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Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church [Hardcover]

N T Wright
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 14 2008

In Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, top-selling author and Anglican bishop, N.T. Wright tackles the biblical question of what happens after we die and shows how most Christians get it wrong. We do not “go to” heaven; we are resurrected and heaven comes down to earth--a difference that makes all of the difference to how we live on earth. Following N.T. Wright’s resonant exploration of a life of faith in Simply Christian, the award-winning author whom Newsweek calls “the world’s leading New Testament scholar” takes on one of life’s most controversial topics, a matter of life, death, spirituality, and survival for everyone living in the world today. 

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Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church + Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense + Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Wright, one of the greatest, and certainly most prolific, Bible scholars in the world, will touch a nerve with this book. What happens when we die? How should we think about heaven, hell, purgatory and eternal life? Wright critiques the views of heaven that have become regnant in Western culture, especially the assumption of the continuance of the soul after death in a sort of blissful non-bodily existence. This is simply not Christian teaching, Wright insists. The New Testament's clear witness is to the resurrection of the body, not the migration of the soul. And not right away, but only when Jesus returns in judgment and glory. The "paradise," the experience of being "with Christ" spoken of occasionally in the scriptures, is a period of waiting for this return. But Christian teaching of life after death should really be an emphasis on "life after life after death"-the resurrection of the body, which is also the ground for all faithful political action, as the last part of this book argues. Wright's prose is as accessible as it is learned-an increasingly rare combination. No one can doubt his erudition or the greatness of the churchmanship of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. One wonders, however, at the regular citation of his own previous work. And no other scholar can get away so cleanly with continuing to propagate the "hellenization thesis," by which the early church is eventually polluted by contaminating Greek philosophical influence.
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“This book is N.T. Wright at his finest.” (Rob Bell, author of Velvet Elvis)

A crystal-clear, powerful course-correction for all of us--Christian or otherwise. If you want to know what Easter is about, get yourself a copy of Surprised by Hope and hunker down for the read of a lifetime....literally. (Phyllis Tickle,

His conclusions are both simple and world-shaking (Library Journal)

This book will be widely read because it stirs together Scripture, tradition, art and world affairs with pleasing metaphors and public courage. (The Dallas Morning News)

“Wright’s unwavering faith in the resurrection is quite evident as he defends the Easter narratives on historical and theological grounds.” (America Magazine)

“N.T. Wright can write. . . when it comes to questions of Christ’s resurrection and what that means, no one is more persuasive. Wright’s new book, Surprised by Hope, builds on C.S. Lewis’ succinct defense of the faith and takes it to a new level.” (World Magazine)

“In calling Christians to an epistemology of love and a re-emphasis of the Easter season, Wright knocked it out of the park.” (Beliefnet (A "Top Religious Book of the Year"))

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Surprising Hope Jan. 9 2009
This book surprised me by infusing me with new hope based on Jesus' resurrection as lived by the first Christians. The book clarifies centuries old misconceptions about death, heaven, resurrection and the mission of the church. Along the way, Bishop Wright clearly explains why history establishes the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and what that means for the world and for us.

The book is also Wright's attempt to find a way out of the theological swamp the mainline churches are mired in with Conservatives and Liberals fighting each other. As such, it is brilliant work which takes the Lord's prayer and applies it to the mission and work of the church. The ending is not only a surprising hope, there is also surprising power for those who care to reach out and take it up.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Summary of Wright's Longer Works March 27 2008
Wright seems very faithful to the whole Christian community in that he choses to make his theological works available to both the expert and the simple parishioner/church-goer. This work seems distilled from larger works such as "The Resurrection of the Son of God", and brings his messages of hope for this world and redemption to the average reader.

The book is well written, and references his larger works so those interested in pursuing ideas further may easily find Wright's more in-depth treatments of various subjects.

Some reader's seemed to take offense at Wright's attempt to make his theological insights practical and govern how we live. Some might take offense when he links certain dispensationalist concepts and non-ecologically sound policies? I believe some of his statements are made in the more prophetic tradition, in the wake of John the Baptist and the Hebrew prophets, whose messages were very political.... and thus unpopular.

