The Christology of Jesus

By Ben Witherington III | Go to book overview
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2
Christology and the
Relationships of Jesus

JESUS' RELATIONSHIPS APPEAR at first to be a promising avenue to get a fix on his self-conception. There is, however, a problem that emerges. Not all of Jesus' relationships extend over his whole adult life. For instance, what we can discern from his relation with John may be helpful in understanding Jesus before or at the beginning of his ministry, but it may not be helpful in evaluating Jesus at the climax of his ministry.

If Jesus' general knowledge, self-understanding, and wisdom increased or developed over the course of his lifetime (Luke 2:52), then any fixation with only the Jesus whom John knew, or only the Jesus whom the Romans encountered at the conclusion of Jesus' life, or only the Jesus with whom the Pharisees interacted in the Galilean ministry will give us but a partial picture. To treat Jesus like other historical figures, we cannot accept such an approach. Granted, the material that we have deals mostly with the last one to three years of his life, and there may have been little development in Jesus' self-conception during so short a span. Because of the dramatic turns that his life took during this last period, we should not draw such a conclusion prematurely without first examining all of the evidence that reflects a Sitz im Leben Jesu.

We will focus first on Jesus and John and then on Jesus' relationships with several groups he encountered during the Galilean ministry-the Pharisees and the sinners, the revolutionaries and the Romans, and the disciples. In this manner, we hope to discern, first, how Jesus viewed himself over the course of his adult life and, second, to what extent his process of selfdefinition is revealed in the last years of his life.

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