Dunn and Ehrman on “Forms” of Jesus in the Philippian Christ Hymn/Poem (PART 2/2)

I just wanted to make a quick clarification to the last post.  In that post, I mentioned in the gospels Jesus says the son of man does not come to be served, but to serve, to die, an allusion to the son of man/human in Daniel, second only to the ancient of days/God.  As I said, in the Philippian poem we read this is the evolution of Christ’s mindset going from form of god to form of human/slave.  We read:

7 but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

assuming human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a human,

8     he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.

“Assuming human likeness” clearly alludes to “I saw one like a human being (NRSVUE)” / “one like a son of man (ESV)” of Daniel 7:13.

With Adam and Eve, initially, lack of knowledge of Good and Evil was what differed them from God.  Jesus was godly / in godly form as paradigmatically knowing good and evil as an interpreter of the Torah, but was exalted by god when he became in servant form and was exalted to a place only second to God (the ancient of days in Daniel) after the cross.  To go beyond God form to servant form is exceedingly difficult, as is illustrated with Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-22

The Rich Young Man

  • 16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. 19 Honor your father and mother. Also, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

“Like a son of man” thus has the ambiguity of meaning “human,” but also second in place only to God.  Once you have determined for kenosis or emptying, submitting fully to the will of God, the real task begins of trying to live this, as the rich young man found out.

BONUS: For an interesting analysis of the Philippian Hymn arguing Paul did not thing Jesus was a pre-existing being by Dr James Tabor, see:

To see the first part of this blog mini series, see: https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2022/09/dunn-and-ehrman-on-forms-of-jesus-in-the-philippian-christ-myth-hymn-poem/