I got the chance to ask Dr. Graham A. Cole some questions about his upcoming book with IVP‘s New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series. It will be released in a few months. I already posted a little about this book here.
In keeping with the series, this is not a systematic theology, but rather Biblical theology in the sense that it follows a concept or theme throughout the Biblical narrative.
Interview with Graham Cole
What inspired you to write a Biblical-theological work on the incarnation? What do you think this book contributes?
One day I was sharing with Don Carson – we worked across the hall from one another when I was an TEDS – some ideas on the way God had prepared for the incarnation through the anthropomorphic language of the OT. To my surprise within 24 hours I had a book deal.
I hope that the book adds to our understanding of the providence of God in preparing the way for the Word made flesh. In so doing it refines our understanding of the anthropomorphic language of the OT. Here’s the thing: the God of the OT is spoken about as though embodied (e.g. eyes, ears, hands, arms, heart, etc.). I divided such speech into anthropomorphism (e.g. heart), anthropopathism (e.g. grief) and anthropopraxism (e.g. speaking, standing i.e. human like activities). Christ is ‘the living anthropomorphism’ as as R. T. France put it.
Does the book touch on issues such as Kenotic Christology?
No! It is a biblical theology approach (follows redemptive history) and I do draw out some systematic implications in one of the later chapters but not exhaustively.
Is the incarnation simply an escalation of the theme of God’s ‘coming’ to save His people, or did faithful believers specifically expect God to come in the flesh
What surprised me about this study was that if I were an OT saint (e.g. Isaiah) I don’t think that I would have expected the incarnation of Yahweh. I would have expected the coming of a kingdom agent (e.g. messiah), and the coming of Yahweh to Zion. But no synthesis of the two lines of expectation is obvious in the OT.
However in retrospect one can see how God prepared the way for it, not only in the anthropomorphic,
I hope that the reader ends in doxology at the wonder of the goodness of God who sent no surrogate but came in person to recover his creation. I did in writing it.
Graham A. Cole is the Anglican Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. He is the author of He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine Of The Holy Spirit, and already has a book in the NSBT series entitled God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom.