RETRIEVING ETERNAL GENERATION, edited by Fred Sanders and Scott Swain

Published on January 10, 2018 by Joshua R Monroe

Zondervan, 2017 | 304 pages

I recently gave a brief notice of this important new book over on TGC, but it deserves further mention. After reading it again, more carefully, I’m even more impressed!

The book is designed to explore the doctrine of eternal generation through the lens of Biblical Studies, Historical Theology, and then Systematics. The exegetical portion is of course foundational, and the entries here are unusually strong. Scott Swain begins with a comparison of themes common to Genesis 5:1-3, James 1:17, and Hebrews 1:3, providing an introduction to the study that is disarmingly simple. Others, in turn, examine the contributions of Proverbs 8, Micah 5:2, and the all-important John 5:26. Then Lee Irons resurrects the traditional understanding of monogenes as “only begotten.” I will be curious to see how some may attempt to refute his argument; I find them compelling.

Explorations of the contributions of important historical figures (Origen, Augustine, the Reformed tradition, Jonathan Edwards, then to Barth and other contemporary discussions), and finally to more systematic treatments all serve to retrieve this historic doctrine and establish it again to its rightful place in Christian theology. The concluding chapter by Joshua Malone provides an excellent dogmatic summary that clarifies the doctrine crisply. I think all the authors mention in some way that the doctrine of eternal generation has in the last century fallen on bad times, but their combined efforts will doubtless mark a needed correction in contemporary studies.

Sanders and Swain and Co., are to be thanked for their important contribution. For a clarification of this doctrine and for a robust demonstration of its exegetical ground, logic, and role in Christian theology, this is the book – a must have. Certainly the most helpful I’ve seen.


Fred G. Zaspel

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Retrieving Eternal Generation

Zondervan, 2017 | 304 pages

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