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A major scholarly contribution to the current quest for the historical Jesus.


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A major scholarly contribution to the current quest for the historical Jesus.

30 review for Jesus and the Victory of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    In many ways this is the book that permanently altered the course of my theology. Even if I don't agree (and I do) and want to go back to "Vanilla Reformed," the questions have already been asked. Pandora has opened the box. Contrary to conservative reactionaries, Wright shatters the liberal paradigm. The phrase "according to higher criticism," has been found wanting. Against fundamentalists Wright argues that we can and should ask historical questions about Jesus (this is where he brings Second In many ways this is the book that permanently altered the course of my theology. Even if I don't agree (and I do) and want to go back to "Vanilla Reformed," the questions have already been asked. Pandora has opened the box. Contrary to conservative reactionaries, Wright shatters the liberal paradigm. The phrase "according to higher criticism," has been found wanting. Against fundamentalists Wright argues that we can and should ask historical questions about Jesus (this is where he brings Second Temple Judaism into the project) but against liberals he believes that Jesus can answer these questions. He reworks his vision of Christ around issues he introduced in the earlier volume: when Jesus used certain phrases, what did he--and more importantly, his hearers--mean by these phrases? In short Wright argues that: *Christ used parables to explode the world of his hearers--a fresh vehicle to undermine the narrative they have been hearing. *Christ ministry figures around exile and restoration. If Israel has returned from Exile, then why haven't the great promises of Isaiah been fulfilled? *Likewise, Kingdom of God doesn't mean a pristine synonm for the Church. When the covenant is renewed, God will be king of the world. *If someone is the Messiah, and is to be king, they must build the temple and defeat all of God's enemies. Jesus cleansed the temple, identified the temple as his body, and took on Israel's true enemy. *At every key point Jesus redefined the terms in Israel's worldview. If I may speak respectfully, Jesus was the first postmodernist. *In short, Jesus lived out Israel's story. The story of coveneant was to solve the problems of creation. Abraham was called to fix Adam's problems. But Abraham (or Israel) became part of the problem itself. Therefore, Christ, an Israelite, represented Israel on the cross, died her death, and rose again to new life. And through Christ--and perhaps in some ultimate way through Israel--salvation comes to the world.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    I have been chipping away at this one for years, and decided that it was time to finish. The three stars are an average. Stretches of this book are extraordinarily good -- magnificent. Wright is steeped in Scripture and has many marvelous things to point out. Five stars. But then he does things that are beyond exasperating -- lower case g on God, for example. You know, two star stuff. Or the typical-sit-in-judgment-on-the-writers-of-Scripture kind of thing that contemporary scholarship mandates. I have been chipping away at this one for years, and decided that it was time to finish. The three stars are an average. Stretches of this book are extraordinarily good -- magnificent. Wright is steeped in Scripture and has many marvelous things to point out. Five stars. But then he does things that are beyond exasperating -- lower case g on God, for example. You know, two star stuff. Or the typical-sit-in-judgment-on-the-writers-of-Scripture kind of thing that contemporary scholarship mandates. A lot of worthwhile stuff here, a lot. Just don't get dazzled like so many have.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    It took a rather long time to finish this beast (beast in the sense of its intense size, not in the sense of negative content). Whether or not one agrees with Wright, it cannot, I think, be denied that Wright is among the most influential theologians of this era (if not the most influential) and Jesus and the Victory of God (JVG) is perhaps the most important of his publications. I don't buy into absolutely every jot and tittle of this book, but by and large, I tend to think he is right that Jes It took a rather long time to finish this beast (beast in the sense of its intense size, not in the sense of negative content). Whether or not one agrees with Wright, it cannot, I think, be denied that Wright is among the most influential theologians of this era (if not the most influential) and Jesus and the Victory of God (JVG) is perhaps the most important of his publications. I don't buy into absolutely every jot and tittle of this book, but by and large, I tend to think he is right that Jesus framed his vocation as the eschatological herald-messiah and embodiment of the promises of the covenant God of Israel to his people. Wright capably presents the context into which Jesus speaks (not a vacuum, but 1st c. Judaism which had a mixed bag of expectations and beliefs about God, themselves, the Messiah, and direction and purpose of history) and how Jesus speaks specifically into the hopes, fears, and historical realities of 1st c. Judea and Galilee. As a result the Gospels must be re-evaluated in light of those realities, not our own concerns for an abstracted atonement theory. I could nitpick on this or that specific assertion about how Wright interprets this or that word from Jesus, but the comprehensiveness of the overall work would make such comments needlessly long and tedious. Instead it is simply needed to give a note that there are a few occasions where Wright has to work a bit too hard to fit some of the material in the Gospel accounts into his framework. I don't think the Gospel writers were quite so narrow in their approach to narrating the life, mission, teachings, vocation, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In terms of broader issues that should be noted: 1. the examination of the history of interpretation, particularly the recounting of the German NT tradition of the 19th and early 20th centuries is a bit tedious. 2. The theme of "victory" specified by the title in not fully unpacked and his later sections seem a tad rushed and weak. After covering the ways Jesus' life and work connects to the promise of YHWH's victorious return to Zion to reign as King, Wright says he will look at how the death of Jesus is the culmination of that, but he doesn't full do that. 3. While I realize his next volume is specifically on the resurrection, I think more material in this volume would have been appropriate. Wright doesn't do enough to connect the death and resurrection together. That said, this is a very important work, perhaps the most important scholarly work on the life and vocation of Jesus published in the 20th century. Scholars and Pastors really should read this, digest it, chew on it, and reflect on it. For many there will be a temptation towards knee-jerk reactions against some things. But I would strongly caution against that. We need to be careful to hear what Wright is actually saying, because a surface reading may cause folks to hear Wright saying something he isn't. Wright has been heavily criticized for putting some distance between himself and traditional reformed views of atonement. But Wright isn't speaking of atonement models here, but the narrative function of the Gospel accounts and the ad hoc nature of much of Jesus' teaching about himself and judgment, salvation, eschatology, etc. It is refreshing to be engaged with the person of Jesus, the Jesus who lived and breathed in history, and not Jesus as the subject of atonement models, as can sometimes happen in oversimplified reformed theology. JVG is an incredible accomplishment in bringing together the study of the historical backdrop of 1st C. Roman ruled Judea and Galilee, Jewish theologies, and the Biblical text of the Gospel accounts to bring a fresh look at Jesus as the eschatological prophet-messiah, announcing and embodying the victorious return of YHWH to his people to redeem his faithful, judge the nations and the uncooperative rebellious elements of Israel, and inaugurate the reign of YHWH over his creation. This book is perhaps the most important read in the study of Jesus of Nazareth to date, and will certainly remain in the category of "classic".

