Guest / Limited Access /

The Resurrection of the Son of God
(Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3)
N. T. Wright
Fortress, 817 pages, $49

N. T. Wright wrote his most recent book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, while canon theologian at Westminster Abbey. He is now the bishop-elect of Durham, a providential irony, given that in the 1980s newspapers trumpeted (inaccurately, it turns out) that his predecessor David Jenkins had called the resurrection a conjuring trick with bones.

Unlike Jenkins, Wright takes the bodily resurrection of Jesus literally, though he is not woodenly literal-minded. He could never be mistaken for a "fundamentalist" (with all the connotations of unimaginative flatness carried by that f-word).

Resurrection language is used metaphorically in the Bible, but Wright is eager to point out that those biblical metaphors are grounded in concrete historical referents. For example, Ezekiel's vision of the valley of the dry bones is, in Wright's view, a metaphor for God's restoration of Israel as a nation. But to recognize it as a metaphor for a concrete historical hope is not to regard it as a symbol for some hazy religious experience. Likewise, the rich interplay of resurrection language with the church's rite of baptism and the believer's entrance into the life of the age to come is not a free-floating metaphor for just any religious thrill. It has a concrete referent in a particular kind of new life imbued with the power of a specific Spirit, bringing with it new ethical demands for life in this world.

Wright argues that all of this metaphorical richness can only make sense if we understand the Bible writers to mean what they say when they write about the bodily resurrection ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Editor's Bookshelf
David Neff
David Neff was editor in chief of Christianity Today, where he worked from 1985 until his retirement in 2013. He is also the former editor in chief of Christian History magazine, and continues to explore the intersection of history and current events in his bimonthly column, "Past Imperfect." His earlier column, "Editor's Bookshelf," ran from 2002 to 2004 and paired Neff's reviews of thought-provoking books and interviews with the authors.
Previous Editor's Bookshelf Columns:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueThe Bible Never Says ‘All Men Are Created Equal’
Subscriber Access Only The Bible Never Says ‘All Men Are Created Equal’
How the New Testament offers a better, higher calling than the Declaration of Independence.
RecommendedSurprised by N.T. Wright
Subscriber Access Only Surprised by N.T. Wright
The Bible scholar's goal is to massively revise the way we talk about the Christian faith. By many accounts, he's already succeeded.
TrendingWhy Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.
Editor's PickLet's Kiss Dating Hello
Let's Kiss Dating Hello
A sociologist reveals her research about “ring by spring” culture on a Christian college campus.
Christianity Today
Life After Life After Death
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.