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How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels Hardcover – March 13, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Wright has never been more eloquent and persuasive than in this book that… caps a long, productive theological career.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Scholarly, accessible, insightful and challenging . . . an excellent and provocative book.” (Christianity Magazine)

“The prolific Christian apologist N.T. Wright… now devotes an entire volume, ‘How God Became King’ to this trendy subject. Wright’s insistence that Christianity has got it all wrong seems to mark a turning point for the serious rethinking of heaven.” (The Washington Post)

“We often read the beginning and the end of the Gospels without the large middle where the message of the kingdom rings loud and clear. I recommend to everyone who wants to understand the Gospels’ message in a way that will not only inform the intellect but also transform life.” (Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College)

“Tom Wright continues to urge and prod and propose how the church can regain a kingdom footing and end its empire heritage. And, he shows us how we can reshape both what we think about Jesus and how we follow him in our world.” (Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University)

“Wright is a scholar who writes as if the material he engages actually matters for the church and the world it lives in… and has again done the church a great favor in presenting the gospel story as the story of God and his kingdom on earth.” (Englewood Review of Books)

From the Back Cover

Foundational: The four gospels come directly fromthe ancient church and are among the primary sourcesfor the church's teachings.

Familiar: Since Christian worship services began, areading from the gospels has played a central role.

Studied: For over two hundred years scholars havechallenged and defended the central claims of thegospels: miracles, historical accuracy, the divinity ofJesus, and more.

But Forgotten: Still, leading Bible scholar N. T.Wright reveals shocking news: We have all forgottenwhat the four gospels are about.

"Despite centuries of intense and heavy industryexpended on the study of all sorts of features of thegospels," Wright writes, "we have often managed tomiss the main thing that they, all four of them, aremost eager to tell us. What we need is not just a bitof fine-tuning, an adjustment here and there. We needa fundamental rethink about what the gospels aretrying to tell us."

What Wright offers is an opportunity to confront thesepowerful texts afresh, as if we are encountering themfor the first time. How God Became King reveals thesurprising, unexpected, and shocking news of thegospels: this is the story of a new king, a new kind ofking, a king who has changed everything, and a kingwho invites us to be part of his new world.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 2.12.2012 edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780061730573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061730573
  • ASIN: 0061730572
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

N.T. WRIGHT is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. For twenty years he taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. As being both one of the world's leading Bible scholars and a popular author, he has been featured on ABC News, Dateline, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air. His award-winning books include The Case for the Psalms, How God Became King, Simply Jesus, After You Believe, Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, Scripture and the Authority of God, The Meaning of Jesus (co-authored with Marcus Borg), as well as being the translator for The Kingdom New Testament. He also wrote the impressive Christian Origins and the Question of God series, including The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, The Resurrection of the Son of God and most recently, Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

194 of 197 people found the following review helpful By Keith R. Clark on March 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
In his latest book, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, N.T. Wright addresses what he perceives to be a "fundamental problem deep at the heart of Christian faith and practice": "we have all forgotten what the four gospels are about" (ix). On the surface, then, the book appears to aim to help readers rediscover what the gospels are about and how to read them for all they're worth. Upon closer inspection, however, How God Became King is much more ambitious, for anyone who takes seriously Wright's proposals for how to read the gospels will find that they transform the way one reads not only the gospels, but the entire Bible.

The opening part of the book addresses the ways in which the church has struggled to read the gospels well. Wright contends those who have taken cues from the ancient creeds have often failed to reckon with the great emphasis the gospel writers place on Jesus's life. On the other hand, those who have taken cues from post-Enlightenment critical scholarship have failed to reckon with the bookends (birth and death) of Jesus's life highlighted by the creeds. Neither approach, having neglected significant portions of the gospels in their final forms, can be said to fully grasp what the gospels are all about, for each fails to hold together the themes of kingdom and cross which the gospels insist are inextricably intertwined. The fundamental problem Wright diagnoses in the preface can be recognized most clearly in six common, but inadequate answers often provided by the church to the question "What are the Gospels all about?
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pattinson, Wellington, New Zealand on March 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a 'must read' book for everyone. N T Wright explains that "the story Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell is the story of how God became king - in and through Jesus ...[But the] way the gospels have been read, [especially] through the lens of the great early creeds, has quite accidently pulled this tightly coherent story apart. This has come through into contemporary readings in which 'kingdom' and 'cross' have been played off against one another." (Ch.9) "We have lived for many years now with 'kingdom Christians' and 'cross Christians' in opposite corners of the room, anxious that those on the other side are missing the point, the one group with its social-gospel agenda and the other with its saving-souls- for-heaven agenda. The four gospels bring these two viewpoints together ... the gospels tell of a Jesus who embodied the living God of Israel and whose cross and resurrection really did inaugurate the kingdom of that God." (Ch.8)

"... the New Testament writers were setting forth an eschatology that had been inaugurated, but not fully consummated ... not just the personal or 'spiritual' eschatology of so much Western thought (going to heaven in the future, but with a taste of heaven in the present) but the social, cultural, political and even cosmic eschatology ... [that] new creation itself has begun ... and will be completed. Jesus is ruling over that new creation and making it happen through ... his church." (Ch.8) "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ... Paul, Hebrews and Revelation ... all think that Jesus is already in charge of the world ... that is what they understood by `God's kingdom'. ...[M]ost Christians have never even thought about such a thing, let alone begun to figure out what it means for us today ...
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Greg Smith (aka sowhatfaith) on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Basics

Wright believes that most modern and postmodern readers of the New Testament currently read the gospels in a way that does not allow for the fullness of their intended meaning to surface. This deficit emerges from a view of the great creeds that shapes readers perspective of the Gospels. Wright argues that the gospels focus on "God becoming king," while the creeds are focused on "Jesus being God" (p.20). By understanding that the creeds arose as a means of establishing orthodoxy on controversial issues present day readers are encouraged to grasp the creeds' original intended role and view the missing middle (those issues which early Christianity agreed upon and therefore which were often omitted in the creeds) that focuses on Jesus' ministry as a form of inaugurated eschatology. With a proper view of the creeds and an awareness of the Enlightenment's continuing influence on biblical interpretation, readers are ready to consider four additional matters that must be re-balanced. Comparing these four to speakers that provide surround sound, Wright proposes these corrections based on how most hear each today. More specifically he suggests the four gospels be heard as

*"the climax of the story of Israel" -- a speaker deserving increased volume (p. 65);

*"the story of Jesus as the story of Israel's God" -- a speaker in need of decreased volume (p.84);

*"telling the story of the launching of God's renewed people" - a speaker in need of decreased volume (p. 112);

*"the story of the kingdom of God clashing with the kingdom of Caesar" -- a speaker that has often been silenced and is in need of being turned on then up (p.127).
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