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Known by God

A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity
Brian S. Rosner (Author) , Jonathan Lunde (General Editor)
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What does the Bible say about your sense of self?

In the past, an individual's identity was more predictable than it is now. Today, personal identity is a do-it-yourself project. Constructing a stable and satisfying sense of self is hard amidst relationship breakdowns, the pace and rhetoric of modern life, the rise of social media, social mobility, and so on. Ours is a day of identity angst.

Who are you? What defines you? What makes you you?

In Known by God, Rosner argues that rather than knowing ourselves, being known by God is the key to personal identity. He explores three biblical angles on the question of personal identity:

  • Being made in the image of God.
  • Being known by God.
  • Being in Christ.

At the center of a biblical understanding of personal identity is sonship: God gives us our identity as a parent who knows his child. Being known by him as his child gives our fleeting lives significance, provokes in us needed humility, supplies cheering comfort when things go wrong, and offers clear moral direction for living.


Part of the Biblical Theology for Life series, this practical and insightful book will help you ground your longing to be known and the security of your identity on the solid foundation of biblical understanding and reflection.

About the Author

Brian S. Rosner is Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia Previously he taught at the University of Aberdeen and Moore Theological College. He holds degrees from Sydney University and Dallas Theological Seminary and has a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Brian is the author or editor of over a dozen books, including the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the Pillar commentary on 1 Corinthians (with Roy E. Ciampa), The Consolations of Theology, Greed as Idolatry, Paul and the Law, and How to Find Yourself: Why Looking Inward is Not the Answer. He is married to Natalie and has four children, a son-in-law and two grandchildren.


From the very first page, Brian Rosner succeeds beautifully in doing what few today dare to attempt. He seamlesslyintegrates raw personal experience with depth of biblical insight and sophisticated cultural analysis. Known by Godis like nothing else you'll read. It deftly explores the weighty theme of human identity, with one eye firmly on theWord of God in all its clarity and another on the world in all its confusion about the self. Rosner is an expert guidethrough beautiful and largely unmarked territories, in the end opening up for the reader a marvellous vista of thehuman being from the divine perspective. To know oneself fully, Rosner shows, is really to understand and accepthow one is viewed by the Creator and Redeemer. -- John Dickson, author, historian, and founding director of the Centre for Public Christianity

Amidst the ceaseless clamor to 'know thyself' and the constant barrage of identity politics, Rosner offers a neededcorrective by looking at identity through a biblical lens. Known by God is a beautifully written exploration into thebiblical story of identity. Rosner demonstrates that identity is both personal and social; it is about knowing God and,even more importantly, being known by God. Woven throughout the book is his own journey from shattered identityto redemptive wholeness. Identity is not ours to make but ours to receive from the One who knows and loves us andcalls us into the family of God. -- Lynn Cohick, Chair, Biblical and Theological Studies Department, and Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

I have a deep appreciation for how Brian Rosner addresses the theme of the knowledge of God in Scripture. He makesit practical and relational, as it is meant to be. This work is an exegetical treasure trove full of spiritual encouragementsalong the way. Its message invites us, even ushers us, into the very intimacy with our faithful God that it proclaims. -- Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Chair of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

The question of human identity is complex, interesting, and perplexing all at the same time! What is it that makesus who we are, and what sustains us in our identity when many of our earthly markers of identity are taken from us?Much of the thinking within this area has emerged from philosophy or ethics. Brian Rosner draws the debate intothe world of the Bible. In this deep but accessible book Rosner carefully lays out a biblical foundation for humanidentity and in so doing offers clarity and practical wisdom to a profound, personal, and intensely important set ofquestions. The book is deeply grounded in the practices of the church and in Rosner's own narrative. The combinationof scholarly biblical exegesis and meaningful, sometimes moving personal narrative makes this book a wonderfulresource for church and academy. In the end, we are who we are because God knows us. Our identity is gifted to usby a God who knows us and desires that we come to know God. There is beauty, hope, and safety in such knowledge.Brian Rosner has given us a vital gift. -- John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, University of Aberdeen

In this timely and thoughtful book, Dr. Rosner provides a biblical, practical guide to understanding ourselves asGod understands us. He makes the persuasive case that society's call to 'find yourself,' 'be true to yourself,' and 'beauthentic' can only lead to human flourishing when these efforts are grounded in one's union with Christ and God'sprior knowledge of us. This is an ideal book to place into the hands of any believer experiencing the disorientationof life's big changes, especially when those changes involve suffering and loss. With both theological precision andpastoral experience, Dr. Rosner describes how in times of difficulty we can rest in the identity that we have as membersof God's family. -- Frank Thielman, Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School

What makes me the person I am? Who am I? These are surely fundamental existential questions with which we allwrestle. In his new book, Brian Rosner takes up the task of addressing these concerns in a biblically focused way. Hemaintains that personal identity in Scripture has to do with being made in the image of God, being known by God,and being in Christ--reframing how we think about who we are from a God's-eye view. The result is a clear andcompelling account of human personal identity that sheds new light on some of the most important and contestedissues in theological anthropology. -- Oliver D. Crisp, Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Who am I? The only truthful answer is 'God knows!' Leavened by autobiographical touches, Rosner's book teachesus that God knows us when our struggles with our own identity feel hidden from everyone else. Known by God is themost balanced and down-to-earth book about personal identity that I have read. It profoundly illuminates the Bible'steaching that God fathers, owns, and remembers each of his human children. -- Francesca Aran Murphy, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

  • Product Details
  • Page Count: 272
  • Format: Softcover
  • ISBN: 9780310499824
  • Release: September 12, 2017
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