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What to Read On the Trinity and Christology

Jul 4, 2018

At the very heart of Christian theology is the notion of the triune God, and the idea of the deity of Christ. Both these doctrines – properly understood and explained – have always been at the centre of Christian orthodoxy. Indeed, they help to delineate orthodoxy from heresy.

Most of the cults and heresies over the centuries have gotten these matters wrong. So anyone seeking to be a faithful Christian, true to the biblical witness, must know something about these core biblical teachings, and must be able to promote and defend them.

Yet I suspect that the great majority of believers in the West today would know little or nothing about these most basic of biblical beliefs, and would flounder if pressed to explain them and champion them. Thus if a cultist such as a Jehovah’s Witness came along, or if a Muslim with his distorted views showed up, attacking the notion of the Trinity and the deity of Christ, I fear most believers would be ill-equipped to face the challenge.

So we must do our homework here. Paul insisted that we ‘study to show ourselves approved’ (2 Timothy 2:15). He also told us to not allow ourselves to be ‘blown about by every wind of doctrine’ (Ephesians 4:14). And he often warned against false teachers and false doctrines creeping into the church.

It is incumbent upon all believers to do some study here. In theory, their pastors and priests should be offering good theological teaching from the pulpits, but sadly many do not. So Christians need to become disciplined, and perhaps put off some laziness, and carefully study these vital biblical truths.

For the most part, the volumes listed here are somewhat newer volumes which are penned by evangelicals or conservatives. Thus older classics are not featured here, nor are works by theological liberals, and so on. There are 30 books on the Trinity and 62 books on Christology. They should keep you busy for a while!

The Trinity

Note: there are countless books about God and who he is which I do not include here. And there are plenty of systematic theologies which also devote meaty chapters to the issue of the Trinity which I recommend folks make use of. So the books featured here are only a small sampling of some of the better, more recent, and more specific works on the Trinity.

Ankerberg, John and John Welden, Knowing the Truth About the Trinity. Harvest House, 1996.
Bates, Matthew, The Birth of the Trinity. OUP, 2015.
Beisner, Calvin, God in Three Persons. Tyndale Press, 1984.
Coppedge, Allan, The God Who Is Triune. IVP, 2007.
Crowe, Brandon and Carl Trueman, eds., The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance. P&R, 2017.
Durst, Rodrick, Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament. Kregel, 2015.
Edgar, Brian, The Message of the Trinity. IVP, 2004.
Erickson, Millard, God in Three Persons. Baker, 1995.
Erickson, Millard, Making Sense of the Trinity. Baker, 2000.
Erickson, Millard, Who’s Tampering with the Trinity? Kregel, 2009.
Grenz, Stanley, Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology. Fortress Press, 2004.
George, Timothy, ed., God the Holy Trinity. Baker, 2006.
Karkkainen, Veli-Matti, Trinity and Religious Pluralism: The Doctrine of the Trinity in Christian Theology of Religions. Ashgate, 2004.
Karkkainen, Veli-Matti, The Trinity: Global Perspectives. Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.
Kostenberger, Andreas and Scott Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel. IVP, 2008.
Letham, Robert, The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology and Worship. Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004.
McGrath, Alister, Understanding the Trinity. Zondervan, 1987.
Morey, Robert, The Trinity: Evidence and Issues. World Publishing, 1999.
Olson, Roger and Christopher Hall, The Trinity. Eerdmans, 2002.
Poythress, Vern, Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity. P&R, 2018.
Reeves, Michael, Delighting in the Trinity. IVP, 2012. 
Sanders, Fred, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything. Crossway Books, 2010.
Sanders, Fred, The Triune God. Zondervan, 2016.
Sexton, Jason, ed., Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity. Zondervan, 2014.
Toon, Peter and James Spiceland, eds., One God in Trinity. Cornerstone, 1980.
Torrance, Thomas, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being in Three Persons. T&T Clark, 1996.
Trier, Daniel and David Lauber, eds., Trinitarian Theology for the Church. IVP, 2009.
Ware, Bruce, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, & Relevance. Crossway, 2005.
White, James, The Forgotten Trinity. Bethany House, 1998.
Yarnell, Malcolm, God the Trinity. B&H, 2016.

