Corps de l’article

Introduction: Identity Research vis-à-vis the State of the Question

The “Hymn/Song of Christ” (Carmen Christi)[1] and the formulaic structure of Phil 2:6-11[2] are at semantic variance. To call Phil 2:6-11 Carmen Christi is to neglect the functional role of God in that pericope;[3] and, to argue either that Phil 2:11b (“to the glory of God the Father”)[4] fits or does not fit in the structural/rhetorical formula of Phil 2:6-11[5] denies the place of God in the same pericope.[6] In both arguments (Carmen Christi and structural/rhetorical formula) the pericope has two dispositive or cola: descending (humanity) and ascending (divinity), and both are united by the explicit mention of God.[7] Of hermeneutical necessity, therefore, the notion of God undergirds the semantics of Phil 2:6-11 that makes the discursive divinity of Jesus Christ possible. Without a doubt, it is God’s divinity that serves as a pretext[8] for reading the divinity of Jesus Christ. By rehabilitating God in Philippians 2:6 (2x), 9, 11, the semantics of “Jesus Christ is Lord” or the divinity of Jesus becomes subservient to Theology. This rehabilitation of God and the semantics it provides for reading Phil 2:6-11 is my aim.

It is my major contention that the knowledge of God that makes possible and comprehensible the discursive text of Jesus’ divinity (Phil 2:6-11) is pregnant in the formula “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11) already incorporated in the pericope and in the dual structural cola of the text (“in the form of God/equality with God” with “Therefore God also highly exalted him” and “to the glory of God the Father”). It is the ascending colum (Phil 2:6-8) that manifests the indispensability of God and his role in the discursive text of Phil 2:9-11. But to make clear this necessity, the function of a formula as a theological historiography, that is, a bearer of the history of God’s knowledge (the fatherhood of God) from the Old Testament via Second Temple Judaism,[9] bears out how to construe “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11) as a semantic anchor for reading Phil 2:6-11 theologically and monotheistically.

In this semantic regard, it is important to evaluate the possible impact of Phil 2:6-11 on the Philippians, the original recipients of Paul’s letter, by applying the Gunkelian presuppositions of Phil 2:6-11: “who is speaking? To whom is he speaking? In what circumstances (cultural, historical, sociological) is he speaking? What does he expect from his auditors, and what are his aims through what he says?”[10] The circumstantial elements of “culture, history, society and expectation” make the creation of a Christian identity to be the “purpose” of Paul.[11] We notice this through some of the Philippians’ identity markers Paul comes up with: “justified people” (Phil 1:11), “children of God” (Phil 3:15), “citizens of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27) and “citizens of heaven” (Phil 3:20). As regards Jesus, his identity marker is “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11a).

An overview of the state of the question on Phil 2:6-11 supports our departure from its present preoccupation and consensus reading that does not do justice to the identity and role of God in that pericope.[12] Interestingly, German,[13] French[14] and English[15] biblical scholarships, on Phil 2:6-11, underwent two major semantic changes/emphases: 1) the study of the hymnic and confessional nature of Phil 2:6-11,[16] and 2) the search for the meaning of the said pericope.[17] The original position of Lohmeyer that considered the hymn in its integrity (Phil 2:6-11) was abandoned by many French and English scholars to follow the lead of Jeremias, who contested the integrity of the pre-Pauline origin of the whole hymn, and limits his analysis to Phil 2:6-8 as pre-Pauline.[18] At present, the English world is exploring the divinity and possible “worship” of Christ in earliest Christianity from the meaning of Phil 2:6-11.[19] I want to complement these two general approaches to the study of Phil 2:6-11.

When one considers late twentieth century’s multiple biblical studies on the role of identity formation in biblical exegesis, this new approach (identity approach) encourages a rereading of Pauline letters – what Christian identity or divine identity does Paul paint? In this connection, first, I will explore the debate on the making of Philippians 2:6-11, with the aid of second-Isaiah consensus reading of “identity formation” as a pretext to critique the absence of God’s role in current consensus; then, I will argue that “in-the-form-of-God” and “God-the-Father,” within Phil 2:6-11, are theologico-historiographical formulae that coalesce to provide the meaning of Phil 2:6-11, as anchored on the formula “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). The inversion of the second colum (Phil 2:8-11), beginning with “to the glory of God the Father,” provides a pivot for Phil 2:6-11 and links it to Old Testament monotheism.

