Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 116:461 (Jan 59) p. 77
Jesus And His Coming. By John A. T. Robinson. Abingdon Press, New York, 1957. 192 pp. $4.00.
The doctrine of the second coming of Christ has in recent years occupied the attention of all strata of theological opinion from the most liberal to the most fundamental. The theme of the Christian hope was the major topic for discussion at the second assembly of the World Council of Churches meeting in 1954. Though books on the second coming of Christ had previously characterized only the fundamental theologians, since World War II liberal and neoorthodox scholars for the first time in a generation have given prominence to the theme. Such books as Emil Brunner’s Eternal Hope (1954), J. E. Filson’s The Christian Hope (1954), P. S. Minear’s Christian Hope and the Second Coming (1954) and many others appeared in rapid succession.
John A. T. Robinson, Dean of Clare College in Wells Theological College, in keeping with this trend was invited to deliver the Noble Lectures at Harvard University in 1955. This volume, preceded by another eschatological essay, In the End, published in 1950, attempts to answer three questions about the second coming: (1) What did Jesus say? (2) What did the early church expect? (3) What may we believe?
Robinson, approaching this study from the viewpoint of liberal scholarship, rejects summarily conservative theology which finds in prophecy a literal prediction of future events. Rather he believes that prophecy, like Biblical statements about creation, should be regarded as a form of myth. He states: “The various elements in the New Testament picture of the End are not to be taken as predictions; they represent, rather, theological convictions about the ultimate sovereignty of God in Christ” (p. 10). The book as a whole, therefore, is a scholarly attempt to reject a personal, bodily, future return of Christ. The author of course does not accept the authority or infallibility of the New Testament. He believes, however, that it is beyond dispute that the early church expected the return of Christ citing the fact that it is supported in the New Testament as an article of the Christian creed (p.16), and out of twenty-seven New Testament books is absent only from five. He denies, however, that Jesus in His own statements supports the idea of a personal advent and attributes all passages which seem to teach this as only the opinion of the writer of the book or as later interpolations. He states: “As far as his own words are concerned, there is nothing to suggest that he shared the expectation of a return in glory which the Church entertained and ascribed to
BSac 116:461 (Jan 59) p. 78
him” (p. 57). He finds that instead Christ’s expectation was...
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