In the past several years, New Testament scholar Tom Wright has stepped forward as the most scintillating champion of belief that the canonical Gospels, at least the first three of them, give us a reliable record of what Jesus of Nazareth actually said and did. A modern-day Saint George, Wright slays the dragon of skepticism with a flair that leaves even an antagonist like John Dominic Crossan marveling at his ability to captivate a critical audience. Thus the glowing description of Wright in an advertisement for his far-flung seminars: "Internationally acclaimed as today's most exciting communicator and most inspiring interpreter of the New Testament" as well as "most popular lecturer in the University of Oxford's Faculty of Theology." No longer lecturing in Oxford, Wrights jets here, there, and everywhere from the deanery at Lichfield Cathedral to make his case before scholarly elites and popular audiences alike. He has become a one-man show and, not without reason, the darling of many conservatives. So Jesus and the Victory of God, which elaborates Wright's views, is bound to attract a lot of attention.
The book makes up volume 2 in a series titled Christian Origins and the Question of God, ambitiously projected to run to five volumes. Volume 1, The New Testament and the People of God, occupied itself mainly with background and method. Later volumes will take up the Gospel of John through the Book of Revelation—above all, the letters of Paul. In addition to the volume under review, I will take some account of Wright's earlier published work.
With a sweeping and imaginative proposal, Jesus and the Victory of God treats the figure of Jesus as portrayed in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Arguably, nevertheless, ...1
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