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How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  945 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Foundational: The four gospels come directly fromthe ancient church and are among the primary sourcesfor the church's teachings.

Familiar: Since Christian worship services began, areading from the gospels has played a central role.

Studied: For over two hundred years scholars havechallenged and defended the central claims of thegospels: miracles, historical accuracy, the div
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by HarperOne (first published 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Ben De Bono
I've decided that N.T Wright is at his most interesting (and usually his most thought provoking) when he writes with a bit of an edge in his voice. That was certainly the case at the beginning of Justification where he takes on the critiques of John Piper and others in the reformed camp who had failed to understand his doctrine of justification. It's also the case here, where Wright confronts traditional readings of the Gospel that have, in his view, failed to miss the point.

The central questio
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David Crumm
N.T. Wright Switches Questions with an `Explosive' Result

Millions of Americans know former Bishop N.T. "Tom" Wright as the man who defends the Bible against skeptics. It certainly doesn't hurt that Wright does this in a wonderfully resonant British accent with the confident air of a latter-day C.S. Lewis, who in his day was a famous media personality himself. But, through several recent books, Wright has been trying to change the focus of his message to something he considers much more urgent fo
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James (JD) Dittes
The biggest shift in my theological experience can be traced to an understanding of "the Kingdom of God."

I think that this phrase defines Christian denominations--from those who believe it is Heaven, waiting to come to Earth following an apocalypse, to those who believe it is exclusive to the Roman church, a sect exclusively following one Biblical rule or another, to those who see the Kingdom of God as everybody.

I was eager to read N.T. Wright's take on the Kingdom of God. He presents a highly
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Brian Collins
In this book N. T. Wright explores the purpose of Jesus's earthly ministry as presented in the Gospels. He is concerned that historically, the church has focused on the incarnation and passion of Christ and ignored his ministry (apart from appeals to its proving his deity or making possible his active obedience). Wright realizes that major problems ensue when the middle of the Gospel story is divorced from the ends (incarnation and cross), and he highlights the Social Gospel as the primary examp ...more
Nick
I have looked forward to reading this book since its publication. I was not disappointed. "Why only four stars?" you may ask. Well, it's not because what is here isn't the best, it's only because I usually reserve my five star praise for his denser, more academic work. However, the more time I spend listening to Wright's lectures and reading his popular level works, the more I value his skill at taking heady stuff and distilling it to people who aren't into footnotes.
In this book Wright makes
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Joe
Mar 23, 2012 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, bible
Review for Presbyterian Outlook

Those of us who are following N.T. Wright's massive scholarly project, Christian Origins and the Question of God, are eagerly awaiting his projected fourth volume in the series, which will be on Paul. So we are somewhat frustrated by the seemingly never-ending stream of popular and semi-popular books which flow from his pen. This is not to say that these are bad books, far from it. It's just that we would like to see the major project brought to its completion, whi
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Angus Mcfarlane

Another in Tom Wright's series of answers to the postmodern challenge. I mistakenly bought this one instead of 'simply Jesus', but was glad to find that they complemented rather than repeating one another. Whereas simply Jesus addresses the why, the who and the how of Christianity, how god became king develops a framework for interpreting the gospels. The need for this seems greater than one might think: whilst most Christians are familiar with the credal doctrines and the theology of Paul, much
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Jeff McCormack
I really enjoyed this book. Some of Wright's stuff is a bit more technical and theological, but I felt this was easy to read and comprehend, and his case was well made. I admit, I have read two other books by him just prior to this, as well as another on a closely related topic by Scot McKnight, so maybe this topic just struck me more on the heels of those.

Wright lays out the problem - that for the past few hundred years or more, the church has glossed over and missed much of the thrust of what
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Don Bryant
The basic thesis of the book: while the birth, death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus all find their way into the great Creeds and into formulations of the Gospel proclamation, the life of Jesus gets short shrift. Why did Jesus live? What's the point of the "great middle" between the incarnation and death and resurrection? It's just here that the church stumbles and really does not know what to do with the Gospels. They are treated as back story and as proof a sort that 1)Jesus was God a ...more
Jeff Miller
While I enjoyed this book and the case presented. I don't myself find that what he called the forgotten story was really forgotten, at least in Catholic circles in my experience. Although he did have a general caveat about where this was true among Protestant churches, especially ones with a more pauline focus.

