The Mission and Achievement of Jesus: An Examination of the Presuppositions of New Testament Theology

The Mission and Achievement of Jesus: An Examination of the Presuppositions of New Testament Theology

The Mission and Achievement of Jesus: An Examination of the Presuppositions of New Testament Theology

The Mission and Achievement of Jesus: An Examination of the Presuppositions of New Testament Theology

Excerpt

In 1931 Sir Edwyn Hoskyns and the Reverend F. N. Davey opened their Riddle of the New Testament with some striking words which have since become almost classic:

When the Catholic Christian kneels at the words incarnatus est or at the words and was incarnate, he marks with proper solemnity his recognition that the Christian religion has its origin not in general religious experience, nor in some peculiar esoteric mysticism, nor in a dogma. He declares his faith to rest upon a particular event in history. . . . This is Christian orthodoxy, both Catholic and Protestant. In consequence the Christian religion is not merely open to historical investigation, but demands it, and its piety depends on it. Inadequate or false reconstruction of Jesus of Nazareth cuts at the heart of Christianity.

This--the connexion between the Jesus of History on the one hand, and the proclamation by the early Church of Jesus as the event of redemption on the other hand--was the riddle of the New Testament in 1931, and it is still the riddle of the New Testament twenty years after. The kerygma of the primitive Church, which has been recovered for us by New Testament scholars during the last thirty years, presents a particular redemptive interpretation of an historical event or series of events, and the crucial problem is whether this interpretation was arbitrarily imposed upon the events subsequently to their occurrence, or whether the events were such as to demand that interpretation--or, even more precisely, did they bear that interpretation in the mind of the central figure of those events, Jesus of Nazareth himself?

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