PART I: Tradition, Redaction and Christology in Phil 2:6-8

This article is in two parts and published as such, because of its length. This first part, will deal with the question of redaction, structure and theology. The points argued include the forgotten correlation between theology and Christology, because of the preoccupation with structural and hymnic arguments. The second part to this article, to be published separately, complements this first part by providing arguments for the rehabilitation of God in Philippians and the semantic of the monotheistic formula crafted as “to the glory of God the Father.”

1. Pretext and Text of Phil 2:6-11: Ernst Lohmeyer versus Joachim Jeremias

Notwithstanding whether one follows Lohmeyer to consider Phil 2:6-11 in its entirety as preformed or limit oneself to Jeremias’ emphasis on Phil 2:6-8 as the only preformed part, on the basis of their structural analyses of Phil 2:6-11, the present form of Philippians combines the two halfs Jeremias separates and Jeremias’ approach breaks with the criteria for detecting preformed materials in the context of Phil 2:6-11. What matters, for my purposes, is the semantics of the present form of the pericope, and I think that the identity question, in the Gunkelian indices I cited earlier, helps to unfurl a complementary meaning to earlier readings of Phil 2:6-11. When one pulls apart the microcosmic materials or the building blocks of Phil 2:6-11,[20] their different pretexts conjugate an insight into their present meaning and suggest some meaning that has not been underscored sufficiently – monotheism built upon God’s Fatherhood.

1.1 Formula/Structure and Exegetical Neglect in Phil 2:6-11

The application of the criteria for detecting a preformed or formulaic material in the New Testament is at the base of “naming” Phil 2:6-11 either as a hymn/poem or for determining its structural form. In order to determine the provenance of some New Testament pericopai, biblical scholars use all or some of these six criteria as measurement: 1) rupture from its environment, 2) unique beginning, 3) introductory formula, 4) distinctive style, 5) disparate vocabulary, and 6) multiple attestations.[21] To the best of my knowledge, I am unaware of any one piece of a preformed material that has satisfied all six criteria. For instance, besides Phil 2:6-11, there is no multiple attestation of that “hymn,” in that form, in any New Testament text. Consequently, the arguments made on the basis of these criteria must be cumulative[22]—the number of criteria found strengthens the plausibility of a preformed structure of a pericope.

The descriptive names given to Philippians 2:6-11, namely, “hymn” and “confession”[23], draw largely from the realization that it does not sit well with the flow of its present context—prose. This reality is what is known as “rupture from its context or environment.” This is to say that Phil 2:6-11 is poetic,[24] and it is borrowed by Paul from the faith of the Church before his conversion.[25] As a result, speculations are made, in order to understand the pericope, from its provenance. In other words, the belief is that, should it (Phil 2:6-11) be from Paul, its meaning would be different from when it is a quotation (preformed material) Paul is citing; and, if it is a quotation, its origins will contribute significantly to its meaning.[26] However, my take is that both ideas – origins and Pauline additions – give Phil 2:6-11, in its final/present/canonical form the meaning of a “monotheistic formula,” from the semantics of the multiple pretexts that fuse into Phil 2:6-11, from their second-Isaiah pretext, made conspicuous by the addition of “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11b).

1.1.1 “Rupture from Its Environment” and the Delimitation of Phil 2:6-11

Since it is generally accepted that there is something that differentiates Phil 2:6-11 from the general style (prosaic) of its present context (Phil 2) – the criterion of “rupture” – one needs to explain how that conclusion is arrived at and how it impinges on the hermeneutical difference between Lohmeyer and Jeremias. Hence, the criterion of “unique beginning” of Phil 2:6 provides a fertile ground for formulaic scholarship to argue for the pre-Pauline origin of Phil 2:6-11. The relative pronoun, “hos”— “who,” which enunciates the presentation of Phil 2:6-11, links it to Phil 2:5, suggesting that “Christ Jesus” is the grammatical subject of Phil 2:6, especially the comparison it makes between God and Christ. The comparison articulates the meaning of the phrase “in the form of God.” “The form of God” presupposes an idea (pretext) of God, as a discursive approach to the understanding of “Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:5). Since the form of God is chronologically prior to the form of Jesus Christ, historical Jesus Christ, the fact that God is being used to identify Christ, God should figure in whatever “naming” Phil 2:6-11 will be given: this is not the case with Ralph P. Martin’s naming of Phil 2:6-11 as Carmen Christi.[27]

