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The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,000 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews

Today a renewed and vigorous scholarly quest for the historical Jesus is underway. In the midst of well publicized and controversial books on Jesus, N. T. Wright's lectures and writings have been widely recognized for providing a fresh, provocative and historically credible portrait.

Out of his own commitment to both historical scholarship and Christian ministry, Wright ch

Hardcover, 202 pages
Published November 14th 1999 by InterVarsity Press (first published October 1999)
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The Cross of Christ by John R.W. StottSeeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John PiperThe Passion of Jesus Christ by John PiperThe Jesus I Never Knew by Philip YanceyThe Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Books About Jesus
6th out of 177 books — 95 voters
Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. EhrmanMisquoting Jesus by Bart D. EhrmanThe Jesus Puzzle by Earl DohertyThe Challenge of Jesus by N.T. WrightThe Incredible Shrinking Son of Man by Robert M. Price
Best Historical Jesus Books
4th out of 99 books — 61 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 07, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was ok
This book continues the gulf between NT Wright's academic works and his summarized works meant for a popular audience, at least in my opinion. Wright sort of tries to plug his entire "New Testament and the People of God" series into a thin paperback. It's not that anything he says is's just that a lot of the fascinating things he's saying come out simplistic and easily misunderstood when he omits the great deal of context that allowed him to derive those things in the first place. Als ...more
Dec 25, 2007 Scott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a great book, one of the best theologically-oriented books I've ever read. The idea behind it is to look at how the things Jesus did and said would have challenged his 1st century audience and then from that discuss how Christians are called to follow in His footsteps today. There was a lot here that was enlightening, including how the resurrection functions as a symbol for the renewal of the Covenant between God and His people, the significance of the temple in the Gospel, and in what ...more
Jun 17, 2015 Mathew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pick up your copy

But as we do this, we must remind ourselves again and again—as the liturgies of the traditional churches do in so many ways—that when we are telling the story of Jesus, we are doing so as a part of the community that is called to model this story to the world. –N. T. Wright

The Challenge of Jesus challenged my understanding of who Jesus was and is. In a way that Wright often does, he chops the feet off both conservative evangelicals and liberals. This can be both a strength and w
Jacob Aitken
Feb 09, 2014 Jacob Aitken rated it really liked it

N.T. Wright?s aim in this work is to explore the person of Jesus from post-Enlightenment eyes. He addresses the issues from a different stance than the typical liberal or fundamentalist: He affirms that Jesus actually existed but that He (Jesus) saw himself differently than we see Him. Wright says that he has three concerns in this book: historical integrity in talking about Jesus, Christian discipleship that professes to follow Jesus, and empowering Christians with a vision that will transform
Sep 07, 2007 Phil rated it it was amazing
This book, as the title would suggest, is a challenge, for a couple of reasons. First it is a challenge because Wright's intense historical analysis leads him to say some unexpected things about Jesus and early Christianity, casting doubt on the traditional understandings of certain passages in the bible, and on some aspects of how the church understands Jesus. Wright, for his part, insists that what he is doing is worth it, and I am inclined to agree on that point. You may not agree with all of ...more
Mary Fisher
Feb 26, 2012 Mary Fisher rated it it was amazing
I first heard this book as the original lecture series at the December 1998 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Graduate Student Conference in Chicago, Illinois. I had been invited to return from England to be involved in the conference and introduce NT Wright. I then used the book for teaching purposes from 1999 to 2005 while teaching at Asbury Theological seminary. Most students found it extremely helpful and challenging, many hated Chapter 5 as they basically were Docetists. I am someone who is ...more
Jan 21, 2014 Markus rated it it was amazing
Although I read "The Challenge Of Jesus" for the first time nearly 11 years ago, in early 2003 (while I was in seminary), I just finished reading it again this afternoon (as part of my goal to read and/or re-read as much of N.T. Wright's written work as possible in 2014).

