Book Review: Jesus Through the Old Testament

Pages: 6 (2254 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] In His short time on this earth he studied it more effectively and with more understanding than anyone before or since."[footnoteRef:11] This statement coming from professor in John Calvin's tradition is high praise indeed. To some degree, these endorsements (even with the quibbles attached) across denominational lines demonstrate what I call the "broad church Anglican" appeal of Wright's book. [10: Paul Alexander, "Book Review: Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament." IX Marks, http://www.alliancenet.org/CC/article/0,,PTID314526_CHID598026_CIID2438290,00.html (accessed 15 April 2011).] [11: David Murray, "Jesus never read the New Testament." The Gospel Coalition, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2010/04/21/jesus-never-read-the-new-testament / (accessed 15 April 2011).]

It would be possible to go into any one of Wright's themes in greater depth -- for example, the 2010 study Jesus Our Priest: A Christian Approach to the Priesthood of Jesus by Father Gerald O'Collins, S.J., and Michael Keenan Jones (Roman Catholics, and thus doctrinally close enough to Anglicans) concentrates on Christ's spiritual mission and priesthood as it is set out in the Old Testament. They operate along the same basic principles as Wright, and characterize all of Christ's "public ministry…as priestly" [footnoteRef:12](then explore the Levitical priesthood and its scriptural depiction in depth. Wright treats this subject in passing, but it is not his sole subject nor his primary concern. He writes memorably on the subject, noting [12: O'Collins, Gerald and Jones, Michael Keenan. Jesus Our Preist: A Christian Approach to the Priesthood of Christ. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.]

To be 'in Christ' was to be 'in Abraham', and therefore to share in the inheritance of God's people. And that inheritance now far transcended the national territory, and included rather all the blessings and responsibilities of the fellowship of God's people. He was the Passover lamb protecting God's people from his wrath. His death and resurrection had achieved a new exodus. He was the mediator of a new covenant. His sacrificial death and risen life fulfilled and surpassed all that were signified in the tabernacle, the sacrifices and the priesthood. He was the temple not made with hands, indeed he was Mount Zion itself, as the focus of the name and presence of God. He was the son of David, but his Messianic kingship was concealed behind the basin and towel of servanthood and the necessity of obedience unto death.[footnoteRef:13] [13: Wright, 74-5.]

But at the same time, this is just a small area of Wright's focus: I found O'Collins and Jones to be a fascinating study of one neglected aspect of Jesus' fulfillment of the Old Testament, and while Wright does not neglect the topic entirely he also has a lot of ground to cover.

Wright by contrast has written this book for ease of use, especially for readers who are looking for a way to preach the Old Testament but do not feel confident with discussing how it relates to Christ's message. To this degree, it is a remarkable success: Wright comes up with an approachable and readable work which deals seriously with the subject of Old Testament hermeneutics. But it is also an uncontentious and clear-eyed call to attend more carefully to Christ's own message as defined in works that he read himself. Wright finds a message in this, noting

Yet it is clear that in his own lifetime he did not complete the task entrusted to the Servant of bringing the law and justice of God to the nations. Is it not then surely the case that these are aspects of the mission which he has entrusted to his servant church, those, being 'in Christ' are commanded to carry forward 'all that he began to do and teach'?[footnoteRef:14] [14: Ibid., 180.]

If this book is an accurate guide, Christopher Wright is an excellent teacher, and he clearly teaches to carry forward Christ's message. His way of inviting the reader into the mind of Christ should be a model for anyone intending to preach from the Old Testament.

Bibliography

Alexander, Paul. "Book Review: Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament." IX Marks, http://www.alliancenet.org/CC/article/0,,PTID314526_CHID598026_CIID2438290,00.html (accessed 15 April 2011).

David Murray, "Jesus never read the New Testament." The Gospel Coalition, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2010/04/21/jesus-never-read-the-new-testament / (accessed 15 April 2011).

O'Collins, Gerald and Jones, Michael Keenan. Jesus Our Preist: A Christian Approach to the Priesthood of Christ. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Wright, Christopher J.H. 1992. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. [END OF PREVIEW]

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