Book Review: Theological Anthropology, a Guide for the Perplexed

Readers will know that I am very interested in the Imago Dei, and systematic theology relating to it (as well, of course, as the ethics that flow out of this). Indeed, a recent blog post linked out to a paper I wrote and presented on the Imago Dei. This book, then; Marc Cortez’s ‘Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed‘ might be something you might want to read in order to rant at me, or, if you are interested too in one of the most important and diverse areas of theological reflection.

Cortez is well placed to write this book, and I detect echoes of his scholarly ‘Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies: An Exercise in Christological Anthropology and its Significance for the Mind/Body Debate’. Cortez teaches theology at Wheaton College, and blogs at marccortez.com. This book is part of a series of Guides for the Perplexed. Cortez offers us a reasonably succinct, simple and accessible book, though it is perhaps a little more theological/philosophical than the average lay reader might want.

One of the helpful features of this book is its synthesis and explanation of the wide range of views about and across theological anthropology. We have a well organised and well-laid-out book, with six chapters. Cortez offers us a helpful introduction (ch. 1) before moving across the Imago Dei (ch. 2), the thorny but essential area of Sexuality (ch. 3), the aforementioned Mind and Body debate (ch. 4) and finally (interestingly!) the discussion of Free Will (ch. 5) before his Conclusion (ch. 6). Cortez’s style is consistent and confident throughout, though I felt it was clear he was/is particularly interested in the area of Mind and Body.

For such a complex area, and one that is still discussed, Cortez has done those seeking an introduction a serious favour. This is, for its size and scope, a readable, accessible and useful introduction. I am unsure how ‘perplexed’ I was before reading this, and there were a few moments where perplexity came out of nowhere (I’m no philosopher!), but overall this is a helpful and useful book. I would recommend this for pastors, students and those with a serious interest in the area, but would stop short of recommending it for everyone.

As an aside – I read and enjoyed this in Kindle, rather than a physical copy of the book.

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Have you read this book? Would you? Have I treated it unfairly? I’d love to hear in the comments!

 

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