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Surprised by Hope is broken down into three parts. In Part One, “Setting the Scene,” Wright addresses the confusion of heaven and God’s Kingdom. Many Christians, according to Wright, view heaven as the place you go when you die (p. 18). If this is what has been taught for many years, what could be the alternative? Wright argues that “the language of heaven in the New Testament doesn’t work that way. ‘God’s kingdom’ in the preaching of Jesus refers not to postmortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but to God’s sovereign rule coming ‘on earth as it is in heaven’” (p. 18).Wright turns his attention to the word “resurrection.” He explores the way ancient writers and thinkers have used the term. He writes: “The word resurrection in its Greek, Latin, or other equivalents was never used to mean life after death. Resurrection was used to denote new bodily life after whatever sort of life after death there might be” (p. 36). Resurrection meant bodies, yet modern writers have taken resurrection to be synonymous for “life after death” (p. 36). Wright then continues with the early Christian meaning of resurrection, even including seven mutations of the Jewish resurrection belief from which Christians derive their belief.

Discussing resurrection leads to the events of Easter; Wright highlights the features includes in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The features are: there is no use of Scripture to describe fulfillment of the resurrection Jesus, all gospels include women as the main witnesses to the resurrection, the writers all describe Jesus’ body as physically human yet having the ability to move through locked doors, and none of the gospels mention the future Christian hope part of their Easter a…

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…t addresses the mission of the Church, saying Christians do not only have a future hope, but a present hope. Jesus “was not saving souls for a disembodied eternity but rescuing people from the corruption and decay of the way the world presently is so they could enjoy, already in the present, that renewal of creation which is God’s ultimate purpose – and so they could thus become colleagues and partners in that larger project” (p. 192).The conclusion of the book suggests practical ways Christians should participate in building the kingdom of God. Essentially, he points out the active nature of waiting. This includes bringing justice to the fallen world, recognizing the beauty in creation and working to reserve it, and spreading the gospel message of Christ. Christians can do those things because of hope, more specifically, the “hope for life before death” (p. 231).

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