The Christology of Jesus

By Ben Witherington III | Go to book overview

1
Methodological and
Historical Considerations

STRANGE AS IT may seem, the question whether Jesus himself had a Christology has not been explored in a systematic way. This lacuna has not been for a lack of approaches. Since the beginning of the new quest for the historical Jesus in the 1950s, both exegetes and theologians have been preoccupied with Christologies in and of the New Testament—the Gospels, Paul, Q, or other sources. Some have sought to isolate the Christologies of individual communities, even though there is little evidence that any community had a pure form of Christology as characterized by the use of one title or type of thinking or preaching.1 Exploring the Christologies of the New Testament is important, but doing this in place of a Christology of Jesus is a fundamental mistake because, as de Jonge says, “any survey of the early Christian response to Jesus should start with at least a brief outline of what Jesus thought and told about himself. How did he understand his relation to God and his role in God's dealings with Israel and humanity?”2

Persons familiar with the historical-critical approach to the New Testament might not find this lack of studies on Jesus' Christology strange, since some form critics, because of their assumptions as to how the church had handled the Jesus tradition, virtually ruled out all possible concrete knowledge about the historical Jesus' views on various subjects. The resurrection of Jesus-or the resurrection experiences of Jesus' first followers, as they maintained-generated a christological approach to Jesus and the Jesus

1 M. de Jonge, Christology in Context, 19, following N. Dahl. On the matter of the Christology
of the so-called Q community, cf. pp. 223–24 below.

2 Ibid., 20.

-1-

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The Christology of Jesus
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Methodological and Historical Considerations 1
  • 2: Christology and the Relationships of Jesus 33
  • 3: Christology and the Deeds of Jesus 145
  • 4: Christology and the Words of Jesus 179
  • 5: Afterword and Conclusions 263
  • Abbreviations 279
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 302
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