Monday, April 20, 2009

The Divinity of Jesus

Apparently, christological controversies are re-surfacing in light of Eastertide. I recently stumbled upon a fascinating reflection by Joel Monka in response to another post re: 'left' vs. 'right' interpretations of Jesus' normative Trinitarian two natures in one person status (Chalcedon). What a tangled world wide web indeed!

I want to briefly respond to Joel's sentiment that 'wholly God and wholly human is one too many wholly's for me.' Despite the many flaws in and reductionist logic of nineteenth century hunts for the historical Jesus, contemporary scholarship has reached a loose consensus that the New Testament figure likely existed in concrete, fleshy, human form. Of course, the scriptural inscription of this Nazarene has catapulted his identity into the world of mythology. And it is precisely this narrative role that helps me navigate questions of divinity. In Poetic Justice, Martha Nussbaum identifies in stories an invitation to solidarity that carries with it ethical and transformative implications:

Literary works typically invite their readers to put themselves in the place of people of many different kinds and to take on their experiences. In their very mode of address to their imagined reader, they convey the sense that there are links of possibility...between the characters and the reader. (5)

So too, I would argue, with the literary-poetic accounts of Jesus. Christian witness to the divinity of Christ occurs not on the logical plane of reason or on the historical plane of empirical fact, but on the affective plane of encounter. To characterize Jesus as divine, I believe, is to speak of an unshakeable sense of direct encounter with God in the present.

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