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The Meal Jesus Gave Us Paperback – May 31, 2002
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'Nothing is more central to Christian practice than Holy Communion. Yet, curiously enough, little attempt is made to explain it. So many outside the Christian community are just puzzled by it, and many within the church got to Communion from habit but know very little about how it arose or what it means. This is the ideal book for both types of reader. It is written by one of the foremost New Testament Scholars in the World, who has the enviable ability to write with engaging charm... Best of all Dr Wright has written a book which will speak to all types of Christians and unite them over a subject that so often proves divisive.' Michael Green, Honorary Fellow, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
N. T. Wright is the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England. He is a prolific author and noted New Testament scholar, and was named by Christianity Today in 1999 as one of the world's top five theologians. He has written over thirty books, both at the scholarly level and for a popular audience.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was hoping for something more biting and profound, as so much of Wright can often be. That's not his intention here. Just a simple little primer on the Lord's Supper. Gracefully written, devotional. Theologically correct (from a mainstream Anglican perspective -- pretty much in agreement with Calvinist folks), but not beholden to his tradition for tradition's sake.
For all his immense learning, his practical focus, and his rhetorical powers, he can still be a little "wooly" at times. For example, on pp. 60f. he gives about as simple and clear explanation of the Marburg debates and their aftermath as you will read anywhere - yet he quickly becomes murkier when explaining his own take on the issues. After seeming to favor Cranmer and Calvin and Oecolampadius over both Zwingli and Luther, he sidesteps the whole discussion. He prefers, he says, to think in terms of "time" rather than "space." From there the simple elegance of his discussion breaks down a little and the reader is left a little puzzled.
Anyway, overall a very nice little book -- accessable to a general audience.
For a thinking layman, I would follow this up with Peter Leithart's Blessed are the Hungry, or Keith Mathison's book on Calvin's view of the Supper.
The book is divided into two sections covering the early historical development of the Eucharistic and the theology of the Eucharist. In the first section Wright uses a little "play acting" exercise to better place the development in the proper historical and cultural background. Wright's extensive research into the Jewish origins of the Christian Faith gives some valuable insight into what early Christians made of this act of worship.
In outlining a theology of the Eucharist, Wright draws on elements from both the Eastern Churches and the often neglected Eucharistic theology of John Calvin. An interesting point he raises is that the Aramaic language Jesus and the Apostles likely spoke has no strict equivalent of the word "is" which forms the center of debate among most Western Christians. Wright places the Eucharist as a presentation of the great drama of salvation given to us in the liturgy through Word and Sacrament. Jesus is made present to us across time from the heavenly realm and centered on the defining moment of history occurring on the cross.
While not intended as a scholarly work, The Meal Jesus Gave Us gives a strong exposition of the centrality of the Eucharist to Christian worship. The only drawback perhaps is the lack of a bibliography for those who wish to do further reading. However, for catechetical purposes it is a wonder and those across the ecclesial spectrum will profit greatly by reading it.
The book is a very easy read. It is written for the layperson (no theological background necessary). It took only a couple hours to read start-to-finish. There were few places where I really had to stop and ponder what he wrote, it flowed easily from paper through eyes into brain (and heart).
However, this book also strongly challenged and informed me. Rarely does a short, easy read like this do such a good job of reaching you ... this one does.
Wright gave me an incredible new view and appreciation for Communion. As an evangelical/Pentecostal, I expected to have a hard time with what Wright (an Anglican bishop) would say about "the Eucharist".
However, instead I came away with a much deeper appreciation and understanding of Communion, without my "evangelical sensibilities" being in any way offended. The last chapter deals with the place of Communion in the mass, and exposes a strong Anglican bias there, but it's not offensive in any way, just not so relevant.
The entire remainder of the book, though, is absolutely invaluable. I have given copies to other pastors and friends and my own copy is being loaned out all over the place.
Definitely 5 stars.
If you want a more sophisticated discussion of the Lord's Supper, try Jesus and the Victory of God by Wright, where it is one of many topics.