Bobby Bose, SAIACS Press, 2014.
—Reviewed by Timothy L. Eckert, PhD Intercultural Studies, missionary to the FulBe of West Africa.
The global situation is increasingly one where cultures and religions are meeting and interacting across the world, particularly in urban centers. Bobby Bose’s tome is a response to the theological challenges Christians increasingly face in the multicultural, multi-religious urban contexts of the world. It is unique due to its in-depth, scholarly investigation of biblical and Christian writings on the topic of the state-after-death understood according to the pluralistic contexts and time periods in which they were written. Bose writes from the perspective that the state-after-death is a “major component of a Christian theology of religions” and, therefore, important to modern-day Christian missiological outreach (p. 51).
Bose first focuses on Hinduism’s, Islam’s, and modern secular humanism’s views on the state-after-death (chap. 1) and then explores the scholarly perspectives of contemporary Christian mission theologians, including Bonhoeffer, Devanandan, Neill, Kraemer, and Thomas, Hick, and Kung (chaps. 2-3). Bose then sets the stage for exploration of biblical/Christian writings while using a three-fold hermeneutical approach. He gives a brief overview of hermeneutical theories while interacting with theologians such as Thiselton, Osborne, and Vanhoozer (chap. 4). His investigation of biblical writings includes that of the topic of state-after-death (chap. 5), the resurrection from the dead (chap. 6) in the Old Testament, and state-after-death in the Synoptic Gospels, John’s Gospel (chap. 7), Paul’s Epistles, and the Book of Revelation (chap. 8). Subsequently, Christian non-biblical sources—first the “apostolic fathers” (chap. 9) and then early Christian ‘apologists’ (chap. 10)—are investigated.
Bose concludes his tome by discussing how to disseminate the Christian state-after-death message. He calls for interpersonal dialogue by Christians with those of non-Christian faiths which would provide a venue for learning from them, while showing respect and concern and articulating the gospel to them. He briefly elaborates on theories and methods related to how to effectively communicate the gospel to secular humanists, to Hindus and Buddhists, and to Muslims from a basis of biblical and Christian writings and a proper hermeneutic.
Bose’s scholarly tome is thus most appealing to a theologically and missiologically astute Christian audience. It is a treasure trove of information on what the writings of scripture, Christian missiologists, theologians, apostolic fathers, and early apologists reveal about the state-after-death.
However, to make his book even more pertinent to Christians in the contemporary pluralistic situations they encounter, Bose could discuss (what empirically-based research findings reveal about) how contemporary non-Christians from pluralistic contexts respond to Christian presentations of the state-after-death topic and then more thoroughly (than a few pages in the last chapter) explore the materials, theories, and methods that contemporary Christians can use when interacting with non-Christians about the state-after-death.