The doctrine of the Incarnation lies at the heart of Christianity. But the idea that ‘God was in Christ’ has become a much-debated topic in modern theology. Oliver Crisp addresses six key issues in the Incarnation defending a robust version of the doctrine, in keeping with classical Christology. He explores perichoresis, or interpenetration, with reference to both the Incarnation and Trinity. Over two chapters Crisp deals with the human nature of Christ and then provides an argument against the view, common amongst some contemporary theologians, that Christ had a fallen human nature. He considers the notion of divine kenosis or self-emptying, and discusses non-Incarnational Christology, focusing on the work of John Hick. This view denies Christ is God Incarnate, regarding him as primarily a moral exemplar to be imitated. Crisp rejects this alternative account of the nature of Christology. ~ Product Description
The popular perception of the Bible as a divinely perfect book receives scant support from Ehrman, who sees in Holy Writ ample evidence of human fallibility and ecclesiastical politics. Though himself schooled in evangelical literalism, Ehrman has come to regard his earlier faith in the inerrant inspiration of the Bible as misguided, given that the original texts have disappeared and that the extant texts available do not agree with one another. Most of the textual discrepancies, Ehrman acknowledges, matter little, but some do profoundly affect religious doctrine. To assess how ignorant or theologically manipulative scribes may have changed the biblical text, modern scholars have developed procedures for comparing diverging texts. And in language accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman explains these procedures and their results. He further explains why textual criticism has frequently sparked intense controversy, especially among scripture-alone Protestants. In discounting not only the authenticity of existing manuscripts but also the inspiration of the original writers, Ehrman will deeply divide his readers. Although he addresses a popular audience, he undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. Still, this is a useful overview for biblical history collections. ~ Bryce Christensen for Booklist.
With all the talk these days about a diversity of Christian beliefs in the first century, here’s a book designed to smack some sense into the dialogue. Traditional sense, that is. Witherington, professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, creates well-researched profiles of people in Jesus’ inner circle — profiles that stand up to the most rigorous biblical criticism. No flights of fancy — just the historical understandings as they can be agreed upon by the best and brightest evangelical biblical scholars. At times, there is a strong whiff of defensiveness about the orthodoxy of the canon as Witherington skewers views on early Christian beliefs made popular by Gnosticism scholars Elaine Pagels and Karen King (they being among the purveyors of the “strange theories and bad history” in the title). Readers seeking a uniform and conservative view of early Christianity will find a wealth of information about Jesus and his early followers, which offers an ardent corrective to recent popular works by Bart Ehrman and others. Others, however, may be so put off by Witherington’s polemical tones that they miss the meat of his research. ~ Publishers Weekly
Who would the Saviour have to be, what would the Saviour have to do to rescue human beings from the meaning-destroying experiences of their lives? This book offers a systematic Christology that is at once biblical and philosophical. Starting with human radical vulnerability to horrors such as permanent pain, sadistic abuse or genocide, it develops what must be true about Christ if He is the horror-defeater who ultimately resolves all the problems affecting the human condition and Divine-human relations. Distinctive elements of Marilyn McCord Adams’ study are her defence of the two-natures theory, of Christ as Inner Teacher and a functional partner in human flourishing, and her arguments in favour of literal bodily resurrection (Christ’s and ours) and of a strong doctrine of corporeal Eucharistic presence. The book concludes that Christ is the One in Whom, not only Christian doctrine, but cosmos, church, and the human psyche hold together. ~ Product Descritption
The recent release of Ron Howard’s movie "The Davinci Code" has provoked a renaissance in the controversy that surrounded the publication of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel. It is tempting to be dismissive of all the handwringing. Dan Brown’s claims are really just a knock-off of parts of the seemingly perpetual parade of novel theories about the life of Christ that make their debut each Christmas and Easter on the covers of Time and Newsweek. One might be surprised that Christians are so easily scandalized by unorthodox claims about the object of their faith when similar claims are such standard fare. And, after all, it’s just a novel. On the other hand, in a historically and biblically illiterate culture, Brown’s claims do have purchase on the hearts and minds of believers and non-believers alike. To boot, Brown has refused to let his book be dismissed as mere fiction, insisting instead that, "all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies — all of that is historical fact". Brown’s novel wouldn’t be the first to leave an indellible imprint on the course of history. So, I, for one, welcome the cottage industry of critical analysis that has accompanied the release of the film. As usual, LeaderU.com is featuring a roundup of essays and interviews including Ron Rhodes’ "Crash the Da Vinci Code", Ben Witherington III’s "Mary, Mary, Extraordinary", and Sandra Miesel’s merciless "Dismantling the Da Vinci Code." Envoy Magazine offers Carl E. Olsen’s critique from a Catholic perspective. The New Age Center reprints an article from the New York Times by Bruce Boucher quibbling with Brown’s art history, ending with this fabulous quote from Voltaire: "If it’s too silly to be said, it can always be sung." There are many more for the Googling. Additionally, Amazon.com is hawking a multitude of books piggy-backing on the success of the Davinci Code. Here are some critical ones.
