Union with Christ: Adolf Schlatter’s Relational Christology

By Michael Bräutigam

A significant new study of the work of the Swiss theologian Adolf Schlatter, explaining the context and importance of his contributions to Christology.

ISBN: 9780227175736


Union with Christ is the first extensive work on the Christology of Swiss theologian Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938). It offers fresh insights not only to readers interested in Adolf Schlatter’s theology in particular, but also to students and professionals from the historical and dogmatic disciplines in general. The first part of the book sets the scene by tracing the biographical context of Schlatter’s Christological thinking. It explores Schlatter’s evaluation of Kantianism, of the revival movement, of Ritschl and the Ritschl school, and of dialectical theologians, particularly Karl Barth. Based on this analysis, the second part of the work examines the dogmatic shape of Schlatter’s relational Christology in more detail. From the perspective of Schlatter’s theological triad of seeing-act, thinking-act, and life-act, it investigates his relational account of Jesus Christ against the backdrop of a distinct Trinitarian framework. According to Schlatter, Jesus reveals his divinity on the cross as he is able to maintain fellowship with God in spite of God-forsakenness – mediated by the Holy Spirit – and he reveals his humanity by remaining in close communion with sinners, transforming them and gathering them into the new community of faith.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 256

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Michael Bräutigam is Lecturer in Theology and Ministry at Melbourne School of Theology.


Foreword by Andreas J. Köstenberger


Part 1: The Genesis and Context of Schlatter’s Christology
1. Who was Adolf Schlatter? Biography and Theology
2. Where was Adolf Schlatter?

Part 2: The Shape of Schlatter’s Christology
3. The Sehakt: Empirical-Critical Realism and the Unified Christ
4. The Denkakt (I): Jesus in Relation to God
5. The Denkakt (II): Jesus in Relation to God and Humanity
6. The Lebensakt: Organic Volitional Union with Christ

Epilogue: Christology after Schlatter

Subject Index
Name Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Adolf Schlatter was a giant of German theology at the turn of the twentieth century who combined painstaking biblical scholarship with a unique grasp of theological issues in a way rivaled perhaps only by Bultmann. Bräutigam does a splendid job retrieving Schlatter’s Christology as a resource for contemporary theological reflection.
Johannes Zachhuber, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, University of Oxford

This thoroughly researched and enthusiastic study offers a captivating introduction to the world in which Schlatter worked, and while it then proceeds to major on one key aspect of his Christology it never allows us to forget that beyond it there lies a rich and unexplored hinterland where every confessional tradition might dig with profit.
Donald Macleod, Retired Professor of Systematic Theology

This volume offers an unsurpassed introduction to the work of Adolf Schlatter, one of the most influential yet most neglected voices in modern theology. Bräutigam provides not only a contoured analysis of Schlatter’s engagements with exegesis, dogmatics, and ethics, focusing particularly on Schlatter’s Christology, but also articulates carefully both the historical context and the contemporary relevance and significance of the work of Schlatter. This is a very fine study and comes highly recommended.
Paul Nimmo, Professor, Chair in Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen

Adolf Schlatter was a renowned biblical scholar and theologian whose pupils include several of the leading figures in twentieth century theology. In this admirably clear, informed, and sympathetic study, Michael Bräutigam explores [Schlatter’s] lifelong preoccupation with Christology. As Bräutigam shows, Schlatter’s combination of relational and substantive themes in characterizing the person of Jesus continues to merit attention.
David Fergusson, Professor of Divinity and Principal of New College, University of Edinburgh

Finally, an English-language monograph on Schlatter that takes the measure of his genius and theological depth. Michael Bräutigam limpidly and shrewdly details factors that explain the emergence, erudition, and profundity of Schlatter’s Christological synthesis.
Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

[The reviewer] would like to express [their] thanks to Brautigam for his thorough analysis of Schlatter’s relational Christology and recommend his book as an important contribution to the Christological debate – not only as a supplement to the history of Christology, but first and foremost as a distinctive and challenging theological approach to the understanding of Christology today.
Torleiv Austad, in European Journal of Theology, Vol XXVI, No 1

Bräutigam’s work is an excellent introduction to Schlatter and the best example of Schlatter’s Christology. The volume moves beyond mere description to a constructive expounding of Schlatter’s Christology. At first glance, the volume may appear narrow in scope; however, in addressing numerous issues, Bräutigam’s Union with Christ should not be overlooked. The volume should prove to be an insightful read for those interested in Adolf Schlatter, the Trinity, or Christology.
Hoon J. Lee, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 24, Issue 4

Bräutigam’s exposition and his concluding commentary on the lasting value of Schlatter’s work ably demonstrate why scholars and graduate researchers will be greatly helped in their understanding of this neglected, but significant figure from the last century.
Taylor Worely, in Theological Book Review, Vol 28, No 1