The God Who Became Human: A biblical theology of
Graham A. Cole
Church Times Bookshop £11.70 (Use
code CT477 )
ON PUTTING down this tightly packed work, having read it in its
entirety, no one could feel anything but admiration for the
author's thoroughness and clarity. He draws on and quotes a truly
remarkable range of authors, principally Christian biblical
scholars, and also some Jewish and Islamic ones.
The work belongs to the series New Studies in Biblical Theology,
a series that has a markedly Evangelical standpoint. The author
clearly shares these convictions, but not in any narrow or dogmatic
way. He is, for instance, happy to recognise that on some points
more than one position is tenable. Refreshingly, too, he
illuminates some point under discussion by reference to, or
quotation from, modern secular literature.
In this work, each part prepares the way for those that follow,
and it is only by reading it through from beginning to end, not
skipping bits or merely dipping into it, that one can appreciate
the cumulative flow of the author's argument. This applies not
least to the very first chapter, in which he sets out and explains
the terms that he will use throughout the book. Besides
"anthropomorphic" and "transcendent", terms with which one is
familiar, he introduces "concomitance" in the sense of God's
working alongside us; "anthropopraxism", to describe God's activity
in ways analogous to human action; and "anthropopathism", in
passages that speak of God's experience of human pain.
The reader should not be discouraged by these heavy-sounding
terms; rather, master them or refer to them, and the author's
tightly knit argument will unfold the more easily. It opens with a
consideration of those passages in the Old Testament which have
been held in some way to prefigure Christ's incarnation, notably
some concerning Adam, Abraham and his descendants, Moses, Gideon,
and Solomon. Particular attention is paid to notoriously puzzling
passages in Genesis 18 and 32.
Passages in Isaiah, Amos, Hosea are examined, and also three
later passages often held to be messianic. The view taken by the
author isthat Christ's incarnation is not demanded by these
passages, but is consistent with them. Also, he holds that in some
passages a human agent is expected, in others a divine one, but
never a divine human agent.
As for the New Testament, here the incarnation is clearly
affirmed; he analyses key passages, usingsome of the categories
with which the reader is already familiar. Particularly in the
concluding chap-ters of this relatively short bookis treatment of
the wider theo-logical significance of the incarnation.
This brief summary gives some impression of the riches to be
found in this book, and may tempt others to taste them.
The Rt Revd Dr Alec Graham is a former Bishop of