From the worldwide sensation The Da Vinci Code to the national best-seller Misquoting Jesus, popular culture is being bombarded with radical skepticism about the uniqueness of Jesus and the reliability of the New Testament. Reinventing Jesus cuts through the rhetoric of extreme doubt to reveal the profound credibility of historic Christianity. Meticulously researched yet eminently readable, this book invites a wide audience to take a firsthand look at the primary evidence for Christianity’s origins. Reinventing Jesus shows believers that it’s okay to think hard about Christianity, and shows hard thinkers that it’s okay to believe. ~ Publisher’s Description
Anyone who has ever studied the sculpture and art of the ancient Near East will at some juncture have run across a particular common household statue of a man. The man, with head inclined towards the heavens, has his eyes wide open and a look of wonder on his face. Both before, during, and after Jesus’ day, all societies were agricultural, and thus they were all dependent on the heavens, on rain and sun, in order to live at all. Of course, this is true of us as well, but as the majority of us have become increasingly less tethered to the soil we have tended to forget this fact. It is no wonder that persons in this days constantly consulted the heavens, the stars in their motions and configurations, the movement of the planets and of special astral events like comets, in order to discern when would be an opportune time to plow or allow the land to lie fallow, plan or pluck up. Indeed, one can read the Farmer’s Almanac even to this day and get a sense of how closely prognostication is linked to an agrarian society like that of Jesus. ¶ Astrologers, or Magi as they are called in our text (from which we get the word magic), were stargazers. They were not kings, but they were most definitely consultants to kings. The Magi constantly looked to the stars for help, for hope, for knowledge of the future, for truth. They did not believe the stars were inanimate matter; they believed they were likely to be supernatural beings — the heavenly hosts or angels. This is hardly surprising, since they saw them moving around in orderly patterns with the seasons of the year.
With timeless insight, Frederick Buechner introduces us to the Jesus of the Gospel. The old, old story begins to ring new as Buechner revisits the ancient stories and shows us different aspects of the face of Jesus. Here we see the story behind the story. The story which we are invited into. Our story. If occasionally you find that the stories of Jesus found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have become so familiar they fall flat, this book will help you experience the wonder of reading them again as if for the first time. The faces of Jesus, his "ways of being and being seen" are illuminated in six chapters: Annunciation, Nativity, Ministry, Last Supper, Crucifixon, and Resurrection. The focus of the faces of Jesus is that whatever else he may have been, he was a man once and had a "man’s face, a human face." ~ G. Richard Wheatcroft
The most important word in this entire book is the noun in the subtitle; this is a "novel"-a work of fiction. That is important to remember, especially after the statements on page 1, which move the work slightly into the arena of historical fiction, but only slightly. It is true that there are such organizations as the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei. It is true that the author has worked hard to describe accurately the contemporary European locations, including city layouts, buildings, and artwork, in which the plot is set. The statement that "all descriptions of… documents… in this novel are accurate" is, however, highly inaccurate!
