Friday, 11 January 2008

Philippians and the city (again)

PJ of Greek participle fame, along with his fine beard, has sent me another...
See these two for more on the context for this post.


Some time ago, I mentioned that I had found an instance of politeuomai in Justin Martyr. I think that I never got round to sending you the reference. It is Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 67 (his discussion of the virgin birith): "[Jesus] was counted worthy of being chosen for the Christ, because he *lived* a perfect life and according to the law." The Greek, which I trust you will be able read soon (if not already?), may be displayed below.

καὶ ὑμεῖς τὰ αὐτὰ ἐκείνοις λέγοντες, αἰδεῖσθαι ὀφεί-

λετε, καὶ μᾶλλον ἄνθρωπον ἐξ ἀνθρώπων γενόμενον λέγειν τὸν

Ἰησοῦν τοῦτον, καί, ἐὰν ἀποδείκνυτε ἀπὸ τῶν γραφῶν ὅτι αὐτός

ἐστιν ὁ Χριστός, διὰ τὸ ἐννόμως καὶ τελέως πολιτεύεσθαι αὐτὸν

κατηξιῶσθαι τοῦ ἐκλεγῆναι εἰς Χριστόν, ἀλλὰ μὴ τερατολογεῖν

τολμᾶτε, ὅπως μήτε ὁμοίως τοῖς Ἕλλησι μωραίνειν ἐλέγχησθε.

I have not thought much about what this instance contributes to our understanding of the Philippians passage.


Well, I'm not yet good enough at Greek to presume to find these nuances in this text in particular, but it seems to me that when Jesus lived his life according to the law, that living was a very full kind of living. It wasn't the mere 'existing' or 'abiding' (as distinct from his practices, habits, politics, etc.) for which we often use the word living in the modern age. Jewish life according to the law was deeply political - infused with ritual, worship, deference and much more besides. This living was rich - and it's not an accident that politeuomai is used. Conceptually, habitually, necessarily life was already-in-community(polis) back then. And if the Scriptures and the Christ lived like that - as citizens in the ancient sense - why can't we?