The Deity of Jesus Christ as Jewish Monotheism
Posted on June 24, 2012
My Christology will never be the same.
In his God Crucified: Monotheism & Christology in the New Testament, Richard Bauckham argues that:
- The deity of Jesus as an aspect of orthodox Christology did not develop in the patristic church but was already a tenet of the first (Jewish) church that had sufficient categories to identify Jesus of Nazareth with the one God of Israel. Orthodox Christology was developed by Jews, not Gentiles, who (rightly) piggybacked on it.
- Jesus is intrinsic to the unique identity of God such that if we do not understand Jesus, we do not rightly understand God.
- The OT already contains adumbrations of divine identity (e.g., Wisdom, the Word) that reflect the being of God and not simply his nature or “attributes.”
- In the revelation of Jesus Christ, the identity of God is expanded to the world.
- We can know some things about God only by knowing Jesus Christ, and in no other way.
- The humiliating death of what Isaiah terms the Suffering Servant is God’s way of demonstrating his sovereignty to the world.
- The Cross is not the hiddenness of God but the revealing of God. Jesus is exalted as God in his death.
- Jesus’ death (and not just his resurrection) is his exaltation.
- Patristic Christology was not necessary to champion the deity of Jesus Christ; the Jewish monotheism of the NT did that.
- The NT is not the “seed” of a high Christology from which the patristic fathers rounded out the full picture; patristic Christology operates from a different (though correct) angle.
- NT Christology is not concerned with the humanity versus the deity of Christ (both assumed) but with the humiliation versus the exaltation of Christ.
- It was the Greek categories of what God is rather than the Jewish (Biblical) categories of who God is that made the deity of Jesus Christ problematic. The patristic fathers arrived at the right conclusions despite adopting categories inferior to the Biblical category of Jewish monotheism.