Four-Story Christology

Foundations of New Testament Christology, by Reginald H. Fuller (Scribners, 1965, 268 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Richard N. Longenecker, associate professor of New Testament history and theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

Building upon the foundation of his The Mission and Achievement of Jesus (1954), and following the Formgeschichtliche Methode Professor Fuller attempts to demonstrate three theses: (1) that via “traditio-historical” analysis, the Bultmannian distinction between the early kerygma and the self-consciousness of Jesus can be substantiated exegetically; (2) that contrary to Bultmann, there is an essential implicit—though assuredly never explicit—continuity between the Christology of the New Testament and the activity of God in Christ; and (3) that contrary to Cullmann (though without reference to Cullmann’s clarification, cf. Scottish Journal of Theology, XV, 1, 1962, 36–43), a philosophy of the relation of functional and ontologic Christological categories can be developed.

Fuller’s procedure is to construct a four-strata pattern of New Testament affirmation, define each stratum in accordance with its ideological milieu, and then submit the Christological statements of the New Testament to critical analysis in an endeavor to assign each to its stratum and provenance. The result is as follows:

Stratum 1—Jesus conceived his earthly mission in purely functional terms. He is the eschatological prophet (à la J. A. T. Robinson’s detection of the confusion in the Gospels between John the Baptist and Jesus) whose task it was to announce, and who would be ultimately vindicated by, the coming Son of Man.

Stratum 2—The earliest Aramaic-speaking Christians of Palestine likewise thought of Jesus in a functional-prophetic manner, though they also identified him with the eschatological Son of Man, as Jesus himself never did.

Stratum 3—Hellenistic Jewish Christians (e.g., Stephen) combined ontic categories with functional, and thus heightened the conception of Jesus’ person during his ministry and added the thought of his present reign as exalted Lord.

Stratum 4—In the Hellenistic Gentile Mission (Paul, deutero-Paulinists, Hebrews, James, Petrine letters, Johannine literature), ontological categories were added, and there developed a pre-existence, incarnational, “divine man” Christology.

In each stratum, according to Fuller, a decided shift in both concept and terminology took place; and there is no express affinity between the self-consciousness of Jesus and the affirmations of later periods. Yet each shift was necessary for the particular context in which it is found, and each must be viewed in its ideological milieu as a valid response to the activity of God in Christ.

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However, the author says, it would be a mistake (“sheer biblicism”) to take any of these expressions as normative—even Jesus’ own self-understanding—for all Christologies are but human responses to the divine encounter and are determined by the intellectual climate in which they arise. What we today must learn from them is that behind the varied affirmations lies implicitly a common faith, and that our Christology must be fitted to the day in which we live.

Now, such a presentation is not new. Nor has Fuller suggested that he is proposing an original synthesis, though some individual discussions reflect creative insights (e.g., on the Gnostic Redeemer Myth). What he has done is to present very ably a semi-popular and synthetic treatment of “New Quest” theology clothed in earnest piety; and in so doing he has both advanced the cause of neo-Bultmannianism and pointed up the issues confronting New Testament scholarship today.

But while Fuller’s craftsmanship, literary ability, and piety are above reproach, his presuppositions and methodology must be called to account. At six points, this reviewer objects to the presentation: (1) in the nominalistic understanding of biblical language; (2) in the separation effected between kerygma and history (geschichte and historie); (3) in the assumption that linguistic distinctions (Aramaic and Greek) reflect profound differences between Hebraic and Hellenistic thought; (4) in exegesis by supposition; (5) in the dating of sources primarily on the basis of theological presuppositions; and (6) in limited interaction with positions other than the author’s own.

Basic to Fuller’s enterprise is the conviction that “Christology is not itself a part of the original revelation or action of God in Christ” but a confessional response of the Church to the encounter of God that must be understood in light of the contemporary milieu (the “God Who Acts but refuses to become verbal” theme of G. E. Wright and Fuller’s earlier treatment). Thus biblical language cannot, it is claimed, be used in an univocal manner; it can be used only analogically. But in that the language of the Bible demonstrates no specifiable content (“faith analysis” never roots itself in the objective, which would be mere historie)—which is a necessity if analogical speech is to be meaningful—the type of reference is best called nominalistic, and not analogical at all. And nominalistic language is a frail foundation for a valid Christian experience and theology.

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Reading for Perspective


History of Evangelism, by Paulus Scharpff (Eerdmans, $5.75). Evangelism in Germany, Great Britain, and America viewed in their historical relationship by a German writer who urges mutual exchange of such knowledge by Christians.

