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Jesus: God and Man [Paperback]

By Wolfhart Pannenberg (Author)
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Item Number 154296  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   428
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.02" Width: 6.12" Height: 1.03"
Weight:   1.38 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 19, 1983
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664244688  
EAN  9780664244682  

Availability  123 units.
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Item Description...
This highly acclaimed work demonstrates Wolfhart Pannenberg's belief that at the heart of every Christian theology lies its teaching about Jesus Christ. The second edition, available for the first time in paperback, contains an Afterword in which the author reviews other theologians' responses to his thesis and methodology and shows the progression of his own interpretation.

Publishers Description
One of the most influential twentieth-century studies on the doctrine of Christ, this highly acclaimed work demonstrates Pannenberg's belief that at the heart of every Christian theology lies its teaching about Jesus Christ. The second edition, available for the first time in paperback, contains an Afterword in which the author reviews other theologians' responses to his thesis and methodology and shows the progression of his own interpretation.

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More About Wolfhart Pannenberg

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Wolfhart Pannenberg is Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Munich.

Wolfhart Pannenberg was born in 1928.

Wolfhart Pannenberg has published or released items in the following series...
  1. scm classics
  2. Systematic Theology

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology   [2037  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Pannenberg's Christology  Apr 2, 2007
The previous reviewer has done an admirable job in presenting why Pannenberg's book is important. I do not wish to traverse ground that has already been walked. I did read the whole review and thought it was admirably done. Thus, just a few observations regarding this outstanding volume. Interestingly, Karl Barth asked Pannenberg not to publish this book, because he knew that Pannenberg was re-visiting 19th century German liberal theology in method, purpose, and content. Pannenberg, like Moltmann, was not the child of peace and promise for which Barth hoped; meaning that Pannenberg was not the heir to Barth's theological gains. However, be that as it may, this book is an outstanding contribution from an historical perspective and theological perspective because Pannenberg orients his theology beautifully with regard to the past. The historical discussion would be worth the price of the book alone. My only other comment is that Pannenberg, for all his brilliance does not quite pull off what he hoped--because his Christology, in the words of the late Colin Gunton, is in the end adoptionistic. See Gunton's book titled: "Yesterday and Today: A Study of Continuities in Christology." Sadly, any Christology that begins at the bottom and strives upwards is bound to fail no matter how brilliant the attempt. Having said that--buy this book, read this book, study this book, learn from this book--I would like to fail in anything as brilliantly as Pannenberg has here. This is one of the rare theological masterpieces of the late 20th century, by one of the few theological geniuses still living.
An astounding piece of scholarship!  Feb 21, 2007
I have been a reader of Pannenberg for some time now, but it was not until recently that I finished Jesus: God and Man, and I must say that I was left, after finishing this book on a second read-through, simply amazed. Pannenberg is, in my opinion, one of the most profound theologians of the 20th century, though, unfortunately (especially at conservative Bible-colleges like the one I attend) there is a surprising reticence on the one hand, and an unfortunate ignorance on the other, that truncates any viable discussion of Pannenberg. The same could, of course, be said about Moltmann, or Jenson or (as my friend Halden would undoubtedly champion) about von Balthazar's theology (of which I myself am admittedly fairly ignorant).

Reviewing a book of this scope always makes me pensively deliberate with myself how I could possible isolate key parts of the text to present a viable synopsis. This book is no different. One of the additional difficulties with Pannenberg is due to his systematic nature: it is hard to "isolate" pieces of his work, say a quote or an idea, without running the enormous risk of completely misrepresenting moments of Pannenberg's systematic flourish. Hence, and this is very important for those of you who stumble across this review: it is probably going to be long. So, without reading the whole thing, here: Buy this book! I wholly and totally recommend it for reading in Christology. It is a classic that should be in every theologians library. No one will agree fully with Pannenberg, but this book will nonetheless stimulate converstation and thought! With that disclaimer then, I begin.

