Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

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Bernard Muller
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Bernard Muller »

to rgprice,
Perhaps Paul did not directly study Philo, he was building on teachings that were derived from Philo by others?
And that other was Apollos of Alexandria, the author of 'Hebrews'.
'Hebrews' is closer to Philo concepts than Paul was.

Some quotes from Philo's works:

a) "Now the image of God is the Word, by which all the world was made" (The special Laws I, ch. XVI)

b) "... the second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being" (Questions and answers on Genesis II)

c) "For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest Son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn. And he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his father ..." (On the confusion of tongues, ch. XIV)

d) "And even if there be not as yet 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 angel, 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 ..." (On the confusion of tongues, ch. XXVIII)

e) "And this same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race. And the Word rejoices in the gift ..." (Who is the heir of divine things, ch. XLII)

f) "the most ancient Word of the living God ... he will never take the mitre off from his head, he will never lay aside the kingly diadem, the symbol of an authority which is not absolute, but only that of a viceroy, but which is nevertheless an object of admiration." (On flight and finding, ch. XX)

g) "the man [the high priest] who was consecrated to the Father of the world, should have as a paraclete [intercessor], his Son, the being most perfect in all virtue, to procure forgiveness of sins, and a supply of unlimited blessings..." (On the life of Moses II, ch. XXVI).

h) "Who then is the chief butler of God? The priest who offers libations to him, the truly great high priest, who, having received a draught of everlasting graces, offers himself in return, pouring in an entire libation full of unmixed wine" (On dreams II, ch. XXVII)

i) "For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world [heaven], in which the high priest is the divine word, his own firstborn son."(On Dreams I, ch. XXXVII)

j) "For we say the high priest is not a man, but is the Word of God ..." (On flight and finding, ch. XX)

k) "Jesus means "the salvation of the Lord", being the name of the most excellent possible character" (On the Change of Names, ch. XXI) See Philippians 2:9 and Hebrews 1:4

Apollos attributed these concepts of Philo to Jesus. And what I outlined suggests a human Jesus.

And concepts and other items in 'Hebrews' made their way in Paul's epistles, such as (from 'Hebrews'):
(pre-existence (explained) (1:1-3a,5-10,2:5-8), Sacrifice (explained) (1:3,5:8-9,7:27,9:11-15,10:1-14), (Jesus') blood (9:12,10:19,29), co-Creator of the universe (explained) (1:2,10), Moses' followers dying in the wilderness (3:16-17), home in heaven for Christians (12:22-23), atonement for sins (explained) (1:3,2:17,10:12), "Son of God" (explained) (1:5,8-9), Christians as seed and heirs of Abraham through the "promise" (2:16,6:13-17), the heavenly Jerusalem (12:22-23), Jesus offering himself for sacrifice for atonement of sins (explained) (7:27b,10:12), "at the right hand of God" (explained) (1:3,13,8:1,10:12,12:2), "firstborn" (explained) (1:6,12:23), Jesus interceding with God in behalf of Christians (explained) (7:25))

Cordially, Bernard
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ben C. Smith »

rgprice wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 9:55 am I disagree with Talbert on a number of points. I think he got a lot wrong in that analysis, but what he says about the connection to Isaiah looks right.

For example:
Moreover, early Christianity knew traditions which regarded Jesus as second Adam (Rom 5:12–21; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1–13) and traditions which regarded Jesus as the son of Adam (Luke 3:23–38).
I disagree here. Luke 3:23–38 does not regard Jesus as a son of Adam, indeed the opposite.
Luke 3:23 He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph
I, of course, read the genealogy of Luke very different than others. I see it really as an anti-genealogy, possibly Marcionite. It's actually calling attention to the fact that Jesus is NOT a son of Adam, and thus not a part of God's creation.
I regard the genealogy itself of Luke 3.23-38 as Enochic and not of Lucan origin. Nobody originally constructed a genealogy spanning 77 generations from Jesus all the way back to Adam just to claim that Jesus did not actually belong to that genealogy. The original purpose was obviously to trace Jesus' lineage all the way back to Adam. The Lucan editor might not see things quite the same way, but the purposes of the Enochic constructor of the genealogy itself seem transparent.
Now, that doesn't necessary have any bearing on the interpretation of Philippians 2, but I'm just saying that the idea that Jesus was a "son of Adam" is not as well supported as it may appear. And then there is the question of 1 Cor 15, where Marcion had Lord instead of Adam. I agree that second Adam seems to make more sense, but I wouldn't call it definite.

However, it seems to me that Talbert can be correct about the association with Adam, but also incorrect about pre-existence.

And nevertheless, is the hymn about a suffering servant who existed long ago?

