Top positive review
Fantastic crash course in 1st century culture that leads to a better understanding of the Bible
Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2017
Let me tell you a little story (I promise it's related). When I lived in Korea I went to see Shrek when it first came out in theaters. I went with a fellow American teacher, and we were the only foreigners in the entire packed out theater. 80% of the time we were the only ones laughing at the jokes in the movie. Why? It wasn't because Koreans don't have a sense of humor (they do). It was because the Koreans just didn't get the American pop cultural references and so they didn't understand the joke to begin with. To get them to fully appreciate the humor in Shrek they would have needed a crash course in American pop culture prior to the movie to even begin to understand half the references. My friend and I got those references immediately because we had grown up in America and soaked up those things without even realizing it.
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).