John Knox was Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature at Union Theological Seminary from 1943 and director of studies from 1945 to 1957. Among the fourteen books of which he is author are Chapters in a Life of Paul, The Early Church and the Coming Great Church, The Integrity of Preaching, The Death of Christ, and of course the three combined in this book: The Man Christ Jesus, Christ the Lord and On the Meaning of Christ. Published by Harper & Brothers, New York 1958.
Published by Harper & Brothers, New York 1958. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
(ENTIRE BOOK) This is a combination of three books: The first probes beyond modern historical criticism to establish the facts and importance of Jesus’ human career; the second explores Jesus’ significance as "Christ" and "Lord" within the first Christian community and among the New Testament writers, and the third gives an original interpretation of the saving event centered in Jesus Christ, and what it means to every believer to follow.
- Chapter 1: What Manner of Man Is This?
An important element in Christianity from the very beginning has been a sense of fellowship with Christ, conceived not merely as a "spiritual" but as an historical person. For all the importance of the resurrection in the church’s rise, the character of Jesus was the deeper element, making the resurrection faith itself possible and making it a faith worth preaching.
The first of these three books was written in 1941, the last six years later. Some changes in thinking between the two the author cannot deny as this volume was prepared (1958), but despite the comments of some critics, Knox believes his basic beliefs in the authenticity and the unique quality of Jesus’ humanity stand unchanged.
- Chapter 2: Never Spake Man As This Man
Although one cannot be altogether sure of any particular saying of Jesus, the body of teaching which as a whole can be relied on as authentic is by no means inconsiderable. No reader of the Synoptic Gospels can miss the characteristic ardent, vivid quality in Jesus’ teaching which no reader of the Synoptic Gospels can miss, and which no writer of the Synoptic Gospels could have invented. It is not to be paralleled, whether in ancient or modern sources.
- Chapter 3: Greater Love Hath No Man Than This
The religious teaching of Jesus reveals an individual of superlative genius, and this genius undoubtedly accounts in considerable measure for the impression he made.
- Chapter 4: This Man Hath Borne Our Griefs
The influence of Paul is discussed in this chapter. His words, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," from the Second Letter to the Corinthians sums up as well as any brief sentence the gospel Paul preached.
- Chapter 5: Surely This Man Was the Son of God
The Christian interpretation of Christ did not merely use history; It grew inevitably out of history and is therefore itself of the very stuff of history. Men had in very truth found God in Jesus. When he had said, "Thy sins are forgiven thee," the sinner had known he was in fact forgiven and that the hold of his enemy had been broken.
- Part 1: He Was Remembered – Chapter 1
The meaning of Jesus in the early church is nothing less than the whole meaning of the whole New Testament. It is even more than that, for it is the meaning of the life of the early church itself. Jesus’ Nazareth origin, his baptism by John, the Galilean locale of his ministry, his execution by the Gentiles — all are examples of facts of which we can be especially sure because later interests and beliefs of the churches would have led to a denial of them if they had not been well authenticated and firmly established.
- Part 1: He Was Remembered – Chapter 2
As constantly as Jesus apparently used the words" kingdom of God," we are not too sure of what he meant by them. The same can be said of his words, "Son of Man." which seems to have assumed some of the functions of the Messiah. The burden of Jesus’ preaching seems to have been the proclamation of the kingdom of God.
- Part 2: He Was Remembered – Chapter 3
The most striking feature of the ethical teaching of Jesus is the uncompromising nature of its demands. It is preoccupied with the absolutely good and spends little time with the better or the worse.
- Part 2: He was Known Still: Chapter 4
A distinction between the Jesus of history and the Jesus of theology is often made, but the whole meaning of Jesus is lost if limited thus, for Jesus was not merely remembered and interpreted in the primitive church: he continued to be known there.
- Part 3: He Was Interpreted – Chapter 5
It was from the first perhaps inevitable that Jesus’ lordship, rather than his messiahship, should dominate the church’s Christology, because his lordship was a matter of present knowledge, while his messiahship was a matter largely of expectation and hope. But at the beginning the two conceptions, logically incompatible, were held closely together.
- Part 3: He Was Interpreted – Chapter 6
Whatever may be the real and ultimate truth of God’s being and purpose we never approach so near to that truth as when we say with Paul, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
- Chapter 1: The Fact of Revelation
We are so used to thinking about the human quest for God that we cannot easily grasp the idea of God’s taking the initiative in making himself known, especially when it is affirmed that he has done so in specific historical events and developments.
- Chapter 2: the Revealing Event
The members of the New Testament community knew that they stood at the great climacteric moment of all history, that in and through the things which had happened among them and of which they were witnesses, God had visited and redeemed his people, that no argument is needed. We do in fact believe it. Belief in the revelation of God in Christ is a necessary implication of the Christian life itself.
- Chapter 3: The Event and Its Parts
The first community was convinced that he who had died lived again. They were convinced of this not primarily because some of them had had visual experiences of him, but because the Spirit had come upon them. We too are convinced that he who died lives still, and in our case too this conviction is not the consequence of visual experiences reported in the Gospels and Epistles, but of the presence of the Spirit in the community.
- Chapter 4: The Event and the Person
The supreme importance of Christ is best seen when he is viewed as the living creative center of the supremely important event of human history, and also that the "nature" of Christ is most truly known under that same category: God’s action is the divine nature of Christ.
- Chapter 5: Event and the Gospels
The transfiguration represents the invasion of memory by faith, the backward movement of the Spirit into the realm of remembered facts, a step — perhaps the first step — toward the absorption of the earthly career in the resurrection life, a process which was to culminate, at least so far as canonical literature goes, in the Fourth Gospel, where there is no transfiguration scene only because the whole career of Jesus has now been transfigured.
- Chapter 6: The Event and the Miracles
The resurrection was the moment when not only the spiritual lordship of Jesus began but when also the whole earthly life was "transfigured" before his disciples — the moment when the event they had witnessed and were still witnessing was realized to be one whole and to be in its wholeness an act of God.
- Chapter 7: Event and the Story
Knox discusses the historical, the ontological and the mythological and states that "the indubitable fact is that the resurrection of Christ, no less than the life of Jesus, did occur, whether everybody witnessed it or not. The church is beyond any doubt historical, and its very existence is a testimony to this occurrence."
- Chapter 8: Event and the Church
If God did in fact choose to reveal himself in history, as Christian faith affirms, that act becomes the sign and guarantee of a purpose of God in history, a purpose to which all of nature is subordinate. The decisive ground of our faith that that purpose exists is the historical revelation, which began with the calling of Israel and culminated in the great event — the life and death and rising again of Jesus and the coming into being of the community of Christ the Lord.