation of what he did, what he taught, and who he was given us in the New Testament Gospels. Without such a start and such a perspective, one should not be surprised at the multiplicity of approaches and theses proposed.
5. With respect to the methods and theses of the so-called "Jesus Seminar," which has made headlines for the past twelve to fourteen years.
As for its methods, the Jesus Seminar seeks via agreed-upon literary critera to determine which sayings of Jesus in the Gospels are authentic, rating the credibility of each saying on a scale of red (probably), pink (possibly), gray (perhaps not), and black (certainly not).
The developing of literary criteria to test the various sayings of Jesus has a long history, with C. H. Dodd, for example, focusing on the criterion of "multiple attestation" and Joachim Jeremias on "semitic features" to support the authenticity of many of the sayings of Jesus. In 1967, however, Norman Perrin in his Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus,17 argued that the "burden of proof" must now be on authenticity and not on non-authenticity (that is, that one must start with the supposition that a particular saying is not authentic unless it can be proved to be authentic). And he proposed further literary criteria to be used in making such decisions - such as "dissimilarity" or "distinctiveness" (which usually means that a credible Jesus saying must be different from anything in the Judaism of Jesus day and different from all the churchs confessions) and "coherence" or "consistency" (which usually means that a saying that agrees with another saying can be accepted or rejected depending on what we have determined about that previous parallel saying). There is much we can learn when we apply such criteria to the Gospel portrayals.18 But when used in a "ham-fisted" manner, they leave us with very little on the lips of Jesus. For somewhere in the writings of Early Judaism or the later Church, it is not difficult to find parallels to something Jesus is reputed to have said or to relate the material in some fashion to other material we have previously rejected.
And as for its working theses (1) that the hypothetically reconstructed Q is our earliest witness to Jesus teaching and self-consciousness, and (2) that the Gospel of Thomas must be accepted on a par with Q - and thus (3) that Jesus must be considered to have been originally only a peasant teacher of witty, confrontational, wisdom maxims - these claims, as stated, need a great deal of further nuancing. For, you see, I personally believe Q (i.e., the 230 or so Sayings or Logia of Jesus contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark) to have been one of the literary sources used in the composing of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. But I dont believe it was the only source, nor am I prepared to say that the Gospel of Thomas, with its 114 Sayings, antedates our Synoptic Gospels. Rather, I argue that it is a derivative collection of Sayings, which has a different form, different background and different theology than they do.
III. An Affirmation of My Own Convictions
What, then, do I believe to be the situation with regard to the "Jesus of History and Christ of Faith"? Allow me to highlight the following seven affirmations:
1. That Jesus acted and taught with such authority that those closest to him began to think of him in an exalted sense, believing that through him they were in touch with God but not really understanding what it all meant.
2. That because of God having raised him from the dead (not just after the resurrection, but because of the resurrection) those closest to him began to confess him as Messiah and Lord and to apply such a confession to their lives.19
3. That they defended their confessions of Jesus by reference to the Old Testament Scriptures, which they used in a manner compatible to the procedures and exegetical norms of the Jewish world of their day.20
4. That in their proclamation of Jesus they had such materials as a Passion Narrative, an Eschatological Discourse, and a Sayings Collection, whether in written or oral form, which they used in their preaching.
5. That in constructing their Gospels, each of the four evangelists used these materials in his own manner and to contextualize the Jesus tradition for his respective audience - thus the numerous differences between them of the selection of material, arrangement of material, and wordings, even while giving a generally unified portrayal.
6. That while the portrayals of the four evangelists differ between themselves on many matters (both of event and language), they are to be seen as presenting a credible, historical portrayal of Jesus ministry and person.
7. That the Gospels were written "out of faith and for faith" - that is, with a faith perspective in order to engender faith and support faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord - and so their readers are called on to respond in faith.
This is not to suggest that the simple abundance of historically-credible data necessitates a faith response on the part of anyone. Historical-rational probability and religious-psychological certainty are two factors that, while they must always go together, are not simply the same.
