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30 review for Becoming Human: Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word and Image

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dan Glover

    This is theological anthropology anchored in Christology, creation and eschatology. It is expansive yet compact, precise yet poetic. Behr shows that death has been given a new 'use' through the death and resurrection of Christ (and ascension and out-pouring of the Holy Spirit) such that the death of believers must now be understood as their birth into true and full life as human beings created in the image of their creator and formed into the likeness of Christ by his own shaping and life-breath This is theological anthropology anchored in Christology, creation and eschatology. It is expansive yet compact, precise yet poetic. Behr shows that death has been given a new 'use' through the death and resurrection of Christ (and ascension and out-pouring of the Holy Spirit) such that the death of believers must now be understood as their birth into true and full life as human beings created in the image of their creator and formed into the likeness of Christ by his own shaping and life-breathing work. He shows this from Scripture and the teaching of the early church Fathers, and he illustrates it from the lives of the martyrs. These ideas were not new for me, having taken a class with Father Behr and having read lots of Peter Leithart over the years. But I read this not long after the death of a child of some close friends and, having lost some very close family myself (mother, son, grandparents, etc.), I was reminded that this is such an important personal truth for every Christian to hold close (especially when our culture likes to hide all discussion of death, even when a pandemic makes this impossible). Aside from the meditation on death-in-Christ being an essential part of the Christian calling to become fully who God intends us to be, this was a reminder that all good theology ought to be pastoral.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim Kauffman

    How much do I like this book? Well, I briefly considered reducing all my previous ratings by one star so this one could have its rightful place alone at the top. It's that good. Read it slowly. Take time to meditate and absorb it. Reread it, because there's too much here to take in at once. It's not necessarily an easy read, but it's accessible if you're willing to engage it. This is a serious work of theology and anthropology, but it's designed to be read as a devotional, not a textbook. It's a How much do I like this book? Well, I briefly considered reducing all my previous ratings by one star so this one could have its rightful place alone at the top. It's that good. Read it slowly. Take time to meditate and absorb it. Reread it, because there's too much here to take in at once. It's not necessarily an easy read, but it's accessible if you're willing to engage it. This is a serious work of theology and anthropology, but it's designed to be read as a devotional, not a textbook. It's a work of beauty.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andres Perez Gonzalez

    I heard Fr. John Behr say that he wrote this book in a couple of weeks but edited it for a couple of years. The words and images found in this little book hold deep and profound meditations that challenge and nurture heart and mind. Theological anthropology at its best.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Philippe Deblois

    Beautiful little book. Make sure to buy the hard copy

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marcás

    Fr John Behr is a noble successor to the late Fr Alexander Schmemann and provides us, in this beautiful and slim volume, with profound contemplation of key points in the Christian story as well as a fresh way of looking at the big picture. The power in his approach is that his ideas almost seep into your consciousness like a pleasant aftertaste from a fine meal, so that there is a lingering and new appreciation of the familiar... turning over our ideas about the fall and God's supposed 'rescue o Fr John Behr is a noble successor to the late Fr Alexander Schmemann and provides us, in this beautiful and slim volume, with profound contemplation of key points in the Christian story as well as a fresh way of looking at the big picture. The power in his approach is that his ideas almost seep into your consciousness like a pleasant aftertaste from a fine meal, so that there is a lingering and new appreciation of the familiar... turning over our ideas about the fall and God's supposed 'rescue operation' to a sounder view of God's providence. His isn't a short and sharp writing style like GK Chesterton or Fabrice Hadjadj; however, when he takes aim it does hit you! Particularly prescient is Behr's approach to Male and Female, which is among the most profound and comprehensive insights i've ever came across on this topic, alongside aforementioned Hadjadj.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    This is a very short work by Fr John Behr, but don't let that fool you. There is so much to be had here in these short pages that he just didn't need any more. Every page is packed with a poetic theology of a depth that is sorely lacking in the world today. This is something to be savored over time and meditated upon. Like his 'Mystery of Christ', 'Becoming Human' is a book you read once and then over the years come back to it again and again. Every time you do so you'll come across just one mor This is a very short work by Fr John Behr, but don't let that fool you. There is so much to be had here in these short pages that he just didn't need any more. Every page is packed with a poetic theology of a depth that is sorely lacking in the world today. This is something to be savored over time and meditated upon. Like his 'Mystery of Christ', 'Becoming Human' is a book you read once and then over the years come back to it again and again. Every time you do so you'll come across just one more thing that you didn't notice the last time. This book is well worth the time, and recommended for anyone and everyone. You can't go wrong with this one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Lake

