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Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel (New Studies in Biblical Theology) Paperback – June 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A welcome attempt to bridge a disciplinary divide that sometimes serves to stifle conversation between practitioners of biblical and theological studies. . . Like all interesting conversations, it is well worth listening to the dialogue that emerges from this collaborative effort." (Aaron J. Kuecker, Biblical Theology Bulletin, Volume 40)

"A clearly argued and accessible study on the trinitarian theology of the Gospel of John. . .A stimulating overview to both current trinitarian thought and the broader scholarly debates within the field of Johannine studies." (J. Brian Tucker, Bulletin for Biblical Research)

"Kostenberger and Swain have written an accessible and practical volume that provides a stimulating overview to both current trinitarian thought and the broader scholarly debates within the field of Joahnnine studies. This work will prove useful for thoughtful pastors, seminary students, and informed laypersons. It fills a lacuna in the field of biblical studies by providing a biblical survey and theological overview of the Trinity as it is presented in the Gospel of John." (J. Brian Tucker, Bulletin for Biblical Research, 19.4, 2009)

"In the midst of the Trinity debates in evangelicalism today, Father, Son and Spirit is a welcome contribution that provides a solid biblical-theological study of one of the most important biblical books on the triune nature of the Godhead." (Philip R. Gons, Themelios (thegospelcoalition.org), Issue 33-3)

"I highly recommend this volume for pastors as well as those interested in more technical debates regarding the Trinity. The conclusions and theological reflections will provide the reader with a solid basis to begin thinking critically about issues such as missions and evangelism. The book will also provide small group leaders and Sunday school teachers with great curriculum ideas." (Jason Button, Sharper Iron (sharperiron.org), November 20, 2008)

About the Author

Andreas J. Köstenberger (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. He is also coauthor of Salvation to the Ends of the Earth and author of the article "Mission" in IVP Academic's New Dictionary of Theology.

Scott R. Swain (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is associate professor of systematic theology and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando).
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Product Details

  • Series: New Studies in Biblical Theology (Book 24)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; STIFF WRAPS edition (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830826254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830826254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I just finished reading Father, Son and Spirit: Trinity yesterday-I will refer to the authors as K&S from this point on. I must say that the book was much different than I anticipated. This is not to say that I was disappointed in the least. The authors in the first half of the book (and I am over-generalizing here) seek to lay forth John's teaching about each of the three persons in the trinity individually first and then in regard to how they relate to each other. In the second half of the book they focus their attention more on building a coherent theology of the trinity within the framework of John's unique theological purpose and emphasis. The first half of the book really stood as the foundation for the second half.

Those who have spent any serious time studying John's Gospel will find the first half of the book to be delightfully straightforward. I will say, however, that the second half of this book is what really makes this work worthy of honorable mention. I will warn the reader to not skip the general teachings of the Godhead in the first part of the book to delve into the rich theological insight of the second half of the book. The first half really does set a necessary stage for what follows.

The two most helpful chapters (for me, at least) were Chapters 7 ("Christology in John's trinitarian perspective: Jesus' Filial Identity") and 9 ("`As the Father Has Sent Me, So I am Sending You': Toward a Trinitarian Mission Theology"). I think I underlined about half of the content in each of these two chapters. K&S's discussion on both the sonship of Christ and the fatherhood of God and their focus on John's unique trinitarian emphasis in regard to mission was simply stunning.
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Here's a real gem. Like many Christians I find it a great pleasure to read the Gospel according to John.
This book has made reading John even more enjoyable.

I remember reading some old puritans a while back who spoke of "the covenant of redemption" it was nice to see some modern day fellow Christians speak on it too! "Jesus ground His prayer for glorification (John 17) in what Reformed dogmatics calls the `pactum salutis' (Covenant of Redemption)... He believes that the Father will keep His promise to glorify His Son (12:28) because the Son fully and faithfully accomplished on earth the mission given to Him by the Father before the world began (17:2, 4; 19:30) ... the Son comes into the world on a mission He received from the Father `before' He came into the world (3:19; 6:38; 10:36; 17:2, 4)...John's Gospel narrates `the interior life of the Triune God visible (to the eyes of faith) in our history'. ... In other words, the `pactum salutis' teaches us that the story which unfolds on the stage of history is the story of an intra-trinitarian fellowship of salvation, a fellowship that reaches back `before the world began' and that continues even to `the hour' of Jesus' cross, resurrection and ascension." (169-170)

Another great aspect of this book is its use of the OT, ""John's adaptation of the Isaianic `I Am' formula and of the `glory' and `lifted up' motifs also intimately associate Jesus with God in a way unparalleled by any other Jewish tradition of the period. Remarkably, Jesus is given `glory' by God (e.g. 17:5, 24) despite the fact that God does not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). On the basis of the identification of Jesus with Isaiah's suffering Servant, which is doubtless grounded in Jesus' own self-understanding (e.g.
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I have become quite a respecter of Dr. Andreas Kostenberger, as I admire the exegetically and hermeneutically responsible way he handles the scriptures. This volume is a much needed exposition of the doctrine of the triunity of God as interpreted through the Gospel of John. It is historical-grammatical in its orientation. With the progressive, unfolding revelation of the triunity of God throughout redemptive history as a backdrop, this work interprets what Christ revealed about the nature and work of the triune God as found in the fourth gospel. Particularly useful is the analysis of John 17, a glimpse into the relational aspect among the triunity. I purchased this book for a seminary assignment, but I already know that this is the type of resource that I will return to again and again. Good solid scholarship in a student-friendly format, this book is a gift to the church.
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I recently did a research paper on Trinitarian concepts in the Gospel of John for my class at seminary and this book proved to be my best resource. It covers all three persons of the Trinity--how they are presented in the Gospel of John--and it is all done in very accessible language. Wonderful book....five out of five stars!

Huh? How did I do on my paper? Well, my paper did not get exactly five out of five stars...but it was not the fault of this book! God bless!
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Review of Andreas J. Kostenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel (New Studies in Biblical Theology 24; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008).

Since other reviewers have summarized and/or outlined the book, my aim in this review is to engage the content of the book more substantially in detail.

"Anachronism should be avoided" (p.21). These words from by Kostenberger and Swain offer a crucial warning regarding the subject of "the Trinity and the Gospel of John" that is the book's focus. If the authors had heeded their own warning, I suspect that this review would be far more positive.

Kostenberger and Swain engage in a "trinitarian" reading of the Gospel, one that, in essence, interprets the Gospel as though the Nicene and Chalcedonian formulations could be presupposed as the text's background. While such an approach is interesting, it is also strange, precisely because their book is not being written in the fourth century, but rather in the twenty-first. What sense can there be in writing a book that neither engages the distinctive questions of our own time (which are not precisely those of the Nicene fathers), nor seeks to interpret the Gospel first and foremost against the background of its own time? Mention of Philo is minimal, and other texts (like the Testament of Abraham) that might have shed further light on how a key agent of God might be thought to bear the divine name are nowhere mentioned. If discussion of key background material for the Gospel's time and setting of composition are minimal, neither does the book really engage the debates of the pre-Nicene and Nicene era, and the way this Gospel was read and interpreted in that context.
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