[Reading] ➸ The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion By N. T. Wright – Tactical-player.co.uk

The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion First off to explain my rating, it is a wonderful, albeit dense, read I have a feeling that this is an important book in the series of N T Wright s popular authorship e.g Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, How God Became King, among others Here he undertakes an ambitious attempt to weave various strands of his original expositions set out on numerous occasions into the very epicenter of our Christian faith The enormous emphasis he has vigorously and justifiably placed through his past publications on the so called Jewish contexts SURROUNDING the cross is here leveraged for the purpose of DIRECTLY illuminating the meaning of Jesus crucifixion I kind of consider this book as his delving into the very core of his own theological framework, where he examines all his previous enlightening arguments e.g the meaning of resurrection, ascension and new creation, human vocation and creation narrative, the Gospels accounts of God s kingship, Jesus representative substitution, the significance of Israel s rugged history, the unity of the Church, the role of the Spirit, heaven and earth interplay, among countless others against Christianity s overriding centrality of what happened on the six o clock of that Dark Friday And he discovers that it actually makes breathtaking sense within his theological framework the process of this discovery makes this book a fascinating read, especially for an avid reader of Wright as I am.Now that was a lengthy one paragraph comment to explain my five star rating I am actually writing the review in order to address the extreme polarity of ratings I currently observe Even given the small sample size of seven ratings at the moment of my writing, 57% five stars and 43% one stars with no in betweens certainly is not an ordinary pattern for any book, regardless of actual quality.I think it is due to the fact that in this book, Wright sounds overly confrontative with the traditional Protestant framework of understanding the crucifixion Throughout the gradual buildup of arguments in the early parts of the book, he harshly belabors how the criticisms of his dissenters are missing the point I understand his motivation since some people really will mount such oversimplified objections when he is at his crucial logical progression towards the climax But even though I m his fan, I still get the impression that he himself somehow repeatedly oversimplifies the traditional camp , especially Calvinist and Protestant formulations of Christian theology, that he differs with.Excluding those grossly distorted angry God in the sky sending people except some to hell theologies that Wright, AND the traditional campers, rightly criticize, I have always felt that the issue arises from the difference in approaches and emphases than from the degrees of theological validity Wright, on one hand, enriches our Christian understandings with the highly needed historicity of the good news in multifarious layers and scales, spanning from Israel s stories all the way up to the cosmic narratives of creation and new creation I think that in this book, he shows that this multilayered historicity of the good news truly culminates squarely in the cross, much to many skeptics relief The traditional Protestant perspectives, on the other hand, have had the philosophical underpinnings, addressing the fundamental relationship between the quintessentially human conditions and quintessentially divine providence that underlies the entire history It is true that the traditional frameworks have had to undergo numerous improvements and corrective adjustments, but that does not prove their ultimate inadequacy at all.I think the right theology has to possess both of these two pillars, covering the historical dimension of how the Bible weaves the story of God s initiatives in the world as well as the philosophical one of what it really means to us who are living in our own stories The former complements the latter by, as Wright always masterfully suggests it does, inviting us to live our stories as part of God s, while the latter complements the former by filling God s story with the praises of people whose stories are personally and yes, sometimes sentimentally overwhelmed with his infinitely profound grace They are mutually reinforcing, and definitely not at odds with each other.For example, let me talk about the highly contentious imputation theology I personally am sympathetic to Wright s assertion that it is a caricature of the real thing His alternative explanation of what it intends to convey seems to me to make natural sense in the broader narratives of the Bible I feel, however, that Wright s alternative somehow rids us of the feeling of overwhelming awe that we have when we realize that we are put to right Wright s way of saying it even though we have done nothing that sense of personal significance is much better captured by the imputed righteousness