As one can easily ascertain from the title, this monograph by Pannenberg is on Christology. Though to speak of this as "Christology proper," would be to overstate what Pannenberg is attempting to do. This is really a book of Christological methodology, rather than material conclusions (though, of course, these are present as well.) Pannenberg is attempting to put forth the program he hinted at in his very first publication Revelation as History, which runs decidedly obverse to the anti-historical leanings of Bultmann's demythologization, and the so called "neo-orthodoxy" of Pannenberg's mentor, Barth. Though the term is frequently misunderstood, especially in reference to Pannenberg's use of it (to which we shall return) one could roughly describe the program as "from below." Whereas in theology "from above," Jesus' divinity and the doctrine of the incarnation stand at the center, Pannenberg's is an attempt to show why the confession of Jesus as divinity is materially legitimated by Jesus' own life and from within the horizon of Jewish apocalyptic expectation. Indeed, one of the repeating themes that resonates throughout this book is a tireless drumbeat evaluating the evolution of Christian belief in Jesus through the history of traditions. If a belief in Jesus (say, Divinity) can be shown to be a foreign addition of Greek metaphysics (ala Harnack's thesis), or say, the idea of a descending and ascending redeemer to be a Gnosticizing tendency of the tradition, then the basis of authentic proclamation has been defeated.

This leads to another central theme of the book, in dialogue with the concern for material legitimation: the Resurrection as the center of theology. This is perhaps the most misunderstood part of the book, in my opinion, and so garners the largest portion of this review. What occurs here is a wholly unique and (at least in my opinion,) convincing "demonstration" of the hypothesis of Jesus' divinity, centered around his Resurrection. To understand the importance of the Resurrection, we must understand 3 things: 1.) Jesus' pre-Easter proclamation, activity, and commission 2.) What exactly was entailed in so called "apocalyptic eschatology" of the Jewish tradition(s) and 3.) how the Resurrection ties these first two together:

Jesus' pre-Easter proclamation, according to Pannenberg, was to proclaim that the Kingdom of God was near, and that the fate of men in relation to this coming kingdom was decided in relation to Jesus (e.g. the Son of Man sayings in Luke 12:8 and parallels) where people's current community with Jesus would determine their relationship to the coming Son of Man who would stand as Judge. On top of this, of course, Jesus also freely interpreted the law, which implicitly gave him authority higher than that of Moses. Jesus placed his "but I say to you..." (e.g. Mt. 5) in the center of the proclamations. Since in Jewish tradition the only authority that was higher than Moses was God, this is a claim to equality with God. Related to all this is Jesus' claim to forgive sin, which is an important part, but doesn't stand as an "isolated" or "immediate" claim to divinity as many conservatives have supposed, but stands in a meaningful relationship to the proclamation of the kingdom of God (which will be explained in a moment).

This brings us to the Jewish apocalyptic expectation. Only at the end of history, according to such expectation, could God be fully revealed: "In the Old and New testaments do speak of the subject matter (revelation) as a self-revelation of God, although it is not terminologically so designated. In the Old testatment this involves especially the so-called erweiswort ("word of demonstration") formulas that designate knowledge of YWHW's divinity as the purpose of the divine activity in history. The more all happenings were perceived in Israel as a single great historical unity, the more the full knowledge of YHWH became an event that would be possible only at the end of all happenings. YWHW would complete the entire course of world events, world history, in order that man might thereby know his divnity. Only at the end of history is he ultimately revealed from his deeds as the one God who accomplishes everything...correspondingly, Jewish apocalyptic expected God's full revelation as an event of the end of time." (p.128)

