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Simply Jesus: Who He Was, What He Did, Why It Matters

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,843 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
Modern critical biblical scholarship often points out how the church's teachings about Jesus have become encrusted with tradition so that it is hard to see what the New Testament really says about him. Now, with the insight of 200 years of modern critical scholarship and assuming an audience that includes both the well-churched and the non-churched, how should the church p ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by SPCK Publishing (first published 2011)
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May 01, 2013 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2011
This book should be titled: "Jesus: It's Complicated"

As could be expected, in this book Wright attempts to open up his dense and nuanced arguments from Jesus and the Victory of God for the non-academic audience.

Trouble is, he has already boiled down those arguments in The Challenge of Jesus. Basically the conclusions in this present work are the same as those he's already put forward several times before (so I can't see why the subtitle mentions a "new vision" etc.), but Wright has a brilliant m
Danny Daley
Feb 27, 2015 Danny Daley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read this book in 2012, it was my first Tom Wright book, which in my tradition comes with all sorts of baggage. Add to that, I had been a pastor for about 7 years, and had little interest in any book touting a "new" vision of anything related to Christ or Scripture. But I'm never one to allow my tradition to define for me how I feel about something, so I bought this book as an entry into Wright's work.

I was stunned. Despite having been a well read pastor with a college degree in biblical
Wright shines in his background analysis of biblical times. The reader will find great value in the contextual factors brought to light in this work. Additionally, the identity and purpose of Jesus are articulated and argued very well.

The sum conclusion of this book seems to be: the work of Jesus today = social activism. Fortunately, that's an almost non-sequitur conclusion to Wright's arguments concerning the identity and purpose of Jesus. This is fortunate because the reader who understands so
Paul Mullen
Jan 20, 2013 Paul Mullen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you could rate a book by how much underlining you do, this one would be among the highest rated in my collection. Wright takes a position on key debatables (e.g. "when did Jesus realize what his role was in history?") But he goes farther than this, tying together key themes that cross the boundaries of covenant, history, struggle, and place. His key theme is that there is not so much of a difference in the place of Heaven and Earth, and that the reign of God on earth has already started. The ...more
Daniel Wells
May 22, 2013 Daniel Wells rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There may be no one better on 'Jesus and the gospels' today than NT Wright. It's hard to put books like this down.

The only critique is that Wright's polemical style surfaces every so often when it is unnecessary. And I think this gets him into hot water where some folks claim Wright denies the divinity of Jesus. (Which he doesn't.) I think Wright was his own worst enemy in some ways with the NPP debate in North America.

I contend that Wrightian Christology is coherent with Reformed Christology in
Aug 26, 2015 Liviu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neîndoios această traducere e cea mai succintă, totodată și completă relatare despre Isus-ul din Evanghelii. O călătorie în lumea și cultura a ceea ce a fost iudaismul secolului I. A fost o lectură ușoară, Wright a încercat o sinteză pe înțelesul tuturor a tomurilor teologice scrise în trecut despre Iisus. Folosește multe imagini, metafore, analogii astfel încât orice om nefamiliarizat cu limba teologilor să o poată citi lesne.

Subtitulul cărții ne revelează conținutul cărții: O nouă viziune desp
Michael Jones
Yes, I think this is definitely a good book to start with for somebody who really wants to understand the historical Jesus. Being God, Jesus is obviously so multifaceted that no one volume could even come close to filling the bill for everyone.

You say, "well, what about the Bible?" Yes, that's right. That's the place to start.

And if you really want to get to know Jesus, fall on your face for at least 5 minutes and after which, resolve to go to some Trinitarian Christian church as soon as you ca
Shane Wagoner
Jan 02, 2016 Shane Wagoner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
N.T. Wright is something of a modern C.S. Lewis. By bringing his scholarly expertise to the public realm, he has opened the door for a whole new generation of Christians to explore theology and history outside of the ivory tower. Simply Jesus is a story that Wright has told many times before and, like many stories, it has been perfected over time. This is Wright at his most focused, concentrated, and concise. He lays out the message of Christ (as many of his early followers understood it) with a ...more
Oct 10, 2015 Josiah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and through explanation of who Jesus was, what he believed, and what his followers believed. If you think the gospel can be reduced to the simple statement "Jesus dies on the cross for my sins", you need to read this book! Why? Because the good news is this..."there is a new king in town--Jesus!" In classic Wright fashion, you will sweep through many passages of scripture while bringing together the three great rivers of jewish hope (Messiah, Servant, and Temple) into one massive ocean ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Billy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jesus introduced himself and identified himself as a king. Today we greatly marginalize the significance of this through a spiritualized gospel that focuses on personal morality for entrance into an other-worldly after-life, upon which the author drily comments, "will not do."

