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Putting Jesus in His Place

Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ

Authors: Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski
Paperback: 392 pages
ISBN-10: 0-8254-2983-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8254-2983-5

Barnes & Noble

I’d like to thank the people over at Kregel Publications for being so kind as to send me a copy of this book. I’m more than happy to review it.

In Putting Jesus in His Place, Rob Bowman and Ed Komoszewski write to inform readers of the Jesus who is God, not the Jesus of The Da Vinci Code or the like. They look at the biblical teaching about Jesus’ divine identity through a model known as HANDS.

Honors: Jesus shares the honors due to God.
Attributes: Jesus shares the attributes of God.
Names: Jesus shares the names of God.
Deeds: Jesus shares in the deeds that God does.
Seat: Jesus shares the seat of God’s throne. [p. 23]

The first section, on Jesus sharing the honors due to God, comprises the first five chapters. Inside, Bowman and Komoszewski show that Jesus has been given the same praise that had historically been given to God the Father, that this praise has been given to Jesus by his disciples and angels, and that it will be given to Him by everyone. This section also points out that prayer is directed to Jesus as God, that early Christians sang to Jesus as Lord, and that

in virtually every other way that the Bible teaches us to honor Go it also teaches us to honor the Lord Jesus. [p. 61]

Jesus sharing the attributes of God is the topic dealt with in the second part (ch. 6-10) of Putting Jesus in His Place. Attributes here means those qualities that God possesses as his very nature. Bowman and Komoszewski argue that Jesus possesses these attributes in several ways. They assert, by looking at Scripture, that Jesus was God in a human body, that he has always existed, that he was involved in creation, yet is uncreated, that he is immutable as God is immutable, that he is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, and that he is beyond our “limitations in knowledge” [p. 122].

Chapters 11-14 are devoted to the premise that Jesus shares the names of God. Here we find the authors argue that

the Bible gives Jesus a wide array of names that properly belong to God – and that it gives him these names in contexts that confirm that they describe or identify him as God. [p. 127]

They look at the proper name Jesus first. Turning to the accounts of the angel telling Mary and Joseph separately what the name of Mary’s son is to be, we find that it means “Jehovah saves.” Bowman and Komoszewski then explain that the implication in the context of the passage is that Jesus is Jehovah. The authors look at what had been done in the New Testament in Jesus’ name (ie. miracles, baptisms, salvation) and what had been done for the name (ie. persecution and death). In chapter 12 they look at passages that suggest that Jesus is God (ie. John’s prologue). Chapter 13 has the authors suggest that when Jesus is called “Lord” that many times (especially after his resurrection) it should be taken as an indication of deity. Bowman and Komoszewski say that since Jews would not pronounce the divine name, Yahweh, they replaced it with Adonai, meaning Lord. They suggest that this continued with reference to Jesus as Lord (=Yahweh). The last chapter of this section looks at a wide variety of other names for Jesus as well that suggest his oneness with God.

Bowman and Komoszewski’s fourth part (chp. 15-18) presents Jesus as sharing in the deeds that God does. Here we see that Jesus has done the same things that only God can do. Jesus is shown to be the creator of all things, that those things he created depend on him for continuing to exist, that Jesus’ power as God was shown in his earthly ministry (ie. he never needed to call on the power of another to perform miracles), and that he has power over nature in ways only God could. Chapter 17 breaks down Jesus claim in John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In chapter 18 we find the role of Jesus as judge. At his parousia we will see him bring “final peace and justice in the world” [p. 224], something that even the authors of the Old Testament long expected. At this the dead will be resurrected and all will be judged.

Putting Jesus in His Place‘s final part (chp. 19-21) deals with Jesus sharing the same seat as God – His throne. The authors point us to Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas, the high priest. Here Jesus makes a claim that was called blasphemous by Caiaphas. Jesus had said:

I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’ (Mk 14:62)

This was blasphemy to the high priest because it equated Jesus (a mere man in Caiaphas’ eyes) with God. Bowman and Komoszewski look at this statement, however, by looking back at the Old Testament references Jesus made (that is, Ps. 110:1 and Dan. 7:13). They arrive at the conclusion that Jesus was claiming to exercise “the authority of God” [p. 247]. In the final chapter, the authors list how they understand that Jesus occupies the same place as God (ie. He rules over everything, He is exalted above the heavenly court, He received worship from all, etc). Then they contend with some objections to this premise.

In their conclusion, Bowman and Komoszewski recall the HANDS device and go briefly over their reasoning and conclusions for each part of that device. They then compare this device to others that have been used as well (ie. the five “wh” questions and the Nicene Creed). Lastly, they tackle the question of whether they are “cobbling together a composite picture of Jesus as God that is not found anywhere in the New Testament” [p. 176], to which they answer by turning to several NT passages that show all of their criteria (HANDS) in each.

Putting Jesus in His Place has much to offer. It is well written and flows from topic to topic in ways that hold it’s readers interest intact. Honestly, I found it hard to put the book down. It’s greatest strength is the charts. They are found throughout and offer the reader a valuable resource to help grasp topics and to turn to later for a refresher.

However, I am not a fan of endnotes. I would much prefer footnotes. Of course, I’ve heard the arguments for and against them, so I will just leave it at that. I’m also not sure yet if I agree with ‘Lord’ in the NT equaling ‘Yahweh,’ but I haven’t studied it outside of this book. Perhaps that argument does stand up. Besides these two items (one of which may not even be an issue), I cannot come up with anything that I dislike about this book.

This is an excellent resource for all who wish to learn about Christology. It’s written for lay people, but also can be a great introduction for students and pastors. I highly recommend Putting Jesus in His Place to anyone who will ever deal with the question of whether Jesus is God (so basically everyone should own it).

Grade: A+



9 Responses

  1. Thorough review. Any other Christological books worth checking out?

  2. Great review, Matt.

    Remissioned: You might want to check out Larry Hurtado’s Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Thanks, Jason!

      Ah, yes, I agree with you. I’ve heard so much about Hurtado’s book, but haven’t checked it out myself.

  3. FWIW, I think Cullmann’s New Testament Theology is still one of the best. Then there’s Murray Harris’ Jesus As God.

    BTW, Matt, did the authors argue for “son” or “God” in John 1:18?

    • They deal with that on pp. 141-2 (for those who have access to the book). They argue for “God” as being original there (based on P66 and P75).

  4. I’ve been teaching on Christology at my church for the past several weeks and I’ve been using this book as my guide. Tonight we covered Names and it was a great class! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this is simply the best layman-friendly work on Christology that’s out there. The authors don’t present anything earth-shattering in terms of information but they organize it in perhaps the most helpful way I’ve ever seen. They make it so easy to memorize and share with others that you can’t do anything other than appreciate the time and effort that went into thinking up the HANDS acronym. I think the A+ you awarded it is well deserved!

    • Thanks, Nick. I think you’re right that all that they wrote can be found elsewhere. Most of it I’ve heard here and there in other works, but I do like that they brought it all together in an easy fashion.

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