Christology, Controversy, and Community: New Testament Essays in Honour of David R. Catchpole

By David G. Horrell; Christopher M. Tuckett | Go to book overview

TOWARDS A CRITICAL APPROPRIATION OF
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT:
CHRISTOLOGY AND DISCIPLESHIP

Robert Morgan

If teaching one's grandmother to suck eggs risks getting them all over one's face it will seem rash to talk about reading the Bible, i.e. to offer some suggestions about Christian theological interpretation and appropriation, to an older friend and senior colleague who shared the responsibility for teaching New Testament in Ninian Smart's Lancaster department in the 1960s and 1970s. We had earlier sat together as beginners in Ernst Bammel's seminar at Cambridge, and both continued (and continue) to benefit hugely from Charlie Moule's friendship and generous encouragement. But that stable nurtured a variety of foals, and my topic and manner of handling it touch on some of the theological, hermeneutical, and ethical differences between us.

The Festschrift genre allows the odd personal note. Grey hairs now nodding in harmony may recall different styles on the Lune when a Pauline-Lutheran-Käsemannian Celt saw a more sternly Matthean moralist gradually becoming more liberal as a result of meticulous engagement with the tradition of Jesus' sayings. Others have found there a queue leading to loss of Christian theological identity but David's synoptic Christology owed more to Luke's adoptionist tendency than to his hypothetical sources.

The Festschrift permits a personal note, but dressing it up in dubious parallels from New Testament theology looks self-indulgent. The justification is that the connection between the texts and their modern interpreters is at issue in what follows. One controversial aspect of a Christian theological interpretation (Sachexegese) of the New Testament is Sachkritik—theological criticism by the interpreter of a part of the biblical witness where it apparently expresses inadequately the gospel it means to proclaim.1 Granted the theological diversity in the New

1 This view of Sachkritik, accepted by Bultmann in his appeal to Luther's criti-
cism of the Epistle of James and the Revelation of John (Theology of the New Testament

-157-

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