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How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,565 ratings  ·  272 reviews
New Testament scholar N.T. Wright reveals how we have been misreading the Gospels for centuries, powerfully restoring the lost central story of the Scripture: that the coronation of God through the acts of Jesus was the climax of human history. Wright fills the gaps that centuries of misdirection have opened up in our collective spiritual story, tracing a narrative from Ed ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by HarperOne (first published 2012)
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Ben De Bono
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
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
B.J. Richardson
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is my second reading through this book, but there was enough time between the two that many parts seemed almost fresh and new to me. Once again, I am giving this book a solid five-star rating.

Right at the beginning, NT Wright shares how when he was a young student his Bible club wanted to do an exploration of who Jesus was. Different students were to prepare and share different aspects and Wright felt he drew the short straw. It is easy to talk about the birth of Christ. It is easy to talk
David Crumm
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
James (JD) Dittes
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Brian Collins
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, 2019
The more that I read N.T. Wright, the more I appreciate what he's trying to do with each of his books. Wright's main emphasis seems to be to unwind our overly pietistic reading of the Bible--or as Wright himself says, "we have all forgotten what the four gospels are about."

Now, I understand that Wright often gets maligned for arguing that it wasn't until he began writing and publishing books that we've begun to return to 'the truth.' And sure, it is kind of fun to poke fun at the way Wright some
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love N.T. Wright's material. He has such a refreshing way of explaining theological concepts I've habitually taken for granted (or ignored altogether).

In this book, he manages to challenge everything I've always believed about the Gospels while at the same time illuminating some of the most confusing aspects of them. His basic premise is just what the title claims: the Gospels, more so than simple biographies of Jesus, or Passion narratives with extended introductions, are accounts explaining
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Good and thought provoking. Read through as part of a discussion group and breaking out each chapter week-to-week made it a bit harder to keep all the strands together. Still, worth the read.

Gideon Yutzy
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Summary: We must not divorce our reading of the gospels from the story of Israel, and a correct reading of the gospels will lead us, like Israel, to full engagement with the world and all its messiness, even as we also live out and know about God's redemptive work and New Creation.

I found it especially helpful to consider how the creeds have tended to shape our view of the canon rather than letting it be the other way around. It is entirely possible for us to affirm each individual phrase of th
Isaac Arnold
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing

Wright convincingly argues that we have all (the common and especially the western Church) misread the Gospels.

Much of today's Gospel message focuses almost exclusively on the Gnostic gospels. We fail to recognize the importance of the Old Testament and the four Canonical Gospels themselves.

He argues that the Gospel is much more, more complex, more beautiful, and more full when we understand that the Gospel is not just our way to heaven but instead how God, the creator God, Israel's
Greg Miller
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Incredibly insightful, and thought provoking. You may not agree with all of Wright's points, but there is no doubt this book has substance. We can get into the habit of crafting the gospel into short little talking points. In that process we may be missing some pretty important elements of the narrative. ...more
Cory Shumate
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really insightful

Wright puts his finger in why shorthand explanations of the gospel feel truncated, empty, and detached from the gospel narratives. For those who are looking for a fresh significance to the “middle bits” between the birth and death of Jesus, this is a must-read.
Don Bryant
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Buddy Draper
I had a hard time getting into this book because Dr. Wright essentially started by saying that Christians have been reading the Gospels wrong for centuries, if not longer. I hate that kind of clickbait online and felt defensive right away. After a while, I realized that Dr. Wright wasn’t talking to me or about me. He was talking to his fellow Anglicans, Catholics, and those of certain mainline and evangelical denominations. The bottom line issue he dealt with was that we can’t read the Gospels f ...more
Nick Rolston
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found the premise of this book to be quite fascinating, as the typical Nicene Creed that is sung at every Orthodox/Catholic liturgy as the declaration of Christian faith goes directly from Christ's incarnation to his crucifixion without any mention of his life. I hadn't paid much notice to this fact and that other than the Gospel reading at the service, there is little mention of Christ's time on Earth. The author makes a very simple case that we ought to read the Gospel books in their entiret ...more
Jeremy Piehler
This is a good book... but it needed more.

Instead of spending so much time talking about how people get the gospels WRONG, I would have loved for Wright to have spent that time explaining what he believed is RIGHT and what the implications of such thinking are.
Nov 07, 2019 added it
I especially appreciated Tom Wright’s emphasis on keeping the theological concepts of the Kingdom of God & the Cross together. An integrated discussion of the key themes of the gospels & practically helpful for me.
Cat Caird
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
A really interesting read and he makes some good points, especially about Christians often missing the point of Jesus's ministry, going from Christmas to Easter and ignoring the time between. Some of the points/arguments however, didn't feel hugely relevant to what's happening today so I couldn't always relate to the issues he was raising. Yet It's a good read and worth giving a go. ...more
Andy Gore
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The usual fantastic stuff with the usual problem of encouraging the church to think differently; happy days.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Clearly written and deeply challenging, Wright makes us think about one of the simplest and yet most perplexing questions about being a Christian: why were the gospels written? We think we know until we think about it. The great creeds do not help us with this. They affirm the virgin birth, the crucifixion and the resurrection. But they never tell us why there are all those parables miracles and other stories. Wright concludes that the gospels are completing the story of Israel by telling the st ...more
Andrew K
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
classic Tom. everyone from all of history was wrong and he is here to fix it all.
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biblical-studies
The central concern in Anglican scholar N.T. Wright’s book, How God Became King, is to demonstrate the importance of the life of Jesus. The problem, as he sees it, is that “most of Western Christianity has simply forgotten what the gospels are really about.” Wright believes that pastors, believers, and creeds have all missed the simple and clear point of the Gospels: that in Jesus, God has visited his people as king.

According to N. T. Wright, Christians have neglected what he calls the “missing
James Bunyan
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Wright argues that we have misunderstood the gospels, teaching they are all about how God became King in and through Jesus, his life, cross and ascension and offers four key themes that run through their narrative and we often miss:
1. The culmination of the story of Israel
2. Jesus as Israel's God
3. The launch of God's renewed people
4. The clash of God's kingdom with the kingdoms of this fallen world
He uses the illustration of surround-sound speakers to say that we need to have these four in bala
Nick Paine
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Could it be that Protestants have so emphasized Paul that they’ve left Jesus in the dust? What if we returned the Gospels to the place of primacy they were given in the early church? What if we interpreted Paul in light of the message of Jesus, rather than vis a versa? What would change in our theology?

In this book, Wright argues that we have somewhat forgotten the story the gospel narratives are trying to convey, and we have instead downloaded a systematic theological grid and mapped it upon th
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bible, 2012
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
Lee Harmon
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Angus Mcfarlane
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality, history

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
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
I had come across N.T. Wright and this book on a friend's page on Goodreads. After reading a little about this book, I decided to take a chance on it. I'm very glad that I did because this is one of the most illuminating books on the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) that I have ever read. Mr. Wright's overall thesis is that, over the centuries, the Western Church has lost the overarching theme of all the gospel accounts: that Israel's God had returned to Earth in the person of Jesus Chris ...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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41 likes · 12 comments
“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?” 8 likes
“When 'biblical' theologies ignore the gospels, something is clearly very wrong." (on atonement theories)” 8 likes
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