Story. Wright’s Perspective [Gospels as Story]

➡ Average Reading Time: 3 minutes

God's <abbr>EPIC</abbr> AdventureWright suggests that the writers of the Gospels collected useful and interesting material about Jesus and strung the material together in “what looks for all the world like a continuous narrative, a story.”[ref]N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 2), 15.[/ref]

In the Gospels, according to Wright, it was no surprise that Jesus told and retold the story of Israel as a part of his work.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 199.[/ref] He advances an argument in five stages: First, the announcement of the Kingdom by Jesus is best understood as evoking the story of Israel and her identity. Second, the story summoned Israel to follow Jesus in a new way of being the true people of God. Third, the story included a climactic ending. There would be judgment and vindication. Fourth, the story generated a new structure for Israel which put Jesus in conflict with others who had alternative agendas. Fifth, the retelling of the story included a battle behind the rival agenda conflicts in which a real enemy was being faced.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 200.[/ref] Wright seems to see the Gospels as the collection of stories about Jesus within a Story of Jesus.

Wright works out his theology within the framework of critical realism.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 35.[/ref] In footnote 12 on page 35 Wright makes the following suggestion for clarity:

We should perhaps note that the adjective “critical” in the phrase “critical realism” has a different function to the same adjective in the phrase “critical reason,” In the latter (as e.g. in Kant) it is active: “reason that provides a critique.” In the former, it is passive: “realism subject to critique.” Critical realism “is a way of describing the process of ‘knowing’ that acknowledges the reality of the thing known, as something other than the knower (hence ‘realism’), while also fully acknowledging that the only access we have to this reality lies along the spiraling path of appropriate dialogue or conversation between the knower and the thing known (hence ‘critical’).

In the first of his proposed six-volume project on the subject “Christian Origins and the Question of God,” which is The New Testament and the People of God, Wright sees Story as an important ingredient in understanding the larger Story presented in the New Testament. He says:

The New Testament, I suggest, must be read so as to be understood, read within appropriate context, within an acoustic which will allow its full overtones to be heard. It must be read with as little distortion as possible, and with as much sensitivity as possible to its different levels of meaning. It must be read so that the stories, and the Story which it tells, can be heard as stories, not as rambling ways of declaring unstoried “ideas’. It must be read without the assumption that we already know what it is going to say, and without the arrogance that assumes that ‘we’—whichever group that might be—already have ancestral rights over this or that passage, book, or writer. And for full appropriateness, it must be read in such a way as to set in motion the drama which it suggests.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 6.[/ref]

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Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)