Friday, 1 October 2010

The New Testament: Mediterranean religious development or unique revelation of Christ?

The 'History of Religions School' or Religionsgeschichtliche Schule that developed in German biblical studies during the 19th century, put forward the theory that the New Testament is the product of different religious and cultural phenomena of its day. Thus, the ideas found in the New Testament were simply ideas found in the ancient environment and consequently applied to Christianity. One famous theologian, who, according to some, became the dogmatician for the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule was Ernst Troeltsch.

A well known New Testament scholar here in the Netherlands has a different position:

"The main influence in the development of Christianity . . . comes from Christ himself. Terminology might be taken from other religions, but filled with new content. Christianity is not a religion which developed out of other religions, but due to the coming of Christ alongside other religions."


CROSSOVER! said...

This is an interesting post! As I am a Johannine student and teacher, I see a lot of parallels between the ideology of John and of Indian Spirituality. One example from the "Logos" Christology: 'Logos' is the first uttered word of God, in Indian terms "Adi Sabda". Indian Christian Theologians attempt to find a lot of similarities between "Logos" of Christianity and "Oam" of Hinduism. Oam of Hinduism is considered as the first uttered word too. Another important factor is the "Mystical Union" in John's Gospel. Indian religions, too, are emphasizing too much on "mysticism" and "monism" (Advaita Philosophy). That may be the reason why some scholars call John's Gospel as "A Gospel of Indian Mind". Though this assertion is there, my basic argument is that we cannot compare many of the Johannine concepts and precepts with the Indian ideologies. While the similarities remain only at the peripheral level, the differences are more striking.

Frederik Mulder said...

Hi Johnson,
Your comments are very interesting. You refer to "mysticism". Do you know anything about Christian forms of the latter? If so, are there things to be careful for in it or not?

Best regards