In this challenging book, rising New Testament scholar Simon Gathercole contradicts a commonly held view among biblical scholars—that the Gospel of John is the only Gospel to give evidence for Jesus’ heavenly identity and preexistence. The Preexistent Son demonstrates that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were also well aware that the Son of God existed with the Father prior to his earthly ministry. Gathercole supports his argument by considering the “I have come” sayings of Jesus and strikingly similar angelic sayings discovered in Second Temple and Rabbinic literature. Further, he considers related topics such as Wisdom Christology and the titles applied to Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels.
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“As Gundry has observed, what is most striking is that having established the one good God as the one who defines what is required of human beings, in the final analysis Jesus is the one who defines what is ultimately commanded: ‘ ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’ ’ (Mark 10:21).” (Page 74)
“The argument here is simple: that preexistence christology is already widespread among various individuals and in various different communities around the Mediterranean well before ad 70.” (Page 23)
“As Hurtado rightly notes, this goes beyond simple respect for a superior.” (Page 69)
“There are four key elements which point to preexistence in the statement in Matt. 23:37: first, there is the narrative framework of Matthew’s Gospel as a whole, in which this particular saying is striking because Jesus has not yet been to Jerusalem; second, there is the context in ch. 23, in which Jesus pronounces his verdict on both present and past generations of Israel alike; third, there is the content of the saying itself; and fourth, there is the inadequacy of the alternative explanations.” (Page 214)
“The language of ‘inclusion within the divine identity’ is helpful in that it avoids these two extremes.” (Page 76)
The Preexistent Son investigates and sheds considerable light on an important but neglected theme. Simon Gathercole, who has emerged in recent years as a major player in New Testament scholarship, demonstrates mastery of the relevant primary and secondary literature. I am impressed by the way he sifts through a great deal of complicated material and presents it in a clear and compelling way. Gathercole has thrown down the gauntlet . . . I recommend this book enthusiastically.
—Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College
Gathercole makes a strong case with scrupulous attention to the evidence and the views of others. The ramifications of this timely study are numerous and powerful.
—Larry W. Hurtado, emeritus professor of New Testament language, literature, and theology, University of Edinburgh
Gathercole’s study is both thoroughly exegetical and theologically sensitive . . . This book is as important for systematic theology as for biblical studies.
—J. Louis Martyn, Edward Robinson Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology, Union Theological Seminary
Gathercole’s monograph is a model of cogent argumentation . . . Provides sufficient evidence to open the question of preexistence in the Christologies of the Synoptic Gospels anew.
—Review of Biblical Literature