Book Review: Paul’s Divine Christology

Since last year, i’ve drastically increased my reading and setting goals each year through my Goodreads. Feel free to check there to see what i’m reading, want to read next, etc. Or better yet, join Goodreads, get connected with your reader friends, and set goals for yourself. After reading a book, i’m going to do my best to post a review both on Goodreads and here. While I do hope the review is beneficial to you, I also do it for myself as a bit of a challenge to myself to ensure i’m really comprehending what i’m reading. If I can’t review it, I probably didn’t read it carefully enough. Enjoy!

Paul’s Divine Christology by Chris Tilling

Available on Amazon – $30

This is simply the best book on Christology to date. Chris Tilling masterfully presents a case for a divine Christology by introducing a “Christ-relation” category. By following drawing upon (as well as critiquing) the works of Fee, Hurtado, and Baukham, Tilling develops an extremely compelling case that Christ is divine in the same way that YHWH is divine. How? By analyzing the patterns of data in the OT and 2nd temple Jewish literature between YHWH and and His relationship with Jewish believers over and against idolatry. This, Tilling argues, is what constitutes monotheism. And even though there are figures other than God that receive worship, are called God (in some sense, receive the divine name YHWH, etc. they don’t relate to Jewish believers in the same way as YHWH does. The YHWH-Jew relation is a pattern and set in the context of religious devotion and relationship to that God. This is what makes YHWH unique over and against any other god or divine figure.

Fast forward to the New Testament. Tilling argues that Jesus relates to believers in a way that parallels the YHWH-Jew relation. If that relationship is what makes YHWH unique, then by implication, Jesus must be divine. Even if there are some overlaps between Jesus and 2nd temple divine figures who receive worship, prayer, etc., Jesus has far more in common in his relationship to believers with YHWH and His relationship with Jews.

If you’re looking for a fresh new look at divine Christology, then I couldn’t recommend this highly enough. While the work is very technical, it is still pretty accessible to someone with a little bit of theological background.

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