Incarnation Derives From the Hellenistic World

In his great study of pre-existence christology, Born Before All Time?, my Tübingen colleague Karl-Josef Kuschel has been able to show convincingly that the Pauline statements about the sending of the Son of God do not presuppose any pre-existence of Christ as a heavenly being, understood in mythological terms, but must similarly be seen against a Jewish background, namely in the context of the prophetic tradition. As he points out: ‘The metaphor of “sending” (borrowed from the prophetic tradition) expresses the conviction that the person and work of Jesus do not originate within history but are completely the result of God’s initiative.’²² ‘Paul’s confessions are about the origin, derivation and presence of Christ, from God and in God, but not about a temporally isolated “existence” before the creation of the world...”²³

The same is to be said of the Gospel of John. In this late, fourth Gospel, too, God and his emissary are clearly distinguished: ‘This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ John 17:3). Or, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ John 20:17). No, this Gospel too does not develop any speculative metaphysical christology — torn from its Jewish roots — but presents a christology which is still completely bound up with the world of Jewish Christianity, which is concerned with mission and revelation...

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Author: Hans Kung

Keywords: Incarnate, Incarnated, Incarnation, Word became flesh, Word incarnate, God incarnate, God in the flesh, Trinity, Triunity, Three in one, God the Son, Preexistence, Pre-existence, Christ's preexistence, Christ's pre-existence, Christ preexisted, Christ pre-existed, Jesus preexisted, Jesus' preexistence, Jesus' pre-existence, Jesus pre-existed, Preexistence of Jesus, Preexist, Pre exist, Jesus was the Word, The Word was Jesus, Word was God, Messiah, Deity of Christ, Deity of Jesus, Jesus's preexistence, Jesus preexisted before he was born, Spirit of Messiah, Jewish preexistence, Jewish concept of preexistence, Jewish concept of pre-existence, Jewish understanding of pre-existence, Jewish understanding of preexistence, Jewish understanding of preexistence of Messiah, Messiah's preexistence, Messiah preexisted, Messiah pre-existed, Messiah's pre-existence, logos

Bible reference(s): John 1:1-2, John 1:14, John 3:13, Joh 3:17, Joh 3:31, Joh 3:34, Joh 4:34, Joh 5:23-24, Joh 5:36-37, Joh 6:29, John 6:33, John 6:38, Joh 6:40-42, Joh 6:51, John 6:57-58, Joh 7:16, Joh 7:28, Joh 7:33, Joh 8:16, Joh 8:18, Joh 8:29, Joh 8:42, John 8:58, Joh 10:36, Joh 11:42, Joh 12:44, Joh 12:49, Joh 13:20, Joh 14:24, Joh 16:5, Joh 17:3, John 17:5, Joh 17:18, John 17:23-25, Joh 20:21

Source: Credo: The Apostles’ Creed Explained for Today, (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1992), pp. 59-61.

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