Review: Known by God

33098691Brian S. Rosner is Principal of Ridley College Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. He formerly taught at Moore Theological College, Macquarie University, and the University of Aberdeen and is the author of numerous books, such as Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God (IVP Academic, 2013), The Consolations of Theology (Eerdmans, 2008), and Greed as Idolatry: The Origin and Meaning of a Pauline Metaphor (Eerdmans, 2007). Most Recently, Rosner aptly bridges a much-needed theological “identity” gap with a new, informative volume in Zondervan’s Biblical Theology for Life series.

Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity is divided into three major parts: (1) Queuing the Questions, (2) Arriving at Answers, and (3) Reflecting on Relevance. The initial section seeks to uncover the probing questions concerning personal identity. What defines you? Who are you? What makes you, you? These questions become the framework for the following sections. The second section encompasses the majority of the book and seeks to explore various aspects of how identity angst forces us towards a stable and satisfying sense of self (p. 38). First, Rosner examines the foundations of personal identity through traditional identity markers (i.e. age, race, occupation, possessions, religion, etc.). Second, Rosner directs attention towards the biblical portrait of human identity before grounding such as the culmination of being known by God. The third section explores some of the practical implications and personal benefits that flow from the identity of being known by God (i.e. significance, humility, comfort, direction, etc.).

The biblical theological portrait that Rosnor paints is saturated in gospel reflection that gives both life and worth to a needing world. Known by God is both timely and timeless. Rosner is keenly aware of the cultural confusion that soaks the social landscape of the twenty-first century, and a book of this scope lands with immediate weight. But, then again, a book of this magnitude has potential to land with such weight regardless of time and space. Known by God uncovers an identity eternally established in the creative work of God and the value that comes from being intimately known by him, and him alone. Rosner offers readers a brilliant exploration of personal identity that is landmarked with careful exegesis of both the Old and New Testament, and further overflows with spiritual encouragement. Readers will appreciate the ability that Rosner demonstrates in moving from questions to cultural engagement, then to the biblical text and personal application. Still, the application therein offers more than an understanding of self, it brings gospel-breathed life to every corner of one’s existence.

The Biblical Theology for Life series by Zondervan offers a number of excellent volumes for readers to explore. Still, among the best in the series is Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity by Brian S. Rosner. Rosner embodies the emphasis that readers are to expect from a series offering life out of biblical theology. This book is both practically engaging and theologically rigorous. Rosner is clear and persuasive, and readers are certain to gain more than they expect. If you are looking for a book that will wet your biblical-theological appetite while simultaneously encouraging you towards an identity established in God, then do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Known by God. It comes highly recommended!

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