But I agree, it does give more possibilities for how to read the passage. I'm just not sure that it resolves things as neatly as Talbert implies.
I would read the entire chapter by Talbert and also some of his sources, like Dunn, before coming to a final conclusion. I was pretty set on the Jesus Hymn presuming pre-existence until I got further into it.
rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 10:30 am I regard the genealogy itself of Luke 3.23-38 as Enochic and not of Lucan origin. Nobody originally constructed a genealogy spanning 77 generations from Jesus all the way back to Adam just to claim that Jesus did not actually belong to that genealogy. The original purpose was obviously to trace Jesus' lineage all the way back to Adam. The Lucan editor might not see things quite the same way, but the purposes of the Enochic constructor of the genealogy itself seem transparent.
In that case, I then wonder if, "so it was thought" is a later addition by canonical Luke. It would seem then that the initial genealogy would have only made sense if Joseph was the actual father of Jesus. Perhaps canonical Luke put in "so it was thought" because he made Jesus the literal son of God, but he just failed to further address the implications of his addition.

What doesn't make sense is that someone would write out a genealogy and introduce it by stating that it was actually irrelevant.
I would read the entire chapter by Talbert and also some of his sources, like Dunn, before coming to a final conclusion. I was pretty set on the Jesus Hymn presuming pre-existence until I got further into it.
Duly noted, and good advice.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ben C. Smith »

rgprice wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 10:56 amIn that case, I then wonder if, "so it was thought" is a later addition by canonical Luke. It would seem then that the initial genealogy would have only made sense if Joseph was the actual father of Jesus. Perhaps canonical Luke put in "so it was thought" because he made Jesus the literal son of God, but he just failed to further address the implications of his addition.
I take "so it was thought" to be a nod to the virgin birth: Jesus traced his lineage through Joseph (Luke 4.22), but of course we all "know" that he was really born without the natural paternal contribution. I do not know for sure at what stage of Lucan development it was added.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by MrMacSon »

rgprice wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 4:20 am
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?

A few scholars have proposed Paul (and John, and the author of Hebrews) were influenced by Philo, eg. -
  • 'Philo and the New Testament,' chapter 4 in Runia, D, Philo in Early Christian Literature, 1993
    • link to the start of that chapter: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=SP ... &q&f=false - nb. s.2, 'Paul'
    • Runia cites
      • Henry Chadwick (1966), St. Paul and Philo of Alexandria, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 48 (2): 286-307 (esp. 287- 8), and
      • American scholar Samuel Sandmel's 1979 Philo of Alexandria: An Introduction

        Sandmel is particularly interesting on the vexed question of Philo's relationship to the Gnostics and early Christian writers. In the end he goes along with Erwin Goodenough's view that Philo's Hellenization of Judaism made possible the surprisingly rapid Hellenization of Christianity. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-revi ... roduction/

  • Per Jar Bekken's chapter titled, 'Philo's Relevance for the Study of the New Testament', in Reading Philo: A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria, Terry Seland ed., Eerdmans, 2014
    • Bekken notes "Philo, Paul, & the Gospel of John seem to follow a Jewish exegetical tradition based on Gen 17:17", citing Philo's Q & A in Genesis (QG) III.55-6; Romans 4:16-21 (though passages congruent with those verses are in a different order in QG); & John 8:56.
    • Bekken notes Philo testifies to the use of questions & answers, and problem-­solving exegesis in dialogue, as part of the teaching activity in the synagogue (Contempl. 75; Spec. 1.214; Legat. 1.33, 48, 91; 2.103; QG 1.62), as does Paul (and John cf. John 6:59; 7:14, 28; 18:20). Paul's cases involve Philo's favourite prophet, Moses - and his Laws - in Romans 4 & Galatians 3.

      In both Leg. 3.88 and Rom 9:10-12, 20-23, the idea illustrated is God’s fore- knowledge and election of two contrasting persons, Jacob & Esau, even before their birth. Moreover, in both cases God is pictured as a maker of clay pots. These agreements make it probable that Philo and Paul draw here on a common tradition of exposition of Gen 25:23. [or perhaps Paul drew on Philo or both]

Paula Fredriksen has a new book on the way titled, "Philo, Herod, Paul, and the Many Gods of Ancient Jewish ‘Monotheism’"

She has been doing seminars on it or on a preliminary essay on it, eg.

.
Many gods lived in the Roman Empire. All ancient people, including Jews, Christians, and those designated “atheists,” knew this to be the case. Exploring the ways that Jews and Christians in Roman antiquity thought about and dealt with other gods while remaining loyal to their own god, this essay focuses particularly on the writings and activities of three highly-identified Jews: Philo of Alexandria, Herod the Great, and the apostle Paul. All three were variously involved with foreign gods. Historians’ reliance on the term “monotheist” to describe Jews and Christians, however, prevents our appreciation of the many different social relationships, human and divine, that all ancient peoples had to navigate. Worse: “monotheism” fundamentally misdescribes the religious sensibility of antiquity.

The handout: Pf Many Gods UPenn 2020.doc.

