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Revista Studii Teologice

REVISTA FACULTĂŢILOR DE TEOLOGIE DIN PATRIARHIA ROMÂNĂ



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Despre numirea «numelui mai presus de orice nume» (Flp 2, 9-11)

On the title “the name above every name” (Phil 2, 9-11)

Autor(i): Octavian FLORESCU


This article concerns an exegetical issue regarding the real „name above every name” in the Christological hymn of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (2, 5-11). The passage has probably prompted more commentaries than any other passage in the New Testament. From the ethical to the soteriological interpretation, from the polemics on its Gattung to the intense debates over its authorship, this hymn remains a cornerstone for the believers’ faith and a continuous challenge for biblical scholarship. One main reason for such great attention could be the fact that these verses represent in nuce the first creed of the Early Christian Church. It is a con-fession of faith that culminates in the proclamation of the universal truth: Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2, 11).
While many scholars take for granted that „τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα” given to exalted Jesus, in Philippians 2, 9, is „κύριος”, the present article contends that the “the name above every name” may actually be „Jesus” and it tries to prove it by taking into account other options suggested by the narrative, the Pauline treat-ment of divine onomatology, and other early Christian sources. In fact, its main tenet is that what the revealed, divine Name YHWH stood in for the Old Testament, the Name JESUS signifies for the New Testament, without any breach of the monotheistic faith as the novel appropriation of Isaiah 45, 21-25 demonstrates. In order to de-monstrate this hypothesis, the article puts forth a new exegetical, literary, graphical and theological reading of the Pauline hymn, which has been so far overlooked due either to an “earthly” understanding of the revealed name Jesus or to a Religi-onsgeschictliche approach indebted to the Greco-Roman milieu.
The present paper draws upon the historical-exegetical studies of Heitmüller, Moule, Bauckham, Hurtado and Nagata, to whom it adds new elements borrowed from rhetoric, and additional data from biblical and non-canonical literature in order to prove that “the name above every name” in Phil 2, 9 is „Jesus”. The article begins with a historical excursus about the supporters of the name „Jesus” as the „name above every name” in Phil 2, 9, from Origen to St. Gregory of Nyssa and up to the present-day exegets like C.F.D. Moule or Takeshi Nagata.
The mainstream view of recent scholarship (Lohmyer, R.P.Martin, Hawthorne, O’Brien, Fee, Bockmuehl) supports „κύριος” as „the name above every name”, on historical and exegetical grounds, while Vincent and Mayer settle for „Jesus Christ”. Against the scholarly consensus there are a few commentators who designate the name „Jesus” as the supreme Name (Heitmüller, Knox, Bartsch, Moule, Caird) by interpreting „Ἰησοῦ” in verse 10 epexegetically as „at the utterance of the name Jesus”. The most persuasive and persistent among them is C.F.D. Moule who points to „Jesus” as the name referred to in verse 9. He sets apart the name „Jesus” from the title „Lord” and translates „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ” naturally as „when the name Jesus is uttered”, taking „Ἰησοῦ” as explicative, appositional, instead of the posses-sive genitive „the name of Jesus”. Others challenge the validity of „κύριος” as a Greek substitute for the Tetragrammaton (Howard, Bauckham), or just take „Jesus” as appositional while accepting instead „κύριος” as Jesus’ bestowed name (Silva, Nagata). Recently, Takeshi Nagata comes up with new evidence concerning the early Christian innovative reading of the Old Testament writings (Is 45, 23) in justifying their devotion to Jesus as co-recipient of divine worship. He contends that in order to make sense of the „namelessness of the central figure up to v. 9” it is not the be-stowed name „κύριος”, but the name Jesus that is called in the heavenly court. Na-gata has drawn attention to the peculiar inconsistency in the LXX version of Is 45, 23 between the use of the first person pronoun „ἐμοὶ” and the third person of the noun „τῷ θεῷ” as the object of homage in one and the same direct speech. This provided the occasion for the Christian midrashist to distinguish between „κύριος” (the name of the speaker) and the figure designated by „θεός” in v. 23. This made Bauckham coin Philippians 2, 9-11 „a Christological version of the eschatological monotheism in Is 45, 23”.
The author suggests that even more relevant for Jesus’ Exaltation in Phil 2, 11 is Is 45, 25, which the biblical scholarship has unjustly neglected. The Hebrew verse „In the Lord (ביהוה) shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall have glory” is rendered in the Septuagint as „by the Lord (ἀπὸ κυρίου) shall they be justified, and in God (ἐν τῷ θεῷ) shall all the seed of the children of Israel be glori-fied”. Against those that take for granted that the „the name above every name” in Phil 2, 9 is „Lord”, based on the Septuagintal use, he provides counterevidence tak-en from the same speech of YHWH in Is 45, 18-25. A quick analysis shows that the Hebrew Tetragram is translated into Greek as „κύριος” and „ἐγώ εἰμι” in v. 18, „κύριος” in v. 19, „θεός” in v. 21, respectively. It is completely missing in the He-brew version in the often cited v. 23, and twice translated in v. 25 as shown above. This inconsistency at first sight casts doubts on the appropriate translation or substi-tution of the Ineffable Name by the Greek title „κύριος” both in the LXX and the New Testament writings. However, confessing Jesus as „Lord” has the further conse-quence that actually all the titles of honour for God himself (with the exception of the „Father”) may be transferred to Jesus.