Habermas, who has written several apologetic works on the resurrection, and Licona, a speaker and budding New Testament scholar who was once Habermas’s student, offer a comprehensive and far-reaching argument for the historical veracity of Christ’s resurrection. In fact, at times it is too far-reaching, as when the authors digress into refutations of Mormonism, alien activity and Elvis sightings; this book would be much improved if it had been trimmed by about a third. Many evangelicals will appreciate the authors’ broad evidentiary claims and marshaling of historical, theological, archaeological, biomedical and literary data to support their belief in the resurrection. Yet despite its strong content, the book is poorly written, and is organized in a workmanlike outline format that seems more appropriate for a seminary
lecture than a seamless book. A closing chapter offers practical tips for evangelical Christians who wish to share their faith with others. ~ Publishers Weekly
Strobel, a former journalist for the Chicago Tribune, affirms that Christ really did die on the cross, and not just faint from exhaustion; that he experienced a bodily, and not just a spiritual, resurrection; and that he was seen alive after his death. In journalistic style, he interviews several experts like Gary Habermas, corrects inaccuracies (the nails would have been driven through Jesus’ wrists, we learn, and not his palms) and tells stories. But at its heart, this is an editorial rather than a journalistic account, as Strobel most definitely has an opinion and wants readers to share his own pilgrimage from doubt to rock-solid faith. ~ Publishers Weekly
The first and most powerful source of the appeal of a kenotic theory is the great religious power and meaning that is intrinsic to the idea of a God who sacrifices and suffers with and on behalf of his creatures. If I am caught up in terrible suffering it is one thing to be assured of the love and kindness of another person. It is quite another thing for that other person to give the assurance by entering into my situation and suffering with me or even for me. A God who empties himself out of love for human beings, who recklessly as it were gives up divine privileges to endure all the hard realities of human life, is a God whose love is credible and inspires love in return.
Whether or not Jesus rose bodily from the dead is perhaps the most critical and contentious issue in the study of Christianity. Until now, scholars have concentrated on explicit statements in the New Testament to support their views, but Richard Swinburne argues for a wider approach, asking instead whether the character of God and the life of Jesus support the probability of the Resurrection. His book will be of great interest not only to academics but to anyone with an interest in religious philosophy and doctrine. ~ Publisher’s Description
If, further, God’s purpose of identifying with our suffering and providing an example and instruction of how to live is to be fulfilled, he must show us that he is doing this. For God to bring to life someone condemned for certain teaching would be to express his approval of that teaching. And since belief in the Resurrection … was clearly the force which led to the spread of the Gospel throughout so much of the world, if God brought this about, his doing this constituted and intervention in history to make the life of Jesus successful. If God raised Jesus and thus gave impetus to the Church which centrally thereafter taught that Jesus was God Incarnate (which there are also independent grounds for supposing Jesus to have implied), he showed that it was God himself who identified with our suffering. While the Resurrection would vindicate that and all the other teaching of Jesus, since a crucial element of that teaching concerned the availability for us ordinary humans life after death, it would provide the first example of that to which it witnessed. Jesus was the forerunner. If God raised Jesus from the dead, he accepted his sacrifice and vindicated his teaching.