This sets up the relation of Jesus' proclamation of the coming kingdom (essentially the end of time) and his ability to forgive sins. What is salvation (i.e. forgiveness of sins)? Pannenberg defines it at its core as "openness to God," being open to God's future. This is in line with the Jewish apocalyptic understanding where salvation, and the ultimate "forgiveness of sins" in the judgement of God, is not only an "immediate, vertical" reality, but precisely is immediate because of the promise of God's coming at the end. Only in this way is it present: because it was beleived that God would judge justly *at the end*, already then his servants stand justified because God is Lord of the entirety of history, not the other way around. The presence of salvation has a proleptic, anticipatory structure: it is "now" because the "it will be" is present through the promise---the fulfillment being what retroactively confirms the presence of salvific reality "already" present. Hence in the proclamation of the kingdom, in Jesus' immanent expectation, because salvation, the fulfilled destiny of man, consists in the fulfillment of openness for God, it is already present for those who accept Jesus' message, and so are placed in a relation of immediacy and openness to the God-who-is-coming. For this reason Jesus could grant salvation directly: "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!" (Lk 10:23) Jesus' claim to forgive sins is an *eschatological* concept that stands related to the proclamation of the kingdom (an insight lost to many evangelicals), and is an intimate effect or conclusion from Christ's eschatological consciousness. Moreover, stated in another way: "the nearness of the immanent Kingdom of God [calls men to repentance and obedience, and] puts all things into that relation to God which belonged to them as God's creatures from the very beginning. It is just this that demonstrates the universal truth of Jesus' eschatological message: it reveaals the 'natural' essence of men and things with an urgency nowhere achieved outside the eschatological light." (p.231)

Yet, as Pannenberg notes critically regarding several theologians, if we leave it here, what have we really "shown?" All of this up to now has remained at the level of assertion. How are Jesus' claims, his immanent expectation, verified? Indeed, as has been pointed out, the kingdom did not come, at least not in the way perhaps expected. This is where Pannenberg really shines. Jesus' immanent expectation was fulfilled in his own resurrection. We have to understand the the resurrection is not just an isolated or individual occurence, but one that stands in relation to the end of history, according to the apocalytpic expectation (e.g. Is. 26:7, Dan. 12:1-3 etc...) Pannenberg, from this, puts forward several thesis, a couple of which I will touch upon: If Jesus has been resurrected, then the end of the world has begun in him. This is the first closely related to a second: If Jesus has been raised, in the Jewish mind this could be nothing else than a verification by YHWH of Jesus' past life. No Jew would have thought such an occurance as happening outside the jurisdiction of their God. These two thesis interact: If Jesus' past life has been validated, not only through the validation of his immanent expectation of the end in his own resurrection, but also since Jesus' claim to forgive sins (an eschatological concept, remember) has been retroactively validated, this means that *the end is present proleptically in Jesus*. Jesus' resurrection verified his claim to authority, and hence it is also a confirmation of his proclamation that the kingdom of God is near. This is the basic structure of salvation, that Jesus proclaims the nearing kingdom and hence places everything in its `natural' relation to God, because at the end of all events in the eschaton the essence of things will be revealed to be what they are because of their standing in relation to the totality of all other things in light of God's revelation. Because the resurrection is a validation of this basic expectation, and also a validation of Jesus' understanding that he himself was inaugurating that kingdom and able as such to present salvation as already present, that it was present in himself, the material fulfillment of Jesus own expectation in the eschatologically significant event of the resurrection indicates that the kingdom actually IS present in Jesus' proclamation of the coming kingdom, that is, salvation is already occurring (proleptically) in the form of men's relation and belief in Jesus because this reorients them wholly to the kingdom.

But as such, since the kingdom can now be seen as actually present in Jesus' proclamation, that the eschaton is proleptically present in him, because the resurrection (given the apocalyptic connotations) is a material fulfillment of Jesus' basic expectations, then *God has been revealed in Jesus because in him the end has occurred*. Hence it is not JUST that Jesus has been resurrected that we can say the end has begun in him (though this is the epistemological and ontological locus of the decision) but the retroactive verification of Jesus' individuality through the apocalyptic act of God indicates that that Jesus was correct in his placement of himself as executor of the end, as able to eschatologically forgive sins in the immedate present and hence the end is present in Jesus. Just so, because the end is present in Jesus, Jesus is God's revelation as God can and will only be revealed at the end of all events. Hence Jesus' own claims to know God as father and to reveal him (e.g. Matt. 11:27) are related to this basic eschatological horizon which understood God as "near." God can no longer be thought without Jesus, in whom the end is proleptically present: Jesus is God's revelation of Himself.

