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Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity Paperback – November 29, 2008
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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"The question of whether the Gospels are based on eyewitness accounts has long been controversial. Richard Bauckham, in a characteristic tour de force, draws on his unparalleled knowledge of the world of the first Christians to argue not only that the Gospels do indeed contain eyewitness testimony but that their first readers would certainly have recognized them as such. This book is a remarkable piece of detective work, resulting in a fresh and vivid approach to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of well-known problems and passages."
James D. G. Dunn
"Another blockbuster from the productive pen of Richard Bauckham. . . Not to be missed!"
"Shakes the foundations of a century of scholarly study of the Gospels. There are surprises on every page. A wealth of new insights will provoke lively discussion for a long time to come. Readers at all levels will be grateful for Bauckham's detective work that uncovers clues missed by so many."
Times Literary Supplement
"Bauckham's careful and eloquent presentation of his argument, supported not just by careful scholarship but by admirable common sense, deserves earnest consideration by all."
"It will be hard to take seriously future works on the origin of the Gospels that have not interacted with Bauckham. . . Recommended."
"Fascinating! . . . This book ought to be read by all theologians and historians working in the field of early Christianity. Further, Bauckham's convincing historical method and broad learning will also help pastors and students to overcome widespread modern Jesus fantasies."
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Having said that, the first essay was great. Baukham's approach to early Christian concepts of Christology is novel and refreshing. He has moved beyond the stale debates that high Christology represents a gradual evolution in the thinking of the early church completely separate from its Jewish background or that high Christology resultes from nascent Jewish concepts of semi-divine figures that were not YHWH. Baukham's model is well developed, supported by multiple traditions of the New Testament texts, and historically plausible.
Mr. Bauckham brings it in this book! I love the way he says that the Bible (NT) gave Jesus the Divine Identity with giving him the characteristics of the OT God YHWH. This explanation of Divine Identity, to me, is a better way to approach Jesus than the doctrine of the Trinity.
I believe in a Trinitarian God but the doctrine explains God's essence or divinity in Greek philosophical language which can be hard to understand. Bauckham keeps the Divine Identity Hebrew and not Greek. He says that it wasn't about WHAT God is but WHO God is, which is, He's the Sole Creator and Sole Ruler of everything seen and unseen.
I will definitely review this book over and over again until it becomes a part of me! And I will also buy more books written by him as well.
Great job Professor Bauckham!
The author seeks to establish his case by appealing to a wide range of Jewish texts, both Scriptural and non-scriptural (though some might infer the inspiration of some apocryphal works). To many who read this work, including me, the non-scriptural analyses might appear to be awkward at first, given that so many monotheistic and Christological works have neglected this important background information. However, by the end of the book, the reader will likely understand how important these texts are in establishing how the early Christians would have viewed Christ in relation to God's identity. That is, if we seek to view the Christological texts through the lens of the modern eye, we may very well miss some very important key elements.
Of course, these key elements are in relation to what Bauckham has repetitively inferred as "the unique identity of God." As stated previous, where many Christological works focus on the ontological aspects of God and Christ, Bauckham builds his case in establishing who God is, as second Temple Jews would have understood him. Some of these elements of the unique identity of God to which Bauckham focuses on includes:
1. God is the sole sovereign ruler of all things
2. God is the sole Creator of all things
3. God is the sole possessor of the name YHWH
Though there are several sub-categories to these, Bauckham argues that these are aspects of God's identity which separate Him from all other reality. In drawing his conclusion on these matters, Bauckham then goes to argue that since Christ possesses these divine attributes of identity, he is to be included in God's unique identity.
In drawing this conclusion, Bauckham is careful to supply qualifications in that Christ isn't added to God's identity, but is included. Otherwise, he argues, the Jews would have had no basis for which to accept such a ditheistic view. In supporting his view of the inclusion of Jesus into the unique divine identity, Bauckham offers his exegesis of fair share of Christological texts. One of the most prominent in his discussion is the early Christian view of Psalm 110:1. Again, while many Christological works may focus on ontological aspects of Christ, Bauckham argues for this text as a key element in including Jesus into the unique identity of God as the sovereign ruler who sits at God's right hand. Other texts include 1 Corinthians 8:6, Philippians 2:10, Revelation 5, Hebrews 1, and more.
Jesus and the God of Israel also includes a fair share of interaction with the scholarly community who espouse different views than Bauckham. These critics range from liberal scholarship to conservative. One of the more prominent interactions to which Bauckham engages are those who advocate views concerning so-called intermediary divine figures; in particular, those from the Qumran texts. In interacting with these scholars and texts, Bauckham argues that though there are some interesting implications, they still do not place themselves as a parallel with the Christian texts as they include Jesus in the unique identity of God.
For those looking for a scholarly and insightful work on Christology and Christian monotheism, this work is a goldmine. Even if one finds disagreement in some of Bauckham's contentions as they relate to identity rather than ontology, the footnotes provide enough information and scholarly references for the student to do his own research and come to his own conclusions. Arguably, this is an important landmark work on Christology that will serve as a standard for years to come in the scholarly community. And personally, I could not recommend a better work on Christology and monotheism than what Bauckham has offered here.