Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Incarnation: On the Scope and Depth of Christology

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Incarnation: On the Scope and Depth of Christology

Article excerpt

Incarnation: On the Scope and Depth of Christology. Edited by Niels Henrik Gregersen. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015, Pp. xi, 397. $44.95, paper.)

Emerging from a 2011 symposium that asked, "Is God incarnate in all that is?" (ix), this anthology collects sixteen essays on a concept that editor Niels Henrik Gregersen describes as "a central focus" of the event (x), the idea of a "deep incarnation": "when God's Logos 'became flesh' in Jesus (John 1:14), the material world of joy and suffering was also assumed such that the incarnate Logos eventually became coextensive with 'all flesh' . . . from grass to human persons" (ix). It is a heady notion- explored here in ways that might be most appealing to scholars, theologians, and (sometimes) scientists-and the contributors do not disappoint in their explorations of the profound implications of the idea. Gregersen collects essays that range in subject matter from instantiations of the concept in the early church (part I), to perspectives from contemporary systematic theology (part II), and to perspectives grounded in science and philosophy (part III). In a separate introduction, he situates the contributions within a subtle and useful typology of views of the incarnation, explaining that the volume does not explicitly address issues of "religious pluralism as such" but does "rethink Christology with a special concern for its universal claims and open horizons" (3). (An interest in ecumenism, or "interfaith dialogue," as Richard Bauckham puts it in "The Incarnation and the Cosmic Christ" [28], nonetheless tints many of the contributions.) Finally, in part IV, Gregersen and John Polkinghorne offer some concluding reflections, Polkinghorne (in a disappointingly brief chapter) reacting to the volume's theme with a generous skepticism and Gregersen delicately weaving the other contributions together to consider the opportunities and challenges of a deep incarnation.

If each part of the anthology could be said to contain a standout essay, then the highlight of part I would be Bauckham's novel and provocative contribution; rendering infamously difficult concepts in lucid prose, Bauckham explores the ancient idea of Christ as a microcosm of creation and relates that notion to contemporary evolutionary theory, with a resulting claim that will surely appeal to proponents of ecological justice within the church: "humans emerg[e] . …

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