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Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: v. 2 (Christian Origins & the Question of God) Paperback – 14 Nov 1996
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About the Author
N. T. Wright is Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews. He has written over forty books, including The New Testament and the People of God (1992), The Resurrection of the Son of God (2003), Pauline Perspectives (2013) and Paul and His Recent Interpreters (2013).
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But more seriously, there's real depth here. Wright paints a picture of Jesus which is solidly rooted in history, and after reading this book, a lot of the odd little stories and sayings in the gospels suddenly make sense. I'm talking about those difficult to understand bits, which generations of preachers and lecturers have 'explained', but whose explanations have left us feeling dissatisfied and unconvinced.
By placing Jesus solidly in his political/religious setting, and by seeing him as being in line with the Old Testament prophets, suddenly a lot of things begin to make sense.
In some sections, the book *is* hard going, because Wright is such a careful and meticulous scholar. But there are real nuggets of knowledge to be mined here.
An enlightening and important book. Highly recommended.
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.
The biggest weakness with the book is frequently cited by critics, and I think they are right. Namely that, as part of his interpretive framework, Wright, he gives a central place to the belief that Jesus' contemporaries felt that - though their ancestors had physically returned from exile in Babylon centuries earlier - they themselves remained captive in their spirits, dominated as they were by a new empire - the Romans. I personally think this is right, but that Wright makes a little too much of this. However, given the magnitude of his work, the ingenuity of his interpretation and the lightness of his writing style, this is a fairly minor critique.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to preachers and go so far as to say it is necessary reading for students of the New Testament.
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