|Reviews of The Restitution of Jesus Christ (RJC) in chronological order. STE=Servetus the Evangelical.
Professor Scot McKnight obtained his PhD under the tutelage of Dr. James D.G. Dunn at the University of Nottingham, England. (Since 1980, Dunn arguably has been the world's leading authority on Christology. Dunn was our keynote speaker the first year, 2000, of the annual Kermit Zarley Lectures at North Park University, Chicago, IL.) McKnight then became Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chicago, from 1981 to 1994. From 1994 to 2012, he was Professor in Religious Studies and director of the Bible department at North Park University, Chicago. Scot is now Professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary near Chicago.
Dr. Scot McKnight has been a close friend of mine since 1991. In 2011, he had authored over thirty theological books. His Jesus Creed is an award-winning best-seller. The online Theopedia article about him says, "McKnight specializes in historical Jesus studies as well as the Gospels and the New Testament. As an authority in Jesus studies, McKnight has been frequently consulted by Fox News, WGN, US News & World Report, Newsweek, TIME, as well as newspapers throughout the United States." For about seven years, Scot was one of the panel members of the prestigious "Historical Jesus Section" of the Society of Biblical Literature along with 6-8 other panel members who included James D.G. Dunn, N.T. Wright, Ed Sanders, Marcus Borg, and John Domminic Crossan. These scholars were, and still are, recognized as being among the leading Jesus researchers in the world.
Before my RJC book was released, McKnight, who is also a smooth and powerful swinging professor of the golf links, read and then wrote eloquently and cleverly of The Restitution of Jesus Christ, saying, "The wedge driven by Martin Kahler between the historical Jesus and the kerygmatic Christ was, according to Kermit Zarley, mishit. Instead, the wedge of misinterpretation needs to be driven between the New Testament's depiction of God's Son and the ecclesiastical Christ, the portrait of Jesus as redrawn by Christians under the influence of Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophical categories. Readers of the New Teatment and historians of Jesus should recognize this important thesis. In addition, Zarley combines a high view of Scripture with a thoroughly human Jesus and lands with a square stance on a unique tee box--an unusual form of unitarian theology. No one can read this book without being challenged."
Professor James Tabor has been the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte since 1989. Before that, he held positions at the University of Notre Dame (1979-85) and the College of William and Mary (1985-89). Dr. Tabor specializes in ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He is the author of several books, including bestsellers by Simon and Schuster. He also conducts significant archaeological work in the Holy Land, is often consulted by the media, and sometimes appears on national television networks.
Dr. Tabor reviewed The Restitution of Jesus Christ on his TaborBlog on August 29, 2009, in an article entitled "Remembering Servetus--Past and Present." In it, he reminisces about the brilliant Michael Servetus and then says of The Restitution of Jesus Christ, "I obtained a copy and have to say I am much impressed. It runs 600 pages, is thoroughly researched and documented, and fully in touch with the massive amount of scholarly discussion currently available on the 'Christology of the New Testament'.... he has surely done his homework." Weeks later Tabor emailed a friend about my book, further saying of it, "this work by our modern Servetus is a mortal wound to the doctrine of the Trinity.... it is a towering work that will stand for a long time to come."
The following excerpts are gleaned from this review, with his first sentence referring to my 2+ years of anonymity and the contest then to identify me:
"I initially didn't think much of this fellow and just thought he was some bored guy with nothing to do and just craved for attention. But then, I purchased his book "The Restitution of Jesus Christ" and with no exaggeration my jaw dropped in surprise after seeing the absolutely outstanding scholarship displayed in this book…. This was a book that I have been craving for so long and kept telling my self that needed to be written.STE’s book is dated at 2008 and surveys the best scholarship has to offer on the topic of Christology … [it] is the biggest and best contribution to Biblical Unitarian apologetics that I have seen so far and stands brilliantly side-by-side with the works of Anthony Buzzard against those (who unfortunately are in the majority) who believe that the Bible propagates the notion of the Trinity. My personal favorite is his detailed 30 page discussion on the Thomas calling Jesus "My Lord and My God" argument. In short, buy this book immediately. The small amount of money you will be putting for the amount of knowledge you would be receiving in return is indeed a great bargain!"