As Matthews Gospel has it, when Peter made his great confession of Jesus ("You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"), Jesus reply was "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" (Matt 16:16-17). Even having been with Jesus and having been assured by his actions and teaching were not enough. Real conviction, Jesus is presented as saying, comes only by revelation from the Father in heaven - or, to say it more prosaically: History and reason may pile up the dry wood, but it takes the heavenly fire of revelation from God to ignite the tinder.
The Gospels present us with a person who goes much beyond our expectations and often beyond our comprehension. Furthermore, they depict a redemptive scenario that, on the one hand, exceeds our fondest hopes, yet on the other is often a scandal to our innate religious sensibilities and seemingly foolish to our minds. While we want a historically credible and rationally compatible faith, we as Christians often find ourselves much like the disciples of old who, when faced with certain "hard teachings" of Jesus - and observing that many thereafter backed off from following Jesus - could only respond to Jesus query about wanting to leave him too: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69). And it is this response that continues to be our response today.
This article is about the names of Jesus. For other uses, see Name of Christ (disambiguation).
Two names and a variety of titles are used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament.
In Christianity, the two names Jesus and Emmanuel that refer to Jesus in the New Testament have salvific attributes. After the Crucifixion of Jesus the early Church did not simply repeat his messages, but began to focus on him, proclaim him, and try to understand and explain his message: the proclaimer became the proclaimed.
One element of the process of understanding and proclaiming Jesus was the attribution of titles to him. Some of the titles that were gradually used in the early Church and then appeared in the New Testament were adopted from the Jewish context of the age, while others were selected to refer to, and underscore the message, mission and teachings of Jesus. In time, some of these titles gathered significant Christological significance.
Christians have attached theological significance to the Holy Name of Jesus. The use of the name of Jesus in petitions is stressed in John 16:23 when Jesus states: "If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." There is widespread belief among Christians that the name Jesus is not merely a sequence of identifying symbols but includes intrinsic divine power.
See also: Jesus (name) and Name of God in Christianity
In the New Testament the name Jesus is given both in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew, and Emmanuel only in Matthew. In Luke 1:31 an angel tells Mary to name her child Jesus, and in Matthew 1:21 an angel tells Joseph to name the child Jesus. The statement in Matthew 1:21 "you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" associates salvific attributes to the name Jesus in Christian theology.
Although the precise difference between a 'name' and a 'title' may be open to interpretation, 198 different names and titles of Jesus in the Bible are listed in Cruden's Concordance, first published in 1737, and continuously in print ever since. The first index of the book (following the royal dedications and author's preface) is entitled "A collection of the Names and Titles given to Jesus Christ", with 198 names listed, each accompanied by a biblical reference.
There have been a number of proposals as to the origin and etymological origin of the name Jesus (cf. Matthew 1:21). The name is related to the Hebrew form [Yehoshua`] יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Joshua, which is a theophoric name first mentioned within the Biblical tradition in Exodus 17:9 referring to one of Moses' companions (and his successor as leader of the Israelites). This name is usually considered to be a compound of two parts: יהו Yeho, a theophoric reference to YHWH, the distinctive personal name of the God of Israel, plus a form derived from the Hebrew triconsonantal rooty-š-ʕ or י-ש-ע "to liberate, save". There have been various proposals as to how the literal etymological meaning of the name should be translated, including:
- YHWH saves
- YHWH (is) salvation
- YHWH (is) a saving-cry
- YHWH (is) a cry-for-saving
- YHWH (is) a cry-for-help
- YHWH (is) my help
This early Biblical Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ [Yehoshua`] underwent a shortening into later Biblical יֵשׁוּעַ [Yeshua`], as found in the Hebrew text of verses Ezra 2:2, 2:6, 2:36, 2:40, 3:2, 3:8, 3:9, 3:10, 3:18, 4:3, 8:33; Nehemiah 3:19, 7:7, 7:11, 7:39, 7:43, 8:7, 8:17, 9:4, 9:5, 11:26, 12:1, 12:7, 12:8, 12:10, 12:24, 12:26; 1 Chronicles 24:11; and 2 Chronicles 31:15—as well as in Biblical Aramaic at verse Ezra 5:2. These Bible verses refer to ten individuals (in Nehemiah 8:17, the name refers to Joshua son of Nun). This historical change may have been due to a phonological shift whereby guttural phonemes weakened, including [h]. Usually, the traditional theophoric element [Yahu] יהו was shortened at the beginning of a name to יו [Yo-], and at the end to יה [-yah]. In the contraction of [Yehoshua`] to [Yeshua`], the vowel is instead fronted (perhaps due to the influence of the y in triliteral root y-š-ʕ). During the post-Biblical period, the name was also adopted by Aramaic and Greek-speaking Jews.
