Info

Justin's Dialogus cum TryphoneJudaeo ('Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew') 61-2 is an instructive indicator of the way this concept was forged out of the conflation of many scriptural passages. Here Proverbs 8:21-36 is quoted in full, as a way of justifying the claim that before all creatures God begat a beginning, and this is named in scripture, now the glory of the Lord, now the Son, now wisdom, now an angel, then God, and then Lord and logos. This is confirmed by appeal to Genesis, 'Let us make man in our own image', and 'Behold Adam has become as one of us.' The deduction is made that there were clearly two involved in the act of creation, and it was the one Solomon calls Wisdom, begotten as a beginning before all creatures, that God thus addressed. Athenagoras10 and Theophilus11 likewise identify personified wisdom with the Son of God who is God's logos. Scripture was, of course, read with the spectacles of contemporary philosophy and against cosmological speculations (of the Gnostics and Marcion) that so easily undermined the continuity between the prophetic texts received from the Jews and emerging Christian teachings. It provided a way of accounting for the veneration of Jesus within the fundamentally monotheistic outlook which had always characterised Christianity,12 but its principal purpose was to hang on to the lines anchoring Christian belief in the created order and in the material realities of a genuinely historical life.

Maybe it was this clever but ditheistic concept (Justin at one point even uses the language of 'second god')13 that provoked Celsus' objection14 and turned him into the first person we can identify who effectively put his finger on the core theological problem for Christianity. If the pagan, Celsus, had difficulty with it, so would some who saw themselves as believers within the Christian tradition. It was bound to be contested. By hindsight identified as the 'orthodox' tradition, developed by Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement and Origen, logos theology nevertheless had to be defended against rival appeals to scripture and tradition. The so-called monarchian controversies explicitly raised the issues.

The monarchian controversies

Our evidence for tracing the course of the monarchian controversies is confused, not least because the names of leading figures, such as Sabellius and Paul

12 Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ.

14 See pt iv, ch. 11, above, where Droge argues that Celsus was responding to Justin.

0 0

Post a comment