Reading Project: The Resurrection of the Son of God
If you’re anything like me, you tend to accumulate books far beyond your capacity to read them. In my case, these books tend to migrate from the nice brown Chapters box (always so exciting to see these boxes arrive!) to the coffee table in our living room (where they are daily in plain view, crying out: “read me”) to a pile of books on another table in the living room (a pile in which they steadily descend to the bottom over a period of weeks), to my office where they sit on the side of my desk where my “really should have a look at this” file is located, to the top shelf of my desk (in order to make room for other things I really should have a look at), and finally to my bookshelf, their final resting place, where they sit side by side with any number of other books which have undertaken the same sad journey. It’s kind of pathetic.
One of the books that has made this pilgrimage of neglect is N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. I got this book as a gift from my wife two Christmases ago, right after I had completed a course at Regent called “The Life of Jesus” with Prof. Rikk Watts (brilliant teacher, difficult but rewarding course!). The main text for this course was Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God which (among other things) locates Jesus very much within a first-century Jewish context, as first and foremost the (strange and unexpected) fulfillment of the hope of Israel. It was a really good book—it challenged a lot of my conceptions about who Jesus was, and trained me to always ask how Jesus would have been understood and received in his own context before moving on to how he might address ours.
The Resurrection of the Son of God is part three of what I think Wright intends to be a six volume series on the identity of Jesus and the story of Christian origins, (The New Testament and the People of God is part one; I read parts of this one in Watts’ class as well). It’s an amazingly ambitious project—the first three books are each upwards of 500 pages of densely footnoted, exhaustively researched text.
Anyway, I had every intention of reading this book when I first got it, but thesis work kind of took over and because it wasn’t really related to my topic, it fell by the wayside. After I was done my thesis, it was time to pack up and leave Vancouver—not a great time for heavy reading. And since we’ve been here in Nanaimo? Well, I just flat out haven’t got around to it (I always assumed being a pastor would be the portal into a carefree life of leisurely and uninterrupted reading and contemplation… Alas.).
Well, enough with the excuses! I have decided that now is the time to tackle this book (we’re still close enough to New Years for resolutions, right?). I’ve set Good Friday as the completion target (it is, after all, a book on the resurrection). The math works out like this: 738 pages ÷ 90 days = just over 8 pages/day, or around 60 pages/week. Entirely doable, I think. It is a big book and the subject material is dense, but I expect it will be a rewarding book as well. Wright is one of the more compelling voices out there on questions of the historical Jesus and Christian origins—one well worth reading.
So, if there’s anyone out there who has the book and hasn’t read it (a rather small demographic, I suspect) or would like to re-read it, feel free to join me on this pre-Easter reading project. I intend to blog about it a little as I go, so you can participate in that way too if you’d like. I think that the question of the historicity of the resurrection is among the more important ones out there from a Christian perspective, and a flat-out interesting one from any perspective. I’m looking forward to an intriguing and informative 90 days.