Book Review – Luke for Everyone (Tom Wright)


Tom Wright has been churning out new volumes of the “For Everyone” series at an impressive rate. The series features his own translation of the New Testament, broken into chunks of around 10 verses followed by a page or two of comments. The series is aimed at a broad readership, and most sections of comments are begun with an anecdote. Luke is covered in one relatively thick volume (about 300 pages). As usual key words are highlighted in bold, and defined in a glossary at the back.

The gospels are of course one of Wright’s acknowledged areas of expertise, and many of the themes he develops in “Jesus and the Victory of God” may be found in layman’s terms here. As you might expect, there are plenty of pieces of historical information to help us truly appreciate the culture of the day, and the impact that Jesus’ words would have had on his original audience.

Wright’s typical emphases on the Temple, Exodus and Exile can be detected throughout. He also may surprise new readers with his interpretation of the parables traditionally thought to be about the “second coming” and the “end times”. In Wright’s view, they describe the destruction of the temple in AD70 and the vindication that this event brought to Jesus, although they are not without contemporary relevance.

This is not however a merely academic analysis brought to a wider audience. The comments often encourage practical response and application as well as encourage Christians to think more deeply about how their faith should be put into action. The book ends with some themes from Wright’s “Resurrection of the Son of God”, describing what the Christian understanding of the significance and future hope or resurrection is all about.

This book will prove useful to those wanting a fresh look at the gospel of Luke from an evangelical historian’s perspective. It’s format lends itself to being used for daily devotions. It will get you thinking again about the meaning of Jesus’ parables, and brings a deeper understanding of the significance of Jesus’ message. Throughout it respects Luke as a first class historian in his own right, and seeks to interpret the way he has organised the material in the gospel.

4 thoughts on “Book Review – Luke for Everyone (Tom Wright)

  1. Hi Mark

    Given your various reviews of Tom Wright’s work, you might find the following article (warning: it’s very long!) of interest (it came from the website of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals at http://www.alliancenet.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID307086|CHID560462|CIID1660662,00.html). I found this article helpful for orienting myself towards the New Perspective on Paul, and it helped me see why I feel uncomfortable with some of Tom Wright’s views, particularly the way they leave one with the impression that the Gospel is a lot less clear and certain than you once thought it was (if the Reformers got justification so wrong, can one still have faith in the Gospel they preached, or does one now need to be an academically-trained New Testament scholar and a member of mensa to have a correct understanding of the Gospel?)

    I was also interested in your comments on the restoration movement, which does – taken as a whole – seem to have lost its original impetus and sense of direction (New Frontiers strikes me as one of the relatively few strands of the movement that still adheres to a biblically-based vision of “restoring the church” and is robust enough to stand a chance of surviving in an increasingly pagan society).

    Personally, I think the movement has, in general, lost many of the important strengths that were (in large part) bequeathed to it by Arthur Wallis: a stress on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, a ‘Kingdom Gospel’ that emphasised the Lordship of Christ, a desire for a church that trully expressed the priesthood of all believers, and a biblically-grounded passion for a worldwide revival/awakening that would impact society as well as the church.

    I think the reasons for this loss can be traced to a wide spectrum of factors, which reflect the variety of ways in which our fallen (even if redeemed) humanity is prone to failure and sin: the legalistic practices and over-emphasis on human authority that came with ‘heavy-shepherding’; an arrogant triumphalism that thought revival was ours to command; thinking that we were the only ‘new thing’ God was doing and that other Evangelicals (living or dead) couldn’t teach us anything that we didn’t already know; a lack of theological depth that made us liable to embrace a variety of superficial, but enticing ‘cure-all’ fads (e.g. territorial spiritual warfare, the necessity and effectiveness of ‘deliverance’ for every problem in life, faith-guaranteed health & prosperity, marketing-reliant church growth techniques and, more recently, post-evangelical neo-monasticism/ritualism); an over-weening desire for ‘relevance’ and ‘acceptance’ with contemporary society that leads to compromise on biblical standards; a failure to effectively disciple believers so that they reflect the character of Christ, develop a mature ‘Christian mind’ that can apply scripture to all the aspects of life, and are enabled to live out the Christian life in whatever context they find themselves; the upset and loss of trust caused by the moral collapse/failings of some who were once leaders in the movement; and the cynicism that can be produced by observing/experiencing all the above, particularly amongst idealistic types like me!

    However, I remain a firmly committed “restorationist” (although I hope my study of the bible and experiences over the last 20 years have given me a more mature understanding of what “restoration” means and how it can be accomplished), and I still believe that God has better things ahead for his Church. Like Schaeffer back in the 1980s, I’m pessimistic about the short-term, but optimistic about the long-term. Despite everything, God’s promise to build His Church remains as firm as ever – and I pray that our generation of believers will keep the faith in that promise alive.

    Ephesians 4:11-16:
    “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

    [Editor’s Note – I have removed the article from the comment as it was very long, and was truncated. Its an interesting article though – follow the link above to read it]

  2. I am not actually an adherent to the “New Perspective”, but I do believe that Wright has some valuable contributions to make nevertheless.

    I’m interested that you describe yourself as a firmly committed restorationist. Not many use the term now. Do you mind me asking what church you attend?

    You also have some really good insights into what’s been lost, and why.

  3. I was interested to note the comment as follows:

    “lost many of the important strengths that were (in large part) bequeathed to it by Arthur Wallis”.

    I’ve found recently quite a few comments and notes that Arthur Wallis actually picked up a huge amount of his passion for restoration and the “bigger picture” from Ern Baxter. The two men spent a lot of time together and Arthur Wallis went and visited Ern a great deal in the USA.

    I couldn’t agree more that the movement has lost strengths, and I think in places that is due to being distracted by other influences – especially in the New Frontiers sphere. For example John Wimber, and also the cell movement. While these were good and exciting, they distracted from the Kingdom restoration perspective.

    That is where my passion for bringing Ern Baxter’s teaching off dusty audiotapes and onto print comes!! If he was so influential for Arthur Wallis, then surely he needs to still be read.

    Great to see that comment.

    D x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.