Monday, September 1, 2008

Dual Authorship & The Nature of Jesus Christ

Dual Authorship refers to the fact that the divinely given Scriptures are a product of both God & men. God's Word is both eternal & temporal. That is God spoke in the ultimate and final sense through secondary means of prophets & apostles. So, for example, in Matthew 1:22 : "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet..." Also, when Jesus denounced the Pharisees about their traditions, He said:"Full well, ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother....making the word of God of none effect through your tradition". (Matthew 7:9-13). In both places, the Word of God is said to be what a human author spoke or wrote.

Of course, there is a mystery in just how men could write Scripture, and yet it is the God breathed words of the Lord. In 2 Peter 1:21"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." And when speaking of the prophets who foretold the Gospel, Peter wrote:"...the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of the Christ and the glory that should follow." (1 Peter 1:11-12) Both verses describe that it was a dual authorship that came as the Word of God.

I have been wondering whether we can look to the nature of Christ Himself & His "hypostatic union" to give us a parallel to help us understand dual authorship. Christ is the Word of God who became flesh. He has both the divine nature as the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who took upon himself human nature, and a body. He became human with no loss of his eternal essence. In fact, Christ had to limit or set aside his "divine prerogatives" and take the form of a servant and human with all human limitations. Yet Christ is the Revealer of the Father, and sinless Son of God.( See Philippians 2:5-11)

Since there is both a divine and human element in the Person of Jesus, and there are both divine and human elements in Scripture, we should not be surprised to see parallels, and perhaps get insight into the inspiration of Scripture. Then again, there are limits here.

For one thing, the "Hypostatic Union", a concept which explains the dual nature/one person of Christ is itself a truth which we apprehend, but do not fully comprehend. It is paradoxical to speak of the two natures being one Person, without confusion of each entity. Just as the threes of the Persons in the Trinity are paradoxical, yet true.

In Dual Authorship, we are trying to understand a process. Whereas in the hypostatic union, we have to deal with essence. We know the Scriptures are divine, but how did they get that way given the human involvement?

Matt Weymeyer gives an exegetical understanding of the problem. This is not exhaustive, but it gives us a good idea of what the words of Scripture mean when speaking of the God/man process of authorship.

"In Matthew 1:22 and 2:15, the preposition hupo is used to express ultimate (or primary) agency, whereas the preposition dia is used to express intermediate (or secondary) agency. The distinction is this: the ultimate agent is the person who is ultimately responsible for the action of the verb, and the intermediate agent is the person who is used by the ultimate agent to carry out that action. In simpler terms, if A is the ultimate agent, B is the intermediate agent, and C is the action of the verb, the idea is that A uses B to perform C.

The implications of this are profound. According to Matthew 1:22 and 2:15, the person who is ultimately responsible for the action of speaking forth the Old Testament prophecies is the Lord Himself, for Matthew refers to the words of prophecy as “what was spoken by [hupo—ultimate agency] the Lord.” In addition, however, these verses also indicate that the Lord used intermediate agents to speak forth these words of prophecy, for Matthew refers to “what was spoken…through [dia—intermediate agency] the prophet.” Put very simply, A (God) used B (the prophets) to perform C (write Scripture)." Matt Weymeyer

I would be very much interested in reader comments and input to these ideas. Let me know what you think!

No comments:

Post a Comment