Friday, 6 November 2015
The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission and Reception of Faith,
Andrew F. Walls, T&T Clark, 2002, page 80
As the gospel spread into the Greek speaking and thinking world, transposition took place. Walls suggests that "the transposition was enriching without being distorting". Certainly it did require a lot of careful thinking to express the gospel in ways that a non-Jewish world could understand to which it could and relate. Walls again:
Christian theology moved on to a new plane when Greek questions were asked about Christ and received Greek answers, using the Greek Scriptures. It was a risky, often agonising business, but it led the church to rich discoveries about Christ that could never have been made using only Jewish categories such as 'Messiah'.
There was a translation of ideas and concepts taking place as "Yeshua is Lord of all" came face-to-face with "Caesar is lord of all". Walls continues:
Translation did not negate the tradition, but enhanced it. The use of new materials of language and thought, and the related styles and conventions of debate, led to new discoveries about Christ that could not have been made using only the Jewish categories of messiahship. They were not incompatible with those categories. Looking back, all the signals could be seen there in the Scriptures; but only the Greek questions and consequent processes of thought made them explicit. Nor was it necessary to abandon the old Jewish categories: messiahship continues to mean all it ever did.
Am I alone in sensing a certain attitude here in the use of the word 'old'at this point? Was is necessary? And "all it ever did" seems to suggest a limit or even inadequacy in what came before. Hmmmm ... but let's let Walls finish his paragraph:
Crossing a cultural frontier led to a creative movement in theology by which we discovered Christ was the eternally begotten Son; but it did not require the old theology to be thrown away, for the eternally begotten Son was also the Messiah of Israel.
Methink that the line between creative theology and syncretism is very thin in places. We'll need to see where Walls goes next ...