Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking out the Horizons

Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking out the Horizons

Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking out the Horizons

Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking out the Horizons

Synopsis

Christology defines the very heart of the Christian faith. Traditionally the study of the person and work of Christ has been understood largely as an exercise in biblical exegesis or historical and doctrinal analysis. Rarely, if ever, has Christology focused on the changing cultural paradigms that have deeply influenced the development of human knowledge and self-understanding. This unique volume by Colin Greene reverses that trend and, in line with developments in modern cultural theory, explores the interfaces between successive cultural contexts and the story of Jesus to which the Scriptures bear witness.

Starting with an examination of the three main christological trajectories that have dominated the history of Christology -- cosmological Christology, political Christology, and anthropological Christology -- Greene proceeds to concentrate on the subtle and complex linkages between Christology and the sociopolitical paradigms that have bolstered the epistemological assumptions of modernity.Greenebs wide-ranging study closes with a creative exploration into how Christology might once again provide us with a Christ-centered vision of reality.

Excerpt

The most profound, disturbing, prophetic and enduringly significant theological exploration is usually born out of a confrontation with specific cultural and historical contexts. From the apostle Paul to Tertullian, Ambrose and Augustine struggling with the idolatrous pretensions of the Holy Roman Empire, to the Reformers resistance to the heteronomy of the Roman Catholic Church, to Karl Barth and the Barmen declaration and the martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theology and successive theologians made a stand against cultural hegemony in the name of the crucified and risen Christ. Nothing pushes Christology back into the centre of theological concerns more than the threat of cultural domination and nothing removes Christology to the margins more than the scourge of cultural accommodation. Such insights have penetrated the theological convictions that lay behind both the conceiving and the writing of this particular book.

What began as an attempt to critically investigate and reconstruct the genesis and development of Christology from the biblical sources to the modern era, quickly moved on to an exploration of the specific cultural contexts that have dominated these concerns. It was then a short but nevertheless disconcerting step to discover the ideological subtext that undergirds such cultural referents and which often masquerades in the guise of human emancipation and progress. While thorough immersion in the biblical and Christological tradition may alert one to this unpalatable reality it does not protect one’s own deliberations from similar dangerous liaisons. It is only when one has come to the conclusion that what largely distinguishes modernity and postmodernity from previous historical and cultural contexts is that they are almost entirely cultural and ideological constructs that one feels an invigorating liberty to propose new Christological and theological alternatives.

Inevitably in a project of this nature and duration some of the thinking has been aired in other contexts. Chapter five, ‘Christology and History’, first appeared as ‘In the Arms of the Angels: Biblical Interpretation, Christology and the Philosophy of History’, in C.G. Bartholomew, C. Greene and K. Möller (eds.), Renewing Biblical Interpretation (SAHS Vol. 1; Paternoster/Zondervan, 2000), 198–239. Similarly, an earlier and shortened version of the concluding chapter appeared as ‘Starting a Rockslide: Deconstructing History and Language via Christological Detonators’, in C. G. Bartholomew, C. Greene and K. Möller (eds.), After Pentecost: Language & Biblical Interpretation (SAHS Vol. 2; Paternoster/Zondervan, 2001), 195–223. My only major regret is that . . .

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