Kevin Brown did an online review. It consists of several parts and is entitled "Review: The Restitution of Jesus Christ"
Rick Purdy, Ph.D., Th.M., has served as an adjunct professor of religion and philosophy at several universities and colleges. He says of The Restitution of Jesus Christ, "I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in comprehending and responding to historical and contemporary alternative exegesis of classic Social Trinitarian and Christological texts and the general logic associated with the subjects."
Professor Sir Anthony Buzzard (MA [Oxon.] MA Th., Hon. Ph. D) is the preeminent leader and patriarch of the modern, small but growing, Biblical Unitarian (=One God) movement with which I now associate myself. He retired in about 2013 after 24 years as a professor at Atlanta Bible College. I fully agree with his book, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian (though I'm unsure of his treatment of adoni in Ps 110.1, a minor issue). I can't say that about hardly any theological book I've ever read. He says my RJC book is "a tour de force" with "extensive documentation." He adds, "Kermit Zarley has provided another powerful witness against the complex, Greek philosophical definition of God and Jesus which have prevailed since the great Church councils.... Zarley's work needs to be read by every pastor in the land. He calls the church to a complete reappraisal of one of its core doctrines. He shows that God is a single Person, the Father ... The implications of this invitation to reexamination of theology and Christology are huge."
Barbara Buzzard is the wife of Anthony Buzzard. On 3/1/10, she reviewed RJC in an online article.
The Journal is a newsletter produced by The Churches of God denomination. In issue #136, Art Mokarow provides a brief review of my RJC book. Here are a few excerpts from it: "The Restitution of Jesus Christ, after 25 years of research by Kermit Zarley,... has to carry some weight of truth.... detailed and precise ... garnering every new piece of knowledge produces an excitement and pleasure because the truth becomes obvious.... Kermit Zarley's book The Restitution of Jesus Christ is a must for basic Bible study."
David Burke is an Australian pastor and prominent teacher of the Christadelphian Church. It is a 150-year old, anti-Trinitarian denomination of 60,000+ members (mostly in the UK and Australia) that has always advocated Biblical Unitarianism--that Jesus is Savior and Lord but not God, so only the Father is God. Burke has an online ministry--Bible Truth Discussion Forum. He had a lengthy, online debate in writing, called "the Great Trinity Debate," with Rob Bowman, co-author of Putting Jesus in His Place. (Bowman made this challenge to all on the web, held an election for visitors to select his opponent, and Anthony Buzzard and Yours Truly finished in the top five.) In June, 2010, Burke emailed me, saying, "I have nearly finished reading your book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. It is superb; probably the best book on the Trinity by a non-Trinitarian that I have ever read. Your approach is thorough and systematic, but your style is very readable." On 12/1/15, Burke said on Facebook, "I bought a copy of Kermit's book in preparation for my debate with Rob Bowman in 2010. I recommend it highly; it's the best Unitarian apologetic on the market."
Diglot, the pen name of a Trinitarian blogger who specializes in reviewing theological books, makes the following remark in his online review of RJC, "this book is definitely the most comprehensive book that I have read about the doctrine of the deity of Christ from someone who denies it." See his review at http://diglot.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/review-the-restitution-of-jesus-christ/
Dwayne Slater wrote, "I really like your books and can't wait for the next one."
Robin Todd, of Restoration Churches of God as well as Kingdom Heart Ministries, wrote, "Your book is great, very comprehensive. I've read it from cover to cover, and it's a good reference manual."
Stephen Hill, Christadelphian Church minister in South Australia, sent this review on 1/14/12:
"Kermit Zarley has provided an unequalled analysis and comprehensive resource on a study of the nature of Jesus Christ. His book is over 580 pages long and has a bibliography of over 400 authors. Virtually every verse in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) that has ever been used in an attempt to demonstrate that Jesus is God is examined in depth. . . . The clear and simple truth regarding Jesus Christ that he was and is a man, the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel – not a divine being or God – is amply demonstrated (eg John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Eph.4:4-6). It may surprise some that Jesus never actually directly claimed to be God.
