220 von 243 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fr. Charles Erlandson
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N.T. Wright's latest book, "Simply Jesus," claims to be a new vision of who Jesus is and what He did. Ultimately, the book is what it claims. It's a sometimes brilliant and inspiring re-presentation of who Jesus is and what He came to do. But unfortunately, Wright doesn't make this clear until the end of Chapter 11. A good summary of Wright's major theme is this sentence from Chapter 11: "The gospels are not about `how Jesus turned out to be God.' They are about how God became king on earth as in heaven." Put another way: the Good News of Jesus Christ has to do with much more than people simply escaping earth for heaven.
Wright develops this theme throughout and does, indeed, offer a fresh and invigorating vision of Jesus Christ. But the book is marred by the fact that Wright's best and most important ideas aren't clear until so late in the book that they would be easy to miss. In fact, I would highly recommend reading Chapters 11, 13, 14, and 15 first so that the rest of the book may be more profitable! Because of the wonderful, challenging insights in the final few chapters, I give the book 4 stars, despite a very slow and not particularly refreshing beginning.
Chapter 1 is very slow going and doesn't do much to present Jesus in a new light or help us to see Him any better. In Chapter 2, Wright presents 3 puzzles understanding Jesus represents: Jesus' world is foreign to us; Jesus' God is strange to us; and Jesus spoke and acted as if he was in charge. Chapter 2 wasn't particularly insightful.
Chapter 3 discusses what Wright terms the distortions of skepticism and conservatism. He's wrong, however, to put the two on the same level; one proceeds from faith and is an honest attempt to accept the Christ of the Gospels - the other isn't. He presents the "conservative" view in such a way that it's hard to find much fault with it, except that it does leave some important things out and has some misunderstandings. But this doesn't, at least from the discussion in Chapter 3, merit the approbation Wright uses. Why, for example, is he so upset with the fact that both skepticism and conservatism ask the question: "Did it happen?" Wright himself has already spoken of how Christianity is a historical religion. He clearly has an axe to grind against "conservative" Christians, who believe things very close to what Wright believes. This unfortunately mars this work by Wright. Why would he, for example, call it "would be `Christian" conservatism" when discussing a view that takes the Bible seriously and Jesus as the historical God made flesh? Chapter 3 also deals with historical complexity; unfortunately, Wright raises the issue here but doesn't shed much light on how to understand Jesus better until later in the book. I came to the book for a better picture of Jesus, not 3 chapters stating how our current views are inadequate.
Finally, in Chapter 4, Wright gets down to giving us some useful historical background to better understand the meaning of Jesus. He discusses, for example, the religious significance of Augustus Caesar and Jesus' threat to the traditional religion of Rome. I do like the way that Wright contrasts the Roman "retrospective" eschatology that looked to the past to the Jewish "prospective" eschatology that looked to the future. It's useful, as well, to see the 1st century Jewish situation as being set against an evil empire and a coming deliverer.
Chapter 5 is a chapter on God as King. There's nothing remarkable, but it does set the tone for the rest of the book which develops the major theme of the Gospels that God has now come as King. Chapter 6 explores the key theme that God's in charge now and is King. The chapter contains a useful, brief outline of Jewish history and a good treatment of the Exodus and 7 themes of the Exodus. Chapter 7 is generally useful as Wright presents God's rule as manifested by forgiveness and healing. But, again, nothing particularly new or exciting.
Chapter 8 is a little more interesting as Wright discusses the importance of the stories that Jesus told. "They were stories designed to tease, to clothe the shocking and revolutionary message of God's kingdom in garb that left the hearers wondering, trying to think it out, never quite able (until near the end) to pin Jesus down." It's useful to think of the parables as Wright does, that "They are saying: `Don't be surprised, but this is what it looks like when God's in charge.'"
Chapter 9 contrasts Christ as King with 2 failed Jewish kings - one before and one after Christ. It's useful as history and to make a point about Jewish expectations, but it didn't discuss Christ as King very much and therefore was not as helpful as it might have been. Chapter 10 is about battle the King will fight and how it's not so easy to see who's on which side of the battle.
By this point in the book I had resigned myself to having bought a book that wasn't particularly worthwhile. It would have been tempting to give up and go on to something else. Am I glad I kept reading!
Chapter 11, on Space, Time, and Matter, struck me as particularly illuminating and represents the kind of fresh look I'd hoped to see all throughout the book. Here, Wright portrays the Temple as the nexus of Heaven and Earth. He continues by exploring the themes of how where God dwells was redefined by Jesus, how Time was fulfilled by Him, and how God has instituted a New Creation. These are especially rich and fruitful themes that should help many Christians see what the true meaning of Christ is in a new and deeper way.
