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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Ist Corinthians 8:6

 Richard Bauckham[1] argues that Paul's statements in 1 Cor. 8:6 are a development of the Shema to include Jesus in the "divine identity" and as an agent in the Creation of God. The Shema is found in Deut. 6:4-5
Deut. 6:4 καὶ ταῦτα τὰ δικαιώματα καὶ τὰ κρίματα ὅσα ἐνετείλατο κύριος τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν  5 καὶ ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς δυνάμεώς σου
Deut. 6:4 And these are the statutes and the judgments, which the Lord commanded to the sons of Israel in the wilderness as they were coming out from the land of Egypt. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. 5 And you shall love the Lord your God with the whole of your mind and with the whole of your soul and with the whole of your power.
 — NETS tr. Melvin K. H. Peters
 1Cor. 8:5 καὶ γὰρ εἴπερ εἰσὶν λεγόμενοι θεοὶ εἴτε ἐν οὐρανῷ εἴτε ἐπὶ γῆς, ὥσπερ εἰσὶν θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοί,  6 ἀλλ᾿ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς δι᾿ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι᾿ αὐτοῦ.
The critical portion for Paul's development is Deut: 6:4c ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν. Paul first gives the pagan world view in 1Cor. 8:5, many gods and many lords and sets that in contrast  with "our view of things" ἀλλ᾿ ἡμῖν including himself with the Corinthian believers where there is One God The Father the creator/source of all things and One Lord Jesus Christ [the agent in creation] through whom are all things, and we through Him. This is not a carbon copy of Bauckham's argument. Paul adopts two terms from the Shema  θεὸς and κύριος which have same referent in Deut. 6:4 and supplies a new referent for κύριος, Jesus Christ and by adding the qualifiers from whom ἐξ οὗ and through whom  δι᾿ οὗ are all things, Paul combines the two main pillars of Paul's Jewish Monotheism, the oneness of God and the creator creature distinction, where all things created stand in contrast to the one Creator.

Of the Jewish ways of characterizing the divine uniqueness, the most unequivocal was by reference to creation. In the uniquely divine role of creating all things, it was, for Jewish monotheism, unthinkable that any being other than God could even assist God (Is 44:24, 4 Ezra 3:4, Josephus, C. Ap. 2.129) But, to Paul’s unparalleled inclusion of Jesus in the Shema, he adds the equally unparalleled inclusion of Jesus in the creative activity of God.

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel page 102
Bauckham argues that the absolute Creator creature distinction was a nonnegotiable in Paul's Jewish framework. The inclusion of Jesus in Paul's reformulation of Shema combined with Jesus agency in creation brought Jesus into the divine identity and according to Bauckham, this was accomplished without compromising monotheism.         

[1] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel. 


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