Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wright's Right: Between the Cradle and the Cross Matters Too

This is the problem. The church has often colluded with shallow, one-dimensional readings of the canon and shallow, one-dimensional readings of who Jesus really was. For many traditional Christians it would be quite enough if Jesus of Nazareth had been born of a virgin and died on a cross (and perhaps risen again). But this leaves us with the baffling question, Why then did he go about doing all those things in between? Why did the canonical Evangelists take the trouble to collect and record them? Merely to provide the back story for the cross-based theology of salvation? Merely to show what the incarnate Son of God looked like and got up to? Simply to demonstrate, by his powerful deeds, that he was the second person of the Trinity? Was he, at that point, simply a great ethical teacher (and if so, how does that relate to his saving death?)? Or was he living a sinless life in order that his sacrifice, when eventually offered, would be valid? All these have been proposed within "the tradition" as ways of filling the blanks left by the great traditional omission of what the Gospels are actually talking about, namely, the inauguration of God's kingdom.

N.T. Wright, "Whence and Whither Historical Jesus Studies in the Life of the Church?" in  Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright, eds. Nicholas Perrin; Richard B. Hays, (p. 131) Kindle Edition.

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