Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed

Yesterday I mentioned an excellent book by D. A. Carson that addressed the translation of the divine familial language, specifically “God the Father” and the “Son of God”: Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).

Crossway has made available the preface and chapter three of the book:

Carson describes the focus of this book in his preface, 11-12 (which I have reformatted from a single paragraph to three):

I chose the topic about three years ago. Some work I had done while teaching the epistle to the Hebrews, especially Hebrews 1 where Jesus is said to be superior to angels because he is the Son, prompted me to think about the topic more globally. Moreover, for some time I have been thinking through the hiatus between careful exegesis and doctrinal formulations. We need both, of course, but unless the latter are finally controlled by the former, and seen to be controlled by the former, both are weakened. The “Son of God” theme has become one of several test cases in my own mind.

Since choosing the topic, however, the debates concerning what a faithful translation of “Son of God” might be, especially in contexts where one’s envisioned readers are Muslims, have boiled out of the journals read by Bible translators and into the open. Entire denominations have gotten caught up in the controversy, which shows no sign of abating.

The last of these three chapters is devoted to addressing both of these points—how, in a Christian context, exegesis rightly leads to Christian confessionalism, and how, in a cross-cultural context concerned with preparing Bible translations for Muslim readers, one may wisely negotiate the current debate. But I beg you to read the first two chapters first. They provide the necessary textual detail on which discussion of the controversies must be based.

Please remember to heed Carson’s counsel in his final paragraph: read the first two chapters before reading the third.

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