Monday, March 08, 2010

Kerygma, Didache and the Cross

Further to my reflections on Luke-Acts, I reproduce here a couple of excerpts from my assessment essay for the Luke-Acts module on the apostolic kerygma:

We have already noted the relative absence of atonement theology from the kerygmatic speeches of Acts, and contrasted this with its significance in Paul and elsewhere. Whilst CH Dodd's strict dichotomy between kerygma and didache expresses an unwarranted polarisation between the content of evangelising proclamation and the content of teaching in the Church, a case can still be made that the theology of vicarious atonement appears more strongly in the context of didache than in the context of the type of evangelising kerygma that we find in the book of Acts. This is not to say that the atonement did not feature at all in the kerygma of the early church. Such a view must contend with the evidence of passages like 1 Cor 15:1-8 and the fact that what is presented in Acts can only be a summary of the kerygma or didache of the church. However, it may still be the case that the salvation-historical emphasis of the kerygma necessitated that the atonement received less emphasis than it did in the didache of the church. The salvation-historical emphasis of the kerygma places the cross in its context as part of the work of Christ, and in the wider context of its role in fulfilling the purpose of God for humanity and creation. The didache, such as we find in the NT epistles, is where the riches of the doctrine of vicarious atonement are taught and explored. It is certainly pertinent that the sole explicit reference to vicarious atonement in Acts occurs in the context of Paul's address to the Ephesian elders, a context more akin to didache than kerygma.

...Luke contextualises the cross within the whole work of Christ, which in turn is contextualised within salvation-history. Therefore, the role of the cross does not receive a detailed exposition. This is also true of the largely salvation-historical kerygma of the apostles. It is in the didactic material of the NT that we discover this exposition. This observation itself perhaps challenges the practice of the contemporary Church at a number of points.