Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

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rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

Tertullian also disagreed with Talbert's reading:
Adv Marc. V.20:
Of course the Marcionites suppose that they have the apostle on their side in the following passage in the matter of Christ's substance — that in Him there was nothing but a phantom of flesh. For he says of Christ, that, being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant, not the reality, and was made in the likeness of man, not a man, and was found in fashion as a man, Philippians 2:6-7 not in his substance, that is to say, his flesh; just as if to a substance there did not accrue both form and likeness and fashion. It is well for us that in another passage (the apostle) calls Christ the image of the invisible God. Colossians 1:15 For will it not follow with equal force from that passage, that Christ is not truly God, because the apostle places Him in the image of God, if, (as Marcion contends,) He is not truly man because of His having taken on Him the form or image of a man? For in both cases the true substance will have to be excluded, if image (or fashion) and likeness and form shall be claimed for a phantom. But since he is truly God, as the Son of the Father, in His fashion and image, He has been already by the force of this conclusion determined to be truly man, as the Son of man, found in the fashion and image of a man. For when he propounded Him as thus found in the manner of a man, he in fact affirmed Him to be most certainly human. For what is found, manifestly possesses existence. Therefore, as He was found to be God by His mighty power, so was He found to be man by reason of His flesh, because the apostle could not have pronounced Him to have become obedient unto death, Philippians 2:8 if He had not been constituted of a mortal substance. Still more plainly does this appear from the apostle's additional words, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8 For he could hardly mean this to be a climax to the human suffering, to extol the virtue of His obedience, if he had known it all to be the imaginary process of a phantom, which rather eluded the cross than experienced it, and which displayed no virtue in the suffering, but only illusion.
He never presented an alternative reading, he just tried to make the best out of what appears to be the only reading that anyone ever knew. So that to me is the biggest problem with Talbert's proposal. He claims that his translation and structing would be reflective of how it was originally read, and understood, but he presents no evidence of any ancient authorities who read it that way, nor have I seen any, but everyone I read read it the standard way.

So at best he can claim that his reading was intended by the original writer of the hymn, but I don't even see that he can claim that Paul held to his understanding of it, since Paul says the second Adam came from heaven.

I agree Ben that his argument sounds attractive, but I just can't see that such a reading was never expressed by any ancient sources if it were indeed how the passage was intended to be read.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ben C. Smith »

rgprice wrote: Mon Mar 15, 2021 3:40 pmI agree Ben that his argument sounds attractive, but I just can't see that such a reading was never expressed by any ancient sources if it were indeed how the passage was intended to be read.
Okay, but lots of modern arguments fail automatically, on the spot, by the standard that no ancient person of whom we are aware read the passage at issue in such a way. Lots of interpretations from Doherty and Carrier, for example, fall without recourse, since the only ancient people they propose to have read certain Pauline (for example) passages in a certain way are themselves subject to the same principle (that is, their words, too require interpretation, and no one in antiquity seems to have read them in such a way, either).

That said, I still lean toward the Jesus Hymn assuming preexistence in some fashion. But I am no longer as sure of that interpretation as I once was, which means that I am doomed to wrestle with it for a while longer, at least.

ETA: A few years ago I floated a theory of Christian origins which depended in great part on the Jesus Hymn being about a preexistent being. Therefore, any well reasoned argument which may counter such a supposition of mine, however well founded it may be, merits my attention. It is human nature to play up evidence which tends to confirm one's own assumptions and to play down evidence which tends to disconfirm them; so it is possible that, in the course of trying to make sure I do not succumb to this universal temptation, I am more impressed than I should be with the evidence against my previous position. From my perspective, only time will tell.
rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