Jesus of Nazareth: Saviour and Lord, edited by Carl F. H. Henry (Eerdmans, $5.95). Sixteen evangelical scholars enter the current Christological debate to assess the failure of Barthian and Bultmannian perspectives, and to present the case for the historical basis of biblical Christology.

Man: The Dwelling Place of God, by A. W. Tozer (Christian Publications, $3). Terse essays by the late Christian and Missionary Alliance editor that provide insight into the pitfalls and victories of the life of faith.

The dichotomies erected between (a) kerygma and history, and (b) the Hebrew mentality and the Greek, while commonly asserted today, are artificial. The first is the product of the meddling—though earnest and well-meaning—of the “in-laws” with the marriage; and the dictum, while slightly out of context, holds true here as well: “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Certainly the evangelists had a primary theological interest. They would not have written without it. But it would be a non sequitur to argue that any historical data in their writing is therefore to be viewed with skepticism. The second dichotomy ignores the uncertainties regarding languages in first-century Palestine, the blending of concepts within a bi- or tri-lingual situation, and the possibility that a word having one meaning for the author could be understood in a slightly different sense by the addressees in a different milieu.

Objectionable also is Fuller’s occasional “exegesis by supposition,” wherein possibilities are presented at an early point only to appear later in the dress of probabilities and certainties. Thus, for example, the treatment of: (1) Peter’s confession “You are the Christ” as a prime example of Satanic temptation, which Jesus refused in the most explicit manner in the words “Get behind me, Satan”; (2) Jesus’ so-called Triumphal Entry, where he was not hailed as the Messiah but simply acclaimed as a pilgrim; and (3) Paul’s reference to purveyors of “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4) as meaning those who proclaimed a “divine man” (God-man), which the Apostle, because of his Jewish background (even though Hellenistic-Jewish), could identify only as a fleshly approach to Christology (cf. 2 Cor. 5:16). In each case, there is a very hesitant initial acceptance of the interpretation and a subsequent building upon the position as if it were fact.

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Then too, while theological content is significant and presuppositions inevitable, must they reign supreme in matters of special introduction? Though the claim is made to the contrary, when the chips are down Fuller reverts to the argument that since it would be impossible for early Aramaic Christianity to have held such a position, the affirmation in question must be ascribed to a different milieu. Having then assigned the matter in question to another context on theological grounds, and having described that particular milieu in such a fashion as to receive the affirmation easily, he can then show how nicely the statement fits the milieu described and how impossible it therefore is for early Christians to have held such a position, since they were not of the milieu described. And the result is claimed a triumph for modern criticism!

Thus the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs—evidently in its entirety—is pre-Qumran, and the Christological hymns of the epistles (especially Phil. 2:6–11) cannot have come from the earliest Palestinian stratum, Lohmeyer’s supposed Aramaisms to the contrary. And so too the work of M. de Jonge on the Testaments, W. F. Albright on the early dating of New Testament literature, W. D. Davies on the Hebraic background of Paul, Miss Thrall’s rejoinder to Miss Hooker’s thesis on the Servant, and R. E. Brown’s rejoinder to Tödt’s thesis on the Son of Man—to mention only a few—can be ignored.

In all, Foundations is an eloquent presentation of “New Quest” theology by an able workman in the profession. It rides the crest of modernity and articulates effectively modern theology’s use of the New Testament. But its basic presuppositions will be considered disastrous by evangelicals, if not by others as well; and its critical methodology ought to be disquieting within the larger world of scholarship. This reviewer cannot help feeling that we are being asked, like Aladdin’s wife of fable, to exchange old lamps for new, only to find in the end that the old anthropomorphisms and phenomenal language really contained the genie after all.

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A Streamlined Kjv

The Bible: Selections from the King James Version, edited by Roland Mushat Frye (Houghton Mifflin Company, Riverside Editions, 1965, 591 pp., $2.75), is reviewed by Calvin D. Linton, dean of arts and sciences, George Washington University, Washington, D. C.

Roland Frye’s anthology of selections from the King James Version of the Bible is unquestionably the best of its kind. Unique among such volumes, it is based on a belief in the essential unity and wholeness of the Bible. “God’s disclosure of himself and of his demands is the great theme of the Bible,” Mr. Frye writes. And the New Testament is both integral part and culmination of the whole, for there “Jesus was not only called the Christ, but also the Son of God and the Word of God made flesh. It was in him that the ultimate characterization of God for men took place. Henceforth, according to this conviction, men may find what God is like in the New Testament’s graphic and dramatic presentation of Jesus Christ.”

