From Historical Criticism to Historical Materialism in the Study of Earliest Christology

Jonathan Bernier


Deploying Fredric Jameson’s model of Marxist literary analysis, this article explores the contradictions in developments of early reflections on Christology. Jameson distinguishes between three levels in such analysis: the immediacy of the political, the wider horizon of the social (class and ideology), and then that of history (now understood in terms of mode of production). The key is that texts never operate in isolation, for they become crucial negotiations – as imaginary resolutions of real social contradictions – of wider social and economic shifts. In this light, we may understand the tensions over different Christological models as dimensions of the ideological responses and contributions to the complex shifts in modes of production. Those models may be designated as follows: “personified divine attributes,” “exalted patriarchs,” “principal angels,” “messiah,” and Jesus as the embodiment of “divine agency.”


Fredric Jameson; Christology

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391