The Starting Point of Dogmatic Christology: Ingolf Dalferth’s “Crucified and Resurrected”

crucified and resurrectedIngolf Dalferth’s Crucified and Resurrected strikes me as, at heart, a densely-argued exploration of how to properly orient dogmatic Christology. Originally published as Der auferweckte Gekreuzigte in the early 1990’s, Baker Academic has now opened up Dalferth’s work to the English-speaking world through the careful translating efforts of Jo Bennett.

Dalferth tells readers that “dogmatics describes the inner rationality of the Christian way of life” (p.xxi). Thus, one possible way to consider Crucified and Resurrected is as an examination of the inner rationality of how Christians think through God’s saving activity in Jesus Christ. In regards to this subject, though, where should one start?

This brings us to Dalferth’s central argument. He claims that:

The Christian faith confesses the resurrection of Jesus Christ as an eschatological saving event, simply because it proves that not even death prevents God from maintaining living fellowship with those with whom he wants to be together: it demonstrates unequivocally and irrevocably the life-giving power of God’s desire for fellowship and his love for his creation. (p.28)

The more controversial part of his thesis lies in his insistence that it is the confession of Jesus as crucified and resurrected—and not the incarnation—that must form the primary starting point of Christology. This assertion takes place in the context of a dialogue he engages in with progressive scholars on the one hand, and more conservative scholarship on the other. Some more progressive scholars see the doctrine of the incarnation as a later, superfluous addition to Christianity while most more conservative scholars insist on the primacy of incarnational thinking as the christological starting point. Dalferth explains his perspective: Continue reading

A Review of Mark McEntire’s “A Chorus of Prophetic Voices”

a chorus of prophetic voices

Mark McEntire, who teaches at Belmont University (and blogs here), is the author of A Chorus of Prophetic Voices, a wide-ranging and interesting introduction to the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible. In the first pages of the book, he gives a brief history of how scholarship has approached these prophetic texts over the last century in order to give some context for where his work fits into the conversation.

The historical-critical method, masterfully represented by figures like Gerhard von Rad, held sway for much of the 20th century and focused on recovering the historical voices of the prophets, embedding them in historical contexts tied to specific periods of Israel’s ancient history. McEntire finds that:

The great accomplishment of these efforts was the grounding of the Israelite prophets in the earthly world of politics, economics, war, and suffering. Materializing the prophets was an effective antidote to the church’s long-held tendency to spiritualize the words of the prophets and read them as a disparate collection of esoteric predictions of the distant future. (p.1)

However, he also points out that this approach had shortcomings, including the undermining of the unity of larger prophetic works into smaller, isolated pieces as part of efforts to devise hypothetical reconstructions for how these books were compiled into their canonical forms.

The historical approach has recently given way to more literary studies of the prophets, which engage with “the final forms of the scrolls as literary works, recognizing that the last stage of their production is the one most responsible for how we view the whole” and emphasize “the scrolls as unified works of literature that constructed imaginative worlds of their own” (pp. 3,6). An important event that helped shift studies in this direction was the publication in 1978 of Walter Brueggemann’s book The Prophetic ImaginationMcEntire tells readers that Brueggemann’s work: Continue reading