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The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God) Hardcover – April 1, 2003
There is a newer edition of this item:
- Publisher : Fortress Press; 1St Edition (April 1, 2003)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 740 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0800636155
- ISBN-13 : 978-0800636159
- Item Weight : 2.95 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.75 x 1.5 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,210,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Wright sets the stage in the first part of his volume by giving a powerful allegory of a king who commanded his archers to shoot at the sun. With all of their might they attempted to pierce the sun, but in vain. All of their arrows fell short. A few days later, the youngest archer noticed the reflection of the sun upon the still water. With a single shot he shattered the sun. He uses this parable to illustrate the fact that all the arrows of history cannot reach God. However, Wright helps the reader to recognize that there are reflections that must be aimed at throughout history that tell the true story of the resurrection of Jesus.
According to Wright, aiming within the worldview and language of second-Temple Judaism is crucial to hitting the target. While he points his arrows momentarily at other targets outside this scope to better comprehend the historical context, he is careful to focus his direction back on the Jewish aspects that pertain to life after death and the resurrection. Furthermore, Wright shows evidence that the idea of resurrection was incomprehensible within the mindset of pagan cultures. Rather, for many of these ancient peoples, there was no tradition of life after death. Thus for Christianity, the fundamental claim that Jesus rose again from the dead was incoherent and unbelievable.
After establishing that a majority of second-Temple Judaism believed in a coming resurrection, Wright devotes two main parts of his text to the resurrection in Pauline correspondence. He wisely unpacks the epistles to the Corinthians, especially chapter fifteen of the first epistle that openly centers on the resurrection. This section transitions from merely a Jewish tradition in a coming resurrection to the resurrection of Jesus. His attention on Paul is intentional and essential to understanding the future hope and doctrine of Christendom.
In part three, Wright reveals how little the Gospels speak of resurrection traditions, outside of the empty tomb of Jesus. Additionally, he examines the other books of the New Testament to see what they say about resurrection. He discovered that there was a sudden rise of a resurrection movement among early Christianity that was turning the world upside down. Moreover, Wright hones in on what happened to this early Christian faith during the second and early third century. He found the same conviction formed and became clearly focused throughout this period of time. Therefore, Wright begs for a historical explanation for such a developing doctrine of the resurrection.
The final parts conclude where many Christians might begin–with the Gospels. He gives an articulate description of the Easter narrative according to each gospel account. As Wright determines, there is no doubt that each of these writers told the story in their own way with their own purpose in mind. But, what is remarkable is that their testimonies were consistent. Even though Wright admits that neither the empty tomb nor the appearances of Jesus in and of themselves proves the resurrection to be true, but together, they present a powerful reason for the development of the early Christian belief.
For the average reader, the book may be a bit challenging at times. Often when one is reading a chapter, it’s easy to get a bit lost and wonder where Wright is going with all his points. Usually though, by the end of the chapter, one finds that all the points that were made earlier in the chapter come together to make a solid argument for what Wright is trying to get across. In this book, Wright discusses things such as the extent to which one can understand the historical Jesus, why Paul’s letters matter in the resurrection study, what we can ascertain from the Gospels, what we can ascertain from non-canonical texts, and so much more.
A focused reading will yield one with new insights and ideas as to why Christians can with good faith believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead. Wright also provides counterarguments to some of the most common arguments against the resurrection of Christ. Also in this reading, Wright addresses some of the supposed biblical discrepancies and tells us what impact they really do have on the historicity of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Perhaps one of N.T. Wright’s most compelling arguments is the “tomb-plus” theory that combines the evidence for the empty tomb with his port-mortem appearances. This is a great apologetic for the Christian faith and causes people to confront the person of Jesus face to face. One will come to realize that they can’t just ignore the claims of this ancient rabbi because his teachings are eternally self-involving. If Jesus truly rose from the dead as Wright tries to show, then one has to deal with the fact that Jesus called himself God, the creator of the universe.
Personally, I really enjoyed how even though this is a very academic book, Wright also spends time to bring his conclusions into the real world. This quote really took it home for me as Wright reminds us in this book, "In a world without Jesus we would have no way to successfully chart a course in life with true meaning. In a world without Jesus there would be no way to make sense of tragedies such as earthquakes, hurricanes and Adolf Hitler. And in a world without Jesus there would be no hope for the hopeless – which is all of us to one degree or another" I believe that all of us has to deal with the question of Jesus.
So, for those who are searching for hope in life, perhaps this book can start your intellectual understanding of Jesus, who is the hope of all Christian believers. For those who already believe in Jesus as their Lord and savior and feel the need to bolster their faith in God, this is the book for you. For the more academic minded reader who wants to wrestle with the identity of Jesus and understand what he came to do on this Earth, Christian or not, I highly recommend buying and reading this book!
Top reviews from other countries
Wright is well aware of the two hundred-year fight to keep history and theology at arm’s length. The resurrection accounts in the canonical gospels have almost routinely been treated by post-Enlightenment scholarship as mere back-projections of later Christian belief, with only shaky claims to historical veracity, he claims. This understanding of Jesus’ resurrection is still widely accepted in scholarship and many mainline churches: ‘resurrection’ could mean a variety of different things; Paul, did not believe in bodily resurrection, but held a ‘spiritual’ view; the earliest Christians used ‘resurrection’ language initially to denote such a belief but underwent a kind of fantasy or hallucination; and, finally, whatever happened to Jesus’ body, it was certainly not ‘raised from the dead’ in the sense that the gospel stories seem to require. Wright challenges this by saying that the resurrection of Jesus was just as controversial nineteen hundred years ago as it is today. The discovery that dead people stay dead was not first made by the philosophers of the Enlightenment.
Wright shows that this position, fashionable as it has been, leads to enormous historical problems which disappear when treated as descriptions of what the first Christians believed actually happened. They are not the leaves on the branches of early Christianity. They look very much like the trunk from which the branches themselves sprang.
Is there an alternative explanation for the rise of the early church? Early Christianity was a ‘resurrection’ movement through and through and Wright states precisely what ‘resurrection’ involves (going through death and out into a new kind of bodily existence beyond, happening in two stages, with Jesus first and everyone else later). Early Christianity’s answer was based on a firm belief that Jesus had been raised from the dead, his tomb was empty, and several people, who had not previously been followers of Jesus, claimed to have seen him alive in a way for which the readily available language of ghosts, spirits and the like is inappropriate. If one takes away either of these historical conclusions, the belief of the early church becomes inexplicable, Wright claims.
So, what is the ultimate theological impact of the resurrection? Wright offers some hints in the final chapter: "Death—the unmaking of the Creator’s image-bearing creatures—was not seen as a good thing, but as an enemy to be defeated. ... The early Christians saw Jesus’ resurrection as the act of the covenant god, fulfilling his promises to deal with evil at last" (727). Furthermore, "[c]alling Jesus ‘son of god’ ... constituted a refusal to retreat, a determination to stop Christian discipleship turning into a private cult, a sect, a mystery religion. It launched a claim on the world ... It grew from an essentially positive view of the world, of creation. It refused to relinquish the world to the principalities and powers, but claimed even them for allegiance to the Messiah who was now the lord, the kyrios" (729). And, finally: "The resurrection, in the full Jewish and early Christian sense, is the ultimate affirmation that creation matters, that embodied human beings matter" (730).
These powerful messages, emanating from the historicity of the resurrection, offer the grounds for preaching the message of hope to a distressed and desperate humanity, a message that proves that the resurrection in fact is the reason behind the powerful start of Christianity as a world-changing grassroots movement that it truly has been.
Dr. Erastos Filos, Physicist, Brussels, Belgium