‘The Being That is in a Manner Equal With God’ (PHIL. 2:6C): A Self-Transforming, Incarnational, Divine Ontology

Fletcher-Louis, Crispin ORCID: 0000-0001-6758-6913 (2021) ‘The Being That is in a Manner Equal With God’ (PHIL. 2:6C): A Self-Transforming, Incarnational, Divine Ontology. Journal of Theological Studies, 71 (2). pp. 581-627. doi:10.1093/jts/flaa096

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This article challenges the consensus that τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ (Phil. 2:6c) means ‘equality with God’ and denotes a status. Linguistic analysis, contextual considerations, and a thorough investigation of an inventory of 149 extant Greek references to divine equality (ἴσος /ἴσα + θεός) show that Phil. 2:6c means ‘being (that is) in a manner equal with God’. Although it evokes well-known language for the status of rulers who received ‘honours equal to the gods’, it has a distinct, rarely attested, but Homeric syntax (cf. Iliad 5:441–2; 21:315), for which the closest parallel is Homeric Hymns 5, line 214. As such, it denotes a dynamic ontology, a mode of being expressed, or actualized, in Christ’s incarnational self-transformation (vv. 7–8). The words also serve a creative affirmation and subversion of the middle Platonic distinction between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ (as that was expressed in Plutarch and Philo): Christ exists and acts from ‘being’ (ὑπάρχων … τὸ εἶναι v. 6) and is misperceived in the realm of ‘becoming’ (γενόμενος … γενόμενος vv. 7–8). But, against the Platonists, he has a divine ‘being’ that ‘becomes’.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Divine equality; REF2021
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2021 09:30
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:54
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/9193

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