26.2.09

Recapitulation and time

Irenaeus and Barth seem to present the incarnate Word as having taken into himself all of humanity. This is called recapitulation.

Ephesians 1:10
to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

In the Greek New Testament we have the word anakephalaiosasthai. “Ana” is prefix “re” (again), and “kephale” is head (I've looked at his before!). If we recapitulate, we sum up. In Latin we have re (again) and capitulum (head or main part). Summing up an argument under its main headings is called recapitulation.
In Ephesians, God’s plan is “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head”. Eugene Paterson puts it like this:
He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
Irenaeus writes of how Jesus Christ, by his obdience, reverses everything which happened in Adam.
by his obedience on the tree renewed [and reversed] what was done by disobedience in [connection with] a tree. ... Indeed, the sin of the first-formed man was amended by the chastisement of the First-begotten, the wisdom of the serpent was conquered by the simplicity of the dove, and the chains were broken by which we were in bondage to death.
Therefore he renews these things in himself, uniting man to the Spirit; and placing the Spirit in man, he himself is made the head (metaphorical) of the Spirit and gives the Spirit to be the head (metaphorical) of man, ... He therefore completely renewed all things, both taking up the battle against our enemy, and crushing him who at the beginning had led us captive in Adam, tramping on his head (literal head) ...

So we are reclaimed and recreated, we are invited back into our rightful context, are collected together as words in the right chapter, under the heading of the Word, understand our origin and original to be Christ. We are recapitulated, dead in Adam but alive in Christ and this is what has been achieved for us through the 'Christ event' as Barth would put it. Barth, somehow compresses time. There was no chronological, historical order, not in the same way, linear and simple, that humanity understands time. This recapitualation has always been there in Christ. He was the first man, the first perfect man, the first man of the new creation and through him humanity is redeemed. Christ has to be fully human as well as fully divine, to be fully this alternative perfect Adam.
It would seem that this is where theological giants clash. Reformed theology has humanity created through the Logos, yes, but not 'in Christ' until they come to faith. For Barth it is as if we are all in Christ, but many of us are just unaware that this is the case. Justin Martyr seemed to teach this sort of idea too and there is something very beautiful about it:
We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; [many]...in hearing what was said by the prophets they did not accurately understand it, but imitated what was said of our Christ, like men who are in error...

The Bible, however, does seem to fix events in time, our creation, the fall, the incarnation and the resurrection. And to complicate matters even further, we live in the now and the not yet, in the present but in the presence of the future eschatological promise. We live in the present the reurrection life, so time does become rather a complicated thing for the Christian. Did Barth's idealism compromise othodoxy? Em...lots to think about.

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