Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Last Post

Yes, I relativized the term 'night' into meaning three days--it is the 'Day-Age Blog Theory'. This is the last post of that set. One disclaimer, though: I plan (eventually he laughs) on turning this post into a formal paper to add to my mythological vitae. So...don't steal my idea before I can write about it!

The question is, looking at I Corinthians 8:6, how did Paul develop his theology of 'christological monotheism'? Basically, what 'christological monotheism' is, is how Paul adds Jesus into the Shema. (This idea is NT Wright's, in his Paul's Gospel and Caesar's Empire, so all credit where credit is due):

Hear o Israel, YHWH (the Lord) is our God, YHWH (the Lord) alone! (Dt. 6:4)

For us their is one God, the Father...and one Lord, Jesus Christ...

In the Septuagint, the theos (God) lines up--as expected--with Paul's theos, but kurios (Lord, or in the LXX a designation for YHWH) lines up--quite unexpectedly and subversively--with kurios Iesous Xristos (Lord Jesus Christ). How did Jesus get to be a part of the rallying cry of Israel, now redrawn as the 'church'? How did a human get brought into the great anti-idolatry confession of God's people? How did this crucified man get drawn into God's name, YHWH or kurios?

I think the answer will come through a long process of Biblical thought on the Shema and God's name. In the Shema, the key words are YHWH and echad (one). Another text in the OT where this is used is Zechariah 14:9, translated in the NKJV as (with a few notable exceptions):

And YHWH shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be--"YHWH is one and His name one".

Confused? So was I until I read it in the Hebrew:

YHWH shall be king over all the arth.
In that day there shall be only (echad) YHWH and His name alone (echad).

Here Zeke is drawing God's name into the Shema and giving it a fulfillment time--the great eschatological day. Skipping forward to the NT, we read this in Philippians 2:

Therefore God also has highly exalted him (Jesus) and given him the 'name' which is above all names, that at the 'name' of Jesus ever knee shall bow...and every tongue confess "Lord" is Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.

The 'name' here is a Greek shorthand for a title. God bestows the highest name (which would be His own--YHWH or kurios in the LXX) on Jesus. So Jesus has the title "Lord", according to Paul, which is the name/title of God Himself.

Pressing the thought a bit further, we end up in I Corinthians. Because Jesus has the 'highest name' kurios and Zechariah said that in the day of God's victory it would only be YHWH and His name, Paul is saying that that day has come about (strangely, paradoxically on a Roman cross), where YHWH once again became King, this time of the whole world (cf. Matt. 28:20), and His 'name' rules beside Him--Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified one. The circle, then is complete. Jesus has, by virtue of his faithful life and death, been giving the 'name' and added into the very Shema of Israel.

What does this all mean for us? Right now, everything about it is so staggering that I don't exactly know what to think myself, especially having posted about the 'unity' of God so recently: how do both go together? That is a question for poetics, incarnational rethinking, and lots and lots of worshipful prayer or prayerful worship.

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