By the time the New Testament was written, the Septuagint had already transliterated ישוע [Yeshua`] into Koine Greek as closely as possible in the 3rd-century BCE, the result being Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous]. Since Greek had no equivalent to the Semitic letter ש shin [sh], it was replaced with a σ sigma [s], and a masculine singular ending [-s] was added in the nominative case, in order to allow the name to be inflected for case (nominative, accusative, etc.) in the grammar of the Greek language. The diphthongal [a] vowel of Masoretic [Yehoshua`] or [Yeshua`] would not have been present in Hebrew/Aramaic pronunciation during this period, and some scholars believe some dialects dropped the pharyngeal sound of the final letter ע `ayin [`], which in any case had no counterpart in ancient Greek. The Greek writings of Philo of Alexandria and Josephus frequently mention this name. It also occurs in the Greek New Testament at Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, referring to Joshua son of Nun.
From Greek, Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous] moved into Latin at least by the time of the Vetus Latina. The morphological jump this time was not as large as previous changes between language families. Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous] was transliterated to Latin IESVS, where it stood for many centuries. The Latin name has an irregular declension, with a genitive, dative, ablative, and vocative of Jesu, accusative of Jesum, and nominative of Jesus. Minuscule (lower case) letters were developed around 800 and some time later the U was invented to distinguish the vowel sound from the consonantal sound and the J to distinguish the consonant from I. Similarly, Greek minuscules were invented about the same time, prior to that the name was written in Capital letters: ΙΗϹΟΥϹ or abbreviated as: ΙΗϹ with a line over the top, see also Christogram.
Modern English "Jesus" derives from Early Middle English Iesu (attested from the 12th century). The name participated in the Great Vowel Shift in late Middle English (15th century). The letter J was first distinguished from 'I' by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus in the 16th century, but did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century, so that early 17th century works such as the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) continued to print the name with an I.
|Look up Jesu in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
"Jesu" is a remnant in modern English of the declension and use of grammatically inflected case endings with some proper nouns in Middle English, which persisted into Early Modern English to around the time of Shakespeare. The form Jesu is often a vocative, "Jesu!", but may also stand for other cases, such as genitive, as in Latin. The form "Jesu" was preserved in hymns and poetry long after it had fallen out of general use in speech, for example in poet laureateRobert Bridges' translation of Johann Schop's wording for the English translation of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantata, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and in T. S. Colvin's hymn, Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love, based on a song from northern Ghana. During the late 19th Century, as "Jesu" was increasingly seen as antiquated, some churches attempted to update the wording of hymns containing "Jesu" to "Jesus". In modernizing hymn texts the use of "Jesu" or "Jesus" could cause problems where the metre only allowed two syllables, "Je-su".[clarification needed]
Significance of the name
See also: Holy Name of Jesus
Christians have attached theological significance to the name of Jesus from the earliest days of Christianity. Devotions to and feasts for the Holy Name of Jesus exist both in Eastern and Western Christianity. The devotions and venerations to the name Jesus also extend to the IHS monogram, derived from the Greek word for Jesus ΙΗΣΟΥΣ.
