Book Review: Putting Jesus in His Place – The Case for the Deity of Christ
by Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski
Bowman and Komoszewski have poured their hearts, minds, and lives into this work; exalting their Savior as few ever have. They embrace and synthesize the biblical data with full, intentional commitment to the inspired text – a commitment I find refreshing, given the abandonment of an inspired text in many modern “Christian” works. I firmly believe this book has the potential to impact future generations of readers in the way Bickersteth’s work The Trinity strengthened decades of readers concerning its subject matter. I am pleased to commend this work for your consideration and grateful to the authors for their efforts at producing this incredible work.
A Personal Note About the Authors
Robert M. Bowman Jr.
I have known Rob for many years, first through his printed works, then through online interaction. Rob is the author of several apologetics books. His efforts through the years have touched on many religions and topics. He has focused primarily on responding to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, both organizationally and individually. Rob has been active on the internet for several years, interacting with unbelievers in extended discussions on a host of topics. He has poured his life into serving Christ, strengthening the body of Christ in his writings, and reaching out to people groups which require a personal investment encompassing a large part of his adult life. He has performed his service through honest research, demonstrating tremendous patience and understanding towards those he labors to reach with the gospel of Christ.
J. Ed Komoszewski
I met Ed many years ago, while he was a graduate student at Dallas Seminary. Ed has intellectual capacity and acumen that few approach. Even so, this does not surpass his heart for serving Christ, the church, and his fellow man. Ed was instrumental in motivating me personally to pursue studies that I never would have attempted without his encouragement. I remain indebted to him and his fellow grad student Don Hartley for taking the time to encourage an uneducated layman to grow in his studies through a lifetime commitment to the truth. Ed strives to communicate eternal truths in meaningful and memorable ways. He is a unique individual who combines passion and compassion to reach broken people living in a broken world with Christ’s message of hope.
Organized around five major themes, the authors have created a unique and helpful work. It is a combination of fervent devotion and intellectual rigor, written to engage and challenge the reader. Helpfully, the authors document their assumptions:
- New Testament Christology
- Inspired Bible
- The humanity, death, and resurrection of Christ are established historical facts
- Jesus remains human to this day, and will everlastingly
- Jesus is not the Father
It is refreshing to have sound conservative scholarship marshaled in defense of the Deity of Christ without being too academic. In this sense, the book reminds me of James White’s The Forgotten Trinity; academically responsible but executed to reach a far greater audience. Do not underestimate the scholarship underpinning this work. Although the primary text is written at a popular level (albeit a very committed popular level), the footnotes reveal years of research which the authors have performed. They are very familiar with nuanced arguments offered today by skeptics of every stripe. This is no careless work. In many cases it is founded upon the authors’ direct and extended interactions with critics in both academic and informal settings.
Bowman and Komoszewski take the time to explore both the explicit and implicit conclusions to be drawn from the biblical text. In fact, you will find that, in 400 pages, the authors have packed in an incredible amount of information. Considering the sheer number of exegetical insights, reading this book raises the questions, “Have we only just begun? Is Christ an inexhaustible fountain, always supplying more for his thirsty sheep?” The happy answer to both is the same, an enthusiastic “Yes!”
The clear message of Christ’s Deity revolves around five major themes, represented by the acronym HANDS.
- Honors of God
- Attributes of God
- Names of God
- Deeds of God
- Seat of God
Bowman and Komoszewski clearly demonstrate that Christ receives the honors that only God receives, possesses the attributes that only God possesses, is known by the names that only God is known by, performs the deeds that only God performs, and shares the seat that is alone God’s sovereign rule. They accomplish all of this biblically, relying on the text to lead us on the path.