Aleph One
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Aleph One »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 10:30 amI regard the genealogy itself of Luke 3.23-38 as Enochic and not of Lucan origin. Nobody originally constructed a genealogy spanning 77 generations from Jesus all the way back to Adam just to claim that Jesus did not actually belong to that genealogy. The original purpose was obviously to trace Jesus' lineage all the way back to Adam. The Lucan editor might not see things quite the same way, but the purposes of the Enochic constructor of the genealogy itself seem transparent.
It is a little ironic that the most plausibly adoptionist gospel (Mark), which might benefit the most from a genealogy (thanks to Jesus's human birth) has none. Maybe you could still say that the genealogy only applies to the human vessel but it's still the body offered up in the perfect sacrifice. Then again maybe this whole genealogies question is just a case of "having your cake and eating it too" where the authors want the benefits of both a genealogy and miraculous birth and it's as simple as that.
rgprice
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by rgprice »

@Bernard & @MrMacSon - Thanks for those references.

@Ben
I was able to get a copy of his book, so that's helpful.
Throughout Romans the apostle takes pains to speak in terms of tradition which they have in common (1:3–4; 4:25; 6:3–5; 8:28–30, for example).
I'm not sure I buy this. Firstly, I think there are strong reasons to believe that 1:3-4 is interpolation. Secondly, how would Paul know the tradition they have in common? Thirdly, how would Talbert know Paul is doing this? I think to claim that a passage is an example of Paul "going to pains" to adopt a common framework with the Roman audience sounds like reading tea leaves. I looked at his examples, but don't see how they support his claim.
It seems probably, therefore, that the phrase ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος is a part of the Adam/Christ typology and is intended to speak of Christ as son of Adam.
This seems like a bit of a jump. Maybe my lack of Greek is hindering me here, but I think I know what's he saying. I don't see that this implies that Jesus is a "son of Adam", it seems he could also be a "reboot" of a Adam, a new creation, NOT descended from Adam, NOT inheriting his sins. So I don't necessarily disagree that there is a Christ/Adam parallel, but I'm not sure that parallel means what he says it does. He points to 1 Cor 15, but:

45 So also it is written: “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” The last Adam was a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.

Even here, where we have a Christ/Adam parallel, we are told that the second Adam is from heaven, he is not a descendant of the first Adam. And, if the second Adam is heavenly, then is he not also pre-existent?
and traditions which regarded Jesus as the son of Adam (Luke 3:23–38). That the two different views are found side by side in Luke indicates that the early Christians saw no conflict between them.
Another leap. Conflicting lines may well have been written by different people. I wouldn't read too far into these things. Luke 1-2 says Jesus is born of Mary, but Luke 7:28 implies that Jesus is not born of a woman (or that he is not greater than John!) There are many contradictions, but it doesn't mean that they were intended. It looks more like poor editing. And of course, stating that Jesus was a son of Adam in Luke, if that is anti-Marcionite, is a much different matter than a text that is presumably pre-Marcionite. It seems that later apologists found ways to gloss over these problems or rationalize them because that was simply the text they had to work with, these contradictions aren't records of "traditions", they are products of poor editing that became traditions.

But ultimately, what I'll say is this. I see where he's coming from. And I do agree that under his reading, the hymn does not necessarily speak of a pre-existent Jesus. However, the hymn also does not preclude a pre-existent Jesus. It's definitely a different reading, but I don't agree that it implies that Jesus is a "son of Adam". Romans 5 gives no indication that Jesus is a son of Adam and 1 Cor 15 contradicts it.

Furthermore, if we take Talbert's reading, then is not the hymn about the individual depicted in Isaiah 53? Is the hymn not simply naming the figure of Isaiah 53 Jesus, "Yahweh's salvation"? The hymn, then, does not seem to be about a recent person, but about the historical figure of Isaiah 53.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ken Olson »

Aleph One wrote: Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:21 am It is a little ironic that the most plausibly adoptionist gospel (Mark), which might benefit the most from a genealogy (thanks to Jesus's human birth) has none.
I do not think this is ironic. Matthew and Luke regularly correct Mark's christology (more pious readers might say they guard it against misinterpretation). One could easily read Mark's gospel as having an adoptionist christology: For all Mark tells us, Jesus might have been a regular human being being who became the Son of God at his baptism The addition of the infancy narratives by Matthew and Luke render that reading impossible: Jesus was the Son of God from his conception (i.e., there was never a time when he was not the Son of God). John takes this a step further. The man Jesus was the incarnation of the Word that had existed with God from the beginning.

Best,

Ken
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Ben C. Smith »

rgprice wrote: Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:05 am
It seems probably, therefore, that the phrase ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος is a part of the Adam/Christ typology and is intended to speak of Christ as son of Adam.
This seems like a bit of a jump. Maybe my lack of Greek is hindering me here, but I think I know what's he saying. I don't see that this implies that Jesus is a "son of Adam", it seems he could also be a "reboot" of a Adam, a new creation, NOT descended from Adam, NOT inheriting his sins. So I don't necessarily disagree that there is a Christ/Adam parallel, but I'm not sure that parallel means what he says it does.
I agree there is no slam dunk here, which is exactly why I am up in the air about it all. There is more, but I have little time at the moment.
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Re: Interpreting Philippians 2:5-11

Post by Secret Alias »

Or the IS. All of us are already sons of Adam.
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