The significance of the name of Jesus in the New Testament is underscored by the fact that in his Nativity account Matthew pays more attention to the name of the child and its theological implications than the actual birth event itself.
Reverence for the name of Jesus is emphasized by Saint Paul in Philippians 2:10 where he states: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth".
The use of the name of Jesus in petitions is stressed in John 16:23 when Jesus states: "If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." Many Christian prayers thus conclude with the words: "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ". There is widespread belief among Christians that the name Jesus is not merely a sequence of identifying symbols but includes intrinsic divine power, and that where the name of Jesus is spoken or displayed the power of Jesus can be called upon.
Matthew 1:23 ("they shall call his name Emmanuel") provides the name Emmanuel (meaning God is with us). Emmanuel, which is taken from Isaiah 7:14, does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament.
The name Emmanuel (also Immanuel or Imanu'el) of the Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל "God [is] with us" consists of two Hebrew words: אֵל (’El, meaning 'God') and עִמָּנוּ (ʻImmānū, meaning 'with us'); Standard HebrewʻImmanuʼel, Tiberian HebrewʻImmānûʼēl. It is a theophoric name used in the Bible in Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 8:8.
Some interpreters see Matthew 1:23 providing a key to an Emmanuel Christology in the New Testament, with Matthew showing an interest in identifying Jesus as "God with us" and later developing the Emmanuel theme at key points throughout his Gospel. The name Emmanuel does not directly appear elsewhere in the New Testament, but Matthew builds on the motif in Matthew 28:20 to indicate that Jesus will be with the faithful to the end times. 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, setting the tone for the salvific theme of Matthew. Some Christians see the same meaning in Matthew 28:20 ("I am with you always, even unto the end of the world") indicates that Jesus will be with the faithful to the end of the age.
Main article: Christ (title)
See also: Confession of Peter
The title Christ used in the English language is from the GreekΧριστός (Kristos), via the LatinChristus. It means "anointed one". The Greek is a loan translation of the Hebrew mashiaħ (מָשִׁיחַ) or Aramaic mshiħa (מְשִׁיחָא), from which we derive the English word Messiah. Christ has now become a name, one part of the name "Jesus Christ", but originally it was a title (the Messiah) and not a name; however its use in "Christ Jesus" is a title.
In the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Bible (written over a century before the time of Jesus), the word Christos was used to translate into Greek the Hebrewmashiach (messiah), meaning "anointed." (Another Greek word, Messias appears in Daniel 9:26 and Psalm 2:2.) The New Testament states that the Messiah, long-awaited, had come and describes this savior as The Christ. In Matthew 16:16 Apostle Peter, in what has become a famous proclamation of faith among Christians since the first century, said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." In John 11:27 Martha tells Jesus "you are the Christ", just before the Raising of Lazarus.
In the Pauline Epistles the word Christ is so closely associated with Jesus that it is apparent that for the early Christians there is no need to claim that Jesus is Christ, for that is considered widely accepted among them. Hence Paul can use the term Christos with no confusion as to whom it refers to, and as in First Corinthians 4:15 and Romans 12:5 he can use expressions such as "in Christ" to refer to the followers of Jesus.
Symbols for representing Christ (i.e. Christograms) were developed by early Christians, e.g. the Chi Rho symbol formed by superimposing the first two Greek letters in Christ ( Greek : "Χριστός" ), chi = ch and rho = r, to produce ☧.
See also: Jesus is Lord, Christology, and Kyrios
Early Christians viewed Jesus as "the Lord" and the Greek word Kyrios (κύριος) which may mean God, lord or master appears over 700 times in the New Testament, referring to him. In everyday Aramaic, Mari was a very respectful form of polite address, well above "Teacher" and similar to Rabbi. In Greek this has at times been translated as Kyrios. 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.
