The Many Faces of Christ: The Christologies of the New Testament and Beyond

Ben Witherington, III, Author
Ben Witherington, III, Author Crossroad Publishing Company $29.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8245-1705-2
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Witherington (The Jesus Quest) surveys the different views of the life and work of Jesus that are found in the early writings of Christianity, particularly in the New Testament. He opens his study by noting that each event in the life of Jesus often merits its own Christological response, e.g., ""Birth Christology"" or ""Resurrection Christology."" He then goes on to examine the idea of the Messiah in Judaism and concludes that many early Jews did not expect a Messiah in the sense that Christians later came to call Jesus their Messiah. The remaining chapters explore, through detailed exegesis, the development of Christological ideas in pre-Pauline Christianity, the writings of Paul, the synoptic Gospels, the book of Acts, the writings of John and the general epistles. Through his study, Witherington comes to several conclusions. First, he says, much of New Testament Christology identifies Christ with God, and that this is the case from the earliest Christological hymn (Philippians 2:6-11) through the end of the first century. Second, Christological ideas do not appear to move in an evolutionary fashion from primitive to more sophisticated. Finally, argues Witherington, some Christological ideas proved more serviceable than others when Christianity opened its mission to the Gentiles. Though Witherington's readings of the various New Testament writings are valuable, his unremarkable book covers little ground that hasn't been covered better and more completely by Edward Schillebeeck's Jesus and Christ. (Apr.)
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