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on 11 January 2012
I found the book well constructed, full of excellent insights and extremely useful for framing my thoughts on the subject of Jesus. Christology is a really tough subject often poorly taught. This book is an accessible well written introduction to the important concepts with which one must grapple in order to gain an understanding of the most important figure in history.
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on 31 January 2012
I found this book challenging to many of my pre-conceived ideas (and dare I say 20th century worldview) about the life of Jesus. His words and actions so often seen in isolation suddenly came together in a continuous story. I found the opening "Perfect Storm" analogy set the scene as the military might of Rome and the religious fervour of Judaism was met full on by the love of God.

A compelling read I would recommend it to Christian and non-Christian alike.
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on 26 January 2012
Having grown up in an evangelical, Anglican clergy family, studied Biblical Studies at university, taught Alpha courses and led various Christian basics groups, I have been finding Tom Wright's work, which I have arrived at only recently, thoroughly earth-shaking.

Simply Jesus is no exception.

Readers might have to drop some assumptions. If your Christian faith has an add-on pack which says, "When you read the Bible, especially the bits about Jesus, you must believe x, y and z about it, or you're not a real Christian" then you might have trouble with Tom Wright's thinking.

However. If you're prepared to let the New Testament, and the world in which it was written (about which Wright is a world authority and all-around genius), speak for itself, you're in for a treat. And a world-view altering one at that. Why did Jesus have to die? Wright's answer is unexpected - revolutionary - but convincing.

Wright talks about the clash of three forces: the all-powerful Roman Empire, the immanent expectations of 1st century Jewish people that God is about to rescue them from Rome (based on their understanding of their scriptures), and the redemptive creation purposes of Israel's God: purposes that redefine the Jewish covenant hopes of God's arrival as redemptive ruler of a new earth into one man: Jesus the Messiah.

Wright concludes: Jesus is in charge of the earth, now, and he wants to run it through us (the Church). But how? What does Wright say we should do about it? Answer: Initiate and multiply Kingdom-like, Beatitude-inspired projects. And remind the powers (governments, etc) that Jesus is Lord, and that he is calling them to account for their rule.

The final chapter, where he answers his own "What now?" question, is where I found the book slightly disappointing. Wright's conclusions about implementing Jesus' rule do not have the same awesome sense of Old Testament/New Testament/Ancient world/Jesus integration that he achieves in the main body of the book (in my opinion!). Work in progress?
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on 4 November 2015
This is an excellent book and the task it sets itself is a much needed one – to offer an approach to Christianity which is neither the sort of conservative fundamentalism which requires you to leave your ethics and your intellect at the door nor the new atheism that can only offer vacuous scepticism. The bishop seeks to steer a course through the stormy waters of theology and history and in so doing he presents a Jesus who is particularly convincing in the context of Jewish messianic expectations. Jesus announces the kingdom of God and by his words and actions not only shows its nature but also enacts its beginning. Everything is soundly based on Old Testament scriptures, though Jesus’ interpretation was not that of the religious leaders of his day who looked to a military solution to their nation’s continued ‘exile’. Jesus’ revolutionary message was bound to end in confrontation with the powers of this world but by his death and resurrection he achieved a victory over those powers by which God is now in control of the world. This interpretation does not exclude other metaphors such as penal substitution but it is essentially a modern take on the old Christus Victor approach. While one could point to aspects of Jesus’ life and work that this book does not address adequately if at all, the overall picture is persuasive in the historical sense – but that does not mean that it is persuasive theologically. Part of the problem is that the more Jesus is placed in a context of Jewish messianic expectations the less he will resonate with non-Jewish people in the 21st century. The more a theology deals with the redemption or punishment of whole peoples rather than individuals the less it will appeal to an individualist generation and the less morally acceptable it will be. The bishop also needs to take more account of the Jewish critique that Jesus did not actually fulfil many important messianic prophecies. This is a serious challenge to any Christian and simply retorting that he will do so – at the second coming – is not entirely satisfactory as there is no OT support for a long period between messianic comings. And here we have the central inadequacy of Bishop Wright’s position – God does not seem to be any more in control of the world now than He was before. Jesus’ death does not actually appear to have achieved the stated intention of bringing about God’s kingdom in any really significant way. Leaving aside the issues of how God could be fully sovereign in Old Testament times (as the OT says He is) and yet need the death of Jesus to be in control afterwards and how there can be a force of evil that needs defeating if He is sovereign, the book needs to show that something really dramatic changed in 30AD. It refers to the work of the church as the body of Christ and that is a start but it does not suggest a war won or even a decisive battle, merely the presence of a handful of insurrectionists in enemy territory. The bishop does not give much attention to what happens after death – there is no theodicy of Hell here and equally no embracing of universal redemption. So we are left wondering what benefit the incarnation was to the vast majority of humanity. Since the subtitle of this book includes the question of why Jesus matters, this is a major weakness.
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on 4 March 2013
Tom Wright is an expert in historical Christianity. As a result he is able to lay out the historical context for Jesus entry into the world which gives a very different perspective to traditional christian thinking. Rather than taking away what the Christian believes, he methodically adds to the historical Jesus using the example of "The perfect Storm". He revisits this throughout the book showing what the Jews wanted, what the political powers of the time were doing and finally what God wanted... the result being "The perfect Storm".

