Sunday, October 06, 2013

Book Review: Putting Jesus in His Place

Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case of the Deity of Christ by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski

The book starts with several pages of endorsements (19 in all) and most are professors. It's no surprise, considering this is probably more of a scholarly work aimed at Biblical scholars, especially those early in their studies.

And it's in that it became quickly clear that I was not the audience for this book, though I persevered and read through it anyhow. I had hoped this would be in a similar vein to I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (which I love - my review) or The Case for Christ (which I have not yet read).  When I say that I hoped it would be like those two books, I mean that I hoped it would be a book whose audience is the non-Christian, the curious and the Christian who wants to be able to better explain (defend) their faith in a reasoned, gentle fashion. (Not a Bible-thumping turn-or-burn kind of way, but a able to thoughtfully respond to all the "Yes, but doesn't the Bible say.." and "But isn't that kind of exclusive..." or "That doesn't seem very loving..." or "How could all knowing all loving being allow..."

Instead, this more scholarly work asks you to make some basic assumptions: You believe in Christ, you believe in the authenticity of the New Testament.

But if you get past that, there are some cool things in there. Using the acrostic "HANDS" the book addresses these five areas:

  • Honors - Jesus shares the honors due God.
  • Attributes - Jesus shares the attributes of God.
  • Names - Jesus shares the names of God.
  • Deeds - Jesus shares in the deeds that God does.
  • Seat - Jesus shares the seat of God's throne.
By working within the New Testament, the book sets out in sections to address these, showing parallels between Old and New Testament, showing connections within the New Testament, addressing things that seem confusing and diving into what was probably meant in cases where modern interpretation into the languages of today might not fully capture what the author meant when they wrote it in their language. The authors go to great lengths not to simply pick and choose verses that match their arguments (an entire portion of the conclusion shows places where more, in some cases all five, appear together in a single passage).  Also interesting is the examples that show how a single added word here, a single added word there allows the Jehovah's Witnesses to diverge and claim Jesus isn't God, and then use comparative examples in Greek to show why those additions are inappropriate.

It is a dense book, a scholarly book, a good resource for someone wanting to make a case, perhaps someone doing research or someone writing a sermon. It was difficult for me to keep chewing on it. I read it in between and around other books and some nights it was easier to play video games on my iPad than pick up the book, even though I knew it risked making me have trouble sleeping. The book is 288 pages in 21 chapters + conclusion and foreward and introduction. Another 110 pages are devoted to an appendix, notes, recommended resources and scripture index.

I did learn some new stuff and gained a new appreciation for those who do comparative studies and who look to not just learn from sections of the Bible but study how it all interconnects. Some of what I learned will no doubt help me have a better foundational understanding of my faith. However, this isn't one I plan to read again and will donate to charity. I originally placed this on my Amazon Wish List after searching for apologetics books and received it as a gift for Christmas or my birthday some time ago. (It took me a long time to pick it up and start reading it.)  I feel a little misled by the description and reviews.
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