Perhaps the most important paragraph of the whole book is tucked away at the end of Chapter 11: "First, 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.'" This thought lies behind Wright's earlier objections to "conservatism." It won't do to think of the Gospels as being traditional proofs of God, Wright says, but instead we should see them as ones that would have made sense to 1st century Jews. We should see Jesus "as the reality to which Temple, sabbath, and creation itself were pointing. That is, or ought to be, a clear indication that, in terms of the `God' of first-century Jews, Jesus understood himself to be embodying this God, doing things whose best explanation was that this was what God was doing, and so on."
In other words (and this is the very essence of what Wright is teaching): "The gospels are not about `how Jesus turned out to be God.' They are about how God became king on earth as in heaven." This is so important that I think Wright made a serious strategic mistake by not leading with these thoughts at the beginning. They are easily lost in much more mundane material.
Once again, I found Chapter 12 not all too illuminating. But Wright recovers his provocative and enlightening form in Chapter 13, where he frames Christ in terms of his uniting of the offices of prophet, priest, and king and his fulfillment of the Exodus story. Again, I wish there had been more of the material like Chapter 13. It's in such writing that he's at his best weaving together the complex imagery and narratives that culminate in Jesus Christ.
While Wright doesn't dismiss other ways of viewing the meaning of Jesus' death, such as an example of love, a representation of His people, and a penal understanding, Wright transcends these limited understandings. Ultimately, Wright thinks these other meanings are all united in the greater meaning that "Jesus's death was seen by Jesus himself, and then by those who told and ultimately wrote his story, as the ultimate means by which God's kingdom is established."
I love the way that Wright, in Chapter 14, speaks of Easter as being the New Creation that demonstrates that "God's kingdom is now launched, and launched in power and glory, on earth as in heaven." He ties the Resurrection, as well, to Ascension and Enthronement, two aspects that are often tragically left out of traditional conservative theology.
Wright concludes in Chapter 15 with where I wish he had begun: by a brilliant presentation of how Jesus is already the Ruler of the World.
In the end, "Simply Jesus" lives up to its large claim to be a new look at Jesus and what He did. I heartily recommend it with the very important qualification that the best material is all in the last 5 chapters. You may want to read them first!
Wright presents his ideas in the following chapters:
Chapter 1 - A Very Odd Sort of King
Chapter 2 - The Three Puzzles
Chapter 3 - The Perfect Storm
Chapter 4 - The Making of a First-Century Storm
Chapter 5 - The Hurricane
Chapter 6 - God's in Charge Now
Chapter 7 - The Campaign Starts Here
Chapter 8 - Stories That Explain and a Message That Transforms
Chapter 9 - The Kingdom Present and Future
Chapter 10 - Battle and Temple
Chapter 11 - Space, Time, and Matter
Chapter 12 - At the Heart of the Storm
Chapter 13 - Why Did the Messiah Have to Die?
Chapter 14 - Under New Management: Easter and Beyond
Chapter 15 - Jesus: The Ruler of the World
29 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Keith R. Clark
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I'll never forget what it was like having my mind blown. I thought that twenty years of growing up in the church and an undergraduate degree in Christian ministry with a heavy emphasis on biblical text had given me a pretty good grasp of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Then I was assigned N.T. Wright's The New Testament and the People of God for my first graduate class, "Advanced Introduction to the New Testament." It only took a couple pages and my mind was blown. Wright revolutionized my understanding of the Jewishness of Jesus, turned upside down my ideas about the Pharisees, and opened my eyes to the gospel's rightful place within the story of God and God's people, Israel. So began my journey with Wright that has played a pivotal role in my overarching journey of faith and ministry.
It is thus with great anticipation that I approach each new contribution to Wright's canon. I don't so much expect to have my mind blown again; before I was navigating scripture with a completely different map than Wright, now I think I'm looking at and using the same map. However, I do expect to have my understanding refined, my eyes opened to things I've previously overlooked, and some of my conclusions challenged. Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters has done precisely that.
Cutting through the fog that destroys communication between skeptics and conservatives and mapping with clarity a way through the challenging terrain of historic complexity, Wright lays out the contest that is underlying, overlaying, and surrounding any conversation about Jesus: Roman aspirations for dominance, Jewish longings for liberation, and God's intention of establishing God's kingdom on earth as in heaven. By drawing parallels between the work of Jesus and the Exodus story, contrasting Jesus to other would-be Jewish messiahs, establishing the contextual plausibility of an already-not yet kingdom, and insisting that in Jesus space, time, and matter are all redefined, Wright lays the foundation on which he claims Jesus was establishing God's kingdom on earth as in heaven. Further, Wright argues Jesus set about this task out of a sense of vocation cultivated by the images of Isaiah's suffering servant, Daniel's son of man, and Zechariah's king, and undergirded by the themes of the Psalms. With that sense of vocation propelling him, Jesus humbled himself to death on a cross, convinced that such a death was "the ultimate means by which God's kingdom [would be] established...[and] the shocking answer to the prayer that God's kingdom would come on earth as in heaven" (185). Wright concludes his examination of Jesus's life and work with immensely helpful reflections on his resurrection, ascension, and promised second coming, and the role each plays in God's intention of establishing God's kingdom on earth as in heaven.
