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The Revolution 8 (final): The revolution continues

Eighth (and last!) post on N.T. Wright, 2016. The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. London: SPCK.The previous post (The Revolution 7) in this series on Tom Wright's book is here.Introduction In Parts 1-3 of The day the revolution began Tom Wright has shown us that when Jesus died on Good Friday, something happened that made the world a different place. Early Christians saw his death as the ultimate victory over evil, the dawn of ‘the age to come’. The first sign of that difference came when Jesus was gloriously raised from the dead. With wickedness and suffering still pervasive, though, it felt and feels as if the ‘present age’ has yet to end. In the midst of this, the mission of Jesus’ followers is to work for the kingdom of God, announcing God’s amnesty to sinners wordwide. But a mission that promises only that the forgiven will go to heaven ignores Jesus’ claim to be launching the kingdom of God. Mission requires Jesus’ followers to be G…

The Revolution 7: What happened on Good Friday? Romans 3:21–26

What happened on Good Friday? Romans 3:21–26Seventh post on N.T. Wright, 2016. The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. London: SPCK.The day the revolution began is divided into four parts, and this post is an attempt to summarise much of the sixth chapter of Part Three. The previous post (The Revolution 6) in this series on Tom Wright's book is here.Wright returns here to Romans 3:21–26. He does so because, he says, it summarises a first-generation Christian interpretation of Jesus’ death. To quote his conclusion: Romans 3:21–26 ‘does not, then, focus on the point that most of us, including myself in earlier writings, have assumed. Paul is not simply offering a roundabout way of saying, “We sinned; God punished Jesus; we are forgiven.” He is saying, “We all committed idolatry, and sinned; God promised Abraham to save the world through Israel; Israel was faithless to that commission; but God has put forth the faithful Messiah, his own self-rev…

The Revolution 6: What happened on Good Friday? Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapters 1–8

Sixth post on N.T. Wright, 2016. The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. London: SPCK.The day the revolution began is divided into four parts, and this post is an attempt to summarise the fifth chapter, and bits of the sixth, of Part Three. This and the following chapter are the most complex chapters of the book, partly because Wright raises a number of issues early on, which the reader has to hold in memory for answers later; partly because (with good reason) Wright’s exposition does not follow the order of Paul’s presentation in Romans; and partly because, as is unavoidable with Romans, the argument is intricate. I recommend the interested reader not to rely on my summary in this and the following post, but to read what Wright has written.The previous post (The Revolution 5) in this series on Tom Wright's book is here.Wright sees Romans as ‘an extremely subtle and careful composition’ with four sections: chapters 1–4, 5–8, 9–11 and 12–16. B…

The Revolution 5: What happened on Good Friday? Paul’s letters

Fifth post on N.T. Wright, 2016. The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. London: SPCK.The day the revolution began is divided into four parts, and this post attempts to summarise the fourth chapter of Part Three. This is the second of four chapters in which Wright examines the New Testament texts—here Paul's letters other than Romans—to answer the question, What exactly happened on the first Good Friday?. The previous post (The Revolution 4) on Tom Wright's book is here.Paul's letters other than RomansWright's goal in this chapter is to make sense of the ‘bewildering range of imagery’ in these letters. Passages from them say in various ways two things that the early Christians had recognised:Humans were to be saved for the new creation, sharing in royal priestly work in the present world and in world to come.
That goal was attained by means of ‘the death of Jesus, through which the powers of sin and death were defeated’: ‘Jesus, r…

The Revolution 4: What happened on Good Friday? The witness of the Gospels

Fourth post on N.T. Wright, 2016. *The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion*. London: SPCK.
The day the revolution began is divided into four parts, and this post attempts to summarise the third chapter of Part Three. This is the first of four chapters in which Wright examines the New Testament texts—here the Gospels—to answer the question, What exactly happened on the first Good Friday? The question can be answered historically (what happened) or theologically (what it meant). But to get to a theological answer, Wright says, we have to go via the history. The previous post (The Revolution 3) on Tom Wright's book is here.

In the four Gospels the theological meaning of Jesus’ death is not found in abstract statements but in the way they narrate Jesus’ life and death. They agree that Jesus proclaimed God’s kingdom coming ‘on earth as in heaven’, by what he said, by his healings and exorcisms, and by his celebrations with ‘sinners’. In Jesus’ langu…

The Revolution 3: The Old Testament narrative and Jesus’ passover meal

Third post summarising N.T. Wright, 2016. The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. London: SPCK.The day the revolution began is divided into four parts, and this post attempts to summarise the first and second chapters of Part Three, where Wright looks at how the New Testament writers interpreted the Old Testament and at how, through the last supper, this interpretation reaches into the New Testament narrative itself. The previous post (The Revolution 2) on Tom Wright's book is here.

Continuing the Old Testament narrativePaul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3: ‘What I handed on to you at the beginning, you see, was what I received, namely this: “The Messiah died for our sins in accordance with the Bible…”.’ The way Paul introduces this strongly suggests that this was the universal proclamation of early Christians, and the words ‘in accordance with the Bible’ point us to early Christian interpretation of the Old Testament.

Looking back at the Old T…