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How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels Hardcover – Mar 5 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harperone (March 5 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061730572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061730573
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. Butt on Oct. 9 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have read a couple books by N.T. Wright, all of which I enjoyed as much as this one. His writing is attractive, engaging and thought provoking. N.T. Wright is a good resource for both layperson and scholar. My one complaint with this book is that I couldn't help but feel that N.T. Wright was simply using it as a chance to promote his own work. He quotes his own Bible translation (The Kingdom New Testament) throughout as well as footnotes and references his own published material extensively. It would seem by looking at his references and citing that all of his research came from his own material. In my opinion, referencing your own work is not very thorough scholarship. I felt as though this book was just another brick in N.T. Wright's legacy building.
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By Allan Grundahl on Dec 8 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a thought-provoking book that captures interest because Wright questions why the great creeds of the Christian Church leave out any mention of the ministry of Jesus between his birth and death. Read it - and find out why! Even though he digresses at times and uses many words, essentially he makes the strong case that Jesus came to make a difference ON EARTH and not just to get to heaven. As a result, much of scripture, and even the Lord's Prayer, take on new meaning..."thy will be done ON EARTH as..." Contrary to the usual emphasis in society today on punishment for wrongs or getting back at evil-doers, God's more challenging Kingship in Christ brings change through the suffering of believers along with speaking the truth to power in the spirit of love...so radical that early Christians (and some today) simply expected to suffer and even die when they caught this exciting vision. A great book for small discussion groups.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book helped me to see the larger picture of the gospel rather than the overly simplified personal salvation view of the gospel. A definite must-read!
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It is a pleasure to review as I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the beautiful way Wright opens up not only the Kingship of Jesus Christ, but also touches on Jesus as Israel and Temple. I gave it a 4 out of 5 rating because for some readers it might be a bit heavy going. Let me encourage you to keep at it, you'll find it very valuable.
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179 of 182 people found the following review helpful
Wright at His Best March 14 2012
By Keith R. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
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?": instructing people how to go to heaven (42-46), recording Jesus's unique ethical teaching (46-48), portraying Jesus as a moral exemplar (48-50), presenting Jesus as the perfect sacrifice (50-52), telling stories with which humans can identify and thus find direction (52), and demonstrating Jesus's divinity (53-57). While each of these answers contains an element of truth, Wright argues they all fail to grasp the heart of the gospel accounts.

In part two, Wright utilizes the image of a sound system with four speakers, one in each corner, to describe the four dimensions of the gospels to which readers must pay attention. He insists the reason most churches and most Christians have failed to grasp what the gospels are all about is the speakers are out of balance, with some turned up too loud and others turned way down or even unplugged from the system. In order to properly hear the gospels' message, the four dimensions of the gospels must be properly calibrated, like the four speakers of a sound system. The first speaker, turned so low it's been inaudible to many Christians, is the gospels' presentation of their message as "the climax of the story of Israel" (65). The second speaker, turned up so loud that it's distorted, is the gospels' portrayal of "the story of Jesus as the story of Israel's God coming back to his people as he had always promised" (83). The third speaker, distorted like the second, is the gospels' intent as foundational documents to tell "the story of the launching of God's renewed people" (111-112). The fourth speaker, which hasn't even been hooked up to the system, but has been in storage in the attic, is the gospels' account of "the story of the kingdom of God clashing with the kingdom of Caesar" (127). Drawing upon his almost unparalleled ability to hear echoes of the Hebrew scriptures in the gospels, to make connections between the two testaments, and to present them in such a way that the reader can easily see how the scriptures as a whole fit together, Wright's treatment of these four dimensions is an absolute tour de force.