account, even if it is indeed a caricature I think the Imputation explanation delivers the sense of immense personal relevance at the cost of contextual simplification, while Wright s Covenant membership one conveys what that relevance really means in the grand scheme of God s world saving plan at the expense of personal sensitivity, which does matter In my humble opinion, it is much better if we retain both elements.Personally speaking, while being a serial reader of N T Wright, I attend a church in South Korea where the main pastor, also a highly influential Christian author in my country, preaches from an utterly traditional Protestant framework I sometimes find his understandings of grand historical undercurrents in the scriptures quite crude, and yet it is his sermons, not Wright s books and lectures on YouTube, that never fail to seriously challenge my personal faith and life towards and resolute obedience At the same time, Wright has genuinely broadened my eyes to see God at work through the grand history of creation, and this is increasingly becoming a solid ground for my career aspirations to somehow I don t know how yet implement Christ s victory in the greed distorted fields of finance , something my endeared pastor has not quite helped with I am tremendously indebted to both trustees of God s Word, and I believe that they are both God s genuine theologians.I write this review in order to contribute even just a little to promoting a reconciliatory conclusion for this unproductive controversy, where some critics nitpick Wright s every argument out of the understandable conservative fear that the essence of Christian faith might be at risk, and Wright in response becomes growingly defensive accusative in his writing and ends up unduly caricaturing the differing perspectives, as he unfortunately does several times in this otherwise fantastic book Here, Wright emphatically affirms the utter centrality of the cross and the forgiveness of sins, the two topics that he has not quite directly delved in before, and I do not think God would forbid him to work out their implications freshly onto the historical plain of the stories of Israel and humankind, rather than onto the already much explored philosophical plain of intimately personal relevance. Outstanding book.The hostile review by jbejon comes from one particular point on the theological spectrum and should not discourage readers I would only say that this critic s distinction between God and Jesus isn t very trinitarian. What follows is a brief extract from a longer review hopefully it will be informative and helpful.Most readers of The Day the Revolution Began hereafter TDRB will and should find themselves able to affirm much of what Wright affirms, but they need not and should not deny what Wright denies Yes, Jesus sacrifice is about the defeat of the world s dark powers, the inauguration of a new eschatological age, the announcement of a year of liberty i.e., the Jubilee , and a million other things But it is also about the satisfaction of God s wrath, which God does not ask us to explain away but invites us to rejoice in Indeed, Jesus sacrifice is able to accomplish what it accomplishes precisely by the satisfaction of God s wrath To put the point another way, TDRB is full of false dichotomies Wright repeatedly asks us to deny P and to affirm Q instead when the correct course of action would be to affirm P as well as Q he casts his conclusions as not P, but Q when the arguments provided for them warrant at most the conclusion not only P, but also Q TDRB s treatment of the OT is particularly problematic in this respect, but, before we consider it, a word needs to be said about TDRB s treatment of Rom 3.24 26.Wright explains the context of Rom 3.24 26 under two main banners the covenantal and the cultic Absent is any mention of God s wrath against man s sin, which soon becomes evident in Wright s exegesis Consider, for instance, Wright s treatment of 3.25 As far as Wright is concerned, Jesus is set forth as a hilast rion which Wright renders as a place of mercy not in order to turn aside divine wrath, but in order to display the covenant faithfulness of Israel s God Wright s claim is problematic on at least two counts.First, its discussion of the term hilast rion is highly inadequate The term hilast rion has been studied in a huge amount of detail over the years In the context of 3.25, it is standardly understood by a whole range of commentators and translators to signify a propitiatory sacrifice, i.e., a sacrifice which satisfies wrath But Wright tells his readers little if anything about the warrant for the standard view of hilast rion , simply saying it is lexically possible and sometimes claims support from the use of the term in a Jewishbook called 4 Maccabees As a result, the average reader who is unlikely to have heard of 4 Maccabees will imagine the standard view rests on shaky ground, when, in reality, the standard view is not only made possible by the text of 4 Maccabees, but is made highly probable by it, and, as Wright must know, has been vigorously