- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (October 25, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780062084392
- ISBN-13: 978-0062084392
- ASIN: 0062084399
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 267 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters Hardcover – October 25, 2011
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“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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In the same way that the Koreans watching Shrek missed a lot of things the creators fully expected the American audience to get without any explanation, the Gospels are full of cultural references 1st century readers would have understood immediately without any explanation, but that we modern readers deeply separated by centuries of time and culture don't even realize we are missing. In this book, NT Wright gives a crash course in 1st century thinking. He tries to help us modern readers step into the shoes of a Hebrew living in the Roman empire and see Jesus through those eyes. He takes us back and sets the tone politically (as those living at the time would have seen it). And it is amazing the things we modern readers miss just because we are so separated from that culture.
I found this one of the most easily read of NT Wrights longer books I've read. I like his For Everyone New Testament Commentaries because they are easily readable. I have found some of his deeper books more scholarly and much slower reads. But this one is written more like the For Everyone series. Anyone can pick it up and easily get through it. You don't need a theological academic background. And what Wright lays out here is extremely important and helpful for the modern Church. In the same way you can't really understand a work of Shakespeare without some help understanding the original historical context and audience and way language worked in Shakespeare's day, you can't profess to fully understand the Bible without understanding it's original context and audience. But the modern Church often forgets that and it leads to a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Scripture. Hopefully this resource will help clarify some of those misunderstandings, and even lead people into a deeper, more rich understanding of the Gospels and who Jesus was and is. I know it helped me see things I've never seen before (and I even have a Bible minor and would read books from my husband's seminary classes with him).
The book takes us in a very NT wright approach to the gospels and story of Jesus. This means that Wright first gives a large overview of 2nd temple Judaism and the movements that were occurring at Jesus' time, puts Jesus amidst these Messiah movements and shows how what he did, although having some similarities with others, was quite different for the most part. Wright paints the picture of the perfect storm, with Jewish nationalism, the Roman Empire and Jesus. All of these elements came together and thus we have an amazing set of events.
Wright throughout the book tries to keep from agreeing with either the liberal or conservative traditions that would make Jesus into either just a good teacher or someone who came for only the spiritual salvation of some. I probably agree with Wright's stance, but sometimes he seems to go too much out of his way to establish that he is not among the more conservative members of the church. I gather this is so that those who are reading would not simply stick him into such a category.
What I understand Wright to be saying is that, although the coming of Christ and his work do involve the salvation of individuals, this wasn't the main reason. Rather Christ was starting to bring all creation under His rule, as it should be. This involves humans, principalities and powers, etc.. Thus we shouldn't think of the gospel as an "escape from this world" kind of model, but rather a "Kingdom on earth" in which humans are the agents that God has chosen to use.
I agree with the content, Wright is very persuasive and really does build up a good case from both the Bible and history, but perhaps I wouldn't take that amount of stress away from "salvation" that he does, considering the Bible does speak of this. I also wonder if in attempts to bring the narrative to more present matters, he neglects the future hope that Christ will come. For those who are persecuted and killed and see their families killed, putting aside the promises of heaven and of final judgment would be harmful. For those who are lazy, the "present" emphasis is helpful, for those who have lost so much already on account of Christ now, the "future" emphasis is needed. I think there is much more harmony between these two, I think Wright would agree also, but this books stressed one over the other, mainly (I think) due to whom this book is geared towards.
What I really enjoyed was some of the interesting history tidbits and comparisons with other messiah movements (ie, Simon, son of the star and Simon bar-Giora (66-70). Wright has a great way of making the stories of the Bible become alive by giving us a kind of historical background. Like going to Israel and seeing the land, so also knowing the history makes the stories of the Bible more "alive".
In regards to reading the Gospels, the Bible or anything, "we should be prepared to follow where the story leads".
In short, while I will sometimes be weary of some of his emphasis away from personal salvation, my impression is that it comes from motives to reach people who might have already passed off the Bible as some sort of escape from the world fluff. And that does resonate with me. And there are people who do neglect much of the kingdom and exclusively go the route of only "spiritual salvation" in a very much "escape from the world" mentality, and so these people (or maybe we all) need to be careful not to neglect important parts and teachings of the Bible. So again, while I might personally wish for a little more stress on a thing here or there, the contents of what Wright says usually wins me over.