The Paradox of Sonship: Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews, By R. B. Jamieson
The Paradox of Sonship
  • Length: 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: May 25, 2021
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 4886
  • ISBN: 9780830848867

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Biblical Foundations Book Awards Runner Up and Finalist

What does the epistle to the Hebrews mean when it calls Jesus "Son"? Is "Son" a title that denotes his eternal existence as one person of the Trinity? Or is it a title Jesus receives upon his installation on heaven's throne after his resurrection and ascension?

In this Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture (SCDS) volume, which promotes fresh understandings of Christian belief through creative, faithful readings of the canonical text, pastor and New Testament scholar R. B. Jamieson probes the complexity of the Christology presented in the epistle to the Hebrews.

Exploring the paradox of this key term, Jamieson argues that, according to Hebrews, "Son" names both who Jesus is eternally and what he becomes at the climax of his incarnate, saving mission. Jesus is, in short, the eternal Son who became the messianic Son for us and for our salvation. This volume thereby offers a case study showing how the church's core convictions about Christ lead us not away from the text, but deeper into it.

Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture, edited by Daniel J. Treier and Kevin J. Vanhoozer, promotes evangelical contributions to systematic theology, seeking fresh understanding of Christian doctrine through creatively faithful engagement with Scripture in dialogue with church.

"Many have spoken of the need for and shape of theological exegesis. Rare is the work that actually employs theological wisdom for the sake of better exegetical practice. Now R. B. Jamieson's The Paradox of Sonship serves as a marvelous example. The work employs early christological concepts to keep alert to the breadth of teaching in Hebrews regarding the sonship of the Messiah. I highly commend it."

Michael Allen, John Dyer Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary

"The Paradox of Sonship illuminates the central christological conundrum of Hebrews by reading the book in dialogue with classical theological categories. Conventional academic practice has long warned against allowing doctrine and exegesis to make such close contact, but here Jamieson demonstrates the sweeping benefits of reuniting them. The drama, the tension, and even the sheer literary suspense of Hebrews come to life in dialogue with Nicene and Chalcedonian categories. I hope to see many more books that follow the path opened up here."

Fred Sanders, Torrey Honors College, Biola University

"The Christology of Hebrews, particularly what the author means in identifying Jesus as the Son, has long been debated. Jamieson argues that the earliest interpreters in church history had a simple and yet elegant explanation, which clarifies sonship language in Hebrews. Jamieson doesn't stop with the earliest interpreters or even begin with them. He maintains that these ancient readings accord with the historical meaning of Hebrews, that they match the intention of the author. Jamieson reminds us that our ancestors in the faith are indispensable sources for understanding New Testament authors. I found Jamieson's argument to be refreshing and convincing. Even those who disagree in some respects will find much here to stimulate their thinking."

Thomas R. Schreiner, author of Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ and James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"R. B. Jamieson has written a readable introduction and elegant explanation of the Christology of Hebrews. Jamieson explains all the things that seem strange to us. Whether it's the citation of Psalms or mention of a mysterious figure called Melchizedek, he shows what these mean and how they all fit with the author's purpose: to convince readers that Christ is truly worthy of their worship."

Michael F. Bird, academic dean and lecturer in theology at Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

"It is only fitting that the one who is the Father's Son by nature should fill the role of Son in the Father's household, from his incarnation and atonement to his resurrection and enthronement. This simple claim, according to Bobby Jamieson, is the key to the Christology of Hebrews. Grasping this claim, however, has not been a simple matter for modern interpreters. In a work of great hermeneutical and theological sophistication, Jamieson draws on six classical christological reading strategies forgotten or ignored by many modern interpreters to help us better see the glory of the Son of God in the epistle to the Hebrews."

Scott R. Swain, president and James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

"Jamieson has achieved that rare goal of a truly fresh and illuminative reading of a long-studied issue in a biblical text. I was happy for my own interpretation of Hebrews to be deepened and expanded, and I look forward to sharing with my students his thesis that Jesus is the Son who became Son. The Paradox of Sonship is a deeply engaging example of artful employment of the tools of theology and history to create a deeper insight into the God who became man."

Amy Peeler, associate professor of New Testament, Wheaton College and Graduate School

"This is a highly important study both methodologically and exegetically. The Christology of the epistle to the Hebrews has long been seen as a set of difficult exegetical conundrums. Bobby Jamieson argues, however, that the main problem is not with the text of Hebrews itself but with the conceptual resources modern interpreters have typically brought with them to read the letter. Jamieson shows that if we attend more fully to the church's doctrinal tradition, we gain conceptual configurations that can actually resolve exegetical puzzles and help to arrange Hebrews' Christology into a coherent picture. His argument demonstrates that Christian doctrine is not an illegitimate imposition on the text but an otherwise unavailable form of fruitful interpretative perception."

C. Kavin Rowe, George Washington Ivey Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Duke University

"Jamieson's argument—that Jesus is a Son who became 'Son'—is sophisticated yet accessible. In utilizing modern theology, retrieval, and careful exegesis of the text of Hebrews, he offers something distinctive that is a true gift to the field."

Madison N. Pierce, assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


Foreword by Simon J. Gathercole
Series Introduction: Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture
Author’s Note on Sources
Introduction: The Son Who Became Son
1. A Classical Christological Toolkit
2. “Son” as Divine Designation
3. The Son’s Incarnate Mission
4. “Son” as Office Christ Enters at His Enthronement
5. Hebrews’ Theandric Messiah
Conclusion: The One Word Needed
Name Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index
Ancient Writings Index


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R. B. Jamieson

R. B. Jamieson (PhD, University of Cambridge) is associate pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He is the author of several books, including Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God, Understanding Baptism, Understanding the Lord's Supper, and Jesus' Death and Heavenly Offering in Hebrews.