Monday, June 26, 2006

Where Christology Titles Mix

In reading through John 1.49-51 I was amazed how the Christological titles Son of God, King of Israel and Son of Man all occur in such close proximity. Are these titles synonymous, do they overlap conceptually, or are they different ways of expressing Jesus' messiahship?

The Messiahship of Jesus in the Gospels is one of my "rolling" projects. I've written one article on it so far (on Mark) and hope to write one per year on the Messiah in Luke(-Acts), John, and Matthew, and will hopefully publish them in a collected volume. I'm pursuing this because I think that the Evangelists spend alot of time trying to convince people that Jesus is the Christ. Why did they do that and what did they would achieve by doing so? In the case of Mark, I think he's making an apology for the cross (HT to Bob Gundry) and proclaiming the authority of the crucified Messiah.

For that reason I'm looking forward to Graham Stanton's paper at BNTC on this very topic of the Messiahship of Jesus in the Gospels.


Derek Brown said...

Great thoughts Michael. John's distinctive use of christological titles is certainly an intriguing issue, and one that I find a bit perplexing. No doubt you are right to see a sort of synthesis of christological titles (and ideas) in John. Perhaps it is a bit misleading to read John's christology against the christologies of the synoptics (though they are admittedly closer), but his use and importance of titles is so different from the them that it is hard to overlook. Though I don't agree with all of Dunn's argument (in Christology in the Making) that in John the "Son of God" tradition and wisdom tradition are merged to give the NT its highest christology, I think he is right to see the logos/son (of God) lang./ideas as preeminent for John. Thus I think you rightly raise the question about the relation of titles. My own opinion, at least currently, is that the Son of God lang. is the main contour of John's christology with the other trad., titles, and themes then serving as tributaries into this main emphasis. All of these then magnify, for John, the reality of Jesus as the messiah...esp. in 20:31 where again we have christos used synonymously (?) with "Son of God."

Michael Barber said...

King and Son of God are clearly linked via the Davidic covenant. I sometimes wonder if "Son of Man" is not more Davidic in implication than we often appreciate. In other words, how did the first century readers understand the term within the larger matrix of eschatological expectations. After all, in Daniel 7, it is through him that the "kingdom" comes. Clearly "son of man" imagery is linked with Davidic hopes in 4 Ezra--a much later document (like with Christian interpolations).

More work has yet to be done here I think.

sbc pastor said...


A very interesting post on the Christological titles found in John 1:49-51. Nathaniel responded Jesus' intimate knowledge of him by calling Him "Rabbi" - master, teacher, "thou art the Son of God" - an obvious reference to Deity (John's purpose in writing this gospel), "thou art the King of Israel" - a reference to His ultimate destiny as the Messiah (fulfillment of the escatological hopes of Israel).

God bless!!!

In Christ,