I found this story quite fascinating, as is almost always the case when ancient rabbinic disputes are about to get real:
Clearly, what concerns the rabbis when it comes to factionalism is the possibility of Jews disagreeing about the Law in public. No wonder even the greatest sages hesitated to get involved in disputes between the two schools. “They asked Rabbi Yehoshua: What is the law with regard to the rival wife of a daughter? He said to them: It is a matter of dispute between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel.” But this evasive answer wasn’t enough to satisfy the questioners, who pressed him: “And in accordance with whose statement is the law? He said to them: Why are you inserting my head between two great mountains?” Getting caught between Hillel and Shammai was like being caught in a war between mountains—or, as we might say, between rock and a hard place. No wonder it took a divine voice to settle the argument between them.
Tim Henderson has posted his summary of Martin Hengel’s “Origins of the Christian Mission” from his volume, Between Jesus and Paul:
The third essay in Martin Hengel’s Between Jesus and Paul addresses the origins of the Christian mission. In doing so, he makes 5 main points, though I would question the sequence in which he chooses to tackle them…
Ben Myers calls them “grammatical rules.” They sound more like theses to me. Whatever they are, they succinctly describe the limits (i.e., the boundaries) of how Christians can speak properly about the mystery of the Incarnation. I commend them to you.
1. Not to speak of Christ in any way that sidelines his human experience.Jesus Christ is truly human.
2. Not to speak of Jesus in any way that sidelines the divine depth beneath his human experience. Jesus Christ is truly God.
3. Not to divide Christ’s divinity and humanity, or to give the impression that he sometimes functions as God and sometimes as a human. Jesus Christ is divine and human in one person.
4. Not to give the impression that Christ’s divinity is fully contained within his humanity, or that his divinity is limited by his human experience. The human nature of Jesus is assumed by the person of the eternal Word.
5. Not to divide redemption from creation, or to give the impression that Christ invades a world that is alien to him. Human beings were created after the pattern of the same eternal Image that has become incarnate in Jesus.
6. Not to divide Christ’s person and work, or to give the impression that Christ is merely the instrument by which God achieves salvation. Salvation is a person: Jesus Christ.
7. Not to divide Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, or to give the impression that he achieves salvation at just one moment of his career. The total life-journey of Jesus Christ – from his birth, to his ministry of teaching and healing, to his death and resurrection – is the saving event.
8. Not to speak of Christ’s death as a mere preliminary stage on the way to resurrection. Jesus Christ is the Priest whose death abolishes the power of sin and death. He is the humble God.
9. Not to speak of Christ’s resurrection as a mere reversal of his death.Jesus Christ is the King whose resurrection exalts and glorifies human nature. He is the deified human.
10. Not to speak of Christ in any way that implies that he is absent, or to give the impression that the church’s task is to make Christ present. Jesus Christ is the Prophet who reveals himself. He is present always and everywhere as the divine-human light of the world.
11. Not to divide Christ from Israel’s history, or to give the impression that the New Testament abolishes the Old. As Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus Christ is the surpassing fulfilment of Israel’s messianic hopes.
12. Not to speak of Christ as if he were relevant only to some people in some cultures and circumstances. Jesus Christ is present to all people, in all times and places, as their divine-human Prophet, Priest and King. The church trusts and proclaims, but never possesses, this Messiah.
Occasionally I am brought up short by the realization that some people have never had real banana pudding. If you are wondering what I’m talking about, you are one of those people.
My heart breaks for you.
Tim Henderson has posted his summary of the next essay from Martin Hengel’s Between Jesus and Paul: “Christology and New Testament Chronology.”
Do go read Pete Enns’s latest at Huffington Post: “3 Reasons Why Apostle Paul Is the Crazy Uncle No One Wants to Talk About (and 2 Reasons Why We Need to Get Over That).” If you’re in my CHR 150 class, read it twice. It will save you some time and heartache in a couple of weeks.
Tim Henderson has begun a review of the six essays included in Martin Hengel’s, Between Jesus and Paul. Hurray! The first is “Between Jesus and Paul: The ‘Hellenists’, the ‘Seven’ and Stephen (Acts 6.1-15; 7.54-8.3),” from which the volume gets its name. I’ll gather links to all of Tim’s summaries here for ease of reference.