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An Introduction to Theological Anthropology

Humans, Both Creaturely and Divine

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Theological anthropology is a topic of perennial interest among evangelical theologians and other scholars of religion. Although numerous introductions are available, the vast majority presuppose a nonbiblical worldview and require a familiarity with philosophy and theology. This volume fills a gap in the literature by offering a thorough introduction to the topic written from an evangelical perspective. It introduces foundational sources of knowledge on human persons from the scriptural narrative and church history while drawing from contemporary evangelical models.

Motived by ancient and Reformed reflections on human nature, Joshua Farris walks the reader through some of the most important issues in traditional approaches to anthropology, such as sexuality, posthumanism, and the image of God. He addresses fundamental questions like, What does it mean to be human? Who am I? and Why do I exist? He also considers the creaturely and divine nature of humans, the body-soul relationship, and the beatific vision. Farris concludes that humans are souls and bodies and are designed to experience the presence of God. They are appropriately understood in their creaturely context as divine image bearers, yet their goal is union with God.

Foreword by Marc Cortez
Preface: Humans--Creaturely and Divine
Introduction: Where Do We Begin? Humans, Prolegomena, and Method
1. What Am I? Creaturely and Redemptive Identity
2. What Am I and Where Did I Originate? Are We Apes, Humans, or Gods?
3. What Am I in Relation to God? The Image as Creaturely and Divine
4. What Does It Mean to Be Free? Freedom as Creaturely and Divine
5. Who Am I at Birth? Original Sin and Creaturely Failure
6. Who Am I in Christ? Humans, Descended and Ascended
7. Who Are We in Culture? Creaturely and Divine in Work, Race, and Disability
8. Who Are We as Male and Female? Humans as Gendered and Sexual
9. Why Am I Here? Creaturely Living, Dying, and the In-Between
10. Why Do I Exist? Creaturely Process and Divine Destiny
Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?
Appendix: Philosophy and Theology in Anthropology: A Review of Recent Literature
Suggested Readings


"An authentic tour de force, this book is your one-stop resource for theological anthropology, for students and professors alike. Farris demonstrates the fecundity of a broad evangelical Reformed tradition--in constant dialogue with the broader Christian tradition--for a wide array of topics related to the nature of humanity. He articulates a comprehensive anthropology adequately grounded in a doctrine of creation, yet without neglecting either Christology or eschatology."

Adonis Vidu, professor of theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"What, who, and why am I? Few questions are more complicated and important to answer. In An Introduction to Theological Anthropology, Farris offers a bold, lucid, and comprehensive vision of the human person as an embodied soul whose identity and purpose are found in the vision of God. Unapologetically evangelical and Reformed, this introduction is a valuable resource for both teaching and research."

Joanna Leidenhag, lecturer in theology, University of St. Andrews

"In An Introduction to Theological Anthropology, Joshua Farris retrieves the best of the Christian tradition's reflections on human persons while interacting with various challenges of the twenty-first century. His work is attentive to questions arising from modern theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences. It addresses those questions from a broad Reformed and evangelical perspective in a style that will be accessible for many. Farris provides an engaging, integrated work that I look forward to using in my classroom."

Mary L. Vanden Berg, Jean and Kenneth Baker Professor of Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary

"With An Introduction to Theological Anthropology, Joshua Farris gives the Christian theological community a sorely needed text. It pays careful attention to biblical, theological, and philosophical scholarship, all of which are relevant to this very complicated area of theological research and teaching. Because of this, Farris's book evidences the sort of interdisciplinary sensitivity demonstrative of the theologian who takes seriously that theology is the queen of the sciences. This text's methodology and content guarantee that I'll use it in my courses."

J. T. Turner, assistant professor of philosophy, Anderson University

"Joshua Farris is a leading figure in the resurgent field of theological anthropology. In this excellent volume, he distills years of first-rate research into a lively and informative introduction to the subject. This introduction is philosophically savvy as well as theologically substantive in its content and argument. Farris begins every chapter with scriptural and cultural material to prompt initial questions, which he then brings into conversation with the catholic or holy tradition. Along the way, he expounds the body-soul relationship, creaturely and divine purpose, beatific vision, and deification, boldly pointing the way for Protestants committed to a robust account of theological anthropology."

