Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament

Christopher Wright is a prolific scholar and an author who was born in Northern Ireland. Wright is the author of the book titled “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament”. Wright obtained a doctorate from the University of Cambridge, where he did Old Testament Ethics. Since then, Wright has taught in Union Gospel Seminary in India for five years before returning to All Nations Christian College in England in 1993. Christopher Wright is currently the director of the Langham Partnership International famously know as John Stott Ministries in the USA. Moreover, Wright is an ordained Anglican priest and serves as a staff in All Souls Church, Langham, England. In his book, it is evident that Christopher Wright takes the audience through the precepts evident in the Old Testament and shows how it speaks to a person and divinity of Jesus Christ.

Christopher Wright outlines the ideas that Jesus was not only a Jew, but also reveals that every aspect of His life was related to the Old Testament. It is not a wonder that Wright would pinpoint the biblical connection to the Old Testament being a Bible scholar with a strong background in Anglican Church. Wright’s Anglican background has strongly enforced the essence of viewing the Bible as a whole. Moreover, Wright’s profound understanding of the Old Testament ethics is apparent in the book and offers him a distinctive perspective to the subject of the Old Testament and Jesus, especially the last chapter that deals with values.

Christopher Wright’s main idea in the book reveals a deeper understanding of the Old Testament that enables the reader to gain an in-depth understanding of the purpose of Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal of the Wright’s book is to reveal that Jesus Christ knew, expanded upon, and fulfilled the promises and covenant outlined in the Old Testament. In the preface of the book, Wright explicitly outlines that the Old Testament was more than a collection of historical writings about Jesus, but it was His story, life and songs. In the first two chapters, Wright connects Jesus to both the Old Testament promise and story. The first chapters lay a strong foundation that reveals that without the Old Testament, one cannot know or understand Jesus Christ. Wright spends time connecting Jesus Christ to the Old Testament’s story by relating Jesus Christ to Abraham and David. Besides, Wright outlines the story of the Old Testament to the reader in order to show its relationship to Jesus in the Old Testament.

Wright spends most of the time striving to show the reader that all assurances in the Old Testament were achieved by Jesus. In the book, several promises are outlined for the reader and reveals how such promises find fulfillment in Jesus. The author’s particular perspective on the fulfillment of the prophecy is revealed in his dealing with the promises. In chapter three and four, Christopher Wright pinpoints the fact that the Old Testament mission, values and identity are found in Jesus Christ. He further explains the anticipations Israel had from its Messiah and how Jesus Christ never fit that idea. In chapter three and four, Wright asserts that Jesus Christ’s identity was formed in the Old Testament. Wright spends a lot of time explaining different titles used to refer to Jesus Christ and makes comparison to the Old Testament. The book further reveals how the Old Testament values are demonstrated through Jesus Christ. Christopher Wright main theological point in analyzing the Old Testament is to get an explicit understanding of Jesus and his purpose for the earth.

Analysis

The author analysis of the Bible begins with the character of Abraham and affirms that in order to understand Abraham, one needs to get a deeper understanding of the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. Wright points that it is in these chapters that the will of God intercedes and is clearly revealed to people. Abraham is revealed as the beginning of the answer posed on behalf of the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. Moreover, God’s plan to get back humanity into the right standing with Himself after the fall of man in Genesis 3 is evident. Wright affirms that the genealogy of Matthew is to take the Old Testament as a narrative, from David to Exile, Abraham to David and from Exile to Jesus. The importance of such verse is to divulge that Jesus Christ comes on the scene in the story of the Old Testament. Wright further points that Israel’s history was not to be observed as an inference in itself but for the benefit of all nations. In addition, the author points that Matthew was not merely striving to create stories that appeared to fit Jesus’ predictions, but he was indeed working from real events that had deeper meaning in the light of Jesus Christ’s life.

