“The Last Adam”: Brandon Crowe’s new book
Relevant to the recent discussion here about the portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospels, note also Brandon D. Crowe’s new book, The Last Adam: A Theology of the Obedient Life of Jesus in the Gospels (Baker Academic, 2017; the publisher’s online catalogue entry here. As does Kirk, Crowe (one of my former PhD students) overtly offers his study with a theological concern that the life-stories of Jesus in the Gospels should be taken seriously, both in theological reflections and in preaching. But Crowe doesn’t seem to make so much of a contrast between his emphasis on the human career of Jesus and the emphasis on him as having a divine status and as rightful recipient of worship.
As hinted in the title, Crowe’s book has a central thesis that in all four Gospels Jesus is implicitly or explicitly presented as the new/last Adam, Jesus’ life and actions depicted in relation to (and in contrast with) the (failing/disobedient) Adam of Genesis. In Crowe’s judgement, the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ ministry emphasize his obedience (to God), making his life salvific, and not only his death and resurrection. Crowe pushes back against depictions of the Gospels as “passion narratives with extended introductions” (Martin Kähler), urging (cogently) that the authors of the Gospels must have intended their narratives of the Jesus of Galilee to be meaningful, and not simply preparations for his crucifixion.
Crowe draws upon a history of scholarship to argue that his thesis is not so much new as insufficiently noted in some recent scholarly work. His intended readership includes particularly students and pastors, hoping to offer the latter in particular some practical help in preaching from the Gospels narratives.