Such a view of the Bible enables the editor, despite the reduction of the total bulk to about one-fourth of the original, to preserve a sense of the human and cosmic sweep within its scope and to convey its overwhelming dramatic impact, its “impression of vast sweep and vitality.” To foster this sense of continuity, the selections from the historical books and the prophets are arranged in chronological order.

To his task Frye, now at the University of Pennsylvania, brings high repute as a scholar in sixteenth and seventeenth-century English literature, having in recent years published definitive books on the religious dimensions of Shakespeare’s plays (for several years he was resident professor at the Folger Shakespeare Library) and the works of Milton. It is to be hoped that this fine paperback text will encourage more college students to take a course in the Bible, the book of which no man can afford to be ignorant and still claim even elementary literacy.


On The Teeter-Totter

The Anchor Bible, Volume 12: I Chronicles and Volume 13: II Chronicles, translated with introduction and notes by Jacob M. Myers (Doubleday, 1965, 241 and 269 pp., $6 ea.), are reviewed by Carl E. DeVries, research associate, The Oriental Institute, Chicago House, Luxor, United Arab Republic.

These volumes of the Anchor Bible (12 and 13), along with the author’s volume on Ezra-Nehemiah, form a unit. Meyers considers these four biblical books to be “the work of a Chronicler.” He treats them with apparent fondness and a measure of solicitude. Pointing to the neglect of this section of the Old Testament, he says that previously it was approached “grudgingly, often with misunderstanding, misgiving, or downright hostility.” Currently it is handled more sympathetically, for “archaeological and historical studies have now rendered it more respectable and have shown it to be at times more accurate than some of its parallel sources” (I, XV).

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The commentator himself assumes a teeter-totter position on the merits of the Chronicler as a historiographer. Although he frequently affirms the reliability of Chronicles as a historical document, he characteristically qualifies such statements by so many contrary assertions that the reader only casually acquainted with the technicalities of Old Testament criticism may be at a loss to discover the author’s intent. For example, he states, “Despite the obvious legendary accretions and embellishments, the nucleus of the story may be taken as historical” (II, 147). Myers generally disparages the statistics of Chronicles but occasionally indicates that certain numerical statements are acceptable, or even preferable to those of parallel accounts.

The reader’s reactions to the theological presentation of the commentary will, of course, vary with his own theological convictions. Though Myers’s viewpoint may be described as moderate, this reviewer is uneasy about certain of the concepts credited to the Chronicler or projected by the commentator.

While it is generally agreed that Kings and Chronicles are written with different purposes or emphases, the spelling-out of the differences may vary considerably. It appears that Myers overdoes the opposition of what he labels the “Chronicler” and the “Deuteronomist.” Often his attempts to account for differences between Chronicles and Samuel—Kings are oversimplified, as are his conjectured feelings and attitudes of the Chronicler. The homiletical purpose ascribed to Chronicles may with almost equal validity be found in the other historical books; today’s preachers may find Samuel—Kings even richer in ready-made sermonic material.

In spite of essential criticisms, the reviewer feels that these volumes on Chronicles, like the other Old Testament commentaries of the Anchor Bible, are well and carefully done. One must commend Myers for his scholarly, sympathetic, and at times almost enthusiastic treatment of Chronicles.


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Unraveling The Intricacies

Behind the Dim Unknown, edited by John Clover Monsma (Putnam, 1966, 256 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Albert L. Hedrich, head, Communications Research Branch, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Undoubtedly many evangelical Christians who have not been educated in the natural sciences feel that a basic conflict exists between Christianity and science. I concluded some time ago that there is no basic conflict and that, on the contrary, an open-minded study of God’s creation (this is natural science) will lead the student to the inescapable conclusion that “all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). It is this conviction that twenty-six able scientists express through their contributions to this book. Dr. Monsma has performed a valuable service in bringing the essays together.

The twenty-six chapters deal with practically all branches of natural science, and each is complete in itself. The reader may start at any place and consider the chapters of the book in any order.

The editor tells us in his introduction that the book “deals with the greatness of God as evidenced by the problems that scientists encounter in their study of nature” and “seeks to explain in laymen’s language how such problems constitute a testimony of Divine greatness …” (page 14). The first has been done, and the book’s testimony is powerful; but most laymen will not see it. They are more likely to be impressed with the extraordinary inroads man has made into the mysteries of God’s creation, since, without the scientist’s background, the problems are hard to appreciate. The effort (by the editor, I assume) to define the more difficult scientific terms is of practically no help; in fact, there are at least two gross errors, in the definition of sublimation on page 176 and that of integral on page 196.