Pannenberg then follows a line started by Barth: If Jesus is God's revelation, if God now, because He would only be revealed in total at the end of all events, is now revealed in Jesus then the following occurs: "Jesus' resurrection from the dead, in which the end that stands before all men has happened before its time, is the actual event of revelation. Only because of Jesus' resurrection, namely, because this event is the beginning of the end facing all men, can one speak of God's self-revelation in jesus Christ...The concept of self-revelation includes the fact that there can only be one single such revelation...When someone has disclosed himself ultimately in a definite particular event, he cannot again disclose himself in the same sense in another event different from the first...thus either there is always only a partial self-disclosure of God that is perceived under one-sided aspects, or there is in one instance a revelation that certainly is unique by definition, because a plurality again would abrogate its character as revelation...[and] the concept of God's self-revelation contains the idea the the Revealer and what is Revealed are identical...If this were not so, then the human event of Jesus' life would veilthe God who is active therein and thus excluse His full revelation...If God is revealed in Jesus Christ, who or what God is becomes defined only by the Christ event. Thus Jesus belongs to the definition of God, and thus to his divinity, his essence. The essence of God is not accessible at all without Jesus Christ." (p.129-130) "And in view of God's eternity, the revelatory character of Jesus' resurrection means that God was always one with Jesus even before his earthly birth. Were it otherwise, Jesus would not be in person the one revelation of the eternal God." (p.153) Hence "The representation of the Christ event as the descent and reascent of the redeemer hardly involves a Gnosticizing reinterpretation that misconstrued the Jewish tradition and that would be explained as a lack of understanding for the original...Christian message...Rather the resurrected Lord's essential unity with God leads to the idea of preexistence through its own intrinsic logic." (p.153-154). The fullest statement of this comes at the end of the book, and combines the various ideas here presented: "The transition from Jesus' announcement of the imminent Kingdom of God to the confession by his community of Jesus' own kingly rule is to be understood as a materially established step in the primitive Christian history of traditions, not to be judged as an arbitrary leap or even as falling away from Jesus' proclamation. Because Jesus' resurrection confirmed his earthyl claim to authority by the fulfillment of the eschatological future in his own person, he no longer just anticipated the judgement of Him with whom the eschatological reality begins as he did in his earhtly activity, but he himself has now become in person the reality of the future eschatological salvation...Differently expressed, through the resurrection, the revealer of God's eschatological will became the incarnation of the eschatological realit itself; the ultimate realization of God's will for humanity and for the whole of creation could therefore be expected from Him. Moreover, because Jesus' claim was eschatological in character, no other could be conceived alongside Him to bring in the eschatological consummation..." (p.367)

PHEW! Well that was a long winded explanation, and this is only a SMALL portion of the entire book (though I would argue the entire book is essentially an unpacking of this basic concept.) The book itself is longer than the pagination would have you believe due to the incredibly small print used. If one were to use the font size in Pannenberg's Systematics for this book, it would swell another 100 pages (give or take)! There need to be some disclaimers on Pannenberg's method as well, the first is short, the second long (ya I know, roll your eyes...well you don't have to read it): The first is that Pannenberg has often been criticized for his "from below " approach. There are many who argue that Pannenberg needed to supplement also a "from above" approach, a criticism that Pannenberg wholly agrees with. He never intended for this book to be read by itself, but in light of his entire project. The Systematic THeology represents more the "from above movement" (for an appraisal and summary of methodology, see: F. LeRon Shult's The Postfoundationalist Task of Theology)

The second disclaimer: , Pannenberg has occasionally been accused as being an Adoptionist. (See: Donald Bloesch, Jesus Christ Lord and Savior p.142, who accuses Pannenberg of seeing Christ as adopted at the time of His Resurrection). But this is simply not the case. Those like Bloesch (and others) that say Pannenberg believes Christ to have been adopted at the Resurrection have both 1.) missed explicit statements to the contrary (e.g. JGM pp.127-141, esp. p.135) but have also, in general, misunderstood Pannenberg's metaphysical philosophy. See: Wolfhart Pannenberg, Metaphysics and the Idea of God (Grand Rapids, Eerdman's Publishing, 2001)

Metaphysically speaking, any perception of finite parts, or the finite parts themselves (which Pannenberg terms "noetic" and "ontic" conceptions of the limit respectively) can only be understood in relationship to other parts. So to speak parts are parts only in their relationship to other parts. Every time we draw a border, says Pannenberg, we have thought, however vaguely, of something that lie beyond that border. This leads to the dialectical concept of "whole," because parts are parts, almost tautologically, in relation to a whole of the parts.

