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Christ Absent and Present: A Study in Pauline Christology

ORR, PETER,CHRISTIAN (2011) Christ Absent and Present: A Study in Pauline Christology. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the study of Pauline Christology by examining how Paul conceives of the exalted Christ. In particular it considers the exalted Christ through the lens of his absence and presence. The fact that the exalted Christ can be simultaneously present (e.g. Rom 8:10) and absent (e.g. Rom 8:34) points to the complexity in Paul’s conceptuality. The main argument of this thesis is that if the absence of Christ is carefully delineated then the seeming paradox concerning the presence and absence of Christ actually disappears.
Given that New Testament studies have generally not considered the exalted Christ through this lens, in chapter one we do not present a history of research but provide an entry point to our thesis by examining how two of the 20th Century’s most significant Pauline scholars, Albert Schweitzer and Ernst Käsemann, conceived of the exalted Christ. These two Pauline interpreters are particularly relevant given that they view the exalted Christ in such sharply distinct ways and so help orientate us to the theological issues that are crucial to understanding the nature of the exalted Christ.
In chapter two, we consider a number of texts where Paul expresses the reality of the absence of Christ from the world. We examine a number of passages which indicate that the absence of Christ is a bodily absence since, for Paul, the exalted Christ remains a human being with a discrete, located, human body. Because Christ retains a discrete and distinguishable human body, he is not universally located.
In chapters three and four we turn to investigate three of the most significant modes of the presence of Christ and, in particular, consider how these relate to his bodily absence. In chapter three we consider his epiphanic presence and his dynamic presence. The former is seen in an extended section in 2 Corinthians (2:14-4:12) where Paul repeatedly employs epiphanic language and imagery. The dynamic mode of Christ’s presence is seen in texts where Paul portrays Christ as the agent of his own presence.
Finally, in chapter four we consider the bodily presence of Christ. Here Paul employs the concept of the body to suggest Christ’s intense presence with his people whether individually, corporately or in the Lord’s Supper. This use of body imagery to express the presence of Christ would seem to call into question our suggestion that the absence of Christ might be understood in bodily terms. However, throughout this chapter we see that the bodily presence of Christ is a mediated presence and not an absolute, unqualified presence.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Christ; Christology; Paul
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:19 Dec 2011 14:29

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