Seventeen distinguished scholars from the fields of biblical studies, historical theology, and systematic theology engage with the past and present significance of the doctrine of kenosis—Paul’s extraordinary claim in Philippians 2 that Jesus Christ emptied and humbled himself in obedience on his way to death upon the cross.
In the “Christ-hymn” of Philippians 2, the apostle Paul makes a startling claim: that Jesus “emptied himself” in order to fulfill God’s will by dying on the cross. The self-emptying of Christ—theologically explored in the doctrine of kenosis—is a locus within Christology and factors significantly into understandings of the Trinity, anthropology, creation, providence, the church, and even ethics. As such, it has been debated and reflected upon for centuries.
The present volume draws together some of the finest contemporary scholars from across the ecumenical spectrum to expound the doctrine of kenosis—its biblical roots, its historical elaborations, and its contemporary implications. With original essays from John Barclay, Beverly Roberts Gaventa, David Fergusson, Katherine Sonderegger, Thomas Joseph White, and more, this indispensable resource offers an extensive overview of this essential affirmation of Christian faith.
John M. G. Barclay, Matthew J. Aragon Bruce, David Fergusson, Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Kevin W. Hector, Keith L. Johnson, Cambria Kaltwasser, Han-luen Kantzer Komline, Grant Macaskill, John A. McGuckin, Paul T. Nimmo, Georg Pfleiderer, Rinse H. Reeling Brouwer, Hanna Reichel, Christoph Schwöbel, Katherine Sonderegger, and Thomas Joseph White.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Canvas of Kenosis (Paul T. Nimmo and Keith L. Johnson) 1. Kenosis and the Drama of Salvation in Philippians 2 (John M. G. Barclay) 2. Power and Kenosis in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Beverly Roberts Gaventa) 3. The Vocation of the Son in Colossians and Hebrews (Grant Macaskill) 4. The Divine Name as a Form of Kenosis in Both Biblical Testaments (Rinse H. Reeling Brouwer) 5. Origen of Alexandria on the Kenosis of the Lord (John A. McGuckin) 6. Augustine, Kenosis, and the Person of Christ (Han-luen Kantzer Komline) 7. Cyril of Alexandria and the Sacrifice of Gethsemane (Katherine Sonderegger) 8. Divine Perfection and the Kenosis of the Son (Thomas Joseph White, OP) 9. Kenosis as Condescension in the Theology of Martin Luther (Matthew J. Aragon Bruce) 10. The Revisioning of Kenosis after the Critique of Schleiermacher (Paul T. Nimmo) 11. Kenosis and the Humility of God (David Fergusson) 12. Is There a Kenotic Ethics in the Work of Karl Barth? (Georg Pfleiderer) 13. Kenosis and the Mutuality of God (Cambria Kaltwasser) 14. Kenosis and Divine Continuity (Keith L. Johnson) 15. The Generosity of the Triune God and the Humility of the Son (Christoph Schwöbel) 16. The End of Humanity and the Beginning of Kenosis (Hanna Reichel) Epilogue: Kenosis as a Spiritual Practice (Kevin W. Hector) List of Contributors Indexes
Paul T. Nimmo holds the King's Chair of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen. His many other books include Being in Action: The Theological Shape of Barth's Ethical Vision, which won a 2009 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise.
Keith L. Johnson is professor of theology at Wheaton College, where he is also the codirector of the Wheaton Center for Faith and Innovation. His other books include Theology as Discipleship and The Essential Karl Barth: A Reader and Commentary.
“This superb collection of new essays on the topic of Christ’s ‘self-emptying’ ranges from reassessments by leading biblical scholars, through exacting historical scholarship on patristic, scholastic, and modern exegetes, to speculative, philosophical, and spiritual renditions for today. It is rare for a collection such as this to evidence such a consistent level of scholarly insight and originality: this is a benchmark volume which will generate yet further discussion on a topic of almost inexhaustible theological interest.” — Sarah Coakley University of Cambridge
“Philippians 2:5–11, which some have called Paul’s master story, has been—and is—one of the richest sources of Christian theology and spirituality. That wealth is on full display in this delightful (and at times delightfully provocative) interdisciplinary collection of essays on Christ’s self-emptying.” — Michael J. Gorman St. Mary’s Seminary & University
“Without question, this is the most helpful and creative collection of essays on kenosis that currently exists in the field. The book covers biblical, historical, and systematic material and draws on a stellar cast of scholars. It is a ‘must’ for any theologian’s bookshelf.” — Tom Greggs University of Aberdeen
“The mystery of the incarnation witnessed in Scripture and confessed by the church lies at the heart of Christian faith. These outstanding essays examine a facet of this mystery—the humility and self-emptying of Christ in his earthly life. This book is a testament to the gifts of the individual authors and the theological insights of their respective chapters. It offers an exemplary collection examining the mystery of the Son’s journey into the far country of the world.” — Kimlyn J. Bender George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
“Few topics are more central to Christian theology, perhaps especially in the present day, than kenosis. But what actually is kenosis, what should its function be in the theology of God and Christ, and how might Scripture and the highly diverse Christian tradition instruct us? This book provides a marvelous resource for engaging such questions. The Old and New Testaments, the Greek and Latin Fathers, the scholastics and the Reformers, and a wide swath of the most important theologians of the past century make extended appearances here, illuminated by many of today’s preeminent Christian thinkers. Frankly, this book is a treasure.” — Matthew Levering Mundelein Seminary
“This exceptional collection of essays engages an issue of abiding importance, offering insights from a range of perspectives: biblical, historical, and systematic. It will repay close study by scholars working in multiple fields, and it forms a benchmark for current and future debates about the place of kenosis in reflection on Christian doctrine, faith, and practice.” — Paul Dafydd Jones University of Virginia
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