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Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul's Narrative Soteriology Paperback – April 3, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Richard B. Hays-- Duke Divinity School"This richly synthetic reading of Paul offers a compelling argument that the heart of Paul's soteriology lies in theosis -- the incorporation of God's people into the life and character of the God revealed in the cross. Michael Gorman deftly integrates the results of recent debates about Pauline theology into a powerful constructive account that overcomes unfruitful dichotomies and transcends recent controversies between the 'New Perspective on Paul' and its traditionalist critics. Gorman's important book points the way forward for understanding the nonviolent, world-transforming character of Paul's gospel."Stephen Finlan-- Fordham University"Provides an important corrective to segmentalized approaches to Paul. Michael Gorman lucidly connects justification to spiritual transformation. Faith, love, and action come together as theosis -- the taking on of the character of Christ and, so, of God. Though constantly in conversation with other scholars, Gorman has a refreshingly original approach, illuminating the lively theology of Paul. "Inhabiting the Cruciform God" clearly advances the field of Pauline studies."Frank J. Matera-- Catholic University of America"In this pioneering work Michael Gorman offers a fresh way to view Paul's understanding of justification and holiness. Cutting a new path through old territory, Gorman leads us to a vision of holiness and justification rooted in the transforming power of nonviolence and the cross. His work will provide pastors with new insights for preaching and scholars with new ways to address old questions."

About the Author

Michael J. Gorman holds the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore, Maryland. A highly regarded New Testament scholar, he has also written Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness and Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (April 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802862659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802862655
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Korsmo VINE VOICE on November 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
In this study of Pauline soteriology, Gorman focuses on Paul's "grand narrative" of kenosis, justification, and theosis as key themes for understanding Paul's view of salvation in Christ. The key text for explicating the narrative is Phil 2:5-11, where the kenosis and exaltation of Christ form the key movements in the description of Christ's incarnation. For Gorman, this narrative is key to understanding Christ, and salvation, and even more, it is key to understanding God. He sets as one of the book's key agendas the claim that "cruciformity is theoformity, or theosis," built on the foundational claim that "kenosis (self-emptying) reveals the character of God" (2). This key element of the thesis is worked out in the first chapter of the book, with a careful study of Philippians 2 and it's implications for Paul's master story. He then turns to an extended study of justification as co-crucifixion, a participation in the life and death of Christ, and specifically in Christ's covenant fulfillment. (Thus, the pistis christou debate features prominently in the chapter, as the subjective genitive reading there is an important element in the argument, though it doesn't stand or fall solely on that point.) He then turns to holiness as the actualization of justification (not some subsequent and separate movement) and closes with an argument for nonviolence as an essential part of Paul's entire viewpoint.

I greatly enjoyed Gorman's important work. It is well written and clearly argued throughout, and he demonstrates a thorough familiarity with Paul and his letters. I am extremely sympathetic to the core theological argument of the book, that kenosis not only pertains to Christ but also reveals something of the character and manner of working of God the Father as well.
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This is a solid book. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, and as a former Lutheran (LCMS), I have seen two poles of Pauline soteriology expounded from the scriptures, one focusing upon the ontological union of `in Christ' and his Church through his victory over death (which is another way of saying `theosis') and the other `Christ for us' as the ransom from sin death and the devil. While not mutually exclusive by any means, one could argue that Western theology, and Protestant theology in particular, has been a bit myopic when it comes to reading St. Paul, a reading that often has more to do with Augustine, Luther and Calvin and less to do with St. Paul and the liturgy of the faithful. This book serves as a useful corrective by showing that Paul's understanding of God in Christ is ontological, kenotic and plurotic: In God's self-emptying in Christ we are raised into his life (which is what Orthodox mean by grace). In the words of St. Athanasius, that great defender of Christ's person and natures, "God became man that man might become God." Of course this is shocking language to many, but understood scripturally the concept gives full value to the incarnation, which is the center not only of our own personal histories but of History itself, and written in the heart of God before the foundation of the world.

Karl Barth wrote in his Dogmatics that all the dubious features of Calvinism come from the fact that, in the end, he separated God from Jesus Christ. I believe this to be very true of most `theology', if the term can even apply. It begins with unrecognized philosophical presuppositions that are read into the text of scripture rather than being read as it is within the context of the liturgical community, which I would argue is the most accurate method of exegesis.
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Michael J. Gorman's work Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul's Narrative Soteriology, is one in a number of works seeking to reinterpret Paul's theology. Rather than defending traditional Pauline interpretation, or getting on the New Perspective bandwagon, Gorman offers a proposal that transcends other interpretive grids.

For Gorman, the center of Pauline thought is not to be found in forensic justification (Luther), nor is it to be found in the concept of covenant community (Wright). Rather, "theosis is the center of Paul's theology." (171) Theosis, for Gorman, is a thoroughly Christological reality, and can be called "Christification." Gorman's concept of theosis shares similarities with the Eastern Orthodox approach, but is not synonymous. For Gorman, theosis is primarily cruciformity. God's nature is cruciform, and thus theosis is living the cruciform life, mirroring God's self giving love. Gorman proposes that the Carmen Christi of Philippians 2:6-11 is Paul's "master story." This text serves as a lens through which Paul's theology is to be read. Gorman argues, convincingly I think, that the phrase "although he was in the form of God" can be read "because he was in the form of God." In other words, the incarnation is not contrary to God's normal manner of acting, but is thoroughly consistent with God's character. In fact, it is the ultimate revelation of God's character. Thus, in contrast to human perceptions of divinity which are linked with political power, God's power in shown in weakness. It is of God's essence and character to be self-giving. In Gorman's words, "divinity has kenotic servanthood as its essential attribute."(31)

There is a redefinition of the term "Justification" in Gorman's writing.
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