Andrey Romanov, «Through One Lord Only: Theological Interpretation of the Meaning of 'dia', in 1 Cor 8,6», Vol. 96 (2015) 391-415
The present study attempts to clarify the theological meaning of dia, in 1 Cor 8,6. Traditionally the preposition is understood as an indication of a contrast between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus' role is described as either instrumental or analogous to the role of Jewish Wisdom. The present study questions these interpretations on the basis of the analysis of the structure of the verse. In this author's opinion, dia, here indicates the unique functions of Jesus Christ which make him the co-worker of God the Father in both creation and salvation.
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nor Jewish Wisdom play any independent role in the processes de-
scribed in 1 Cor 8,6: “When Paul attributes Wisdom’s role in creation
to Christ in 1 Cor 8,6… he must mean that the creative and redemptive
role of Sophia-Christ is nothing other than the creative and redemptive
activity of this one God. That is to say, insofar as we can speak of
the pre-existence of Christ, the deity of Christ at this point, it is the
pre-existence and deity of the one God” 15. One can draw a conclu-
sion that Jesus Christ is merely the visible form of God’s action;
God seems to have no need of any particular instrument. That is,
both parts of 1 Cor 8,6 point to God’s self-activity; it is God alone
who acts: “Paul’s Wisdom Christology is wholly consistent with
the continued confession of God’s oneness (1 Cor 8,6)” 16.
One can make some general observations on the ideas just pre-
sented. Some of them regard Jesus Christ as temporarily exercising
the functions of God as God’s representative or agent. According
to the others, Jesus Christ does not function himself; it is rather God
who functions while Jesus Christ is presented as God’s instrument.
In fact the elements of both approaches can be found in each hy-
pothesis that I have just examined. These hypotheses (and the sug-
gested descriptions of Christ’s role) are not free from inner
inconsistencies; they will be discussed in the second section below.
One of the best established terms which describes Jesus’ posi-
tion in his relations with God the Father and with the world is “me-
diator” 17. The term as such, however, does not say too much. As
some recent studies clearly demonstrate, it has very different con-
notations 18, and therefore it is not sufficient to specify the role of
Jesus Christ in 1 Cor 8,6. Yet, as D.R. de Lacey notes, “to focus on
firms his views on Wisdom Christology in “Epilogue”, Paul and Judaism.
Crosscurrents in Pauline Exegesis and the Study of Jewish-Christian Rela-
tions (eds. R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT) (LNTS 463; London – New York
J.D.G. DUNN, “Was Christianity a Monotheistic Faith?”, SJT 35.4
J.D.G. DUNN, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Edinburgh 1998) 275.
According to BDAG, dia, with the genitive of persons denotes the personal
agent or intermediary, and therefore the first dia, in 1 Cor 8,6 points to Christ
as to an “intermediary in the creation of the world”, 178.
In recent decades a significant number of studies were devoted to the
analysis of various types of Jewish mediatory figures and their influence on
the early Christian representation of Jesus Christ as mediator; one can con-
clude that there is no single definition of the term. See, for instance, D.R. DE