Monday, January 02, 2006

"Jesus Emotions in the Fourth Gospel: Human or Divine?"

A couple of weeks ago, I came across the following monograph in the “new books” section at the S.E.B.T.S. library – "Jesus' Emotions in the Fourth Gospel: Human or Divine?" by Stephen Voorwinde. The work is a revision of the author’s dissertation at the Australian College of Theology. Since it includes a chapter on the “temple cleansing” in the Gospel of John, I decided to pick it up and see if it has any helpful material for my thesis.

The following is a brief summary of the author’s conclusion. I have decided to “review” this work because:
  1. I have not posted in a rather long time;

  2. I firmly believe that the discipline of Systematic Theology can greatly benefit from serious work in Biblical Studies;

  3. The Christology of the New Testament, to put it mildly, is an extremely meaningful subject.

Here is my summary of Voorwinde’s conclusion:
  1. In the Gospel of John, the references to Jesus’ emotions are generally connected with his coming passion (2:17; 11:3, 5, 15, 33-38, 47-53; 15:13);

  2. The only pure human emotion Jesus displays in the Gospel of John are his tears in 11:35;

  3. Jesus’ emotions are frequently set in motion by what is best described as divine prescience (cf. 11:15, 33-38; 12:27; 13:21);

  4. The love Jesus displays in the Gospel of John is familial and covenantal. Hence, Jesus’ love is both human (familial) and divine (covenantal).

  5. The portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of John is to be understood from a deuteronomostic perspective that allows one to understand Jesus as both “the Lord of the covenant” and “the covenant sacrifice” (267)

  6. Jesus’ displays of emotion in the Gospel of John are directly linked to soteriological concerns (cf. 20:31).

Voorwinde ends his work by stating:
[t]he complexity of his [Jesus’] emotions cannot be adequately accounted for by either a humanistic or a docetic Christology. As the covenant Lord he is portrayed neither as being withdrawn from his creation nor as being absorbed by it. Our study has shown that the Johannine Jesus became involved in this world at a deeply personal and emotional level. His love provides the motivation for the world’s salvation. This salvation is achieved – surprisingly and paradoxically – through the sacrifice of the covenant Lord” (269-70)


Chris Tilling said...

The Christology of the New Testament, to put it mildly, is an extremely meaningful subject.

Amen with bells on.
Great to see you back in blogging action.

Anonymous said...

Ths is an interesting topic! I look forward to reading the book



Mark Owens said...

It's good to be back. BTW, your new blog looks great. I will update my blogroll soon.

When I first saw the title, I had my doubts. The title does have somewhat of a popular ring to it and I generally avoid such works. However, once I saw the publisher, I knew it would be worth looking at :-)

Blessings to you both


Michael F. Bird said...

Anyone who quotes a book written by an Aussie is in my good books. I know of Stephen, but haven't met him. He has written a number of articles on John in the journal Reformed Theological Review.

Mark Owens said...

Reason # 4:

the author is Austrailian and we all know how brilliant those Aussies are.