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How God Became King: Getting to the Heart of the Gospels

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,277 ratings  ·  243 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 ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by SPCK Publishing (first published 2012)
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Ben De Bono
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Crumm
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
B.J. Richardson
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.

May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Greg Miller
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Don Bryant
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...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 wasnt 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 cant read the Gospels ...more
Cat Caird
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.
Mel C
I especially appreciated Tom Wrights 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. ...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.
Andy Gore
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblical-studies
The central concern in Anglican scholar N.T. Wrights 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
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
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Lee Harmon
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
Michael Schmid
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gospels
In this book, N.T. Wrights thesis is that (Western) Christians have misread the gospels and missed the most important message that they want to communicate, namely the story of how God became king (p. x). According to Wright, the central doctrine of Christs atonement is actually not at all the main story of the gospels (p. 7). While many Christians focus on the gospel narratives of Christs birth, death, and resurrection, the larger parts of the gospels (the time between his birth and his death) ...more
Helton Duarte
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I comment about the book in a full blog post on Medium:
How God Became King by N. T. Wright
Nick Cady
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked his main point, which is that cross and kingdom are not opposed to one another - I.e. that creedal Christianity and social/political expressions of Christianity ought not be separated, but are inherently connected if one understands the Gospels correctly.
I also really appreciated his part about the 4 speakers, or messages of the Gospels about the significance of Jesus' life, and how it is necessary to 'adjust the volume', some needing to be turned up and others turned down.
I was
Jeff Miller
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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, ...more

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100 likes · 17 comments
“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?” 7 likes
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