Ministers will find the book to be a valuable source of illustrations. It will also serve as a powerful testimony to the young Christian contemplating a scientific career, and pastors and youth counselors should recommend it. Dr. F. H. Giles, Jr., in his chapter on “The Answer to Astronomy’s Final Enigma,” states it this way: “It is a rewarding challenge to be working to unravel the intricacies of the universe. It is a fascinating experience to be attempting to learn more of the Person and providence of God. It is an exciting adventure to be doing both.”


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Pacesetting Psychologizers?

The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud, by Philip Rieff (Harper & Row, 1966, 274 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Orville S. Walters, director of health services and professor of psychiatry, University of Illinois, Urbana.

The changing moral configuration of modern culture is the theme of this second volume from a sociologist who has focused upon Freud and his influence in our time. In his scrutiny of the psycho-historical process, Rieff concludes that the spiritual emphasis of the nineteenth century has been supplanted by the psychological, as contemporary concern shifts from the common good to the individual self. The psychologizers, he believes, are fully established as the pacesetters of cultural change, and psychotherapists are like to be the secular spiritual guides of the future. Where religious man was born to be saved, today’s psychological man is born to be pleased.

The spiritualizers, Rieff concludes, are trying to maintain contact with constituencies that are already deconverted in all but name. The prevailing rage is to be free of the morality inherited from an authoritarian, coercive “church civilization.” If a given course of conduct enhances one’s sense of well-being, it is considered therapeutically useful and therefore desirable, even though it may have been looked upon as immoral in an older period. The emerging culture brings release from the moral demands that have been asserted as truth under creedally authoritative institutions. We are in a cultural revolution dedicated to the greater amplitude and richness of living. The system of moral demand has lost its capacity to produce obedience, faith, or guilt, Rieff believes, and the emancipation of Western man from a sense of sin may be in sight.

Psychoanalysis has discovered “no hierarchy of value inscribed upon the universe,” hence practices and teaches a “fluidity of commitment” to soften the demands of life upon oneself (p. 51). Analysis reserves the right “even to disobey the law insofar as it originates outside the individual, in the name of a gospel of freer impulse … of a durable sense of well-being” (pp. 31, 40). Therapy emphasizes learning the importance of the present and unlearning the existence of the ultimate or the divine. Clarity about oneself supersedes devotion to an ideal as the model of right conduct.

Psychotherapists are struggling to discover a proper attitude toward the religious systems from which modern man has been deconverted. However, Rieff believes that all attempts to connect the doctrines of psychotherapy with the old faiths are patently misconceived; preaching is a dead art. The psychoanalytic and the religious engage in wordy torrents of good will, “making hash of two inherently antagonistic legacies” (p. 93).

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Following an examination of Freud’s interest in cultural change and the influence of his thought upon it, Rieff writes “In Defense of the Analytic Attitude,” a chapter that is also critical of the narrowness, the false empiricism, and the internal dissension prevailing in psychoanalysis. He then turns to three “successor-critics” of Freud—Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, and D. H. Lawrence—searching their writings for theory and program relating to cultural change. He finds Jung’s contributions tendentious and innocent of social responsibility. A similarly assiduous examination of Reich and Lawrence yields results that seem hardly to justify the effort.

Laced with the jargon of sociology, and often redundant, this book lacks the readability and the aptness of Freud: The Mind of the Moralist. Rieff misperceives “ascetic” Christianity as predominantly restrictive, unconcerned with meaning, and ultimately pathogenic. The sociologist seems to be more able to maintain the neutrality attributed to psychoanalysis than are the analysts. After all, withholding commitment or maintaining its “fluidity” proves to be only another declaration of allegiance.


Book Briefs

Forerunners of the Reformation: The Shape of Late Medieval Thought, by Heiko Augustinus Oberman (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, 333 pp., $7.95). A scholarly presentation of late medieval Christian writings to show the continuity between the Middle Ages and the Reformation and dispel the notion that Reformation doctrines were merely heretical innovations.

New Directions in Anglican Theology: A Survey from Temple to Robinson, by Robert J. Page (Seabury, 1965, 208 pp., $4.95). A somewhat prosaic discussion of some current aspects of Anglican thought. The themes covered include biblical criticism and theology, the contemporary drive for liturgical renewal, the relation of Anglicanism to the ecumenical movement, and the so-called new theology and new morality.

Adam’s Haunted Sons, by Sister Laurentia Digges, C. S. J. (Macmillan, 1966, 302 pp., $5.95). Stirring sketches of Old Testament men haunted by visions of God and destiny, beautifully written by a Catholic sister.

From the Mountain to the Cross, by Roy F. Osborne (Biblical Research Press, 1966, 198 pp., $3.50). Sermons sound in scriptural content, pedestrian in style.

