I’ve been more of a fan of N.T. Wright’s scholarly writings than of his popularizations which he signs as Tom Wright. His new book, Simply Jesus, which he signs as N.T. Wright, is at first glance more popular than scholarly; however, that just goes to show that the best scholarship hides itself.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the end of chapter 5:
But, as we draw these introductory chapters to a close, we return to the image of the perfect storm. We have felt the force of the western gale: the relentless power of Rome, its emperor, its armies its steely-eyed ambition to rule the world. We have sensed the buildup of hope and the national aspiration within the high-pressure system that emerged from the age-old stories of Israel, producing a complex but coherent narrative in which many of Jesus’s contemporaries believed themselves still to be living, in which indeed they were eager for the denouement, the fulfillment, the great final day. These two by themselves would have been enough, and were enough in many other instances, to produce a terrible storm with devastating results.
But, from the moment Jesus of Nazareth launched his public career, he seems to have been determined to invoke the third part of the great storm as well. He spoke continually about the hurricane of which the psalmists had sung and the prophets had preached. He spoke about God himself becoming king. An he went about doing things that, he said, demonstrated what that meant and would mean. He took upon himself (this is one of the most secure starting points for historical investigation of Jesus) the role of a prophet, in other words, of a man sent from God to reaffirm God’s intention of overthrowing the might of pagan empire, but also to warn Israel that its present way of going about things was dangerously ill-conceived and leading to disaster. And with that, the sea is lashed into a frenzy; the wind makes the waves dance like wild things; and Jesus himself strides out into the middle of it all, into the very eye of the storm, announcing that the time is fulfilled, that God’s kingdom is now at hand. He commands his hearers to give up their other dreams and to trust his instead. This, at its simplest, is what Jesus was all about.