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Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Intermediate Christology Paperback – October 1, 2007
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About the Author
Fred Sanders is assistant professor of Theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in La Mirada, California.
Klaus Issler is professor of Christian Education and Theology at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.
Top Customer Reviews
After Sanders' introduction, five scholars from various disciplines contribute an essay investigating a topic along this Christological storyline. J. Scott Horrell defends a social model of the Trinity. Donald Fairbairn analyzes the Christological reflection of the early church. Garret DeWeese investigates the philosophic precision of the "one person, two natures" language. Bruce Ware exposits the atonement in light of the Trinity, and Klaus Issler highlights the example that Jesus' life provides for believers.
A clear strength of this volume is the depth and detail of its introductory elements. Sanders and Issler intentionally shape the book in "a method-transparent way" in order to "model the work of theology" for their readers (40). To this end, each contributor begins with a succinct chapter summary, followed by three "Axioms for Christological study," which are concise propositions related to relevant concepts. The next section contains a systematized list of key terms developed in the chapter. Each essay also ends with a brief annotated bibliography of works recommended for further reading, which is particularly helpful as the contributors indicate both strengths and weaknesses of these volumes. A set of study questions designed for further reflection ends each chapter.
Another fundamental strength is the dual achievement of introducing and contributing to the study of Christ. Seeking to avoid a "purely descriptive work" (40), the editors strive to craft a text that is "safe and trustworthy" but also "filled with a sense of project" (40). This interdisciplinary project is one that views the Council of Chalcedon as a proper guide to the confessional parameters of Christological reflection and champions Cyril as the most important figure in patristic developments.
For the contributors of this volume, the language of Chalcedon should be interpreted in light of Cyril's insight that "the one person of Christ is in fact God the Logos, the second person of the Trinity" (80). Convinced that Trinitarian and Christological speculation should remain tethered to Scriptural language, their proposal also argues for a nuanced view of the social Trinity and the legitimacy of holding that the one person of the incarnate Christ had two natures but only one will (a contemporary monothelite model). They also understand the atonement as a Trinitarian work and Christ's human life as a genuine model for Christian living.
Despite the clarity of the essays, a reader unfamiliar with the terminology of Christological discussion will perhaps be intimidated. For example, the reader encounters the terms "anhypostatic" and "enhypostatic" on the first page, and later "dyophysites" and "kenosis" without immediate clear definitions (28, 74). Also, a few of DeWeese's specific logical syllogisms may remain oblique to one unfamiliar with this type of argumentation (e.g., 134-35, 140).
However, these instances are exceptions, as the contributors are careful to define and explain difficult terminology as it is introduced. Further, these minor concerns do not detract from the fact that, both in substance and in methodology, Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective provides a robust introduction to Christology that will not disappoint the disciplined reader.
Fred Sanders' chapter deals with the first four ecumenical councils, up to the Chalcedon council. His essay briefly goes through the various heresies that the councils convened to refute and the conclusions that each reached. For those only interested in this part of the book, Dr. Sanders gives this information in lecture form at str.org under the title of God in a box: Drawing Proper Lines for Orthodoxy.
J. Scott Horrell's chapter covers the social model of the Trinity and why ontological equality does not equate with equality of role. Moreover, that there is a legitimate eternal structure to the Trinity.
Donald Fairbain's chapter goes in depth on the Chalcedon council and why some of the historical understandings of the warring factions of the council are misguided, namely that Chalcedon was a compromise between two large factions of the church.
Garrett DeWeese does a fine job of outlaying a philosophical understanding for the issues that all these councils deal with, what is a person, a nature, etc... As well as putting forth his view of Christology. This is almost identical to the one that William Lane Craig lays out in Philosophical foundations for a Christian Worldview.
Bruce Ware covers the argument that Jesus life and ministry are incomprehensible outside of a Trinitarian life; moreover, Jesus would have been unable to accomplish his mission aside from the working of the Trinity.
Finally, Klaus Issler argues for the idea that Jesus is our perfect exemplar, to the degree that Jesus was operating out of his human nature, is the degree that he can be our exemplar. Stated another way, how much of what Jesus did was he able to do because he is God, or because he was a human dependent upon the same Spirit that resides within us all.
Even if you do not end up agreeing with the book, it is dense with much to consider, and the relative brevity of each essay (around 40 pages) makes this a wonderful book to go through in stages and contemplate. I highly recommend it.
Really good book, but very challenging to read. The content is excellent and gives a very good overview of Christology (the study of Jesus within the Trinity).