Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: A Christological Lacuna

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the Christology of the Apocalypse of John.

God, Sistine ChapelWhile early Christological studies have rightly moved toward an “Early High” standard, the edges of this model remain underdeveloped, especially the Christology of the Apocalypse of John.[1] This tendency begins with Bousset’s effectively neglect of Revelation, an influence which has trickled down into contemporary examinations of early Christology. For example, Robert M. Grant’s classic treatment, The Early Christian Doctrine of God, only references Revelation three times in its entirety, each time in a footnote.[2] Gregory K. Beale’s voluminous tome, The Book of Revelation, also neglects a summary of Christology, despite the fact that numerous christological insights are noted in the commentary section.[3] Likewise, I. Howard Marshall relegates Revelation’s input to marginalia and footnotes.[4] Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Introduction

JesusAfter nearly 2,000 years, the study of Christology—the study of the person, nature, and role of Jesus[1]—continues as a popular, relevant, and important realm of theological inquiry. Indeed, it would not be an overstatement to say that Christology forms the economic basis for all truly orthodox Christian theology.[2] Studies of the history of Christology—especially the Christology of the earliest followers of Jesus and those who composed the writings now included in the New Testament—have become particularly important in recent decades, as the streams of Roman Catholic ressourcement, Orthodox Ιερά Παράδοση, and Protestant ad fontes merge into greater emphasis on the early Church. Continue reading

Christology in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Christian Worship“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is a popular Christmas hymn written by an anonymous Latin author in the twelfth century and translated into English in 1851 by John Mason Neale. The hymn contains nine verses, all of which contain statements about Christ. The name “Jesus” and title “Christ” do not actually appear in the hymn; however a plethora of other titles are used to refer to the coming to Israel. This is quite clearly a hymn of Advent and Christmas, as it is written as if in the distant past, reflecting an Old Testament view of things (as we shall see with the names and titles used below), a view that welcomes the coming of the messiah to Israel. The refrain, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee , O Israel” demonstrates the position of Christ as coming savior of Israel, the messiah figure of the Old Testament prophets. Continue reading

How to Approach Theology

New College CloistersTheology is important. Good theology is even more important. Everyone is called to “do” theology.1 These are guiding principles for my theological work, which I seek to undertake with thoughtfulness, faithfulness, and charity. Of course, to merely say (or write) that theology holds a place of value is not the same as actually living out one’s faith while seeking understanding.2 Too many times in my own life it is at the place where the proverbial “rubber hits the road” that my abstract, intellectualized theological principles fall prey to my sinful nature and laziness. As important as it is to speak truth, it is not enough to merely say the right things. As James says in his epistle, “Show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”3

Thus, truly good theology consists not only of thinking rightly about God, but also living rightly (and righteously) in his presence. Of course, this raises that all important question of how: how do we not only think but also live faithfully? In reflecting on this task, I have developed some practice-oriented musings for how we should live as Christians in today’s world, which I now submit as theses for discussion: Continue reading

Scripture among the Apologists: Bibliography

Ancient Sources

Eccl. Hist. Eusebius. Ecclesiastical History: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine. Translated by G. A. Williamson. Revised and edited by Andrew Louth. London: Penguin Books, 1989.
Lives Jerome. Lives of Illustrious Men. Translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.
CA Josephus. Contra Apionem. Translated by William Whiston. The Works of Flavius Josephus in Four Volumes, Volume IV. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974.
Dialogue Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho. Translated by Thomas B. Falls. Revised by Thomas P. Halton. Selections from Fathers of the Church, Volume 3. Edited by Michael Slusser. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of American Press, 2003.
Apology –. First Apology. Translated by Leslie William Barnard. Ancient Christian Writers: The Works of the Fathers in Translation 56. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.
Oration Tatian. Address to the Greeks. Translated by J.E. Ryland. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Roberts, Donaldson, and Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.
Autolycum Theophilus of Antioch. Ad Autolycum. Translated by Robert M. Grant. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
Acta The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs. Translated by Marcus Dods. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.

 

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Scripture among the Apologists: Conclusions

Open BibleThis study has examined the manner in which two early Christian apologists, Justin Martyr in his Apology and Theophilus of Antioch in Ad Autolycum, employed written sources in their writings. This study argues that Justin and Theophilus both demonstrated the authority of specifically Christian writings, especially in their use of the Fourth Gospel and implementation of Johannine logos theology. This study also suggested that a contextualized methodology constitutes a necessary component for accurate study of early Christian literature; that Justin and Theophilus employed a wide matrix of scriptural authorities in their writings; and that comparison of Justin and Theophilus underline important similarities and differences between these writers which inform the understanding of second century Christianity. It is the hope of this study to have fulfilled Theophilus’ final dictum in Ad Autolycum, to have read “these books carefully in order that [we] may have a counselor and pledge of the truth.”[ii]


[i] Hagner, 233. [ii] Autolycum 3.30.

Scripture among the Apologists: Differences

justin-martyr1Yet there are also considerable differences in these apologists’ approaches to written sources as well. Concerning Greco-Roman sources, while Justin remained primarily Platonic, Theophilus was more influenced by the Sibylline Oracles, Homer, and Hesiod. Justin’s philosophical background and prowess were considerably superior to Theophilus’ training, and Justin’s innovate recasting of Greco-Roman philosophical motifs was more innovate than anything Theophilus had to offer. Continue reading

Scripture among the Apologists: Similarities

Apostolic FathersThe argument of this paper, that Justin and Theophilus each view specifically Christian writings as useful authorities for the construction of their apologetic works, has already been demonstrated. To more fully engage the considerations of the authority with which these two second century apologists viewed Christian sources, this study now offers a comparative analysis of how these two writers conceived of and employed written sources in the construction of their apologetic theologies, paying special attention to the function of the Gospel of John and Logos for each. Continue reading

Scripture among the Apologists: Theophilus on Scripture

theophilus-of-antiochTheophilus of Antioch clearly found numerous sources valuable for the construction of his apologetic Ad Autolycum, drawing upon numerous Greek, Jewish, and Christian sources in this writing. Especially important for his conception of scripture was the doctrine of the Logos, formed in Hellenistic Judaism and applied by Justin Martyr to Christian apologetics, but in Theophilus developed most clearly from the Gospel of John. This doctrine allowed Theophilus to locate writings inspired by the Logos, whether they were composed by the Sibyl, Moses, Paul, or someone else. The Logos is that with whom Greek philosophy must accord, that who inspired the prophets of Israel, and he who continues to serve God’s salvific nomos.[i] In this sense, Theophilus did not explicitly locate the Logos with any one “person,” but instead focused on the literary personification and work of the Logos, an endeavor with which those seeking God had to bring themselves into accordance. This is an admittedly Jewish way of thinking, leading Grant to posit that Theophilus’ Jewish-Christian perspective ultimately stands behind the later excesses of Antiochene exegetical theology.[ii] Continue reading