Simply Excellent

Every time I read an N. T. Wright book, I ask myself, "Why have I not read everything this man writes?" The answer is that he seems to write much faster than I can read. And yet, his books are impressively, incredibly profound.

That is certainly the case with his latest, the newly-released Simply Jesus. In it, he thoroughly and thoughtfully answers the questions "Who is Jesus?" and "What is and was the purpose and message of his life?"

Wright (who is an Anglican bishop and accomplished scholar) masterfully orients the reader to the time and worldview of Jesus day, as a necessary prelude to unpacking Jesus' words and actions, which reveal his true purpose and message. Then he proceeds to show some important ways those things differ from what the "skeptics" and "conservatives" in and out of the church have focused on. For example, he says,
The gospels are not about "how Jesus turned out to be God." They are about how God became king on earth as in heaven (p. 149).
And also,
It will not do to suppose that Jesus came to teach people "how to get to heaven." That view has been immensely popular in Western Christianity for many generations, but it simply won't do. The whole point of Jesus's public career was not to tell people that God was in heaven and that, at death, they could leave "earth" behind and go to be with him there. It was to tell them that God was now taking charge, right here on "earth" (pp. 144-145).
I found especially intriguing his depiction of the "perfect storm" of circumstances and forces into which Jesus came, his explanation of the ingredients of the Exodus narrative as a template for understanding the Jewish worldview of Jesus' day, and his elucidation of Jesus himself as a "walking, living, breathing Temple" and as "the walking, celebrating, victorious sabbath" (p. 138).

Anyone who is interested in the life, ministry, and message of Jesus would do well to read this book. Though I haven't read everything N. T. Wright has written, Simply Jesus is a good example of why I plan to.

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