Having sought to address the problem of missing the gospels' point by calibrating the four speakers, in part three Wright considers the implications of hearing the gospels' message in its intended harmony. This is a difficult challenge, because "not only have we misread the gospels, but . . . we have made them ordinary, have cut them down to size . . . " (158). Rather than holding together the themes of kingdom and cross, Christians have polarized into camps of "kingdom Christians" and "cross Christians" while at the same time being sucked into post-Enlightenment delusions of utopian grandeur that try to ignore the failure of the Enlightenment to turn the corner of world history. Wright suggests Christians have reacted to the Enlightenment's failure in four unhelpful ways: assuming the world doesn't matter because soon they'll leave the world behind for heaven, withdrawing to form a parallel society in which to live out the values of Jesus, baptizing right-wing politics as Christian, and baptizing left-wing politics as Christian. The trouble with these approaches, Wright asserts, is that each fails to take seriously that Jesus was inaugurating God's cross-shaped kingdom on earth as in heaven, and it is into this vision that followers of Jesus, readers of the gospels, are called to live. Wright then explores the ways each of the four dimensions of the gospels' message holds together the themes of cross and kingdom, just as they are in fact held together in the Hebrew scriptures. Further, he demonstrates that from beginning to middle to end, the stories in the gospel which are often read as highlighting either kingdom or cross are actually highlighting both, so that they can make perfectly clear they are telling the story of God becoming King.

Wright closes the book with a chapter that seeks to demonstrate the way in which this approach to reading the gospels can transform the way the church reads the gospels. Rather than reading the gospels through the lens of the creeds, which has led to reductionist readings of the gospels, churches can read the creeds through the lens of the gospels, which will allow the creeds to make their points in a manner more consistent with the overarching story of both scripture as a whole and the gospels. Given the growing number of churches and Christians for whom the creeds play an insignificant role or no role, I wish Wright had taken time to broaden the scope of his reflections in this chapter. Even those who don't utilize the creeds proper in worship still have unofficial creeds which shape their approach to scripture and the gospels just as significantly as the official creeds. These unofficial creeds take the form of elements of the liturgy including hymns/praise and worship songs, influential writers/preachers/pastors, or other dogmas to which they adhere (political, scientific, religious, etc.). I fear some will not make this connection and thus miss the opportunity to begin reading these unofficial creeds through the lens of the gospels rather than reading the gospels through the lens of their unofficial creeds.

My only other quibble with the book relates to Wright's assertion that the gospels' message centered upon the unity of kingdom and cross is aimed at transforming readers into suffering kingdom-bringers. My frustration is not a matter of disagreeing with Wright's assessment of the gospels' intention. Rather, it stems from the lack of a clear vision of how this plays out. Wright, like others who draw similar conclusions, humbly admits his own lack of suffering and acknowledges the much greater suffering of many around the world. Yet, at what point do such admissions and acknowledgments fall short? At what point does lack of suffering disqualify our claims to be followers of Jesus? Are we to seek out suffering? Or are we simply to continue making such admissions and acknowledgments until we ourselves face legitimate suffering, if indeed we ever do? Wright fails to wrestle with these questions. So while he may have provided an approach to reading the gospels which helps us remember what the gospels are all about, he fails to deal adequately with the questions bound to arise when facing the challenge of figuring out what it looks like to live into their vision. I hope he or someone else will wrestle with these questions in greater depth in the future.

Coming hot on the heels of his outstanding book on Jesus, Simply Jesus, I wondered whether a book on the gospels would seem redundant. But as I read How God Became King, it became clear not only that it is not redundant, it is a perfect follow-up, because while it's about the story of the gospels, it's about much more than that. It is about the story of God and creation, the story of the entire scriptures. In How God Became King Wright provides much needed pastoral instruction aimed at helping churches recover the gospels as the primary agent shaping their being and activity, he demonstrates the degree to which the canonical gospels set themselves apart from those not included in the canon, and he offers individual Christians an approach to reading scripture that can inform them so they are able to engage the world not on the terms of the powers, but on behalf of the God who became King on earth as in heaven. I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Disclaimer: Thanks to HarperOne for a review copy. I was not obligated to write a positive review.
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
God is King on earth; what does this mean for our life and work? March 15 2012
By Stephen Pattinson, Wellington, New Zealand - Published on Amazon.com
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 ... God's kingdom on earth as in heaven." (Ch.1)

Western Christians today think "that Jesus came to teach people how to go to heaven. That is, I believe" says Wright, "a major and serious misunderstanding." Wright claims: "We have belittled the cross, imagining it merely as a mechanism for getting us off the hook ... It is much, much more. It is the moment when the story of Israel reaches its climax; the moment when, at last, the watchmen on Jerusalem's walls see their God coming in his kingdom; the moment when the people of God are renewed so as to be, at last, the royal priesthood who will take over the world, not with the love of power but with the power of love; the moment when the kingdom of God overcomes the kingdoms of the world. ... God ... is now inviting us to ... build with him ... This is the vision the evangelists offer us as they bring together the kingdom and the cross." (Ch.10)

