Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

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rgprice
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Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

This passage certainly seems like it is the origin story of Jesus.

Here is my reading of it:
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Yahweh, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be taken advantage of, 7 but set aside his divine rights by taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. 9 For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Yehoshu'a every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Yehoshu'a is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Interestingly, this doesn't put emphasis on Jesus being the son of God. I'm not sure if the ending is a later interpolation. Regardless, even with it, the status of Jesus as the "son" doesn't get much attention.

Anyway, what this seems to be emphasizing is that name of Jesus is a humbling name. I've replaced the first Jesus in the passage with Yahweh to signify the initial divine status sates in the text. We have a God who is humbling himself, and when he has humbled himself, his father gives him an earthly name. Thus, the Lord is humble, he is not an arrogant God.

Obviously it doesn't say that Yahweh received the name Yehoshu'a. It says that "Christ Jesus" (v5) was given the name Jesus (v10). But this seems very much like a story in which the Lord Yahweh receives the "earthly" version of his name because he has brought himself down to the status of earthly men.

Am I playing too many games with the text?
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ben C. Smith »

rgprice wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:39 pmAnyway, what this seems to be emphasizing is that name of Jesus is a humbling name.
I do not understand this. Jesus is the name God gifts him (ἐχαρίσατο) upon being exalted. That seems like the very opposite of humbling. Jesus is the name of highest honor in this passage.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by GakuseiDon »

rgprice wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:39 pm This passage certainly seems like it is the origin story of Jesus.
Yes, I agree. The humbling, obedience to the point of death, are reasons for God to exalt Christ:

Phil 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. 9 For this reason also God highly exalted Him

Everything hinges on the death of Jesus and it's significance. Add into this Rom 1:

[Christ Jesus. . .] who came from the seed of David according to the flesh, who was appointed Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead

Also Rom 5:

15 But not as the offence, so also [is] the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, [which is] by one man [anthropos], Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Also 1 Cor 15:

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man [came] death, by man [anthropos] [came] also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Nothing to do with teachings, miracles or anything like that. Just an obedient life, like a servant, to demonstrate his worthiness to be resurrected from the death.
rgprice wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:39 pmInterestingly, this doesn't put emphasis on Jesus being the son of God. I'm not sure if the ending is a later interpolation. Regardless, even with it, the status of Jesus as the "son" doesn't get much attention.
In early Christianity, it seems "sons of God" was something that was assigned to those who followed the spirit of God. The sons are "blameless and harmless", "obedient" and "made perfect" through obeying God:

Phl 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons [teknon] of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Jhn 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [teknon] of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons [yhios] of God [huios].
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the sons [teknon] of God:
17 And if sons [teknon], then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together

Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons [yhios] God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son [yhios] into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son [huios], today have I begotten thee... 8 Though he were a Son [huios], yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Those ideas tie into what we see expressed in Phil 2 and Rom 1.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by hakeem »

GakuseiDon wrote: Nothing to do with teachings, miracles or anything like that. Just an obedient life, like a servant, to demonstrate his worthiness to be resurrected from the death.
Epistles do not typically contain the life story of NT Jesus. There are no miracles in all the Epistles including James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and even the Apocalypse of John.

There are probably hundreds of Epistles or letters written after the Gospels and they will hardly mention miracles of their resurrected Lord and Savior.
GakuseiDon wrote:In early Christianity, it seems "sons of God" was something that was assigned to those who followed the spirit of God. The sons are "blameless and harmless", "obedient" and "made perfect" through obeying God
The Pauline writers claimed their Jesus was God's own son who was raised from the dead so it makes little sense in isolating a few verses to invent some other interpretation of the teachings in the Epistles.

GakuseiDon wrote:Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son [huios], today have I begotten thee... 8 Though he were a Son [huios], yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;[/box]

Those ideas tie into what we see expressed in Phil 2 and Rom 1.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews also admits his Jesus was begotten of God.
Aleph One
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Aleph One »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:55 pm
rgprice wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:39 pmAnyway, what this seems to be emphasizing is that name of Jesus is a humbling name.
I do not understand this. Jesus is the name God gifts him (ἐχαρίσατο) upon being exalted. That seems like the very opposite of humbling. Jesus is the name of highest honor in this passage.
This does read as kind of hilarious (and extremely Pauline) that Jesus was SO humble he was the GREATEST! Paul seems to do a lot of this sort of thing when he emphasizes how he's the best apostle because he's "the most meek," "the most flawed," "the most unimportant," etc. :notworthy:
rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:55 pm
rgprice wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 2:39 pmAnyway, what this seems to be emphasizing is that name of Jesus is a humbling name.
I do not understand this. Jesus is the name God gifts him (ἐχαρίσατο) upon being exalted. That seems like the very opposite of humbling. Jesus is the name of highest honor in this passage.
Agreed, and what Aleph said. It is contradictory. But look at Christian lore: blessed are the poor, etc. Paul of course several times talks about how his weaknesses are his blessings, etc.

