Book Review

Boff, L. Passion of Christ, Passion of the World (trans R. Barr). Orbis: NY. 2001.

 It is possible to apply the interpretative and historical methods Leonardo Boff insists in his biblical study of the cross, to his own work, and see it very much as a polemical product of the autocratic regimes that dominated South America in 1977 when the book was first published. Themes of oppression, power, justice and liberation are woven dextrously through a scholarly and masterful exegesis of historical and theological perspectives on the crucifixion. The cross is the site of incarnation: transcendence is sacrificed so that the full potential of humanity (its salvation) can commence. Boff’s historicism seems reliable, and he uses it to explicitly deny deicide as part of the Cross narrative. He engages various New Testament, Catholic and Protestant perspectives on the Easter narrative, which maintaining a steady thematic argument for the polemical significance of epitome of Christian faith. Boff’s erudition and articulation are motivated by the fluent, committed voice of a prominent exponent of what was known as liberation theology. The book is a classic of twentieth century theology. The book invites but lacks equal historical treatment of the resurrection as well as the early communities through which incarnate politicised faith was made manifest. This work sits beside more contemporary accounts of politicised mission that apply theology to their cause. It is a foundational effort in the still emerging realization of a left wing Christian vision that fully and coherently resonates with New Testament writings.

(Written for Insights Magazine)

Geoffrey Sykes

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