Friday, January 30, 2009
The centre of the New Testament - Apostolic Discourse
What is the theological centre of the New Testament? Justification by faith, that's only really central in Romans 1-5 and Galatians 1-2. Jesus Christ - well duh - that is so broad as to be meaningless! Salvation-History, but doesn't that confuse the car with the driver? It must be resurrection then, but is the resurrection ofJesus Christ the centre of Philemon and Jude; and for that matter does the centre of the NT have to be the centre of every constitiuent part? It is hard to find a centre given the theological diversity in the New Testament and the differences in genres as well as differences in time and space that separate these documents.
I like Peter Balla who proposes a shared creedal summary, a kinda early "Rule of Faith", as the shared theological fabric in the NT. Then again Dodd's kerygma is an attractive option since it brings together the Gospel of Mark, Paul's epistles, and the Lucan speeches into a comprehensive unity. More recently, I'm interested in the notion of "apostolic discourse" (borrowed from John Webster and Kevin Vanhoozer) as it is the essential elements of the apostolic testimony to God and Jesus Christ. Of course that again begs the question, what are the essential elements of the apostolic testimony to God and Jesus ? I'm still working that out! For the moment, I'm tending towards certain "fixtures" that involve God, Christ, and the story of salvation as it is made in the NT. The word "gospel" is an encoded reference to that story which is decoded in the apostolic proclamation that details the relationship between the exalted Lord and Messiah to Jesus of Nazareth, the life of Jesus in relation to the hope of Israel, the identity of Jesus Christ in relation to the God of Israel, and the God of Israel in relation to the rest of creation.