In the preface to his new book The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus, Michael Bird dedicates the book to N. T. Wright and recounts the significance of reading the following in Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God: “For many conservative theologians it would have been sufficient if Jesus had been born of a virgin (at any time in human history, and perhaps from any race), lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, and risen again three days later.” Bird goes on to write,
Reading those words felt like being slapped in the face with a very soggy fish. That was exactly how I read the Gospels. They beheld Jesus, the Lord of Glory, the propitiatory sacrifice of Paul’s theology, but they were just the hors d’oeuvres to Paul’s meaty theology of atonement and justification.1
Well, call this soggy-fishception, or slapception, because reading Bird’s account of feeling slapped in the face with a soggy fish slapped me hard in the face with a soggy fish. The Gospels as the hors d’oeuvres to Paul’s meaty theology of atonement and justification describes perfectly how I viewed the Gospels for the majority of my Christian life. Actually, I must confess that I am still trying to weed out this attitude. Prior to this year I was all about Paul, but this year I’ve focused my readings on Jesus and the Gospels. Check out the video below for the scoop on The Gospel of the Lord, straight from the Bird’s beak.
1. Michael F. Bird, The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), x.