Thursday, August 09, 2012

Prof. Dr. Hermann Lichtenberger on my book

Okay, apologies for this shamelessly self-promoting post! But my sincere thanks to Prof. Dr. Hermann Lichtenberger for the following very kind words about my book, Paul’s Divine Christology. Many, if not most, of my chapters were hammered out in discussion at the German-English Colloquium in Tübingen, and I benefited greatly from Professor Lichtenberger’s comments and encouragement.

‘It is a remarkable fact that divine Christology is not an “end product” of a development lasting some decades but that high Christology is present and fully developed already in the earliest testimonies of Christianity, in the (undisputed) letters of Paul. Dr. Tilling has presented an investigation on divine Christology of the highest standard both concerning the exegesis of Paul (esp. 1Cor 8-10) and the awareness of the theological implications. The thesis “that Paul’s Christ-relation is a divine-Christology expressed as relationship” is well founded and marks a progress in our understanding of Paul’s Christology and theology. It leads out from a dead end in discussions whether Paul’s Christology is divine or not. This book is an outstanding testimony of critical scholarship by a mature exegete and theologian’

- Prof. Dr. Hermann Lichtenberger (Since 1993, Professor for New Testament and Antique Judaism at the University of Tübingen, and Head of the Institute for Antique Judaism and Hellenistic History of Religions)

My thanks to Jim for bringing me back down to earth when, having read this, he called me a “hairy backed balding middle aged lunatic”! All true.


At 8/09/2012 11:15 PM, Blogger Jason Goroncy said...

Shameless is good. Nice endorsement, Dr T.

At 8/09/2012 11:53 PM, Blogger Ken Schenck said...

Many congrats! Is Mohr Siebeck doing ebooks yet?

At 8/10/2012 1:13 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, guys.

Ken, yes they are - mine will be an ebook. However, they don't seem to easy to access - haven't myself been able to figure it out yet!

At 8/10/2012 9:36 AM, Blogger Terry Wright said...

@ Jason: Dr T is how me and a few friends referred to Alan Torrance as undergrads!

At 8/11/2012 11:52 PM, Blogger James Goetz said...

Great. I specifically have been wanting a detailed study of Christology in 1 Cor 8:5-6. I will get to your book someday.

At 8/14/2012 1:07 AM, Anonymous Scott Caulley said...

surely you are not middle aged yet

At 8/14/2012 1:09 AM, Anonymous scott caulley said...

surely you are not middle aged yet

At 8/15/2012 6:07 PM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

High Christology is not the Trinity. The Son of God is not "God the Son" by default.

Even Paul in his highest Christological hymn says "God exalted him to the highest place," "that . . . [all may] acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul distinguishes between God and Jesus, while connecting worship of Jesus as a way to give God glory.

That means Jesus is like the ark of the covenant, like the Temple, like something that helps connect one with God, but those all provide intimate connections with God without BEING God. In Second Temple Judaism I seem to recall that the Temple and the Torah were sometimes spoken of as existing in heaven or eternity as well as earth, thus in a sort of pre-existent form, per Wisdom literature. Second Temple Judaism emphasized such connections with God and began to hyperbolize the hell out of them. Such things are the greatest. Christians picked up on this trend and made Jesus the greatest, the greatest connection with God. And after the Temple was destroyed Christians emphasized Jesus as the foremost connection with God, while rabbinical Judaism emphasized the Torah. Hence the continuing split after 70 CE.

Besides speaking of God and Jesus separately, Paul never defines who Jesus is. Not even in the Philippian hymn which says,

". . . although He existed in the form [morphe] of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form [morphe] of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death."

The double use of morphe makes it clear that in both cases Paul is speaking about appearances. So what was Jesus exactly, behind his shifting changes in appearance? (The phrase about "appearing" like God was also Paul's backhanded response or counter-challenge to Emperor worship, that's the sociological context of the hymn.]

So Paul doesn't say exactly what Jesus was. Maybe they didn't have a word for it, not an angel but a sort of archetype of all human beings who pre-existed? Though the prophet Jeremiah was also said to have a sort of pre-existence, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Pre-existence is hyperbole, and as I said, a trend in Second Temple Judaism.

Moreover, Paul in Galatians 4 does not define Jesus except as a sort of archetype of humanity, born of woman, receiving the spirit as in the Markan baptismal scene, but everyone is likewise born of woman and offered the spirit and full sonship to become children and joint heirs of God:

"When we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."

At 8/15/2012 6:25 PM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

Along the lines of what I just wrote, yes, Paul did view Jesus as an archetypical human, like Adam, made in the image of God (Jesus in Philippians, morphe, appearance of God).

Paul's parallel of Adam with Christ is pretty unmistakable in Romans and 1 Cor, and probably echoed in the hymn in Philippians as well, but only echoed, in that Adam was made in the image of God, and disobedient, while Jesus had the appearance of God and was obedient. But as I said, sociologically, the hymn probably reflects a reaction to Emperor worship, rulers who lack humility and stress their God-like appearances.

So, in lieu of what my two comments, all talk of High Christology is not solved by taking the side of Trinitarianism. There's more to the question.

At 8/21/2012 3:05 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Nice! I've been around here in some time. Good (I suppose) to this place still cranking on.

Got an old post handy that summarizes this book?

At 8/22/2012 11:07 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, James, really appreciate that. I have a chapter on 1 Cor 8-10

At 8/22/2012 11:08 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, Chris, havent summarised it yet. Perhaps I will

At 8/22/2012 11:10 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, Ed. I think your thoughts are getting a bit muddled up there, and whether Christ is "defined" by Paul depends on what one means by Christology. You might like my book! I do not touch on trinitarianism much, but it follows very much from my argument concerning the nature of Paul's divine Christology


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