Calling on a lifetime of study of Jesus and the New Testament, leading scholar and bishop N.T. Wright offers a new perspective into this historical figure 2000 years after his death. In his new book Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (HarperOne; November 2011; $24.99; hardcover), Wright makes the startling claim that Jesus’s story has been mistold and misunderstood, even by those who think they are Jesus’s most ardent defenders.

For centuries, Christians have hidden behind other questions and avoided the huge, world-shaking challenge of Jesus’s central claim and achievement. As a result, the kingdom of God has been reduced to private piety, the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience, and Easter to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus himself, asserts Wright.

By deftly getting inside the Gospels and exploring Jesus’s public career, his accomplishments, his death, resurrection and ascension, and the meaning of those events, Wright discovers a Jesus who is larger, more disturbing, and more urgent than we ever imagined.

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