Friday, December 02, 2005

Studies on Pre-Existence

I’ve noted several studies on the pre-existence of Jesus that have either just come out or are coming out in the near future.

Douglas McCready, He came down from heaven: The pre-existence of Christ and the Christian faith (Leicester: IVP, 2005)

Accompanying all the new studies of the life of Jesus has been the question of Jesus’ identity. Was he anything more than a human creature? A key issue in this debate is the claim of Jesus’ pre-existence as the divine, uncreated Son of God before his incarnation on earth. Doug McCready provides a thorough survey of the doctrine, covering New Testament teaching, Jewish and Hellenistic background and historical development. He carefully weighs the evidence and engages the arguments for and against the orthodox Christian conviction of Christ's pre-existence. Drawing on expert scholarship McCready makes this important subject of debate accessible to students and other non-experts who want to know the evidence and arguments for this central doctrine of Christian faith. This book will be especially useful as a supplementary text for theology courses on Christology or in biblical studies courses on the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ.

Aquila H.I.Lee, From Messiah to Preexistent Son: Jesus' Self-Consciousness and Early Christian Exegesis of Messianic Psalms (WUNT 2.192; Tuebingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2005)

Aquila H.I. Lee explores the development of early Christian understanding of Jesus as the preexistent Son of God. He first reviews recent attempts to explain the development as a result of the influence of Jewish angelology and similar speculations. In the second part he argues that neither the personification of various attributes of God, including wisdom, nor speculations about principal angels and a preexistent messiah in Second Temple Judaism ever provided a ready-made category for viewing Jesus as a divine and preexistent being alongside God. An examination of the Synoptic evidence for Jesus' self-consciousness of divine sonship and divine mission in the whole context of his life and teaching shows that his self-understanding was open to interpretation in terms of pre-existence. The author also examines the early Christian use of Pss 110:1 and 2:7 against this background. He proposes that the root of preexistent Son Christology is to be found in early Christian exegesis of these two messianic psalms (the catalyst) in the light of Jesus self-consciousness of divine sonship and divine mission (the foundation). The tremendous impact left by the resurrection event and the resulting conception of Jesus "literally" enthroned to God's right hand led them to see Jesus as the preexistent Lord and Son of God. In the final part of this book Aquila Lee argues that the pre-Pauline 'sending' formula "God sent his Son" (Gal 4:4-5; Rom 8:3-4; Jn 3:16-17; and 1 Jn 4:9) derives from this understanding of Jesus as the preexistent Son of God rather than from divine wisdom christology.

Simon Gathercole also has a book coming out next year on the subject (I saw a poster for it at SBL) which should be interesting.

1 comment:

Chris Tilling said...

In many ways Lee's argument is similar to Eskola's in Messiah and the Throne, which is a book I have learnt a good deal from. Eskola's case against what he calls 'typological idealism' in the usage of mediatorial figures and the like pushes in much the same direction as Lee. He also focuses on similar Psalms, emphasising intertextual transformation. I'm of the opinion that NT Christology stands before a time of great enrichment, and I personally don't think discussions on pre-existence will play as important a role as they have done in the past.