"The four gospels leave us with the primary application of the cross not in abstract preaching about 'how to have your sins forgiven' or 'how to go to heaven' but in an agenda in which the forgiven people are put to work, addressing the evils of the world in the light of the victory of Calvary." (Ch.10) "Jesus himself is ... at the heart of the new creation ... on the move, as Jesus' people go out, in the energy of the Spirit, to be the dwelling of God in each place, to anticipate that eventual promise [of the whole earth being filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea] by their common and cross-shaped life and work." (Ch. 10) Such 'life and work' is not the subject of this book, and needs further exploration.

In his previous book After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters (2010), Wright comments that Christian character should reflect "God's image once more into the world - the image of the generous, loving creator filling his world with beauty, order, freedom, and glory ... seeking, generating and sustaining justice and beauty in a world where both have been at a discount for too long." (p. 231) However, Wright acknowledges that "This is a large topic, in need of much fuller exploration than we can give it here" (p. 231).

In Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (2008) Wright identifies 'justice' (pp 213 - 222) and 'beauty' (pp 222 - 225) as important areas in which "to work for God's kingdom in the present" (p. 207). Wright asserts that God is redeeming the world of space, time and matter, not discarding it. He states: "... the church ... must... claim [the world of space, time and matter] for the kingdom of God, for the lordship of Jesus, and in the power of the Spirit so that we can then go out and work for that kingdom, announce that lordship, and effect change through that power." (p. 264) "The mission of the church must therefore include, at a structural level, the recognition that our space, time and matter are all subject not to rejection but to redemption." (p. 264) "If it is true, as I have argued," says Wright, "that the whole world is now God's holy land, we must not rest as long as that land is spoiled and defaced. This is not an extra to the church's mission. It is central." (pp. 266) For Wright `mission' includes, for example, addressing "massive economic imbalance" and "Third World debt", politics, art, music, sculpture, poetry, architecture, town planning, transportation, agriculture, "proper use of resources" etc., areas of our 'life and work' through which Jesus is reclaiming and ruling his world (pp 216, 223, 265-266)

In "How God Became King" N T Wright has provided "a fundamental re-think about what the gospels are trying to say" (Preface). A sequel from Wright about "how we then might order our life and work in accordance with [the gospels]" would be most welcomed and appreciated.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
hearing the Gospels again for the first time April 5 2012
By Greg Smith (aka sowhatfaith) - Published on Amazon.com
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).

Only after providing readers with Wright's understanding of a properly balanced approach does he approach the book's primary contribution: an attempt to reunite the kingdom and cross as they are found in the gospels. This reunion counters the reality Wright sees in recent decades that has lead to "kingdom Christians" and "cross Christians" who each believe the other is wrong. While the "cross Christians" are focused on saving souls for heaven and the "kingdom Christians" on the so-called social gospel, the actual gospels bring the two together to create something far richer and wiser than the sum of these two parts (p. 359). Only with this perspective can Christians return to and find the proper role for creeds.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Indescribable! Brilliant! How God Became King is N. T. Wright at his best! March 21 2012
By Harold Cameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"In his newest book, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, award-winning New testament scholar and Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright reveals that he has discovered a curious thing. After many years of leading and teaching Christian communities, he claims that people have forgotten what the four gospels are about: the story of how God in and through Jesus became the King of the world. As such, Wright argues a major rethink about the canonical gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is needed." And to that I would say AMEN!

