Posted by: chuckbumgardner | July 31, 2011

Dennison, “How Is Jesus the Son of God? Luke’s Baptism Narrative and Christology”

Charles G. Dennison, “How Is Jesus the Son of God?  Luke’s Baptism Narrative and Christology,” Calvin Theological Journal 17:1 (Apr 1982): 6-25.

As I’m studying Jesus as the “Son of God,” I found this thought-provoking article.  Still thinking through it (he relies overmuch on higher criticism), but some stimulating ideas therein.  Here are some teasers:

“Jesus prays and the Holy Spirit comes [Luke 3:21-22]; likewise the church prays (Acts 1:14) and the Holy Spirit comes (Acts 2:1ff.).” (18)

“For Luke, then, only the simultaneous affirmation of the Son’s humanity, together with his unique relationship to the Father – his essential deity – declares the fulness of his person. In this way, we see the harmony of the great events in the life of Jesus. To the Son, birth, baptism, death and glorification all have a dual dimension: on the one hand, common to the people; on the other hand, utterly unique as God.” (23)

Dennison suggests that Jesus’ identification with humanity is reflected in a sort of vicarious experience of the ordo salutis: “[The need of the people/humanity] dictates his experience.  According to the traditional formulation of the ordo salutis, their need is calling (regeneration), faith, repentance, justification, adoption, [Dennison’s emphasis]sanctification and glorification.  All of this Jesus undergoes in the work of salvation. . . . [for instance,] In his baptism we see a picture of Jesus’ vicarious experience of redemption.” (22)

“Luke subtly reveals his commitment to Jesus’ deity.  Not these few examples: [compare] Lk. 4:4 and 4:22 with Mt. 4:4; the word which ‘proceeds out of the mouth of God’ is ascribed to Jesus in Luke.  God and Jesus are interchanged in Lk. 8:39 [“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.].  In the story of the transfiguration, we should note the similarities to the baptism, e.g., the voice out of heaven (9:35).  But rather than the affirmation of deity explicitly arising from the words, it is woven into the setting.  Jesus is described in ways comparable only to Yahweh at Sinai ([compare] Lk. 9:29 with Ex. 19:16ff.).  The temptation is to see Jesus only as a new Moses.  This is the mistake that Peter made (Lk. 9:33).  Jesus is not merely a new and greater Moses but the climactic revelation of Yahweh himself.  A similar situation exists in Luke’s story of the calling of the apostles (6:12ff).  The background of this story is Ex. 19 as prologue to the giving of the law (Ex. 20).  Jesus is not merely a new Moses but God himself who shall graciously give his law to the new people of God (Lk. 6:20ff.).  Jesus’ descent (6:17), his voice (v. 18), that the people could touch him and not be consumed (v. 19) and even his law (vv. 20ff.), all contrast the appearance of Yahweh at Sinai.” (23-24, fn 87)

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