Wright elaborates at length upon the Jewish messianic expectations and teachings from the OT, the strife and political culture in the Roman world, and upon God's intervention within and beyond these two, all culminating in
Tim Hatfield
Jun 06, 2013 Tim Hatfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Relistening to this started today 3.6.2013

Taking more in the second go round. I already know the basics of the tour so I think I'm able to pay attention to the scenery a bit better so far.

I love Wrights exegesis and his writing style in this book. Wright is very repetitive but you won't miss his points.

Jesus is the new Moses, the new Joshua, the mobile temple of God, the new meeting place (ladder) between heaven and earth. He is leading THE exodus from THE Egypt which will conquer Satan and al
Adam Smith
Sep 26, 2013 Adam Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(From my blog -

One thing I can certainly say about N.T. Wright is that he is consistent. So far, across the four books I have read by him, he challenges the conventional notions that Christians have accumulated over the years about Jesus. Wright indeed gives a new vision of who Jesus really was, what he did, and why he matters.

Conservatives need not fear, Wright is not pushing some liberal agenda. He is trying to help us take a historical and theological
Sten Anderson
It pains me to give a "two stars" to a Wright book, but given Goodread's guidelines, "It was OK" is my honest reaction.

I generally enjoy Wright's books quite a bit and feel that he has a very honest, likely accurate interpretation of how the people at the time were receiving the events around them.

I think I felt, perhaps cheated, this time around, for lack of a better word…or maybe just disappointed. The book touches on the "New Atheists" as a competing voice in the conversation, a coming storm,
Dean Summers
This has become my new #1 favorite book! Though I’d give it a different title. I’d call it Who Does Jesus Think He Is? A Straightforward Reading of the Gospels in their Historical, Literary, and Cultural Context.

That’s just one of many reasons why N.T. Wright sells more books than I. His editors are much better at coming up with good titles.

That said, the subtitle they chose, A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters, could be a little misleading. It certainly is if you under
Dec 02, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: faith
I took my time over this because I had the feeling that at some point it was going to say something 'really important' but I was disappointed that it never really did, it just seemed to put across what has been taught in many other places. I cannot say that it made it into a bad book as such but I think it was perhaps my expectations that were amiss. For a book written by a theologian (NT Wright) attempting to present something to the non academic (why else style himself Tom Wright for this othe ...more
Jul 18, 2013 Cameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
N.T. Wright's Simply Jesus, though slow in the beginning, shows a refreshing new (or old) way of looking at Jesus. The book is aimed at putting Jesus in his historical and cultural context, and thereby showing Jesus' purpose in his ministry and how his actions across Israel contributed to that ministry. Resulting from this analysis of Jesus' life, is a more down to earth figure that is very different than how many Christians view Jesus today.

Having originally come from a Christian faith that b
Apr 10, 2015 Jerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
NT Wright's single malt thought on Jesus distilled into one book. He is weak as usual on modern application, but that's a brief moment at the end. In the rest, Jesus the Messiah and his present kingdom is presented in power.

"We have reduced the Kingdom of God to private piety, the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience, and Easter itself to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus hi
Erik Manning
Sep 07, 2012 Erik Manning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The middle chapters contain the meat. Wright shows us just how radical Jesus claims and works are by putting him in his historical setting. But this book contains much more than so called "head knowledge ". I came away with a deeper love for Jesus as both King and servant and a desire to bring his kingdom into greater visibility on earth. My tiny gripe is that while Wright drives the point home that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not, he seems to encourage some Constantinian like approaches to huma ...more
Katrina G
Wow, his writing is so unclear, circular, repetitive, and by the end I still wasn't entirely sure what he was trying to say. While reading I was constantly wondering: "But why do you think that? Where did that come from? What led you to that conclusion?" I didn't find that he covered the historical background he was trying to convey particularly well or concisely either. If you have no Biblical/church background before reading this, you will just end up confused; if you do have the background, t ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Aeisele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This is a very interesting, and very good, book. N.T. Wright is such an excellent writer, and very focused on the Text too. The first part lays out what N.T. Wright thinks is the basic world-view of Judaism. The second part is how Jesus fits in with this picture. And the last part is what it means for today.
I have two criticisms. First, N.T. Wright focuses on "world-views" as a way to interpret Jesus. In some ways this is fine, and it definitely does a lot of work, helping to interpret a number
Sep 18, 2015 Animal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read "The Challenge of Jesus" by N.T. Wright last year and wasn't impressed. I decided to give Wright a second chance by reading "Simply Jesus" and this time I found it much more interesting but still a rather dry read.

