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Anticipation in the Thought of Wolfhart Pannenberg

McClean, John A. (2010) Anticipation in the Thought of Wolfhart Pannenberg. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

This thesis presents an interpretation and assessment of the thought of Wolfhart Pannenberg by studying the role of anticipation. A review of critical appraisals of Pannenberg’s work, and his own descriptions of his approach to theology lead to the identification of major questions for understanding and assessing Pannenberg’s theological project, especially the relationship between theology and philosophy. The discussion also shows that Pannenberg’s work can be examined for internal coherence and for coherence with the claims of other fields of study.
In an initial exposition of Pannenberg’s use of anticipation it is shown that in the discussion of revelation the concept of anticipation enables him to understand revelation as God’s self-revelation in which the content and form of revelation are identified with God’s essence and also hold that God’s existence remains debatable.
An examination of Pannenberg’s philosophical milieu concludes that the atheism associated with the “end of metaphysics” is the primary philosophical challenge for
Pannenberg. He responds to this challenge in the context of the “relational turn” which means that he takes the demand for a historicist hermeneutic with full seriousness, while
refusing to abandon metaphysical claims. It is shown that in order to achieve this, Pannenberg offers a metaphysical proposal in which reality can be understood in relation to the true Infinite only as the true Infinite is understood as the triune God and that this understanding requires an account of reality which appeals to Christian eschatology and views reality as developing to a completion which is granted to it from eternity. In this proposal anticipation plays a key role.
The assessment of Pannenberg’s thought examines three areas of doctrine. In christology, the concept of anticipation allows Pannenberg to present an account of the unity and distinction of the Son and the Father constituted in the historical, human life of Jesus. In doing so, Pannenberg differs from classical christology by identifying Jesus’ humanity, not the Logos, as the acting subject in the incarnation. While this allows him to emphasise the humanity of Christ, it also introduces potentially
problematic elements into his christology. It is argued that the affect of these problematic elements can be seen in Pannenberg’s doctrine of reconciliation in which Christ’s death is actualised as reconciling and, therefore, expiatory, in the work of the Spirit as sinners are included in that death. It appears that Pannenberg’s anticipatory christology restricts the expression he can give to God’s gracious action in the work of Christ while a Chalcedonian account of the hypostatic unity is able to present this more satisfactorily. In the doctrine of God anticipation allows Pannenberg to relate the multiplicity of temporal reality to God’s eternity so closely that he can understand the immanent Trinity as constituted by God’s actions in the economy of reconciliation. On this basis he can argue that all reality is already, in anticipation, bound in ‘unity in distinction’ in the love of God. It is argued that this position means that the theme of
God’s wrath creates an ambivalence in Pannenberg’s thought. As a final step in assessing Pannenberg’s use of anticipation his presentation of the ‘now-not yet’ tension
in terms of ‘anticipation–actualisation’ is contrasted to the New Testament ‘achievement-consummation’ schema.
The conclusion of the thesis summarises the insights that have been gained into Pannenberg’s thought and his use of anticipation. It outlines the achievements of his project that have been highlighted and the critical questions that have been raised.

Item Type: Theses (Doctor of Philosophy)
Repository Version: Author's Final Manuscript
Keywords: Wolfhart Pannenberg, theology and philosophy, anticipation, revelation, historicist hermeneutics, metaphysical claims, Christian eschatology, Jesus’ humanity
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220315 Philosophy of Religion
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950499 Religion and Ethics not elsewhere classified
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: C - Systematic Theology
College/Association with University of Divinity: UFT-UCTC: United Faculty of Theology - Uniting Church Theological College
Depositing User: Cate Headey
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2010 22:05
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2013 23:25
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/540

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