This book is one of the most significant contributions to resurrection studies of the modern era. It is the third installment of the series, Christian Origins and the Question of God, by N.T. Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham. Wright begins, as he usually does, by explaining his methodology and presuppositions. This discussion alerts the reader to the points Wright will be addressing and how he will set about evaluating them. The beginning, therefore, is a welcome feature because many scholars do not spare sufficient time to expressly discuss these issues. Next, Wright provides in-depth discussions of beliefs about the after life among ancient pagans, in the Old Testament, and in post-Biblical Judaism. Because few treatments on the resurrection provide this kind of research, I found this one of the most informative parts of the book. Wright convincingly shows that, despite possessing a variety of views on the after life, the ancient pagans simply did not have a belief comparable to bodily resurrection. Although Wright shares the opinion of many scholars that the Old Testament reveals little concern with the idea of life after death until its later books, he concludes that the later focus on resurrection is a natural extension of Israel's belief in the faithfulness of an all-powerful God. In post-Biblical Judaism, which became Second-Temple Judaism by the time of Jesus, Wright demonstrates that despite a variety of Jewish beliefs about the after-life, the most common and vital was that of bodily resurrection. After discussing the variety of after-life beliefs in the ancient world, Wright begins focusing on early Christian beliefs. Beginning with Paul, he explores in detail Paul's beliefs about the resurrection in his letters and as related to his conversion. Wright is a Pauline specialist and his familiarity with the subject is revealed over these three chapters, bringing out excellent points in passage-by-passage discussions. Thereafter, Wright moves through the Gospels and then the rest of the New Testament, exploring the kind of resurrection belief they articulate and how they fit into the broader context of after-life beliefs of the time. And although you might think Wright would stop here, he proceeds to discuss the resurrection views of later Christian writers from 1 Clement and Ignatius, through the Apocrypha, the Apologists such as Justin Martyr and Theophilus, early Syrian Christianity, and finally the Gnostic texts. The value of Wright's exploration of early Christian resurrection belief goes beyond providing excellent exegesis for its own sake. Wright shows that, in contrast to the varied understanding of after-life belief in paganism and even in Judaism, early Christians attached themselves solidly to one point of the Jewish scale of after-life belief: bodily resurrection. But, as Wright points out, early Christian belief about the resurrection redefined many Jewish points in ways not anticipated therein and which did not develop within Judaism thereafter. These include 1) the splitting of the resurrection into two, with Jesus resurrected as the "first fruits" and the general resurrection to come later; 2) that Jesus' resurrection somehow inaugurated the Kingdom of God but without a corresponding temporal authority; 3) that the resurrected Jesus was the messiah despite the fact that resurrection was not previously believed to be evidence of being the messiah; and 4) that the resurrected Jesus was the messiah despite being killed by pagan authorities. Other messianic claimants who were killed by the pagans were abandoned by their followers. It is not until page 587 that Wright truly dives into the question of the resurrection of Jesus and history. Taking all that he has explored until now, Wright moves through the resurrection narratives with an informed historian's eye. He provides valuable discussions of the origins of the resurrection narratives, as well as gospel-by-gospel discussions of the resurrection that brings out the contributions of each narrative to the study. Wright explores marks of historicity, such as the lack of "biblical adornment" that are more common in the Passion Narratives and the presence of women as important witnesses. Finally, after presenting us with so much information and analysis, Wright assesses the central question of the best explanation for all of the evidence he has considered. He presents it in seven steps: 1. Second-Temple Judaism supplied the concept of the resurrection, but the early Christian view of it mutated it in ways that cannot be explained as a spontaneous development of Jewish thought. The consistent early Christian answer explaining these mutations is that they were prompted by Jesus' tomb being empty and his resurrection appearances. 2. Neither the empty tomb standing along nor the resurrection appearances standing alone would have been sufficient to generate the early Christian belief in the resurrection. The empty tomb might be a mystery, but it would be a sad one. The resurrection appearances would be dismissed or classified as visions or hallucinations. 3. The empty tomb and the resurrection appearances taken together would explain the emergence of the early Christian belief in the resurrection. 4. Second-Temple Judaism's definition of resurrection makes it impossible to conceive of that belief emerging without the body literally having gone missing and that person being found alive again after death. 5. The other explanations offered by early Christian opponents and later academics are insufficient to explain the early Christian belief in the resurrection. 6. In light of 1-5, it is highly probable that Jesus' tomb was found empty on the third day and his disciples did encounter Jesus again as being really alive. 7. The best explanation for the early Christian belief in the empty tomb and having experienced Jesus alive and well again is that he was indeed bodily resurrected from the dead. Wright spends the rest of the book elaborating on these points, especially point 7. I find him convincing in most of his argument. However, while I agree with him that the early Christian belief in the empty tomb is valuable evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I am not as sure that the kinds of resurrection appearances reported in the Gospels would not be a sufficient cause for belief in Jesus' resurrection, so long as Jesus' body was indeed missing. Since this adds even more credence to the empty tomb accounts, the difference is not significant and circles back into belief in the empty tomb. In summary, Wright's work is a masterpiece of research and analysis. To those interested in ancient beliefs about the after life in general and the resurrection of Jesus in particular, this book is indispensable.