St. John the Commentator

Kate Sonderegger is near the top of my ‘favorites list’ of contemporary theologians. Her books and lectures are something of a guilty pleasure since I don’t acknowledge her ordination as lawful. My admiration of her and her contributions as gifts to the Church is nothing short of a delightful coalescence of contrarieties. Blessed be the Mystery of Providence for such felicitous inconsistencies.

This morning I was listening to a fascinating lecture by Sonderegger on Unity, Trinity, and Christology which was wonderful as always. It was followed by Q&A in which one of the students raised questions concerning her theological method. Sonderegger basically approaches Christology from a canonical perspective—giving pride of place to the Shema—tracing the self-disclosure of the Ever-Speaking One God who reveals Himself in the Person of Jesus (and the Spirit in turn). For Sonderegger Christology never begins with Jesus of Nazareth but with the Son in the Ivory Palaces; not with questions concerning how this man could be God, but rather questions concerning how this God could become man. So hers is a very “high” Christology. The questioner wondered, given her commitments to such a canonical approach, why she privileged the “high” Christology of John’s narrative over the “low” Christology of the synoptics. Naturally she argued that the synoptics themselves manifest the same sort of high Christology present in John. But what I found most interesting (and my reason for pestering you with this Saturday morning reflection) was her comments on the nature of John’s gospel account.

Sonderegger argues that the prologue is not so much a prologue to John’s gospel as it is a prologue to THE gospel. That is, she views John as an apostolic commentary on the synoptics; a sensus plenior reading of the other Evangelists. I thought that was a very interesting way of stating it.

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