Christology

Note: Once again, there are countless book on Christ. I offer only two groupings here: general works about Christ, and books about the person of Christ. Other issues, such as on the work of Christ, the resurrection, etc., are not included here.

Christology – General Works

Akin, Daniel, Christology: The Study of Christ. Rainer Publishing, 2015.
Barnett, Paul, Jesus and the Logic of History. Apollos, 1997.
Bauckham, Richard, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Eerdmans, 2006.
Bauckham, Richard, God Crucified. Paternoster, 1998.
Bauckham, Richard, Jesus and the God of Israel. Paternoster, 2008.
Bird, Michael, The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus. Eerdmans, 2014.
Bird, Michael, Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology. Eerdmans, 2017.
Bird, Michael, ed., How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature. HarperCollins, 2014.
Bloesch, Donald, Jesus Christ: Savior and Lord. IVP, 1997.
Bowman, Robert and Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ. Kregel, 2007.
Carson, D. A., Jesus the Son of God. Crossway, 2012.
Cole, Graham, The God Who Became Human. IVP, 2013.
Dunn, James, Christology in the Making, 2nd ed. Eerdmans, 1980, 1989.
Edwards, James, Is Jesus the Only Savior? Eerdmans, 2005.
Fee, Gordon, Pauline Christology. Hendrickson, 2007.
Fee, Gordon, Jesus the Lord according to Paul the Apostle: A Concise Introduction. Baker, 2018.
Fernando, Ajith, The Supremacy of Christ. Crossway Books, 1995.
France, R. T., The Evidence for Jesus. IVP, 1986.
Gathercole, Simon, The Preexistent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Eerdmans, 2006.
Green, Joel and Max Turner, eds., Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ: Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology. Eerdmans, 1994.
Green, Michael, ed., The Truth of God Incarnate. Eerdmans, 1977.
Harris, Murray, Jesus as God. Baker, 1992.
Harris, James, Three Crucial Questions about Jesus. Wipf and Stock, 1994, 2008.
Hurtado, Larry, Honoring the Son: Jesus in Earliest Christian Devotional Practice. Lexham, 2018.
Hurtado, Larry, How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus. Eerdmans, 2005.
Hurtado, Larry, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Eerdmans, 2003.
Karkkainen, Veli-Matti, The Doctrine of God. Baker, 2004.
Karkkainen, Veli-Matti, Christology: A Global Introduction. Baker, 2003.
Keener, Craig, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. Eerdmans, 2009.
Lewis, Peter, The Glory of Christ. Hodder & Stoughton, 1992.
Lutzer, Irwin, Christ Among Other gods: A Defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance. Moody, 2016.
Macleod, Donald, From Glory to Golgotha: Controversial Issues in the Life of Christ. Christian Focus, 2002.
Marshall, I. Howard, The Origins of New Testament Christology. Apollos, 1976, 1990.
McGrath, Alister, Understanding Jesus. Zondervan, 1987.
Morgan, Christopher and Robert Peterson, eds., The Deity of Christ. Crossway, 2011.
Reymond, Robert, Jesus, Divine Messiah. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1990.
Stein, Robert, Jesus the Messiah. IVP, 1996.
Stott, John, The Incomparable Christ. IVP, 2002.
Strobel, Lee, The Case for Christ. Zondervan, 1998.
Strobel, Lee, The Case for the Real Jesus. Zondervan, 2007.
Twelftree, Graham, Jesus the Miracle Worker. IVP, 1999.
Van Voorst, Robert, Jesus Outside the New Testament. Eerdmans, 2000.
Warfield, B. B., The Person and Work of Christ. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1950.
Wellum, Stephen, God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ. Crossway, 2016.
Witherington, Ben, The Christology of Jesus. Fortress, 1990.
Wright, N. T., The Challenge of Jesus. IVP, 1999.
Wright, N. T., Jesus and the Victory of God. Fortress Press, 1997.
Wright, N. T., The Original Jesus. Lion, 1996.
Wright, N. T., Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters. HarperOne, 2011.