So, that said (or written here), I appreciated and enjoyed this book as much - probably more - on this second time around and I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in looking for a solid biblical, theological and, e
Angus Mcfarlane
Jul 26, 2011 Angus Mcfarlane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality, history
This was a challenge worth taking! The endeavour to discover the historical Jesus has been attempted by many and there are probably few people in the world without some opinion on it. Forming an opinion about Jesus that finds agreement from someone else is therefore pretty easy: Investing the time and effort to dig into the facts much harder (both emotionally, intellectually and, well, financially!). NT Wright belongs in the latter category, making the read a treat and regardless of 'faith', wor ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Patrick rated it really liked it
Few New Testament scholars are able to write a book that is at once scholarly, inspirational, and well-crafted, but N.T. Wright has such a gift. This book sometimes seemed to jump around quite a bit, but tackling major themes and nimbly jumping from one part of Scripture to another seems to be Wright's style (as in Paul in Fresh Perspective). I appreciated a lot of the thought-provoking material, and the last chapter on what it means to be a Christian in our postmodern culture is absolutely outs ...more
Douglas Wilson
Feb 19, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Oct 10, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
This book was my first exposure to N. T. Wright, and I left it with nothing but respect for him as a scholar. Wright writes for a conservative audience, assuring them that Christians ought not to be afraid of applying biblical ibscholarship to their understanding of the scriptures. He warns them not to assume that all there is to know about Jesus is already known. Wright then proceeds for the rest of the book to take a second look at the world of the Jews, to understand what these first century ...more
Aug 31, 2011 Edngilley rated it it was amazing
Explores the question of the historical Jesus, not from the usual fact gathering and making a case for, but rather starting with the question of the implications of seeking the historical Jesus and the Evangelicals' resistance to that study. Wright also discusses at length the milleu of the first century and makes a point that unless we have some understanding of that the basis of our understanding of things like "salvation", "Kingdom of God", "Son of Man", etc. are all skewed by some 21st centu ...more
Aug 26, 2010 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An edifying exposition of the first-century Jewish mindset--Wright reminds us to be careful not to read our modern and postmodern assumptions into the New Testament. He explains what words like Messiah and resurrection meant to the Jews of Jesus' day. He also fairly challenges liberal theologians' views of Jesus, recognizing that their questions are important but that they can be answered on the side of orthodoxy from a careful study of New Testament history.

Among the particularly remarkable poi
Dec 03, 2009 Joey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
What exactly did Jesus mean when he said, "Repent and believe!" What is the Kingdom of God according to the first century Jews and Jesus? Why exactly did the Pharisees set out to kill Jesus? What is the exact nature of the Messiah? This book looks at Jesus, the culture, and the people with whom he interacted to give a wide portrait that can answer all these questions; and the answers surprisingly describe different mindsets, different scenarios, and different definitions from what most believers ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Glenn rated it liked it
Mixed thoughts. Mixed feelings. At times, N.T. Wright, *The Challenge of Jesus,* has great insights, and at other times, he leaves me scratching my head. The chapter, *The Challenge of Easter,* is worth the price of the book (a summary of a larger, academic work). But, the arrogance of some passages leave me feeling angry and frustrated. Wright writes as if he is the only person in all of the history of the church who sees what he sees and knows what he knows. Nonetheless, Wright does widen our ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Bruce rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read by this author, and I will definitely read more. Wright challenges us to look at Jesus as he was (and is) and not how our traditions and culture desires for him to be. It is in that change of perspective that whole new avenues of "being Jesus with skin on" for our world open up. The book is always not an easy (or comfortable) read, but it is well worth the effort. The last chapter of the book alone is worth the price of the book. But you have to read the whole bo ...more
Sep 19, 2015 Animal rated it it was ok
Good insight, but nothing deeply profound. I didn't think Wright offered anything new and fresh in this book. Learning more about the historicity of Jesus and understanding Him within the context of 1st century Judaism is certainly not a new concept. Hermeneutics has applied this method to all aspects of Scripture for many years. Wright claims we now have more resources at our disposal than ever before to help us better understand who Jesus is. But, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (wh ...more
Sep 10, 2015 Katey rated it really liked it
As Wright puts it, "[f]or me the dynamic of a commitment to Scripture is not 'we believe the Bible, so there is nothing more to be learned,' but rather 'we believe the Bible, so we had better discover all the things in it to which our traditions, including our 'protestant' or 'evangelical' traditions, which have supposed themselves to be 'biblical' but are sometimes demonstrably not, have made us blind.' And this process of rethinking will include the hard and often threatening question of wheth ...more
Chris Woznicki
Mar 17, 2015 Chris Woznicki rated it it was amazing
N.T. Wright has written a plethora of books that span the spectrum between devotional and intense academic tomes. The Challenge of Jesus seeks to place itself somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.

