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Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology

Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology

by Michael F. Bird


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Adoptionism--the idea that Jesus is portrayed in the Bible as a human figure who was adopted as God's son at his baptism or resurrection--has been commonly accepted in much recent scholarship as the earliest explanation of Jesus's divine status. In this book Michael Bird draws that view into question with a thorough examination of pre-Pauline materials, the Gospel of Mark, and patristic sources.

Engaging critically with Bart Ehrman, James Dunn, and other scholars, Bird demonstrates that a full-fledged adoptionist Christology did not emerge until the late second century. As he delves into passages often used to support the idea of an early adoptionist Christology, including Romans 1:3-4 and portions of the speeches in Acts, Bird persuasively argues that early Christology was in fact incarnational, not adoptionist. He concludes by surveying and critiquing notable examples of adoptionism in modern theology.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802875068
Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date: 07/13/2017
Pages: 171
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Michael F. Bird is lecturer in theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. His previous books include An Anomalous Jew: Paul among Jews, Greeks, and Romans and The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus, which won the 2015 Christianity Today Book Award for biblical studies.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xi

Abbreviations xiv

1 Christology and Christian Origins 1

The Birth of Christology 1

Adoptionism 7

The Goal of this Book 9

2 Appointed the Son of God by Resurrection from the Dead 10

The Son of God in Power: Romans 1:3-4 11

This Jesus Made Lord and Messiah: Acts 2:36 (with 5:31 and 13:33) 24

Conclusion 29

3 The Gospel of Mark, Monotheism, and Deification 34

Debates about Markan Christology 34

Exalted Heroes and Deified Emperors in the Greco-Roman World 38

Monotheism and Divinized Humans 43

Conclusion 62

4 The Gospel of Mark and the Son of God 64

The Markan Baptismal Scene 64

Mark's Divine Christology 81

Parallels and Markan Christology 102

Conclusion 106

5 How Jesus Got Adopted in the Second Century 107

The Shepherd and His Two Sons 107

The Ebionites: Poor Man's Christology 112

Theodotus of Byzantium: Jesus Finally Gets Adopted 120

Conclusion 123

6 Adoptionism: Then and Now 124

Bibliography 131

Index of Names and Subjects 142

Index of Ancient Sources 146

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