However, I was particularly struck by Wright's historical knowledge and insight into 1st century Palestine. His use of various illustrations to explain things also resonated with me. For instance, his use of the "perfect storm" to explain the three-fold conflict that was brewing
Jan 29, 2015 Nathaniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my second book by N. T. Wright, and--while I liked it a lot--I didn't like it as much as the first: Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues.

Most of this book centered on the idea of the Kingdom of God and especially how to reconcile the idea that Jesus inaugurated that kingdom 2,000 years ago and life still pretty much sucks down on Planet Earth today. In a way the simplest explanation was a short aside that pointed out that King David was anointed king while he was still v
Apr 11, 2014 Nadya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I found the first ~half near-unbearably dry/basic, the second half was well worth the wait and I am glad I persevered. Wright effectively (..respectfully..insightfully..) navigates between two somwhat contradictory worldviews regarding who Jesus is. He uses the analogy of a "storm" throughout the book, and at one point alludes to the "blowing winds" of (1) Western skepticism regarding Jesus' divinity (the claim "He was a good prophet and teacher, but nothing more.") and (2) Christian fu ...more
Robert Hutchinson
Another masterpiece by Tom Wright of the University of St. Andrews. He, along with John Dunn, Richard Bauckham and Larry Hurtado, are the leading New Testament scholars in the world today.
Oct 07, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NT Wright helps paint the historical picture of the time incarnate Jesus entered history. He shows the three forces that propelled the Gospel. The Jewish expectation of a Messiah to rid them of Roman rule; the Roman political infrastructure (and Herodian) that wants to keep power; and the spiritual forces of God defeating Satan. The book helps you better understand the times of Christ, and hence, better understand the context of the Gospels. Definitely one to add to your theology shelf.
Joe Iovino
Feb 16, 2012 Joe Iovino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As one who has read N. T. Wright would expect, this book is brilliant, accessible, and challenging. Wright's ability to frame the ministry of Jesus in a way most of us have not thought about before is enlightening. We are finishing up a sermon series this Sunday and the mid-week class last night using Simply Jesus as our basis. The sermon series and the class are taking our congregation to new levels of understanding, commitment, and mission in the world around us.
Feb 21, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty sure my pastor used this book to preach at Christmas. He promised us a "totally new way of looking at Jesus" and he delivered. At the time Jesus was born, both Jews and Romans were in search of a savior. Both had prophecies of a new king to be born of a virgin, both sang songs and worshipped this new king yet to be, both nations felt they were destined to rule the world. Rome's Cesar had declared himself divine, and God sent forth his son Jesus. Israel had been under enemy rule many t ...more
Jonathan McIntosh
This became one of my favorite N.T. Wright works for lay readers. A lot of what is said here, he has said in other places, but I still kept coming across aha moments about the person and work of Christ. Simply Jesus stimulated my thinking about Christ but God also used it to stir my affections for Christ as well. I wish everyone in my church would read the last chapter on what it looks like for the church to claim that Jesus is ruler of the world now.
Charles Erlandson
Oct 25, 2011 Charles Erlandson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Brilliant and Provocative Book on Jesus and His Kingdom. Chapters 11-15 are especially good and will help you to understand more deeply and correctly the gospel message. Wright helps the reader to get beyond simplistic and truncated views of Jesus, his reign, and the meaning of salvation. Read the rest of my review at:
May 28, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning I didn't think I would like this book as much due to the "simple" aspect of Simply Jesus. After listening to Wright lecture, and reading some of his other books/essays, I thought this was going to be dumbed-down a bit much as I read through the first few chapters. I later discovered that I appreciated this more intelligible version Wright's theology! N.T. Wright always reminds me of the reality of the Kingdom of God even in this present age. Focusing on what's wrong with the wor ...more
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N. T. Wright is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England (2003-2010) and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. He has been featured on ABC News, Dateline NBC, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air, and he has taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGi ...more
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“The crucifixion was the shocking answer to the prayer that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven.” 3 likes
“Whatever we say about Jesus, there can be no doubt that his actions and his teaching raised these questions wherever he went. And Jesus had his own questions. Who do you say I am? Do you believe in the Son of Man? Can you drink the cup I’m going to drink? How do the scribes say that the Messiah is David’s son? Couldn’t you keep watch with me for a single hour? And finally and horribly: My God, my God, why did you abandon me? The answers come too in more or less equal profusion. But, like all the best answers to the hardest questions, they come themselves as a set of sparkling puzzles, as though to remind people both ancient and modern that the questions are questions precisely because something is going on that demands a collapse of categories, a breaking of boundaries, a widening of worldview to the point where the new thing, whatever it is, will make the sense it does. The reason there were so many questions, in both directions, was that—as historians have concluded for many years now—Jesus fitted no ready-made categories.” 3 likes
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