The end view turned out to be very different than anyone thought at the time. Jesus came into a very political and world view context which is often ignored by the church. The Christian mission is therefore much greater than our own "personal" faith. Jesus death and resurrection was not just so we could all go to heaven when we die, but instead, the Kingdom has begun and we are to do our "heavenly work" now. Wright demonstrates this throughout.

Wright also comes back to the "Exodus" theme. Tyrant, Leader, Victory, Sacrifice, Vocation, Inheritance and Presence are huge themes throughout scripture and Jesus played into this context. Whereas with Egypt and the tyrant Pharoah, ultimately ending with God dwelling in the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus beats the tyrant sin and death with God's presence dwelling in us through his Spirit. Heaven and earth meet... in us. I wish people "got" this.

I found it an easy book to read. I must admit, my much more "traditional" mother-in-law found it harder going than me. I think it's much more to do with what we have already studied as I have read much of Wright's work anyway so it maybe because he never had to convince me.

I just wish everyone in the church would understand it. We may actually end up changing the world after all!
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on 20 January 2012
Wright's new book "SIMPLY JESUS" is a book that should be read and enjoyed by Christians from across the evangelical spectrum, but sadly I doubt it will be as many have made their mind up about Bishop Tom before they even open its covers. I interviewed Bishop Tom recently about the book and asked him who the book was intended for. He explained it was aimed at that nebulous and elusive category "the thinking lay person." This book will make you think. It is a meaty volume that is in my opinion a great way to engage with Wright's more academic offerings in the " Christian Origin and the Question of God" series, but the book is seasoned with some wonderful illustations and really helpful insights so there's enough sugar to help the scholarship go down.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly: [...] for a longer review.
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on 29 July 2016
I once told Tom Wright that I had read all his books. Having fallen behind again (he writes a lot!) I picked up Simply Jesus, and discovered again the restless mind and earnest heart of the greatest scholar of the New Testament of his generation. This book puts forth very economically what Bishop Wright has laid out in incredible detail in his academic books. Furthermore, since he is a fine teacher (he left his bishopric early to return to teaching and writing), Simply Jesus is organized as a pedagogy, bringing the reader along through metaphors that unfold as the book's argument advances.

Wright cites the story of the Gloucester fishermen who lost their lives in a "perfect storm", caught in the confluence of three powerful weather systems. He starts by describing the present situation of understanding Jesus as a perfect storm of an aggressive and dismissive secularism, a powerful, blinkered version of Christian faith, and the hurricane of God's own strange work. This triad device reappears as Wright lays out the case for considering Jesus in his own context, which is far stranger than moderns imagine. From this analysis Wright daringly proposes to describe Jesus' self-understanding, using both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, as well as Jewish and Roman history.

He himself admits that he gets into trouble with certain Christians, as well as secularists. Wright's approach is historical and textual, at ease with a huge variety of sources. He handles this material lightly, humbly; he is having a conversation with the reader, not giving a lecture. There is nothing triumphalist here. He is harder on Christians much more than others, in fact.

I learned a lot, and I think that any person of good will shall benefit. For whether you believe or not, there is no denying that Jesus of Nazareth and his followers have had a crucial impact on history down to our own times. Simply Jesus is therefore a fine place to start studying him. For this believer, I was convicted again of what a follower of Christ must be and do. For other readers, there is no proselytizing here. The information and its presentation are of value to anyone trying to understand the signs of our own times.
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on 13 January 2012
If every Christian in the world understood what Tom Wright explains in this book, things would be very different indeed - the church would be so much more engaged in reality, so much more alive to the Spirit, so much more influential. The book is very well written, but it does require some concentration, patience and perseverance. If you have thoe three qualities, it's well worth your time! Read it!
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on 18 April 2012
I was drawn in by the title and the author and this book certainly delivered on all counts. If you're caught wondering what Jesus means in today's context, then answering the questions of why God came into this world, what he did and why he did it, will get you ready for the final part of the book which might just help reveal the relevance of God's kingdom to your life today. Just try putting it down after you've read the first few pages.
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on 20 August 2013
An excellent book to get you thinking and living in the light of the "truth" that Jesus really is The King of Kings and has defeated the powers of darkness. A call to the world and church to understand the Kingdom of Heaven as coming here on Earth ... Through you, .... Today.

Tom does try to distance himself from the idea of going to Heaven when you die, not really possible to do if you read Jesus!
However he does this to get away from the idea that we should just sit back and await a better place instead of getting on with fixing this one!

Good stuff!
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