JETS Review of Wes Hill’s “Paul and the Trinity”

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Earlier this year, Dr. Wesley Hill (Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at the Trinity School for Ministry) published his Durham dissertation with Eerdmans, entitled Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters. It argues a straightforward thesis that, within Pauline studies, is fairly revolutionary (but which, within the Reformed circles in which Wes and I respectively run, is, of course, “no big deal”): namely, that trinitarian categories that are often seen by scholars to be late and post-Pauline—and, thus, should be excluded from the discussion—can and should be brought to the table in exegesis of Paul’s letters.

The book has been widely acclaimed by a host of NT scholars, and on the whole I found it to be very helpful and illuminating.[1] I believe Hill has more or less made his case that we cannot approach the Christian Paul (post-conversion) as if he maintained an unchanged Jewish monotheism, but rather deal seriously with how his experience of Jesus Christ has thoroughly re-mapped his entire understanding of God in a trinitarian direction.

A side-aspect of Hill’s analysis, however, takes a pretty hard line against Christology-as-Christology (or, at least, it comes across that way, even if Hill was not necessarily intending that). And as a budding “Christology guy,” this obviously piqued my interest the most. While he registers several good points about some common problems within NT Christology, I still think there is room for exploring NT Christology both in itself and as a part of a broader trinitarian discussion. It is along these lines that I spend the most time in my review of the book, which has recently been published in the December issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, volume 58.4. You can download a copy of the review here.

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[1] I will note, however, that there is a rampant tendency in Christian book publishing to declare that any and every book is a “must read” or “required reading” or “revolutionary.” That is similar to how every parent thinks their child is above average. Neither is mathematically possible. So I tend to be more judicious in ascribing such high praise to every book out there, for it dilutes the meaning of such words. That said, no doubt Hill’s book is very well-written, helpful, encouraging, scholarly, persuasive, and deserving of a wide audience.

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