Like other titles in the Wadsworth Philosopher’s Series, On Jesus offers a concise, yet comprehensive, introduction to this philosopher’s most important ideas. Presenting the most important insights of well over a hundred seminal philosophers in both the Eastern and Western traditions, the Wadsworth Philosophers Series contains volumes written by scholars noted for their excellence in teaching and for their well-versed comprehension of each featured philosopher’s major works and contributions. These titles have proven valuable in a number of ways. Serving as standalone texts when tackling a philosophers’ original sources or as helpful resources for focusing philosophy students’ engagements with these philosopher’s often conceptually daunting works, these titles have also gained extraordinary popularity with a lay readership and quite often serve as "refreshers" for philosophy instructors. ~ Product Description
In this definitive work, popular Christian apologist Hank Hanegraaff offers a detailed defense of the Resurrection, the singularly most important event in history and the foundation upon which Christianity is built. Using the acronym F.E.A.T., the author examines the four distinctive, factual evidences of Christ’s resurrection-Fatal torment, Empty tomb, Appearances, and Transformation-making the case for each in a memorable way that believers can readily use in their own defense of the faith. Hanegraaff addresses a number of questions: 1) Will we really have tangible, physical bodies in the resurrection? 2) If heaven is perfect, won’t it be perfectly boring? 3) Are reincarnation and resurrection mutually exclusive?
The meat of the book is in two chapters, on the “Empty Tomb” and the “Appearances of Jesus”. Craig offers ten points supporting the historical fact of the empty tomb, beginning with “The historical reliability of the account of Jesus’ burial supports the empty tomb” to “The fact that Jesus’ tomb was not venerated as a shrine indicates that the tomb was empty.” Most of the arguments are persuasively presented, though I wish all apologists would leave the Shroud aside. But in the end, Craig adequately explains the reasons that most scholars, from diverse backgrounds, accept the empty tomb as historical fact. The section on the Appearances of Jesus begins by demonstrating their historicity and then examines their explanations. He first shows that Peter, the Twelve, the five hundred, James, the apostles, and Paul did indeed experience appearances by Jesus. Craig then moves through the potential explanations and concludes that the best explanation for these appearances is that they were indeed real events, interactions with a living and breathing restored Jesus. Craig caps off his argument with a discussion about the resurrection’s role as the best explanation for the Origin of the Christian Faith itself.
Any position in which claims about Jesus or the resurrection are removed from the realm of historical reality and placed in a subjective realm of personal belief or some realm that is immune to human scrutiny does Jesus and the resurrection no service and no justice. It is a ploy of desperation to suggest that the Christian faith would be little affected if Jesus was not actually raised from the dead in space and time. A person who gives up on the historical foundations of our faith has in fact given up on the possibility of any real continuity between his or her own faith and that of a Peter, Paul, James, John, Mary Magdalene, or Priscilla. The first Christian community had a strong interest in historical reality, especially the historical reality of Jesus and his resurrection, because they believed their faith, for better or for worse, was grounded in it.
The Image of Christ by Gabriele Finaldi is a beautifully illustrated, colorful history of how Christ has been portrayed by artists from the early church to the present. It is not, however, a life of Christ told in pictures. Instead, the book explores the challenges Christian artists have faced as they have tried to imagine what Jesus looked like. Since no eyewitness descriptions of Jesus’ physical appearance survived, the earliest artists’ depictions of Christ played on the symbols and images that he used in his parables–such as the Good Shepherd, the Light, and the Vine. Later, artists became concerned with capturing Christ’s true physical likeness, based on miraculous relics such as the cloth that Saint Veronica offered him on his way to Calvary, which was believed to be imprinted with an image of his face. These stages in the history of Christian art are described by several art historians in brief essays, each of which is lavishly illustrated. The book, which was inspired by Seeing Salvation: The Image of Christ, an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, will be treasured by secular and believing readers alike. A deeper understanding of the religious context of these works will sharpen viewers’ experience of their universal relevance. The dozens of pictures, paintings, and sculptures reproduced here bear profound witness not only to the events of Jesus’ life, but also to the enduring power of a mother’s love for her children, the suffering of innocents, and love’s triumph over death. ~ Michael Joseph Gross
Christianity teaches that something is profoundly wrong with the human person. We are, among other things, corrupted, dysfunctional, sinful, and at times evil. Furthermore, there is ultimately only one remedy for our condition, and that is salvation from ourselves and our condition by faith in Jesus Christ. This central Christian tenet is often unsettling to Christians themselves and is positively insufferable to the culture at large. Religious Tolerance Online, for example, catalogues all manner of religious perspective with delicacy and precision, raising no quibble with their various beliefs. But it judges the Christian belief in the unique salvific efficacy of Jesus as on par with racism and other forms of intolerance. Observe the author’s herculean (and commendable) effort to describe Christian exclusivism’s view toward other religions without expressing his/her own frustration and sadness with this perspective. Leadership U. is featuring several articles that seek to justify Christian exclusivism. We especially recommend Rick Rood’s “The Christian Attitude Toward Non-Christian Religions,” Brad Johnson’s, “A Three-Pronged Defense of Salvific Exclusivism in a World of Religions” and Paul Johnson’s “The Necessity of Christianity“.
