The author is Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, and this book represents a distillation of ideas he presents at length in lengthy scholarly publications, which engage in "mainstream" historical debate about Jesus and first-century Christianity. Wright debates, however, without setting aside personal commitment to and belief in the essential truth and genuine historicity (of Jesus's resurrection, for example) which the New Testament books and letters claim. This does not mean that he feels bound to toe any particular line defined as orthodox. "I am someone who believes that being a Christian necessarily entails doing business with history and that history done for all it's worth will challenge spurious versions of Christianity, including many that think of themselves as orthodox, while sustaining and regenerating a deep and true orthodoxy, surprising and challenging though this will always remain." (p 16) I would have to let theolgians offer opinions on the orthodoxy of Wright's arguments; but these arguments are in any case stimulating and bring fresh air to scriptural study and devotional contemplation. There are three areas where Wright challenges what he feels are common misunderstandings about Jesus. First, he argues that "Jesus remained utterly anchored in first-century Judaism" (p 73), and that everything he said and did was a "unique challenge to his contemporaries" and was "related uniquely and specifically to that situation" [i.e. in the first century] (p 174). Wright feels that this approach closes off the possibility of Deism, or of seeing Jesus merely as one of several `great men' of a certain type in human history, a type of deeply wise, gentle moral philosopher preaching timeless aphorisms. By setting studying Jesus in his historical context alone, and shutting off (at least for the moment) the universality of his words and deeds, we come to a better understanding of their profound radicality and significance. Jesus was casting himself as the culminating nexus of everything that Jewish history and prophecy had been pointing to. Wright shows how this approach helps us to understand better why the first Christians (who were Jews) became utterly convinced that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, whose message had to be taken to the Gentiles. Wright cautions that his approach does not mean that Jesus loses his relevance for today - "this fear is groundless". "The key I propose for translating Jesus' unique message to the Israel of his day into our message to our contemporaries is to grasp the parallel, which is woven deeply into both Testaments, between the human call to bear God's image and Israel's call to be the light of the world. ... Jesus came as the true Israel, the true Jew, the true human." (p 184) The author also challenges what he considers a creeping Docetism into our modern understanding of who Jesus was, and of how he understood his vocation and what he believed himself to be. Wright's arguments in this book, although shortened from his methodical treatment in other books, are still to complex - challenging - to outline in a review. He urges Christians to "forget the `titles' of Jesus, at least for a moment; forget the attempts of some well-meaning Christians to make Jesus of Nazareth conscious of being the second person of the Trinity" (p 122-123), as these approaches can reduce Jesus to almost a ghostly, supernatural presence, when in fact he was a breathing, sleeping, walking man who suffered and died. Third: in the final two chapters of the book Wright explains why he feels that postmodern philosophy has discredited modern philosophy (modern = 18th, 19th, early 20th centuries), with its claim that science can uncover objective truth, and why we should not fear this. Rather, he considers that Christianity can fluorish as well or better in the postmodern intellectual world, and mixes the argument with personal, devotional reflections on what it means to be a follower of Jesus today. I recommend the book espcially to anyone who wants to read an intellectually rigorous challenge to the conclusions of those historians who wish, however tactfully, to debunk Christianity.