    This little gem is, for all intents and purposes, a synopsis in word and image of the course I had with Fr. John Behr at Nashotah House on the anthropology of the eastern church fathers. Rich reflection on what it means to be human--to find life in death, and our true identity in Christ Jesus. This book is a gift and would repay reading regularly (say, in Advent or Lent).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Stunningly simple, prolific and profound, elegantly designed. Fr. John Behr paints a mysterious and positively haunting picture of what it means to be truly human. The book makes use of a mixture of fonts and art work, quotes and allusions, that bring an abundant and eclectic, holistic, picture into view. Full review to come.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christina “6 word reviewer” Lake

    Stirring theological anthropology. Quick read. Beautiful.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Watson

    This volume is presented in a very unique format. Certain passages may have a larger, and divergent font for emphasis, there are numerous images, and quotations throughout, and the prose is almost a stream of consciousness. It is clear that the author intended this to be a very meditative reading experience, given that the concepts are very loosely sketched out, and in some cases may even seem vague. I think that the intention is for the reader to reflect, and contemplate each page, rather than This volume is presented in a very unique format. Certain passages may have a larger, and divergent font for emphasis, there are numerous images, and quotations throughout, and the prose is almost a stream of consciousness. It is clear that the author intended this to be a very meditative reading experience, given that the concepts are very loosely sketched out, and in some cases may even seem vague. I think that the intention is for the reader to reflect, and contemplate each page, rather than simply absorb information through the intellect. The books brevity permits it to be read in a single sitting, however, it’s impact will undoubtedly be more pronounced with a more deliberate reading pace. The strengths and weaknesses of this volume will run along the same lines as Behr’s more expansive work “The Mystery Of Christ”. The Alexandrian method of interpreting scripture which is advocated by Behr serves this volume very well in its goal, namely to produce meditative reflection upon the work of Christ. However, the authors complete disregard for historical context, or authorial intent seems to be a step too far, though it is admittedly less pronounced in in this book. Ultimately, I think that “Becoming Human” is best suited for devotional use, perhaps incorporated into times of prayer. The themes which are sketched, and teased in this book will likely provoke curiosity, and appetite for Behr’s more comprehensive work.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bennett

    Well written, patristic reading of what it means to be human through a willingness to enter into the suffering of the Cross, "using" death to our advantage in becoming truly human through Christ. Great insight, tightly packed and thematically broad, as he draws on scriptural texts and patristic authors with some contemporary application in our context of do-it-ourself individualism. Includes about 50 pieces of art and iconography that fit the theme of each page. Well written, patristic reading of what it means to be human through a willingness to enter into the suffering of the Cross, "using" death to our advantage in becoming truly human through Christ. Great insight, tightly packed and thematically broad, as he draws on scriptural texts and patristic authors with some contemporary application in our context of do-it-ourself individualism. Includes about 50 pieces of art and iconography that fit the theme of each page.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ian Galey

    A short meditation on what it means for Christians that God became a human. Through his death and an individual's marriage to him, Christ has enabled man to use his own mortality—the ultimate fact of mankind—to destroy the flesh and its sinfulness. Behr draws on the Fathers and explores the humanity of Christ as the glory of God. A short meditation on what it means for Christians that God became a human. Through his death and an individual's marriage to him, Christ has enabled man to use his own mortality—the ultimate fact of mankind—to destroy the flesh and its sinfulness. Behr draws on the Fathers and explores the humanity of Christ as the glory of God.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    “ Rather than thinking of the Incarnation of Christ as an event restricted to a long-gone past in a far-removed land, we should instead think of it as a possibility that is to be lived as an ever contemporary reality, here and now in those who respond to him.“

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    A beautiful and thoughtful reflection, presented in images, quotes and narrative, on the Christian journey of becoming human. Highly recommended!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Talbert

    Excellent. A recapturing of the Fathers and especially a rereading of the creation account(s) that is just beautiful.

