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D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus

From Pneuma Review Spring 2013
ScandalousD.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 173 pages, ISBN 9781433511257.

Scandals pop up everywhere. Type into a Google search, “Scandals of 2012,” and one finds about 81 million results. Are scandals really scandalous in this day and age or is the use of the term “scandalous” simply utilized to gain attention? Admittedly, the title captured me because I sense excitement about the prospect of understanding further how the first century observer of the cross and resurrection might have seen these components of the life of the Christ as scandalous. After reading the thoughtful and insightful text, I was surprised by the direction D.A. Carson took as he guided the reader through ironies, miracles, doubts and unexpected components of the cross and resurrection.

D.A. Carson’s text, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, contains addresses given at the 2008 Resurgence Conference. He indicates the purpose of this book is “to provide an introductory explanation of the cross and resurrection. I do this by unpacking what some of the earliest witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection wrote” (p. 11).

Carson’s text examines Matt 27:27-51a, Rom 3:21-26, Rev 12, John 11:1-53 and John 20:24-31. Expository in nature, Carson provides practical illustrations for readers to have another way of looking at the centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Carson utilizes Matt 27:27-51a to effectively highlight four ironies that occur at the cross. With increased doubt and skepticism in the world today, Carson reveals that on the cross, Jesus not only cries out in despair but ironically trusts God. Carson borrows from Martin Luther’s idea that Rom 3:21-26 serves as the “center” of the entire Bible (p. 39) and expounds upon Paul’s words to the Romans reinforcing Luther’s claim. The examination of Rev 12 reveals the slaughtered lamb will reign. John 11:1-53 reveals the surprising nature of the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, and the book abruptly ends with investigating the doubt of Thomas in John 20:24-31. Carson’s insights may prove useful for personal study and reflection or for the pastor or layperson about to teach or encounter these texts.

In Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, Carson employs poignant phrases that expose and explode pre-suppositions that may negatively impact one’s ability to process the significance of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. One example is the accusation that we are somehow guilty of what Carson calls the “de-godding of God” (p. 68), which appears to be idolatry. Is it idolatry when we worship God for who we want him to be and not who he has revealed himself to be? For example, is it possible that we are guilty of de-godding God when we mention only the love of God on the cross and not the justice of God? Do we strive to teach the revealed nature of God even when it may appear scandalous? Carson undoubtedly gives the reader much to ponder regarding the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Reviewed by Matthew Jones

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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2013

About the Author: Matthew Jones, Th.M., is currently pursuing a Ph.D. through Regent University in Renewal Studies with a concentration in Biblical Studies while serving as an Advisor and Affiliate Professor at Colorado Christian University. Matt is married to Cathy Jones and loves hanging out with his three children, Hannah, Tyler and Kenzie.

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