A Book To Read For 2012

On February 1, 2012 by Eddie

A few months ago I got the chance to go see one of my favorite authors speak at a local book signing. The author is N. T. Wright, and he was speaking at a small Baptist church in Decatur. I was amazed at how few people were there, given his status as an internationally known scholar and theologian. In fact, I know that he has repeatedly declined requests for massive speaking engagements in Atlanta, and instead chose to show up for 200-300 people on a random Tuesday night. I found that quite refreshing, actually.

The event was wonderful, his talk was engaging, informative, and entertaining. His grandfatherly British accent didn’t hurt. Sitting in the wooden pews of the church and hearing people ask questions and receive unexpected answers made for a very fun night for a nerd like me. At the end of the evening I got a book signed and headed home quite satisfied.

The book he was signing is one that I recently finished, and I would recommend it to almost anyone interested in learning more about Jesus or the Christian faith. The book is called Simply Jesus, and it is a re-examination of the mission and message of Jesus, seen through the lens of what we now know about first-century Judaism and the Roman world. There aren’t any heretical or completely inventive ideas in the book, as far as I know, but it is good to take a different angle on examining exactly what Jesus was accomplishing in his three year ministry, and ultimately in the resurrection.

The idea that drives most of the book is the thought that “The gospels are not about `how Jesus turned out to be God.’ They are about how God became king on earth as in heaven.” Don’t misread that sentence; Wright fully believes that Jesus was God’s Son and the incarnation of God in the world. At the same time, he urges readers to re-read the Gospels without interpreting Jesus’ divinity as his most important life message. Instead, he believes the message Jesus was trying to portray more than any other was the fact that a new kingdom was at hand, and God himself was now king. His ministry wasn’t solely focused on illuminating an escape plan for people from earth to heaven, but instead bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth, and planting the flag for the Father’s kingdom that is now existing and expanding in the world we live in.

This perspective was pretty interesting for me. Some of the parables I learned in Sunday school were turned completely on their heads – instead of being “earthly stories with heavenly meanings,” they are seen as “heavenly stories with earthly meanings.” Some of the messages I often overlooked and passed over, like the Beatitudes, became very clear – indicators of what God’s kingdom will look like on the earth, and what “kingdom-minded” people will say and do.

There’s much more to write about, but it would make for a long and boring blog post. If you’re interested in reading the book you can find it on Amazon, or in audiobook form on iTunes. If you’re a nerd like me, add it to your reading list for 2012, I think you’ll be glad you did.

Anybody else read this book? Add your thoughts to the discussion…

2 Responses to “A Book To Read For 2012”

  • Buying now! I’m growing addicted to audio books, and need something to read not related to husbandry or fatherhood 😉

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