  4. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    Even more exhausting than the first volume, and equally hamstrung by Wright's insistence on reading both the Israelite religion and Jesus's life in Greimasian terms, so everything has to be categorized and explained independently of everything else. The downside to this is pretty clear, and ironic: here is an analysis that's based on the stories people tell about themselves and their people... which doesn't tell much of a story itself. That's not really much of a problem, since you won't go pick Even more exhausting than the first volume, and equally hamstrung by Wright's insistence on reading both the Israelite religion and Jesus's life in Greimasian terms, so everything has to be categorized and explained independently of everything else. The downside to this is pretty clear, and ironic: here is an analysis that's based on the stories people tell about themselves and their people... which doesn't tell much of a story itself. That's not really much of a problem, since you won't go pick up a book like this if you don't already know the rough outlines of Jesus's life as presented in the gospels. But it does make the reading experience more painful than it needs to be; this book is basically a very long collection of analyses, whether of biblical texts, non-biblical texts, abstract questions, or other people's understanding of Jesus. Nonetheless, Wright's understanding is very attractive. He gives you historical responsibility and respectability (Jesus was a first century Jew, who did first century Jewish things, but was also, as we barbarically say today, an innovator); he lets you keep Jesus-as-Christ (Jesus, on Wright's reading, understood himself to be the messiah, and took that to mean that he was the 'son of god,' without necessarily being entirely clear about what that might mean), and he lets you keep a great deal of orthodoxy (leading into the next volume, Wright argues that the resurrection is what explain the early church's fealty to a messiah who had so disastrously failed to bring about what he said he was bringing about--so, at a bare minimum, the preception-of-resurrection was a founding phenomenon of Christianity). In a very strange way, his reading of the gospels says: the gospels are more or less accurate, what they say can be understood perfectly well, they don't say anything ridiculous. It's just that he needs 400 pages of fine grained argument to even get you to the point that you can understand such an argument and be responsible at the same time, which is itself a pretty damning indictment not only of previous life-of-Jesus types, but also of the theologies of the various Christian denominations. All of them, it seems, have ignored history and critical analysis, to the detriment of their own scholarly work and/or faith. The take-away is: Jesus understood himself to be replacing the Temple as site of the return of Israel's God. Instead of a Temple, you get Jesus. Instead of a victorious king, you get Jesus. Instead of political and military victory, you get a martyr. This reading makes sense of a good deal, though at least one major question goes unanswered: what on earth does it mean to say that Jesus foresaw the 'victory of God'? What does that victory look like, in practice? Dare I read volume three? Perhaps not. But the volume on Paul, definitely.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lu Tsun

