The New Christians

The New Christians


Who Was/Is Jesus?

posted by Tony Jones

LeRon Shults announces a new book and a discussion on his blog about the book.  The book, Seeking the Identity of Jesus, gathered scholars to write about, well, Jesus’ identity.  Among other things, they agreed on the following nine points:

1. Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew.
2. The identity of Jesus is reliably attested and known in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
3. The entirety of the canonical witness is indispensable to a faithful rendering of the figure of Jesus.
4.
In order to understand the identity of Jesus rightly, the church must constantly engage in in the practice of deep, sustained reading of these
texts.
5. To come to grips with the identity of Jesus, we must know him as he is presented to us through the medium of narrative.
6.
The trajectory begun with the the NT of interpreting Jesus’ identity in
and for the church has continued through Christian history.
7. Because Jesus remains a living presence, he can be encountered in the community of his people,the body of Christ.
8. Jesus is a disturbing, destabilizing figure.
9. The identity of Jesus is something that must be learned through long-term discipline.

If you’re reading the book, go to LeRon’s blog and drop a comment.



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Joel

posted February 23, 2009 at 11:59 am


They couldn’t agree that He is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, or anything of that nature? Or is all of that merely assumed when they say we must read the New Testament?



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Your Name

posted February 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm


Do they agree that He is God “in the flesh” as Scripture teaches, or has that been deconstructed, over analyzed, over-philosophied and rendered to nothing more than a bloody pulp of lifeless flesh?



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Darren King

posted February 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm


Interesting…
Here are a few thoughts on the agreed-on criteria:
“7. Because Jesus remains a living presence, he can be encountered in the community of his people,the body of Christ.”
Does that imply that Jesus can’t be encountered outside of Christian community? If so, I’m not sure I agree with that- practically or biblically.
“8. Jesus is a disturbing, destabilizing figure.”
This statement seems incomplete. Jesus is only a disturbing, destabilizing figure in the face of a corrupt, unjust status quo.
“4. In order to understand the identity of Jesus rightly, the church must constantly engage in in the practice of deep, sustained reading of these texts.”
Just as importantly, to understand the identity of Jesus rightly, people need modern-day examples of Jesus-like faith lived out in a 21st century context.



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James McGrath

posted February 23, 2009 at 3:01 pm


Scholars wouldn’t agree on Jesus having been, much less having understood himself to be, the Second Person of the Trinity, not only because that language reflects a later understanding (post-New Testament), but also because Jesus is depicted as God incarnate, as walking the earth as one aware of having pre-existed in heaven, only in one of the canonical Gospels, namely John.
But what is common knowledge in Biblical scholarship often seems somehow to have been missed by the vast majority of Christians…



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not important

posted February 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm


#5?
a What is the intended meaning of the ideomatic expression “To come to grips”?
b What does ‘identity’ mean in context?
c What does ‘know’ mean in context?
Study the story of Jesus to see what he was/is like. (Is that what #5 is saying?)
#4?
a Identity?
b rightly?
Is this the same as #5 with broader emphasis? like…
The Church must study the story of Jesus to see what he was/is like?



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Rick

posted February 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm


Jesus was just some crazy dude, as Weiss and Schweitzer had the brains to recognize a hundred years ago, and Dale Allison recently so masterfully demonstrated in his book on Jesus. What is up with people not reading the scholarship?



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Benjamin

posted February 24, 2009 at 12:17 am


Darren,
“”7. Because Jesus remains a living presence, he can be encountered in the community of his people,the body of Christ.”
“Does that imply that Jesus can’t be encountered outside of Christian community? If so, I’m not sure I agree with that- practically or biblically.”
No it does not.
The Church is the bride and we are to be faithful in making disciples of the nations. but God is not dependent on humans to do his biding and work. BUT in every Biblical instance someone from the body of believers is used by God to make a new convert and disciple current ones.



