Philippians 2:5-11 In Recent Studies: Some Exegetical Conclusions -- By: Robert B. Strimple

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 41:2 (Spring 1979)
Article: Philippians 2:5-11 In Recent Studies: Some Exegetical Conclusions
Author: Robert B. Strimple


Philippians 2:5-11 In Recent Studies:
Some Exegetical Conclusions*

Robert B. Strimple

President Clowney, Trustees, Faculty Colleagues, Visiting Guests, Fellow Students —

One of the study projects I had in view in requesting relief from certain deanly duties for at least a “semi” study leave this semester was to catch up on what has been written regarding the exegesis of this crucial but notoriously difficult christological passage since R. P. Martin summarized the literature from 1900 through 1963 in his exhaustive study entitled Carmen Christi.1 This research was undertaken with a view to my assigned classroom responsibilities, as we regularly devote much attention to the interpretation of this passage in the required course in the Doctrine of Christ; but when reminded of this occasion I thought there might be some interest in my sharing at least some of the results of this research.

Titles are often a problem, I find. I inserted the reference to “conclusions” to encourage you to anticipate that we would not merely be surveying opposing views, but I would not want to suggest more definitiveness in these conclusions than actually exists. We must always remain open to new light being shed on our understanding of the Scriptures, particularly of such a thorny text. The title refers to verses 5–11 because the apostle’s christological statement extends through verse 11, but in this hour our comments can reach only into verse 7.

Now, to some this might seem a strange topic for one appointed to the department of Systematic Theology. As Professor John Murray once wrote in his Westminster Theological Jour

*An address delivered at Westminster Theological Seminary, April 24, 1979, at the inauguration of Dr. Strimple as Professor of Systematic Theology.

nal articles defining systematic theology: “All other departments of theological discipline contribute their findings to systematic theology and it brings all the wealth of knowledge derived from these disciplines to bear upon the more inclusive systematization which it undertakes.”2 And the picture some might naïvely and incorrectly draw is of the systematic theologian sitting down like a master jigsaw puzzler, taking what is handed him by the exegetes, by the biblical theologians, by the historians of doctrine, and saying: “Now boys let’s see what it looks like when we put it all together!” The problem...

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