Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The   Resurrection, and The Mission of the Church  -     By: N.T. Wright
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Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and The Mission of the Church

HarperOne / 2008 / Hardcover

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2009 Christianity Today Book Award of Merit in Theology and Ethics

"If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?" Christians for many years have been asking this question. As award-winning author N.T. Wright points out however, the answer isn't heaven. In Surprised by Hope, Wright, one of today's premier Bible scholars, asserts that Christianity's most distinctive idea is bodily resurrection. He provides a magisterial defense for a literal resurrection of Jesus and shows how this became the cornerstone for the Christian community's hope in the bodily resurrection of all people at the end of the age. Wright then explores our expectation of "new heavens and a new earth," revealing what happens to the dead until then and what will happen with the "second coming" of Jesus. For many, including many Christians, all this will come as a great surprise.

Wright convincingly argues that what we believe about life after death directly affects what we believe about life before death. For if God intends to renew the whole creation---and if this has already begun in Jesus's resurrection---the church cannot stop at "saving souls," but must anticipate the eventual renewal by working for God's kingdom in the wider world, bringing healing and hope in the present life.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 332
Vendor: HarperOne
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 9 X 6 (inches)
ISBN: 0061551821
ISBN-13: 9780061551826
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

For years Christians have been asking, "If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?" It turns out that many believers have been giving the wrong answer. It is not heaven.

Award-winning author N. T. Wright outlines the present confusion about a Christian's future hope and shows how it is deeply intertwined with how we live today. Wright, who is one of today's premier Bible scholars, asserts that Christianity's most distinctive idea is bodily resurrection. He provides a magisterial defense for a literal resurrection of Jesus and shows how this became the cornerstone for the Christian community's hope in the bodily resurrection of all people at the end of the age. Wright then explores our expectation of "new heavens and a new earth," revealing what happens to the dead until then and what will happen with the "second coming" of Jesus. For many, including many Christians, all this will come as a great surprise.

Wright convincingly argues that what we believe about life after death directly affects what we believe about life before death. For if God intends to renew the whole creation—and if this has already begun in Jesus's resurrection—the church cannot stop at "saving souls" but must anticipate the eventual renewal by working for God's kingdom in the wider world, bringing healing and hope in the present life.

Lively and accessible, this book will surprise and excite all who are interested in the meaning of life, not only after death but before it.

Author Bio

N. T. Wright is the former bishop of Durham in the Church of England and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now severing 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, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air. Wright is the award-winning author of The Case for the Psalms, How God Became King, Simply Jesus, After You Believe, Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, Scripture and the Authority of God, and The Meaning of Jesus (coauthored with Marcus Borg), as well as translator for The Kingdom New Testament.

Publisher's Weekly

Wright, one of the greatest, and certainly most prolific, Bible scholars in the world, will touch a nerve with this book. What happens when we die? How should we think about heaven, hell, purgatory and eternal life? Wright critiques the views of heaven that have become regnant in Western culture, especially the assumption of the continuance of the soul after death in a sort of blissful non-bodily existence. This is simply not Christian teaching, Wright insists. The New Testament's clear witness is to the resurrection of the body, not the migration of the soul. And not right away, but only when Jesus returns in judgment and glory. The "paradise," the experience of being "with Christ" spoken of occasionally in the scriptures, is a period of waiting for this return. But Christian teaching of life after death should really be an emphasis on "life after life after death"—the resurrection of the body, which is also the ground for all faithful political action, as the last part of this book argues. Wright's prose is as accessible as it is learned—an increasingly rare combination. No one can doubt his erudition or the greatness of the churchmanship of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. One wonders, however, at the regular citation of his own previous work. And no other scholar can get away so cleanly with continuing to propagate the "hellenization thesis," by which the early church is eventually polluted by contaminating Greek philosophical influence. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

“This book is N.T. Wright at his finest.”
A crystal-clear, powerful course-correction for all of us--Christian or otherwise. If you want to know what Easter is about, get yourself a copy of Surprised by Hope and hunker down for the read of a lifetime....literally.
His conclusions are both simple and world-shaking
This book will be widely read because it stirs together Scripture, tradition, art and world affairs with pleasing metaphors and public courage.
“Wright’s unwavering faith in the resurrection is quite evident as he defends the Easter narratives on historical and theological grounds.”
“N.T. Wright can write. . . when it comes to questions of Christ’s resurrection and what that means, no one is more persuasive. Wright’s new book, Surprised by Hope, builds on C.S. Lewis’ succinct defense of the faith and takes it to a new level.”
“In calling Christians to an epistemology of love and a re-emphasis of the Easter season, Wright knocked it out of the park.”

