A Philosophical Analysis of J. R. Daniel Kirk’s A Man Attested by God by Timothy J. Pawl

September 15, 2023

A Philosophical Analysis of J.R. Daniel Kirk’s

A Man Attested by God

Timothy J. Pawl

Professor of Philosophy, University of St. Thomas (MN)


Abstract: In his recent book, A Man Attested by God, J. R. Daniel Kirk argues that the Synoptic Gospels are best read through a paradigm in which Jesus is not a divine person, but rather an exalted non-preexistent human person. In what follows I set out Kirk’s argumentation in a precise logical structure, then assess it from a logical and philosophical point of view. My conclusion is mixed. The logical structure of Kirk’s argumentation against the Divine paradigm is good. If the texts he marshals against his early high Christology opponents are exegeted correctly—I give no assessment of Kirk’s historical or exegetical work—then he has succeeded in showing that his opponents’ arguments are in dire shape. On the other hand, Kirk’s own argumentation in favor of the Ideal Human paradigm is itself lacking in an essential component–—he does not support a necessary part of that paradigm, Christ’s alleged nonpreexistence.

Keywords: Divine paradigm, Ideal Human Figure paradigm, Early High Christology, The Synoptic Gospels, Preexistence.

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