Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 17:1 (Spring 2013)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels. By N. T. Wright. New York: Harper One, 2012, 304 pp., $25.99 cloth.

In this volume, Wright continues his extraordinary publishing record, and does so in his inimitable style. Wright possesses the rigorous academic training, the record of scholarly publication, and a flair for exciting communication, and thus is in a unique place to make substantive contributions to both the academy and the church. This particular book is a combination of biblical theology and gospel studies (the latter being well within Wright’s academic training). The basic thesis is simply elucidated in the title, namely that the gospels tell the story of How God Became King. Yet Wright’s approach is not as simple as his constructive proposal. In fact, he feels a great deal of deconstruction is necessary before he can proceed with proving his thesis. To this end, he spends three chapters in part one explaining the problem in general, four chapters in part two explaining the problem in particular, three chapters in part three arguing his thesis (in fact his entire constructive program occurs in chapters 9 and 10, only 78 pages), and one part/chapter applying his proposal.

Essentially, Wright demonstrates what went wrong in the church to miss the point of the gospels: “The gospels were all about God becoming king, but the creeds are focused on Jesus being God. It would be truly remarkable if one great truth of early Christian faith and life were actually to displace another, to displace it indeed so thoroughly that people forgot it even existed” (20). The bulk of the book is focused on the forgetting (1-174) rather than the truth forgotten (175-252).

In part one, Wright lays out the false choices that have plagued the church in relation to understanding the gospel and the gospels. In essence, he argues that most of orthodox and conservative Christianity has obsessed over a Pauline euangelion (e.g., incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection). Or, in the case of the early church, on proving the deity of Christ in a Greek philosophical context. As a result, the

early creeds, the reformation catechisms, and modern evangelicalism have missed the bulk of gospel material. This “missing middle” either ignores the so-called “life of Christ” or makes it one proof for his deity. This “death and resurrection” crowd is Wright’s primary target throughout but he makes sure to clarify that the liberal option is no option at all. That is, to choose the life of Jesus without his death and resurrection is an even greater injustice to the gospels. As a result, he is seeking an integrated, robust reading of the gospels that combines the c...

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