The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God: Volume 3)

N. T. Wright

The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God: Volume 3)
The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God: Volume 3)

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Why did Christianity begin, and why did it take the shape it did? To answer this question – which any historian must face – renowned New Testament scholar N.T. Wright focuses on the key points: what precisely happened at Easter? What did the early Christians mean when they said that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead? What can be said today about his belief?

This book, third is Wright’s series Christian Origins and the Question of God, sketches a map of ancient beliefs about life after death, in both the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds. It then highlights the fact that the early Christians’ belief about the afterlife belonged firmly on the Jewish spectrum, while introducing several new mutations and sharper definitions. This, together with other features of early Christianity, forces the historian to read the Easter narratives in the gospels, not simply as late rationalizations of early Christian spirituality, but as accounts of two actual events: the empty tomb of Jesus and his "appearances."

How do we explain these phenomena? The early Christians’ answer was that Jesus had indeed been bodily raised from the dead; that was why they hailed him as the messianic "son of God." No modern historian has come up with a more convincing explanation. Facing this question, we are confronted to this day with the most central issues of the Christian worldview and theology.

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4.8 out of 5 based on 5 user ratings
silmarillion October 4, 2019 5 5
Absolutely astounding book. Beautiful representation of nt theology, and opened my eyes to the eschatological phases of scripture, and how we are called to live in the inaugurated age to come. A must read for every competent christian
Philibuster February 20, 2013 4 5
This third volume in Wright's series is something of a part 2 to JVG, originally meant to be its last chapter. Wright broadened his scope, however, to talk about the centrality of resurrection-thought in the rest of the NT (not just the Gospels), as well as in the cultural milieu of the time. The book's strong points are its ability to trace the development of resurrection thought in early Christianity from its roots in Judaism and the summaries of how the resurrection shapes Paul and the Gospels. A good argument for a historical, bodily resurrection, though not quite as groundbreaking as the first two books of the series. Still well worth the read.
Denver Seminary Journal December 5, 2009 5 5
This massive work by British New Testament scholar N. T. Wright is the third volume in the series on Christian Origins and the Question of God that began with The New Testament and the People of God (1992) and was followed by Jesus and the Victory of God (1996). The book focuses on the resurrection from a historical point of view, posing the question: What exactly happened at Easter? Referring to many recent publications on the resurrection, Wright acknowledges that the shape of his argument in this publication is hardly novel but then continues to claim that the unique aspect of his work is its particular point of entry, that is, the study of the way in which early Christianity reaffirmed and redefined the resurrection (xviixviii). Since reaffirmation and redefinition of such a major theme involve many texts, his investigation covers a vast number of ancient writings: parts 2, 3, and 4, for example, look at New Testament documents (476 pages) but also at many other pagan, Old Testament, Jewish, and gnostic texts. This reflects a conscious effort on the authors part to make available a range of material, some of which may be inaccessible to many readers and which, to his mind, also gives his publication a unique character. [Full Review]
In his third and latest volume, N. T. Wright addresses the question: What happened on Easter morning? Wright addresses two major subquestions: (1) What did early Christians believe had happened to Jesus subsequent to his death? (2) What can be said about the plausibility of those beliefs? Before diving into the subject, Wright discusses historical conclusions. After surveying objections, he concludes there is no reason, epistemological or otherwise, why historians cannot draw historical conclusions regarding Jesus resurrection. He begins his major discussion by addressing concepts of an afterlife in both pagan cultures and Second Temple Judaism. The works of Homer, Plato, and Philo present an afterlife involving a disembodied existence. With only a few rare exceptions, postmortem embodied existence was disavowed by the pagan culture, since death was liberation from the prison of the body. Within Second Temple Judaism, there were a number of views regarding an afterlife. While some, such as the Sadducees, denied an afterlife, the majority of Jews affirmed it, with a strong strand holding to resurrection. These Jews almost always thought of resurrection as a bodily event. Wrights conclusion to these results is that the Christian view of resurrection is in line with the Second Temple Jewish view of resurrection, although a few modifications appear. [Full Review]

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