    REVIEW AND CRITIQUE Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God 2. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996. This work is the second volume of a N. T. Wright’s six-volume series entitled “Christian Origins and the Question of God.” Wright firstly critiques the misguided “first quest” of historical Jesus that gives no real Jesus but a reimagined Jesus conformed to modern expectations. Secondly Wright critiques the reductionistic “new quest” of historical Jesus that onl REVIEW AND CRITIQUE Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God 2. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996. This work is the second volume of a N. T. Wright’s six-volume series entitled “Christian Origins and the Question of God.” Wright firstly critiques the misguided “first quest” of historical Jesus that gives no real Jesus but a reimagined Jesus conformed to modern expectations. Secondly Wright critiques the reductionistic “new quest” of historical Jesus that only begins to acknowledge the significance of eschatology in Jesus’ faith but fail to see his historical Jewish context. The more “authentic” historical Jesus, according to Wright, is in line with the “third questers” who takes seriously the Jewishness of historical Jesus. Wright does not share the radical skepticism of modern critics that deny the significance of historical Jesus, nor is he daunted by the accumulation of varying material about Jesus that becomes available in our day’s knowledge base. He believes that real knowledge of the historical Jesus is possible with his optimistic version of critical realism. His motive is both apologetic and historian: if we can know much about this Jesus in the history, then we can revitalize our faith in the twenty-first century. As a historian, Wright insists that every word and every act of Jesus must be encoded or decoded against the unique historical and cultural context of the first-century Judaism in the Greco-Roman world. It was this very Judaism that Jesus was interacting, challenging, and confronting. Wright is sensitive to differentiate “how does Jesus fit into the Judaism of his day?” from “how does Jesus uniquely different and radically challenging to the Judaism of his day?” As Wright has demonstrated in the first volume of the series, he believes that the “first-century Judaism can be understood only within a climate of intense eschatological expectation” (96). The central feature of this eschatological expectation, according to Wright’s historical reconstruction, is the long-awaiting covenantal fulfillment of restoring the Israel from the exile. If we consistently interpret and reinterpret Jesus through the lens of “Israel’s restoration from the exile,” we will find a new portrait of Jesus somewhat different from the traditional portrait of Jesus for centuries in the Western world. The “authentic” portrait of Jesus must embrace this Jewish hope, making it thematic for his own Messianic vocation. Here are the syntheses of Wright's portrait of the more “authentic” historical Jesus: 1. Jesus’ beliefs are summarized in terms of the three most fundamental Jewish beliefs: monotheism, election, and eschatology. 2. Jesus believed that the coming kingdom of Israel’s god would bring about the real return from exile, the final defeat of evil, and the return of YHWH to Zion. 3. Jesus told stories, as the most effective way to subvert and challenge the various versions of the first-century Jewish hope for the eschatological kingdom. 4. Jesus saw himself more than a prophet, no less than the public persona of a prophet, but he envisaged his work as bringing Israel’s history to it fateful climax--he was inaugurating the kingdom of Israel’s god. 5. Jesus’ idea of Messiah is thoroughgoing Jewish in character, who will be commissioned by YHWH to end the injustice of the world. 6. The difference between the beliefs of Jesus and those of thousands of other Jews of his day amounted simply to this: he believed, also, that all these things were coming true in and through himself. 7. Jesus’ idiosyncratic vision of the eschatological kingdom was challenging, contradictory, and offensive to the Jews. 8. Jesus showed how to live a new life as the new way of being the new Israel. 9. Jesus refined and reinterpreted the symbols of Judaism pointing toward himself. 10. Jesus’ own symbols concerning the kingdom: a restored land, a restored people, a redefined family, a redefined Torah, a rebuilt temple, centered on the theme of returning from exile. 11. Jesus understood his particular task was to offer a symbolic encoding/decoding of this entire theology and expectation in terms of his own life and work. 12. Jesus as a dangerous political liability who defied, minimized, and spoke against such Jewish identifying symbols as the law, food, Sabbath, and temple, and thus aroused anger and agitation against him. 13. Jesus saw himself as Yahweh’s special agent and that his going to Jerusalem was in reality as the symbol and embodiment of YHWH’s return to Zion. 14. Jesus’ message called his followers into repentance. However, the repentance was referring less to individual than to national repentance. The nation was to repent of its revolutionary desire for war and the overthrow of Rome. 15. Jesus did not know that he was God in the same way as we do; he was fully aware of his “Messianic vocation” as the symbolic return of YHWH to Zion. 16. Jesus died to subvert the mainstream symbols of the Judaism of the day and demonstrated the end of Israel's exile and Yahweh's covenantal promise of forgiveness and redemption as the climax of the covenant. 17. Jesus meant to die for his vocation in order to fulfill the role of righteous prophet whose suffering through death would take upon himself the judgment due to the Israel nation. 18. Today’s Christians should reconsider their own portrait of Jesus in the first-century Jewish context and ponder how we can learn from what Jesus did and imitate Jesus’ way in running our lives. Critiques: Wright’s thesis is very fresh and challenging in terms of correlating Jesus with his historical Jewish context. He is also very ingenious in coordinating many important biblical-theological themes in the Second Temple literatures and in the NT to create a more synthetic picture. However I am not convinced by his critical-realist methodology, exegetical tendency, and his thesis with regard to the historical Jesus. Here are my critiques: 1. Normative Judaism: As a critical-realist, Wright appears too confident in his reconstruction of the first-century Judaism as primarily the hoping-for-restoration-from-exile community. Readers of Wright must realize that his reconstruction of the early Judaism is still inconclusive in shape. The Second Temple Judaism to our knowledge today does not have a “normative Judaism” but show many forms and shapes. Wright generalizes the eschatological orientation of apocalyptic Judaism as “the Judaism” among the many “Judaisms,” and then reduces it to the hoping-for-restoration-from-exile Judaism. Wright has been too earnest in promoting his model to the degree of using it as the only theme of the first-century Judaism in practice. It is methodologically faulty to assume that every aspect of the Jewish environment in which Jesus was interacting and challenging is about the vision of returning-from-the-exile. 2. Forcing the text to meet one-sided context: While Wright attacks the first-questers such as the Jesus Seminar for judging the evidences about Jesus based on the picture “which has already been chosen” (33), he is doing no better than looking at Jesus in a different direction with the picture of a “Jewish Jesus” which has been already chosen by him. After stripping the traditional portrait of Jesus from the influence of Western introspective conscience, Wright “remythologizes” Jesus with the alleged Jewish background, overlooking the other characteristics of Jesus portrayed in the Gospels that appear more universal than Jewish. 3. Extrabiblical materials over biblical materials: Wright’s exegeses have the tendency of ignoring the direct discourse context but introducing his chosen biblical-theological themes and the alleged Jewish background into the text. He seems to give more credit to the reliability of extrabiblical materials than to the biblical materials. 4. Historicist impulse: Wright in his interpretation of Jesus discusses the evangelists’ theological shaping of the accounts for Jesus in profound detail. If there is such an “authentic” historical Jesus who lived much closer to the evangelists than to us, it is significant to ask why we would want a fairly different portrait of Jesus from those of the evangelists, if it is not demanded by our own contemporary worldview. The evangelists did not seem to bother portraying the kind of divine and universal Messiah as we have traditionally known, not thinking themselves as distorting the “authentic” Jesus, if there had been such kind of Jesus ever existing. The traditional assumption that the evangelists preserved different parts of Jesus’ proclamations remains a likely hypothesis that deserves contemporary scholars’ attention. Wright’s historicist impulse seems to preclude the witness of the Scripture in interpreting the historical Jesus event. 5. Marginalizing miracles: Wright’s worldview-laden hermeneutic eschews apologetically the historical significance of miracle materials about Jesus. The physical manifestation of miracles in the Gospels is by and large marginalized in Wright’s model of interpretative framework. Traditionally Jesus’ miracles are significant because they demonstrate Jesus’ authority in employing the symbolic values of the miracles to show his connection with the OT. But in Wright’s model he uses only the symbolic values without paying attention to their links to Jesus’ miracles. As a result, Jesus’ Messianic vocation in Wright’s model is primarily to provide a set of refined symbols and reinterpreted meaning in order to fulfill the intensive expectation of the first-century Jews. Jesus did not come to change the world, but to change the views of the world. Without adequate place for the miracles, Wright radically de-contextualizes the historical significance of Jesus’ miracles from the historical events of Jesus’ miraculous acts. 6. Jesus’ fulfilling human expectation over fulfilling the Scripture: Wright’s model does not differentiate the OT tradition from the Second Temple Judaism in a clear fashion. He seems to think of Judaism and OT as indistinguishable or inseparable duplex. Although Judaism is deeply dependent on the OT tradition, Jesus tends to appeal the OT itself to make his case when attacking the Judaism of his time as “human tradition” (Mat 15:3; Mk 7:7). Jesus claimed that his mission was to fulfill the “Scripture,” not the intensive expectations of the first-century Jews (Mk 14:19). On the contrast, he constantly avoided to meet their expectations (Jn 6:15). Wright’s interpretation of Jesus’ proclamation of national repentance is controlled by his own presupposition of the Israel’s hope of national restoration, but he neglects the speaking of individual repentance (Pss 25:18; 32:1,5; 38:18; 51:2-3; 103:3,10; 130:4) and of individual forgiveness (Lev 4:26,31,35; 19:22) in the OT.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    As a practicing Catholic I find "Jesus and the Victory of God" to be wildly heretical. As someone who took two full-year courses at university on the history of the Roman Empire, I consider moreover to be utter balderdash. The problem could be that I have not read any of the works of either Albert Schweitzer or William Wrede two leading Lutheran theologians of the early twentieth century. Wright's ostensible goal is to refute the arguments of these authors. John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg (a As a practicing Catholic I find "Jesus and the Victory of God" to be wildly heretical. As someone who took two full-year courses at university on the history of the Roman Empire, I consider moreover to be utter balderdash. The problem could be that I have not read any of the works of either Albert Schweitzer or William Wrede two leading Lutheran theologians of the early twentieth century. Wright's ostensible goal is to refute the arguments of these authors. John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg (along with his acolytes known as the Jesus Seminar) are also targeted by Wright. Taken out of the context of this academic debate, Wright's thesis is quite insane. According to Wright, Christ was thoroughly Jewish in his outlook. He never intended to found a church nor did he intend to die on the cross so as to redeem fallen humanity. Jesus' goal was purely messianic; i.e. to restore the Kingdom of Israel. In defense of his thesis, Wright offers some highly eccentric interpretations of Christ's better known parables. The prodigal son represents the exiles returning from Babylon while the jealous older son who stayed on the farm stands for those who remained in the holy land. The sterile fig tree that Jesus says must be cut down represents the traditional Judaism of the temple in Jerusalem. One's jaw drops at such interpretations. Wright insists that he is analyzing Christ as an historian. In this regard, he is severely mistaken. Like many theologians, he believes that the moment he decides to consider Christ as a human rather than a divine being, he becomes an historian. In fact, the documentation required by a modern historian is completing lacking in the case of Christ. It is for this reason, that true historians do not write about him. Wright's worst transgression is to state that Christ intended to provoke his crucifixion when he scourged the temple in Jerusalem. The first problem is that there is no basis on which to say that Christ planned his attack on the Temple prior to going to Jerusalem. The Evangelists say rather that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the corrupt practices that Christ found in the Temple. The second problem is that as a human Christ could not have foreseen that the reaction by the Jewish authorities to the attack would be to have him executed. They could just as well have had him imprisoned as frequently happened to the Apostles. Wright's argument is no more than a string of hypotheses and suppositions. I do not know how well Wright scores for his sparring with Schweitzer and Wrede, but he does nothing to help the lay person better understand his or her Christian faith.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chad Gibbons

