Monday, 8 September 2008

Kähler on the "real" Jesus

As an illustration of how a theological reading of the Old Testament, guided by the Spirit, can be more profound than a purely historical-critical one, I contrasted Gunkel and Bonhoeffer on Genesis in my post The Spirit, Gunkel, and Bonhoeffer. In light of a recent interesting dialogue on the theological role of "canon" in relation to historical-criticism for the New Testament (in the comments of my last two posts here and then here), I offer another example of someone who B.S. Childs (the true author of this blog, for whom I am only a "vehicle";) ) considered to be a scholar able to "penetrate" scripture to "another dimension of reality," Martin Kähler (who has made his way into an ecumenical Heiligenlexicon!):

The reason we commune with the Jesus of our Gospels is because it is through them that we learn to know that same Jesus whom, with the eyes of faith and in our prayers, we meet at the right hand of God, ... because he is God's revelation to us. ... The risen Lord is not the historical Jesus behind the Gospels, but the Christ of the apostolic preaching, of the whole New Testament. ... The real Christ ... is the Christ who is preached. The Christ who is preached, however, is precisely the Christ of faith. He is the Jesus whom the eyes of faith behold at every step he takes and through every syllable he utters - ... our risen, living Lord. [*]
In case the phrase "Christ of faith" gets your Bultmann-alarm ringing, read the last three words closely and the title of the book. The key issue for a canonical approach is not a distaste for history or the need for the security of a self-referential textual universe, but rather the nature of history itself, the nature of biblical referentiality, and the function of the church within the economy of God.

For New Testament types with an interest in all this, read Paul Minear.

[*] M. Kähler, The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic, Biblical Christ (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964), 60-61, 65-66. Cited in Childs, "Interpreting the Bible Amid Cultural Change," Theology Today 54 (1997), 200-211; here, 205-206.


slaveofone said...

"The real Christ ... is the Christ who is preached. The Christ who is preached, however, is precisely the Christ of faith."

This seems very naive... As if there have not been and are not rampant and wild differences at every corner between the "real Christ" (whatever one means by that) and EITHER the one preached in many churches and places or the one of faith in many churches and places.

Further, the idea of "another dimension of reality" seems to, just like this quote, create and sustain an artificial division between faith and history... as if the risen Lord can't also be the historical Lord. If there IS a difference between the Christ of faith and the Christ of history, then I suggest faith be conformed to history--for faith itself sets the limits which define it and those limits are history and reason and this-worldly event.

Phil Sumpter said...

As I said in the post, check out the title of the book: The "historic, biblical Christ." It's not a matter of either-or but both-and. As for "another dimension of reality," that dimension intersects ours. It's like what Wright means when he talks about a bit of the future coming into the present. Or what we mean when we talk of the divine and human natures of Christ. Reality seems to consist of a heaven and an earth and the key is the interplay or intersection between the two. In the Bible it's dialectical.