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Geurt Roffel

Jesus, the Son of God. In discussion with contemporary christologians about the meaning of the expression “Jesus is the Son of God”, using types of discourse derived from Gadamer and Derrida

A great number of Christians in the Dutch Protestant Church (Protestantse Kerk in Nederland, PKN) confess that Jesus is the Son of God and consider this confession to be crucial to their belief. In the PKN they form a community of faith together with Christians who wonder what the precise meaning of this expression is and who express the significance of Jesus for them in different ways. Some of them do this in a way that is meant to be their own interpretation of the expression ‘Jesus is the Son of God’. Others express the significance of Jesus in other ways.

Gadamer (left) and Derrida (right)
Gadamer (left) and Derrida (right)

This has consequences for the way in which people attach meaning to the expression ‘Jesus is the Son of God’. Christians who use this expression as basic conviction can’t define the meaning with precision. This is because they can’t subscribe to this statement on the basis of solid argumentation that can be made transparent if required. Who wonders what the meaning of the expression ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ is, in order to weigh if he can subscribe to it, has a need for such a line of argumentation. This is why it’s important to reflect on the reasons for people to subscribe to the expression ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ and what they consider to be the meaning of this expression. In doing this, the insight grows to weigh for yourself how you relate to this expression.

For this purpose I’ll start discussions in my PhD-project with six christologians, each holding an influential position in the actual christological debate and subscribing to the position that ‘Jesus is the Son of God’.

The project involves three steps. The first step consists in the development of a suitable type of discussion. I’ll derive two types of discourse from the work of the philosophers Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) and Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). The second step consists in the discussions themselves. I’ll have two discussions with each of the christologians. The first discussion I’ll have in a way derived from Gadamer, the second in a way derived from Derrida. Finally I’ll explain in a third step how I understand and relate to the expression ‘Jesus is the Son of God’.

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Last modified:18 September 2018 5.14 p.m.