What we're reading

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On 4/17/2017 at 5:04 PM, Rob Z said:

. Have you or anyone read both them and N.T. Wright's tomes on Jesus and the Resurrection? Thoughts about how they compare, such as in academic tone (Wright is a great writer, but his other academic work has been a hair on the dry side for me since I would be reading these works devotionally)?

Wright's work, "The Resurrection of the Son of God" is majestic.  I've read all of his "Christian Origins and the Question of God" series, but could not finish his two volume work on Paul.  I'm no academic but Wright's work is pretty accessible for the non-technician.  In his "Paul" works, he gets more technical, and to my untrained eyes, much more engaged with esoteric conflicts in academia; of course this is where the Pauline action is, I guess, ever since Sanders' work in the 70/80s.  I'd have a hard time imagining reading just a selected volume from the series without having read the foundations, but if you go in to ROTSOG knowing that Wright's spent a great deal of ink locating Jesus and the gospels in the 1st century milieu of II Temple Judaism in conversation with the messianic expectation as a end-of-the-exile event, and that Jesus was essentially redefining the Israel identity around himself and his followers, then you'll be relatively grounded.  The book follows his standard template:  Describing the concept in relation to its contemporary Jewish context, then in terms of its relationship to contemporary pagan thought, then in the double criteria of similarity and and disimilarity to both, he paints the topic as a new innovation that demanded a response.  I found it exhilarating.

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I remember being impressed with the book N. T. Wright wrote with Marcus Borg-- The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions--especially Wright's chapter on resurrection. His voice was one of the few that kept me open–minded...not to certainty or insistence, but possibility.  An excerpt -

"Early Christianity did not consist of a new spirituality or ethic. It consisted of the announcement of things that had happened… The body of Jesus was neither resuscitated nor left to decay in the tomb, but was rather transformed into a new mode of physicality; shocking and startling to the disciples and to all subsequent readers.… The contrast is not between physical and nonphysical, but rather between a body animated by soul (which will die like the animals) and a body animated by spirit, God’s spirit, which will therefore possess a quality of life that transcends the present decaying existence….

The point of the resurrection, for Paul, is that entropy does not have the last word, for humans or the world as a whole.  For Paul, what mattered was that the resurrection had happened – not as an isolated bizarre miracle, but as the messianic focal point and climax of the story of the creator and covenant God with Israel and the world. This was the hinge on which the door of history turned."

Edited by phlox

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