This is the second post in a review series on Christopher Wright’s Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament from IVP-Academic. You can read the author introduction here, and I will post my personal reflections on the book shortly.
I want to start by saying that I jumped over the preface for some reason in my initial reading. As I read through the book though, I started thinking: this sounds a lot like John Goldingay (a very good thing in my opinion). So, I looked at the preface to see if Wright mentioned him. Sure enough, I found this:
I came across John Goldingay’s articles on ‘The Old Testament and Christian Faith: Jesus and the Old Testament in Matthew 1–5’ in Themelios 8.1–2, (1982-83). They provided an excellent framework, first for that course, and then, with his kind permission, for the broad structure of this book …
Around the same time that I started reading Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, I had started listening to some of Goldingay’s lectures available on iTunesU, where he references Wright’s work. So, if you like Goldingay, you may like Wright’s book too, though it’s by no means a given. I think this relationship is probably strongest in chapter one.
Wright divides the book into five chapters that are somewhat topical, though interconnected. In chapter one, he deals with Jesus and his relationship to the Old Testament story. He provides an overview of the primary and secondary histories, which might prove invaluable to some readers as a brief summary of the Old Testament story (pp. 9-27).
In chapter two, he deals with Jesus and his relationship to the Old Testament promises. Here he speaks in a particular way about the covenants made in the Old Testament, specifically the covenants with Noah, Abraham, the Israelites at Sinai, and David.
In chapter three, he deals with Jesus’s Old Testament identity. Here he primarily covers what “Son of God” means in an Old Testament perspective. Again, this chapter will be helpful to a number of readers who may not realize that “son of God” is thoroughly Old Testament language and has much more depth to it than many modern readers of the New Testament may realize.
In chapter four, he deals with Christ’s mission as servant of the Lord along with the Church’s mission in light of Christ’s mission. Finally, in chapter five, he deals with Jesus’s Old Testament values and how Jesus upholds the values of the Law, the Prophets, and the later writings. These last two chapters provide the reader with a wealth of insights related to the application in a modern context.
In all of this, I must agree with the blurb from V. Philips Long on the back cover:
This book is not a mere survey of OT Messianic proof-texts lifted out of context, nor is it an attempt to ‘find Jesus’ on every page of the OT by fanciful interpretations. Rather, it shows how Jesus himself and the NT writers understood and explained his identity, mission and significance in light of the whole of Hebrew Scriptures.
Stay tuned for the final post in which I provide my personal reflections on the book.