Jesus – God and Man
By Wolfhart Pannenberg
This is the first book I have read by Pannenberg, I will be reading more because of it. It was thoroughly fascinating. It is not an easy read, but a worthwhile read for anyone interested in Christology, or Christian thought at all. It is a classic of Twentieth Century theology and I fail to see how it cannot be a major contributor to theological thought hence forth. If you are a student of theology, it is simply a must read.
The essential main thrust of the book is a “theology from below”. Wolfhart Pannenberg starts and ends his discussion on the historical person of Jesus Christ. Investigating the claim of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and finding that do be solid, meaning he makes a good case for the historical veracity of that event, he begins to plot out what that means in relation to Jesus claims about himself, and how that translates to meaning for our lives. He does this in an absolutely stupendous manner, and with great scholarly acumen. In other words, he starts with Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and works from there to establish his divinity. He then goes into great detail parsing out what that means for theology and especially eschatology.
One thing that is fascinating through it all, is Pannenberg does this all the while buying into Higher Criticism. He assumes the gospels are written late, the Q hypothesis is a given, and yet he comes to conclusions regarding the central claims of Christianity far different than those of say Bart Ehrman. In this manner he defies classification as a liberal or a conservative. He does not get into justifying any claims of Higher Criticism though, but even working with the claims of higher criticism, comes out with a theology as conservative as that of Athanasius or Augustine.
Throughout the manuscript, Pannenberg takes you on a joy ride through the history of Christology, showing what different theologians have thought at different times and why they were right or wrong. All the while establishing not only the divinity of Christ, but also the inner workings of the Trinity. All this though has great importance for Eschatology, and reading this has opened my eyes to aspects of biblical eschatology that I had never considered, and strengthened my resolve that Pre-millennialism is a satanic lie, a pseudo Gospel that has no place in the church.
I will be re reading this book, and highly recommend it to others. I don’t agree with everything in the book, but I think twice about disagreeing.