There are four parts to Dr. Wright's latest book: Part One being - "The Empty Cloak," Part Two - "Adjusting the Volume." Part Three - "The Kingdom and the Cross" and finally Part Four - "Creed, Canon And Gospel." In Chapter 1 of Part 1 author Wright writes about what he calls "The Missing Middle." Simply put, he relates from a personal story how for a Christian Studies class he was selected to conduct a study on why Jesus lived. He rightly states in the chapter that anyone who has even a basic knowledge about the Gospels and Christ knows that about Christ's Birth - The Incarnation, about Christ's death and about the fact that Christ rose from the dead. However, author Wright asks a most interesting question that I think as he does would be very difficult for the same people to answer and that as I stated before is "Why did Jesus live?" He mentions that even the long recognized creeds of the church such as The Apostle's Creed, The Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed all refer to Christ's birth, death and resurrection, but not "anything that Jesus did or said between his birth and his death." I never thought of it; however, it is quite shocking when one considers the thought of it...which is exactly what Dr. Wright has done in his marvelous new book and that is to share with us as his reader just why Christ lived. In Chapter 2 of Part 1 author Wright addresses the problem and how several and various Bible scholars. Theologians and schools of religious thought from the liberal to social reformers, to the Orthodox have tried to "reconstruct" or tell the story of Jesus life. And toward the end of the chapter he writes that what he misses, "right across the Western Tradition, at least the way it has come through to the twentieth and twenty-first century, is the devastating and challenging message" he finds "in the four gospels: God really has become King-in and through Jesus. A new state of affairs has been brought into existence." In Chapter 3 of Part 1 of his book, Dr. Wright addresses what he refers to as "The Inadequate Answers" where people have tried to figure out and address "all the stuff in the middle" (the life and message of Christ in the between period from his birth to his death and resurrection). And the way some people have told the story is one, that Jesus came to earth so we could go to heaven," or that he was an ethical teacher and other "inadequate answers" that do not do justice to who Jesus Christ really is and what he did during his earthly life and why he did it: that he came as God to become king.

In Part 2 Dr. Wright writes out a history lesson for us that lays the groundwork for being able to describe who the real historical Jesus was and why he lived the life and did the things he did during his time on earth. He begins with the nation of Israel, "The Story of Israel," and how that in the four gospels you find a significant number of Scripture passages referring to Israel and the Christ. He writes, for example, how In the gospel of Matthew that the gospel begins with the Jewish lineage of Christ as the son of David, to how in Mark's gospel Christ's arrival and baptism "are the moments at which the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi of the ultimate redemption, of God's returning to rescue his people were at last coming true." He then goes on to write how in the remaining two Gospels, the gospels of Luke and John, how Israel and the life of Christ were connected and "unless we are constantly aware, in reading the gospels, that they are telling the Jesus story in such a way as to bring out the Israel story," we cannot properly harmonize the two stories. It in Chapter 5 of Part 2 that Dr. Wright writes about the story of "Jesus Christ as the Story of Israel's God," that the gospel story "is the climax of Israel's story."

Throughout his book Dr. Wright cleverly uses the analogy of setting up four stereo speakers in your living room, one in each corner of the room, and the levels of sound produced by them and that because you do not know how to adjust the volume for each speaker properly the sound ultimately comes out "strange and distorted." And he refers to the stories of the four gospels in like manner - that if we do not truly know and understand the story of Jesus as told in the four different gospels with their four very unique dimensions, the story will come out strange and distorted just like the sound in your speakers do. In Part 1, Chapter 1 to Part 2 and Chapter 5 Dr. Wright informs us that the first sound speaker "needed to be turned up from nearly silent to its proper volume" as relating to the story of Jesus. In Part 2 from Chapter 5 to the end of Chapter 6 he writes that the volume has been much too loud in speakers two and three creating spiritual distortion of the message as to who Christ was and what the "stuff" between his birth and death were really all about. So speakers two and three needed to be turned down so as to eliminate the spiritual distortion. Dr. Wright quite brilliantly uses the speaker analogy to tell us what he wants us to know and understand about the historical Jesus who is called the Christ.

What Dr. Wright does in Part 1 and 2 of his book is he meticulously, Scripturally and slowly (carefully) lays the foundation for what he is going to write in Parts 3 and 4 of his book and that is the story of how in Jesus "God became King," which is a monumental and incomprehensible thought when you try to consider it or think about it. How can we as mere mortals with finite minds ever grasp the fullness of the measure of such a truth? We can not; however, Dr. Wright is to be commended for the brilliant and masterful writing of his book that does explain the story in a way that we can comprehend it.

In Chapter 7 Dr. Wright reveals the details of what he refers to as "the Clash of the Kingdoms," that is the clash between the arrival of Jesus on the scene and the breaking through of the Kingdom of God through him on earth and the Kingdom of his day, Caesar's Kingdom. It is the story of "the kingdom of God clashing with the kingdom of Caesar." And still referring to his speaker analogy it is in this chapter that he informs us that speakers two and three needed to be turned down.

