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Gordon Fee: Pauline Christology


Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007), 707 pages, ISBN 9781598560350.

Gordon D. Fee, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Regent College in Vancouver, and noted Pauline scholar, offers exhaustive coverage of Pauline Christology in this book. Readers of the Pneuma Review need to be aware that Fee is unabashedly Pentecostal, the Spirit holding a central place in his studies, having already released his compendium volume regarding the Spirit within the Pauline corpus (God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, 1994). Seemingly rejecting a narrative approach to Paul’s Christology, Fee opts for the combination of exegetical analysis of passages and a theological synthesis of the materials; the same structure as his earlier work on the Spirit in Paul. Ascribing all of the traditionally credited books to the authorship of Paul, Fee descriptively details each book and its Christological content individually for the better part of 450 pages (10 chapters), and then offers a constructive synthesis of the data as it relates Paul’s distinctive Christology. I note the expansive exegesis so as to highlight the fact that Fee does not lightly hold the Biblical writ, but bases his understanding of Pauline Christology on it, and not upon conjecture (Pneuma Review readers would do well to read his practical guide, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth). Fee’s constructive synthesis provides the following themes: 1) that Christ is the Divine Savior, 2) that Jesus is the Second Adam, effectively undoing what the first Adam did, 3) and that Jesus is both the Son of God and the exalted Lord of heaven and earth. In so doing, Fee demonstrates that Paul possesses a very high view of Christology. Fee consistently shows that Paul is unequivocal in his declaration that Jesus of Nazareth is both God and man at one and the same time. This is supported strongly within Paul by the ease with which he transitions between speaking of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, hence equating the two. Pneuma Review readers will value the attention to detail, along with the various chapter appendices serving as compendia of the relevant passages.

Fee is clear: Jesus is an object of worship, to whom Paul is completely devoted. May we be likewise.

Although this text does not in any way attempt to provide a detailed analysis of the Spirit, Fee nonetheless enters into the pneumatological debate at various junctures, which may be of direct interest for readers of The Pneuma Review. For example, Fee takes the proactive measure of consistently including the Spirit as being an active component in the Trinitarian relations within the Godhead in salvation, and not limiting salvation to the Son alone. Fee also explores the relationship between Christ and the Spirit and considers the Person and role of the Spirit in Paul’s thought. Appendices cover the theme of Christ and Personified Wisdom—wherein Fee strongly argues that Paul knew of no such thing as Wisdom Christology—and Paul’s use of Kurios (Lord) in reference to Jesus of Nazareth and the Septuagint allusions. Fee also has some very good material on the development of the idea of the Trinity. He finds good evidence for the Trinity in the epistles even though Fee considers Paul to be a “proto-Trinitarian” (592). It may be inferred from numerous comments by Fee that he is no adherent to “Spirit Christology.” All in all, Pneuma Review readers cannot go wrong in purchasing this book—loaded with excellent coverage of a quintessential Christian doctrine. Fee is clear: Jesus is an object of worship, to whom Paul is completely devoted. May we be likewise.

Reviewed by Bradford McCall


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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2008

About the Author: Bradford L. McCall, B.S. in Biology (Georgia Southwestern St. University, 2000), M.Div. (Asbury Theological Seminary, 2005), grew up on a cotton farm in south Georgia. A graduate student at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Bradford has particular interest in teleology, causation and early modern philosophy.

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