When most twenty-first century westerners think of Jesus, they do not visualize the real Jesus who walked this earth two thousand years ago. According to Christopher J.H. Wright, Jesus has become a “photomontage composed of a random mixture of Gospel stories, topped up with whatever fashionable image of him is current cut off from the historical Jewish context of his own day, and from his deep roots in the Hebrew scriptures.”
In Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, Dr. Wright seeks to reconnect the modern individual with the genuine, historical Jesus. He makes a strong and convincing case that a deeper, more contextualized, picture of Jesus is essential.
An example of this problem, as Wright explains, is seen in 20th century western cinema. Through the movies, we have an image of a white-skinned, English-speaking, wise sage. Even though most viewers are consciously aware that Jesus never spoke English, this image has most assuredly worked its way into the modern psyche.
Professor Wright sees the first seventeen verses of Matthew as possibly the most important route in comprehending the heritage sources and persona of the historical Jesus. While numerous Christians breeze by, or absolutely disregard, Matthew's rendition of Jesus' genealogy, Wright contends that Matthew begun his Gospel with the genealogy for a reason. “In Jewish society,” states Wright, “genealogies were a significant way of setting up your right to pertains inside the community of God's people.”
Accordingly, Matthew's genealogy not only recognizes Jesus as the child of Abraham and David. It is furthermore positioning Jesus as the supreme fulfillment of the Old Testament story. Wright displays how Matthew's genealogy recognizes Jesus apparently as the Davidic Messiah, therefore retaining out pledge of Jewish liberation and ascendancy. Yet, as Wright observes, Matthew furthermore displays Jesus as the “son of Abraham,” which places Jesus as the supreme fulfillment of God's covenant with the large patriarch. This facet of Jesus' lineage was nearly absolutely lost on most first-century Jews, but was considerably applicable for doing well generations of Christians, particularly Gentile converts. “Taken together,” states Wright, “the Testaments record the history of God's keeping work for humanity.”
This “salvation history” facet of the Old Testament undoes a distracting argument into the environment of God and the method by which He keeps sinners. Wright rightly observes: “Not every individual enjoys the concept of one lone selected persons of God enjoying an exclusive history of salvation, as over contrary to all remainder of the countries who appear to get a rather poor deal on the whole.” Is God the “universal God of humanity” or a selective Deity that practices what is vitally cosmic discrimination?
Wright's “solution” to this is to re-focus the investigation of the Old Testament to God's primary reason as are against to His methodology. Specifically, God chose Israel to be a good thing to the other nations. Thus, God's relationship with Israel should be “seen as the pursuit of His unfinished enterprise with the ...