A great theological point that Christopher Wright makes in the book is that Jesus Christ as God’s son was to fulfill the mission that Israel had failed to fulfill. God’s will for the Israelites was making them missionaries who spread his word to the rest of the world. They were to be a light and God’s witness to other nations. However, due to disobedience, they were unable to fulfill their biblical obligation, which was later accomplished by Jesus Christ through obedience. Christopher Wright makes explicit relations that Israel as the first son of God failed to accomplish their duty. However, the second son (Jesus Christ) accomplished all that God wanted to achieve with Israelites. The author furthers makes a great reflection in his discussion of the difference between the promises and predictions. Wright notes that the prediction does not need anything out of the subject because it is about the subject. He further notes that promise requires commitment, response of acceptance and continuing levels of contentment. Wright shows that the main point is that God entered into a covenant with the Israel and eventually fulfilled the promises through Jesus Christ.

Christopher Wright spends a lot of time dwelling on the identity of Jesus and comparison to the Old Testament. It is important because of how Jesus Christ identified himself in relation to his mission. Wright reveals that after Jesus was baptized, He became aware of whom He was, and the mission was to undertake as the son of God. In-depth analysis of this section demands caution because it is one area where the author seems to champion the replacement of theology. The author’s idea depicts through the notion that the church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. This is problematic, because it creates a path for Deity to reject the priestly in the future of another person.

In the chapter that dwells on the mission of Jesus Christ, Wright analyzes the title of Jesus and the expectation that Jews had for Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Wright summarizes that Jews still to be on exile and still waits for the day when the Savior will liberate them from the Roman oppression. Dr. Antony Tomasino observes that Jesus Christ’s avoidance of using the Messianic title was done in order to avoid being misunderstood, a point that Wright focuses on when exploring the idea of the Messiah and the reasons why Jesus failed to use the title. Wright continues to show that Jesus used the title “Son of Man” in most instances. As a result, Wright argues that using this title, Jesus could define the title according to the true way that the Messiah was not supposed to be perceived in accordance to the expectations of the period.

The last chapter of the book focuses on Jesus and His values depicted in the Old Testament. In this chapter Wright makes his case that through conformity to the law of God, Jesus Christ will fulfill the promises outlined in the Old Testament and bring out the New Covenant. Moreover, Wright makes conclusion that Jesus Christ came to the world and gave a choice to everyone. His parables in the Bible make a stark comparison like, sheep or goats, wheat or weeds, rock or sand, wise or foolish, God or mammon. The author clinches that you either walk with him or walk away since there is no middle ground. This echoes the teaching from Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, where Moses through his speech wanted the Israelites to be obedient to God’s Teachings. According to Wright, Jesus is depicted as pleading the same through his parables in the New Testament.

There are two books from prominent authors that came out at the same time that also explores the teaching of the Old Testament. They include “Messiah in the Old Testament” by Walter Kaiser and “Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two” by Holwerda David. In-depth look at the David’s book, a close relationship with the Wright’s work is evident. Wright and David have agreed that Jesus Christ perceived Himself as the successor of Israel sonship. Moreover, they conquer that every prediction about future restoration of Israel needs to be fulfilled in the nation of Israel. In Kaiser’s book, the main points reveal that all passages that are messianic would essentially be for the reader of that time, and it is for today’s readers. In other words, there is no elucidation of the events that are essential because the reader and the writers of the Old Testament would have read these passages in the light of the Messiah. Kaiser’s ideas stand sharp contrast with the Wrights theological ideas. However, this review disagrees with the Kaiser’s ideology since it is doubtful that Genesis 3:15 would have been comprehended in this way both writers and readers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that Wright’s book offers the reader with a chance to comprehend the underlying concept in the Old Testament that related to Jesus Christ. Wright shows how deeper understanding of the Old Testament will permit an individual to view life and mission of Jesus from a new perspective. The review has shown that Jesus came to earth immersed in tradition and people. Jesus was a Jew, but came to fulfill the role that Israel failed to accomplish. Through obedience and conformity, all the promises outlined in the Old Testament were made complete. Wright makes the assertion clear and draws on the journey through the Old Testament. However, assertion indicating that Jesus had to read the Old Testament to understand who He was totally discounts his Deity. Wright’s suggestion that Jesus could not have known his mission and purpose aside from reading the scripture indicate that the author missed the concept of Jesus as the son of God. It is apparent that Jesus did not require reading the Old Testament in order to understand how to be a messiah. Although there are some points of disagreement with the Wright’s arguments, points of agreement are more prevalent.

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