Manual God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament

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3. Is Paul’s “Christ” God or Messiah?
  1. Richard Bauckham – Biblical Scholar and Theologian
  2. God crucified
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Second, Jesus is said to be in a lofty position far above the rest of the universe. For example, in Eph. And God placed all things under his feet. Here Jesus is presented as high above all the angelic powers. These verses also allude to Ps. As Bauckham [3], p.

A third indication of Jesus' exalted status is his inheritance of a name far superior to those of the angels Heb. Since this is a name that Jesus inherits from the Father, it is apparently YHWH, the name that distinguishes the unique divine identity. Finally, Jesus is pictured as receiving worship along with God e. God and the Lamb are worshipped by all creation v. Bauckham [2], p.

Richard Bauckham – Biblical Scholar and Theologian

God's servantse. By picturing Christ in this way, the New Testament writers included Jesus in the unique divine identity, placing him on the divine side of the line separating God from all other reality. Another way that the New Testament writers expressed a high view of Jesus was by interpreting a number of scriptures about YHWH as references to Jesus. Significantly, these scriptures almost invariably come from contexts with a strong monotheistic emphasis see [5].

One example is Isa. In most cases, the YHWH texts applied to Jesus are ones that express "eschatological monotheism," the idea that the whole world will one day come to acknowledge the God of Israel as the only true God.

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For instance, in Rom. To support his point, he quotes Isa. Throughout Rom.

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So in his citation of Isa. In the day when all mankind worships the one God of Israelnote the insistent monotheistic tone of Isa. Paul is of course not saying here that Jesus would be worshipped in addition to YHWH as a second Godthat would be polytheism.

Neither is he suggesting that Jesus, as God's special human agent, would receive some kind of lesser honor as part of the worship of God. Such a scenario would also violate Paul's Jewish monotheism. In those days there were many pagans who believed in one supreme deity but also made a point of sacrificing to any number of lesser deities, giving each one honor commensurate with that god's position in a divine "pecking order. So in his Christian interpretation of Isa.

Another instructive example is found in the tenth chapter of Romans. In Rom. He backs up his contention in v.

God crucified

He then emphasizes that Jesus is Lord for both Jews and Gentiles, again quoting a scripture: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" Rom. Joel , like Isa. And like Isa. Notice especially Joel Verses of Joel 2 give us a clue about Paul's rationale for connecting Isa. In the Septuagint, the Greek word for "be shamed" or "put to shame" appears in both Isa. If so, the monotheistic thrust of Joel lies in the background of Paul's use of Joel in Rom. The strength of this identification becomes even clearer when seen in light of the epistle of Romans as a whole.

Paul argues in Rom. Similarly, Paul says in Romans 10 that there is one LordJesus the Messiahfor both Jews and Gentiles, and that the way to call upon God for salvation is to call upon Jesus. Again, Paul includes Jesus in the identity of the one God who is the only source of salvation. These are numerous other instances in which Paul applies YHWH texts to Jesus in a context of eschatological monotheism. In the benediction of I Thes.

Here Paul makes reference to Zech. Again, monotheism is emphasized in Zech.

Similarly, 2 Thes. We have seen some ways in which early Christians closely identified Jesus and the Father in describing Jesus' present exalted position and future role as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But if Jesus is included in the unique divine identity in the present and future, he must have been part of that identity from the beginning. Remember that it is God's role as Creator of all things that entitles him to be the Ruler over all things. On this point, Bauckham [5], p. But early Christian reflection could not consistently leave it at that. Jewish eschatological monotheism was founded in creational monotheism.

If Jesus was integral to the identity of God, he must have been so eternally. To include Jesus also in the unique creative activity of God and in the uniquely divine eternity was a necessary corollary of his inclusion in the eschatological identity of God.

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This was the early Christians' Jewish way of preserving monotheism against the ditheism that any kind of adoptionist Christology was bound to involve. Not by adding Jesus to the unique identity of the God of Israel, but only by including Jesus in that unique identity, could monotheism be maintained. One way in which the New Testament ascribes eternality to Jesusand thus affirms his preexistenceis in its application to Jesus of some of the monotheistic language of Isaiah.

At the beginning of the book of Revelation, God proclaims,. Jesus makes a similar statement in Rev. Then in Rev. Buzzard and Hunting [9] propose that Rev.

I would argue, however, that no such distinction or qualification can be seen in the text. Instead, strong identification between Jesus and YHWH is implied by the references to Isaiah and by the application of the same pairings to both of them in Revelation. Jesus is the first and the last in the same way that the Father is the first and the last. These passages from Revelation are not the only New Testament texts that suggest Jesus' eternal inclusion in the unique divine identity. We now turn to some other passages that attribute preexistence to Jesus.

As we have seen, one of the ways in which Jews in the Second Temple period pictured the distinction between God and all other reality was through the imagery of the divine throne. On that throne, high above everything else, God is served and worshipped by all creation, including all the host of heaven. For the early Christians, then, one way of describing the exalted position of the resurrected Jesus was through comparison with the angelic realm.

Such a comparison is carried out in the first chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, where a "chain" of seven scriptures is used to demonstrate Jesus' superiority to the angels. By studying the structure and links of the chain, we can gain further insight into early Christian scriptural exegesis and Christology. To begin, we note that the chain appears to be carefully constructed see [6], pp.

The first and seventh quotations are introduced in the same way "For to which of the angels did God ever say. Quotations and are about Jesus the Son, while the fourth quotation, in the middle, is about the angels v. The third and fifth quotations explicitly compare the Son and the angels, while such a contrast is implied in quotations , Bauckham [6], p. The first link in the chain v. The second link v.

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The third link v. The angels, in contrast to the Son, are servants rather than rulers Heb. The third link "Let all God's angels worship him" indicates that the Son's dominion encompasses more than just the earthit is a cosmic rule that includes the angelic realm. The universal scope of the Son's rule is also implied in Heb. The third quotation comes from a Greek version of Deut. In the Septuagint, this verse reads,. Rejoice with his people, all you nations; and ascribe strength to him, all you angels of God!

God speaks the words in Deut. The author of Hebrews, understanding the "him" of verse 43 to be someone who is distinct from the speaker but is still worthy of worship, interprets this verse as a reference to the Son. Here, as in Rom. The fourth link Heb.

To understand how this link fits into the chain, we will need to investigate ancient Jewish interpretations of Ps. In one tradition, Psalm is about the creation of "fiery angels" and "wind angels" or "spiritual angels". In the Book of Jubilees second century B. Other traditions pictured the fiery angels worshipping at God's throne 2 Baruch , and sometimes the wind angels were depicted as rushing around like the wind, carrying out the tasks they had been given Apocalypse of Abraham These traditions tie together the third and fourth links of the chain: the third link has the Son worshipped by angels, while the fourth link has the Son creating angels that worship him and carry out his will.

In another version of these traditions, God can change the angels into wind or fire according to his will. This idea appears later in the rabbinic literature Pirqe de Rabbi Eleazar 4; cf. Exodus Rabbah It is also reflected in 4 Ezra a. In 4 Ezra , Ezra prays,. This interpretation of Ps. In link 4, the angels are pictured as changeable and subject to the sovereign will of the Son, while links 5 and 6 emphasize the Son's eternality.

As mentioned above, the author of Hebrews presents Ps.