The Last Adam by Brandon D. Crowe

The Last AdamThe Last Adam: A Theology of the Obedient Life of Jesus in the Gospels

by Brandon D. Crowe

Paperback, 215 pg.
Baker Academic, 2017

Read: February 19 – March 19, 2017


I just don’t know how to sum up this book succinctly honestly. After a few attempts that are best never seen by anyone, I decided that no one does it better than Crowe does in the first three paragraphs:

What is the purpose and significance of the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels? At one level, this may seem like an obvious question. The Gospels are all about Jesus. Moreover, given the structure of each of the four Gospels, it is difficult to miss the central role played by the Passion Narratives. And yet there is much more in the Gospels beyond the Passion Narratives. Jesus is amazingly active. He preaches, heals, exorcises, prays, rebukes, forgives, calls, authorizes, confounds, challenges, rejoices, weeps, blesses, curses, prophesies, and more. In addition, he consistently draws attention to himself as he does these things.

And then there are the Christmas stories (that is, the infancy narratives). These are among the more familiar parts of the Gospels in today’s culture. But what is the relationship between the infancy narratives and salvation? Jesus appears to be quite passive lying in the manger as he is adored by shepherds, and we do not find him to be very active when the magi come and prostrate themselves before him in Matthew 2. But can we look even to the infancy of Jesus and say that Jesus was somehow already beginning to accomplish something of significance? To ask this question is to lead us back to the driving question of this volume, since Jesus did not bypass infancy, childhood, adolescence, or adulthood on his way to the cross. Why? What was it about the life of Jesus that was necessary for salvation—from the manger to the cross and everything in between? Do the Evangelists themselves give us any indications that this is a question they have in view as they write their Gospels? I will argue that they do.

In this volume I will argue that we find a shared perspective among the diversity of the four Gospels that the obedient life of Jesus—in its entirety—is vicarious and salvific in character. More specifically, I will argue that Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels as the last Adam whose obedience is necessary for God’s people to experience the blessings of salvation. In pursuit of this thesis, I will consider what the Gospels themselves say about the lifelong obedience of Jesus, which concomitantly involves considering how Jesus’s life and ministry are related to his passion. By concentrating on the Gospels I do not intend to imply that these are the only documents in the New Testament that speak to this issue. I do believe, however, that a focus on the Gospels qua Gospels is important because of the way they narrate the life of Jesus, and because their testimony to the significance of Jesus’s life for salvation has often not been given sufficient attention. Thus a sub-aim of this book is to help us read and interpret the Gospels theologically.

So, there’s his aim, rather, there are his aims. How does he go about it? Here’s the Table of Contents to give you a look at how he’s approaching his arguments (yeah, I’m quoting a lot here, but you try to tackle this book in a blog post rather than a dozen or so page review and see how easy it is):

1. A Tale of Two Adams in the History of Interpretation
2. The Last Adam and the Son of Man in the Gospels
3. The Last Adam as the Obedient Son of God
4. The Last Adam and the Fulfillment of Scripture
5. The Glory of the Last Adam in the Gospel of John
6. The Last Adam and the Kingdom of Righteousness
7. The Death and Resurrection of the Last Adam
8. The Last Adam and Salvation: Theological Synthesis and Conclusions

This is primarily an exegetical work — dealing with the text of the Gospels directly. But Crowe leans upon historical and systematic theology as well (especially in Chapter 8). Outside of Chapter 5, he’s primarily dealing with the Synoptics — but not exclusively. It is not impossible to read for the dedicated layman — I’ve read more difficult works in the last few months, but it’s not something you can skim with profit. There are issues that I’m not sure I understand the purpose of addressing, as I’m not aware of all of the academic controversies he’s addressing, but even when you don’t understand everything about those portions of the book, you can still gain from working through them.

I learned a lot. I thought about passages in a way I haven’t before — seeing things in a new light, or at least a different light. I really don’t have a lot to say about this particular book — primarily I just wanted to post about it to maybe get a reader or two to look at it that might not have otherwise. I loved it, even when I had to work a little harder than usual to get what he was saying, it was worth it. This is the kind of thing the Church needs more of.

This is written from a Confessionally Reformed perspective, but not necessarily for the Confessionally Reformed any more than other Evangelical/Evangelical-ish readers. Although, the Reformed will be more used to thinking in some of the categories he uses than others (as Crowe indicates late in this interview).

This is not an easy read, this is not a quick read, but it is a good read (why do I feel like Lewis’ Mr. Beaver now?). This is theology that will lead to doxology — as well as more theological and doxological reflection and study. I wasn’t sure what I expected to get out of this book, but Crowe delivered it and more. I’m not doing a good job summing things up here, just get this book and read it (as well as all the books Crowe writes that you can afford, I’m pretty sure I never got around to posting about his book on the General Epistles which was almost as good as this one (and easier to read)).

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4 1/2 Stars

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Pub Day Repost: The Essential Trinity by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman, eds.

Slightly different Pub Day Repost than I usually do — I usually post something I read an advanced copy of, but this time it’s being published by a different publisher. Still, content is the same, just a new cover, etc. Hopefully, this helps it find a larger audience.

