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Jesus the Eternal Son

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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About the Author

Michael F. Bird is lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College in Australia. His previous books include Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction, Jesus Is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels, and Are You the One Who Is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question.


David B. Capes -- Houston Graduate School of Theology "In this brief and compelling book Michael Bird challenges those scholars who think that the earliest recoverable Christology was adoptionist. Instead he proposes that the earliest Christologies formed a pattern of convictions and practices that featured Jesus at the center of Christian devotion. Only later, in the second century among the Theodotians, did adoptionism emerge full-scale in debates over select texts and how they should be interpreted. A careful answer to the perennial question Who is Jesus?" Craig S. Keener -- Asbury Theological Seminary "An engagingly written, well-researched, and persuasive challenge to a modern (and ancient) adoptionist reading of early Christianity. As one expects from Michael Bird, this book displays his wide-ranging command of relevant disciplines and his respectful engagement with a variety of views." Larry Hurtado -- University of Edinburgh "Bird mounts a doughty and well-argued challenge to the notion that New Testament texts reflect an adoptionist view of Jesus's relation to God. His detailed discussion of the Gospel of Mark in particular is a substantial contribution to recent debate about its Christology." Chris Tilling -- St. Mellitus College "With the swell of publications emerging from such able and diverse scholars as Daniel Kirk, Richard Hays, Brant Pitre, Crispin Fletcher-Louis and others, the time is ripe for a little more systematic reflection on early adoptionist claims. Not only does Michael Bird helpfully summarize the present state of discussion, but he also makes a number of incisive exegetical observations along the way, particularly in relation to Paul and Mark. . . . Any future assertions that the earliest Christology was adoptionist, only becoming 'fully divine' later, will have to reckon with Bird's perceptive exegesis."

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