Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 12:4 (Fall 1969)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous


Book Reviews

The Pre-Existence of Christ in the New Testament. By Fred B. Craddock. Nashville and New York: Abingdon Press, 1968.186 pp. plus index. $4.50. Reviewed by William W. Menzies, Central Bible College, Springfield, Missouri.

Hermaneneutics is as much the concern of this volume as is the stated-subject-matter, Christology. The central burden of the author is to discover a fresh means of communicating what he conceives to be the message of the New Testament to modem man, whom he believes has rejected pre-scientific categories. This concern for a relevant message, together with a resignation to the triumph of secularism, puts the author in the same stream as Bultmann, Tillich, and Bonhoeffer, to whom he acknowledges considerable debt (p. 176). “Words that opened doors and windows of understanding centuries ago today shut out light, and the summons to faith is obstructed by obscure language. The church agreed long ago that Gentiles did not have to become Jews in order to become Christians. So now it has to be determined that citizens of our world do not have to become citizens of the Graeco-Roman world in order to be Christians.” (p. 172).

Craddock has sought to trace the concept of pre-existence through the background materials adjacent to the New Testament, through the New Testament writers themselves, and finally, through attempts since then in the church to interpret the significance of Christ’s pre-existence. The introductory chapter, devoted to methodology, discloses Craddock’s special approach, which he chooses to call “functional Christology.” By this he means that he wishes to go beyond the mere identification of though patterns in the New Testament with similar expressions found in the background sources. He wishes, rather, to interpret what each New Testament writer was attempting to convey by the employment of categories borrowed from contemporary culture. What this “functional” approach really amounts to appears to be a system of de-mythologization strongly reminiscent of Bultmann, but with some differences. For example, Craddock is more inclined to concede that the New Testament proclamation must be more than mere address; it must have meaning. (p. 15-1). Although Craddock displays a strong inclination toward existential interpretation, be refuses to allow Christology to be dissolved in anthropology, and insists that the error of such modem attempts at “relevance” as Altizer and Hamilton have concocted lies in their loss of the transcendent. (p. 179).

The book consists of three major chapters, the first being a comparative study of pre-existence themes in the Jewish Wisdom literature, Jewish apocalyptic, Philo, Stoicism, and various Gnostic systems. Cradock dis-

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