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Philippians 2:6-11

April 25, 2017

In light of comments and questions arising in response to my previous posting about what “in the form of God/a god” might connote in Philippians 2:6-11, I immodestly point to my own study of the passage published in my book, How on Earth did Jesus Become a God?  Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus (Eerdmans, 2005), 83-107.

Probably the further comments I’d make today are (1) that the phrase “in the form of God” may be illumined by usages such as Philo’s that I cited in my previous posting, and (2) that there are now more scholars questioning whether the passage originated separately as a hymn, or, instead, may have been composed by Paul as part of Philippians.

If the latter, then it still seems to me that the compressed wording and balanced phrasing suggests that it was composed (by whomever) in an “exalted” style, with some features of the Greek Psalms.  So, if not a hymn, then in some sense “hymnic”.

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  1. Dr. Hurtado,

    Just so I’m clear, is your (1) above indicating that the information presented in the immediately preceding post is brand new, never before used by you in a book, article, etc.?

  2. Gabriel permalink

    Greetings Dr. Hurtado,

    Starting with One God One Lord I’ve since read all of your books minus one lonely “God in NT Theology”, which I’ll soon be getting a copy of as well. They were all excellent.

    Your unique focus on and detailed analysis of the devotional patterns of early Christianity is extraordinarily fascinating. ( Fascinating enough to have read “Lord Jesus Christ” 3x now)

    Needless to say I’m a huge “fan”.

    So my question is, beyond the six types of phenomena that make up the constellation of “dyadic” devotional practices present in earliest Christianity, is there, say, a 7th or 8th category, which is reserved exclusively for God and not even Jesus can “enter”?

    Perhaps the closest of the six would be prayer, where most often prayer is made “through” Jesus, but even here we have examples where on occasion Jesus is the one being addressed directly.

    One may bring up sacrifice as a practice in which Jesus was not included, but as you’ve noted in previous discussion sacrifice was not a feature in the worship gatherings of early Christians at all, neither for God nor Jesus, so this obviously doesn’t work either.

    Hoping to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks for your time Prof. Hurtado !

    • Gabriel: I think that the better answer to your question is to note that the “dyadic” worship pattern reflected in the NT comprises Jesus being included in the worship that accrues ultimately to God. That is, Jesus isn’t treated as a second deity, a partner of sorts with God, but is consistently positioned with reference to God, as sent, commissioned, handed over (to death), raised, exalted, installed as king, etc. So, it’s not a matter of some actions reserved for God (although the traditional Eucharistic ritual is thanks to God for Christ, not thanks to Christ).

      • Gabriel permalink

        Thanks Dr. Hurtado. I didn’t mean to suggest that the early Christians considered Jesus as a competing deity, so maybe a better way to word my question is:

        Were there devotional practices that were previously reserved by Jews for the one God of Israel that Christians kept but did *not* adapt to programmatically include Jesus (with reference to God) in one way or another.

        Or do the six you outline comprise the entire range of devotional practices that earliest Christians manifested, thereby signalling a “mutation” (via inclusion) in every category available to them?

        This would be akin to your description of theological “cupboard” that earliest Christians drew from to describe Jesus, where every item available to them they pulled out and used (Name, kavod, throne).

        If we were to propose an analogous “devotional” cupboard, would you say that earliest Christians likewise pulled out and adapted every item (six?) available to them in the cupboard as well?

        Thanks for the help Dr. Hurtado.

      • As I indicated earlier, there is a clear “shape” to the dyadic devotional pattern in which Jesus receives worship along with God, Jesus always described and reverenced with reference to “God the Father”. So, e.g., prayer is much more typically addressed to God in Jesus’ name or through Jesus, at least in the prayer patters of the NT and emerging “great church”. My point in many publications has been that this programmatic inclusion of Jesus in the specific actions that I cite is a novel historical development.

      • Donald Jacobs permalink

        Professor Hurtado, have you explained somewhere why you’ve changed reminilogy from binitarian to dyadic?

      • Donald: I briefly noted and explained this change in term in a blog posting here:
        Also, in my book, God in New Testament Theology, I refer to the matter.

  3. Robert permalink

    An “exalted style, to be sure, even a hyper-exalted style!

  4. We come from dreams ~ permalink

    Pity I no longer have G. Mussies’ “Dio Chrysostom and the New Testament,” which Brill put out in the late 1970s. He went over the New Testament and Dio Chrysostom and found numerous parallels of phrasing between them; as I recall, the thrust of Mussies’ work was to illustrate just how “Koine” that the Koine Greek of the New Testament was.


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