Brandon D. Crowe. Why Did Jesus Live a Perfect Life?: The Necessity of Christ’s Obedience for Our Salvation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2021. 224 pages. $20.92 (Paperback).
I am not a fan of dramatic television. Whether it is a medical drama or a courtroom show, television often misuses or overdramatizes everyday events. Yet, sometimes we do this with exegesis and theology. We take a word with a certain meaning and spread it like butter over too much toast, as Bilbo Baggins might say. However, Brandon Crowe, professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, anchors our dramatized nature back to reality with Why Did Jesus Live a Perfect Life? His work helps readers understand why Jesus’s perfect obedience is necessary for our salvation.
The book is divided into three parts with ten total chapters. The first part clarifies the main question of the book and defines justification. The second part shows exegetically the necessity for Christ’s obedience in salvation. The final part explores how Christ’s obedience relates to the Christian’s justification and sanctification.
Crowe’s work has no glaring weaknesses. However, a few structural changes would have aided the reader. Crowe’s structure is definition, exegesis, and implications. At the end of the last chapter in the exegesis section, Crowe places a coda discussing the implications of the divine Son’s obedience. Instead of being addenda to exegesis, the implications of the hypostatic union would be better suited for the definitional section earlier in the book.
This book is written at a lay level for the benefit of the church. Crowe presents complex theological issues in a simple and readable style. Whether you are a pastor needing a reminder of the goodness of God in the work of Christ, a Sunday School teacher needing answers to hard questions, or simply a Christian seeking more clarity about how Jesus’s redemptive work relates to us, this book is a reliable guide. If used in an academic setting, the book will be best used as a review for students in an undergraduate program.
Sean Stone is a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO.