This book tackles a subject that I must admit is not one that I have delved into deeply in the past. There is no doubt that this subject is one that the author, Matthew E. Gordley, champions. New Testament Christological hymns are clearly his wheelhouse. This book both taught me and answered every question I had on the subject.
In the first chapter as the author describes the place of these hymns in the New Testament and in scholarship, he didn’t obscure the fact that not everyone agrees about what these New Testament hymns are. It boils down to a question of were these exalted passages that became the hymns of early Christians or were these early hymns that were incorporated into the scriptural text. The author makes a passionate case for the latter and that is apparently the prominent position in the scholarly world. Personally, I hold with the former and really see no evidence that could conclusively change my mind. My holding a different perspective than the author did not denude this book’s value for me.
Once we passed the chicken-or-the-egg argument, Gordley really illuminated what hymns are and the role they likely played with early Christians. What he shared there could likely be accepted no matter which viewpoint you held on these New Testament hymns overall. He stated in the book that he did not want this volume to only be a book of exegesis on those famous passages. He succeeded in sharing his thesis, giving insights on worship among early Christians, yet still provided helpful exegesis on these texts. Three chapters were given to cover the three most famous of these texts: Philippians 2:6-11, Colossians 1:15-20, and John 1:1-17. Because these are some of the most important passages on the doctrine of Jesus Christ they are worthy of the most intense study. There’s another chapter that studies a few other passages that are considered to possibly be a hymn.
The author writes well. He accepts some theories of redaction that I reject out of hand and a few other scholarly concessions that I wouldn’t care for, but he still delivers fine, important book here. If you are like me, you will be satisfied to have this one book as the one and only one on your shelves to address this subject. Scholarly and passionate, this book is a winner.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.