Far from merely surveying recent literature in the area, this opening chapter aims to identify critical issues concerning the incarnation. Obviously not all the issues raised here can be addressed by the chapters which follow. That would mean doubling the size of this book. Yet a wide-ranging account will enable the reader to place the other contributions in the landscape of incarnation studies. At least twelve issues call for attention.
(1) Any study of 'incarnation' must begin by asking: what kind of truth does 'the incarnation' embody? Does it refer to a unique event: namely, the second person of the Trinity being born into history to live, teach, die, and then rise gloriously from the dead—all with a view to inaugurating a radical new relationship between human beings and God? Some argue that the 'incarnation' claims from the New Testament and such subsequent Christian confessions as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 should be understood as 'myth', in the sense of being merely a non-historical, religious truth about ourselves which has been communicated under the form of talk about a divine being coming among us. Stephen Evans chooses David Friedrich Strauss and Joseph Campbell among others to exemplify this non-historical interpretation of 'the incarnation' as being only a universal truth about the general human condition. 1
St Paul writes of God 'sending his own Son' (Rom. 8: 3), or of Christ Jesus being 'in the form of God' and then 'being born in human likeness and being found in human form' (Phil. 2: 6-8). The Letter to the Hebrews opens by declaring that 'in these last days'