Books I have Edited: Life in the Son

I was privileged to be at the launch of Clive’s contribution to the NSBT series at Union School of Theology, in Bridgend, recently. The below is adapted from some remarks I gave on behalf of the publisher. As Clive’s editor, it was great to see ‘Life in Son’ launched in the context of worship, friendship, and joy.


IVP’s vision as a publisher is “to publish books that are true to the Bible and that communicate the gospel, develop discipleship and strengthen the church for it’s mission throughout the world”. With the NSBT series in mind, I’d want to focus particularly on that line ‘true to the Bible’. We hope that everything we do is guided by God’s word and in some way points toward the truth of it, so that churches, institutions and individual Christians are enabled to understand God’s word better and know Jesus more deeply. 

That phrase ‘true to the Bible’ is at the heart of the New Studies in Biblical Theology series – so ably edited for the last three decades by Don Carson, and recently we’ve added a new co-editor. That makes Clive’s volume somewhat historically interesting as the last one to be edited solely by Carson and the in house Apollos editor. Of course, the choice of the Johannine corpus in Clive’s project is also worth noting – Carson’s Pillar commentary features regularly, showing the importance of publishing books that are true to the Bible and serve the needs of the church – and keeping them in print!.

As someone working in publishing I am often asked why we need any more books – surely the old ones are the best? Last year I tried answering this question at Tyndale House, by sketching the parameters of a biblical theology of publishing. Whilst I won’t summarise it here, there is one notable text in the Johannine corpus which relates to publishing, and books. In John 21, the last two verses of the Gospel encapsulate some of what I think we in the publishing, editing and writing business are trying to do. We read:

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

The wonderful truth of union with Christ and participation in the life of the Godhead is one of those ‘things’ that Jesus did, is doing, and will eternally continue to do – and so it is with that in mind that it was a true joy to work on ‘Life in the Son’.The glorious truth of union with or participation in Christ is one that has often been under-emphasized in evangelicalism – and so Clive’s book is a welcome corrective, and in my view falls into the category of a book that is merely showing the glories of the gospel in a way that we need to be reminded of.

Professor Donald Fairbarn writes in his commendation that:

Many Protestants are familiar with the one-anotherness of the Christian faith; we are called to a life of selfless love for each other in Christ’s body, the church. But few are aware that the one-anotherness between believers is based on something even more fundamental, the fact that the Father and Son are eternally in one another and that we as Christians are in the Father and the Son. Bowsher’s illuminating research expertly explores the contours of in-one-anotherness between God and believers in the Johannine writings of the New Testament. His book is eye-opening, faith-enriching, and heart-warming; it will affect every aspect of your relationship to God and to his people. I recommend it enthusiastically.

Fairbarn’s words ring true – as I worked on the manuscript with Clive, I was repeatedly returned to the text of John’s Gospel and Letters – in a way that increased my joy in Christ, and had me grinning at my desk. This is what biblical theology should be like! Commenting on 21:25, Carson perhaps unsurprisingly doesn’t mention publishing, or books, but rather focuses, as we must, on Christ: “The Jesus to whom he bears witness is not only the obedient son and the risen Lord, he is the Incarnate Word, the one through whom the universe was created. If all his deeds were described, the world would be a very small and inadequate library indeed. It is as if John has identified himself (v. 24), but is not content to focus on himself, not even on his veracity. He must close by saying his own work is only a minute part of all the honours due the son”.

You can order your copy of ‘Life in the Son‘ now, though if you live in the USA/Canada, you’ve a wait, I’m afraid.

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