Lectionary Year B
December 22, 2002
Romans 16:25-27

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) Of the Gospel, euvagge,lio,n, Paul asserts Jesus is both the subject, the object and the author of its preaching. "If he (Paul) calls the gospel his own (to. euvagge,lio,n mou), it is because he as an apostle is entrusted with its declaration," says Friedrich in TDNT. That he was to preach it to the Gentiles, Galatians 1:6 assures and asserts. In the Gospels the New Testament believers heard Jesus teach about mystery (musth,rion) and/or mysteries, seeming to indicate that the Kingdom remains mysterious. What Jesus seems to be teaching is that the mysterious Kingdom of God is approaching, according to Bornkamm in TDNT. "In the Pauline corpus," Bornkamm continues, "the term musth,rion is firmly connected to the kerygma of Christ." He cites I Corinthians 2:6-16. The first generations of Christians considered the mystery to be revealed (avpoka,luyin) in the future returning of the One who had come in Jesus of Nazareth, according to Oepke in TDNT. Oepke continues, "Revelation is not a material possession which we have in black and white. It is a divine act, the unveiling of what is hidden . . . Even in concealment, the whole earthly life of Jesus bears the character of eschatological revelation. This is confirmed by the concept which first appears in Paul but which is then found throughout the NT epistles, so that we must attribute it to the community in general." Early Christians, of the first centuries' converts, must have been thinkers with opinions and/or had an impression of what others thought of and/or had opinions about them and/or their standards, principles, views and positions on which they took stands and/or spoke out. These terms are the earliest Greek meanings of doke,w, the verb from which the noun do,xa comes, according to Kittel's articles in TDNT. Kittel notes further that the NT uses of the word, do,xa, mostly to denote, "radiance" and "glory" in addition to secular Greeks' appreciation of the term's meaning "repute" or "honour". Mainly, he concludes his introductory essays stating, "it denotes 'divine and heavenly radiance' the 'loftiness and majesty' of God, and even 'the being of God and His world'." Initially, Christians probably emphasized such characteristics of God's being in "the divine mode of being". Kittel cites Luke 2:9 and 9:31f as primary examples of the NT use of this term to describe God's 'divine splendor', 'visible divine radiance', etc. Such doxologies appear also in Galatians 1:5, Ephesians 3:21, Philippians 4:20 and I Timothy 1:17.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) For euvagge,lio,n, the first Testament used hr'foB., for secular, never in the Old Testament, religious, "good news", according to Friedrich. The Old Testament finds God's self-revelations in signs and intimations (Genesis24:12ff, 25:21ff,; Judges 6:36ff; I Samuel 15:27ff) in spiritual art (I Samuel 9:6ff, 15ff; II Samuel 24:11; I Kings22:6ff; Amos 7:12 and Isaiah 29:10 and 30:10), in dreams and interpretations, in the oracle of Urim and Thummim (I Samuel 14:37ff), in priestly directions (Deuteronomy 17:9 and 12) and for which revelation they prepared by fasting and mortification (Daniel 9:3). In the essays on do,xa, cited above, by Kittel, we read that the Old Testament, according to von Rad in TDNT, vol. 2, pp.238-242, dAbK., is "that which makes God impressive, . . ." though "everywhere attested in the OT, God is intrinsically invisible". God gets manifested in the natural elements of clouds, lightening, fire, thunderstorms, earthquakes (Psalms 29 and 97, Exodus 19:16, 24:15ff and 40:34f, Judges5:4 and Ezekiel 1:1ff). Also, God appears gloriously in what von Rad terms, a "beautiful story" in Exodus 33:18. Furthermore, God's ancient glory is revealed in the sanctuary in Psalm 63:2 and in the terms by which the deity is named, Psalms 66:2 and 79:9 and is to be honored, praised and called "greatly impressive". Isaiah 6:3 and Numbers 14:21 seem, to von Rad, to be exaggerations of God's extensive impressiveness while Isaiah 40:5, along with much more of Deutero-Isaiah, seeks to prepare the way for such a praiseworthy God.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) As we might expect, these cosmopolitan aristocratic Greeks used doke,w and do,xa to mean "to think" and/or "to have an opinion". It might refer to a philosophical opinion, a theoretical view or even a "mere conjecture". It seems mostly to express a positive characteristic of the thinker, the opinion holder and/or the theorist. It also might indicate God's splendor in one of Philo's (Spec. Leg., I.45) seemingly coming from Exodus 33:18. The imperial cult of the Greeks employ euvagge,lio,n, to refer to the festive accession to thrones when a new era promises to bring peace, possibly even globally. Of course these philosophers would certainly like the subject of musth,rion, mentioned in our text at hand. They would enjoy at least discussing if not actually celebrating the devotees' salvation gained via participating in many mystery cults of their times, including from the 7th century BCE to the 4th century CE. Also, they might appreciate the hierarchies between initiates and outsiders. Both the mysteries and classical philosophy seek visions of the divine.

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