Theological anthropology is a topic of perennial interest among evangelical theologians and other scholars of religion. Although numerous introductions are available, the vast majority presuppose a nonbiblical worldview and require a familiarity with philosophy and theology. This volume fills a gap in the literature by offering a thorough introduction to the topic written from an evangelical perspective. It introduces foundational sources of knowledge on human persons from the scriptural narrative and church history while drawing from contemporary evangelical models.
Motived by ancient and Reformed reflections on human nature, Joshua Farris walks the reader through some of the most important issues in traditional approaches to anthropology, such as sexuality, posthumanism, and the image of God. He addresses fundamental questions like, What does it mean to be human? Who am I? and Why do I exist? He also considers the creaturely and divine nature of humans, the body-soul relationship, and the beatific vision. Farris concludes that humans are souls and bodies and are designed to experience the presence of God. They are appropriately understood in their creaturely context as divine image bearers, yet their goal is union with God.
An authentic tour de force, this book is your one-stop resource for theological anthropology, for students and professors alike. Farris demonstrates the fecundity of a broad evangelical Reformed tradition--in constant dialogue with the broader Christian tradition--for a wide array of topics related to the nature of humanity. He articulates a comprehensive anthropology adequately grounded in a doctrine of creation, yet without neglecting either Christology or eschatology.
Adonis Vidu, Professor of Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
What, who, and why am I? Few questions are more complicated and important to answer. In An Introduction to Theological Anthropology, Farris offers a bold, lucid, and comprehensive vision of the human person as an embodied soul whose identity and purpose are found in the vision of God. Unapologetically evangelical and Reformed, this introduction is a valuable resource for both teaching and research.
Joanna Leidenhag, Lecturer in Theology, University of St. Andrews
In An Introduction to Theological Anthropology, Joshua Farris retrieves the best of the Christian tradition's reflections on human persons while interacting with various challenges of the twenty-first century. His work is attentive to questions arising from modern theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences. It addresses those questions from a broad Reformed and evangelical perspective in a style that will be accessible for many. Farris provides an engaging, integrated work that I look forward to using in my classroom.
Mary L. Vanden Berg, Jean and Kenneth Baker Professor of Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
With An Introduction to Theological Anthropology, Joshua Farris gives the Christian theological community a sorely needed text. It pays careful attention to biblical, theological, and philosophical scholarship, all of which are relevant to this very complicated area of theological research and teaching. Because of this, Farris's book evidences the sort of interdisciplinary sensitivity demonstrative of the theologian who takes seriously that theology is the queen of the sciences. This text's methodology and content guarantee that I'll use it in my courses.
J. T. Turner, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Anderson University
Joshua Farris is a leading figure in the resurgent field of theological anthropology. In this excellent volume, he distills years of first-rate research into a lively and informative introduction to the subject. This introduction is philosophically savvy as well as theologically substantive in its content and argument. Farris begins every chapter with scriptural and cultural material to prompt initial questions, which he then brings into conversation with the catholic or holy tradition. Along the way, he expounds the body-soul relationship, creaturely and divine purpose, beatific vision, and deification, boldly pointing the way for Protestants committed to a robust account of theological anthropology.
Jerry L. Walls, Professor of Philosophy and Scholar in Residence, Houston Baptist University
What's a theologian, whose speciality is God, doing making claims about the nature of humanity? Isn't Reformed theology, with its doctrine of total depravity, itself a crime against humanity? Farris's book responds to these and other contemporary questions, arguing that humans will be able to answer the big questions about meaning, identity, and destiny only insofar as they can position themselves in relation to God and to the story of God's relationship to humanity attested in Scripture. To an age poised between modern confidence in science that reduces humanity to its materiality and postmodern suspicion of fixed forms that throws open the Pandora's box of human plasticity, Farris calls for a reconsideration of the biblical narrative and a retrieval of the way the church has traditionally interpreted it. While not shirking the contemporary challenges--their name is Legion--Farris here lets Jesus Christ, the God-man and light of the world, illumine what it means to be human.
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Farris offers an eminently analytical account of theological anthropology that will appeal to readers from a variety of Christian denominational backgrounds. Don't be fooled by the textbook appearance: this volume contains plenty of incisive engagements with both historic and contemporary perspectives that both esteem and plague the human condition. This is a kaleidoscopic theology and philosophy in ten jam-packed chapters.
Paul Allen, Academic Dean and Professor of Theology, Corpus Christi College
Joshua Farris has written a very helpful book on a timely topic. Contemporary discussions of the nature of humans are fraught with confusion and opacity. Yet theology has much to offer to alleviate these plights. With clarity and charity, Farris treats a myriad of pertinent topics in this principled introductory text. Scripturally grounded, historically informed, philosophically savvy, and scientifically engaged, this book offers a provocative and compelling theological vision for humanity's place in God's cosmos.
James M. Arcadi, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School