The Emptied Christ of Philippians: Mahyna Meditations

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9781498221313: The Emptied Christ of Philippians: Mahyna Meditations
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Before the Gospels were written, long before the creeds of the Church were hammered out, Christ followers in Philippi sang a hymn of the Christ who, ''although he was in the form of God . . . emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born as are all humans.'' But this emptied Christ never fit neatly into later theologies of the church, shaped by Greek thought, concerned with being and essence. In Philippians, Paul struggles, stumbling over his own awkward words to express his hope, his eschatological faith, that he might "gain Christ and be found in him ...  and participate in his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if in some way I may reach to what goes beyond the resurrection from the dead."
Might we better comprehend Paul's inchoate, even mystical, faith in Jesus Christ with aid from a less empirical world of thought than our western heritage offers? Might the thinking of Mahāyāna Buddhism guide us toward an awareness of a truth in the Christian faith that is more profound than anything reducible to historical "facts," or even to human language?

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About the Author:

John P. Keenan is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Middlebury College and a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. His publications include I Am / No Self: A Christian Reading of the Heart Sūtra; The Gospel of Mark: A Mahāyāna Reading; The Meaning of Christ: A Mahāyāna Theology; and A Study of the Buddhabhūmyupadeśa: The Doctrinal Development of the Notion of Wisdom in Yogācāra Thought.  

Review:

''John Keenan's work remains radical, both in getting behind established conventions to the roots of Christian faith on the one hand, and yet opening up Christianity's primary sources toward a global conversation on the other. This book is exemplary in thinking afresh about the meaning of Christ in dialogue with Mahayana philosophical traditions.''
--Amos Yong, Professor of Theology & Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary

''Loaded with helpful historical and linguistic background information, Keenan's book carefully guides the reader to fresh insights into Paul's letter. Keenan's deep learnedness in both the scholarship on Paul and Buddhist philosophy enables him to write an interfaith commentary as few others could.''
--Kristin Beise Kiblinger, Author, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Director of the International and Global Studies Program, Winthrop University

''Continuing his mission to 'enunciate the gospel in ever-new languages and philosophies,' Keenan offers a penetrating Mahayana reading of Paul's letter to the Philippians. Beautifully written, it opens our spiritual imagination to new ways of understanding Jesus Christ and experiencing his message.''
--Catherine Cornille, Professor of Comparative Theology, Boston College --Wipf and Stock Publishers

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