In my past couple of posts I have claimed that the earliest understanding of Christ was a kind of “low” Christology, one that considered Jesus to be a full flesh and blood human being (as he considered himself!), and nothing more than a man, until at some point God exalted him and made him his son, the ruler of all, the messiah, the Lord.
But “claiming” something is not the same as showing it. I realize a lot of people today don’t really care about “evidence” or “proof,” but are happy simply to believe what someone tells them, so long as it’s someone they like for one reason or another. But I have to admit, I’m an evidence guy. I want to have *reasons* for what I think, and not simply agree with someone because they are saying what I want to hear. What then is the *reason* that I share the widely held view I’ve so far only “claimed”?
In my previous post I talked about how scholars have isolated some of these pre-literary traditions over the years, in which authors quote earlier sources in their writings without telling their readers they are doing so, presumably, most of the time, because their original readers would have recognized the quotation(s) and understood what they, the authors, were doing. Now, in this post, I will give an example. It is Romans 1:3-4.
Romans was the final letter that Paul wrote, possibly around 60 CE or so (1 Thessalonians was his first, around 49 or 50 CE). But even though it is his last letter, it contains a pre-Pauline fragment, that is, a quotation of an earlier source that Paul inherited, in just these verses, chapter 1 verses 3-4. As with his other letters, Paul begins this one (1:1) by introducing himself and saying who he is, before mentioning the “gospel” (which will be the overarching theme of the letter). He then says that the gospel concerns God’s “son” and then he says this about the son:
Who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.
I have a particular fondness for this passage. It was the topic of the first PhD term paper I wrote – a thirty-pager, devoted to just these two verses, and in which I could only scratch the surface. Here I will scratch it even less.
Wanna see what my scratching yields? Blog members can! Not one of those proud elites? It’s easy to join and costs very little. And every penny goes to charity. So what’s to lose?