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Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,845 ratings  ·  385 reviews
In Simply Jesus, bestselling author and leading Bible scholar N.T. Wright summarizes 200 years of modern Biblical scholarship and models how Christians can best retell the story of Jesus today. In a style similar to C.S. Lewis’s popular works, Wright breaks down the barriers that prevent Christians from fully engaging with the story of Jesus. For believers confronting the ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by HarperOne
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) The question section of GR is for clarification. This is more of a review. There's a place to post your review of this book, but it isn't in the quest…moreThe question section of GR is for clarification. This is more of a review. There's a place to post your review of this book, but it isn't in the question section.(less)

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Tom LA
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a much better version of Reza Aslan's "Zealot", in that both books try to focus on the historic figure of Jesus, but Wright's approach seems to me more subtle and deeper. Aslan's focus on the "revolutionary" aspect, although not incorrect, does not provide the 360 degrees image that Wright creates here.

The key to a real and deep understanding of Jesus as a man who lived in history is in contextualizing his life in the contemporary Jewish world. The moment you understand how intensely and
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Paul Mullen
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Shane Wagoner
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I probably could have gotten more out of this book if I'd worked harder to pay attention, but frankly I tuned out after a while. He makes some good points and creates some good connections, but overall I didn't feel like I was learning anything new. It's not apologetics, it's not really an investigation into evidence... I'm still not sure what Wright actually set out to do with this book. Apparently it's a follow-up to Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, which I thought was even wors ...more
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wright’s book is about a perfect storm, metaphorically speaking. As Wright explains it, “. . .the perfect storm: the buildup of pressure from the Roman Empire in one direction, the thousand-year hope of Israel from another direction, and the cyclone itself, the strange and powerful purposes of God sweeping in from yet a third angle.”

For the Romans Israel was a small but strategic province in the middle east which had to be controlled through a system of local surrogates who imposed taxes, and
Adam Smith
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
(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
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sten Anderson
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
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,
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
At first, I was kind of disappointed as I read through this book. Wright walks us through what Jesus was trying to teach about the "kingdom of God," who he thought he was, etc. This is all ground Wright has covered before. But what I didn't realize was that he was laying the groundwork for a thrilling last section of the book.

In the last 50 or so pages, Wright gives an explanation of the Christian's current role in the kingdom of God - what we should be focused on and doing, what specifically ou
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Daniel Wells
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
William Hope
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
An inviting and compelling book. I've come away with the opinion that Jesus is far more interesting, far more controversial, far more political, in lots of ways 'far more' than I previously understood. Tom Wright opens up speaking of perfect storms, winds coming from different directions from which the collision creates something of a spectacular event. Likening the winds of liberal scepticism versus the winds of conservative Christianity, we can be caught up in the storm from when these winds c ...more
Rhidge Garcia
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wright beautifully and elegantly invites his readers to consider a different perspective of Jesus.

Jesus is so much more than the Western church paints Him to be. He is riveting, challenging, beautiful, wonderful, and so much more.

I would recommend this book to anyone.
Katy M
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
2019 Pop Sugar reading Challenge-Book with 2 word title.

I'm not sure if it was my mood or I had too much else going on in my brain, but this book left me confused more than anything else.
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious, ebook
Dense and nuanced, a refreshing way of looking at an old figure. Wright is adept at skirting the heretical, while challenging long held notions and suppositions.
Craig Bergland
My main problem with N.T. Wright has finally become clear to me. He has what I call an Anglican Hernia. Anglican Hernias develop when a person straddles the fence and tries to please everybody for so many years that their intellectual integrity begins to give way, and POP! - you have an Anglican Hernia. There is a subtle inconsistency in this book and its predecessor, Simply Christian. Wright tends to vacillate between endorsing contemporary biblical scholarship and a need to believe everything ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Ben De Bono
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
For anyone looking for a popular level introduction to Wright's thought, this is 5 stars and highly recommended. For anyone who is more familiar with Wright and prefers his more scholarly work, this is about 3 stars as many of the themes are repetitive of what he's explored in his other works. I definitely all in the latter camp and as such didn't enjoy the book quite as much as I'd hoped. That said, this will be a very powerful and important read for those who find Wright's scholarly work a bit ...more
Lauren Cramer
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think "Simply Jesus" is a wonderful and insightful book. N.T. Wright did a great job explaining who Jesus was and did through first-century eyes, then applying what this vision means in today's world in a fresh, new perspective. Definitely a must-read for anyone interested what being a Christian means and what we believe, if you would like to challenge your Christian theology, or both! Highly recommended! ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-audiobooks
[review removed as it no longer reflects my beliefs]
Lucas Mroz
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly smart and thorough overview of the Gospel. Helped reshape my view of what it means to be a Christian and what my role in society should be. Highly recommend book.
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very well thought out and informational as Wright argues that when Christ came to the earth and was resurrected, the Lord is already at work and reigning on the earth. If I understood correctly, the second coming has already begun (but is not yet finished). While it was interesting to see how he interpreted and explained some passages of scripture, I often felt like I was reading sermons in that I felt like it took a long time to get to the point, and by the time he was making his point, sort of ...more
JR. Forasteros
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you've never read N. T. Wright, you're missing out on the greatest pastor and theologian alive right now. No other pastor is so respected in the academic world, and no other academic can write and speak so accessibly to those who don't have the formal training of a seminary or graduate program. So when he published a book called Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did and Why He Matters, I was excited.

In Simply Jesus, Wright has somehow distilled his academic study and pastoral
Brenda H.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A "simply" in-depth exploration of what Jesus' ministry meant amidst the political and religious context of his time. He uses the metaphor of a perfect storm/hurricane to describe how he uprooted what most people believed to be true and how they anticipated the Messiah's arrival to look like. Very substantial read. ...more
Feb 02, 2019 added it
I think I'll need to revisit this... I feel i only absorbed half or maybe two thirds of it. It was a bit hard to follow on audio... I did love the historical perspective of Jesus though and to have things explained in the context of that time made so much sense. Allot of questions were answered and I'm sure if i read it again I would get even more out of it. ...more
Robert Jackson
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Helped me see Jesus in some new ways. A bit academic, but inspiring nonetheless. There were some really interesting parallels between Jesus and other Jewish hero’s of the same era. It helped me understand a little more about Jesus from a less 21st century American view. I love learning new things about Jesus!
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. It was not as great as "How God Became King." There was a lot of good stuff and I kept thinking how useful and accessible this would be to a new Christian. It dragged in some spots and had some large portions of biblical text which felt like a filler. Overall, it was a solid offering from Wright. ...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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