Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ. Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology

Written by Joel B. Green & Max Turner (eds.) Reviewed By Kevin Ellis

This book is ostensibly a collection of essays in honour of Professor Howard Marshall of Aberdeen University. It focuses on two of Marshall’s major research interests: the historical Jesus and the origins of New Testament Christology. The Festschrift is split into three parts (i) Jesus, the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, (ii) Jesus, Paul and John and (iii) New Testament Christology: wider issues. The contributors are drawn from Euro-American evangelical scholarship, and most if not all, should be familiar names to undergraduate students of the New Testament.

The collection, while paying due regard to the scholarship of its honouree is distinctive among Festschriftenin that its essays serve to advance various debates within their respective New Testament fields. This is true even when the reviewer is in disagreement with the conclusions of certain contributors. For example, Schnabel’s over-confident connection of Jesus with the Gentile mission, and Riesner’s suggestion that the Simeon that James refers to at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:13–21) is not Simeon Peter but the Simeon of the Nunc Dimitis (Luke 2:29–32). Of the essays that should go on to become influential, we would highlight in particular those of Bauckham, Drane and Dunn, although the articles offered by Borgen, Blomberg and Turner could similarly be highlighted. Borgen writes on the significance of the Spirit in connection with the admission of the first non-Jews into the Christian movement. Blomberg tackles the subject of an ‘Evangelical Theology of Liberation’ and Turner (one of the editors) writes impressively on ‘The Spirit of Christ and “Divine” Christology’. Such essays should be influential, not only in terms of advancing scholarship, but helpful to readers of Themelios who are coming to terms with wider New Testament issues.

Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Wild Animals (Mk. 1:13). A Christological Image for an Ecological Age’ is both incisive and refreshing in that it successfully applies Scripture to a contemporary issue. Good hermeneutical principles are clearly at work as he deals with humanity’s responsibilities to the animal world and the environment at large. Clearly as religious studies comes of age as a discipline and grapples with the green issues of today, this essay may well be the place for the evangelical student to begin a response.

Drane in his essay entitled, ‘Patterns of Evangelization in Jesus and Paul’, deals with the methodology behind the Jesus and Paul debate, while touching the modern church’s decade of evangelism in an enlightened manner. Bauckham and Drane thus beautifully represent Marshall’s tradition of bridging scholarship and the church.

Dunn’s essay, ‘The Making of Christology-Evolution or Unfolding?’ comes at a critical time in the current debate surrounding the origins of New Testament Christology. In essence the work is a robust and cogent response to Maurice Casey’s From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God, but it also represents Dunn’s refinements of his own position on the development of Christology, since the publication of his major work, Christology in the Making. This will prove to be an invaluable response for the undergraduate, as well as the researcher, who is seeking to understand the variety of positions within the current debate concerning Christological origins.

The Festschrift could have been improved by a contribution from non-western scholars who have been influenced by Howard Marshall’s ministry. Yet as it stands, it is a fitting tribute to someone who has done more than most to consolidate the credibility gained by evangelical scholarship in the UK, while maintaining its links with what gives it life, the work of the local church.

Kevin Ellis

The Queen’s College, Birmingham