It is in Part 3 and 4, Chapters 8 through 11 that author Wright presents the profoundly history changing and personally life transforming message of "The Kingdom and the Cross. It is in this section of the book that he writes about the amazing reality of the fact that in Jesus God has really become THE king...and not just A king. It is in this section of the book that he states what is the "central claim of his book," and that is that "all four gospels are telling the story of how God became king in and through this story of Jesus of Nazareth." Referring extensively to both the Old Testament and the New Testament scriptures, Dr. Wright reveals to us the beauty and the glory of the story of how God did become King in and through the person of the historical Jesus as revealed to us through the gospel narratives. Chapter 9 "The Kingdom and Cross in Four Dimensions" and Chapter 10 "Kingdom and Cross" are two chapters of the book that you will want to slow down and take your time to read...to let the wonder of the truth sink in to your mind and heart about the fact that THE ETERNAL SOVEREIGN God became King in and through the person of Jesus who is called the Christ. And this is the part of the book where all four speakers' volumes are finally and properly synchronized and the spiritual distortion is eliminated.

As a result of reading these two chapters and the entire book for that matter you should fall more in love with our God, our Savior and our King Jesus Christ.

Dr. Wright concludes his book in Chapter 11 with some practical tips concerning how we as lovers of God and Disciples of Christ can better celebrate the story of God breaking through time and space and entering our world in the person of Jesus Christ to become the promised King of Israel as well as the promised King for us, his holy people - the church. And I thank you Dr. Wright for so beautifully sharing the "forgotten story of the Gospels." Hail King Jesus! All honor, glory, power, might, majesty and dominion be unto you and your glorious name!

I received a complementary copy of How God Became King from HarperOne Publishing Company for reviewing it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
N.T. Wright Switches Questions with an `Explosive' Result March 24 2012
By David Crumm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Millions of Americans know former Bishop N.T. "Tom" Wright as the man who defends the Bible against skeptics. It certainly doesn't hurt that Wright does this in a wonderfully resonant British accent with the confident air of a latter-day C.S. Lewis, who in his day was a famous media personality himself. But, through several recent books, Wright has been trying to change the focus of his message to something he considers much more urgent for our tumultuous times.

Wright certainly is famous as the Bible scholar who answers a hearty "Yes" to the question: Are the Gospels true? The question he is eager to answer is: What do the Gospels mean? In answering that second question, Wright deliberately uses the word "explosive" to convey the kind of passion and power he believes can be unlocked through the Christianity we discover in the Bible to this day. (He uses the e-word in the video he produced for the book, on this Amazon page, and he uses the e-word in the concluding passages of the book itself.)

Wright has been leading readers down this pathway for years, now, in a series of books that tell general readers about Jesus' life and ministry (especially in his book Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters) and about the entire New Testament as seen through the lens of Wright's Kingdom theology (either in his earlier small-group Bible-study booklets or in his 2011 The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation). These ideas also can be found in the 2010 book After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. In the UK, Wright is well known for his public statements in venues like newspaper commentaries and Anglican gatherings. Here in the U.S., his American fans may still be making their way through his first dozen or so books. Churchgoers on this side of the Atlantic may not have caught up to Wright's current focus in teaching, especially since he stepped down as bishop of Durham in 2010 so that he has more time to teach and write about issues that urgently concern him.

I recommend watching the YouTube/Amazon video on this book page in which Wright himself gives a pretty good summary of this book's purpose. You might compare what he says in the video interview with the similar way he words it in the pages of the book itself. There, he writes: This book is about ... "the new reality of Jesus and his launching of God's kingdom. The new reality of a story so explosive ... that the church in many generations has found it too much to take and so has watered it down, cut it up into little pieces, turned it into small-scale lessons rather than allowing its full impact to be felt. Part of the tragedy of the modern church, I have been arguing, is that the `orthodox' have preferred creed to kingdom, and the `unorthodox' have tried to get a kingdom without a creed. It's time to put back together what should never have been separated. In Jesus, the living God has become king of the whole world."

Provocative stuff! And Wright fearlessly raises a whole range of issues that will spark discussion in your small group. In the middle of the book, for example, he takes a shot at both Fox News as well as more liberal cultural icons. In the closing pages of the book, he outlines various ways that people "read" the church's great creeds today that can wind up mistaking the central meaning of the Gospels. No question: A discussion of this new Wright book will draw a lively crowd in most congregations.

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