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Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus [Paperback]

Gerald O'Collins SJ
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

31 Aug 2009
In this fully revised and updated second edition of his accessible account of systematic Christology, Gerald O'Collins continues to challenge the contemporary publishing trend for sensationalist books on Jesus that are supported neither by the New Testament witness nor by mainline Christian beliefs. This book critically examines the best biblical and historical scholarship before tackling head-on some of the key questions of systematic Christology: does orthodox faith present Jesus the man as deficient and depersonalized? Is his sinlessness compatible with the exercise of a free human will? Does up-to-date exegesis challenge his virginal conception and personal resurrection? Can one reconcile Jesus' role as universal Saviour with the truth and values to be found in other religions? What should the feminist movement highlight in presenting Jesus? This integral Christology is built around the resurrection of the crucified Jesus, highlights love as the key to redemption, and proposes a synthesis of the divine presence through Jesus. Clear, balanced, and accessible, this book should be valued by any student reading systematic theology, anyone training for the ministry in all denominations, as well as interested general readers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 2 edition (31 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019955787X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199557875
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 16.5 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review from previous edition He uses a wide-angled lens, and allows many aspects of the subject to come within his field of vision. The treatment throughout is orthodox and ecumenical ... the book's virtue is its assured combining of biblical material with questions in systematic theology. In more manageable compass than other books in the field, it offers what almost amounts to a textbook, at least of the biblical stuff. Church Times In an age of academic fragmentation and discipline (sub)specialization, rarely does someone dare a comprehensive statement in a major area of research. It is therefore refreshing to find a work such as this. The scope of O'Collins' Christological accounting is breathtaking ... Carefully and lucidly written, the book is appropriate for anyone interested in Christology. This is a mature book from a seasoned scholar on an important subject. Choice Gerald O'Collins ... has written a splendid introduction to Christology. No doubt the fruit of many years teaching and reflection it will quickly, I am sure, establish itself ... as a standard text-book. His historical survey, Old Testament to the modern day is masterful, and particularly strong up to Chalcedon ... It is certainly a book I will be encouraging students to buy. New Directions Professor O'Collins is a distinguished modern theologian, whose work deserves the greatest respect...This is a volume for which all who are concerned with Christology will be grateful. Journal of Theological Studies.

About the Author

Gerald O' Collins is Research Professor of Theology at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, and Honorary Adjunct Professor of Australian Catholic University. He has published, alone or with others, 47 books, including Jesus Our Redeemer, Salvation for All, and Catholicism (all OUP). Author of hundreds of articles in professional and popular journals, he has lectured at many universities and colleges in the British Isles, India, New Zealand, the United States, his native Australia, and elsewhere.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 18 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Needed this book for a course I'm taking in Theology - found it easy to read and the subject matter is very thought-provoking.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who do you say I am? 3 Sep 2010
By matt - Published on
This has always been one of my favorite books on the subject, and I am glad to see it reissued. O'Collins is a master of the subject matter, he writes very well, and every page has at least one useful insight that you can commit to memory or mull over. His Christology is biblical/Nicene/Chalcedonian (if you don't know what that is, you will love this book), and while he doesn't deviate from that position, he is fully engaged in the historical and modern challenges to Orthodox Christology.

You can use the look inside function to get the general idea of his plot. It flows perfectly as a book, but each section can stand alone for easy reference. After reading this book you will have:
1. a very strong introduction, really much more than a mere introduction, to the main points of the New Testament,
2. a clear grasp of the covenant that is fulfilled in Christ,
3. an understanding how the followers of Jesus understood him to be both the Christ (Messiah) and God, while remaining monotheistic,
4. a handle on how the early Church hashed out theological differences, approaches and trends while maintaining faithfulness to the tradition handed down to them,
5. an appreciation for how later Christians grappled with new challenges to the identity of God in Christ,
6. an understanding of why some modern approaches to Christ fall short,
7. a renewed faith in the reasonableness of the Gospel on historical, biblical and logical grounds.

While not meant to be an apologetic per se, the text can function this way easily. It is a solid piece of scholarship and, to me, the main book to have on hand when thinking about the issues.