    I want to say first of all, that I love N.T. Wright. I am a big fan of his books, lectures, sermons and articles. He's one of the top five New Testament Historians on nearly anybody's list, and he is a much needed voice speaking on behalf of the church today. Jesus and the Victory of God is book two in Wright's magnum opus in the making, a series spanning six books (three not yet written) entitled Christian Origins and the Question of God. Wright is a historian by trade and these books are writte I want to say first of all, that I love N.T. Wright. I am a big fan of his books, lectures, sermons and articles. He's one of the top five New Testament Historians on nearly anybody's list, and he is a much needed voice speaking on behalf of the church today. Jesus and the Victory of God is book two in Wright's magnum opus in the making, a series spanning six books (three not yet written) entitled Christian Origins and the Question of God. Wright is a historian by trade and these books are written as such. New Testament history is a tricky beast. The last hundred years of of NT history hasn't been very kind to the church. In many ways, the task of the historian is the opposite of the task of the exegete. The exegete examines the text to find out what the author intended to say in its original meaning and context. The historian examines the text to find out the story behind what the author is intending to say - to find out what actually happened, instead of what the author is saying happened. For a long time, the contention of many historians has been that what actually happened is not at all what the author is claiming. For the historian, texts are routinely taken out of context, examined individually, and then reassembled into a picture the historian thinks is even better than what the evangelists wrote. In the last few decades however, NT history has been taking a different turn, and people like Wright are heading the charge. Anyone interested in what historians are saying cannot ignore this series (including, of course, this book). It and its predecessor really are a monument in historical Jesus studies. The theology isn't exactly 'kosher' but the historians task isn't to interpret scripture so that it conforms to Nicene Christology, the historian really doesn't care about that kind of thing. As far as NT histories go though, this series is one of the closest you're going to get. The first section of the book is itself a wonderful overview of recent historical Jesus studies. Wright assesses historians individually and as groups and makes his insightful comments on the field as it stands today. He basically divides the field into two groups, those following the tradition of Wrede, claiming that we can know only a precious little (if anything) about the actual Jesus. In these circles, Jesus comes out looking mostly non-Jewish and definitely non-apocalyptic. Wright argues against this viewpoint as being bad history. The so-called 'third quest', in which Wright is a major player, follows the tradition of Schweitzer and places Jesus firmly in his Jewish roots. Where Wright differs from Schweitzer is something he discussed in his first book, The New Testament and the People of God. Schweitzer argued that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet, proclaiming the imminent end of the world to his fellow Jews. That was two thousand years ago, and the world is still here. Jesus was a great guy and all, but he was wrong. Whatever he thought was going to happen, didn't. Schweitzer, Wright says, made a serious error: He was misreading apocalyptic language. Jesus was not (and no first century Jew was) expecting the end of the space-time universe. This is not the kind of thing that apocalyptic language does. Rather, it looks at real-world events and imbues them with their 'other-worldly' significance. Wright says that Jesus was not predicting the end of the world, but rather the final phase in God's plan for Israel. This is important to remember because it makes up part of the central thesis of Wright's entire work. The other part of his thesis is this: Wright claims that most first century Jews thought of themselves as still being in exile. These two points are key to understanding Jesus and what he was doing. Which, Wright further claims, was this: Jesus came to announce to the Jews the end of the exile (not the end of the world). This is a tough sell though. Did the first century Jews really think of themselves as still being in exile? Even with the rebuilt temple standing in their midst? Certainly the Sadducees didn't. Wright spends much of his time belaboring this point, and overall, he explains his case well (he has convinced me at least). Would any serious-thinking first-century Jew claim the prophecies of Isaiah 40-66, or of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Zechariah, had been fulfilled? That the temple Herod was fixing up was really the final one? That YHWH had returned to Zion? In other words, Wright says, that the exile was really over? Wright then turns to look at Jesus as prophet. Here he uses the technique he outlined in the first book of determining and examining a culture's specific worldview. By studying the symbols, praxis and stories of Jesus and comparing them with those of first century Judaism, he comes up with a compelling portrait. Comparing this portrait with the Jews thinking of themselves as being in exile, Jesus comes on the scene proclaiming that the exile is now over, and it is over because of Jesus himself. What YHWH has said that he will do, Jesus is now doing. And like all good Jewish prophets, Jesus comes warning his contemporaries to repent and follow him. Specifically, he calls on his fellow Jews to abandon their nationalistic zeal, for that way leads only to disaster (which later Jewish revolts proved to be true). To Jesus, the fight was seen not as being against the Romans, but as being against the power behind the Romans. The real enemy of the People of God, Satan. This is how Jesus plans on ending the exile as well - by taking on and defeating Satan himself. Jesus is tempted to fight Satan on his own terms, but overcomes this during the temptation in the desert. Later, the Satan has even infiltrated his disciples - Peter himself tempts Jesus to take up arms and fight. It is clear that Jesus must go it alone. Jesus does overcome these trials however, and defeats Satan not on Satan's terms (as perhaps some of his contemporaries were trying to do) but on YHWH's terms. This defeat of Satan was accomplished through his final journey to Jerusalem, his trial, and his inglorious death on the cross. Jesus knew that this was coming. His death was not an unforeseen tragedy, but the expected culmination of his life's work. This is the end of sins. This is the return from exile. This is the Victory of God.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josh Cheng

    This book is awesome. While I learned a lot from the previous book in this series (The New Testament and the People of God), it was largely concerned with introduction and background. This book digs into the specifics of who Jesus was, what his ministry was about, and the reasons for his death. To try to sum up N.T. Wright's picture of Jesus: Jesus was a Jewish prophet who preached a Jewish eschatological message about the imminent approach of the kingdom of God; at the same time, he subverted th This book is awesome. While I learned a lot from the previous book in this series (The New Testament and the People of God), it was largely concerned with introduction and background. This book digs into the specifics of who Jesus was, what his ministry was about, and the reasons for his death. To try to sum up N.T. Wright's picture of Jesus: Jesus was a Jewish prophet who preached a Jewish eschatological message about the imminent approach of the kingdom of God; at the same time, he subverted the expectations of his day by redefining how YHWH was going to save his people, and who would be saved. So against scholars who believe that Jesus was just a (possibly Cynic) teacher of wisdom, or that his eschatological message meant that he expected the end of the space-time continuum, Wright argues that these pictures do not fit with how the people of Judea would have understood their religion or read their scriptures. And against a modern western orthodox/protestant view of Jesus as the teacher of an abstract salvation and forgiveness of sins, he argues that these too would not have made sense to his hearers, who were living in a time of political tension and religious revolution. I got the most out of this book when I had my bible open at the same time, re-reading passages that Wright mentions. Wright proceeds somewhat chronologically through Jesus' ministry, categorizing Jesus' different sayings and explaining what he thinks they would have meant in the first century. As someone who grew up listening to these parables and stories taught in Sunday School, needless to say I often found Wright's interpretations to be novel. But at the same time, they often exposed how the interpretations I previously had really wouldn't have made sense in the context Jesus was in. Now when I read the New Testament, I don't just ask myself if my reading "makes sense to me" or "fits in my experience"- of huge importance is whether it would have made sense to the original hearers. As an example, after many bible studies on the parables of the talents, or the wise and foolish virgins, etc., I took the meaning of those parables to be simply, "be wise with what resources you have been given, and be faithful to God." But Wright explains that these parables were not just meant to teach timeless truths. In a time period when the people of Israel were anticipating that YHWH would vindicate them soon and rescue them from the pagan Roman armies, these parables with an element of "the master returning" have a specific effect. That is, "yes, YHWH is returning soon; but are you sure that you are one of those who will be considered faithful?". Jesus then redefines faithfulness as allegiance, not just to the Torah or to the Temple ritual, but to following Jesus himself. The chapters on Jesus' trip to Jerusalem were especially compelling. N.T. Wright draws out the dramatic prophetic actions performed by Jesus in Jerusalem, which eventually led to his death. These included his action in the temple and his speech afterward, in which he condemned the temple and predicted its destruction (and said that its destruction would be Jesus' own vindication). Jesus didn't just die accidentally or just because of petty jealousy; his message was deeply subversive to the powerful Jewish leaders at the time, and specifically condemned the nation's actions and symbols as having been corrupted from YHWH's command. Like I wrote in my previous review, I don't have the background to evaluate the strength of the historical arguments. I'm learning that in contrast to the more deductive methods of philosophy, historical argument proceeds often by asserting "what would have made sense" in a less rigorous way that I'm used to- perhaps because that's the best we can do given the data. So I will need to keep reading. But after reading this book, I definitely won't read my bible or see Jesus the same way that I did before. To be honest, the "Jesus of timeless truths" that I understood before did not seem to have a distinct personality that I could understand. Or perhaps he always had some sort of mystical ethereal quality towards him, since I was always thinking that he was speaking to me directly through the pages of the bible, with a message that just happened to be infinitely transferrable across time and culture. He was infinitely relatable, because I was always immediately interpreting his actions and words to be directed towards myself and my situation. But the Jesus presented in this book, who addressed the people of his time, and spoke regarding the problems of his time with authority and boldness- that Jesus, though less relatable to me due to the time and culture difference, seems to be more real. That is the Jesus I want to know.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jacob McGill

