by MADALYN JOHNSON, Asst. A&E Editor
“The Challenge of Jesus” is a book written by New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright who unravels his opinions towards how historians have been analyzing the historical quest of Jesus incorrectly.
Wright descriptively explains three main concerns he has for the postmodern world regarding their education about Jesus’ life and mission. One is about the historical integrity of Jesus (repeatedly informing readers that just saying Jesus or Christ does not make us have a closer relationship with God), another finding a definite Christian discipleship in the past that resembles the true Jesus and finally the responsibility to make the next generation comprehend and think about Jesus’ life deeply. Wright expands on this last point by emphasizing to readers that there is a misleading label of postmodernity and that it desperately needs to be fixed.
As a college student who wouldn’t consider myself very religious, despite being raised Roman Catholic and attending CCD classes up until going to a Catholic private high school, I still, nevertheless, enjoyed reading this book and learning more about the curiosity that is circulated around Jesus’ life.
The author really sold me on the importance of the modern world and postmodern world to have not only a connection with Jesus but an eagerness to learn more about him. Wright in his novel focuses on numerous topics to highlight the theme and message of his book, some including the vocation and self-understanding of Jesus, the different interpretations of terms such as “the kingdom of God”, “Resurrection” and “Messiah” amongst first-century Jews and the views of early Christians about Jesus. Even diving into the left and right sides of the political spectrum, Wright talks about the debate amongst liberals and conservatives concerning the history of faith and the significance behind Jesus’ messiahship and death. All this information Wright writes about and elaborates on through Gospel references and parable examples from the Bible ties into what Wright refers to as the biggest challenge, to rearticulate a re-installed worldview of the historical quest of Jesus.
Reading Wright’s short novel, I mostly understood where he was coming from when he summarized his emphasis on studying Jesus’ journey with a brief message about love. Wright explains that in order for the modern world to enforce the thinking of Jesus’ philosophy to future generations, we must simply love God. Furthermore, he reminds readers that we must articulate for the post-postmodern world the epistemology of love. Challenging his readers to find and discover a true representation of love in Christianity I thought was a clever way to influence the thinking of readers, specifically young readers.
Even just implying this book to the religious education curriculum, students are continuously taught about the stages of Jesus’ life but aren’t usually given a thorough explanation as to why they need to learn about his life. In “The Challenge of Jesus”, N.T. Wright does justice in explaining to students why they should do more exploring and research into Jesus’ lifetime and be the ones who influence future generations to do the same.