defended on the basis of exhaustive studies of every occurrence of the word hilast rion in Greek inscriptions, Greek literature, later Christian texts, and the LXX Wright s discussion of the term hilast rion will, therefore, mislead a large number of readers.Second, Wright s association of dikaiosyn with God s covenant faithfulness in 3.25 does not make sense given 3.25 s context That God has glossed over Israel s past sins does not call God s faithfulness into question it calls God s justice into question It suggests God has violated the ethos of the Torah since he is guilty of favouritism and is prepared to pervert the course of justice when it suits him Contra Wright, then, God s demonstration of his dikaiosyn needs to be seen as a demonstration of his justice rather than his faithfulness The same point is brought out in a different way in 3.26 The text of 3.26 is predicated on two premises i God s law condemns man as unrighteous adikos and makes him a rightful object of God s wrath and ii that same law condemns those who show favouritism and join hands with the unrighteous adikos because Yahweh is not the kind of God to declare the guilty righteous dikaio The text of 3.26 therefore raises an important question, namely, How can God be just dikaios and yet justify dikaio the unrighteous The answer is given explicitly in the text of 3.25 26 by means of Jesus sacrifice God has set Jesus forth as a hilast rion a sacrifice to satisfy his wrath and justice In 3.27, Paul is therefore able to turn his attention away from the issue of God s wrath and man s guilt a theme developed throughout 1.18 3.20 and towards the issue of whether those who have been declared righteous are able to boast about it As such, Paul s flow of thought is clear and instructive, and does not cohere with Wright s proffered treatment of the terms hilast rion and dikaiosyn Of course, far needs to be said about all these things, but, as mentioned above, in what remains of the present review, I want to turn my attention to Wright s treatment of the OT, since it is foundational to many of TDRB s arguments.Throughout TDRB, Wright stresses the importance of the Passover as the backdrop to Christ s death and resurrection and rightly so But consider, for a moment, what actually takes place on the night of the first Passover God s destroyer passes through the land of Egypt and slays the firstborn of each household unless a lamb has been slain in its place in other words, from Yahweh s perpsective, the Passover lamb serves as a substitute Its death is accepted instead of the firstborn s death As such, the Passover narrative is predicated on the concept of substitution , and, importantly, it is set against the backdrop of Yahweh s wrath Yahweh s decision to slay each family s firstborn son is an expression of his anger at Egypt s sin But, contra Wright who says the context created by the Passover is unconnected with punishment , it is also an expression of Yahweh s anger at Israel s sin in particular, Israel s sin of idolatry The death of each firstborn will afflict Israel s households unless a lamb is first slaughtered and its blood applied to the houses doorframes To put the point another way, either a lamb must die or the firstborn must die.Ironically, then, the events of the Passover encourage us to view Jesus death in the very manner in which TDRB encourages us not to view it As Wright repeatedly points out, Jesus frames his death against the backdrop of the Passover As such, Jesus asks us to view his death against the backdrop of a penal and substitutionary sacrifice Just as in Abraham s day Yahweh allowed a ram to take the place of a man on mount Moriah, so in Jesus day Yahweh allows a man to take the place of a lamb on Golgotha s hill God s wrath befalls him so it will not befall his people In the context of TDRB a book in which Wright a frequently criticises those who promote a given theory of atonement in isolation from the Biblical narrative, and b imports a huge amount of theological freight into particular OT allusions , Wright s failure to mention these substitutionary and penal aspects of the Passover story is a very significant omission.But, before we move on to our next motif, it may be helpful for us to note a secondary point about Wright s treatment of the Passover TDRB repeatedly says the Passover was not a festival of atonement , i.e., a festival intended to deal with sin But the matter may not be so simple We have good reason to view Jesus death in light of Ezekiel s eschatological temple where the Passover is connected with atonement and a similar connection is present in Josephus as well as Rabbinic texts, in which case it is not unlikely to have been viewed in such terms in Jesus day.The second OT motif which demands our attention is the exile Throughout TDRB, Wright stresses how Jesus death spelt the end of exile for Israel But, like the Passover motif, the exile motif has important ramifications as far as the nature of Jesus death and resurrection is concerned, which Wright fails to mention In Scripture, the exile is portrayed