    I'm not sure how much of Wright's rereading of the gospels I buy into, but it is nonetheless an interesting read. This is much better and more important than the highly acclaimed RSG. There is great dialogue with Wright at the 2010 Wheaton Theology Conference. Hays offers a valid critique that Wright conflates the 3 unique voices of the Synoptics into one, and I would add that this voice tends to look more like Luke than the other two. Walsh and Keesmat offer an excellent addition to his work in I'm not sure how much of Wright's rereading of the gospels I buy into, but it is nonetheless an interesting read. This is much better and more important than the highly acclaimed RSG. There is great dialogue with Wright at the 2010 Wheaton Theology Conference. Hays offers a valid critique that Wright conflates the 3 unique voices of the Synoptics into one, and I would add that this voice tends to look more like Luke than the other two. Walsh and Keesmat offer an excellent addition to his work in demanding the cry for economic injustice also be heard. It is a must listen after you have finished JVG. I appreciate that his reading seeks to understand Jesus in his political/religious world instead of Western Evangelicalism that individualizes Jesus stories to make easy applications to their lives. Wright's approach offers more satisfactory approach to 'application' as well as answering the Quests for Jesus.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Adam Smith

    From my blog (http://disciplernetwork.blogspot.com/...) Once again in Volume 2 of the Series “Christian Origins and the Question of God”, British theologian N.T. Wright has given scholars, historians, pastors and lay people a lot to chew on. He has provided a solid historical evaluation of the prophetic ministry of Jesus along with his aims and beliefs. One thing that must constantly be kept in mind in this work is that it is historical in nature more so than theological. That is not to say that i From my blog (http://disciplernetwork.blogspot.com/...) Once again in Volume 2 of the Series “Christian Origins and the Question of God”, British theologian N.T. Wright has given scholars, historians, pastors and lay people a lot to chew on. He has provided a solid historical evaluation of the prophetic ministry of Jesus along with his aims and beliefs. One thing that must constantly be kept in mind in this work is that it is historical in nature more so than theological. That is not to say that it is not theological; it is that. But Wright’s passion is for the historical perspective. He does try to weave together the theological and the historical in this volume, as he did in Volume 1. I think overall he does pretty well. Where I gained insight was in the eschatological nature of the gospels. Wright makes the case that Jesus ministry was intentionally eschatological (primarily symbolic). For that reason, western theologians have read the gospels anachronistically for the most part. We read the gospels like they are the letters of Paul. If we are students of the Bible, we need to keep in mind the genre of the particular book we are studying. Wright says that the gospels are often treated solely theologically while ignoring the historical context. One of the points that Wright repeats (almost ad nauseum) is that when Jesus spoke of his coming in judgment that he was not speaking of some future parousia, but of his current presence among them and his forthcoming death and resurrection. What this means is that Jesus was pronouncing judgment on the Jews for their rejection of Jesus. He points out as evidence the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 by the Romans. The Jews of Jesus’ day had their focus on their deliverance from Roman oppression. Therefore, they missed their true Messiah (Jesus). Because of this rejection, Jesus pronounces and acts out judgment. In this respect he is like the prophet Ezekiel who lay on both his sides (See Ezekiel Chapter 4) to symbolize the siege against Jerusalem. Jesus parables and his ministry were primarily directed at the Jews. While he did have a world focus (the Great Commission for example), his main goal was to defeat the real enemy (the Satan, as Wright puts it) and to provide a redefinition of Israel. Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom in his ministry, death and resurrection. By a redefinition Wright means that Jesus provided a new way of understanding the law (Torah), he took upon himself the function of the temple (by his sacrificial death), and demonstrated meekness instead of resisting enemies (Rome). In Part II of the book (The Profile of a Prophet), Wright’s focus is on the prophetic ministry of Jesus. Wright makes the case that Jesus should be seen as a prophet whose main focus was on the eschatological (again symbolic). To make his point, Jesus told many stories. Many of his stories revolved around the “Kingdom of God”. The point Jesus conveyed in these stories is apparent: The coming of the Kingdom (in Jesus), and the redefinition of Israel, meant that the end was at hand for Israel as a political entity. The new Israel was to be centered in the Person of Jesus. Those who embraced Jesus would be saved. Within a generation the Romans would attack them, destroy the Temple and scatter the Jews to the four winds. Those who did believe in Jesus and embraced the new paradigm would escape. Those who insisted on rebellion and revolution against Rome would be swept away in judgment. Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel. Everything that God had intended for Israel was being fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is the Prophet spoken of in (Deuteronomy 18:18). The tragedy is that by and large, the Jews did not believe the word of the Prophet and because of this unbelief, they would be judged. In Part III (The Aims and Beliefs of Jesus) we encounter a discussion about how Jesus saw himself. What was the goal of Jesus? What was the purpose of his miracles and his parables/teachings? Jesus understood his mission. He knew that he was the Messiah. He knew that he was the Prophet. He resisted the temptation by the Satan to use power to gain followers. Jesus lived out humility and meekness. He understood more than anyone else that the demand for a political King. He resisted that way. The Messiah would defeat Israel’s true enemy: not Rome, but the Satan. That defeat meant that Jesus would have to endure the cross. He would die for the expiation of sin (removal of guilt), the atonement for sin (payment for sin) and the propitiation of sin (assuagement of wrath). He knew that the temple sacrifices were at an end. He would make the one final sacrifice for sin by his death. If Israel would truly come back from exile, then they would have to leave behind all they knew and embrace Jesus. Since the Babylonian exile, the LORD had not really manifested his presence among his people as in the days of Moses (the cloud of glory by day and night). The second temple was not really the final answer. They were still “in exile”. The coming of the kingdom, as Jesus taught it, was that he presented himself as the one who was inaugurating the kingdom. Only those who had ears to hear would come to Jesus to be saved. Overall, I really learned a lot from this work. I gained a healthy appreciation for the historical aspect of the gospels. That Jesus ministry was mainly focused on the Jews and his offer of a new paradigm for Israel. He inaugurated the kingdom of God in his ministry, death and resurrection. I would differ with Wright in that I do believe that Jesus spoke about a literal Parousia. I believe he had a double meaning. As with the Old Testament prophets, Jesus pronouncements had an immediate contextual interpretation (as Wright correctly asserts) but he also had (I believe) something to say to the future church who would be reading his words in the gospels. Jesus would one day come back on a literal cloud (Acts 1:11). Now at the end of this volume, the reader is prepared for Volume III. In it, Wright tackles the huge topic of the Resurrection of the Son of God. The quality of the scholarship and the depth of writing certainly affirm the popularity of Wright. While I did not agree with all of Wright’s assertions, I have certainly grown in my appreciation of the gospels and especially the historical aspects of the New Testament. I would certainly recommend this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Supimpa

