Yesterday I finished reading N.T. Wright’s “Jesus and the Victory of God.” My first reaction is summed up in one word: wow!
Wright is a bishop in the Church of England as well as one of the world’s leading New Testament scholars. It seems that in his ministry and scholarship he has managed to make just about everyone mad. He has angered evangelicals by his exegesis of “justification” in Romans and Galatians; he has angered modern gnostics by his insistence on the resurrection; and he has angered historians because of his take on the historical study of Jesus.
And that’s where “Jesus and the Victory of God” takes us. Wright is a historian by trade, so this book falls right into his wheelhouse. He takes the parable of the prodigal son as his model: the father is the Church; the elder son is theological orthodoxy; and the younger son is historical studies of Jesus. For many years, Wright claims, the younger son has wasted away his time with dissolute living (historical studies that attempt to improperly heighten or diminish certain aspects of Jesus’ ministry and vocation).
With this book, Wright claims that the younger son has returned. Wright offers a historical perspective on Jesus that is both academically sound and theologically compelling. Personally, I think he hits a home run in this book. It’s not for everybody (over 600 pages, a proliferation of footnotes, and it’s required to have some background in New Testament studies), and I’ll have to read it again, but wow.
If you’re not up for reading this uber-dense academic work, I highly recommend Wright’s more popular books: “Simply Christian,” “Surprised by Hope,” and “After You Believe.”