Book Reviews

Theological Anthropology

A Guide for the Perplexed

Marc Cortez New York 2010-03-21

The twenty-first century has seen a surge of interest in theological anthropology as Christian thinkers tackle questions about human identity and essence. Cortez, assistant professor of theology at Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon, has written an insightful primer on the subject. He takes the reader through some of the more traditional questions of “Who am I?” and “What am I?” but he does not stop there. For Cortez, “theological anthropology can never be entirely descriptive. A description of human nature always both presumes and entails a prescription for human living” (p. 3). A philosophical groundwork is both important and necessary, but as Cortez rightly points out, it is not an end in itself.

The book begins with a brief overview of anthropology and then lists hard questions that range from creation to the relationship of race and economics to humanity. These questions help set the agenda for what follows. Cortez’s far-reaching view combined with brevity of treatment is intended to help readers understand how critical theological anthropology is to many areas of human life and existence. Of the many issues that could be discussed, Cortez chooses four that then become the main body of the book: Imago Dei, Human Sexuality, Human Situation (i.e., the body/soul relationship), and Free Will. A concluding chapter summarizes the book’s content and gives a suggested reading list for the reader interested in pursuing the topics further.

In each of these major sections Cortez gives a well-informed introduction to the topic, explores some of the major boundaries of the discussion, and then concludes with implications of the material discussed. Each chapter raises difficult and yet practical questions without feeling the need to give neat answers. Cortez explains, “The focus of this book, then, will not be as much on offering definitive conclusions as on modeling a way of thinking theologically about the human person” (p. 13). Those who are interested in a technical, in-depth, or exhaustive treatment of these areas will likely find themselves disappointed and would do well to look elsewhere. The real strength of this book is in its ability to guide its readers into the process of doing theology well. The introductory nature of the chapters sets the reader on a helpful trajectory for further study.

This book guides those who are perplexed not only by questions about the “who” and the “what” but ultimately the “why” of theological anthropology. This excellent introduction would be an outstanding resource for pastors, students, and other Christian leaders.

Book reviews are published online and in print every quarter in Bibliotheca Sacra. Subcribe Today

Glenn R. Kreider
Dr. Kreider is professor of theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He identifies his motivations as his passion for the triune God and his desire to help others respond to divine revelation in spirit and truth. Prior to coming to DTS he served as director of Christian education and pastored a church in Cedar Hill, Texas. Dr. Kreider’s research interests include Jonathan Edwards, theological method, and our eschatological hope. He is married to his best friend, Janice, and they have two grown children, a son-in-law, and one granddaughter, Marlo Grace. He and Janice enjoy live music, good stories, bold coffee, and their four rescue dogs—two pugs, a chihuahua, and an adorable black lab named Chloe.
Sep 20, 2017
Rodney H. OrrRodney H. Orr
A Wind in the House of Islam: How God Is Drawing Muslims around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ In this day, every pastor and Christian worker should have knowledge of the religion of Islam. This will help them minister to people from this background, including...
Sep 20, 2017
Glenn R. KreiderGlenn R. Kreider
American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea Wilsey is assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to teaching graduate students at the J. Dalton Havard...