Is Jesus Christ God? Did he claim to be God or was this a fiction manufactured after his death? What circumstantial evidence is there that Jesus and his followers believed he was God or that even his opponents believed that Jesus claimed to be God?
Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ is a new book by Robert Bowman and Edward Komoszewski. It is published by Kregel under an academic and professional label but I found the writing style to be very accessible. The authors write, “Our aim is to provide a comprehensive case from the New Testament for the deity of Christ,” and they don’t disappoint in their efforts.
Bowman and Komoszewski use the acronym “HANDS” to organize the material:
Jesus shares the honor due to God.
Jesus shares the attributes of God.
Jesus shares the names of God.
Jesus shares the deeds that God does.
Jesus shares the seat of God’s throne.
As they work through these themes they frequently engage critics of Jesus divinity including everything from the Jesus Seminar types to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the concluding chapter they write:
One of the most basic methods of journalism is to ask the “wh” questions: who, what, when, where, and why? (Sometimes a sixth question, “how?” is also asked.) We can apply these five question to the matter of the deity of Christ (arranged in a different order.)
- Why? This question asks for the significance of the person to others.
- When? This question asks for the time when the person was present and involved.
- Who? This question ask for a person’s name.
- What? This question asks for an account of the person’s activity.
- Where? This question asks for the place where the person lives or was active.
You can see that these five questions correspond (perhaps a bit roughly) to the five lines of evidence for the deity of Christ discussed in this book. The honors that Jesus shares with God are the answer to the question of why knowing Jesus is God is significant. Perhaps the most basic of all Christ’s divine attributes is that he existed when creation began and in fact is eternal. The names that Jesus shares with God, of course, tell us who he is. The deeds that Jesus does with God tell us what Jesus has done. Finally, that Jesus shares the seat of God’s throne tells us where Jesus is.
That these five investigative questions correspond to the five categories of evidence for Christ’s deity is not accidental. The information gathered from these five questions provides a complete picture of the facts pertaining to the identity of the person in question. (274-275)
Throughout the book there are helpful charts to highlight key points. At the end of the book is an appendix organized by each of the five themes with tables that summarize the evidence.
Apart from the apologetic applications of the book, there is helpful commentary on numerous difficult and controversial passages in the Bible. And as you might expect from an academic book, about one fifth of the contents is end notes. I suspect this book will be residing on my reference shelf for some time to come. It should be out next month. I encourage you to take a look.