Wright's final move explores the implications of Jesus's enthronement as ruler of the world for present-day living. Three themes familiar to Wright's readers take center stage in these explorations: God's desire to rule the world through humanity, the role of worship in creating a community whose allegiance is to Jesus alone as Lord, and the indispensible calling of the church to bear witness to Jesus's lordship even as God works outside the church as well as inside. While he does not offer endless examples of "practical applications," leaving that task to astute readers familiar with their local contexts, he concludes, unsurprisingly, by suggesting that when humanity lives as though Jesus is Lord, we will begin to see the themes of the Sermon on the Mount come to life.
Those without a formal theological education or those unfamiliar with Wright's work, may find the experience of reading Simply Jesus to be like my experience reading The New Testament and the People of God. But even for those with a formal theological education or familiar with Wright's work, Wright has prepared and served up a feast in Simply Jesus. His ability to hear resonances between seemingly distant and disparate biblical texts is on full display. His skill at employing metaphors to make complex historical problems accessible is present throughout. His talent of relating seemingly every episode of Jesus's life and ministry to the overarching story of God and God's people is evident on nearly every page. Those who taste will, I suspect, see that the Lord is good.
Disclosure: Thanks to HarperOne for providing me a review copy with no obligation for a positive review.
36 von 42 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Jeremy Myers - Writing at TillHeComes
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Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright may simply be the best book about Jesus I have ever read.
But the book is not just about Jesus. It is about the church, the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, Israel, history, government, social involvement, eschatology, and a mind-numbing array of other topics, all of which swirl around and center upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.
But don't be scared. N. T. Wright may be one of the world's leading New Testament scholars, but this book is highly readable. Unlike some of his academic-level books (such as The Resurrection of the Son of God), this book contains almost no footnotes, scholarly discussion of Greek words, or involved critique of ideas from other scholars.
If you have been hearing about N. T. Wright and are curious about his ideas, but have not wanted to tackle the 800 pages of The Resurrection of the Son of God or the 800 pages of Jesus and the Victory of God, this book is the the place to start. It is a concise summary of everything written up to this point by N. T. Wright about Israel as the people of God, Jesus as the Son of God, the significance of His resurrection, and the role of the church within the Kingdom of God.
Here, briefly, is what he argues:
There were numerous cultural, political, and theological winds swirling around Israel in the years before and after the ministry of Jesus Christ. Most of these winds led Israel to expect a Messiah who would overthrow Rome through military conquest and set Israel up as the nation that ruled the world in peace and justice.
When Jesus began saying and doing the things He said and did, He was not fulfilling any of the expectations, which confused many people, and eventually, led to His crucifixion. (Whew! I'm skipping a lot in there! It's almost shameful!)
But through all of His teachings and miracles, and climaxing in His death and resurrection, Jesus was trying to show people what God was really like, and how the Kingdom of Heaven truly operated. It would not arrive by bloodshed and sword, conquest and violence, but through love and service, humility and sacrifice, and even death.
And when Jesus rose, He gathered His disciples around Himself and told them that through His life, ministry, death, and resurrection, the Kingdom of God on earth had been inaugurated, and they were now His ambassadors to carry the Kingdom forward to the ends of the earth. They must live as He lived. Love as He loved. Serve as He served. And maybe even die as He died. For this is the way of the kingdom. This is the way of God.
The church then, continues this task. We are the hands and feet and voice of Jesus to the world. "The way in which Jesus now exercises his rule in the world [is] through the church, which is his Body" (p. 217). This is fantastic theology, and provides us with a vision not just of who Jesus really was and what He really did, but also who the church is, and what the church is supposed to be doing. The last chapter really focuses on this theme, and is more than worth the price of the book.
I really only have one concern with the book, and it is that N. T. Wright does not believe in the Rapture (p. 199-200), and appears to be Amillennial (p. 229). But these are not really big issues for me, and while I believe in a future Rapture and a Millennium, I can still fully apply everything N. T. Wright says to my life as a follower of Jesus, and to the church as the Body of Christ in the present time.
I highly recommend Simply Jesus, and along with it, a book which deals more with the role of the church and individual Christians within the world: Simply Christian. Both are on my Burning Books list.