Next, the author undertakes an exegetical inquiry of the Greek idiom „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ”, which sometimes is used interchangeably with „ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί” (Dative) and „εἰς τὸ ὄνομα” (Acc.), and its Pauline use, in order to establish its proper meaning within the sentence. The common LXX formula „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” is unusual in classical Greek as it attempts to render literally and exactly the Hebrew בשׁם. According to Bietenhard, the most general meaning of „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” is „with invocation of”, analogous to LXX translation of the Hebrewבשׁם . He who says or does something in the name of someone appeals to this one, invoking his authori-ty. It may also mean „with calling upon” or „with proclamation of the name”, which is closer to its meaning in Phil 2, 10. The use of „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” with the meaning „at the mention of the name” is also employed in Mark 9, 38; Luke 10, 17; Acts 4, 7, 10; 10, 48; Js 5, 14, while the translation „at the command of / commissioned by” appears in Matt 21, 9 and John 5, 43.
Paul, a diaspora Jew and speaker of Aramaic, uses the Greek idioms in his letters to render לשׁם or בשׁם „ἐν ὀνόματι” three times (Eph 5, 20; Col 3, 17; 2Th 3, 6), the same as „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” (1Cor 5, 4; 6, 11; Phil 2, 10), „ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί” is absent, while „εἰς τὸ ὄνομα” occurs only once in 1 Cor 1, 13, when Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are not baptized in his own name. As we can see, the Paul-ine phrase „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” is rather related to a vocal performance (BDAG), which I render with its semantic variations, being related to different actions: singing psalms „while naming the name of Lord (Jesus)”, issuing injunctions „while calling on the name of the Lord Jesus”, and being justified „when the name of Lord Jesus is called” (recorded in the rite of baptism, when the name of Jesus was pronounced over the catechumen). These pre-Pauline devotional practices anticipate those witnessed later by Pliny the Younger, when the persecuted Christians „carmenque Christo quasi deo” (Epistulae X. 96).
A literal rendering of the Hebraic idiom בשׁם, the phrase „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησου” in Phil 21, 10, has been regarded a particular hermeneutical case, as most of the Bible versions bear witness (e.g., „at the name of Jesus” [KJV, RSV, NRSV, NJB, NET]; cf. „au nom de Jésus” [FBJ, TOB], but „in the name of Jesus” [ASV], and „in honor of the name” [GNB, CJB]). It is a sui generis phrase in the entire Pauline corpus (and in the whole Bible in the construction „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι κάμπτειν”). How-ever, when we examine the phrase closely and compare it with other contextual oc-currences we distinguish a theo-aural trait that compels us to make the exegetical decision of translating „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησου” as ‘at the utterance of the name Jesus’. This solution reveals the utmost importance and the tremendous power of the pronunciation of the name „Jesus” in a Judeo-Christian, devotional setting.
This inference is further confirmed by rhetorical evidence, namely the chiastic structure (9a:9b; 10a:10b), centered on the word „name”, which is none other than „Jesus”.
διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν (9a)
καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα, (9b)
ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ (10a)
πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων (10b)
The juxtaposition of „τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα” with „Ἰησοῦ” can be taken as explicative or as appositional to mean that „the name above every name” is „Jesus”. Even following the logic of the narrative, after reading the first verse, one would infer that the name already mentioned in v. 9 is to be disclosed in verse 10. Since it is not explicitly revealed, it might be argued that Paul tried to avoid redun-dancy by explicitly revealing it in the name „Jesus”.
Furthermore, the scribal treatment of the name „Jesus”, for some the oldest of the fourteen Nomina Sacra in the Christian manuscripts of the first four centuries is further proof of the early Christian devotion to the theophoric name „Jesus”. The special scribal treatment of the name „Ἰησοῦς” abridged Ις, Ιη or Ιης along with „Θεος” (Θς), „κύριος” (Κς), and „Χριστὸς” (Χς) is attested in the earliest ma-nuscripts (P. Chester Beatty, P. Oxyrinchus, P. Bodmer II, א, A, B). They may be related either to number symbolism (old Greek numbers were letters with an over-bar) or to some cryptic language (Rev 22, 13) that contracts a word to its first and last letter.
C.H. Roberts assumes that „Ἰησοῦς” was the first name to be treated as a nomen sacrum, followed by the analogous Κς. This would certainly illustrate special reverence for the name „Jesus”. Hurtado suggests that the suspended form Ιη may have been intended to signify an association between „Jesus” and the Hebrew word חי („life”) since both have the numerical value 18. The author sees a direct relation-ship between the Name Christology around the name „Jesus” and its subsequent scriptural materialization in the early Christian manuscripts.
Finally, heological evidence based on the Deuteronomistic Name Theology bu-ilds upon the already mentioned arguments in order to prove that the name „Jesus” has for the early Christians the same significance as the Tetragrammaton had for the monotheistic Jews. Just as „the Name” was a pious Jewish surrogate for God, so for the early Jewish Christians it became a metonymic designation for Jesus, the Lord’s Christ, and it connoted the divine presence and power. As cardinal Danielou noted, this Name Christology, where „the Name” (i.e., Jesus) is a distinctive person from the Father, represents an original, cultic development of the Old Testament theology of the Name in the apocalyptical milieu of the Early Jewish Christianity. At the core of this Christology is actually a Soteriology of the Name „Jesus” (Jesusology), proclaimed through Peter’s bold statement in front of the Sanhedrin: „There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4, 12). Even if the name „Jesus” is sometimes the referent of „Christ” or associated with the title „Lord” or both („Lord Jesus Christ”), it is eventu-ally his human name, Jesus, that defines his divine-human nature or person.
The author concludes that while the name „Jesus” is the true „name above every name” and so the “silver lining” in the cloud of our unknowing of God, because Jesus was both man and God, He may also have a „Name above every name” known only to Himself, to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, as only The Holy Trinity is above every name.

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Pagini: 95-112