It is therefore my opinion that the resurrection redefined the narrative worldview of the earliest Christians, both Jews and Gentiles. In the same way that resurrection changed Paul’s outlook, so to it changed the orientation of those who professed Jesus as Messiah or Lord (Witherington, 2009, p.182-183).
Therefore, Christology in the New Testament is essentially a shift from Jewish monotheism to what would be described today as Trinitarian thinking. The revealed nature of the God of Israel changed. Yahweh became Father. Jesus is referred to as the Son of God and the Spirit is the believer’s helper.
But is that really the case? Is the developed Christology of today, or rather, since the late 4th century, biblically accurate?
Mark goes on to write,
…it must be grounded in an understanding of who the New Testament writers believed Jesus to be.
But, the New Testament writers were not Trinitarian and might not fully appreciate the developed doctrines of the later Church. Are there Trinitarian seeds there? (And even in that, we might need to better define what Mark means by ‘Trinitarian’.) Or, rather, does the New Testament give allowance to the doctrine of the Trinity which developed along side Arianism (archaic use, but not sure what other term I might use here) and monarchianism? Sure, I believe so, but for instance, what about ideal pre-existence among the Jews? Did the Apostles have such a radical change in their Judaism to now understand pre-existence as something tangible rather than ideal, which was the Jewish mode of thought? If their radical understanding of Christ was not Jewish in origin, then do we have to step back and examine whether or not the Christian faith is really Jewish in origin? Is it a shift away from the monotheism of the Jews? If the Trinity is such a strong shift away from Judaism, then what is really the religious parent of modern Christianity?
For this, I would urge a reading of such books as ]]’s The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context (especially, his chapter on John) matched with ]]. What might also examine, closely, how the Spirit came to be developed.
I believe that there are theological developments current which must be examined in light of biblical studies, regardless of the pain that they may cause us and our theologizing. There is no doubt in my mind that, as Mark writes, the Resurrection so changed the Apostles (and I do not believe that it was a dream or a political story) that it did shift them in their theology, but it didn’t completely destroy their Judaism(s) either. The Christian community was formed well within the bounds of the Judaism(s) of the day. We simply cannot explain away Pentecost to the confines of historical interpretation. Something happened to the early Messianic community because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, I believe that we shouldn’t use later developed theologies to further theologize the New Testament, but first gain an accurate, biblical view, and (re)build our theology from that.
I believe in… Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Of course, I could just be writing this to disagree with Mark. Or not. You decide.
- D.M. Baillie – The Need to Study the Historical Jesus
- D.M. Baillie – Theology of Christology
- D.M. Baillie – Personality, Modes or Social Trinity?
- Mondays with Moltmann (On the Virgin Birth) (diglot.wordpress.com)
- The Christology of Chalcedon (inchristus.wordpress.com)
- Do The Synoptics Really Have a High Christology? (diglot.wordpress.com)
- Scratchpad: Thoughts on Athanasius’ De Incarnatione Verbi Dei
- Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? — A Review (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- The Apostles were Methodists