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Reviewed by:
  • Jesus without Borders: Christology in the Majority World ed. by Gene Green, Stephen Pardue and K.K. Yeo
  • Don Schweitzer
Jesus without Borders: Christology in the Majority World. Edited by Gene Green, Stephen Pardue and K.K. Yeo. Grand Rapids, mi: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2014. Pp. viii + 193. Paper, $20.00. isbn 978-0-8028-7028-7.

This is the first in a projected series of books intended to profile how various Christian doctrines are understood from a biblical basis outside the North Atlantic context. Authors for this volume examine the relationship between the Chalcedonian Definition and Christologies in their own contexts. The first four essays are by theologians, the next four by New Testament scholars.

Kevin Vanhoozer opens with a survey of how Christ has been understood in Western theology in North Atlantic circles, focusing predominantly on the twentieth century. He argues that the Chalcedonian Definition states a way in which Jesus Christ must be understood by Christologies seeking to be faithful to biblical narratives of redemption and offers some transcultural norms for Christologies based on these narratives. Victor Ezigbo surveys three main approaches to Christology produced in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1980s, preferring those in which Jesus is seen to reveal true knowledge of God and humanity. Ezigbo argues that while a Christology must take up concerns expressed in its context, it may also need to redirect these concerns in light of the gospel. Timoteo Gener, writing in the Philippines, astutely notes in his survey of Asian Christologies that they must address culture, which can stimulate new and different understandings of the gospel. The religious pluralism of Asia, in which Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, or Hinduism may dominate a particular culture, means that Christologies may have to critically borrow or adapt terms from these religions in order to express the gospel’s meaning there. Jules Martínez-Olivieri studies Latin American Christologies, beginning with an overview of the methodology of Roman Catholic liberation theology and Protestant responses to it. Here Christologies typically acknowledge the Nicaean and Chalcedonian creedal affirmations, but rely on what can be known historically about Jesus to make their understandings of Jesus concrete in relation to the social conflicts of their time.

Conversely, Palestinian biblical scholar Yohanna Katanacho relies on the Chalcedonian Definition to provide an inclusive Christology that does not limit salvation to one group of people within a conflict. Aida Besançon Spencer focuses on attention given to Mary in Latino/a contexts in the United States and argues that Jesus is uniquely the intercessor for humanity before God in a way that Mary is not. After surveying African Christologies, Andrew Mbuvi compares some cultic descriptions of Jesus’s death and its saving significance in 1 Peter to some sacrificial practices of the Akamba people in Kenya. He notes that the concerns driving the Christological affirmations of Nicaea and Chalcedon are rarely apparent in African Christologies. K.K. Yeo’s essay functions partly as a conclusion to the whole, arguing that all the contributors see that Christology must be rooted in the biblical witness and critically engaged with the concerns and guiding concepts of their cultures. Typically, contributors see Christ as fulfilling the concerns of their cultures, even if reconfiguring them. Yeo then undertakes to understand Christ in relation to Chinese Confucianism. In parallel to the concern of Confucius that people do not know how to live together, Yeo presents Jesus as the bearer of the imago dei, one whose love for others and teaching provide a model for what it means to be fully human. No mention or critique is made of the patriarchal aspects of Confucianism.

This worthwhile collection of essays showcases divergent Christologies from around the world. It acknowledges the ambiguous heritages of missionary enterprises in many contexts. It introduces contexts from indifferent hemispheres and the Christologies that have been produced there, highlighting methodological emphases that are common to them. The authors tend to be conservative/evangelical in their outlook, but open to a genuine engagement between Christ and culture. As more and more Christian theology [End Page 296] is being done outside the North Atlantic context, books like this are becoming increasingly important for Western theologians...


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