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BOOK REVIEWS Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology. By ELIZABETH A. JOHNSON. New York: Crossroad, 1990. Pp. 149. $14.95. Elizabeth A. Johnson, associate professor of theology at Catholic Uni· versity of America, first delivered the chapters of this present study as occasional lectures. They have already been published in book form in South Africa, hut we now have an American edition. Her purpose has been " to present the fundamental rethinking taking place in christology to persons who are actively involved in ministries in the church or who are seeking greater understanding of their faith. Given the vital interests of this audience the lectucres took on a certain character, seeking il:o inform about the reams of scholarship pouring forth about Jesus Christ in order to open doors for more effective preaching, teaching, prayer, and pastoral action" (p. ix). Thus this book is more popular than scholarly in nature. Johnson makes no pretense of breaking new ground but offers instead a rather comprehensive and highly lucid synthesis of contemporary thinking in christology since 1950, specifically within the Catholic tradition. Johnson has chosen the metaphor of waves breaking upon a beach to unify her subject matter. "As a wave is created by wind at sea and then rises up, rolls in, and breaks as it comes close to land, so too it seems that successive understandings of Christ have formed, swelled, and broken upon Catholic consciousness since the mid-twentieth century " (p. x). Some of the waves Johnson examines are: the re-emer·· gence of the human Jesus; christology and the questions of justice and liberation; feminist christology; Jesus and world religions; and chris· tology and ecology. Johnson places these christology currents in the context of doctrinal development. The vitality of contemporary christology manifests the present effort to speak anew to our world the truth of the gospel. It is the ongoing story of the Christian community blending the old and the new " or the historically given with its current form of reception" (p. 2). The first wave to come ashore was a renewed interest in the humanity of Jesus. Given the doctrine of the Incarnation that Jesus is one person existing in two natures, Johnson explores the transcendental christology of Karl Rahner to show how this traditional doctrine can be better appreciated and proclaimed in our day. Contemporary philosophy and psychology, unlike the Greek philosophy of classical christology, accentuate the subjectivity which defines 511 BOOK REVIEWS our humanity. As human subjects we are open to the infinite-in· finite truth and love, a hope for " infinite " life. " What is human na· ture? It is a finite reality with a capacity for the infinite, a thirst for the infinite " (p. 24) . Thus human beings are defined by their sub· jective openness to the God who is truth, love, and life itself. In defining God's triune nature, Johnson, again following Rahner's lead, believes that the term " person " as applied to the Trinity is mis· leading within our contemporary context because it suggests that God is composed of three individual people. Instead it would be better to speak of three distinct manners or modes of self-being: the Father as the unoriginate source of all, the Son as the self-expression of God as he manifests himself outward, and the Holy Spirit as the unifying love (see pp. 25-27). Johnson admits that some theologians, such as Walter Kasper, believe this to he an inadequate interpretation, a form of modalism. Nonetheless, Johnson argues that these contemporary con· ceptions of the human and the divine natures form the basis for a more intelligible and therefore preferable articulation of the Incarnation, demonstrating and guaranteeing both the authentic humanity and divinity of Jesus. If human beings are defined by their openness to the infinite and if God eternally expresses himself in self-giving love, then the closer one draws near to ,the God of love the :more truly human one becomes. In the case of Jesus of Nazareth we are dealing with someone who was more profoundly united to God than any of us. We even talk about hypostatic union, a union at the metaphysical level of the person. If his humanity is...


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