    Probably my favourite book by N. T. Wright so far! Powerful and careful, this work deals with the possibility of retrieving a historical Jesus within his Second Temple Jewish context. The basic argument of the book develops from a review of the last three hundred years of Jesus' Research, framed in the 'Three Quests' for the Historical Jesus. Following and developing the paradigm of the Third Quest, Wright develops the public figure of Jesus as an eschatological prophet, reshaping the Jewish sto Probably my favourite book by N. T. Wright so far! Powerful and careful, this work deals with the possibility of retrieving a historical Jesus within his Second Temple Jewish context. The basic argument of the book develops from a review of the last three hundred years of Jesus' Research, framed in the 'Three Quests' for the Historical Jesus. Following and developing the paradigm of the Third Quest, Wright develops the public figure of Jesus as an eschatological prophet, reshaping the Jewish story, symbols, praxis and worldview altogether, relativizing all of them around his own persona. Wright here emphasizes that Jesus was bringing the good news that Isreal's exile was over, and Jesus was indicating the results of this climax of Israel's story. But through his announcement of judgment over unfaithful parts of Israel, particularly in his Temple-Action, Jesus is handed over by Jewish authorities to die under Poncius Pilate. Following from this 'worldview' analysis, Wright comes closer to a personal 'mindset' of Jesus (his aims and beliefs). The basic points here, in parallel with the previous part, is that Jesus saw himself and announced the return from exile, the defeat of evil through a strange kind of defeat by himself as the Messiah, and finally the return of YHWH to Zion emobied in Jesus himself. One of the most beautiful and impacting parts of the book is chapter 12, when Wright deals with Jesus' crucifixion, its reasons and Jesus' perception of the event through his actions (especially in the Last Supper). The only critique: it is, at times, quite repetitive and wordy, and I feel it could have been 200 pages shorter. One example among many others: pp. 383-384 and 378-9 have pretty much the same argument and footnotes concerning the role of purity for 1st century Pharisees. Still, this book is a must-read for Biblical studies, particularly for those interested in the Historical Jesus.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chauncey Lattimer

    When I finished reading Vol. 1 of this series, The New Testament and the People of God, I realized right away that there would be two more books on the agenda. This book was even better than the first. Often I thought how valuable this book would have been during my bible college and seminary days, only to remind myself that it was not in print and wouldn't be for two more decades. Not once during the study of both Greek and Hebrew did I believe that I was receiving the tools necessary to really When I finished reading Vol. 1 of this series, The New Testament and the People of God, I realized right away that there would be two more books on the agenda. This book was even better than the first. Often I thought how valuable this book would have been during my bible college and seminary days, only to remind myself that it was not in print and wouldn't be for two more decades. Not once during the study of both Greek and Hebrew did I believe that I was receiving the tools necessary to really understand the stories I was reading. The works that I came across during those days that dealt with biblical bacgrounds usually focused on traditions and customs. This book has helped me more that words can express to understand the aims/intentions/beliefs of Jesus in terms of his stories, symbols, and praxis. My word for Vol. 1 of the series (NTPG) was "wow." My word for this book, Vol. 2 of the series, is "Thanks!" Now off to #3 - The Resurrection of the Son of God.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    I remember reading this book the first time (yes, I have read it more than once) over the summer while visiting my in-laws. I found out later they couldn't understand why I was so engrossed in reading, as if I had checked myself out of the family! But I had simply never encountered a more impressive work on the humanity of Jesus than I encountered here. While one may not agree with all he writes (who ever agrees with everything someone writes?), one cannot deny the value of the work and the refl I remember reading this book the first time (yes, I have read it more than once) over the summer while visiting my in-laws. I found out later they couldn't understand why I was so engrossed in reading, as if I had checked myself out of the family! But I had simply never encountered a more impressive work on the humanity of Jesus than I encountered here. While one may not agree with all he writes (who ever agrees with everything someone writes?), one cannot deny the value of the work and the reflection it has spurred across Christian traditions. We owe a huge debt of gratitude for Wright taking on the historical Jesus tradition and bringing it into the 21st Century. I use the book regularly as a reference when working from the synoptic gospels. But be warned: it is truly an academic work.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John

    Wright's second volume of his Christian Origins series is much like the first, in that he's interacting primarily with liberal and even apostate theologians. The work reads more like history and apologetic, more than it does theology. There is much good in it, however, especially once you get past the first quarter of the book. Wright understands, as few others do, the context in which Jesus lived and died. He understands the Jewishness of the New Testament and especially Jesus's polemic against Wright's second volume of his Christian Origins series is much like the first, in that he's interacting primarily with liberal and even apostate theologians. The work reads more like history and apologetic, more than it does theology. There is much good in it, however, especially once you get past the first quarter of the book. Wright understands, as few others do, the context in which Jesus lived and died. He understands the Jewishness of the New Testament and especially Jesus's polemic against unbelieving Israel. This leads to many important conclusions that the church needs to understand--namely that Jesus was not predicting the end of the world, but the end of the Old Covenant world. I cannot recommend the book, though, as it is much too long and interacts with unbelieving theologians in ways that don't really answer most of the interesting questions that the texts pose.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Josh Shelton

    After reading NTPG I knew that I was getting into a good series, but after reading JVG I think this is probably the best series on biblical studies that I have ever read; in many ways it is unique.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Gane

    Right before the famous poem in Isaiah of the Suffering Servant, there’s this poem that reads, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Right before the famous poem in Isaiah of the Suffering Servant, there’s this poem that reads, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭52:7-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬ This is just one passage of the many that speak to the hope of Israel that God would return to his temple and rescue them from foreign oppressors. God would “[bar] his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations” and restore his people. Israel would return from exile and be Gods kingdom of priests that they were always supposed to be for the rest of the nations. This book has been on my shelf for probably two years. For some reason it was incredibly hard to pick up and start but now having finished reading it I can understand why it is considered a staple of Wright’s work. Wright shows with breathtaking clarity and comprehensive scope that Jesus was a prophet who believed himself to be the Messiah that would not only announce but also embody the return of YHWH to Zion and establish His kingdom. Israel had went into exile because of idolatry and God would bring them out of it, announcing the forgiveness of sins to not only them but to the rest of the nations. This book didn’t just clarify things for me to put into more categories that I already had about Jesus. It opened up a whole world of Scripture and second temple literature that made the story of Jesus profoundly more rich and vibrant than I had ever thought it was.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Allie Jordan

