Monday, March 08, 2010
McDonough - Christ the Creator
Christ as Creator: Origins of a New Testament Doctrine
Oxford: OUP, 2010.
Available at Amazon.com
In this book Sean McDonough examines the origins of the NT statements that the world was made "through" Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8.6; Col 1.15-20; John 1.1-3; Heb 1.2). For McDonough the answer lies not in the application of categories drawn from Hellenistic Judaism (who did not alone have the problem of finding mediators between heaven and earth), but was from the memory of Jesus and his redefinition of Messiahship. McDonough asks why Christ was attributed a role in creation. To which he answers: "The mighty works of Jesus, his proclamation of the kingdom of God, and the climatic events of the crucifixion and resurrection, clearly marked him as the definitive agent of God's redemptive purposes. But these mighty works could scarcely be divorced from God's creative acts. The memories of Jesus preserved in the gospels depict a man who brings order to the threatening chaotic waters, creates life out of death, and restores people to their proper place in God's world ... Reflections of these memories of Jesus, coupled with the experience of forgiveness and renewal on the part of the early Church, led to a startling but elegant (theo-)logical conclusion: If the one true God had sent Jesus the Messiah as the definitive agent of redemption, and if this redemption was at one level simply the outworking of the project of creation (a view with ample precedent in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East in general), it must be that the Messiah was the agent of creation as well" (pp. 2-3).
1. Sean, how did you come to this topic of Christ as Creator and the search for its origin?
2. Often it has been thought that attribution of a Wisdom theology to Christ accounts for postulations of his role in creation. However, this view has recently fallen on hard times with numerous critiques (e.g., S. Gathercole, G. Macaskill, A. Lee). What are your own thoughts on the matter?
3. In chapter four you refer to creation as the beginning of the dominion of the Messiah. Could unpack on how you reach that conclusion and what role it has in your thesis?
4. You point out that Stoic philosophers and Hellenistic Jews were not the first ones concerned with the mediation of the heavenly and earthly realms. How does a wider ancient near east background help you understand the distinctive creation concept of Christ'd Schopfungsmittlerschaft?
5. In chapter eleven you refer to your own perspective on Christ and primal creation as rather close to Karl Barth's. What was Barth's view and distinguishes your view from his?