Monday, March 30, 2015

March Monday

Another wonderful weekend, with Tass and family here. Why does a house full of noisy girls make PapaDad so happy, I must be nuts. But no, I am nuts, about them. The downer hits as they start packing up after Sunday lunch, takes its nosedive as they drive off, stirring memories of leaving Tassa at college so far away. That leaving turned upside down.

If there’s an up side, it’s Jeremy leaving tea in the brown betty, best tea imaginable, hot or cold. Hot with a touch of milk. Cold just ice, never sugar. A large glass last evening with a bowl of cold green peas and lima beans, teaspoon of mayo stirred in, supper outside on the porch looking out over my Bay. Clear and cold, light corduroy jacket. By then the armada of Sunday afternoon sailboats retired. 

Now Monday in Holy Week, those lights way out on the dark Bay must be a shrimpboat. Yesterday in Sunday School we discussed the Christ Hymn in Philippians 2, our Second Reading for Palm Sunday, Year B. The hymn's been misunderstood and misused by the Xn Church all these centuries, as a high christology assertion of the divinity of Jesus. It’s only such if taken out of context. 

With six other letters, Philippians is uncontested as a genuine letter of Paul, but scholars aren’t sure whether Paul wrote the hymn at 2:5-11, or maybe borrowed it to make his point in the context calling the Philippians to be humble as Christ was humble. That’s what the verses are about, part of his call to humility, that’s all; but theologically the Church has made it more and other. If Paul wrote the hymn, the christology is not meant to be high, because Paul was a thoroughgoing monotheist Jew for whom the notion of a divine human being would not surprise the Greek world around him but would blaspheme the God of the Shema. Even if Paul did not compose the hymn the christology is still not meant to be high, because Philippians was written maybe about 50 CE, perhaps half a century before the Holy Spirit had inspired Xn theology to that christological height asserted in the Gospel according to John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So I would say that anyone who insists the hymn is meant to assert the divinity of Christ must consider it a later addition to Philippians, and I’ve never read a scholar who suggested that; it's too perfect in the letter, beautifies and perfects the entire epistle. 

Theologically, some scholars say the hymn reflects Christian adoption of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah; some say it contrasts Christ the Second Adam (as Paul writes) with the First Adam of Genesis. Maybe both.

At any event, the hymn as Paul uses it was not meant to assert the divinity of Christ. Mind, anyone lurking to bring heresy charges against me, I am not teaching that Christ is/was not divine, the Nicene Fathers settled that for the Xn Church some seventeen hundred years ago; I am saying that Paul did not teach it. At least, not here in Philippians.

Of his letter to Philippians however, scholars do show persuasively that the letter as we have it is not a unity but three -- a thank you note for a kind, helpful and much appreciated gift of money brought by Epaphroditus; a warm letter from prison (perhaps in Rome but not sure), that includes not only the Christ Hymn but Paul's call to rejoice in Christ; and a sharp tirade warning against those who teach that Gentiles coming to Christ must first be circumcised into Judaism.

Monday, a walking day. Come August, I may look back appreciatively on this extra cool spring that we are having. 

Kona and a stuffed egg.


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