as the outbreak of God s wrath against his people and the nations to whom Israel are handed over as the agents of God s wrath , and Jesus death is portrayed in the very same terms Consider, by way of illustration, some of the parallels between prophetic depictions of the exile and the Gospels portrayal of Jesus death Jesus, the Son of Man, is given into the hands of the world s fourth beast He is led out of Jerusalem in apparent humiliation He is hung on a tree, naked and defenceless, as desolation overtakes him He is gloated over by his enemies as his inheritance is divided by lot And, at noon, he gropes in the dark, deprived of his possessions The storm clouds Jesus foresaw on Jerusalem s skyline in the Olivet discourse begin to gather around him as Yahweh prepares to make men scarce than gold in Jerusalem originally a prophecy of widespread destruction soon to befall to Jerusalem , but one which can be re read as a prophecy of a time when Yahweh will make a man precious than gold , when the one valued at thirty shekels of silver by Jerusalem s priesthood will be accepted by Yahweh as a ransom for many The one who stood next to Yahweh will stand between Rome and Jerusalem s inhabitants so they can scatter before it is destroyed and men will shake their heads at what has become of him and at the extent of his fall Caiaphas s words will thereby be fulfilled the Romans will do to Jesus what they should have done to the nation of Israel, and Jesus will be led away into exile The implication of these parallels is clear The wrath outpoured on Israel at the time of the exile is outpoured on Jesus on the cross in Israel s place.The final OT motif we will consider is the day of Atonement As mentioned above, Wright is happy to connect Christ s death with the Yom Kippur rites, yet is not so happy to connect the concept of atonement with punishment Animals , he says, were not punished in the place of the people , and the day of Atonement was not about punishment But, as before, a detailed consideration of the relevant OT backdrop reveals a different story Consider initially the effect of atonement When a sin cannot be atoned for by the Levitical system, its perpetrator is forced to bear his own guilt that is to say, he is forced to suffer the divinely ordained consequences of his own actions By way of contrast, when sin is atoned for, Yahweh s wrath is spent or satisfied in some way The essence of atonement is, therefore, to stay Yahweh s wrath, as is repeatedly borne out in the Pentateuch s narrative Consider, for instance, the aftermath of Korah s rebellion.When the Israelites follow Korah s sinful example, Yahweh sends a plague against them, which spreads through the congregation like a fire through a cornfield Aaron the high priest runs into the midst of the assembly and offers incense as an atonement for the people s sin, and the plague a manifestation of Yahweh s anger, as we previously noted is hence assuaged At the end of the narrative, the figure of Aaron is portrayed as a barrier between Yahweh and the Israelites, with those before him slain and those behind him spared Aaron s person and position as high priest marks the boundary line between life and death between the realm where Yahweh s anger is given free reign and the realm where Yahweh s anger is restrained The same point is brought out in the next chapter, where Yahweh s wrath again breaks forth against the people As the people approach the Tabernacle, they begin to perish, and cry out, Must everyone who comes nearto the Tabernacledie Are we to perish completely In response, Yahweh establishes Aaron s recently demonstrated role as a restrainer of Yahweh s anger as a permanent office Aaron s house is to attend to the duties of the sanctuary and altar, so there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel Also relevant here is the image of fire Yahweh s revelation of himself at mount Sinai is depicted primarily in terms of fire enshrouded in clouds , and fire comes forth from Yahweh s presence to consume kl Nadab and Abihu when they approach him in an unauthorised manner That fire consumes kl the priests sacrifices in the same way is, therefore, instructive The Levitical sacrifices are propitiatory in nature Yahweh is a fire, the nature of which is to consume kl , and the purpose of the Levites ministry is to shield Israel from its dangers, which is precisely why the day of Atonement s regulations are set against the backdrop of Nadab and Abihu s deaths.To say the Yom Kippur ritual has nothing to do with punishment is, therefore, fundamentally mistaken True the word punishment does not occur in the text But then why should it The whole point of the Yom Kippur ritual is to prevent the outbreak of Yahweh s wrath against his people Punishment is not mentioned in the Yom Kippur ritual precisely because it is averted by means of the ritual To ground a claim in the absence of the word punishment is, therefore, to miss the whole point of the Levitical system.Suppose, by way of illustration, I write a cookbook about the dangers of obesity and how it can be