"All Bible students, including Christadelphians like myself, will appreciate the thoroughness of Zarley’s expositions and his extensive references to recognised experts in language and history. As a resource for difficult passages of Scripture, ‘Restitution’ is probably unequalled. His longest chapter is on John’s gospel – 118 pages. Well-known Trinitarian verses such as John 1:1; 1:18 and 20:28 are dealt with in detail.
"Given that mainstream Christianity holds the doctrine of the trinity as essential to salvation, Zarley’s book is controversial; but if correct, it exposes the world-wide and almost universal fundamental error held by most Christians. His examination of the history of Christology (47 pages) [actually 100 pp.] amply demonstrates how this disastrous change occurred. Zarley has therefore done us a great service in dispelling the mystery (and the mist!) surrounding the Bible’s teaching on the nature of Jesus Christ."
Soo Chuang emailed about RJC on 11/11/12, saying, "Your book has become one of the most important reference tools for me each time I am called upon to defend my faith in Indonesia. It is comprehensive, yet not too difficult to read and understand. Would you give me permission to translate the tract attached at the beginning of the book into the Indonesian language?" [He means translating and distributing it, which permission I grant on this website at Tract.]
Paul (who for now wants to remain anonymous) emailed me on 11/23/17 saying, "For the past several months, I've been working my way through The Restitution of Jesus Christ. It's appropriate that today is Thanksgiving, because I wanted to thank you for all the time and effort you obviously put into writing it! One of the reasons I read the book slowly is because you presented a lot of information, and I didn't want to just skim over it. Another reason I read it slowly is because I didn't want it to end! You treated the subject in more depth than I was expecting, but I'm grateful for that. I found it helpful that you dealt with some of the technical issues, and I appreciated hearing the views—and reasons for the views—of various scholars. And I really appreciated the time you took to evaluate the Christology of each NT author. It makes sense to me to think about the deity of Christ, not as an ontological identity, but as God working in Christ, so that Jesus really is Immanuel--God with us."
Samuel Brown of Melbourne, Australia, is a Bible teacher and former missionary who taught nine years in a Bible college in Romania. He has had the unfortunate experience of his PhD dissertation being rejected at three seminaries he attended because it is about Jesus as the Son of God in the New Testament not meaning he is God. Samuel emailed me on 7/14/18 and attached a 35-page critique of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ, which he wrote. He says he was raised Plymouth Brethren and became Baptist. He writes, "I was a trinitarian for over 30 years when I began questioning what I had been taught and was teaching regarding the Person and identity of Jesus. . . . I'm 50 now and find it a bit harder to be more flexible in my views than I did before. But I bought your book not knowing exactly where you would land your plane. I did find most of your positions as biblically tenable and useful for me to use in the future. E.g., your explanation of Rev. 1:1 helped me see another text that shows that Jesus is not omniscient, and therefore not God, in His post-resurrectional state. You have many such moments of brilliance throughout your book, making it a truly revolutionary work." He said of my book format invention, Triangle Book, "the design of your book made it easy for me to read and refer to, especially since the angle of the page is such that I can switch from my computer (online Bible, programs, notes, etc) back and forth, with relative ease. It took a little getting used to turning the pages and rotating the book, but was well worth it. Well done." [I made a mistake in arranging text when I self-published RJC, so that it unnecessarily required rotating the book.] Samuel says regarding p. 322, "The concept of Agent Christology . . . is very powerful! Also God-in-Christ Christology." [Emphasis his.] Samuel then says concerning a section in RJC that treats the so-called preexistence of Jesus in the Gospel of John, "UP TO ABOUT HERE IN THE DISCUSSION [emphasis his], I have followed your train of thought and found what you have written to be well reasoned and true to the biblical text. . . . But your position on Jesus not preexisting seems to me to be more of a tweaking of the biblical text in order to get it to support a pre-determined outcome." So, Samuel believes the Bible does not say Jesus is God, but he still believes it says Jesus preexisted, though not as an actual human being. When I decided in 1982 that the Bible does not say Jesus is God, it then took me about twelve more years of much study to conclude that neither does it say Jesus actually preexisted. This question can get semantical due to the Johannine Logos and kenosis in Phil 2.6-7. Samuel concludes his critique by saying, "Once again, this book is outstanding in establishing Jesus in His position as the exalted Messiah, while God the Father alone is God. . . . Thanks again for all your hard work and the many hours that have gone into researching and producing such a well documented and thorough treatise of what should be called a 'high Christology.'"
