This is a systematic theology focusing on what makes Jesus important in Christianity. It studies six families of symbols about Jesus, showing how they are true for some people, not true for others, and not meaningful for a third group. Divine creation is analysed in metaphysical and symbolic terms, and religious symbolism is shown to be wholly compatible with a late-modern scientific world view. Robert Cummings Neville, a leading philosophical theologian, presents and illustrates an elaborate theory of religious symbols according to which God is directly engaged in symbolically shaped thinking and practice. Symbols are not distancing substitutes for God. Theology of symbolic engagement is defended as an alternative to doctrinal or descriptive theology. This major work re-shapes the way we think about Jesus, and will be of value to students, academics, clergy with theological training, and others grappling with the meaning and importance of religious symbols in our age.
Robert Cummings Neville is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology at Boston University and Dean of the Boston University School of Theology. He is ordained in the ministry of the United Methodist Church. Neville has authored sixteen books, including God the Creator: On the Transcendence and Presence of God (1968; new edition 1992), Creativity and God: A Challenge to Process Theology (1980), Behind the Masks of God (1991), and The Truth of Broken Symbols (1996); and has edited a further seven.
Introduction; 1. God the Father; 2. Jesus the Lamb of God: blood sacrifice and atonement; 3. Jesus the Cosmic Christ; 4. Jesus Christ the Trinitarian Person; 5. The historical Jesus and the incarnate word; 6. Jesus as friend; 7. Jesus as Saviour: the Eschaton; 8. Epilogue: 'And the Holy Spirit'.