Pauline writings further established the various theological consequences of the Lord/Kyrios concept among early Christians, and emphasized the attributes of Jesus as not only referring to his eschatological victory, but to him as the "divine image" (Greekεἰκώνeikōn) in whose face the glory of God shines forth. In Romans 10:9–13 Paul emphasized the salvific value of the title, and stated that confessing by mouth (homologeo) the belief that Jesus is Lord (Kyrion Iesoun) signifies one's salvation.
The high frequency of the use of the term Kyrios in the Acts of the Apostles indicates how natural it was for early Christians to refer to Jesus in this way. This title persisted among Christians as the predominant perception of Jesus for a number of centuries.
The use of the Kyrios title for Jesus is central to the development of New Testament Christology, for the early Christians placed it at the center of their understanding and from that center attempted to understand the other issues related to the Christian mysteries. 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 that if Christ is one with God, he must have been united with God from the very beginning.
The title, even in the Greek form, continues to be widely used in Christian liturgy, e.g. in the Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison combination (i.e. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy), where Jesus is referred to as Lord in one case, and as Christ immediately thereafter.
The Greek word Epistates (Epistata in the vocative case) is used only in Luke's gospel, where it occurs six times. Robert O'Toole argues that the word relates to Jesus power over the material world rather than his teaching. Some commentators suggest that in Luke 5, Peter progresses from seeing Jesus as "Master" (v. 5) to seeing him as "Lord" (v. 8).
Logos (the Word)
Main articles: Logos (Christianity), Pre-existence of Christ, Person of Christ, and Hypostatic union
John 1:1-18 calls Jesus the Logos (Greek λόγος), often used as "the Word" in English translations. The identification of Jesus as the Logos which became Incarnate appears only at the beginning of the Gospel of John and the term Logos/Word is used only in two other Johannine passages: 1 John 1:1 and Revelation 19:13. It appears nowhere else in the New Testament.
The series of statements regarding the Logos at the very beginning of the Gospel of John build on each other. The statement that the Logos existed "at the beginning" asserts that as Logos Jesus was an eternal being like God. The statement that the Logos was "with God" asserts the distinction of Jesus from God. The statement that the Logos "was God" states the unity of Jesus with God, thus stating his divinity.
In 1 John 1:1 the arrival of the Logos as "the Word of life" from the beginning is emphasized and 1 John 5:6 builds on it to emphasize the water and blood of incarnation. With the use of the title Logos, Johannine Christology consciously affirms the belief in the divinity of Jesus: that he was God who came to be among men as the Word Incarnate.
Although as of the 2nd century the use of the title Logos gave rise to debate between the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of thought regarding the interaction of the human and divine elements in the Person of Christ, after the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and Council of Chalcedon in 451 the Logos and the second person of the Trinity were often used interchangeably.
Son of God
Main article: Son of God (Christianity)
The title "Son of God" is applied to Jesus in many cases in the New Testament. It is often used to refer to his divinity, from the beginning in the Annunciation up to the Crucifixion. The declaration that Jesus is the Son of God is made by many individuals in the New Testament, on two separate occasions by God the Father as a voice from Heaven, and is also asserted by Jesus himself. The Son of God title, according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son".
For thousands of years, emperors and rulers ranging from the Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1000 B.C.) in China to Alexander the Great in Greece have assumed titles that reflect a filial relationship with deities. At the time of Jesus, Roman Emperor Augustus exploited the similarity between the titles Divi filius (son of the Divine One) and "Dei filius" (Son of God) and used the ambiguous inscription "DF" to refer to himself to emphasize the divine component of his image.J. D. Crossan argues that early Christians adopted this title.
The Gospel of Mark begins by calling Jesus the Son of God and reaffirms the title twice when a voice from Heaven calls Jesus: "my Son" in Mark 1:11 and Mark 9:7. In Matthew 14:33, after Jesus walks on water, the disciples tell Jesus: "You really are the Son of God!" In Matthew 27:43, while Jesus hangs on the cross, the Jewish leaders mock him to ask God help, "for he said, I am the Son of God", referring to the claim of Jesus to be the Son of God. Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:39 include the exclamation by the Roman commander, "He was surely the Son of God!", after the earthquake following the Crucifixion of Jesus. When, in Matthew 16:15–16, Apostle Peter states, "You are Christ, the Son of the living God", Jesus not only accepts the titles, but calls Peter "blessed" and declares the profession a divine revelation, unequivocally declaring himself to be both Christ and the Son of God in Matthew 16:15-16.
