Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Guest Book Review by Katie Phillips

I should know better than to read a book recommended by my pastor friend--I should know it'd involve way too much thinking.

Recently I finished "The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is" by NT Wright. I almost quit about 4 chapters in. I don't mind my understanding of what Scripture says being challenged-that can cause growth. But I wasn't sure I could go where Mr. Wright went.

He speaks of Jesus fulfilling the role of the Temple for Israel, and Israel being called to come to Him to meet with God instead. I get that. But what I struggled with was interpretations of passages that I always interpreted to refer to the Second Coming--Matthew 24 and Mark 13 for example.

Wright says they "denote major political or social upheaval..the son of man coming on the clouds would not be read, by a first century Jew as referring to a human being 'coming' downwards toward the earth riding on an actual cloud. It would be seen as predicting great events in and through which God would be vindicating his true people after their suffering."

Wright puts Jesus in the proper first century context and addresses how Jews of His day would've understood His words. He speaks of Israel still being in exile in Jesus' day and Jesus being the one to bring them back out of exile. Evidently what a first century Jew understood "messiah" to mean is different than a 21st century Christian. Probably not surprising, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm glad I stayed the course and finished the book. Perhaps I have a better grasp on Jesus' role as a Jew. Although I had to reread several paragraphs more than once, and probably don't understand much of it, getting more of a feel for the Jewish culture into which Jesus was born was fascinating. And gray-matter stretching.


  1. Congrats on sticking with the book. I do this myself. Force my way through since I already began it. I don't like books that are hard to follow. They make me felt left out and bored.

  2. Followed you from Theologica and this is some good stuff.

    I'm reading 'Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes' right now and I think that you might really enjoy it. The gentleman who wrote it spent 50 yrs in the middle east and is crazy well read. The book is fluid and reads well while truly teaching culture without an ..interesting.. perspective on the Biblical texts.

    Anyway, keep writing!


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