prevented by means of a sugar free diet At the start of the book, I recount a number of examples of how a sugar rich diet has led to obesity in many people s lives, and ultimately to their deaths A sugar free diet is absolutely vital, I claim Afterwards, I provide fifty recipes for sugar free meals, and encourage my readers to make liberal use of them Now, suppose someone picks up my book and asks in a surprised tone of voice, Didn t you say this book was about the dangers of obesity and sugar consumption That doesn t seem to be the case at all I ve read every one of its recipes, and they don t say a word about the possibility of obesity And they don t mention the word sugar even once What would you say to such a person You would presumably tell them they have missed the whole point of my recipes Why Because they have ignored their context And so it is with Wright s analysis of the Levitical sacrifices Just as the purpose of the aforementioned cookbook is to prevent obesity, so the context of the Levitical sacrifices is to prevent wrath, i.e., to enable by means of atonement a holy God to dwell in the midst of his sinful people without the manifestation of his wrath against them.So, is it true to think of a sacrificed animal as punished in place of the people In a word, Yes Consider the situation described in Lev 16 s regulations the people of Israel have sinned if left unatoned, those sins will result in death and exile two goats are chosen out from Israel s herd, one of which is slain and the other of which is figuratively sent into exile and, as a result of these things, the Israelites are not slain and are not sent into exile The scapegoat bears n Israel s iniquity w n so Israel need not bear her own sin it is cut off from Yahweh s presence so Israel might remain in Yahweh s presence Lev 17.11 underscores the point when the blood of a sacrifice atones for sin, the animal s life is accepted in place of the offerer s life Like the Passover, then, the Yom Kippur rites are predicated on the concept of penal substitutionary atonement That fact may not appeal to those who want to portray Jesus sacrifice in a restricted light, but it is clearly present in Scripture In a sense, then, whether we translate hilast rion as place of mercy or propitiatory sacrifice in Rom 3.25 is not the important issue what is important is for us to understand is the full significance of Paul s allusion to the Yom Kippur ritual and the full scope of what it entails.In sum, then, TDRB is deeply unsatisfactory Its application of the OT systematically avoids those aspects of its narrative which do not fit in with Wright s theology, which is a lamentable fact Jesus sacrifice on the cross is the focal point, centre point, and highlight of history It simultaneously displays the righteousness and holiness of our God, the awfulness and ugliness of our sin, and the obedience and humility of our Lord It displays God s anger at man s sin and God s delight in his Son s righteousness It demonstrates the force and justice of God s wrath, which cannot merely be forgotten about but must be spent and satisfied It demonstrates the power and sovereignty of God s love, which has been prepared to meet the demands of God s uncompromised justice It draws every thread of Scripture together in a single awesome moment, glorifies and exalts the triune God, and humbles God s blood bought people These, I believe, are the aspects of Jesus sacrifice which should occupy our attention and should draw forth our praise as we contemplate the wonder of what God has done in and through Christ yet, sadly, I find such truths to be compromised rather than adored in TDRB We will not stand in awe of God s love until we reckon with the justice of his wrath against us and how it was endured by his beloved Son in a transaction of immeasurable gravity And, once we do truly comprehend these wonders, our lives and ministries will be forever transformed by them As Wright says, the message of the cross should catch us up in the rhythm of worship and mission But Wright s entirely commendable objective will not be accomplished by the denial of important doctrinal truths it will come to pass only as we truly appreciate each and every aspect of the wonder of the cross and allow our lives to be radically reshaped by them. The Day the Revolution Began Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus s Crucifixion is most connected to Wright s earlier Surprised by Hope It is not quite a sequel to Surprised by Hope, but it is in the same thread of Wright s work Surprised by Hope pointed out the way that the theology of the after life eschatology , especially dispensational theology, distorts not just our understanding of our Christianity, but how we practice our Christianity.The Day the Revolution began is attempting to do the same type of analysis with our theology of the atonement I assume that many of NT Wright s traditional critics will also disapprove of this book Wright s minimization of Penal Substitution which has been clear in much of Wright s writing is explicit here Wright is not saying