Ms J. J. Johnson Leese
The Old Eclipsed by the New: A Pauline Relational Theology of New Creation in Christ
The broader goal of my research is to explore how the Apostle Paul, within the Second Temple Jewish context, came to reconfigure his understanding of God's purpose and design for creation (human and non-human) in light of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The overarching question shaping this study is "How does Paul articulate the relationship of Christ with the cosmological origins of the first creation, with the existing creation and with the ongoing creative work of God?"
Methodologically, I have approached this question through exploration of a variety of Pauline texts structured more specifically around three theological axes (e.g., Roman 5.12-17, 8.18-30; 1 Cor 8.6, 15.21-28, 35-30; 2 Cor 4.4, 5.16-6.2; Gal 6.16). The first theological axis is Paul's conviction of a new creation, inaugurated by the Jewish eschatological shift where the end time age has been inaugurated by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and confirmed with the advent of the Spirit. The second theological axis is Paul's christological conviction that the very nature of the incarnate Jesus Christ embodies the unique and revelatory image and glory of God creating a cosmological restructuring within the creation. The third theological axis is Paul's ecclesiastical conviction that those "in Christ" have already been and are presently being transformed into the image of Christ. It is my conviction that when woven together, these axes provide a rich tapestry for articulating a Pauline Relational Theology of the New Creation in Christ.
My research thus far indicates that this Christological framework provided Paul with an awareness of the symbiotic relatedness between God, Jesus Christ, creation, all things and the believing community. Paul uses the Christ event as the hermeneutical lens for reinterpreting his former limited knowledge of creation/salvation history (first age) and he draws upon creation/salvation history as a hermeneutical lens for interpreting the Christ event within history (new age). Both seem to be essential in order for Paul to articulate the "secret and hidden wisdom of God. . . decreed before the ages. . ." (1 Cor 2.7). It will be suggested that an approach to biblical theology which organizes salvation history from a linear/time bound "chapter by chapter" perspective is not the best method for understanding a Pauline theology of creation/new creation. Paul begins and ends with Christ.
Additionally, my research challenges a traditional "restorative" reading of Paul which interprets that the redemptive work of God in Christ was necessitated to restore to perfection that which existed before the "fall." Such a reading tends to focus primarily on anthropological restoration and does not adequately account for the radical newness which Paul attributes to the Christ event and the implications such has for the matrix of relationships within creation. The inauguration of the eschatological turning of the ages and the presence of the spirit suggest that the redemptive work of Christ is better interpreted as the eschatological completion of creation into new creation; sometimes referred to as a transformative or completion reading of Paul. Thus, the Christ event points forward to a telos which is far greater than the beginning. Related theological concepts such as: image of God/Christ, Adam Christology, Christ as Creator merge together in this study to inform a fresh reading of Paul's New Creation Theology.
Other Research Interests
Second Temple Judaism, Hermeneutics, Women in Biblical literature and/or Feminists Theology, Biblical Themes in Film, Science and the Bible, Eco-theological readings of the Bible
Leese, J.J. Johnson, "The Ministry of Women." A Daystar Reader. Edited by Matthew L. Becker. Daystar.net, 2010.
Leese, J.J. Johnson. "Infanticide." Pp. 208-209 in The IVP Women's Bible Commentary. Edited by C. C. Kroeger and M. J. Evans. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2002.
Leese, J.J. Johnson and David M. Scholer. "The Inspiration and Interpretation of Scripture." Pages xxiv-xxxvii in The IVP Women's Bible Commentary. Edited by C. C. Kroeger and M. J. Evans. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2002.
Leese, J.J. Johnson. "Culbert Gerow Runtenber: A Bibliography."Perspectives in Religious Studies Monograph Series Vol 21. (1994): 279-284. http://www.baylor.edu/prs/index.php?id=8254