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Bogart, John


Orthodox and heretical perfectionism in the Johannine community as evident in the first epistle of John 1981


Kähler, Christoph

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Theologische Literaturzeitung 106. Jahrgang 1981 Nr. 7


In the nature of things this verse has been the subject of numerous
studies. But it has not hitherto been treated on the same scale as it is
in this book. Gourgues has provided a very füll and judicious survey
of the use of this verse in the New Testament, which may well prove
to be the definitive work ori the subject. He has little difficulty in
showing that the idea of heavenly Session, derived from this verse, had
already been accepted as a christological formula before any of the
New Testament books were written. Historically, the earliest referen-
ce occurs in I Cor. 15,25. Gourgues nevertheless sets it aside for treat-
ment at the end of his book, because, in spite of its early date, it shows
a highly developed stage in the exploitation of the text. For here the
"right hand" is not mentioned, and the passage is concerned with the
final words of the verse: "Until I make your enemies your footstool."
But the required notion is not the subjugation of enemies, but the universal
dominion of Christ at the consummation. Consequently the
text of Ps. 110,1 is adapted by importing a similar phrase from
Ps. 8,7, which refers to man's dominion. From this point of view
Christ is the second Adam. The scope of thought thus includes the
Urzeit-Endzeit theme of Jewish apocalyptic. This is just one of the
ways in which Ps. 110,1 has opened up fresh avenues in the develop-
ment of Ne^ Testament Christology.

The basic thought, however, according to Gourgues, is the heavenly
Session of Jesus. This is found in the Gospels, Acts, Pauline Epist-
les, Hebrews and I Peter. The emphasis falls on the present Position
of the risen Lord, rather than on his eschatological functions. In
Rom. 8,34 the verse is used to show that Jesus is "for us", just as God
's "for us". The conclusion is drawn that, just as nothing can separate
us from the love of Christ, so also nothing can separate us from the
love of God. The structure of thought here is certainly eschatological.
The point is that the relationship which we now have with Christ gua-
rantees our safety in God's final act. Thus it would be quite untrue to
say that the haevenly Session, indicating Christ's present Position,
Presupposes a "realised eschatology". On the other hand, it does draw
attention to the present activity of Jesus, which in Rom. 8 is descri-
bed as intercession. The heavenly session places him in a uniquely fa-
vourable Position for this function. Paul's idea at this point has a Jewish
precedent in the Enoch traditions. In this connection Gourgues
refers to I En. 69,29. Unfortunately this falls in the Similitudes of
Enoch, which cannot be proved to antedate Paul, but the idea occurs
in earlier Strands, e.g. 13,4-6.

It may be doubted whether Paul was thinking specifically of Enoch,
but there is no question about the connection in I Pet. 3,18-22. Here
the allusion to Ps. 110,1 encapsulates a long parenthesis on the effect
°f Christ's passage through the heavens, in which he renews the salva-
tion which was preached by Enoch and granted to Noah. This vivid
description has the effect of making the heavenly session of Jesus,
when he reaches the highest heaven, the goal to which all the baptized
may aspire (cf. Col. 3,1 for a similar idea in the Pauline literature).
Gourgues correctly notes that verse 22 is the logical continuation of
verse 18, so that the heavenly session is already in the mind of the
writer before the parenthesis begins. But he has failed to observe the
'ull implications of this Observation. For the introduction of the
Enoch theme of preaching to the imprisoned spirits is surely to be tra-
ced to the accepted use of Ps. 110,1 in relation to Christ, for it is the
ascension of Christ which makes him a kind of second Enoch.

Another extraordinarily fruitful development of Ps. 110,1 is to be
found in Hebrews. In this remarkable composition the idea of the
heavenly session, denoting the present Position and function of Jesus,
ls filled out with the aid of Ps. 110,4 the eternal priesthood after
the order of Melchizedek. Gourgues shows how the argument on this
subject is opened in 8,1 and closed in 10,12 with balanced allusions to
Ps. 110,1. Moreover Heb. 8,1 and 12,2 add a further detail to
the picture of the heavenly-session by bringing in reference to the
throne. This carries with it allusion to the coronation of the one like a
son of man in Dan. 7,13, and also has links with intertestamental literature

The use of this verse in early Christianity is primitive, widespread,
and profoundly creative. Can it be traced back to Jesus himself?
Gourues defends the authenticity of the allusion to it in
Mk 12,35b.37a. Following Boismard, he regards the actual quotation
in 12,37 as an insertion of the evangelist. Jesus does not refer to himself
in these verses, but he does show that the populär notion of Davi-
dic sonship is an inadequate conception of messiahship.

