Bowman, Robert Jr. and J. Ed Komozsewski
Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ
Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2007. Pp. 392. Paper. $18.99.
I would like to thank J. Ed Komoszewski for allowing me to view Putting Jesus in His Place (PJIHP) before its September release. I have purposely refrained from reviewing the book until its release so as not to spoil the ‘plot’ so to speak and dissuade anyone from purchasing a copy for themselves. There are five main sections in this book and I will be reviewing each section separately and concluding with some closing comments on the book overall.
Let me begin by saying that PJIHP is a must read for any student of Christology, scholar and layman alike. Whether or not you hold a high, low or no Christology this is a work that needs to be in the personal library of everyone who engaged in the study of New Testament Christology. This is not to say that the book is without deficiency, but then again, what book is? Bowman and Komoszewski certainly have a way of making scholarly material both interesting and relevant to laymen. The language in PJIHP is not overly technical nor is it intimidating and confusing.
The book begins in the introduction “Knowing Jesus as God” with a simple fact, that fact being that Jesus is:
“…the central figure of the world’s largest religion (Christianity) and viewed as a major prophet in the world’s second largest religion (Islam). Most people, in fact, regard Jesus as one of the greatest human beings who ever lived.” [p. 17]
There is hardly a person alive (aside from a few hyper-skeptical agnostic/atheists) who would dispute such a statement. There certainly hasn’t been anyone to have as much of an impact on the world and in world history as Jesus. But they ask the question: “Why are there so many conflicting interpretations of Jesus?” [p. 17] Their answer:
“…if Jesus was uniquely God incarnate, then he is also uniquely the way to God.” [p. 19]
It is this reality that causes people to create a Jesus in their own image and likeness rather than accepting what the New Testament (NT) has to say concerning him.
From the onset the authors make no secret of their faith and the importance of the topic they’re discussing for the Christian faith. They tell us:
If we are to experience a healthy relationship with God, we need to be intimately acquainted with the biblical teaching about the divine identity of Jesus. This involves more than merely knowing about, and agreeing with, the doctrine of the deity of Christ, though that is certainly essential. It must become more to us than a line we say in a creed. We need to know what it means to say that Jesus is God and why it matters. We need to see Jesus as God. We need to think about Jesus and relate to him in the full light of the truth of his identity. We need to appreciate the significance of his divine identity for our relationships with God and others. [p. 20]
All I can say is AMEN! An intellectual knowledge of who Christ is isn’t sufficient in and of itself – but rather this knowledge must be manifested in a living relationship with God our savior. Having clearly stated their faith the authors go on to lay their foundation saying:
In this book, then, we will be examining what the New Testament writings say about Jesus’ identity as God. In doing so, we will take certain things for granted. First, we will assume that Christians should base their beliefs about Jesus on the teachings of the New Testament. For the most part, we will assume that the passages on which we are commenting are true. Only in some key instances will we seek to establish their historical accuracy. Also, we will generally not debate the inspiration of the New Testament authors’ explanations of who Jesus is and what his words and deeds mean. We ourselves affirm that the New Testament is historically accurate and its teachings divinely inspired. Even if some readers do not share our convictions about the New Testament’s accuracy and inspiration… [p. 21]
This information is key as it shows the base for their study is a belief in the accuracy of the NT and the focus of the study is what the NT authors said about Jesus. This is a study in NT Christology, not a study in the “Historical Jesus.” Critics have a tendency to want to separate the “Jesus of History” from the “Christ of Faith” but the authors certainly view them as one and the same Lord. Their intention “…is to provide a comprehensive case from the New Testament for the deity of Jesus Christ.” [p. 21] Their means of establishing this is the acronym H.A.N.D.S. which stands for:
Honors: Jesus shares the honors due to 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. [p. 23]
They ensure us that: “[t]his acronym is not a gimmick. It is a tested and proven device for enabling people of different backgrounds to remember and explain the biblical evidence for identifying Jesus as God.” [p. 23] The rest of this review will examine the veracity of this claim.