Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tom Wright and Jesus' self-understanding

An old historical question, that most educated people would have a stab at answering, is why the Roman Empire after centuries of domination fell to a bunch of barbarians. It seems to me that people have always sought to answer that question by looking at how the Roman Empire failed from within. I'm sure that this is not true in academic circles but it is certainly true in how I have thought about the question; not that I have thought about it that much. One day though I read an article which laid the blame at the doors of stronger barbarians, instead of weaker Romans and I kicked myself. It amazes me how you can miss the obvious by looking only down the paths you have looked down before.

You may be wondering what I am talking about but not long ago I had a similar epiphany moment hearing a question to Tom Wright following a lecture a Regent College (I think it was in his Jesus and the Victory of God series). Tom Wright was on one of his favourite topics: Jesus' opinion of who he was and what he was here to do. Tom Wright believes that Jesus probably did not think of himself to be the second person of the Trinity, though he did think he was the Messiah. Not because he was not, but simply because he did not know everything while on earth (cf. Matthew 24:36). Following the lecture in which the birth narratives were not discussed, the questioner asked what effect the virginal conception, presumably mentioned to Jesus by his mother, had on Jesus' self-understanding. Tom Wright instead answered the question he wished he had been asked, affirming the rationality of belief in the virgin birth. Such a question is of course not happening in the mainstream academic discourse and so Tom Wright had little to say, despite strongly believing in its factuality.

Moral 1: Sometimes academic biblical studies can be as much a hindrance as a help.

Moral 2: It is hard to do good theology with one arm of your faith tied behind your back.


Post a Comment

<< Home