    Hands-down the most important piece of biblical scholarship I’ve ever read. Wright presents a fully integrated image of Jesus grounded in the prophetic tradition of the Hebrew Bible. You know that satisfying feeling when you’ve been bogged down in a puzzle (I’m thinking sudoku, but visualize your game of choice) and you finally figure out the one move that makes everything else fall smoothly into place? Reading JVG feels exactly like that. Wright can be repetitive and his sentences can get away f Hands-down the most important piece of biblical scholarship I’ve ever read. Wright presents a fully integrated image of Jesus grounded in the prophetic tradition of the Hebrew Bible. You know that satisfying feeling when you’ve been bogged down in a puzzle (I’m thinking sudoku, but visualize your game of choice) and you finally figure out the one move that makes everything else fall smoothly into place? Reading JVG feels exactly like that. Wright can be repetitive and his sentences can get away from him at times, but he can also be a downright charming writer. Power through the slow parts and you’ll be amply rewarded.

  18. 4 out of 5

    R.B.

    I have a lot that I could say on this book, but I will limit that to a minimum. This is a impressive volume that has contributed to our understanding of Jesus, and shows how well learned Wright is and gives him the rightful place as one of the world's best experts in this area. I appreciated all of the interaction early on with Jesus scholarship and the debates that have been running for the past couple centuries and the different contributions; it really put the book in context and gives it sig I have a lot that I could say on this book, but I will limit that to a minimum. This is a impressive volume that has contributed to our understanding of Jesus, and shows how well learned Wright is and gives him the rightful place as one of the world's best experts in this area. I appreciated all of the interaction early on with Jesus scholarship and the debates that have been running for the past couple centuries and the different contributions; it really put the book in context and gives it significance. Further, the interaction with OT and 2nd Temple literature was wide. Wright is really convincing showing how Jews, well many of them, thought of themselves in exile and how they are to ushered back by the Messiah and YHWH will return to Zion, and things will be put back to right, again. By revealing this nationalistic hope popular in Jewish ideology, he shows how Jesus was a Jew with a similar (Jewish) framework, but completely subverts them. Reconstructing this early 1st world allows us to understand Jesus as prophet, messiah, and why he died. Wright also does a good job critiquing the popular misunderstanding of Jewish apocalyptic; it is not the end of the space-time universe. I am not necessarily convinced with Wright's conclusion of what Jewish apocalyptic is, there seems to be a lot of other views on this and I haven't yet been able to consort those sources; I am especially interested in J. Louis Martyn's reading of apocalyptic. Also, Wright doesn't give voice to each evangelist on its own term; Matthew, Mark and Luke are all blended without giving them their own voice. My main critique of Wright is his reading of parables. He brings in good cultural background information from Kenneth Bailey, but he then goes into how Jesus' parables are telling stories about Israel in exile. For example, the prodigal son parable is Israel in exile being called back into relationship with God, while the elder brother is the Jews? (How can the father say, "You we always with me?") I was following him really well and was fascinated, until he got to his reading of the elder brother. Wright is trying to fit his understanding of parables - telling Israel's story - and forcing that mold on the parable. I would like to see a more convincing explanation of this reading. Other parables give to telling Israel's story more than others, but not the prodigal son. All in all, Wright's book is quite amazing, just not sure how many sermons I can listen to on the gospels today, because it is void of history and about timeless truths (Bultmann and Schleiermacher), as Wright strongly disagrees with. I recommend this to any student of the gospels and Jesus.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nathanael Smith

    It's taken me a good 9-10 months of reading this book off and on to get through the whole thing. The depth and amount of information in this, as well as the other volumes in the series (at least the first one, I'm working my way through so I haven't read the next two yet but I'm assuming they hold up to what he's done so far) is pretty amazing. This particular volume is pretty much a look into the life and ministry of Jesus and Wright's case for why the context of the Kingdom is so crucial to a It's taken me a good 9-10 months of reading this book off and on to get through the whole thing. The depth and amount of information in this, as well as the other volumes in the series (at least the first one, I'm working my way through so I haven't read the next two yet but I'm assuming they hold up to what he's done so far) is pretty amazing. This particular volume is pretty much a look into the life and ministry of Jesus and Wright's case for why the context of the Kingdom is so crucial to a good understanding of what Jesus, and hence Christianity, was and is all about and then exploring what exactly that theme of the Kingdom entails. There are some points where it can seem like he's saying some of the same stuff over and over, since he is essentially arguing the point of the importance of the Kingdom of God on all fronts, but even during these repetitive parts there is immense value because he just goes through the gospel accounts bringing up well known and some often frustratingly confusing stories, parables, actions, etc. and explains them through that lens of the Kingdom. There were numerous points in the book that triggered "aha" moments, when something that I hadn't thought of before clicked into place, as well as points that challenged me and are continuing to challenge me in my thinking and understanding of Jesus and what it means to follow him. Since it is such an in depth book and one of his more scholarly works, it may not be for everyone, but he's easily my favorite author on Christianity and I would recommend him to anyone looking to dig a little more and challenge some of the things they may have taken for granted over the years about the faith.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nate Claiborne

    In the end though, this is a great book for anyone serious about New Testament studies to wrestle through. I never got around to it in seminary, but I’m glad I took the time now. Stylistically, it is a fairly easy read. But, content-wise, there is much to process and digest, so getting through it is no easy task. It’s not for the faint of heart and those who are interested but maybe more time bound in their reading than I am may want to check out Simply Jesus or How God Became King. Both of thes In the end though, this is a great book for anyone serious about New Testament studies to wrestle through. I never got around to it in seminary, but I’m glad I took the time now. Stylistically, it is a fairly easy read. But, content-wise, there is much to process and digest, so getting through it is no easy task. It’s not for the faint of heart and those who are interested but maybe more time bound in their reading than I am may want to check out Simply Jesus or How God Became King. Both of these take the general ideas and themes from this book and make them more reader friendly. The price that comes with it though is more practical (and in many cases political) insights than what this book offers. Jesus and The Victory of God has no real priestly overtones or practical applications in it. It’s a straight historical investigation with some theological flavoring. With Wright’s popular books, he is just as compelling of a writer if not more so, but he also has ideas about how to apply his ideas that not everyone will agree with. But then again, not every agrees about anything, so there’s always going to be a critic isn’t there? I prefer Wright’s academic writings, but I’ve benefited from his popular treatments as well. He’s a gifted writer and a gifted scholar serving the church. I think because of that, whether you ultimately agree with him or not, you can’t really dismiss him and ought to wrestle with his thoughts and ideas. Read a more extensive review on my blog

