Schreiner, Patrick. The Ascension of Christ: Recovering a Neglected Doctrine. Snapshots. Bellingham: Lexham, 2020. 120 pages. $15.99 (paperback).
Patrick Schreiner, Associate Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Midwestern, is an up-and-coming voice in evangelical scholarship, having already authored books on the Gospel of Matthew and currently working on two forthcoming volumes on Acts. In this work, Schreiner addresses the ascension of Jesus, arguing that it has been neglected in the life of the church and that this unfortunate omission has detracted from seeing the whole work of Christ. Restoring the ascension to its rightful place, he insists, helps would-be disciples to properly understand Christ’s work as prophet, priest, and king.
Schreiner organizes his argument according to these three offices. After listing various reasons why the ascension has been neglected among Christians (as well as reasons why it should not be) in his opening chapter, chapter 2 discusses the ascension of Jesus as a prophet. Schreiner analyzes the Elijah/Elisha narratives, arguing that Elijah’s translation to heaven followed by Elisha’s reception of the spirit of Elijah prefigures the account of the ascension in Acts 1:9–11. Chapter 3 follows with an analysis of the ascension of Jesus as priest. Schreiner explains Jesus’s priesthood in terms of being a better priest in his person, his service in his heavenly tent, and his priestly actions of sacrifice, intercession, and blessing. Chapter 4 analyzes the ascension of Jesus as king. Schreiner roots his argument in the qualifications of kings outlined in Deuteronomy 17, followed by an overview of Adam and Eve, Psalms 2 and 110, and the ascent of the Son of Man in Daniel 7. Chapter 5 concludes the volume with the implications of the ascension for other areas of theology. Schreiner looks at the relationship between the ascension and the Trinity, incarnation, cross, resurrection, eschatology, and theological grammar (i.e. the theologically robust terms we use when describing doctrines).
Overall, the volume exhibits many notable traits. Each chapter begins with a pithy hook and provides a solid portrait of one of the offices, including the Old Testament background, New Testament implications, and the church’s obligation to continue the work. The consistent layout is advantageous for the reader to follow Schreiner’s argument. One notable feature is his use of the term “shadow stories” to denote narratives in the Old Testament which prefigure the depiction of Jesus’s ministry. The terminology provides a helpful analogy of the trajectory between the testaments and is beneficial for grasping a theologically contentious issue.
Schreiner has produced a highly readable and concise guide to the ascension. Someone who wants a more in-depth treatment of the subject might do well to read Peter Orr’s Exalted Above the Heavens: The Risen and Ascended Christ (2018). But for a one-stop-shop, one would be hard pressed to find something more accessible and insightful than Schreiner’s short volume, which will leave the reader with a renewed sense of just how important the ascension is for Christian theology and practice.
CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. CBS book notices are not full academic book reviews. The present book notice was written by Charles Nathan Ridlehoover (Ph.D.), secondary teacher at North Raleigh Christian Academy, Raleigh, NC, and New Testament and Greek instructor at Columbia Biblical Seminary, Columbia, SC.