If his statements rankle and irritate, then maybe it is the spirit of God trying to get our attention. We should at the least carefully discern Wright's ideas to determine if they are biblical, and not allow our politics/patriotism to a priori dismiss them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 50 REVIEWER
N. T. Wright is a brilliant scholar and theologian, and his series of books on early Christianity has become somewhat of a gold standard in terms of breath and scope of topics and themes that were explored. Those books use the most exhaustive critical methods and most up to date historical scholarship in order to establish the credibility and persuasiveness of the events that shaped the early Christianity, and especially to support the traditional view of those events. The most important of these events is certainly the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the book that exhaustively deals with is The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3). The only "problem" with that book is that it is too long and scholarly for a general reader, and thus it may not reach as wide of an audience as would be desirable. This is partly the issue that "Surprised by Hope" tries to address. It reiterates some of the main points of "The Resurrection" and presents them in readable and accessible form. It makes the main arguments far more succinctly, but also more forcefully. The chief one of those, in my opinion, is that Christianity is not mainly or even primarily concerned with "life after death," but rather with "life after life after death." This is the point that most Christians and non-Christians routinely get wrong. What is at stake, according to Wright, is that by misunderstanding what resurrection and Christian hope are all about we are much less equipped to give a strong defense of that hope and make that hope relevant for our daily life. It prevents us from living the kind of life that would fully reflect our Christian vocation in the World. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Sure Hope Based on the Resurrection June 21 2010
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
I find that most, if not all, of what Bishop N. T. Wright, a prominent Anglican theologian and conservative Christian, has to say about the state of Christendom is relevant and accurate in its intent and application. His latest study, "Surprised by Hope", on the principles of eschatology and the Kingdom of Heaven, helps to clarify where practicing Christians stand in regards to God's sovereign will for His creation. Everything that is fundamental to the Chrisitan faith stems from a clear understanding of the hope Christ's resurrection offers a fallen humanity. Too often, many of us have chosen to read the wrong things into what our inheritance in Christ Jesus and the establishment of a heavenly rule on earth actually means. For one, according to Wright, God has not 'saved' or rescue us from a corrupt and doomed creation so that we can spend eternity in Heaven. Rather, we have been redeemed to live and work in God's creation as holy heralds of that final healing when He comes to set up His terrestial kingdom. At that time, heaven ultimately descends to earth and everything is made perfect again. Christ's gospel, as the real good news, proclaims the futuristic fulfillment of God's kingdom for all to enjoy who accept Him by faith. Now is not the time for Christians to become cloistered in a newly-acquired sense of eternal security. We are to be out there in the mainstream of society showing in practical and spiritual ways how this millenial order is already being set up in advance of Christ's return. Now I can see how that amillenial view contends with the more popular American version of pre-millenialism. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Surprised by NTW's Excellent Book
An excellent and much needed Biblical theological
exposition of key Christian beliefs. NT. Wright is the
most accessible scripture scholar on the scene at the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Michael Stogre
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent!
What a great book. What a great hope. That we live now in this resurrection life and shall again. Amen.
Published 8 months ago by Dennis Maione
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Think
I am a Catholic and enjoyed this book by this Anglican Bishop who gives great insight into the Word of God as revealed to the world through events and scripture. Read more
Published 13 months ago by R. Leitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
An excellent series of talks. Clear concise and biblical teaching well informed by both history and the present. Great to view and discuss as a group.
Published 15 months ago by Jim Sanderson
3.0 out of 5 stars wordy
To wordy for me. His style is to talk around things and I want him to get to the point.
Published 17 months ago by melvin
4.0 out of 5 stars Not surprised by hope
Even though I don't agree with N.T.Wright's conclusion, it is a cunning book for apologetics and the writing is crisp.
Published on July 11 2012 by Daniel
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful hope
I would affirm what the two prevous 5-star reviews say. I would highly recommend this book, though I would suggest reading "Simply Christian" first. Read more
Published on March 2 2010 by Michael Daykin
3.0 out of 5 stars To often does he refer to his other writings
I think that the book teaches a good emphasis on resurrection of our bodies in the parousia and how that needs to impact on changed lives today. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2009 by Robert Henderson
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