In the new Testament, Jesus uses the term "my Father" as a direct and unequivocal assertion of his sonship, and a unique relationship with the Father beyond any attribution of titles by others, e.g., in Matthew 11:27, John 5:23 and John 5:26. In a number of other episodes, Jesus claims sonship by referring to the Father, e.g., in Luke 2:49, when he is found in the temple, a young Jesus calls the temple "my Father's house", just as he does later in John 2:16 in the Cleansing of the Temple episode. In Matthew 1:11 and Luke 3:22, Jesus allows himself to be called the Son of God by the voice from above, not objecting to the title.
Of all the Christological titles used in the New Testament, Son of God has had one of the most lasting impacts in Christian history and has become part of the profession of faith by many Christians. In the mainstream Trinitarian context, the title implies the full divinity of Jesus as part of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Spirit. However, the concept of God as the father of Jesus and Jesus as the one and only Son of God is distinct from the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle's Creed. The profession begins with expressing belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" and then immediately, but separately, in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood within the Creed.
Son of Man
Main article: Son of man (Christianity)
The term Son of man appears many times in all four gospel accounts, e.g. 30 times in Matthew. However, unlike the title Son of God, its proclamation has never been an article of faith in Christianity. While the profession of Jesus as the Son of God has been an essential element of Christian creeds since the Apostolic age, such professions do not apply to Son of man. Yet, the Christological analysis of the relationship between the two terms has been the subject of much research.
In modern biblical research the occurrences of Son of man in the Synoptic gospels are generally categorized into three groups: those that refer to his "coming" (as an exaltation), those that refer to "suffering" and those that refer to "now at work", i.e. referring to the earthly life.
The presentation in the Gospel of John is somewhat different from the Synoptics and in John 1:51 he is presented as contact with God through "angelic instrumentality", in John 6:26 and 6:53 he provides life through his death and in John 5:27 he holds the power to judge men. The first chapter of the Book of Revelation refers to "one like a Son of man" in Revelation 1:12–13 which radiantly stands in glory and speaks to the author. In the Gospel of John Jesus is not just a messianic figure, nor a prophet like Moses, but the key emphasis is on his dual role as Son of God and Son of man.
Although Son of man is a distinct from Son of God, some gospel passages equate them in some cases, e.g. in Mark 14:61, during the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus when the high priest asked Jesus: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed one?" Jesus responded "I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.". This builds on the statement in Mark 9:31 that "The Son of man is delivered up into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he shall rise again." In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, the returning Son of man has the power to judge, by separating men from "all the nations" into distinct groups, in Matthew 25:31–46.
For centuries, the Christological perspective on Son of man has been a natural counterpart to that of Son of God and in many cases affirms the humanity of Jesus just as Son of God affirms his divinity. In the 5th century, Saint Augustine viewed the duality of Son of God and Son of man in terms of the dual nature of Christ in hypostatic union, in that the Son of God became the Son of man through the act of Incarnation and wrote: "Since he is the only Son of God by nature, he became also the Son of Man that he might be full of grace as well."
Geza Vermes has argued that "the son of man" in the Gospels is unrelated to these Hebrew Bible usages. He begins with the observation that there is no example of "the" son of man in Hebrew sources. He suggests that the term originates in Aramaic—bar nash/bar nasha. Based on his study of Aramaic sources, he concludes that in these sources: (1) "Son of man" is a regular expression for man in general. (2) It often serves as an indefinite pronoun ("one" or "someone"). (3) In certain circumstances it may be employed as a circumlocution. In monologues or dialogues the speaker can refer to himself, not as 'I', but as "the son of man" in the third person, in contexts implying awe, reserve, or modesty. (4) In none of the extant texts does "son of man" figure as a title.
