Featured Reviews, VOLUME 8

Jesus Without Borders – Green/Pardue/Yeo, Eds [Review]

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In Part II, Yohanna Katanacho writes a compelling essay interpreting the Gospel of John in light of the Palestinian Christian experience.  He argues that in John, Jesus deconstructs the elements of Pharisaic Judaism in order to reconstruct them around himself as Christ.  Because of Christ’s humanity, “he can represent both Palestinians and Jews.”  Contextual theology is not an exclusive operation.
The book’s only female author, Aída Besançon Spenser, writes of Christ’s relationship with his mother from a Latina feminist evangelical position.  The article critiques the veneration of Mary, arguing that the practice partially originates in the worship of the ancient goddess, Artemis.  She claims that when Mary is given a special role as mediator, it diminishes the concreteness of Christ’s humanity, and thus runs opposite the intention of the Council of Chalcedon when it named Mary Theotokos, God-bearer.
I find it troubling that Dr. Besançon Spenser is the only woman voice represented in this volume.  It is somewhat ludicrous to claim to represent the majority world with predominantly male writers.  It should be noted that Martínez-Olivieri deals sympathetically with feminist theology in his essay, but Vanhoozer, for his part, is somewhat dismissive of feminism.  This is a serious imbalance, and one that I hope the editors of the Majority World Theology series will remedy in their next volume.
Andrew M. Mbuvi engages with the diversity of postcolonial African responses to the Christologies first expounded by Western missionaries.  He does not fail to point out that many of these missionaries had noble intentions, tried and often succeeded in doing good, often at great personal cost.  Nor does Mbuvi fail to excoriate the Western missionary enterprise for its hubris, its destructiveness, and its collusion with the oppressive powers of colonialism.  Mbuvi’s own Christological reflections follow as an exegesis of 1 Peter where he finds “cultic connections” that resonate with traditional African worldviews.

K.K. Yeo, one of the series editors, ends the volume with a summative essay.  It draws together strands of thought from each of the other contributors, refracted through Chinese Christology, including fascinating section on dao as the Chinese translation for logos.  Using the Confucian concept of being human through human-relatedness, Yeo argues that Christ as fully human saves us from “brokenness, isolation, and de-humanization.”  Christ shows us what it is to be fully human.  That’s not just Gospel for the minority world, or the majority world.  It’s Good News for all the world.


Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities
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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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