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Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters Hardcover – October 25, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 231 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“N. T. Wright’s introduction to Jesus is erudite (and yet also entertaining), and decidedly thought-provoking. Somewhat to my surprise, I felt that, in reading Simply Jesus, I was really coming to know Jesus better; reading Simply Jesus, I actually felt Him near.” (Lauren F. Winner, author of Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis)

“Tom Wright is, as always, brilliant at distilling immense scholarship into vivid, clear and accessible form. This book is yet another of his great gifts to the worldwide church.” (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury)

“No one living today is writing more thoughtfully and compellingly about Christian theology than N.T. Wright. With Simply Jesus, he takes readers on an illuminating intellectual expedition to recover the Christian Messiah. If you have not read Wright, start now, and start with this book.” (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House)

“Tom Wright has a fresh way of presenting the story of Jesus, the one and only Savior and Lord of the four canonical Gospels. This book retrieves Jesus from the margins of contemporary ideologies and places him once again at the heart of biblical faith. A compelling read!” (Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture)

“Wright patiently explains the world views that Jesus stepped into, how his parables point to his mission, and, finally, what this truth means in today’s world. Wright’s direct style, reminiscent of C. S. Lewis’ writings, invites readers in but allows for internal argument.” (Booklist (starred review))

When today’s leading New Testament theologian has something new to say about anything, readers pay attention. In his latest work, he again exhibits his gift for making in-depth scholarship vivid and accessible. (Kimberly Mauck, The Christian Chronicle)

From the Back Cover

We have grown used to the battles over Jesus—whether he was human or divine, whether he could do miracles or just inspire them, whether he even existed. Much of the church defends tradition, while critics take shots at the institution and its beliefs. But what if these debates have masked the real story of Jesus? What if even Jesus’s defenders have been so blinded by their focus on defending the church’s traditions that they have failed to grapple with what the New Testament really teaches?

Bible scholar, Anglican bishop, and bestselling author N. T. Wright summarizes a lifetime of study of Jesus and the New Testament in order to present for a general audience who Jesus was and is. In Simply Jesus, we are invited to hear one of our leading scholars introduce the story of the carpenter’s son from Nazareth as if we were hearing it for the first time.

“Jesus—the Jesus we might discover if we really looked,” explains Wright, “is larger, more disturbing, more urgent than we had ever imagined. We have successfully managed to hide behind other questions and to avoid the huge, world-shaking challenge of Jesus’s central claim and achievement. It is we, the churches, who have been the real reductionists. We have reduced the kingdom of God to private piety; the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience; Easter itself to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus himself.” As the church faces the many challenges of the twenty-first century, Wright has presented a vision of Jesus that more than meets them.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062084399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062084392
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 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 (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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!
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