Saturday, November 24, 2007
Gordon Fee, Pauline Christololgy
Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.
Available from Amazon.com in the USA
Available from Alban Books in the UK
For a more extensive review see posts by Chris Tilling.
"I have attempted a Pauline Christology that is primarily exegetical, looking for the Christology that emerges in each of the letters in turn and thus trying to analyze each letter on its own terms." - from the introduction.
In the introduction Fee begins by noting that Paul rarely engages christology on its own and his statemetns about Christ are normally integrated into his soteriology. The other problem is the contingency of Paul's christological remarks based on the ocassional nature of his letters. On top of that, Paul more often than not assumes a certain christology rather than argues for it (with assumptions often shared by his readers). From a methodological vantage point, Fee takes a canonical approach in privileging no particular document and he tackles the letters in roughly chronological order. The theological difficulty in Paul's christology is that he was an avid monotheist, Paul was supremely interested in salvation in Christ and not in creating a Nicene or Chalcedonic formula. But for Fee, Paul has a thoroughgoing "christocentric worldview that he can hardly talk about God without also mentioning Christ" (p. 8). Fee also includes a review of modern Pauline christologies from Bousset to Hurtado. The chapter also closes off with brief some remarks about key texts such as 1 Cor. 8.6, Col. 1.13-17, Phil. 2.6-11, and Paul's use of the LXX.
In Part I, Fee surveys the Pauline correspondence and includes analysis of the key christological texts in each book. Each chapter closes with appendices that list the pertinent texts in Greek and an analysis of grammatical usage of key terms. In Part II, Fee provides a synthesis of the key themes and ideas including: "Christ, the Divine Savior", "Christ: Pre-existent and Incarnate Savior", "Jesus as the Second Adam", "Jesus: Jewish Messiah and Son of God", "Jesus: Jewish Messiah and Exalted Lord", "Christ and the Spirit", and two appendices about "Christ and Personified Wisdom" and "Paul's use of Kurios for Christ in Citations and Echoes of the Septuagint". This is a magisterial treatment of the topic. Highlights for me included Fee's explication of Exodus and David themes in Col. 1.12-14, his change of mind on the meaning of "Lord" as Christ in 2 Cor. 3.16, and in particular his arguments against an Adam christology in Phil. 2.5-11 and against a Wisdom christology as the source of Paul's christology.
This is a fab book and well worth adding to the library. Pauline specialists will need a copy.