The Challenge of Jesus

In the preface to this book Wright last out three goals that he has in writing this book. The first goal is to maintain historical integrity when talking about Jesus. The second goal is to help Christian disciples to follow the Jesus of Scriptures. The third goal is to help the next generation of C
Dec 14, 2014 Trevor rated it really liked it
The Challenge of Jesus originated as a lecture series and is substantially indebted to N.T. Wright's Christian Origins series, most notably the first two volumes, The New Testament and the People of God, and Jesus and the Victory of God. This brief book is a fascinating look into the first century life of Jesus and the key elements of the Judaism of his day. I believe this book receives some of the highest praise possible in that it casts off the normality of commonly heard stories of Jesus' lif ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Ed rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
A rare and thoughtful blend of academic scholarship and pastoral encouragement. I really appreciate Wright's ability to present Jesus' words, actions and stories in the light of his social context. Of course the academic world enjoys and encourages a wide range of points of view and interpretations and its sometimes difficult to know whether Wright is completely on the mark or if he's strayed down some false trails. However, it is nice to have the confidence of knowing that his theories have bee ...more
Harry Allagree
Jul 20, 2015 Harry Allagree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little over a month & a half ago, I heard Bishop N.T. Wright speak at our annual clergy conference on "Paul in His World & Ours". Not a figure unknown to me, some years ago I'd actually used a video course on Jesus which he narrated, in one of my former parishes during Lent and enjoyed it. It wasn't overly impressive, but pretty good. In the time since then, particularly during Wright's time as bishop of Durham, England, he became somewhat controversial for some of his rather "conserva ...more
Adam Shields
Jun 30, 2011 Adam Shields rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short review: Great book. Good example of why we need to continually look at research into scripture. The biggest complaint that some will have is that Wright likes to explain things and not give simple answers. But that is the point of research like this. Highly recommend you pick it up if you are at all interested in biblical studies or the person of Jesus.

A MUCH longer review is on my blog at (almost 1100 words unfortunately)
Jun 16, 2014 Eric rated it it was amazing
I am STILL trying to find a book by N.T. Wright that isn't outstanding. Having read most of his 21st century work, I stepped back to read this book from 1999. In it, Wright critiques the problems of the 'historical Jesus' quest of groups such as the Jesus Seminar, and instead, offers a new take on how truly studying the historical Jesus is not only possible, but necessary, for Christianity to have power and relevance today.

While the whole book was wonderful, I particular loved the final 3 chapte
Nov 08, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
The whole book was enlightening (historically and spiritually) for me, but the final chapter, "Light of the World" was especially so. I've reread the chapter three times now and underlined significant points--- most of it is underlined. Now to not just know it in my head, but live it in my heart and life; there's the challenge of Jesus!
Glenn Crouch
Aug 03, 2014 Glenn Crouch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
This is a worthwhile book, and I especially liked the final 2 chapters where good advice is given in regards to the challenges of post-modernity. Since I have read recently Jesus and the Victory of God, I did appreciate the "summary" of that book - but thought that for those who hadn't read it the book may come across as a bit light on.

I must admit I often find Wright's "shorter" books to be summaries of his larger ones - and thus often leaving you wanting more. I suppose that is a good thing fo
David Gregg
This is my third N.T. Wright book: "Paul", "Evil and the Justice of God", and now "The Challenge of Jesus". These three books work well together to form a coherent picture of the New Testament. I highly suggest them. Excellent. On my short list.
Brent Wilson
Aug 06, 2009 Brent Wilson rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Combines a summary of Wright's historical Jesus research with a couple of chapters on the modern church. Held my attention and furthered my respect for NT Wright as a person betwixt and between - faithful to both scholarsly and church communities.
Feb 22, 2012 Daniel rated it it was amazing
This book is crazy good. Opened my mind to help me realize how to really see Jesus. We talk about reading the text first through the social historical context but we really have zero idea of what the historical social context actually was.
Jan 25, 2009 Merrie rated it really liked it
Another wonderful N.T. Wright book. Wright uses his expertise in 1st century Palestine to help the reader "rediscover who Jesus was and is." I highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to understand and follow Jesus better.
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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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“Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion...The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even--heaven help us--Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way...with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, "if not now, then when?" if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, "if not us, then who?" And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?” 66 likes
“On the seventh day God rested
in the darkness of the tomb;
Having finished on the sixth day
all his work of joy and doom.

Now the Word had fallen silent,
and the water had run dry,
The bread had all been scattered,
and the light had left the sky.

The flock had lost its shepherd,
and the seed was sadly sown,
The courtiers had betrayed their king,
and nailed him to his throne.

O Sabbath rest by Calvary,
O calm of tomb below,
Where the grave-clothes and the spices
cradle him we do not know!

Rest you well, beloved Jesus,
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,
In the brooding of the Spirit,
in the darkness of the spring.”
More quotes…