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Newman on “Doxa”, God, and Jesus

April 18, 2019

I return here to giving a brief summary of the papers delivered in the recent two-day colloquium held in New College.  Carey Newman (Director of Baylor University Press) wrote on “God and Glory and Paul, Again.”

In this paper Newman returned to the subject of his important book, Paul’s Glory-Christology: Tradition and Rhetoric (Brill, 1992), in which he highlighted the significance and meaning of Paul’s association of divine glory with the risen/exalted Jesus.  There are three main points that he makes in this further discussion.

First, in an impressively thorough lexical analysis, Newman shows that the Greek term “doxa” is not a part of the religious vocabulary of the larger Greek world.  The term is not associated with the gods.  It more regularly means “opinion,” “expectation,” “reputation,” and “honor”.  But the word doesn’t feature in description of the gods.

In the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, however, this word translates the Hebrew “kavod” and so is used as a regular part of statements about the deity of these scriptures (YHWH, Elohim).  In these uses the term refers to a divine attribute, God’s “glory”, and can even designate the manifestation or presence of the deity.  This comprised a new and distinctive Jewish (and then Christian) sense/usage of doxa.  It’s easy enough to verify Newman’s lexical claims, either laboriously (as he did) using the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, or more quickly by consulting, e.g., the entry on the word in the excellent tool, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek.  Newman gives a rich and  full listing of how Paul used doxa in statements about God, making it a central term in his theological vocabulary.

Secondly, Newman shows how significant it is that Paul applies divine doxa to Jesus in a variety of statements.  For example, in 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul refers to “the glory [doxa] of Christ, who is the image of God.”  Newman’s section on this topic is entitled “Christological Glory,” and he shows how Paul treats the risen Jesus as enveloped and sharing in the glory of the one God.

Newman’s final point deals with Paul’s expectation that believers in Jesus are to share in divine glory.  But Newman’s more specific point is that the eschatological hope is that believers will share in the glory that is Christ’s, and will be glorified after his pattern.  Newman refers to this as “Christosis”, a term meaning a transformation that is patterned after and linked with the glorified Christ.  Previous scholars have referred to “Theosis”, a future divinization of believers, but Newman argues that more precisely Paul taught that believers will be glorified through and patterned after Christ’s glory.  Their glorification will be mediated through Christ (e.g., Romans 8:29).

This is a rich and productive discussion of an important Pauline theme.

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5 Comments
  1. I like Christosis, but wouldn’t it more correct to say Apochristosis? Just a small nitpick cause I’m a 🤓.

  2. Henry L. permalink

    A potentially explosive finding. So dates, time span, is critically important.

    When precisely did “dixi” go from meaning 1) mere fallible belief” to 2) glory? And what was the semantic overlap, if any? Semanticists here often use Venn Diagrams – two or more overlapping circles – to measure overlap.

    • “Doxa” took on the sense of “glory” when it was used to translate the Hebrew term “kavod” into Greek. That’s sometime 3rd cent BC??

  3. Erich von Abele permalink

    I like Newman’s term “Christosis”. I checked Lampe’s Patristic Lexicon to make sure it hadn’t been coined in those early centuries A.D., and it’s not there (though there are many “Christo-” compounds, like Christophrwn (“Christ-minded”), Christophoros (“Christ-bearing”), Christophilhs (“Christ-loving”), Christotypos (“typifying Christ”), Christoterphs (“delighting in Christ”), etc.).

  4. Dear Prof. Hurtado,
    I always appreciate your shrewd and informative posts–on a number of topics. I very much look forward to Baylor volume. However, I did want to say one small thing. I was under the impression that my colleague at Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX, Ben Blackwell, coined the term Christosis (see his Christosis: Pauline Soteriology in Light of Deification in Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria, WUNT 2.314 [Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011]; and later Christosis: Engaging Paul’s Soteriology with His Patristic Interpreters [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016]) and that some others–e.g. Gorman and Newman–had picked this up…

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