When I earlier said that I thought my older view of the development of Christology was problematic, in that I had been imagining a more or less straight line of development from low to high Christology, I did not mean to say (as I may have mistakenly been understood as saying) that I have now given up the idea of a line of development. What I’ve given up on is the idea that there was basically ONE form of Christology that developed from low to high. I now think that all Christologies ultimately go back to TWO different forms, that originated separately from each other, with one being earlier than the other, and both developing separately from each other, until they were finally fused together.
I realize I’m more or less giving away my book at this point, but I’ll just sketch out the basic idea and leave its full exposition for the print version.
Here I’ll say something about the oldest Christology, as I understand it. This was what I earlier called a “low” Christology. I may end up in the book describing it as a “Christology from below” or possibly an “exaltation” Christology. Or maybe I’ll call it all three things.
The basic idea behind this Christology (by the way, Christology simply means “understanding of” or “teaching about” Christ) is that Jesus was understood to have been a human – a full flesh-and-blood man – who came to be exalted and glorified by God and so raised to the rank of the divine. And so the Christology starts out *down here* among us mortals with a human being (so it is a “low” Christology) who then comes to be divinized (and so “exalted” – thus an exaltation Christology).
Along with lots of other scholars, I think this was indeed the earliest Christology.
I do not think that Jesus or his disciples, during his public ministry, understood him(self) to be anything other than a human being. They (including himself) may have seen him as a great teacher (he was) or as an important prophet. And I will argue in my book that Jesus probably did understand himself in even greater terms, that he thought that he was the one whom God would appoint as ruler of the future kingdom when it arrived in power with the coming of the cosmic judge of the earth that Jesus called the Son of Man. To that extent, and in that way, I think that Jesus did understand himself to be the messiah – the future king of God’s kingdom. But he did not think of himself as a political messiah, or as the coming son of man, or as God. All of this, of course, I will have to demonstrate in my book, but I already have argued such things in my earlier work, including Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.
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