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Dave Metz

posted February 24, 2009 at 3:07 am


Rick,
I think you oversimplified Weiss, Schweitzer, and Allison’s views of Jesus as “some crazy dude.” In fact, they would not have argued him as insane at all. They argued Jesus as a lucid apocalyptic. Furthermore, they all professed (and Allison still does) a faith in Jesus that transcends his apocalypticism, AND they would all acknowledge the Nicene Creed (including “He will come again to judge the quick and the dead”). They would simply say that the later theological developments would not be completely recognized by first century followers of Jesus and perhaps even by Jesus himself. They would not, and did not, classify him as crazy.
I guess your frustration in “people not reading the scholarship” stems from them either not reading the same scholarship as you or choosing to read scholarship from all points of view rather than following just one, single thread (like the Jesus as apocalyptic preacher thread).
I agree that Jesus should historically be classified as an apocalyptic preacher, but I can also view Jesus theologically as well as mystically. Therefore, Jesus can simultaneously be a first-century apocalyptic, the Son of God who atoned for sin and conquered sin and death, and the Third Person of the Trinity whom I can interact with daily.



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Dave Metz

posted February 24, 2009 at 3:10 am


Also, to those who are upset that these people only agreed on the 7 things presented…
I am sure many other things were debated. These just happen to be the 7 things this group of people could all, unanimously agree upon. I would guess that if you got a different group of scholars together, this list of 7 would look very different.



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Ethan

posted February 24, 2009 at 8:32 am


Tony,
I wonder if you will ever give your beliefs about these questions or if you will just keep letting us guess that you are a heretic. Just sayin’…



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Darren King

posted February 24, 2009 at 1:34 pm


Bejamin,
You wrote, in response to my post:
“No it does not.
The Church is the bride and we are to be faithful in making disciples of the nations. but God is not dependent on humans to do his biding and work. BUT in every Biblical instance someone from the body of believers is used by God to make a new convert and disciple current ones.”
To which I respond: sure, but that reasoning is slightly circular. Why? Well because we’re not likely to have biblical witness, which is a product of Christian community, attesting to those who’ve come to faith apart from community. Know what I mean?



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Mark Van Steenwyk

posted February 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm


Wow. When folks write in ALL CAPS it is usually a good indicator that you can ignore their comment. ;)
The nine points seem important, yet arbitrary. Another group of scholars would be able to pick a different nine shared beliefs. However, I find it interesting that each and every point rubs against mainstream belief. In other words, if taken seriously, each of the points upsets the sort of disembodied Christology that dominates Protestantism. Each of them pushes us towards embodiment.



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Brian

posted February 24, 2009 at 9:02 pm


There seems to be many different understandings of Jesus. It’s great to be able to celebrate them all. I’d add these books to LeRon Shults:
“The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions” by Marcus Borg and NT Wright
“The God of Jesus” by Steve Patterson
“White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus” by Jacquelyn Grant
“A Postcolonial Christology” by Wonhee Anne Joh
“Journeys By Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power” by Rita Nakashima Brock
“Saving Jesus From Those Who Are Right” by Carter Heyward
“Christ of the Celts” by John Philip Newell
“Christ in a Pluralistic Age” by John B. Cobb
“Postmodern Christianity” by John W. Riggs
“The Point of Christology” by Schubert Ogden
With due appreciation for all of these wonderful Christologies, I tend to agree with Charles Birch: “the essence of Christianity is the appeal to the life of Jesus as a revelation of the nature of God’s activity in the world.”



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Cherie

posted February 24, 2009 at 9:29 pm


Ummm…when did Jesus, the Son of God, need a consensus on His identity?



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Josh

posted February 24, 2009 at 11:43 pm


Mark,
Could you clarify your comment for me? First of all; what exactly is “mainstream”, particularly in Protestantism these days? I’d say that there are many streams, not sure about a mainstream in our current culture. 2nd, how do these nine rub against this and push toward “embodiment” and away from a “disembodied Christology”, that seems like a pretty strong statement. Just curious to hear your thoughts.



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Theresa Seeber

posted March 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm


Wait! Stop the boat! Jesus was a Jew? I thought Christianity was a Western religion? I thought Jesus was a Conservative, Right-Wing Republican in the good ole’ U S of A? You’re kidding right? ;-)
(Just joking folks)



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Myrta Naquin

posted July 17, 2014 at 10:28 pm


obviously like your web-site but you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the truth however I will definitely come back again.



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posted July 26, 2014 at 11:04 am


I really appreciate this post. I



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