The similarity between the beginning of Phil 2:6 and the hos which begins Col 1:15 and 1 Pet 2:22 lends support to the credibility of the criterion of special or unique beginning, as one of the ways to decipher a preformed material, because there are other preformed materials which begin with this special relative pronoun hos.[28] Although, the pericope under review does not have an “introductory formula” like the classic one in 1 Cor 15:3: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received,” a clear proof that what follows will be a teaching that was prior to Paul’s conversion, that notwithstanding, the relative pronoun hos that begins the preformed material coalesces with the statement “every tongue should confess (exomologēsētai) that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11), on the last verse of the pericope, as an unambiguous pointer to a belief or creed, designated by the aorist subjunctive third person middle verb exomologēô. Jeremias contests the inclusion of Phil 2:11 as part of the preformed material of the periscope, thereby raising the question of semantic congruity between the present state of Phil 2:6-11 and his own delimitation of the pericope to Phil 2:6-8.

Obviously, there are similar usages of the same verb (exomologēô) and contextual usages that corroborate the stance that exomologēsētai is a creedal formula; for example, “if you confess (homologēsēs [subjunctive aorist verb, second person singular]) with your lips that Jesus is Lord” (Rm 10:9) and “no one can say (legei)[29] ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). These indicate a belief current in Paul’s time, and which predated Paul’s conversion. Consequently, exomologēsētai suggests that Phil 2:6-11 contains a pre-Pauline creed.

1.1.2 “Distinctive Style”: Problems with Martin’s “Naming” and Jeremias’ Structure of Phil 2:6-11

The criterion of “distinctive style” argues on the uniqueness or elements of difference between a preformed material and its environment or macro-context. Unlike the prosaic style prior to and immediately after Phil 2:6-11, we now have a poetic style of writing. To the morphē (form) of God is the corresponding morphē of a slave (A-C);[30] from the isa (equality) to God is sameness (homoiōmati) to and shape (schēmati) of human beings (B-D). Furthermore, if the previous pairs emphasize morphological relations, there are verbal or participial repetitions (assonances) also: to “being” (hyparchōn) corresponds “taking” (labōn), “becoming” (genomenos) and “being found” (heuretheis), providing a semantic link among A-C-D-E. The second segment of the hymn presents some consequential parallelis[31]: the self-emptying (ekenōsen) of Christ points to his exaltation (hyperypsōsen) by God (C-A’); the form of a slave (morphē doulou) receives a name (to onoma to hyper pan onoma) above all other names (C-B’); the human likeness (en homoiōmati anthrōpōn) finds “worship” (pasa glōssa exemologēsētai) or confession as Lord (D-E’); “Lord” simpliciter marks a distinction between himself and the Father. No pericope in Philippians follows this construction, and that makes it unique.

If this criterion of “distinctive style” leads to the consideration of Phil 2:6-11 as a poem or hymn, and scholars’ structural analyses of it confirm its uniqueness, somehow scholars have failed to connect the dialogue between Jesus and God in the poem to their interpretation of the poem, as it is the case with Martin’s title/naming of “Carmen Christi” for Phil 2:5-11. In other words, structural analysis has two short comings for exegesis, as regards Phil 2:6-11: it proves difficult for providing a name that takes into account the identities of God and Jesus Christ, as well as prove complicated to agree on the length and vocabulary for exegesis, given different structural delimitations of the pericope.

