Book: Jesus and the Victory of God

Jesus and the Victory of God – N. T. Wright

I was starting to wonder if I’d ever make it to the end of this book – as was the person who generously loaned me the book these past months.

Wright here spills a lot of ink, and quotes a lot of other scholars. His purpose? To define who Jesus thought he was, and what the various events of his life (as recorded in the gospels) would have meant to someone sitting in the audience. To explain this, he goes into a lot of detail as to what the 1st century Jews were expecting from a Messiah.

Then, just as you start to understand Wright’s thesis, he mentions Jesus’ resurrection, and then says that it will take him another book to go into any detail about this at all… it was like the ending to the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, where you realise that there’s going to be another sequel.

Wright is clearly a scholar with unusually broad knowledge of the literature (scholarly and ancient) surrounding the New Testament, and this work will reward the diligent reader with a small sample of this knowledge. The reader gets a sense that Wright is taking more of a historical than a literalist view of the gospels (preferring not to touch such hot potatoes as the Transfiguration, for instance), which makes me a little uncomfortable in recommending the book, but really, it’s only going to be read by those with an abiding interest in theology.

A shorter version of the same content exists (a shorter book, in fact) if you’re curious, but not curious enough for over 600 pages.

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  1. Congrats on finishing, I plan on reading that book someday. I am curious how you would differentiate “historical” and “literal” as you used it above. Thanks.

  2. Noah, thanks! I would use “historical” to refer to events that the majority of Ancient historians (Christian and non-Christian) would be comfortable with – say, Jesus being crucified, the clearing out of the temple. I’d use literal to refer to the larger group of historical events, plus those that a historian might consider to be invented by Jesus’ followers: the transfiguration, some of Jesus’ miracles. Is that a clearer distinction?

    I should point out that Wright is at least in part responding to the Jesus Seminar, where various theologians have gathered together, and attempted to determine which of the sayings of Jesus were actually things that Jesus would have said, and which were clearly invented.

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