Jesus vs. Paul Cagematch Part 2: A Response

In his recent Christianity Today article, Jesus vs. Paul, McKnight wrestles with what I, too, have perceived and at times felt some tension over. There appears to be a different emphasis from Paul (justification by faith) and Jesus (Kingdom of God). In “Jesus,” it should be noted that McKnight, I feel, is referring to the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and what these authors, Spirit inspired yet also addressing a specific context not unlike Paul, chose to record to address their contextualized issues. McKnight seeks to find a way through in his article.

My question is, are their some bridging elements between Jesus and Paul within the Biblical text itself? I see two bridges that need further examination in this light. We shall look at the first in this post and the second in a later one.

The Gospel of John. John’s Gospel has a much different tone than the Synoptic Gospels. The later authoring date of the fourth Gospel makes me ask, was John aware of Paul’s writings and, if so, to what degree was he aware of their theological emphasis? In John, there seems to bus seat constructed that allows the emphasis of the Synoptic Gospels (Kingdom of God) and the Pauline Epistles (justification by faith/union in Christ) to do more than ride side by in harmony, but to sit in one another’s lap to some degree.

Adolf Deissmann has taken note of this in The Religion of Jesus and the Faith of Paul (1923) writing,

I regard the Gospel of John, and in still greater measure, the religious attitude which finds its expression in the that Gospel and in the other Johannine writings, as a great synthesis of the Synoptic Jesus and the Pauline Christ. John amalgamated ancient, genuine traditions concerning Jesus – traditions which were partly his own recollection – with his experience of  communion with Christ, and in this way created a Gospel which was in the first place destined to render service in the post-Pauline generation, and in the struggle with Gnosticism, Judaism, and the followers of John the Baptist. Thus we have in John’s Gospel an intimate combination of the tradition concerning Jesus and Christ-mysticism [by which he means our in union in Christ so emphasized in Paul].

Obviously, a further examination of how John relates to Paul and vice versa is needed. If you are aware of key resources on this particular topic, I’d appreciate your suggestions as a comment.

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Jordan Fowler

Jordan helps small businesses grow as the owner of Moon & Owl Marketing, a marketing and advertising agency in Fort Worth, TX. Lover of cycling, track and field, and borderline Liverpool FC fanatic.

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