1.1.3 “Disparate Vocabulary” and “Formulaic Historiography” to Rehabilitate God

Another criterion is “disparate or unique vocabulary.” Our pericope presents varied vocabulary, the meaning of which is still debated: morphē, harpagmos, kenoô, schēma and hypēkoos. These words are not common Pauline vocabulary, their inclusion suggest a borrowing from earlier sources other than Pauline. André Feuillet[32] contests their uniqueness by indicating their cognate forms in the Bible. For example:

  1. harpagmos: Lev 6:4, 5:23; Ps 62:11; Is 42:22, 61:8; Sirach 16:13; Job 29:17; Ez 19:3, 22:25-27, 23:15;

  2. isa:[33] Job 5:14; 10:10; 13:12,28; 15:16; 24:20; 27:16; 29:14; 30:19; 40:15;[34] Jn 5:18;

  3. morphē: Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Gal 4:19; Phil 3:10;[35]

  4. schēma: Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 7:21; Phil 3:21; Rom 2:20 (morphōsis) and 2 Tim 3:5 (morphōsis).[36]

What Feuillet’s contestation overlooks is the contextual use and the rarity of these words in Pauline letters, not to talk of their concatenation and constellation in six verses. The fact that harpagmos is a hapax legomenon[37] in the New Testament provides a semantic link with Old Testament and earliest Christianity, a pointer to the past. Also, the criterion of “disparate or unique vocabulary” does not rest on words being hapax legomena, but their cluster in a bid to make a semantic point that could and have been made otherwise. For my purposes, however, the connection of Phil 2:6-11 through these words is what I call “formulaic historiography” or the pretext for reading Phil 2:6-11. Of particular note is how to account for the God at work in the Old Testament and how Paul appropriates him in Phil 2:6-11, through the vocabulary it contains, and the place of God in the rest of the letter to the Philippians. In the second part of my article, I will demonstrate the importance of God, in all of Philippians, for the interpretation of Phil 2:6-11.

1.1.4 “Multiple Attestation” and Phil 2:6-11 as Composite Formula

Finally, on our use of the criteria for detecting a preformed material, the criterion of “multiple attestation,” which means that the same reality of a particular pericope is found elsewhere in the Bible, affords us the opportunity to explore the relationship between Phil 2:6-11 and the rest of the New Testament. It is a consensus idea that nowhere else in the Bible one finds the contents of Phil 2:6-11 arranged the same way. However, just as bits and pieces of it are found in the Old Testament, as Feuillet shows, parts of it are also found in the New Testament. It is not my interest to list them, but to show that “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11b) finds echoes in the Old and New Testaments with the possible harmonic or synchronic semantic role in Phil 2:6-11.

As the first part of the title of my article implies – “To the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:6, 11) – there is the need to know the reason for the transition from “God” to “God the Father.” This transition is made possible because the process of the “Lordship” of Christ, the “Fatherhood” of God, and the “confession” of Jesus Christ as “Lord,” all provide cases of “multiple attestations” for parts of Phil 2:6-11: they are all present in bits and pieces in the Bible, outside of Phil 2:6-11. An instantiation, in relation to “the form of God,” is Rm 1:3-4: “the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God[38] with power according to the spirit of holiness[39] by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Two points are in order here: 1) in Rm 1:2 Paul claims that the reality he is writing about is that “which he [God] promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,” hence, not a Pauline invention; 2) the fact of the human Christ being “declared to be Son of God” is at the origin of the Fatherhood of God: God as human is Son, and God as not-human is “Father” vis-à-vis the human God, Lord Jesus Christ.

I subscribe to Dunn’s opinion that early Christians must have grappled with their understanding of Jesus, from the earthly Jesus they knew to the glorified Jesus they now “worship”/confess, on how to explain that change of mentality and attitude.[40] For instance, Paul never knew the physical or historical Jesus, but met the glorified Christ on his way to Damascus (Acts 9). Given what he learned of the historical Jesus (Gal 1-2), a necessary adjustment was called for.

Let us explore more closely the preformedness of Phil 2:11, from the perspective of “pretextuality,”[41] by examining the relevance of “Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11) and the consequential addition of “to the glory of God the Father.” This is imperative in order to ground Phil 2:6-11 in theology or the centrality of God-the-Father, and not Christology.

