Conversation with Mike Bird about In the Form of a God

Mike Bird is one of the editors of the Studies in Early Christology series (Wipf & Stock), of which my book In the Form of a God: The Pre-existence of the Exalted Christ in Paul is the first published title. Mike is prodigiously productive but he found time to interview me about the book recently.

We talk mostly about Philippians 2:6: “who being in the form of a god, did not consider being godlike an opportunity to be seized, but emptied himself….” I take this statement to reflect a post-pagan perspective on Jesus, the wonder-worker in divine appearance, who turned down the opportunity to attain a god-equal rule over the nations of the Greek-Roman world when it was presented to him (let the reader understand), and who instead, in the wilderness, emptied himself of selfish ambition, etc., in order to take the painful path marked out for him.

This reading solves the conundrum of the recalcitrant phrase morphē theou, puts Roy Hoover’s idiomatic interpretation of the harpagmon clause to much better use, provides an excellent narrative setting for the “incident,” and finally accounts for the connection of the encomium with the ethical exhortations of the preceding paragraph. Mike was half-persuaded, perhaps a bit less.

The conversation is also available on Spotify if you just want to listen.