Christology – The Person of Christ

Berkouwer, G. C., The Person of Christ. Eerdmans, 1954.
Bock, Darrell, Studying the Historical Jesus. Baker, 2002.
Bock, Darrell and Robert Webb, eds., Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus. Eerdmans, 2010.
Clark, Stephen, ed., The Forgotten Christ. IVP, 2007.
Erickson, Millard, The Word Became Flesh. Baker, 1991.
Habermas, Gary, The Historical Jesus. College Press, 1996.
Letham, Robert, The Message of the Person of Christ. IVP, 2013.
Macleod, Donald, The Person of Christ. IVP, 1993.
McCready, Douglas, He Came Down From Heaven. Apollos, 2005.
Marshall, I. Howard, I Believe in the Historical Jesus. Eerdmans, 1977.
Nichols, Stephen, For Us and For Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church. Crossway, 2007.
Pate, C. Marvin, 40 Questions About the Historical Jesus. Kregel, 2015.
Ware, Bruce, The Man Christ Jesus. Crossway, 2013.
Wells, David, The Person of Christ. Crossway Books, 1984.

With 92 books featured here, some might feel a tad overwhelmed. If you want some help here as to where to begin, maybe I can just mention a few authors who tend to be helpful and consistently good on these issues: Bird, Bock, Erickson, Hurtado, Keener, Letham, McGrath, Sanders, Stott and Wright.

Happy reading.

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6 Responses to What to Read On the Trinity and Christology

  • Thanks Bill … do you happen to have a sound list of reading around the Mystical Union?

  • Thanks David. It depends of course on who you have in mind in this regard: Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed…? While many of the books I mention here and elsewhere would have at least small sections on the topic, I do not have any full-length titles on this as far as I know. But if you narrow things down a bit, I can look some more!

    but if you are looking at things like union with Christ, say, from a reformed point of view, something like this would do:

    Letham, Robert, Union with Christ: In Scripture, History, and Theology. P&R, 2011.

  • Thank you Bill. I actually went through a short phase a long time ago doubting the Trinity and seriously considered joining a cult (one of the Churches of God splintered from the original Worldwide Church of God). Fortunately I was pulled back by the Holy Spirit and rejected those cults. I am happy to say I am a fully committed believer in the notion of the Trinity although no one really has a complete understanding of it. The basics are all that matters. That also takes into account the long standing dispute between the Western and Eastern Orthodox churches, namely that the former believes the Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son and the latter believes the Holy Spirit is only of the Father. To be honest it’s splitting hairs and is one example of hundreds as to why there is a huge number of churches with slightly different doctrines and beliefs (excluding the cults, which make it far worse). So sad really since most not all actually believe in the same message of the Cross (including some of the cults) . So the answer one should give to anyone who asks about the Trinity should kept simple, short and sweet. Anyone who claims to understand in great detail the Trinity and go on at great lengths dishing out their explanations would be against the purpose of God since it would bring God down to our level of understanding and so would end up describing a false god and not the real one. Keep things simple is my motto when it comes to scriptural teachings. The details will come later.

  • Thanks Joe. I am not sure if I should add any words to your comment. Your discussion on the Spirit may be confusing to some, but if I add more discussion to it, it may make it even more confusing! But to hopefully clarify things just a smidge, this has to do with the filioque clause controversy. The Latin term means “and from the Son.” Usually it is put in terms of whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son (as the Western, or Catholic, church believed) or from the Father alone (as the Eastern, or Orthodox, church believed). It may not seem like much, but the debate was enough to split the church in two back in 1054! But maybe I will write an article on it at some point. The discussion can get quite complex, but one’s salvation is not really impacted on which way we run with this issue!

  • Yes Bill it is complicated but it need not be. I know because I have studied it in depth. I also agree the impact on salvation is nil yet whenever the topic is brought up with my fellow Greek Orthodox Christians some get very hot under the collar. Sad really but as I stated before it’s one of the reasons why we have so many churches. If only we all kept to the simple message of Jesus and the Cross.

  • Thanks Bill
    Always a need to refresh our minds in these things. Geoff Bingham has written a unique contribution on this. I can highly recommend it. It is a Free PDF book:

    http://newcreationlibrary.net/books/pdf/376_ChristTriuneGlory.pdf

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