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Who Was Jesus? by N. T. Wright
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Who Was Jesus?

by N. T. Wright

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Wright's book does two things: (1) it condenses his own understanding of who Jesus is into something actually readable by a lay-person (the more thorough books are Jesus and the Victory of God and The Resurrection of the Son of God, both multi-hundred page books; there is also a somewhat shorter book called The Challenge of Jesus) and (2) it critiques three recent attempted reconstructions of the historical Jesus - which turns his book into something of an extended review of three other books (by A. N. Wilson, Barbara Theiring, and John Shelby Spong).

In Wright's typically whimsical prose, his critique is all at once charming, humorous, and scathing! Putting the two elements of the book together, it turns into a fairly good defense of a more "traditional" portrait of Jesus (i.e. affirming his messianic identity and bodily resurrection).

Incidentally, while I read a lot of Wright, I don't agree with him on multiple fronts, including his general take on Paul. But I have few qualms with this book. If you're interested in reading something on "the historical Jesus," this isn't a bad place to start. ( )
  brianghedges | Oct 23, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802806945, Paperback)

Did the historical person Jesus really regard himself as the Son of God? What did Jesus actually stand for? And what are we to make of the early Christian conviction that, following his execution by the Romans, Jesus physically rose from the dead? N. T. Wright's Who Was Jesus? considers these and many other questions thrown up by the latest wave of controversial books about Jesus, including * Barbara Thiering's Jesus the Man: A New Interpretation from the Dead Sea Scrolls, * A. N. Wilson's Jesus, * John Shelby Spong's Born of a Woman, and * John Dominic Crossan's The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. Each of these books portrays a different Jesus, and each portrait is markedly different from the traditional, orthodox Christian view of Jesus. While Wright agrees with these "Jesus" authors that the real, historical Jesus has many surprises in store for institutional Christianity, he also argues that they "fail to reach anything like the right answer" as to who Jesus was. Who Was Jesus? examines the recent Jesus publications in the context of the many modern Jesus books, dominated by Albert Schweitzer's masterful portrait, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906). As Wright shows, the modern "quest" displays many variations on the same themes, so that the latest portraits of Jesus are not nearly as novel as they are made out to be. Wright also outlines the arguments made specifically by Thiering, Wilson, and Spong, and he presents solid reasons for discounting their arguments. Written from the standpoint of professional biblical scholarship yet assuming no prior knowledge of the subject, Wright's Who Was Jesus? shows convincingly that much can be gained from a rigorous historical assessment of what the Gospels say about Jesus. This is a book to engage skeptic and believer alike.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:36 -0400)

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"In sharp contrast with many of his colleagues, Wright positively, meaningfully, and unapologetically connects his portrait of the historical Jesus with both ancient and contemporary expressions of Christianity. Wright is thus not content to ask, 'Who was Jesus?' No, indeed. In addition to the 'who' question, Wright feels obligated ? even compelled ? to ask the 'how' questions: 'Just how did the historical Jesus fit into first-century Judaism?' And, most importantly, 'Just how did the historical Jesus become the foundation and driving force for the church ?s faith?' Thus, for Wright, whatever one decides about Jesus ? identity must be squared with what we know to be true about first-century Judaism and early Christianity. This framing of the task means that Wright simultaneously seeks to be a sober and circumspect historian and a passionate, committed, and responsible theologian. This rather unfashionable combination makes his work as novel as it is important. Despite his confessional commitments, Wright has steadfastly refused to accept, simply and without question, the traditional portraits of Jesus. Thus, those who listen to Wright ? and listen carefully ? will find his work a double-edged sword. In the face of the methodological skeptics and against those who wish to transform Jesus into the equivalent of a first-century guru, Wright is a great ally. At the same time, however, the Jesus Wright discovers is a figure likely to disturb the faithful. Wright ?s Jesus did not wander around Galilee preaching justification by faith, the end of the world, or that he was the second person of the Trinity. Wright ?s Jesus is firmly planted in the politics and culture of first-century Palestine" -- www.catalystresources.com… (more)

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