Every finite thought, then, borrowing from Descartes formulation, presupposes the infinite "unifying unity" that lay behind the whole. This Pannenberg calls a "nonthematic perception" or intuition of the infinite contained in every finite content of consciousness. So to speak, every finite content, both in our understanding of it (noetic) and in itself (ontic) has (to borrow Gadamer's expression) an expressed and unexpressed association to the rest of the totality of reality. What this does then, is to point to the future as the source of completion or totality, because only when (if) the future is completed (which Pannenberg later draws affinities to the Christian understanding of the eschaton) will objects be given to themselves their totality, and hence their essence.

This breeds a specific problem, however: if the preceding is true, then can it be really so that everything is not "what it is" yet? Pannenberg answers the affirmative while circumventing relativism or skepticism. He says that everything that is, exists in a mode of anticipation of its potential completion, and as such, everything's essence exists in relationship to a potential future completion, the future being the source of the wholeness of finite being. Pannenberg ends chapter 5 of Metaphysics with a particularly mind-bending statement: "the essence of events and forms within the natural world changes over the course of time; that is, what they are changes...only at the end of their movement through time, or at the end of more complex series of events, could anyone actually decide what makes up their distinctive character, their essence. At that time, one would have to maintain however that this [final state] had been the essence of the thing in question all along [emphasis mine]...the decision concerning the being that stands at the end of the process has retroactive power...if motion is understood as goal directed becoming, then the goal at which it aims, which will be 'completely' reached at its end, must somehow be already present and efficacious during the motion...if one allows this description (strange as it may seem) to sink it a bit, holding back the overused metaphor of seedlike predisposition and developement, it becomes clear that the presence of the entelecheia in the process of becoming has an anticipatory structure: it implies an anticipatory realization of the eidos before actual realization." (pp.105-106)

Pannenberg points to Jesus as a particular elucidation of this structure: Jesus Resurrection points to a general future resurrection from the dead, but in essence "the eschatological resurrection is viewed as already having broken into history as an anticipation of its final state. The final reality of the eschaton is present proleptically in Jesus as anticipation of its final consummation." (Ibid). But, more importantly, in JGM, Pannenberg writes "Nevertheless the idea that Jesus had received divinity only as a consequence of his resurrection is not tenable. We have seen in our discussion of the meaning of the resurrection event that the character of the confirmation of Jesus' pre-Easter claim is connected with the resurrection. To this extent the resurrection event has retroactive power. Jesus did not simply become something that he previously had not been, but his pre-Easter claim was confirmed by God. This confirmation, the manifestation of Jesus' `divine Sonship' by God, is the new thing brought by the Easter event. However, as confirmation, the resurrection has retroactive force for Jesus' pre-Easter activity, which taken by itself was not yet recognizable as being divinely authorized and its authorization was also not yet definitively settled. However, this has been revealed in its divine legitimation in the light of Jesus' resurrection." (p.135) He goes on to write that "Had Jesus not been raised from the dead, it would have been decided that he also had not been one with God previously. But through his resurrection, it is decided, not only so far as our knowledge is concerned, but with respect to reality, that Jesus is one with God and retroactively that he was also already one with God previously." (p.136) Hence this isn't just an epistemological retroaction, where Jesus is now just SEEN as always having been one with God, but Pannenberg would argue that the ontological state of the event is inseperable from any epistemology we derive from it. Hence Pannenberg is attempting to take seriously the actual course of history.

Well, for anyone who read the whole review, bravo! I recommend this book to anyone interested either in Pannenberg or Christology. Just be prepared for an intense read!

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