Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creating Jesus 23: Ensoulment christology

I have been on vacation, and now that I'm back for a couple of weeks at least, I want to try to finish up the Creating Jesus series.

We were discussing Johannine understandings of Jesus last time. What we have in John is something different from the other gospels. The Johannine perspective is an ensoulment perspective. In other words, the Logos (God's mind) descends and takes on flesh. So Jesus' soul is the Logos. This means that he is different from ordinary human beings who do not have God's Logos as our souls. The divine aspect of Jesus is not an appendage to Jesus' soul; it is Jesus' soul.

There is in this paradigm a fusion of Logos language and Hellenistic anthropology with Angel of Yahweh traditions. The word Logos is appropriate because it would have been understood by the Hellenistic populace to describe a substitute psyche. God's Reason is ensouled in Jesus.

The result? God walks around on earth as a human being. Jesus' body is the New Temple in which God's presence walks. He is the Glory, God's manifestation, visible in his person, his signs and wonders, and his crucifixion. Because of the ensoulment paradigm, the Kavod is made to assert characteristics of Reason, characteristics that would otherwise be foreign to its tradition, particularly the assertation that the Glory or Kavod is personalized as Jesus' soul so that a particular person, Jesus, becomes the earthly manifestation of the hidden God (John 1:18).

It is a rather clever theological claim, blending Hellenistic philosophy and anthropological knowledge with Angel of the Lord and Kavod biblical traditions. By so doing, the author of John has God himself manifested in history as Jesus.

4 comments:

Pastor Bob said...

You are going to take us to Calcedon' aren't you? And also I would like to hear the other paths taken like the various Gnostic groups and how they got where they ended up.

But again, thanks for this.

Jim Deardorff said...

Does it matter whether or not the writer of John was right on this? Is the issue of whether he was right or wrong appropriate for NT scholars to discuss?

CD-Host said...

Neat comment. If you don't mind me asking have you dropped out of the Jesus Project, I noticed your name wasn't on the list anymore?

Servetus the Evangelical said...

Way too speculative for me. I don't think we can know much for sure about the logo taking flesh, as in John 1.14. The Johannine prologue is like an outline to the remaining gospel's text. A prominent feature is that Jesus repeatedly says that he speaks God's words, thus fulfilling the role that prophet Moses predicted in Deut 18.15-19. I think that's about as far as we can safely take this logos speculation.

Servetus the Evangelical, author of The Restitution of Jesus Christ