Jesus and God, encore.
Several comments to my posting yesterday, “Jesus and God,” exhibit the fallacious assumption that I posted about a couple of years ago here. That assumption is that, for purposes of Christian theology, the sayings of Jesus trump everything. Well, so far as NT authors are concerned, it’s clear that it is God who is the ultimate “reliable voice,” and it is God’s action that is the basis for everything. Jesus’ significance, in short, is declared by God, and is defined with reference to God. Indeed, one could say that all Christological claims are, at their basis, actually/also theo-logical claims, i.e., claims about what God is supposed to have done with reference to Jesus.
So, e.g., in the NT generally, the key basis for all other theological claims about Jesus is God’s action of raising him from death and exalting him to heavenly glory. Prior to God doing so (in the outlook of NT writings), it was inappropriate for anyone to treat Jesus as rightful recipient of worship, for example, in the way that believers treated Jesus in the “post-Easter” period. So, surprise! surprise!, the Jesus of the Gospels doesn’t receive worship, doesn’t demand it, etc.
The “mutation” in Jewish devotional practice that I underscored in my 1988 book, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism (3rd ed, London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015) took place in the aftermath of the conviction that God had exalted Jesus “to the right hand,” and now required him to be reverenced. In is in light of God’s action that discourse about God and worship of God was re-drawn to include reference to Jesus programmatically. (By the way, the 3rd edition of the book includes a new 20,000 word Epilogue in which I engage key works that appeared subsequent to the 1998 edition.)
So, for example, playing off Jesus’ saying in Mark 12:29 in which he cites the traditional wording of the Jewish confession, the Shema, for theological purposes against such passages as Philippians 2:9-11 or 1 Cor 8:4-6 or others is simply fallacy prompted, ironically, by 18th-century Deist thinkers (as I note in the 2014 posting cited above).