Bill Schlegel was for 25 years a professor and co-founder of John MacArthur's Masters University Israel Bible Extension (IBEX) program in Israel. He was also Lecturer of Hebrew and Bible Geography and at the Jerusalem University College. In early 2018, he was studying the phrase "the Son of God" in the Bible as applied to Jesus. He changed from believing it means Jesus is God. He then had to resign his position at IBEX. On 3/13/2019, Bill emailed me the following review he wrote about my book:
"Anyone who thinks the Bible Says God is a Trinity, or Jesus Christ is God, shoud read Kermit Zarley's The Restitution of Jesus Christ (2008). It is a comprehensive study of biblical [actually, identity] Christology. For some 1700 years, Christian churches have claimed that the Bible says Jesus is God, or a God-Man. Zarley, a former Trinitarian for 22 years, challenges this assertion. He says the biblical view is not 'God is Christ,' but 'God in Christ.' That is, the One God of the Bible, Yahweh, worked in and through His human Messiah, Jesus, to reveal Himself to mankind (JOhn 1:18; Heb 1:1) and to reconcile the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19).
"In the first part of the book, Zarley reviews the historical development of the deity-of-Christ and trinitarian theology. The standard church narrative runs something like this: 'Beginning in New Testament times and then for hundreds of years, Christians believed Jesus is God and God is a Trinity. Only in the 3-4th century did people begin to suggest Jesus isn't God, and the church rightly condemned such heretical views.' With careful research, Zarley show this narrative to be false.
"The main part of the book is a step-by-step, well-researched study of biblical [identity] Christology. First is 'Messianism in the Old Testament' where Zarley examines traditional Christianity's claims of finding evidence for the Trinity or deity of Messiah in the Old Testament: the plural 'Elohim,' appearances of the angel of the LORD acclaimed as pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus, and passages like Genesis 1:26, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6 are among those considered.
"Then, 'Christology in the New Testament' begins with the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. How do they present Jesus? What is the real answer to Jesus' question: 'Who do you say that I am?' (Matt. 16:15, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20). 'Problem Passages' which traditional Christianity has claimed show the deity of Christ or the Trinity, like Matthew 28:19, are investigated.
"A major part of The Restitution is about the Christology of the Gospel of John since this New Testament book is considered by traditional Christianity to most clearly show the deity of Christ. Therefore, Zarley considers his analysis of this gospel as the most significant part of his book. It includes John's prologue in John 1:1-18, 'making himself equal with God' (5:18), 'before Abraham was, I am' (8:58), 'I and the Father are one' (10:30), and 'my Lord and my God' (20:28), Zarley says they are understood better as 'God in Christ' and not 'God is Christ.' He explains, consistent with the Synoptic Gospels, John presents Jesus as God the Father's chief agent or representative through whom He is working.
"The Restitution continues with an analysis of Paul's Christology, then of the book of Hebrews, of Peter's epistles, and finally of the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation).
"One the one hand, the book is a scholarly work that is well-documented with hundreds of mostly reference footnotes. On the other hand, it is very readable and accessible to the lay reader. It may be a bit of a daunting read from cover to cover (546 pages not including bibliography), but I found the reading only tedious in a couple places. The book will serve well as a reference for future study. Even if readers don't agree with Zarley's claims, Bible college and seminary students, teachers, pastors, and lay persons should read this book so they can better understand what they do believe.
"This reviewer agrees to a great degree with Kermit Zarley's The Restitution of Jesus. It is playing a part in what some are calling a 21st Century Reformation in biblical Christology."