Book Write-Up: The Beauty of the Lord, by Jonathan King

Jonathan King. The Beauty of the Lord: Theology as Aesthetics. Lexham, 2018. See here to purchase the book.

Jonathan King has a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and lectures at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the Universitas Pelita Harapan in Indonesia.

This book is about how beauty relates to Christian doctrines, including the divine nature, creation, the incarnation, the cross, and eschatological recreation. King brings into the discussion such theological luminaries as Irenaeus of Lyons, Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, Herman Bavinck, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Jonathan Edwards.

This review is subjective. All reviews are, of course, but this one is especially subjective because I recognize that others may read it and have a different impression.

Overall, I thought that the book contained a lot of basic Christian concepts that I have encountered before, albeit couched in academic language. Christ is the creator of beauty and recreates people as beautiful. Penal substitution. Christ manifests glory as the incarnate one, even when he was not transfigured. The usual debates about what the divine image is: the human role as God’s representative, some characteristic of humans, etc.? I do not want to convey that I lack appreciation for these concepts. Perhaps showing rather than telling may have enhanced these concepts, as far as the book goes.

Although I was not floored by any of the book’s insights, it did contain some interesting discussions. Can God be simple and have attributes? Do humans still possess the divine image when they are in hell? How the eschatological recreation is indeed recreation but does not exactly destroy the old creation. The concept of the divinization of humans, as they see God through God in the eschaton, was a helpful way to conceptualize how Christians will know God. The contrast between a soulish body and a spiritual body was also fairly effectively fleshed out. The discussion of beauty was abstract but was deep: what is beauty, and how do we identify the beautiful?

This book was not entirely my cup of tea, but it had some good things.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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