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The Spirit of Contradiction in Christianity and Buddhism$
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Hugh Nicholson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190455347

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190455347.001.0001

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From Messiah to Logos

From Messiah to Logos

(p.52) 3 From Messiah to Logos
The Spirit of Contradiction in Christianity and Buddhism

Hugh Nicholson

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes three paradigmatic moments of Christological development. First is the Christian confession of Jesus as the Messiah. Given the lack of evidence for a general messianic expectation in Jewish literature before 70 AD, the conception of Jesus as the long-expected messiah is likely the discursive product of the late first-century Christian apologetic effort to expropriate the biblical tradition from the Jews. The second moment is the understanding of Jesus as the preexistent “man from heaven” of the Gospel of John. The chapter suggests that this notion expresses a “Christological one-upmanship” over rival Christian communities. The third moment is Justin Martyr’s defense of Logos theology in his mid-second-century treatise Dialogue with Trypho. The chapter suggests that the conception of Christ as the preexistent Word of God was similarly an expression of Christological one-upmanship over the rival Christian groups that Justin rhetorically assimilates to Christianity’s archetypal “other,” Judaism.

Keywords:   Messiah, Gospel of John, Christological one-upmanship, Justin Martyr, Logos theology

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