I agree Ben. I'm also putting a good bit weight on this passage. It seems that all ancient authorities read it as talking about pre-existence. But I agree that I don't want to put weight on a reading that may be overturned or challenged. Also, I did notice this in DeBuhn:
2.5–8 Tertullian, Marc. 5.20.3–5; Eznik, De Deo 375 (vv. 5, 7; =Harnack vv.
6–8 only). In v. 7, Tertullian appears to attest the reading “of a human
being (anthrōpou)” instead of “of human beings (anthrōpōn),” in agreement
with Gk ms P46, the Palestinian Syriac and Coptic versions, and
Origen.
Eznik is paraphrastic: “another thing which they say is . . .
(that) the Good One . . . sent Jesus his own son to go and take the likeness
of a slave and to come into being in the form of a human being.”
Barnikol, Philipper 2, has argued that vv. 6–7 constitute an interpolation
introduced by Marcion into the text. The challenge to such a hypothesis
lies in explaining how such a sectarian addition worked its way
into every witness to the catholic text. To accept it, one must suppose
that the catholic textual tradition of Paul depends on the Apostolikon,
albeit with subsequent modifications.
What impact does this have on Talbert's argument?
This can be understood in terms of the Adam/Christ parallel, however, if we reflect upon Gen 5:1–3. In v. 1b the passage speaks of God’s creation of Adam in his own image. In the Hebrew Bible the context makes it clear that Adam (man) is plural (men or mankind). In the LXX the Hebrew is understood in this sense, as v. 2 shows
...
Thus, the passage tells of one who is a son of Adam (plural) and is in his likeness.
Also, here is another problem with Talbert's argument:
Also, Mark 1:13 shows that the church at Rome knew such a
typology.24 Since the Gospel of Mark is not a Pauline document, this
Adam/Christ typology must have been wider than the Pauline circle.
I believe I (and others) provide significant evidence that Mark is Pauline. And even if it were not, it wouldn't hold that "Mark 1:13 shows that the church at Rome knew." We cannot conjecture that Mark tells us anything "the church at Rome knew." I believe he is assuming that Mark was written in Rome.

Talbert's argument relies upon:
The relation between the first two strophes must be regarded
by the hymn writer as sufficiently indicated by the formal parallelism
between them. The most natural way for a reader to take this formal
parallelism between the first two strophes, moreover, would be to
regard them as parallel statements about the same reality.
But it seems no one read it this way. A significant part of his argument is that his interpretation would have been evident to the original readers, or that the writer wrote it in a way that would have made its meaning evident to the original readers. But we find no original readers who read it that way, and Talbert presents none.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ben C. Smith »

I think Talbert's argument would easily withstand the plural/singular issue in verse 7.

I do not think that Mark is Pauline in a particular way, any more than Irenaeus or Eusebius are Pauline in a particular way. Mark knew and used some Pauline epistles, I am currently convinced, but not as an exercise in Paulinism; rather, Mark is already a synthesis of different strands of Christianity.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Bernard Muller »

to rgprice,
It looks Tertullian Origen, in Against Celsus, book IV, ch. XVIII, quoted Philippians 2:5-11 as evidence for God bringing a Savior to the human race, implying pre-existence:
And if it be alleged that it suffers anything from the body when united with it, or from the place to which it has come, then what inconvenience can happen to the Word [divine Word of God: see passage in italics] who, in great benevolence, brought down a Saviour to the human race?--seeing none of those who formerly professed to effect a cure could accomplish so much as that soul showed it could do, by what it performed, even by voluntarily descending to the level of human destinies for the benefit of our race. And the Divine Word, well knowing this, speaks to that effect in many passages of Scripture, although it is sufficient at present to quote one testimony of Paul to the following effect: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name."

Cordially, Bernard
Last edited by Bernard Muller on Tue Mar 16, 2021 3:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Tue Mar 16, 2021 11:13 am I do not think that Mark is Pauline in a particular way, any more than Irenaeus or Eusebius are Pauline in a particular way. Mark knew and used some Pauline epistles, I am currently convinced, but not as an exercise in Paulinism; rather, Mark is already a synthesis of different strands of Christianity.
I would posit that Mark is a Pauline document, but that's not necessarily the point. Talbert seems to take the position that mark had no knowledge of Paul. Therefore, since Mark says something similar to what Paul says, and Mark hasn't gotten this "typology" from Paul, it shows that this "typology" was shared beyond the works / theology of Paul.