Ask anyone to name the most influential person in history, and chances are the reply will be, simply, “Jesus.” Here, Yale historian Pelikan ably explores the universe of power and influence embedded in that revered five-letter name, as he surveys the role of the carpenter from Galilee in “the general history of culture.” Pelikan proceeds from the premise that the “image” of Jesus – his identity as perceived by successive epochs – is a mirror reflecting the course of Western civilization, and that tracing that image through time will reveal the “continuities and discontinuities” of the past two millennia. His project uncovers mostly discontinuities; Western culture’s christological imagery changes dramatically from age to age. Pelikan begins by looking at the early concept of Jesus as prophet and and rabbi, prevalent in the first century. Subsequent chapters cover in chronological order 17 other major representations of Jesus. These include Jesus as Logos, as “bridegroom of the soul,” as “Universal Man,” and so on. Behind these wildly divergent images, however, a rainbowlike pattern emerges: Jesus’s prestige arches steeply upwards from his humble origins as a crucified wonder-worker, reaches its apogee in his medieval elevation to alpha and omega of the cosmos, declines in modern times to his quasi-mundane role as prototypical social liberator. This man, it seems, can be all things to all people; like the Beauty he embodied for the Romantics, Jesus lies in the eyes of the beholder.
I stress the historical angle from the outset because it has of course been argued, indeed insisted upon, in many circles that whatever we mean by the resurrection of Jesus, it is not accessible to historical investigation. As Dominic Crossan remarked about the study of Jesus in general, there have been some who said it could not be done, some who said it should not be done and some who said the former when they meant the latter. Getting to the heart of these objections and answering them in detail would take us far too afield within a single chapter. I simply wish to assert that the historian, so far from being debarred from the investigation of Jesus’ resurrection, is in fact obligated to undertake such an investigation. Without it a large hole remains in the center of first-century history, no matter what presuppositions the historian may possess.
For me Jesus has become the focal point of faith, and increasingly I am learning to keep the magnifying glass of my faith focused on him. In my spiritual journey I have long lingered in the margins, puzzling over matters like the problem of pain, the conundrum of prayer, providence versus free will. When I do so, everything becomes fuzzy. Looking at Jesus, however, restores clarity. For example, the Bible leaves many questions unanswered about the problem of pain, but in Jesus I see unmistakable proof that God is the God of all comfort, not the author of pain.
This exciting collection of papers is an international, ecumenical, and interdisciplinary study of Jesus’ resurrection that emerged from the “Resurrection Summit” meeting held in New York at Easter of 1996. The contributions represent mainstream scholarship on biblical studies, fundamental theology, systematic theology, philosophy, moral theology, and homiletics. Contributors represent a wide range of viewpoints and denominations and include Richard Swinburne, Janet Martin Soskice, Peter F. Carnley, Sarah Coakley, Willian Lane Craig, William P. Alston, M. Shawn Copeland, Paul Rhodes Eddy, Francis Schussler Fiorenza, Brian V. Johnstone, Carey C. Newman, Alan G. Padgett, Pheme Perkins, Alan F. Segal, Marguerite Shuster, and John Wilkins. Combined, they offer a timely, wide ranging, and well balanced work on the central truth of Christianity. ~ Product Description