1.2 Pretext and Macro-Context: Explaining “Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11a) from “sit at my right hand” (Ps 110:1)

Two facts are clear from 1.0 – 1.1.4 above: a) that the pretext of Phil 2:6-11 is dominantly from the Old Testament, when read from the hermeneutics of “promise-fulfillment” or “formulaic historiography”; and b) that the macro-context of Phil 2 is prosaic or a didactic-narrative. But in their attributions of some parts of Phil 2:6-11 to deutero Isaiah (Is 40-55) as its provenance, scholars make allowance for construing Phil 2:6-11 as having disparate sources amenable to exegesis. I contend that notwithstanding the different sources of Phil 2:6-11, there is a coherent theological message it contains: it argues for the monotheism of the Christian faith, through the “Fatherhood” of God, where “Father” is an identity marker that differentiates “Jesus Christ is Lord” from “God the Father.” The culminating point of Phil 2:6-11, “to the glory of God the Father,” makes the monotheistic statement of the pericope evident through the separation between Christology and Theology. Consequently, I argue that “to the glory of God the Father” is a formula of monotheism that explains the theology of Philippians as a whole and Phil 2:6-11 in particular.

To begin with, the “glory of God” has a meaning deducible from the application of “sit at my right hand” to explain the Christ event. We need to read this meaning into the implication of “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11), if we want to see a different construance of the pericope, from identity perspective. The consequential meaning of Phil 2:6-8 makes the inversion of the order of Phil 2:9-11 imperative for its meaning to be apparent, against Jeremias’ separation of its rhetorical structure. But it is necessary to correlate the “confession” of Jesus as Lord (“every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”) with the meaning of “sit at my right” as a formula that brings out the meaning of “to the glory of God the Father.”

Although Michel Gourgues[42] treats the 16[43] appearances and contextual uses of the formula “sit at my right hand” in the New Testament, I do not intend to exhaust the polysemy of these different contexts. However, an element of the redefinition of monotheism for Christians, from its Jewish religious identity marker, is based on the Christ event. In the gospel of Mark, in a polemical context, a new mentality and conception of Jesus as Divine is noticeable in one of the rare occasions of its type, when Jesus contests the Jewish conception of himself: “[w]hile Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, ‘[h]ow can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared,’ The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.’ David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?’ And the large crowd was listening to him with delight” (Mk 12:35-37). Jesus’ declaration is possible, only when the apostles and the gospel writer see Jesus Christ as “Lord” in fulfillment of Ps 110:1-2, the first biblical appearance of “sit on my right.” Here, Mk 12:35-37 presents a Christological reading of Ps 110:1.[44]

Gourgues’ general conclusion of his research is that the expression is pre-New Testament, but with a New Testament polysemous adaptations. This polysemy is contextual (Mk 12:36; 14:62; Acts 2:34; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:13) – each appearance of “sit at my right” has to be studied on its own merit. But “my Lord said to my Lord,” which precedes the imperative to “sit at my right,” presents the first problem for the lector of the statement and, second, the addressee. Added to these two, it is necessary to know what qualified the addressee to merit to “sit at my right,” since the concept of “right hand” denotes a place or position of honor and power, and identity. But this honor and power derive from the “glory” of the person (God) at whose right hand Jesus sits. This becomes imperative because Attridge[45] and Collins[46] show that the Psalms were given Christological readings both in the apostolic and sub-apostolic times – there is a traditional reading of it.

One example suffices, in addition to Jesus’ contestation of his exclusive identification as human in Mk 12:35-37, to situate the general understanding of “sit at my right hand.” First, the macro-context of its appearance in Acts (Acts 2:33-35) is that of Pentecost. Luke explains the accomplishment of the Ascension of Christ, the fact that Christ has reached the Father’s right side, and that is the possibility for the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to send the Holy Spirit upon his followers. The Holy Spirit comes from the Father and Jesus, who is at the right side of God: “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out (execheen)[47] this that you both see and hear” (Acts 2:33).

Chronologically, the Ascension precedes Pentecost in order to emphasize the location of Christ, “at the right hand,” when the Holy Spirit came. Also, the sending of the Holy Spirit from the Father, with Jesus at the Father’s right hand, leads to the following statement: “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him (epoiēsen ho Theos) both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). The simple conclusion deducible from this is that the resurrection, and ascension of Christ were in view of a place of honor before God—“God has made him (epoiēsen ho Theos) both Lord and Messiah.” Also, the addition of “this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36) emphasizes the role of the “cross” in Christ’s exaltation as well as in the kerygma of earliest Christianity. Consequent upon the central role of the “cross” (Phil 2:8), the link between the “Lordship” of Jesus and “every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord,” is established: the Cross leads to the Lordship and conferment of honor (identity) upon Jesus Christ, designated by name-giving – “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11a).