The Essential Trinity The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance

by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman, eds.

Paperback, 320 pg.
P&R Publishing, 2017

Read: July 31 – August 14, 2016

As far as consistency of quality amongst edited volumes goes, Crowe and Trueman have assembled one of the stronger line-ups I’ve read in a while — men from a spectrum of persuasions of Evangelical-ish thought have given the Church fourteen articles (approximately 20 pages each) to deepen our thinking about the Trinity. The aim was for a volume that “eschews overly technical discussion and focuses attention on the importance of the doctrine for every Christian.”

In Part 1, the articles look at the “trinitarian contours of every corpus of the New Testament, along with a chapter reflecting on the Old Testament roots of trinitarian doctrine.” If there are weak chapters in the volume, they’re in this part — but they aren’t that weak, either. Crowe’s chapter on Matthew is excellent, but the chapters on the Mark, Luke-Acts and John aren’t far off that Mark. Brian S. Rosner’s chapter on “Paul and the Trinity” is worth the price of the book. The chapters on the rest of the epistles are very helpful (particularity Hebrews). Mark S. Gignilliat’s article, “The Trinity and the Old Testament: real presence or imposition?” is very helpful and insightful — and as an added bonus, it’s the most stylistically entertaining and engaging piece in the book.

Benjamin Gladd’s chapter exploring Daniel’s influence on Revelation’s view of the Trinity is the biggest mental workout you’ll get in the book. I appreciated the material covered and the argument Gladd makes, but I’m going to have to read it a few more times before I think I have a good handle on it.

Part 2 addresses the importance of the Trinity for everyday living — many would say the doctrine is impractical and only belongs in Statements of Faith and academia. The authors here show the fallacy of that. It begins with a brief, but excellent, description of the doctrine by Scott R. Swain. Carl Trueman has the next chapter, “The Trinity and prayer,” which is probably as valuable as Rosner’s — it’s actually about more than prayer, but the material specifically on prayer is great — hugely indebted to John Owen (but not uncritically so). Robert Letham’s chapter on “The Trinity and worship” also draws deeply from Owen; if he doesn’t move you to worship as you understand the work of the Trinity in it, you aren’t paying attention (I probably have more problems with some of what he says than anything else in the book). Michael Reeves, typically, made me chuckle in his chapter on preaching — but he did more than that, too.

Timely, convicting, thoughtful and inspiring, this examination of the Trinity in Scripture and Life should be a great benefit to any believer ho reads it. It may not be the easiest thing read all year (but really, it’s not that difficult), but it’ll be one of the most rewarding.

—–

4 Stars

The Essential Trinity by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman, eds.

The Essential Trinity The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance

by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman, eds.

Paperback, 273 pg.
Inter-Varsity Press, 2016

Read: July 31 – August 14, 2016

As far as consistency of quality amongst edited volumes goes, Crowe and Trueman have assembled one of the stronger line-ups I’ve read in a while — men from a spectrum of persuasions of Evangelical-ish thought have given the Church fourteen articles (approximately 20 pages each) to deepen our thinking about the Trinity. The aim was for a volume that “eschews overly technical discussion and focuses attention on the importance of the doctrine for every Christian.”

In Part 1, the articles look at the “trinitarian contours of every corpus of the New Testament, along with a chapter reflecting on the Old Testament roots of trinitarian doctrine.” If there are weak chapters in the volume, they’re in this part — but they aren’t that weak, either. Crowe’s chapter on Matthew is excellent, but the chapters on the Mark, Luke-Acts and John aren’t far off that Mark. Brian S. Rosner’s chapter on “Paul and the Trinity” is worth the price of the book. The chapters on the rest of the epistles are very helpful (particularity Hebrews). Mark S. Gignilliat’s article, “The Trinity and the Old Testament: real presence or imposition?” is very helpful and insightful — and as an added bonus, it’s the most stylistically entertaining and engaging piece in the book.

Benjamin Gladd’s chapter exploring Daniel’s influence on Revelation’s view of the Trinity is the biggest mental workout you’ll get in the book. I appreciated the material covered and the argument Gladd makes, but I’m going to have to read it a few more times before I think I have a good handle on it.

Part 2 addresses the importance of the Trinity for everyday living — many would say the doctrine is impractical and only belongs in Statements of Faith and academia. The authors here show the fallacy of that. It begins with a brief, but excellent, description of the doctrine by Scott R. Swain. Carl Trueman has the next chapter, “The Trinity and prayer,” which is probably as valuable as Rosner’s — it’s actually about more than prayer, but the material specifically on prayer is great — hugely indebted to John Owen (but not uncritically so). Robert Letham’s chapter on “The Trinity and worship” also draws deeply from Owen; if he doesn’t move you to worship as you understand the work of the Trinity in it, you aren’t paying attention (I probably have more problems with some of what he says than anything else in the book). Michael Reeves, typically, made me chuckle in his chapter on preaching — but he did more than that, too.

Timely, convicting, thoughtful and inspiring, this examination of the Trinity in Scripture and Life should be a great benefit to any believer ho reads it. It may not be the easiest thing read all year (but really, it’s not that difficult), but it’ll be one of the most rewarding.

—–

4 Stars