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Displaying items 1-5 of 10
Page 1 of 2 12 Next
  1. Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Wright writes another wonderful book!
    January 18, 2014
    Joelynn
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book is a wonderful tool to help individuals understand the true hope of the Christian faith. There are so many misconceptions ( I think) out there that need to be examined. Wright always seems to give a fresh and honest reflection of Christianity. I think this book shows that our greatest hope is in the resurrection of the dead and the new creation, an all too often overlooked idea that is definitely present in scripture. In fact, it is at the root of it! Christ came to usher in the Kingdom of God, and we need to realize we have access to that Kingdom now and one day we will be risen with the living Lord! Great read!
  2. Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Fantastic Book on Easter and the Resurrection
    March 28, 2013
    oldmanchubb
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    N.T. Wright is one of the premiere scholars in the world today and it's astonishing how many books he has published. What's even more profound is that while many of these are written for the lay-person, they are still obviously well researched and well thought out. While he's not without controversy (as is with any scholar who tries to bridge the gap between the academia and the "regular" world), I would fully recommend that as many Christians read as much of his writings as is possible.

    Surprised by Hope would be a very good introduction to Wright. The sub-title reads "Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church" and this is as succinct of an outline as possible in regards to the topics covered in this book. Basically Wright sets out to correct the weird cultural misunderstandings that most Christians bring into the discussion regarding our faith in Jesus and what that means for heaven, the after-life, resurrection and the mission of the global church. One of his on-going ideas is that it's not about going to heaven after you die, but about having life after life after death - that there is a final resurrection where heaven comes down to earth and transforms it. All of this is understood through the resurrection of Christ - that he is the first-fruit of this final resurrection. The post-resurrection stories of Christ present him in his glorified bodily state and this involves a physical reality that has been transformed.

    This is an incredibly fascinating read and he covers so much ground in this work. While it is written at the popular level, you cannot just breeze through it. This is heavy material and we need to take our time with it. I would highly recommend this work to anyone interested in Wright as well as anyone who wants to understand what the Biblical picture is in regards after-life issues. Most of my critiques are fairly minor - I do wish that the footnotes were at the bottom instead of an index (although I realize that is a personal opinion and may have been an editorial decision). It would have also been nice to have more of the Scriptural texts actually written out instead of just referenced (again, it's a personal preference and showcases my laziness to read this alongside the Bible). I do wish he had talked more about differing views of soul-sleep, hell etc but I do realize that this is not a systematic textbook and there are plenty of these on the market place.
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    June 16, 2010
    Tim Rogers
    I think it is one of the best books on our hope in Christ that I have ever read. As a matter of fact I have read none that compare. I would encourage any believer to read and pray through this book. The resurrection should be the center piece of our faith and Wright provides ample Biblical reasons to live out this truth.
  4. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    April 24, 2009
    Rick Shipley
    As one would expect, Tom Wright is a bastion of orthodoxy as he cuts through the cultural additions made over the centuries and brings out the true "faith of our fathers" concerning "life after life." Wright's style is one of both academic brilliance and a fatherly spiritual mentor as he methodically works through the epistemological and historical issues to illuminate an orthodox Christian view of death and life after death. Readers will be able to relate well to his discussions about how non-Christian, even pagan beliefs, have infiltrated Christian thought. Indeed a strong defense of orthodox Christian belief in a literal bodily resurrection (of Jesus and believers) and how this belief should drive us to embrace a hope that mimics Christ's downward mobility toward humanity by loving and serving others. This book should energize the church to "love our neighbor as ourselves" in this life, love and appreciate God's "good creation," and find a balance between "saving souls" and "serving souls."
  5. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    January 10, 2009
    Red
    This book does a great job of undoing the mess of theology we have made in the US. I'd note to one of the other reviewers that one of Wright's points is specifically that our faith has been twisted to focus too much on our "individual" destinies. Once you are alive in Christ, a whole world of life opens up, including life in faith community.
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