Other books of interest may include: The God of the Gospel of John is excellent and one of the best books on scripture that I have read, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought by Meyendorff is concise and a needed corrective to the overlooked East (O'Collins does not overlook them, happily), Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity is a massive tome, but incredibly useful, Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of the Atonement (Spck Classics) shows how the dominant Medieval Roman/Protestant Christology needs some historical corrective, Cross of the Son of God is an irreplaceable collection of essays, Behr's The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death reminds us to be biblical in our minds and hearts, and Pelikan's Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture is a very compelling survey by THE master historian of dogma.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Revised Edition to the Study of Christology 17 Dec 2011
By Eleanor Capper - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author has revised this book as a result of 'enriched thinking about what faith in Christ involves intellectually, as well as for Christian life and worship. He has brought this book into the third millenium in a systematic way by making use of the wealth of material from Biblical, historical and systematic thinking over the past ten years. This book provides a valuable framework for any investigation of Christology today.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Schweitzer's Historical Christ in modern understanding 28 Nov 2012
By Oxford - Published on
The topic of Christology is discussed by juxtaposing two authors with two views. The discussion should properly be titled "two [opposite] views on Christology" for authors--O'Collins and Bauckham--approach the topic differently. From the perspective of recent liberals the former writes his "study" under the influence of Schweitezer, also concurring with his own contemporaries such as N. T. Wright, John Meier, and James Dunn, who all three seem to have radical views in their own theological field. On the other hand, coming from a traditional and more conservative point of view, Bauckham argues that his "understanding" of early Christology must be coherent with its Jewish context.

Theology of O'Collins is done philosophically. In other words he asks philosophical questions for theological questions with little care in biblical, historical, and systematic theology. For example, drawing an answer from his own question, if Jesus knew about his crucifixion, how much he knew, and then [if so] how far he intended his crucifixion may only yield an intellectually biased heresy (68ff; cf. the "wheel of the world" by Schweitzer).

However, Bauckham protests that the study of Jesus must be done through the understanding of its own first century context. Bauckham rightly wrestles with two topics of Jesus: his nature and his identity, which "identity concerns with who God is; nature concerns what God is" (7ff). Bauckham concludes that the early Christology affirmed Jesus as unique divine identity and it was attested even before any presence of the New Testament writings (19). His argument clearly illustrates that the Jew did not believe Jesus despite of the fact that they must have believed with given too explicit evidence for his divinity (20ff). Jewish monotheistic belief thus can only coincide with Jesus being uniquely divine just like God the father: Jesus' participation in the unique divine sovereignty is, therefore, also not just a matter of what Jesus does, but of who Jesus is in relation to God" (31).

In sharp contrast, O'Collins focuses what Jesus did. He says, again just as Schweitzer asserted, "through his [Jesus] martyrdom he could vicariously set right for all people a moral order universally disturbed by sin" (78). His conclusion for martyrdom of Jesus' action advances his liberal idea for arguing again religious languages that testimony of belief and witness of the resurrection must be understood metaphorically rather than realistically (84ff). O'Collins posits that biblical hermeneutics must consider more philosophical and psychological factors (such as hallucination) before conclusion (94ff). However, O'Collins' view on Jesus' own vindication for his "divine-ship" has a few interesting notions to consider.

Similar with O'Collins's conclusion, Bauckham's exegesis of Isaiah 40-55, which according to him Deutero-Isaiah, leads to his conclusion: "... in Christ God demonstrates his deity to the world as the same unique God his people Israel had always known, and also, in doing so, identifies himself afresh" (57). Interestingly both writers seem to agree on this conclusion for Jesus' understanding his identity, but strongly disagree on his nature and the relation to the Father. Extreme views on Christology do not necessarily leads to moderate view but rather illustrate ways of doing theology by various methods.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Christology Book! 18 July 2013
By rfurman74 - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very thorough, well written book on Christology.
It is suitable for the beginner and well-versed student of Christology.
The authors coverage from the Biblical, Historical and Systematic approaches fleshes out and gives dimension to the greater body of thought concerning Christology.

4.0 out of 5 stars Multifaceted and technical discussion 12 Feb 2014
By W. Cheung - Published on
Undoubtedly comprehensive, it covers many aspects of christology. As expected, the scriptural, philosophical and linguistic sides of things are all explained. It is written for scholars and the lay-reader may find it dense. With patience, however, it is not impenetrable. Written by a Jesuit theologian, the perspective is understandably catholic. Overall an informative book.
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