With regard to the answer of Jesus to the high priest (Mk 14,62)
Gourgues is more doubtful. Noting that the tradition of the martyr-
dom of Stephen (Acts 7,55s) is a "relecture" of the trial of Jesus, he
takes this element in the trial of Jesus (i. e. Mk 14,55s.61b-64) as a
"relecture" of the more primitive sequence in which the threat of de-
struction of the temple is the point at issue (Mk 14,57-61 a, omitting
verse 59 as editorial). Consequently the allusion to Ps. 110,1 in Jesus'
answer, with its companion allusion to Dan. 7,13, belong to the re-
flection of the primitive church after the event.

Finally, Gourgues faces the hermeneutical question of the heavenly
session for Christianity today. He observes that both Thomas Aqui-
nas and Pannenberg have made use of this fundamentally mythologi-
cal idea in totally different conceptual frames. But the idea of Christ
as the "pioneer" (archegos, Heb. 12,2) is capable of crossing the bar-
rier which divides our culture from that of the ancient world. From
this point of view the heavenly session can remain a powerful symbol
for the Christian who, following Christ, "seeks those things that are
above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Col. 3,1).

Manchester Barnabas Lindars, S. S. F.

Bogart, John: Orthodox and heretical perfectionism in the Johannine
Community as evident in the first epistle of John. Missoula, Mont.:
Scholars Press 1977. 190 S. 8' = Society of Biblical Literature. Dissertation
series, 33. Kart. $ 4.50.

Der Gegensatz zwischen 1 Joh 1,8 („Sünde haben wir nicht" als -
häretische - These der Gegner) einerseits und 3,6.9 („Kein aus Gott
Gezeugter sündigt" als orthodoxer Satz) ergibt das Thema dieser Arbeit
. Sie stellt die Druckfassung einer von Edward C. Hobbs betreuten
und durch Dieter Georgi geforderten Dissertation dar, die nahezu
gleichzeitig mit Wengst erschien (vgl. ThLZ 103, 1978 Sp. 743Q.

Insgesamt lassen sich sechs Thesen erkennen:

(1) In 1 Joh stehen sich ein gnostisch-häretischer Typ perfektionisti-
scher Anthropologie, vertreten durch die Gegner, und ein mehrfach
modifizierter orthodoxer Perfektionismus gegenüber.

(2) Als Quelle des orthodoxen Perfektionismus, den der Autor von
1 Joh gegen die Häretiker ins Feld führt, kommen allein das gemeinbiblische
Verständnis des Menschen und das Konzept des „Glaubenden
" aus dem Joh Ev in Betracht.

(3) Der orthodoxe Perfektionismus wird erweicht durch die Einführung
der Unterscheidung zwischen läßlichen und Todsünden wie
durch die Aufnahme der Vorstellung von der Sündenvergebung in
Jesu Tod (sie!).

(4) Die Herkunft der häretischen Position ist mit einer protovalenti-
nianischen Gnosis beschrieben.

(5) Die notwendigen und zureichenden Bedingungen für die Entwicklung
des Perfektionismus überhaupt sieht B. in (a) einem ethischen
Dualismus weisheitlicher Herkunft und (b) in der eschatologischen
Naherwartung der Periode um und nach 150 v.Chr. gegeben. Für
beide Elemente wird die bekannte Belegreihe aethHen 5,8f; Jub 5,12;
TestLev 18,9 angeführt.

(6) Die theologische Leistung des 1 Joh besteht in der Rückführung
der Gemeinde des JohEv in die Großkirche.

Zur Durchsichtigkeit der gesamten Arbeit verhelfen ausführliche
Klärungen zur Terminologie, Methode und den literarkritischen und
historischen Voraussetzungen, sowie die breiten Zusammenfassungen
am Beginn und Schluß wie jeweils am Kapitelende.

Wie sich bereits an den Thesen erkennen läßt, hält sich B. weithin