Jerry L. Walls, professor of philosophy and scholar in residence, Houston Baptist University

"What's a theologian, whose speciality is God, doing making claims about the nature of humanity? Isn't Reformed theology, with its doctrine of total depravity, itself a crime against humanity? Farris's book responds to these and other contemporary questions, arguing that humans will be able to answer the big questions about meaning, identity, and destiny only insofar as they can position themselves in relation to God and to the story of God's relationship to humanity attested in Scripture. To an age poised between modern confidence in science that reduces humanity to its materiality and postmodern suspicion of fixed forms that throws open the Pandora's box of human plasticity, Farris calls for a reconsideration of the biblical narrative and a retrieval of the way the church has traditionally interpreted it. While not shirking the contemporary challenges--their name is Legion--Farris here lets Jesus Christ, the God-man and light of the world, illumine what it means to be human."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Farris offers an eminently analytical account of theological anthropology that will appeal to readers from a variety of Christian denominational backgrounds. Don't be fooled by the textbook appearance: this volume contains plenty of incisive engagements with both historic and contemporary perspectives that both esteem and plague the human condition. This is a kaleidoscopic theology and philosophy in ten jam-packed chapters."

Paul Allen, academic dean and professor of theology, Corpus Christi College

"Joshua Farris has written a very helpful book on a timely topic. Contemporary discussions of the nature of humans are fraught with confusion and opacity. Yet theology has much to offer to alleviate these plights. With clarity and charity, Farris treats a myriad of pertinent topics in this principled introductory text. Scripturally grounded, historically informed, philosophically savvy, and scientifically engaged, this book offers a provocative and compelling theological vision for humanity's place in God's cosmos."

James M. Arcadi, assistant professor of biblical and systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

The Author

  1. Joshua R. Farris
    © Michael TIms / Houston Baptist University

    Joshua R. Farris

    Joshua R. Farris (PhD, University of Bristol) is Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecturer for 2019-2020 at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. He was assistant professor of theology at Houston Baptist University and served as a Henry Fellow for the Creation...

    Continue reading about Joshua R. Farris


"As Farris shows, it's only by emphasizing that we're both creaturely and divine--body and soul--that we can affirm the full dignity and true destiny of every person. Politics always swims downstream from nature, so a robust understanding of the what, who, and why of our humanity must be the starting point of any meaningful proposals to fix what's broken in our society. Farris doesn't answer every question, and one could disagree with any number of answers he gives. But his keen understanding of the issues together with his God-glorifying vision of humanity makes his book an excellent place to begin."

Timothy Kleiser,

Christianity Today

"Farris's large undertaking serves as a successful introduction to the vast field of theological anthropology. Readers are not only exposed to the in-depth conversations of ontology, Christology, culture, and the like, but also invited to expand and explore the avenues Farris has left open. This book is an essential recommendation to any reader in need of a guide to traversing this important and growing question of what it means to be human."

Cody Bivins,

Reading Religion

"[A] substantive account of theological anthropology that brings the challenges of this locus of theological inquiry into clear focus for critical engagement. . . . Interested students of theology and seasoned theologians alike will benefit greatly from Farris's work in this book. It serves as a stimulating and enjoyable foray into the major issues of Christian theological anthropology and opens up countless pathways for further rigorous thought, research, and development."

Kyle D. Claunch,


"Farris weaves together patristics, major figures of Reformed theology, and a heavy dose of contemporary analytic theology. The book is structured in a very user friendly loci approach, which allows readers to consult specific topics as well as traverse the whole of the text from start to finish. . . . Throughout Farris does not simply present a range of positions without himself committing to theological conclusions. He stakes claims. Yet, he does so only after fair presentation of the strengths and weaknesses of varying alternatives. . . . The book is an especially useful introductory text to acquaint one with the current state of issues in theological anthropology. It offers many criticisms, analyses, and conclusions which, even if one disagrees with them, are still formidable and thought-provoking contributions to both the hoary debates of theological anthropology and fresher ones that have emerged more recently."

Daniel Schrock,