The Resurrection of the Son of God | N. T. Wright

This book is a comprehensive treatment of the resurrection. In it, Wright plows through piles and piles of ancient literature, following every conceivable first-century resurrection idea. Furthermore, he handles modern and post-modern rejections of the resurrection with the calm logic of a trained historian. Wright’s main point in this book is this: nothing less than the bodily resurrection of Jesus could explain the rise of early Christianity.

This book is big. Here’s a summary of the main parts:

  1. Setting the Scene: Wright reviews the diverse afterlife beliefs of ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Jewish cultures. He takes special care to explore how Jewish views of the afterlife developed, from the Torah to second temple.
  2. Resurrection in Paul: Here Wright explores Paul’s views on resurrection, with specific attention paid to the key passages of 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10.
  3. Resurrection in Early Christianity (Apart from Paul): This section surveys the rest of the New Testament and onward through the Apostolic Fathers, and even the Nag Hammadi texts.
  4. The Story of Easter: Here is where Wright gets down to business. After evaluating the historical relevance of the Gospel of Peter, Wright analyzes the main emphases of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John with respect to the resurrection.
  5. Belief, Event and Meaning: This section reminded me of that part of the Lord of the Rings after the ring was destroyed: there was still some mopping up to do. Wright uses his massive argument to challenge inadequate modern deconstructions of the resurrection. In the end, the resurrection led the early church to believe that Jesus truly was (and is) the Son of God.

The scope of this book is staggering, but along with all of Wright’s writing, it’s quite readable and interesting. If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and would like an encyclopedic understanding of the resurrection, give this tome a try.

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