Saturday, January 17, 2015

Jesus' Identity in a Multi-Polar Anthropology

In a previous posting I raised the question of Jesus' maleness and what that said about God.  I made She Who Is, I am currently reading.
use of the reflections on this matter made by Elizabeth Johnson. I want to press beyond this just a bit in a brief posting, again making reference to the work of Elizabeth Johnson, whose book

In a chapter in the book entitled "Jesus-Sophia," Johnson makes the point that while the New Testament speaks of Jesus both in terms of Word (logos) and Wisdom (Sophia), we have chosen to emphasize the incarnation of Logos (John 1:14) while pushing aside the witness to Jesus as Wisdom incarnate as well.  As Paul proclaims, Christ is both the "power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24).  

Moving further, regarding the question of whether maleness is determinative of Christness, Johnson suggests the adoption of a multi-polar anthropology that moves beyond the male-female dualism that we use to define humanity.  We are male and female, but we are not just male and female.  My body has something to do with my identity, but I am more than my body or  my gender.

So what does this have to do with our Christology?  Elizabeth Johnson writes:

A multipolar anthropology allows Christology to integrate Jesus' maleness using interdependence of difference as a primary category, rather than emphasizing sexuality in an ideological, distorted way. Amid a multiplicity of differences Jesus' maleness is appreciated as intrinsically important for his own personal historical identity and the historical challenge of his ministry, but not theologically determinative of his identity as the Christ nor normative for the identity of the Christian community. Story, symbol, and doctrine then assume an emancipatory gestalt. [She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discoursep. 156]
The human Jesus lived and breathed and died as a Jewish male. That is part of his identity, but theologically it is not determinative of his Christic role as the Logos/Sophia of God.  Maleness does not define God nor the Christ, though the Christ became known to us in Jesus, a man from Galilee. The good news here for us is that in taking human form, the Christ of God takes on full humanity in all of its differences and reconciles us in our differences to God.

Note on image:   © Christ Sophia, Brother Michael Reyes, OFM, Courtesy of Trinity Stores, http://www.trinitystores.com/  

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