Home > Book Reviews, Christianity, Christology, Theology > REVIEW: ‘The Person of Christ,’ Donald MacLeod

REVIEW: ‘The Person of Christ,’ Donald MacLeod

MacLeod published The Person of Christ in 1998, as the seventh installment of the Contours of Christian Theology series (ed. Gerald Bray). IVP Academic markets this series as “a series of concise introductory texts focused on the main themes of Christian theology,” which is a well-enough categorization. MacLeod, through ten chapters and 303 pages, offers a fairly standard evangelical account of the history of the doctrines of Christ–notably his preexistence, his relationship to and within in the Trinity, and his own nature and person.

I came to this text as one who desired to study the nature of Christ but who had never formally done so. MacLeod’s work does not read easily at times, although it is hard to believe that this is essentially his own fault. He spends most of each chapter detailing the ways in which both ancient and contemporary theologians have understood the various facets of Christ’s nature. He highlights the Gnostics, Docetics, the German liberals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and others. It is almost inevitable in any text not devoted specifically to the different movements for the specifics and distinguishing marks to become muddled. MacLeod is no exception to that rule, and many chapters are nearly overwhelming dense to one who does not have prior training in both the questions and proposed answers that are given in each chapter. For this reason, The Person of Christ would do well as a book read under the direction (current or past) of an academic who has already studied Christology, unless one wants to spend an inordinate amount of time with this book. While the work has helpfully made me aware of certain readings of pertinent Christological passages (especially of those of the German theologians), The Person of Christ does not seem to warrant a slow and steady reading for one who is merely curious about the doctrines and would like individual study.

Final analysis: The Person of Christ is best read as a survey to one already familiar with the various theological questions or as an introduction to one under the tutelage of a person already familiar with Christology.

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