Roch KERESZTY. Jesus Christ, Fundamentals of Christology. (Revised and updated). New York: Alba House, 2002. pp. 530, $24.95 pb. ISBN 0-8189-0917 -X.
Reviewed by Francis BERNA, La Salle University, 1900 W. Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141

The cover of this text notes, "This revised and combined edition supersedes Jesus Christ (1991) and its Supplement (1997)." The ongoing revision of the text and the author's thought speaks well of the contents for the graduate level of education for which it is intended.

Part III of Kereszty's work offers his development of a systematic Christology in light of contemporary questions with full attention to the biblical and historical perspectives developed in the first two sections. As expected the further development of the author's thought is found in this section. He specifically notes how in the first edition he held "in addition to Jesus' self-awareness as the Son I also assumed a direct (objective) vision of the Father in the earthly Jesus" (#71, p 391). He offers that he now sees this objective vision as "an unnecessary hypothesis" compromising the reality of the earthly Jesus.

This further consideration of the earthly reality of Jesus would characterize the general tone of the systematic Christology given in the text. For Kerestzy, however, great care must be exercised so as not to compromise the reality of Jesus as the eternal Son of the Father. He notes with accuracy how such a perspective might be derived from some contemporary Christologies even when this might not be the theologian's contention.

As with other contemporary Christologies sharing Kerestzy's conviction he draws on von Balthasaar with salvation in Christ "as a revelation of divine love" (#1, p 329). "Communion" provides the central focus for his understanding of the person and mission of Jesus. He emphasizes the communion of the Son in the Father, and the disciples' communion in the Son. The need for the incarnation arises from the absence of communion, the kinds of alienation brought on the human race and the world through the experience of sin.

His systematic work proceeds with attention to all of the major theologians clearly noting those with whom he would have a point of disagreement - critical for a graduate text! In that vein attention to the notes affords a sense of the breadth and depth in the author's scholarship. And, such attention reveals several points of pleasant surprise. The breadth has particular expression in his approach to personhood more closely aligned with Duns Scotus than other Medieval theologians. And while Lonergan and Rahner provide the foundation for much of the systematic Christology, Kerstzy's use of Simone Weil to explore the humanity of the Son offers a pleasant surprise, and even moments for prayerful meditation.

Two points from Simone Weil are worth particular note. From her thought the author emphasizes that "we actualize our individuality to the extent that we existentially appropriate what is universally human" (#52, p 379). Our individuality has as its foundation the common ground of human experience. He again turns to Weil as he explores the sinlessness of Christ. "Thus only the sinless one may empathize perfectly with the misery of the sinner, since the sinless one alone feels the full burden of the sinner's sins" (p. 386). Weil points out that only the innocent victim knows the truth about his or her executioner. Thus the sinless one alone understands and suffers the full burden of human sinfulness.

The first two sections of the text give evidence of the same careful scholarship as given in the third section. Kereszty draws on the best of biblical and historical scholarship. His wide use of Patristic theology, both East and West, as well as his sound development of Reformation Christology make the text valuable for a wide ecumenical audience. The careful attention to detail in biblical scholarship and his willingness to detail and explain classic metaphysical conceptions make the text most valuable for those seeking to forward more contemporary perspectives. The metaphysical considerations and historical detail generally challenge current graduate students, particularly those preparing for ministry. However, such knowledge will foster a more critical appreciation, and perhaps better application, of more contemporary thought.

Several weaknesses need to be mentioned. Early in the text the author is not attentive to the demands of inclusive language. Perhaps he has done less revision to this section than to the latter section. And, while he rightfully appreciates that some elements of the current theological climate do not allow for a full exploration of the feminist perspective, he nevertheless attempts an exploration. Perhaps one could suggest he makes "an interesting and noble effort." The reflections on the feminine character of discipleship - the Church as Virgin and Bride - the perspective does little to address some of the more immediate concerns of a women in a church "ever in need of reform." The limited attention to liberationist theologies reflects a similar approach.

Kereszty's exploration of the universal character of salvation in Christ fares better. And while his consideration of intelligent life on other planets, solar systems or worlds might at first seem odd, his rationale for offering the exploration has merit. As he notes, the consideration is quite limited.

The author provides solid guidelines for using the text in various settings. Likewise he provides a chapter by chapter list of supplemental readings and questions to focus one's explorations. The text serves as an excellent resource for a graduate or advanced undergraduate course introducing the person and mission of Christ. It also serves as a handy reference for concise and clearly understandable explanations of major fundamental and historical themes in Christology. Even the very standard information the author provides could occasion a development in one's own perspective.

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