Sunday, September 09, 2007

Book Review: Fee’s Pauline Christology Part 10

For the series outline, click here.

Chapter 16: ‘Christ and the Spirit: Paul as a proto-Trinitarian’

Fee has two aims in this final short chapter. First is an examination of the christological implications of ‘the varied statements that conjoin Spirit with Christ (and the Father) in the economy of salvation’ (586). Second, Fee will attempt to plot:

‘... where Paul fits into the trajectory that caused that caused these early, thoroughgoing monotheists to speak of Christ and the Spirit and their relationship to God the Father in such a way that finally resulted in the Trinitarian resolutions of the early fourth century’ (586).
Fee’s claim in a nutshell is that ‘Paul held to a kind of proto-Trinitarian view of God, even though he never comes close to explaining how a strict monotheist could talk about God in this triadic way’ (586).

After overviewing the evidence for the personhood of the Spirit in the Pauline corpus, a matter he has treated in considerable depth elsewhere (in God’s Empowering Presence), Fee argues that Paul understood the Spirit as distinct from the Father and the Son. The Spirit relates to Christ by mediating the presence of the Risen One. Given Paul’s affirmations of his monotheism this leads to Fee’s claim:

‘[T]hat Paul was at least proto-Trinitarian: the believer knows and experiences the one God as Father, Son, and Spirit, and when dealing with Christ and the Spirit, one is dealing with God every bit as much as when one is dealing with the Father’ (592).
Hence there is something of an inevitability of speaking of God later in church history at least in terms of the ‘economic Trinity’ in light of Paul’s letters.

Appendixes: In the appendixes Fee first provides a vigorous attack against the association of Christ with lady Wisdom, as is fashionable in much scholarship, and second, lists ‘Paul’s use of kurios for Christ in citations and echoes from the Septuagint’.

Thus ends my overview of Fee's arguments. Before I post some short reflections, what where your impressions of his work?

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At 9/11/2007 2:07 AM, Anonymous Nick Norelli said...

I think Fee's work is a must read for students of Christology and/or the Pauline corpus. I haven't read through the entire book yet but your summaries have proven quite helpful and the sections I have read have left me both impressed and challenged (e.g. the appendix on Wisdom Christology really has me rethinking my position on the issue).

I'm curious to find out if Fee feels that Wisdom Christology is absent in the entirety of the New Testament or simply in Paul's writings. Do you happen to know? I tried contacting him through Zondervan's website but it hasn't seemed to work (if anyone has his personal email please pass it along.)

I can't wait to hear your reflections/conclusions on Fee's work.

At 9/11/2007 3:36 AM, Anonymous ntWrong said...

I have only read your summary, and you've already received a number of snarky comments from me.

So I'll just say that I plan to take a look at the chapter on Php. 2, which I believe you described as excellent. The book has been purchased by a local university, but it is currently being processed.

I'll provide you with a review when I've had a chance to read it. Thanks for providing a forum for dialogue on such an important topic.

At 9/11/2007 9:16 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Nick, e-mail me in a few days after I have returned to Germany, and I'll send you his address.

Stepehen, I very much look forward to reading your thougts. My summary was, despite the length, very short on exegetical detail.

At 1/10/2009 3:00 PM, Anonymous John Michael Grant said...

Chris, I'm an avid reader of your blog. Also, please supply me Dr. Fee's email. He was my professor in 1987 and 89.

Thank you for your overview and reflections on Dr. Fee's book.

At 2/12/2009 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It think you will find the Fee credits Stan Porter (Mcmaster Divinity) for postulating the proto-trinitarian stuff. Good stuff.


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