I certainly disagree with that. I think that Mark most certainly gets his ideas from Paul. You can't point to Mark as evidence that an idea was part of a broader Christian community beyond Paul. Mark's ideas come from Paul.
rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

Bernard Muller wrote: Tue Mar 16, 2021 12:10 pm to rgprice,
It looks Tertullian quoted Philippians 2:5-11 as evidence for God bringing a Savior to the human race, implying pre-existence:
And if it be alleged that it suffers anything from the body when united with it, or from the place to which it has come, then what inconvenience can happen to the Word [divine Word of God: see passage in italics] who, in great benevolence, brought down a Saviour to the human race?--seeing none of those who formerly professed to effect a cure could accomplish so much as that soul showed it could do, by what it performed, even by voluntarily descending to the level of human destinies for the benefit of our race. And the Divine Word, well knowing this, speaks to that effect in many passages of Scripture, although it is sufficient at present to quote one testimony of Paul to the following effect: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name."

Cordially, Bernard
Looks like that's actually Origen, Against Celsus, but yeah, a good reference.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Bernard Muller »

to rgprice,
I made the correction: the quote is from Origen, in Against Celsus, book IV, ch. XVIII.

Cordially, Bernard
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Irish1975
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Irish1975 »

I have been wrestling with Baur's commentary on the first part of the hymn--

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων
οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ
,
ἀλλ’ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν
μορφὴν δούλου λαβών,
ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος·
καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος
ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν
γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου,
θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God something to be seized
,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a servant,
having been made to be in the likeness of men.
And being discovered in the appearance of a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross.

Baur's statement of his problem with 2:6--

What an extraordinary conception is it that Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not count it robbery, or, to give the words their exact grammatical force, did not think that he must make it the object of an actus rapiendi, to be equal with God. If he was God already, how could he wish to become what he was already? But if he was not equal with God, what an eccentric and perverted and self-contradictory thought must it have been, to become equal with God! Is it the inconceivableness of such a thought that is to be expressed in the words οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο ("did not regard it as rapacity")? But how could the Apostle have said something so inconceivable about Christ, even if it was merely to deny it? Though Christ did not proceed to such an act of rapacity and arrogance, it nevertheless seems that it was possible for him, even if not in a moral sense.
...
On the one side, the identity with God is a thing still to be realized; on the other, the reality of it is presupposed. Interpreters of the Epistle are thus driven to remark that the correct rendering of οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο is compatible only with such a conception of εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ as something which Christ did not yet possess; for otherwise it could not be said that he did not wish to seize it for himself. But, they say, in order that the renunciation may be conceived as a voluntary one, we must ascribe to Christ the possibility which lies in his ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων ("being in the form of God"). Christ then had the divine glory potentially in himself, and could have claimed it, could have made it appear in his life. But since it did not accord with the plan of salvation that Christ should at once receive divine honour, it would have been a robbery, an act of presumption, if he had taken it to himself. But, we must ask, what was Christ, if being "in the form of God," he possessed the divine glory only "potentially" if actually being God, he yet was not God? And what conceivable reason is there for saying that he voluntarily renounced a thing, which, from the nature of the case, it was impossible that he should have?

The problem thus stated is real no matter what theology or religious context is inferred. Christ is both of a divine form, or (perhaps) nature, and the sort of being who can choose freely either to rise up in envious rebellion against God, attempting to seize an equality that apparently he does not enjoy already, or to empty himself in humble submission, to the point of becoming human and mortal. On most conceptions of the divine being, these ideas don't fit. Either he really is God, or he goes through a hero's journey that results in exaltation and apotheosis. It can't be both at the same time. Or so it seems to Baur.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by gryan »

Re: Paul's view of Christ in Philippians 2:5-11

I doubt this is prePauline. I note the use of the word harpazo--something to be grasped, taken by force, as if by a thief. This is the same word Paul uses to describe how he was taken by force to the third heaven and into Paradise. What did he learn in that ascent to the heavens? I think that he learned about what it is like to experience the reality of equality with God by participation in mystical union. But I also think that he learned painfully that in daily life, "power is made perfect through weakness." I think the hymn is a production of Paul the mystic who ascended to the third heaven as part of his participatory initiation into the Christ mystery expressed as a pattern for all in the saying: "you have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Also, in first person language: "I have been crucified with Christ..."
Last edited by gryan on Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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