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The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was & Is Hardcover – November 14, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Hardcover, November 14, 1999
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Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus by James Martin
"Seven Last Words" by James Martin
Best-selling author Father James Martin offers a series of meditations on the seven sayings Jesus made from the cross. Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"We cannot assume that by saying the word Jesus," writes N.T. Wright--Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey and formerly Dean of Lichtifeld Cathedral--"still less the word Christ, we are automatically in touch with the real Jesus who talked in first-century Palestine." Even less are we automatically in touch with "the Jesus who ... is the same yesterday, today and forever." Wright's goal in this volume is to present in a simplified form the findings that are occupying him in his monumental six-volume series entitled Christian Origins and the Question of God, and in particular in the second volume, already published, Jesus and the Victory of God. Distinguishing himself from the "Jesus Seminar" theologians, who question the literalness of the resurrection (among other things), Wright affirms the absolute centrality of both the Last Supper and the Easter experience as historical events. Through these experiences with Jesus, Wright suggests, the early Christians came to see that "Jesus--and then, very quickly, Jesus' people--were now the true Temple, and the actual building in Jerusalem was thereby redundant."

Written with refreshing clarity and passion, The Challenge of Jesus serves as an excellent introduction to the thinking of this influential New Testament historian. --Doug Thorpe

From Publishers Weekly

Here, prolific Anglican theologian and historical Jesus quester Wright makes accessible to lay readers the arguments he laid out in his scholarly tome Jesus and the Victory of God. But Wright does more than just rehash old arguments; he adds a discussion of the resurrection, absent from Victory, and addresses the prickly problem of relevance. In the first six chapters, Wright tackles many of the questions of the historical Jesus debate: Did Jesus believe the Kingdom of God was "now" or "later"? (Both, says Wright.) Did He know He was God in the same way "that one knows one is hungry or thirsty"? ("It was not a mathematical knowledge.... It was more like the knowledge that I have that I am loved by those closest to me.") What exactly happened on Easter? (Jesus' body seemed both physical and transphysical.) Wright then addresses how all these historical-cum-theological musings are significant for Christians living in a postmodern world. This superb addition to Wright's oeuvre will prove fruitful reading for neophytes as well as for those already familiar with his approach. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; 59053rd edition (November 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830822003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830822003
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,432 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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The author is Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, and this book represents a distillation of ideas he presents at length in lengthy scholarly publications, which engage in "mainstream" historical debate about Jesus and first-century Christianity. Wright debates, however, without setting aside personal commitment to and belief in the essential truth and genuine historicity (of Jesus's resurrection, for example) which the New Testament books and letters claim. This does not mean that he feels bound to toe any particular line defined as orthodox. "I am someone who believes that being a Christian necessarily entails doing business with history and that history done for all it's worth will challenge spurious versions of Christianity, including many that think of themselves as orthodox, while sustaining and regenerating a deep and true orthodoxy, surprising and challenging though this will always remain." (p 16) I would have to let theolgians offer opinions on the orthodoxy of Wright's arguments; but these arguments are in any case stimulating and bring fresh air to scriptural study and devotional contemplation. There are three areas where Wright challenges what he feels are common misunderstandings about Jesus. First, he argues that "Jesus remained utterly anchored in first-century Judaism" (p 73), and that everything he said and did was a "unique challenge to his contemporaries" and was "related uniquely and specifically to that situation" [i.e. in the first century] (p 174). Wright feels that this approach closes off the possibility of Deism, or of seeing Jesus merely as one of several `great men' of a certain type in human history, a type of deeply wise, gentle moral philosopher preaching timeless aphorisms.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18 ) Jesus Christ came to reconcile us with the Father. Through his wounds we are healed.
In "The Challenge of Jesus," N.T. Wright does a good job of helping us to try and look at Jesus with our blinders off. Rejecting the thesis of Wrede, and following in the footsteps of Schweitzer, Wright believes that we can learn a good deal about the actual, "Historical" Jesus (my, how that phrase has been abused in the last half-century) through doing the work of history.
I praise Wright for attempting this grand task. "The Challenge of Jesus" is a shorter distillation of Wright's larger ongoing work which at the time of my writing consists of two published volumes (The New Testament and the People of God; Jesus and the Victory of God) with the series length now projected at six volumes total. This volume is no doubt aimed at a broader audience than Wright's more scholarly work.
Wright attempts to look at Jesus without the lens of a controlling theology. I like this a lot. We should always read the Bible for what it actually says, remembering the context in which they were written, and then build our theology from that foundation. Too often, we make up a theology and then try and fit its square peg into the round hole that the Word of God confronts us with...there is a word for this kind of thing: idolatry.
Wright manages to do a fairly good job of interacting with the Bible and history. He does disappoint me on his views of Jesus knowing whether he is God or not...he gives a waffling answer with unsatisfactory support.
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Format: Hardcover
PREMISE: We have at least two camps (actually more) of persons who study the life of Jesus. There are those who search for the historical Jesus. This camp is too often made up of historians who come at the issue with a bias against traditional Christianity that was born of the enlightenment. Hence, they discount stories of the miraculous because they don't believe in miracles. A second camp is made up of conservative Christian scholars who approach the life of Jesus from a theological bias, born of centuries of Christian tradition. They do believe in miracles, because they have faith. Surprise! Both camps find the Jesus they set out to look for. N.T. Wright is aware of both camps, but writes somewhere outside of either. He approaches Scripture and the life of Jesus through the eyes of Second Temple Period Jewish Politics. His version of the historical Jesus is VERY political. He puts forth a rational case for his thesis, then examines the impact this new vision of Jesus should have on the church in this postmodern world.
AM I CONVINCED? I'm not sure I would say he convinced me, intrigued would be a better word. His case is too unusual to accept at first reading, but he certainly offers the reader a lot to think about, and delivers his message well. I will keep my eyes open a little wider for future discussions of this nature.
RECOMMENDATION: If you like to be challenged, you might like this book. If you are too accepting, you might be tempted to accept his well written premise too easily. If you tend to be a "Defender of the Faith" you might find this book threatening.
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