Still I found some interesting insights regarding the narrative of kingdom and cross and one especially useful metaphor
Erin Henry
Really important message of how we have separated God's kingdom from the cross, redemption and earth when it's meant to be the main message of all three. The takes awhile to get to the main point but then it packs a wallop. A really interesting chapter on how we read the creeds wrong and use them to truncate Gods story. I highly recommend this. God's kingdom is here and now and it's time we recognize it.
Danny Daley
Much Christian teaching centers on the letters of Paul. Paul's writing is so prevalent that we often read Paul back into the Gospels, and completely misunderstand the Gospel accounts and their unique contribution to Christian theology. According to Wright, the Gospels, and by extension, "the Gospel," is not principally about salvation. He argues that the Gospel is actually about the all encompassing teaching about the kingdom of God. This, Wright argues, was Jesus' principal concern.

Of course, W
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Jonathan
Having recently read several other NT Wright books, this one was a bit of a recapitulation. However, it would be a great place to start for someone interested in Wright's ideas. The book summarizes the argument he constantly returns to in all of his works - namely, that we have ignored the fundamental message of the Gospels, which is that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Kingdom of God has been established "on earth as in heaven." Jesus' life was evidence of the coming of ...more
Laith Mardini
This is an excellent book by a great theologian and Christian.
The book bridges the gap between how different reductionists (particularly in the Evangelical Western church) see the Gospel of Christ as either a "salvation (or cross) gospel" or a "social (or kingdom) gospel".
Wright sees that both extremes have highlighted specific parts of Scripture rather than others. The "salvation gospel" highlighting the death and resurrection of Christ while ignoring the stuff in between (especially with the f
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Teri-k
As I'm now teaching Mark I was eager to find suggestions on what we might be missing and get ideas on fresh ways to view this gospel. Perhaps it's the difference of place and denomination, but I didn't find Wright's hypothesis to be as strong as he presents it. In my circle the gospels are not viewed only in the limited way he says. And his ideas were not earth-shatteringly new. In fact, as I read I often thought "That's it?" and "Duh". Quite respectfully, of course. :) Perhaps his points are tr ...more
Joel Bryce
Summary from the book found on page 243:

"What, in other words, do we learn about the cross when we discover that the gospels present it as the means by which God (in Jesus) becomes king of the world? Again, I see three immediate answers to this challenging question:

1) The way we have normally listed options in atonement theology simply won't do. Our questions have been wrongly put, because they haven't been about the kingdom. They haven't been about God's sovereign, saving rule coming on earth
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Ben
What a fantastic book! I'm at risk of becoming an NT Wright fanboy here but every time I read one of his works I find he changes the way I see the message of the Bible. In the case of this work he argues convincingly that in the West we have forgotten one of the central themes of the Bible, that of God's promised King and kingdom, rooted in the Old Testament and fulfilled in Jesus the Christ/Messiah. Reading this at the same time as reading through Mark's Gospel I am finding in Mark passage afte ...more
Tim
Vintage Wright: solid and helpful, although perhaps somewhat less unique than he appears to present himself at times. Nonetheless, highly recommended.
Jerry
This really needs 6.5 stars. Wright shows a significant gap in the church's reading of the gospels. This is good, even for Wright.
Liz
How God Became King was a great broad-scope read of the Gospels. This is the first N.T. Wright book that I've read, and it won't be my last. He makes a case for 4 major thrusts of the gospels - that Jesus is the climax of the story of Israel; that Jesus is Israel's God returning to His people; that Jesus launches the Kingdom of God now, and not some body-less heaven existing in the future; and that the kingdom of God clashes with the Roman kingdom of Caesar.