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris Griffith

    Wright, thoroughly examines the life of Jesus in the context of the history of Israel and her exile during the reign of King Herod while under the dominion of the Roman Empire. By doing so, Wright answers the likes of the "Jesus Seminar" and the "New Quest" by showing that Jesus thought of himself and demonstrated through parable, person, and deed that he was Israel's Messiah becoming King. In his prior book, The New Testament and the People of God, Wright had laid the ground work of how history Wright, thoroughly examines the life of Jesus in the context of the history of Israel and her exile during the reign of King Herod while under the dominion of the Roman Empire. By doing so, Wright answers the likes of the "Jesus Seminar" and the "New Quest" by showing that Jesus thought of himself and demonstrated through parable, person, and deed that he was Israel's Messiah becoming King. In his prior book, The New Testament and the People of God, Wright had laid the ground work of how history gets written and interpreted and Israel's story in the context of the first century. In this book, Wright unpacks for us how Jesus viewed himself as fitting into the story of Israel's exile and release from captivity by the coming of the Messiah. Wright shows how the things Jesus taught and the way he acted, particularly through His parables like the Prodigal Son and actions like driving the money-changers from the Temple showed that he was consistent with how he understood himself within the context of his vocation and Israel's redemption. Jesus really did believe He was the Messiah! This book was long and detailed but but very necessary. If you want the simplified version read Wright's Simply Jesus and How God Became King.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    A very fine work. Wright is really speaking to the secular world of historical criticism, and he fights the battle on their terms using their rules- terms and rules I couldn't have stomached. As such, his work is helpful to the cause of Christianity because he successfully answers these fools according to their folly (1 Cor. 9:20, Prov. 26:5). The work is still wonderful for Christians, but his (assumed) secular assumptions held his book back from being as phenomenal as it could have been. For A very fine work. Wright is really speaking to the secular world of historical criticism, and he fights the battle on their terms using their rules- terms and rules I couldn't have stomached. As such, his work is helpful to the cause of Christianity because he successfully answers these fools according to their folly (1 Cor. 9:20, Prov. 26:5). The work is still wonderful for Christians, but his (assumed) secular assumptions held his book back from being as phenomenal as it could have been. For example, he rarely (if ever) mentions the gospel of John since, apparently, that's historically taboo. So my recommendation to NT: write it again with an assumed Christian audience. If anybody could have the patience to do that, it would be you...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Pros: 1) Sound academic arguments 2) Coherent use of (synoptic) scriptures 3) Middle ground approach on Biblical trustworthiness 4) Excellent historical perspective Cons: 1) 650 some pages 2) Segregates Biblical authors While reading it, I learned a lot, I thought a lot, and I fell asleep on the couch a lot. Wright presents a coherent perspective on Jesus' self-image, while not hosing down orthodox Christian tradition. As much as I don't want to spend two months on his next books, I'm really interested Pros: 1) Sound academic arguments 2) Coherent use of (synoptic) scriptures 3) Middle ground approach on Biblical trustworthiness 4) Excellent historical perspective Cons: 1) 650 some pages 2) Segregates Biblical authors While reading it, I learned a lot, I thought a lot, and I fell asleep on the couch a lot. Wright presents a coherent perspective on Jesus' self-image, while not hosing down orthodox Christian tradition. As much as I don't want to spend two months on his next books, I'm really interested in how he's going to handle Paul in relation to what he just said about Jesus.

  24. 4 out of 5

    slaveofone

    One of the greatest books on Jesus I have ever read... A Critical Realist (and New Perspectivist) approach to the Quest for the Historical Jesus. A historical analysis of first century Judaism(s) and how Jesus fit inside of and subverted it(them). Wright takes on 100 years of Jesus scholarship, outlines the flaws and successes, and stands upon the shoulders of giants to bring us to new heights in understanding the life (but also the death) of Jesus. Although a technical and scholastic book that One of the greatest books on Jesus I have ever read... A Critical Realist (and New Perspectivist) approach to the Quest for the Historical Jesus. A historical analysis of first century Judaism(s) and how Jesus fit inside of and subverted it(them). Wright takes on 100 years of Jesus scholarship, outlines the flaws and successes, and stands upon the shoulders of giants to bring us to new heights in understanding the life (but also the death) of Jesus. Although a technical and scholastic book that may overwhelm the uninitiated, Wright invests his writing with creativity, wit, and an erudite mastery of the texts and their relationship that leaves you begging for more.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Thatcher

    Took forever to finish it but finally conquered. It was fascinating and long winded and beautiful. It obviously reaches at times but I will say it changed a lot of notions and mindsets I had about Jesus in the Gospels context. It paints Jesus as being nothing but relevant to 1st century Judaism, though having to be highly cryptic in the process so as to avoid premature capture. Take your time on this one. You will have to buy it. There is too much so as to grasp it in one read through. I started th Took forever to finish it but finally conquered. It was fascinating and long winded and beautiful. It obviously reaches at times but I will say it changed a lot of notions and mindsets I had about Jesus in the Gospels context. It paints Jesus as being nothing but relevant to 1st century Judaism, though having to be highly cryptic in the process so as to avoid premature capture. Take your time on this one. You will have to buy it. There is too much so as to grasp it in one read through. I started this book not knowing Wright was controversial. Now I know but not because of this book. The again I learned he is mainly controversial to to Paul.

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Stacey

    Spending 741 pages reading and thinking about Jesus seemed like a good idea to me. I love Tom Wright's freshness and insight. He manages to combine scholarly integrity with a pungent challenge to embrace the kingdom Jesus proclaimed.While I'm still not sure about every conclusion he draws in this book (in particular his unusual interpretation of what are usually taken as Jesus' references in the Gospels to his second coming) I found it stimulating. My only comfort when I regretfully reached the Spending 741 pages reading and thinking about Jesus seemed like a good idea to me. I love Tom Wright's freshness and insight. He manages to combine scholarly integrity with a pungent challenge to embrace the kingdom Jesus proclaimed.While I'm still not sure about every conclusion he draws in this book (in particular his unusual interpretation of what are usually taken as Jesus' references in the Gospels to his second coming) I found it stimulating. My only comfort when I regretfully reached the last page was that I could now reach for 'The Resurrection of the Son of God' (the next in the series) which promises to be even better.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Avery

    Prof. Wright has done an amazing job with this book and the others in the series (probably all his books). He invests considerable research and historical methodology when he prepares to write. This book in particular makes an invaluable contribution to the case for the historical resurrection of Jesus. Although it is academic, it is written in such a way that most readers can find it accessible and it is a faith builder.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brent Wilson

    Impressive tome. Wright presents a refreshing and compelling thesis - that the historical Jesus is fairly close to what the text says, if read in a first-century Jewish and Roman-empire context. The book engages current scholarship more than a typical lay book does - meant for academics more than the casual reader. This one's staying on my bookshelf as a valued resource!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Amazing book on how Jesus would have viewed himself. Argues against much of the popular revisionist views of Jesus, yet N.T. Wright does challenge popular Christian perceptions of Jesus as well--allowing the Jesus of history, a first-century Palestinian Jew, speak life back into our understanding of who he was and what he taught. Great book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elliot

    I've been reading a few pages of this one here and there for a while, and finally finished it. It's not for the faint of heart (especially the first part, where Wright takes the temperature of Jesus studies for the past hundred years), but I'd recommend it for anyone even vaguely interested in what we can know about the historical Jesus.

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