There is much to be gained by reading this book. It will take effort to fully grasp the argumentation that Bowman and Komoszewski present. Through the use of modern teaching tools the authors endeavor to engage the modern reader, to spur their pursuit of lasting truth about the person of Christ. Helpful charts and diagrams are sprinkled throughout the book. Acknowledging the pervasive impact the internet has had on religious dialogue and debate, several footnotes point to online resources where particularly helpful. Some grammatical terms may be unfamiliar to the popular reader, such as: substantival, adjectival, apposition, nominative, and vocative. The use of these terms is mostly confined to the footnotes. Some of the counter-arguments the authors explore are robust and nuanced. They have chosen to engage these issues directly and candidly, rather than pretend they do not exist or dismiss them with bluff and bluster. Engaging these arguments adds to the long-term benefits this work will deliver to the attentive reader. Oh that the Lord would be pleased to move many seminary students, pastors, and laymen to emulate the example demonstrated by Bowman and Komoszewski.
Some Tasty Samples
In chapter 2, Bowman and Komoszewski examine the worship of the carpenter. One of the discussion points hinges on the uniqueness of Jewish thought concerning worship of angelic creatures. “The idea that even powerful, supernatural beings such as angels were not appropriate objects of worship would have struck almost everyone in the ancient world as peculiar – except Jews. The prevailing view of Judaism across the various parties or schools of thought (Pharisee, Sadducee, Qumran, etc.) was that the Lord God was the only supernatural power whom humans ought to worship.”
In chapter 3, we examine prayers to Jesus. First, attention is drawn to the first recorded prayer to Jesus, concerning the replacement of Judas Iscariot in the rank of the apostles. Who is the Lord choosing the replacement apostle? Second, the final prayer of the first Christian martyr is given an extended look. How did Stephen’s prayer affect the young eyewitness Pharisee Saul? “The apostle Paul, as a young man named Saul, had stood by and watched in support as Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:58; 8:1). He had heard Stephen ‘call on’ the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit. Saul evidently was incensed by Stephen’s devotion to Jesus and by what Saul considered Stephen’s disrespect for the tradition of the Jews, and he got himself a commission to go to Damascus to arrest Christians there and take them to Jerusalem. … ‘to arrest all who call on your name’.”
In chapter 4, time is spent examining New Testament evidence of the earliest Christian hymns. The authors discuss the strengths and weaknesses of apparent remnants of songs honoring Jesus. They bring out the fact that evidence for the earliest Christian hymns “extends beyond the pages of the New Testament – and not just from other early Christian writers, but from non-Christian observers as well.” References are provided.
In chapter 7, they highlight Jesus’ use of language concerning “sending” and “coming”. They analyze it in comparison with language concerning John the Baptist and angels.
In Chapter 9, Bowman and Komoszewski interact with several of the arguments of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They interact with Greg Stafford’s use of the “partitive genitive” argument, the “wisdom creation” of the JWs, use of Rev 3:14 as a unitarian proof text, explicating immutability, etc. The authors are conscious of and respond to more than the official publications of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. While apologetics purists may ignore these unofficial arguments, our writers decide to plow this ground intentionally. They do so in a helpful fashion, indicating their willingness to engage in discussions for the benefit of the public and church at large, not simply because it fits a certain apologetic or academic school of thought.
In other chapters, B&K interact with Gordon Fee’s position on Titus 2:13. They whet the appetite to pursue studies concerning the transmission and preservation of the biblical text. They interact summarily with arguments surrounding John 1:1, while providing a research bibliography for those who want to go beyond the summary presented. They provide impressive evidence for a sound interpretation of Thomas’s declaration, “My Lord and my God”. Interaction with Sharp’s Rule is included. They analyze Stafford’s use of argumentation that presumes stylistic writing in an area outside of presumption. Christ’s “Amen, amen” formula which sets him apart from all other rabbis, priests, and prophets. And much, much more.
I sincerely believe this book will impact multitudes of Christians and skeptics alike. Its engagement of truth, coupled with a systematic and reasoned reliance upon the biblical text will profoundly affect the Theology, Christology, and Apology of the church in the 21st century.
What is the case for the Deity of Christ? Read this book and you will have a glimpse of the Christian’s occupation for eternity. I highly recommend this work.