Recommended for anyone who feels they
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Jack
Great book! Wright really gives a great "bird's-eye" view of this crucial theme.
Brittany
I enjoyed the middle part and his clarification of what the gospels are as well as some of the stories he uses to illustrate his meaning. However towards the end (last 100 pages or so) I had trouble focusing any longer on what he was saying and it was difficult to get through.

Overall it was good and I am forced to answer the question myself of how I view Jesus' life as presented in the gospels. I don't think I even realized how his life is mostly skipped over in creeds going from the virgin birt
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Guanhui
N.T Wright challenges us to consider the gospels historically and holistically. I found his last chapter: "How to Celebrate God's Story" the most illuminating. Particularly, he ties together his various threads of thoughts and offers two different readings of the Apostles' Creed.

The book's unapologetic emphasis on the reality of the Kingship of Jesus and the reality of an inaugurated kingdom may disturb the ranks of traditionally-minded christians. I believe that this provocation is a necessary
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Robert Schut
Apr 09, 2015 Robert Schut rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People dissatisfied with the direction of today's churches and seek something deeper.
Shelves: new-testament
Tom Wright chooses a great topic to address. Few people have the courage to take on this problem in the churches and he is one of them. The book addresses the problem that many celebrate the birth and death of Christ, but know little else. The true message of Jesus has been put aside and exchanged for a new social gospel of good works and good feelings. Wright reminds us that there is a lot more to the gospel that the beginning and the end. We have to once again concentrate upon the middle, whic ...more
Daniel Harris
I will never read the gospels the same way again after reading How God Became King by N.T. Wright. I am not new to reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but this book helped me to see things in those four books which I have missed in all of my previous reading of them, even as they have been my constant companions for years. And the things it helped me to see are not just trivial matters, like trying to unlock some secret code hidden in these ancient documents, but rather, they are the essence ...more
Noneareleft
A Solid, Much Needed Message.

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis describes himself as a "layman"; if C.S. Lewis is a layman, then I don't know what that makes me. I say that because I have no formal training in the church, no seminary degree, no college education even, yet the Word of God is no less applicable to me than it is any other, and no less necessary for me to understand either. And so in that vein I embarked upon N.T. Wright's "How God Became King".

Wright is (or at least was, as best I can
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Lee Harmon
Wright begins with the creeds, about Jesus being born of a virgin and dying for our sins, and bemoans the “missing middle.” Christianity today has become too focused on the beginning and end of the Jesus story, and has ignored a primary message of all four Gospels: that God has come back, in the form of Jesus, and reigns today as King.

So who is the Jesus in the middle? A violent revolutionary? A wide-eyed apocalyptic visionary, expecting the end of the world? A mild-mannered teacher of sweet rea
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Hoyt
I like Wright, really. But his writing is frustrating for me because he doesn't go far enough in drawing out conclusions. This book is no exception. There are the Wrightisms of pointed comments and a bit of sarcasm which we saw in Justification. These are entertaining and give a bit of insight into why Wright's writing what he is.

Wright does a fine job with his primary focus - that modern day Christians both conservative and liberal have largely missed the boat. Collectively we don't grasp that
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amber
A growing number of questions about "Christian beliefs" have plagued me in recent years. Questions born of the Scriptures but whose answers - if any exist - are on mute in contemporary western Christianity. (Whose "biblical"-ness most often cannot be questioned.)

For the past four years I've lived in a "kingdom" (though it goes by a different title), and I cannot ignore that God must be saying so much more with all the kingdom talk than we - even those who use the word "kingdom" for certain purpo
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Malin Friess
N.T. Wright is one of the most respected New Testament Christian Scholars. Wright, a former bishop of the Church of England is well liked in mainline protestant and evangelical circles. People like Jon Meacham, Anne Rice, and JI packer praise his work.

Wright contends that we have forgotten what the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) are all about.

Read the apostles Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord
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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
More about N.T. Wright...
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is The New Testament and the People of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #1) Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters

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“When 'biblical' theologies ignore the gospels, something is clearly very wrong." (on atonement theories)” 8 likes
“The point [of the gospels] is not whether Jesus is God, but what God is doing in and through Jesus. What is this embodied God up to?” 6 likes
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