Angelomorphic Categories, Early Christology And Discipleship, With Special Reference To Luke-Acts -- By: Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 48:1 (NA 1997)
Article: Angelomorphic Categories, Early Christology And Discipleship, With Special Reference To Luke-Acts
Author: Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis


Angelomorphic Categories, Early Christology And Discipleship, With Special Reference To Luke-Acts1

Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis

The thesis introduction orients this project methodologically within the new religionsgeschichte Schule and justifies a focus on angelic categories as a background to early Christology. The assumption that ‘apocalyptic’ is essentially dualistic is challenged, and attention is drawn to studies which have highlighted the human attainment of an angelomorphic identity. This phenomenon holds particular relevance for the worship of Christ, who is not an ‘angel’ but possesses angelic characteristics. It also offers a bridge to later ‘two powers in heaven’ debates, which presume a binitarian theology (or Christology).

The choice of Luke-Acts as a suitable case study for our approach is justified, since the work: (a) is thoroughly Jewish in theology and culture; (b) has a high Christology; and (c) is at home in the world of Jewish apocalyptic (and mystical) speculation. A natural theology in which humanity is divine (Acts 17) is also noted as a context for the exploration of angelomorphic soteriology in Luke-Acts.

In the first section of the thesis, the first task is to examine the evidence for an angelomorphic Christology in Luke-Acts both after the resurrection (and ascension) and during Jesus’ earthly life. An angelophanic form is proposed for Luke 5:1-11. The dominant interpretation of the transfiguration as a proleptic glorification, without any reference to Jesus’ divinity, is questioned. The proleptic

does not do justice to details of the account. In comparison with the transformation of Enoch (Metatron), the deification of Moses, and the similarity to the angelophany in Daniel 10, the transfiguration should be read as either a fully attained angelisation to a new identity, or a revelation of one already possessed. Jesus’ ‘divine’ identity should also be taken seriously.

These studies demonstrate the importance of angelic categories for the identity of the risen Jesus. The fluidity between God and Jesus and God and his angel suggests a fluidity between Jesus and an angel; a suggestion corroborated by a form-critical examination of the Christophany at Paul’s conversion. The pharisaic position in the debate at Acts 23:8-9 reveals the possibility of an ‘angel’ Christology on the immediate horizon of Luke’s history-of-religion...

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