In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Christology

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Methodological Considerations
  • Jesus
  • Christological Exegesis
  • Synoptic Gospels
  • The Gospel of John
  • Preexistence and Incarnation
  • Christological Monotheism
  • Resurrection

Biblical Studies Christology
David B. Capes
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 February 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 06 February 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0009


Christology refers to that branch of Christian theology concerned primarily with the person and work of Jesus. From the earliest days of the Christian movement the followers of Jesus attempted to say something meaningful about how they assessed his significance in their lives, their community, and, ultimately, the wider world. They used a variety of methods to express their deepest convictions regarding the one they believed had conquered death and would come again. If the literature they produced provides any clue, it is clear that they employed titles, told stories, developed liturgies, and reinterpreted their sacred scriptures and traditions to articulate their beliefs.

General Overviews

There are a number of helpful overviews of the Christology of the New Testament (NT). These attempt to describe and, in some sense, synthesize the various ways in which NT writers express their understanding of Jesus and his significance (see Bauer and Powell 1999). In fact, many scholars (e.g., Neyrey 1985, Tuckett 2001) prefer to speak of Christologies of the NT in order to emphasize the diverse approaches expressed in early Christian texts. Lincoln and Paddison 2007 explores the interdisciplinary nature of christological readings of scripture. Matera 1999 emphasizes the descriptive value of narratives, whereas de Jonge 1988 situates Christology as early Christian responses to Jesus. For a literary-critical approach, see Richard 1988. Nonspecialists may wish to consult Brown 1994.

  • Bauer, David R., and Mark Allan Powell. Who Do You Say That I Am? Essays on Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999.

    A collection of essays on Christology by leading scholars. Many of the essays address the Christology of specific books (e.g., Mark, Hebrews, 1 Peter) or authors (e.g., Luke-Acts, Pauline epistles). Other essays deal with Christology in general and its implications for theology, ethics, and pastoral matters.

  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. New York: Paulist, 1994.

    A basic introduction to NT Christology written for interested nonspecialists. While recapitulating some of Brown’s earlier work, this volume distills and expands those previous efforts. He surveys different approaches to Christology before considering Jesus’ own self-understanding and moving on to the various NT evaluations of him.

  • de Jonge, Marinus. Christology in Context: The Earliest Christian Response to Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988.

    A textbook on NT Christology written from a historical perspective. De Jonge attempts to describe the early Christians’ responses to Jesus, underscoring the complexities of christological developments, from early pre-Pauline traditions embedded in Paul’s letters to the later Christology of the Johannine Gospel and letters.

  • Lincoln, Andrew T., and Angus Paddison, eds. Christology and Scripture: Interdisciplinary Studies. Library of New Testament Studies. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2007.

    A collection of essays that addresses the “theological interpretation of Scripture” and its christological significance from a variety of academic perspectives.

  • Matera, Frank J. New Testament Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999.

    A descriptive survey written for students and theologians that organizes and summarizes the various Christologies in the NT. Matera’s literary-historical approach recognizes the important role of narrative (implicit and explicit stories) in assessing the significance of Jesus for audiences ancient and modern.

  • Neyrey, Jerome H. Christ Is Community: The Christologies of the New Testament. Good News Studies. Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1985.

    A redaction-critical investigation into the diverse portraits of Jesus in the Gospels and other NT writings. Neyrey proposes to take these portraits as reflecting the Sitz im Leben of the writers and their communities. For him, a “portrait” assembles various traits, actions, attitudes, and words in ways a “title” does not.

  • Richard, Earl. One and Many: The Christological Concept of New Testament Authors. Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1988.

    Using a literary-critical approach, Richard investigates the Christologies of various NT writers, arguing that the various assessments represent expansions of the early Christian kerygma.

  • Tuckett, Christopher M. Christology and the New Testament: Jesus and His Earliest Followers. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

    Written as a textbook for first- or second-year undergraduates from a moderately critical perspective. Tuckett offers a readable guide to selected Christologies of the NT, including the sayings source Q and Jesus’ own self-understanding.

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