Son of David
The title "Son of David" indicates Jesus' physical descent from David, as well as his membership of the Davidic line of kings. The phrase is used a number of times in the gospel of Matthew. It appears in Matthew 1:1 to introduce both the genealogy and the gospel. It is found on the lips of the blind men healed in Galilee ("Have mercy on us, Son of David", Matthew 9:27), the crowd who are amazed at Jesus' healing of a blind, mute and demon-possessed man Matthew 12:23), the Canaanite woman whose daughter is exorcised ("Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me," Matthew 15:22), and the blind men healed near Jericho ("Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us", Matthew 20:30). Finally, it also forms part of the shout of the crowds when Jesus enters Jerusalem: "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matthew 21:9).
A variant of this title is found in Revelation 22:16, where Jesus refers to himself as "the Root and the Offspring of David".
According to Anglican Bishop Charles Ellicott, "Son of David" was "the most popular of all the names of the expected Christ".
Lamb of God
Main article: Lamb of God
The title Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) only appears in the Gospel of John, with the exclamation of John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" in John 1:29, the title reaffirmed the next day in John 1:36. The second use of the title Lamb of God takes place in the presence of the first two apostles of Jesus, who immediately follow him, address him as Rabbi with respect and later in the narrative bring others to meet him.
These two proclamations of Jesus as the Lamb of God closely bracket the Baptist's other proclamation in John 1:34: "I have borne witness that this is the Son of God". From a Christological perspective, these proclamations and the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove in John 1:32 reinforce each other to establish the divine element of the Person of Christ. In Johannine Christology the proclamation "who takes away the sins of the world" begins the unfolding of the salvific theme of the redemptive and sacrificial death of Jesus followed by his resurrection which is built upon in other proclamations such as "this is indeed the Saviour of the world" uttered by the Samaritans in John 4:42. However, nothing in the context of 1 Corinthians 5:7 directly implies that in that specific passage Saint Paul refers the death of Jesus using the same theme.
The Book of Revelation includes over twenty references to a lion-like lamb ("slain but standing") which delivers victory in a manner reminiscent of the resurrected Christ. In the first appearance of the lamb in Revelation (5:1-7) only the lamb (which is of the tribe of Judah, and the root of David) is found worthy to take the judgment scroll from God and break the seals. In Revelation 21:14 the lamb is said to have twelve apostles.
The theme of a sacrificial lamb which rises in victory as the Resurrected Christ was employed in early Christology, e.g. in 375 Saint Augustine wrote: "Why a lamb in his passion? For he underwent death without being guilty of any inequity. Why a lion in his resurrection? For in being slain, he slew death." The Lamb of God title has found widespread use in Christian prayers and the Agnus Dei ("Lamb of God who take away the sins of the world have mercy on us; Lamb of God who take away the sins of the world grant us peace") is used both in liturgy and as a form of contemplative prayer.
New Adam / Second Adam / Last Adam
Main article: Last Adam
Just as in Adam all of us died, so too in Christ all of us will be brought to life.
— 1 Corinthians 15:22
Just as the Gospel of John proclaims the universal relevance of the Incarnation of Jesus as Logos, the Pauline view emphasizes the cosmic view that his birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection brought forth a new man and a new world. Paul's eschatological view of Jesus counter-positions him as a new man of morality and obedience, in contrast to Adam. Unlike Adam, the new man born in Jesus obeys God and ushers in a world of morality and salvation.
In the Pauline view, Adam is positioned as the first man and Jesus as the second and last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), the first having corrupted himself by his disobedience, also infected humanity and left it with a curse as inheritance. The birth of Jesus, on the other hand, counterbalanced the fall of Adam, bringing forth redemption and repairing the damage done by Adam.
The theme is reiterated by Paul, in Romans 5:18-21, when he states:
Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification* leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the 2nd century Church FatherIrenaeus