Short book note: _Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective_

April 10, 2008

Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective.
Ed. by Fred Sanders and Klaus Issler. Baker, 2007; 244 pages.

Fred Sanders and Klaus Issler have compiled six outstanding essays in Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective. The book begins with a well-written introduction to Christology (by Sanders), which focuses on the orthodoxy established in the early creeds, especially Chalcedon. “Each of the remaining chapters in this book approaches the task of doing Christology in a way that is informed by trinitarian thought and Chalcedonian categories” (p. 36).

Chapter two focuses more explicitly on the Trinity, specifically Jesus’ place within it. Arguing for an “eternally ordered social model” for understanding the Trinity, this chapter emphasizes the equality of the divine nature, while affirming a “distinction of roles within the immanent Godhead” (p. 76). The next two chapters discuss the person of Christ. The first is a fine exploration of the fifth-century Christological controversy, commending Cyril of Alexandria as the most important contributor to the debate. Given the general ineptitude among Evangelicals regarding historical theology, this is a welcome essay. The next chapter is a rigorous philosophical investigation into the Incarnation. In dialogue with Medieval philosophical theology, a “contemporary monothelite” model is offered.
The latter half of the book addresses the work of Christ, beginning with a chapter on Christ’s atonement “as a work of the Trinity,” arguing that “without the Trinity there could be no atonement and hence no salvation” (p. 156). The sixth and final chapter (by Issler), discusses Jesus’ genuine example for “how to live the Christian life beyond the limitations of an average human life” (p. 189). For example, “Jesus walked by the Spirit, and so it is possible for us to do so as we yield in dependence on God” (p. 214).
Though the contributors do not shy away from precise (and sometimes technical) language, they are careful to thoroughly explain themselves. Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective is geared for advanced undergraduates or beginning seminary students, but can certainly be read with great benefit by any determined reader.