Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament
A great book
Wright takes the reader through the Old Testament and shows how it speaks to the person and deity of Jesus Christ. Wright develops the idea that Jesus was not only a Jew but that every aspect of his life was connected to the Old Testament.
WrightÃ¢ÂÂs main idea in the book is showing that a deep understanding of the Old Testament leads to a deeper understanding of Jesus. His whole point of the book is to show that Jesus knew, expanded upon, and fulfilled the Old Testament promises and covenant. In the preface of the book Wright clearly states that the Old Testament was more than just a collection of writings for Jesus, but it was his story, his songs, his life (ix). Wright in the first two chapters of his book connects Jesus to both the Old Testament story and the Old Testament promise. These first two chapters lay the foundation by showing that apart from the Old Testament one cannot know Jesus. Wright spends time connecting Jesus to the story told in the Old Testament by connecting Jesus to David and Abraham (5). WrightÃ¢ÂÂsÃ¢ÂÂ own particular view on fulfillment of prophecy comes out in his dealings with the promises. In chapters 3-4 Wright points to the facts that the Old Testament mission, identity, and values are found in Jesus. Wright explains the expectations that Israel had for its Messiah and how Jesus did not fit that idea (138-140). Another point that Wright makes in these chapters is that JesusÃ¢ÂÂ identity was formed in the Old Testament. He spends a great deal of time explaining the different titles of Jesus and making comparisons to the Old Testament. Wright also deals with how the Old Testament values are completed or demonstrated through Jesus. WrightÃ¢ÂÂs main theological point is that studying the Old Testament is to get a clearer picture of Jesus and all that he came to do.
WrightÃ¢ÂÂs analysis of the story so far starts with the character of Abraham and makes the point that in order to understand Abraham one must first understand the first eleven chapters of Genesis. His point is that it is in these eleven chapters that the need of God to intervene and make a people for himself is clearly seen (9).
A great theological point that Wright makes is that Jesus as GodÃ¢ÂÂs son was to fulfill where Israel had failed. GodÃ¢ÂÂs intention for Israel was that they would be a people that would live as missionaries to the rest of the world. They were to be the Ã¢ÂÂlightÃ¢ÂÂ to the nations and be GodÃ¢ÂÂs witnesses to who He was. Due to disobedience though they were unable to fulfill their obligation, but Jesus through obedience was able to accomplish (132). Wright makes the connection that the first son of God (Israel) failed in their duty but the second son (Jesus) was able to accomplish all that God had intended Israel to do and be.
Wright spends a great deal of time sifting through the identity of Jesus and comparing that to the Old Testament. It is significant because how Jesus identified himself shows how he related to his mission. Wright makes the point that after the baptism of Jesus He finally gets a clear picture of who He was when God calls Him His Son (106). As mentioned earlier there is a parallel here in that God called Israel His son. One must be careful here though because this is one area where Wright seems to be promoting replacement theology. The idea that the church has replaced Israel as GodÃ¢ÂÂs chosen people. The problem with this is that it opens the door for God to reject the church in the future for another people, so one should be cautious.
In the chapter dealing with the mission of Jesus Wright spends time going through the titles of Jesus and the expectations that Jews had for Jesus as Messiah. Wright summarizes that for many Jews the exile had not ended and that the Jews were waiting for the day when their savior would come and remove the oppression of the Romans from them (138).
In the final chapter Wright tackles Jesus and his Old Testament values. It is here that Wright makes his case that through the obedience to the law of God Jesus will fulfill the promise of the Old Testament and bring about the new covenant. It is here that Wright makes the conclusion that Jesus has come into this world and given a choice to all people. His parables make stark contrasts like: wheat or weeds, sheep or goats, wise or foolish, rock or sand, God or mammon. Wright concludes that either you walk with Him or you walk away; there is no middle ground (189). It is an echo of Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, where Moses has just given his final speech and the Israelites are about to enter the land of Canaan and Moses wants them to be obedient and live. Jesus is pleading the same case in his parables.
There have been many reviews of this book and one that stood out to this reviewer came from Paul Alexander
Wright is so solid with text and context that once he's done teaching us how to know
Jesus through the Old Testament, we're left identifying with him when he says
Jesus was not just an identikit figure pasted together from bits of the Old
Testament. He transcended and transformed the ancient modelsÃ¢ÂÂ¦so that for
His followers, what began as a shaft of recognition and understanding of Jesus
in light of their Scriptures, ended up as a deepening and surprising new
understanding of their Scriptures in light of Jesus. (p. 117, emph. orig.)
Alexander would agree with this reviewer that Wright brings the necessity for pastors to preach richer sermons that show the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is this audience in particular that this reviewer believes this book can serve the greatest purpose.
In conclusion, WrightÃ¢ÂÂs book offers the reader the opportunity to move from the Ã¢ÂÂmilk of the wordÃ¢ÂÂ to the meat. He shows how a greater understanding of the Old Testament will allow one to see the life and mission of Jesus in a whole new way. This review has shown that Jesus came to this earth steeped in a tradition and people. He was a Jew and not just a Jew but came to fulfill the role that Israel was to perform. Through His obedience all the Old Testament was fulfilled and made complete. Wright makes the points clear and draws the reader on an adventure through the Old Testament. Even though there were areas that this reviewer had disagreements with Wright, overall they were minor and agreements were more prevalent.
Alexander, Paul. 9 Marks. September-October 2008. http://www.9marks.org/books/book-review-knowing-jesus-through-old-testament (accessed September 21, 2010).
Theilman, Frank. "Jesus B.C. Three New Books Look at Jesus through the Old Testament." Christianity Today, 1996: 58-61.
Tomasino, Anthony. Judaism Before Jesus: The Events and Ideas that Shaped the New Testament World. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003.
Wright, Christopher J.H. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1992.
October 19, 2010
simply superb !!! Jesus is presented in the gospel writings as frequently explaining himself and his significance by appeal to the Hebrew scriptures, known as the 'Old Testament' to Christians. Therefore it is very important to understand Jesus by using the background he himself drew upon in explaining himself. This book is an absolute gem in doing just such a thing. It will inform the reader on both the nature of the overarching old testament 'story' with its interlocking themes, and at the same time, show how this background radiates through Jesus. This book does a tremendous job of expositing what Jesus was about, what he meant, what he was doing and who he was. A gold mine of intelligent, accurate and responsible writing. This book is a bit technical in a few places, but it serves a purpose; to understand Jesus accurately.
January 7, 2008