For our inaugural book review, I am pleased to consider Putting Jesus in His Place by authors Robert Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski and published by Kregel. It is compellingly written to encourage the uninitiated, academically exhaustive to satisfy the intellectual, and thoroughly enjoyable in its style and format. Of particular benefit were its clear tables, plainly illustrating and reinforcing the points of each chapter.
Weighing in at some 366 pages including generous footnotes, Putting Jesus in His Place manages to walk the line between readability and scholarship with nary a misstep. It explains through Scripture the identity of Jesus, namely His deity and rightful place of worship, and is both approachable and exhaustive in its work. Using the acronym HANDS, the authors demonstrate that Jesus is God evidenced by what they share: Honors due to God, Attributes of God, Names of God, Deeds that God does, and the Seat of God’s throne.
The battle for the deity of Jesus and for the Trinity did not end with the church fathers but is alive today. And for those who take Scripture as their authority this book presents a clear explanation of the truth that is Jesus’ identity. Whether you read this book for personal edification, to instruct a Sunday School class, or as a resource for a theology class, it is a biblical reference on the identity of Jesus that you will want to own.
For more information online, click here. Excerpts from the book:
Interpretations of Jesus are fraught with bias. He’s a powerful figure whom people want on their sides—and they’re willing to re-create him in their image to enlist his support. Animal-rights activists imagine a vegetarian Jesus. New Agers make him an example of finding the god within. And radical feminists strip him of divinity so that Christianity doesn’t appear sexist. “Frankly, it’s hard to escape the feeling that our culture has taken Jesus’ question ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and changed it to ‘Who do you want me to be?’”(17)
Our aim is to provide a comprehensive case from the New Testament for the deity of Jesus Christ. Many of us were taught that the deity of Jesus can be proved using one or two verses—say, John 1:1 (“and the Word was God”) or John 20:28 (where Thomas calls Jesus, “My Lord and my God”). To be sure, we will say something about these important texts. But there is much more biblical evidence for Jesus’ deity. It is not limited to a few verses but includes both explicit statements that say he is “God” and implicit indications of his deity. The evidence covers a wide range of closely related truths about Jesus that are taught repeatedly in one biblical book after another. The deity of Christ is, therefore, a major theme throughout the New Testament. (21-22)
Not everyone agrees that these verses call Jesus “God.” Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, translate Titus 2:13 “of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus” and 2 Peter 1:1 “of our God and [the] Savior Jesus Christ”
(NWT, brackets in the original). The bracketed insertions of the word the make a significant difference. Read these verses without the bracketed insertions—especially 2 Peter 1:1—and they sound like they are referring to Jesus as both God and Savior. (150)
When this construction occurs in ancient Greek using singular personal nouns that are not proper names (that is, nouns like father, Lord, king, not Jesus, Peter, or Paul), the two nouns normally refer to the same person. The first writer to analyze this construction in a formal way did so in the late eighteenth century. He was an English Christian abolitionist named Granville Sharp; for that reason, the analysis of this construction is commonly known
as Sharp’s rule.
The New Testament contains plenty of examples supporting Sharp’s rule. The epistles of Paul, for example, refer to “our God and Father” (e.g., Gal. 1:4; Phil. 4:20; 1 Thess. 1:3; 3:11, 13) and “the God and Father” (Rom. 15:6; 1 Cor. 15:24), which certainly refer to one person by both titles God and Father. There are numerous additional examples, many of little or no theological concern (see table on Sharp’s rule). (151)
Second, the argument from the use of different prepositions (ek or ex, “from,” the Father; dia, “through,” the Son) fails to come to terms with the way ancient writers used these prepositions in reference to creation. Paul uses both prepositions in another passage referring simply to God: “For from [ex] him and through [di] him and for [eis] him are all things” (Rom. 11:36 NAB). Pauline scholar Thomas Schreiner accurately paraphrases Paul’s statement: “God is the source of all things, the means by which all things are accomplished, and the goal of all things.” Bauckham rightly understands the three phrases to express God’s causation of all things in three ways: God is the efficient cause (ex autou), the instrumental cause (di autou), and the final cause (eis auton).10 All three of the prepositional phrases in Romans 11:36 occur in 1 Corinthians 8:6, which states, “To us there is one God, the Father, from whom [ex hou] are all things and we for him [eis auton], and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom [di hou] are all things and we through him [di auton]” (literal translation). As Bauckham notes, Paul here assigns two of the causal functions of God to the Father and the third to Christ. (190)