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Yes to Mission, by Douglas Webster (Seabury, 1966, 127 pp., $2.50). A British professor of missions sanely reassesses the Christian mission and argues that Africa and Asia still need the Western missionary.

The Children’s Moment: A Year of Story Sermons for Boys and Girls, by Julius Fischbach (Judson, 1966, 128 pp., $2.95). Children’s story sermons with catchy titles like those found on marquees: “Singing in the Rain” and “Who’s Afraid?” (of Virginia Woolf?—Ed.).

Man’s Place in Nature: The Human Zoological Group, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Harper & Row, 1966, 124 pp., $3.50). The well-known priest-paleontologist advances the mystical philosophy that “nothing apparently can prevent man—the species—from growing still greater, so long as he preserves in his heart the passion for growth.”

Pulpit in the Shadows, by Freddie Gage, with Stan Redding (Prentice-Hall, 1966, 182 pp., $3.95). The true story of a young minister who “before the bar of heaven … is the ‘mouthpiece’ for the hustler, the prostitute, the dope fiend, the killer, the alcoholic, the scuffler, the restless, and the troubled”; told with “gritty realism.”

The Victorian Church, Part I: 1829–1860, by Owen Chadwick (Oxford, 1966, 606 pp., $12.50). A hefty history of the ebb and flow of the Church of England, 1829–1860.

Money Management for Ministers, by Manfred Holck, Jr. (Augsburg, 1966, 150 pp., $4.75). For the minister who needs help in balancing his personal budget.

The Spirit of a Sound Mind, by John R. Cobb (Zondervan, 1966, 128 pp., $2.50). A popular blend of Scripture, anecdotes, and psychological insights to guide one to “joyful spiritual adjustment.”

The Minor Prophets, by Jack P. Lewis (Baker, 1966, 103 pp., $1.95). Succinct guide for beginning students of the oft-neglected twelve.

Die Verkündigung Jesu Christi: Grundlagen und Aufgabe, by Friedrich Gogarten (J. C. B. Mohr, 1965, 568 pp., DM 34.-).


Christianity and Scholarship, by W. Stanford Reid (Craig, 1966, 110 pp., $1.50). Convinced that the Christian faith provides a more secure foundation for science than humanistic approaches, Reid appeals to Christian scholars to relate their studies to the Word of God. Recommended.

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Historical Approach, by Cecil Roth (Norton, 1965, 99 pp., $1.25). Roth argues that the literature of the Scrolls is not that of a pre-Christian sect but that of extremist zealots in the revolt against Rome, A.D. 66–73.

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Christianity in a Mechanistic Universe and other Essays, a symposium edited by Donald M. MacKay (Inter-Varsity, 1966, 125 pp., $1.25). Essays stressing that scientific studies should be rooted in the biblical theistic view of the universe.

Peace or Peaceful Coexistence?, by Richard V. Allen (American Bar Association, 1966, 233 pp., $1). An American Bar Association study warns that the policy of “peaceful coexistence” is a deceptive strategy in the Communist offensive.

The Christian in Industrial Society, by F. H. R. Catherwood (Inter-Varsity, 1966, 130 pp., $1.25). A plea that evangelical emphasis on personal regeneration be balanced by collective Christian impact on industrial society.

The Maréchale, by James Strachan (Bethany Fellowship, 1966, 221 pp., $1.95). A glowing literary portrait of the life and ministry of Catherine Booth, eldest daughter of the founder of the Salvation Army.

Church Plays and How to Stage Them, by Albert Johnson (United Church Press, 1966, 174 pp., $3). A rationale for drama as Christian witness; includes Reformation, nativity, and morality plays.

Suppressed Books: A History of the Conception of Literary Obscenity, by Alec Craig (World, 1966, 287 pp., $1.65). A chaperoned tour of literary obscenity problems from antiquity to Lolita.

Why Scientists Accept Evolution, by Robert T. Clark and James D. Bales (Baker, 1966, 113 pp., $1.50). The writers show the anti-supernatural biases of leading exponents of evolution and request a reopening of the question.

The Work of the Usher, by Alvin D. Johnson (Judson, 1966, 64 pp., $1). Tells the “doorkeeper in the house of the Lord” how to put his best foot forward.

A Christian’s Guide to the New Testament, by Alan Cole (Moody, 1966, 96 pp., $.95). Elementary but enlightening introduction for those beginning to study the New Testament.

Visions of Heaven and Hell, by John Bunyan (Reiner, 1966, 63 pp., $.75). Visions from the past needed for today.

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