As regards the divinity of Jesus Christ, two passages in Romans are important, in order to corroborate the assertion of Acts 2:36 and to emphasize the role of the Cross in it: 1) Rom 10:9 “because if you confess [homologēsēs] with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rm 10:9), and 2) “For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rm 10:13).[48] On the one hand, Rm 10:9 claims that “Jesus is Lord” (Kyrion Jēsoun), just as Phil 2:11 (Kyrios Jēsous) states; on the other hand, Rm 10:13 asserts the salvific/soteriological significance of confessing Jesus as Lord. But one needs to go to Rm 14:9 to have the reason adduced for Jesus’ “Lordship” or divinity: “For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord (kyrieusē)[49] of both the dead and the living.” This citation implies that the transfer of the attributes and roles of God to Jesus Christ takes place after the resurrection. For instance, Rm 14:11 says: “For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’” This is all the more interesting because Paul cites Is 45:23: “By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.’” The confession crafted into Phil 2:6-11 goes back to the realization that Jesus accomplished the prophecies of old, as Paul states in Rm 1:2: “which he [God] promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Rm 1:2), and “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3).[50]

The multiple places where the “confession” of Jesus as Lord is attested in Pauline corpus lay emphasis on the post-resurrection understanding of Jesus’ Lordship, without an explicit denial of his pre-divinity. If we follow Paul’s use of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, on the basis of “sit at my right hand,” it is evident that God (the Father) is responsible for the exaltation of Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ remains at the right side of God up until the final overthrow of death and the triumph of God the Father because Jesus will still remain “subjected” to God the Father: “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).[51]

The location of the resurrected Christ, at the right hand of God, necessitates a new designation (identity) or signifier – “the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9) – to represent the exalted position he occupies, that is, Jesus’ “Lordship.” The “glory of God” and the “Lordship” of Jesus Christ are mutually inclusive. This is the reason, it seems to me, that Paul emphasizes theological monotheism in Phil 2:6-11, with the last clause of “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11b). If we were to retain either Aletti’s suggestion of “Theological-Christology” or Cassidy’s “Christo-theological drama” as titles for Phil 2:6-11, the notion of Christian monotheism will still remain woolly: “God the Father” guarantees Paul’s monotheism, despite the Christ event, at least, from Phil 2:6-11.

Provisionary Conclusion

Since there is a second part to this article, this is a provisionary conclusion. This first part suggests the questioning of the structural debates on Phil 2:5/6-11, since Lohmeyer’s 1928 formulation of it. I argue that the preoccupation with structural analyses, either in agreement with Lohmeyer’s or Jeremias’ conclusions offer a number of disservices to the exegesis of Phil 2:6-11. One of the disservices is the fact that it makes it difficult to concentrate on the synchronic and canonical form of Phil 2:6-11, because of suggestions of which parts to excise from it. I then provide the incongruences that exist with structural analyses, especially Jeremias’, when one considers the six steps in discerning a preformed material. In other words, the science of structural analysis has evolved since Lohmeyer and Jeremias, and make the weaknesses of their approach to Phil 2:6-11 apparent.

The debates around the structure of Phil 2:5/6-11 led to the neglect of the theology of Phil 2:6-11, to a near exclusive Christological reading of it. Ralph P. Martin’s title for Phil 2:6-11, “Carmen Christi” (“Christ’s Hymn”) puts a final stamp on the works of structuralists’ reading of Phil 2:6-11. I contend that that title is misleading, when one considers that “God” is mentioned explicitly four times in Phil 2:6-11 and “Jesus” only twice. In part two of this article, I further demonstrate that Philippians is a theological letter, in the service of identity formation.

To conclude this first part of my article, I allude to the earliest and most used Christological formula of the New Testament – “sit at my right hand” – as a judicious formula that leads one’s mind away from too much preoccupation with Christology to a monotheistic Christian/Pauline theology of Phil 2:6-11, because the formula “sit at my right” subsumes the title/naming of “Jesus Christ is Lord” in “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11b). This is the first step in clarifying the semantics of “structure” and “naming” of Phil 2:6-11 that are at variance.

(To be continued)