Hans Küng on John’s Christology and the Shema

In a little reading of Hans Küng’s Judaism; Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, I came across these statements:

“In this Gospel [John] … there cannot yet be any question of a ‘metahistorical drama of Christ’, the objection often put forward by the Jewish side. Precisely in this late, fourth Gospel, we still have statements like: ‘And this is eternal life, that they may know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’ Or, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Here there is a clear distinction between God and Jesus Christ.
No, this Gospel too does not contain any speculative metaphysical Christology — torn from its Jewish roots — but rather a christology of sending and revelation associated with the world of Jewish Christianity. However, its statement about pre-existence, understood in an unmythological way, takes on heightened significance: ‘John does not investigate the metaphysical nature and being of the pre-existent Christ; he is not concerned about the insight that before the incarnation there were two pre-existent divine persons who were bound together in the one divine nature. This way of conceiving of things is alien to John. So too is the conception of a ‘begetting within the Godhead.’ ‘I and the Father are one.’ This statement has nothing to do with any dogmatic-speculative statements about the relationship of the natures within the Godhead.’ So what was John’s positive concern? What stands in the foreground is the confession that the man Jesus of Nazareth is the Logos of God in person. And he is the Logos as a mortal man; but he is the Logos only for those who are prepared to believe, trusting God’s word in his word, God’s actions in his praxis, God’s history in his career, and God’s compassion in his cross’ …
If the Jewish tradition has always held unshakeably to a basic truth of Jewish faith, then it is the ‘Shema Israel’, Hear, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone! … This confession of the unity and uniqueness of God meant the strict repudiation not only of any dualism but also of any trinitarianism.”

Hans Küng, Judaism; Between Yesterday and Tomorrow (Continuum, 1991), 382–3.

Originally published at itsinthetext.blogspot.com.

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