The story involves a god giving up his godly status, and thus becoming exalted. That in an of itself is a contradiction.

It's almost like a story about the son of an American billionaire who gives up all of his possessions, goes across the border to Mexico, becomes a farm laborer, and then crosses back over the boarder illegally to re-enter America and become an American again, after which he builds himself back up to become an independent billionaire. It's like then it shows he earned it.

But, as regards the name, what are we to make of the fact that "Jesus" was a common name given to men? It is surely not as exalted as YHWH. "Jesus" is only exalted because it contains the name YHWH. The way the story is currently rendered it is confusing because Paul doesn't tell us his name prior to obtaining the name Jesus! The story of course implies that his name was not originally Jesus. What was it before? He was a God, we are told. He had to have the name of a God. The only name it could be is YHWH. Following Barker, the story implies of course two Gods, conceptually traced back to El Elyon (God) and Yahweh (existing in the form of God).

Or, or, was He, following "John",... the Logos. Is this an origin story for the incarnation of the Logos? Maybe then He was without name!

Now that I read it that way, perhaps it makes even more sense.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in the Word, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be taken advantage of, 7 but set aside his divine rights by taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. 9 For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Joshua every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Joshua Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Compare:
John 1:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Now maybe this better satisfies your objection, because instead of taking a name that downgrades from YHWH to Yehoshu'a, the Logos is obtaining a name from being unnamed!
Last edited by rgprice on Thu Mar 11, 2021 4:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

Damn, this is so obvious now. It all comes from Philo.

"9 For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name"

Philo: "but Joshua means "the salvation of the Lord," being the name of the most excellent possible character;"

But this leaves the questions:
1) Philo never says the Logos was crucified.
2) Paul never talked about Philo or the Word.
3) Philo never called the Logos the son of God (that I know of).
4) Philo equated Lord and God, he didn't call the Logos the Lord.

Perhaps Paul did not directly study Philo, he was building on teachings that were derived from Philo by others?
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by lsayre »

And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labor earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by lsayre »

Obedience unto the point of death does not necessarily mean obedience that actually resulted in death. It potentially seems to fall just short of that end.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ben C. Smith »

rgprice wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:48 amBut, as regards the name, what are we to make of the fact that "Jesus" was a common name given to men? It is surely not as exalted as YHWH. "Jesus" is only exalted because it contains the name YHWH.
Lots of Hebrew names contained the name Yahweh in the same manner. I do not think that anyone heard the name of Jesus/Joshua and then thought, "Wow, this name has Yahweh written right in it. This name must be special!" It worked the other way around: the name of Jesus/Joshua was a given, and it had to be explained in retrospect.

The traditional explanation works for this particular aspect: Jesus existed as Jew bearing a pretty common male name, and that name was subject to theological interpretations after the fact. I myself, however, have become increasingly convinced that another explanation works, as well, namely that speculations were already swirling around a Joshua figure called the Messiah ben Joseph (Joshua being the most illustrious heir of Joseph through Ephraim). The name of Joshua was a given because that was the purported name of this Messiah figure who had been announced as already having arrived and been slain. Not all people who believed in the Messiah ben Joseph thought that he would be slain; I doubt Theudas and the Egyptian did, for example, and, while some of the rabbinic traditions about this Messiah have him being slain outside of Jerusalem, others have him triumphing in battle.

Speculation about the name of Joshua/Jesus was helped along by its easy identification with the figure in whom the name of Yahweh resided, as per Exodus 23.21.

My reading of the trajectory of this name is as follows. It was never subject to what I think was the Hasmonean emphasis on David and Solomon as the rightful rulers of the land, and therefore was by no means deemed taboo as a male name, which is why it remained popular. And the idea of the Messiah ben Joseph was not nearly as prevalent among the ruling classes as that of the Messiah ben David. But men from other social classes liked this figure and tried either to prove that they themselves were this Messiah or to hasten his arrival, since he was supposed to arrive before the son of David would. Christianity was born at least partly from this matrix.

Once the name of Joshua/Jesus was associated with Christianity, Jewish exegetes no longer called the Messiah ben Joseph by the name of Joshua, so as not to fuel Christian delusions (from their point of view). The association of the name of Joshua with this Messiah (outside of Christian circles) lingers on in a somewhat obscure fashion, similar to how the original arrangement of El and Yahweh lingers on in certain dark corners of the extant texts.
The way the story is currently rendered it is confusing because Paul doesn't tell us his name prior to obtaining the name Jesus! The story of course implies that his name was not originally Jesus.
Agreed.
He was a God, we are told. He had to have the name of a God. The only name it could be is YHWH. Following Barker, the story implies of course two Gods, conceptually traced back to El Elyon (God) and Yahweh (existing in the form of God).
Can you expound on what you mean when you say that we are told he was a God?
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