Been listening to N.T. Wright during my commute, a series of four lectures he gave at, I think, Seattle Pacific University. He's one of the prominent scholars in the so-called third quest for the historical Jesus. Smart, smart man, but easy to listen to. In these lectures, Wright distills his central theses about the historical Jesus under four headings:
- Jesus and the Kingdom
- In which Wright discusses the nature of Jesus' message. Essentially, Jesus was a prophet announcing three things: the end of exile, the imminent defeat of evil, and the return of Yahweh to Zion.
- Jesus and the Cross
- In which the bishop explores Jesus' mission as the Jewish messiah. Among other things, he answers the question, "Did Jesus know He was the Messiah?" He talks primarily about Jesus' teaching method: action followed by interpretation through story.
- Jesus and God
- Wherein Tom the Good talks about Jesus the incarnate God. What did it mean that Jesus was God? Did He know it? Enlightening, I think, because of its focus on Jesus' place in the Jewish cosmology. And his discussion of the parables of the wicked tenants and the talents opened my eyes to something that was there all along: the stories are not (at least not primarily) about the departure of Jesus leaving us with gifts/talents, and his future return to see what we've done with them. It is about His coming to Israel, Yahweh's return to Zion, to see how Israel was faring with her vocation to be the light of the world. Hint: Not so hot.
- Jesus, the World's True Light
- Shattering lecture that addresses the natural question: "What do I do with this?" His thesis, in a nutshell, is that we are to be and do for the world what Jesus was and did for Israel. In other words, do things that prompt questions for which parables will be the right answer. Make sense? It will. Jesus calls us to a radical lifestyle, but it's not the radically saved paradigm that I heard about in my youth (and still hear from some quarters). One quick highlight: We are to be in prayer at the place(s) where the world is in pain.
You can get the goods at the N.T. Wright Page. You won't be sorry.