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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good British Common Sense, 3 Dec 2000
This review is from: Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: v. 2 (Christian Origins & the Question of God) (Paperback)
Is it coincidence that it falls to a British scholar, Tom Wright, to be, arguably, the major stumbling block in the way of an ever-active Jesus Seminar with its witty, aphorism-producing Jesus? British scholarship has always been more conservative than that produced in the States and this is shown here in Wright's argument for a Jesus who sees himself as a representative both of God and of Israel, one who is seen as releasing Israel from exile and the power of her enemies (spiritual and temporal) and "reconstructing Israel around himself".
Wright's thesis, for all his conservatism, is both bold and distinctive. He holds to an "eschatological" Jesus, one who has a future aspect to his theology and also one who, in Crossan-like ways, has compassion for the poor and the outcast of Palestinian society in his acts of healing and eating. Wright though, in distinction from Crossan and the Jesus Seminar, is, it seems, looking to give an historical account of the historical Jesus which can dovetail nicely with a more traditional reading of the Synoptic Gospels and the New Testament more generally. In this book you will not find a plethora of references to either the Gospel of Thomas or to the Q Gospel. Instead, you will find historical argument, replete with numerous biblical and extra-biblical Jewish quotations and texts, which aims to build up a picture of a Jewish prophet and more than a prophet. This does not, in my opinion, spill over into worship or sycophancy but the argument is carefully pitched so as not to upturn too many applecarts. One might almost call it "historical evangelism" but I hope that by using that term readers wil not think that this book is either crassly evangelistic or proselytizing; it is neither. But Jesus is clearly here a hero of sorts and someone who, for the writer, answers questions of deep and meaningful significance which can only be understood by present readers within the matrix of Christianity (though Wright goes out of his way to show Jesus off as a Jew in every sense of the word).
I really liked this book and valued its argument. I think Wright procedes along the correct line of interpretation to view Jesus as eschatological(in a future sense, though not simplistically so) and I think he argues correctly for a Jesus who saw himself connected both to the Jewish God and to Israel. I also think that Jesus fits into the paradigm of "leadership prophet" and I think that he had a distintive "prophetic consciousness". So I think that on a number of things Wright is right. But the reason I would recommend this book is because it offers a coherent and cogent opposition to a nascent belief in the Jesus of the Jesus Seminar. That Jesus has many aspects which I would disagree with, and disagree with on historical grounds. This book critiques and causes damage to the arguments of the Jesus Seminar ON HISTORICAL GROUNDS and if that is where the battle takes place then Wright's book should be welcomed and read by all who have an interest.
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