Book Notice: Echoes of Lament and the Christology of Luke

Channing L. Crisler. Echoes of Lament and the Christology of Luke. New Testament Monographs 39. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2020. 354 pages. $97.00 (hardback).

In Echoes of Lament and the Christology of Luke, Channing Crisler (Associate Professor of New Testament at Anderson University in Anderson, SC) responds to the absence of scholarship on a topic central to the Christian faith (xv). This volume is an extension of his previous monograph, Reading Romans as Lament: Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in His Most Famous Letter (2016).

Crisler defines lament as a form of Jewish prayer found in the OT but consisting of a more fragmented form in Second Temple Judaism (1). He explains that lament fits a flexible pattern: “prior promise,” “suffering,” “cry of distress,” “deliverance,” and finally “praise” (2). For method, he relies on the work of Richard Hays in his volume Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (1989). Crisler also utilizes Richard Bauckham’s understanding of the foundational role of NT Christology in which NT writers understood Jesus as having the unique identity of God as defined by Second Temple Judaism. Crisler then builds upon Bauckham’s work to suggest that Jesus is included within the divine identity of the OT God whenever he is portrayed as one who answers laments as YHWH. Crisler uses four criteria to qualify a lament: (1) the setting of the lament; (2) a cry of distress; (3) the answer to the lament; and (4) the shift from lament to praise. He then explores laments in Luke’s Gospel and some select Second Temple literature before examining the intertextual relationship between Luke and the OT. Lastly, he discusses the impact of these intertextual references on Christology.

Crisler’s examination of lament in Luke furthers research in inner-biblical disciplines and NT divine Christology (292). His observations on lament from the OT are clear and well defined. These serve as a foundation that enables him to present his argument well, as the reader can clearly follow his connections between Luke and the OT. Crisler expands lament research in the NT and provides further support for a high Christology by connecting lament with the continuity of identity between YHWH and Jesus (289–90). However, Crisler operates with a loose or imprecise definition of “echo.” He writes, “I will still use the terms citation and allusion, but they will overlap with the term echo” (10). If Crisler had strengthed his methodology through greater precision, the argument would have been even more concrete.

Echoes of Lament and the Christology of Luke is best suited for scholars, who will find that Crisler’s work helpfully advances studies in the areas of lament, inner-biblical studies, and the high Christology of the NT (292).

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 Ross Harmon, a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


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