  16. 5 out of 5

    William

    I’m confused. I think I understood what he was saying but it didn’t make sense. Perhaps St Irenaeus is clearer?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    A powerhouse of a small book requiring rereading. Beautiful illustrations and prose. Emphasis placed on the process of death to obtain eternal life. Highly recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    D Posey

    A nutrient dense text in a deceptively small package. This could be alternately titled "Meditations on Death" but the ideas and concepts are a much needed refreshment in a dry and shallow understanding of Christianity. A nutrient dense text in a deceptively small package. This could be alternately titled "Meditations on Death" but the ideas and concepts are a much needed refreshment in a dry and shallow understanding of Christianity.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    In John's Gospel, Jesus says: "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24). I brought this book of meditations with me from home to read during a recent Manresa retreat. Although we are "in" this world, we need to somehow "detach" ourselves from the things of this world. We need to, as the Apostle Paul says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3:2) In John's Gospel, Jesus says: "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24). I brought this book of meditations with me from home to read during a recent Manresa retreat. Although we are "in" this world, we need to somehow "detach" ourselves from the things of this world. We need to, as the Apostle Paul says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3:2). This book would make a great Christmas gift: it's an easy read, and combines a variety of text formats with icons, quotes from the Early Church Fathers, and scripture verses.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristofer Carlson

    I've been doing some writing on the subject of Christian Anthropology, but after reading John Behr's slim volume, I don't know that I'm up to the task. I certainly can do no better than John Behr. "The glory of God is a living human being." This first quote alone, from St Irenaeus of Lyon, contains so much theology that one could spend a lifetime studying it. That simple sentence encompases everything we know and everything we cannot know about ourselves, our relationship with humanity, and the I've been doing some writing on the subject of Christian Anthropology, but after reading John Behr's slim volume, I don't know that I'm up to the task. I certainly can do no better than John Behr. "The glory of God is a living human being." This first quote alone, from St Irenaeus of Lyon, contains so much theology that one could spend a lifetime studying it. That simple sentence encompases everything we know and everything we cannot know about ourselves, our relationship with humanity, and the reciprocity between us and God. But wait, there's more!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    This is a short read, but not necessarily an easy read. The book relies on using different type face and formatting to emphasize different thoughts. That can both draw attention to certain phrases or just be a distraction. Some very profound ideas which are also basic to an Orthodox understanding of Christ. An important teaching of this little book is that the incarnation is not just a past historical event, but is something we live today. The same could be said of the resurrection as well as of This is a short read, but not necessarily an easy read. The book relies on using different type face and formatting to emphasize different thoughts. That can both draw attention to certain phrases or just be a distraction. Some very profound ideas which are also basic to an Orthodox understanding of Christ. An important teaching of this little book is that the incarnation is not just a past historical event, but is something we live today. The same could be said of the resurrection as well as of Christ Himself.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I think his view of the role of gender in soteriology problematically ties him to a philosophical system that has been modernized within protestant theology...that of the dialectic. I do not think that Fr. Behr is married to the dialectic but this particular expression of Orthodox soteriology cannot escape it. Otherwise, I think that this underlying theme of "becoming human" can be found in his other work "The Mystery of Christ." I think his view of the role of gender in soteriology problematically ties him to a philosophical system that has been modernized within protestant theology...that of the dialectic. I do not think that Fr. Behr is married to the dialectic but this particular expression of Orthodox soteriology cannot escape it. Otherwise, I think that this underlying theme of "becoming human" can be found in his other work "The Mystery of Christ."

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

    Jesus is the true and first full human. What this means is that we are not human yet and only become human as we become more like Jesus. This little book is an extended meditation on those points. It is concise and profound, drawing on the depth of the church tradition. It is also ascetically pleasing in its presentation, with illustration and attractive fonts to emphasize points. Highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Barton

    Fr Berh provides a series of deep, contemplative meditations that centre on the truth that Jesus shows us what it is to be God in the way that He dies as a human on the cross and at the same time demonstrates what it is to be truly human in the way that God dies on the cross.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Webb

    This is a wonderful little book. Read slowly and meditate on the text.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This book is profound and worth reading. However, it's way overpriced. You can read it in a day or two. Borrow it from someone or a library and read it. This book is profound and worth reading. However, it's way overpriced. You can read it in a day or two. Borrow it from someone or a library and read it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

  28. 4 out of 5

    FrSymeon Najmanje

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charles Jordan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark Schuldt

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