Vatican Library

The prophet Jesus reads from the Book of Isaiah in the Nazareth synagogue. This panel from an 11th-century manuscript, which once belonged to the Byzantine emperor Basil II, illustrates a passage in the Gospel of Luke: Jesus, after his baptism by John, returns to his hometown of Nazareth, where he visits the synagogue and reads from Isaiah 61:1–2a: “The spirit of the Lord…has sent me to proclaim release to the captives.” Jesus then sets down the book and says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16–30).

Jesus thought of himself as in the tradition of Israel’s earlier prophets, according to author N.T. Wright; Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah had promised that Israel would be released from exile and Yahweh would return to his people. In Jesus, however, Wright sees a figure whose message is not that a new kingdom will come, but that the new kingdom, embodied in Jesus himself, had already arrived—bringing the whole phase of biblical history to its climax.