that Penal Substitution is wrong He is saying that the focus on Penal Substitution as the primary or only way to look at the atonement distorts our understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross.My traditional approach to Wright is to listen to the book on audiobook once, than re read it again later in print This allows me to get an overview of the argument and then to focus clearly on the parts of the argument on the re read This is certainly a book that I am going to need to re read to fully understand, maybe twice.One of the reasons that many get irritated with Wright is that is keeps presenting his ideas as either new, or the first return to correct understanding in hundreds of years If you are irritated about that, you will be irritated here Wright s strength is connecting the broad narrative sweep of scripture and the 1st century era culture I think if he started working with a historical theologian that helped him connect his ideas explicitly to the historical theological work of theologians after the first century, it would help tone down that irritating tic and help readers connect his thought to its historical roots.Wright wants to help people think clearly about how their theology connects to their daily life I think that is one of his strengths But part of what the church today needs is a connection of its theology to the historical church But his description of his work as either new, or a rediscovery of what is lost, minimizes the connection to the historical teaching of the church This is particularly true for low church fans of his that do not already have a strong connection to the traditional church Maybe this is a blind spot that Wright has because of his British Anglican setting Wright himself has a strong sense of both history, and the world wide range of the church, but many of his readers and biggest fans do not My reading of Thomas Oden in particular has convinced me of the importance viewing the theology of the church as a continuum with historical teaching and not new Like virtually all of Wright s books, The Day the Revolution Began is impossible to easily summarize The best I can do is to say that Wright is making the argument that the cross was not primarily about dealing with sin although it did do that but about fulfilling the covenantal promise to Israel The cross shows that the kingdom of God, which Jesus was claiming at the cross, is fundamentally a different conception of power than earthly power structures And that the cross isn t about Jesus dying for our sins as individuals but about Jesus dying in order deal with the corporate idolatry of Israel as illustrated by the prophets and draw the rest of the world into covenant with God.The biggest indictment against modern theology that Wright is making in the Day the Revolution Began is that we have reduced the cross to the fulfillment of a works contract Jesus paid the price of God s anger toward our individual sin and died so that God would forget his anger Again, Wright is not saying that there is not some truth to this view But it is a partial truth Jesus death was part of the plan from the beginning not a result of our sin.This quote about Galatians message is a good example of Wright s goal here He is trying to get us to look at the cross from a different angle to help us understand it better The letter is about unity the fact that in the Messiah, particularly through his death, the one God has done what he promised Abraham all along He has given him a single family in which believing Jews and believing Gentiles form one body What Paul says about the cross in Galatians is all aimed toward this end because of the cross, all believers are on the same footing And if that is the goal of the cross in Galatians, we will gain a much better idea of the means As elsewhere in this book, our task is to rescue the goal from Platonizing going to heaven interpretations and the means from paganizing angry God punishing Jesus interpretations and so to transform the normal perception of what atonement theology might be from a dark and possibly unpleasant mystery to an energizing and highly relevant unveiling of truth.In the end, Wright is not minimizing Jesus work by moving the focus away from individual sin redemption Wright is working to expand our view of Jesus work to make it a much bigger things than just individual sin redemption.One last quote And that means what it means not because of a works contract, a celestial mechanism for transferring sins onto Jesus so that he can be punished and we can escape, but because of the covenant of vocation Israel s vocation, the human vocation, Jesus s own vocation in which the overflowing love, the love that made the sun and the stars, overflowed in love yet in the coming to be of the truly human one, the Word made flesh, and then overflowed finally to the uttermost as he was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself. Don t buy the worse book I ve ever read and I mean ever The Renowned Scholar, Anglican Bishop, And Best Selling Author Widely Considered To Be The Heir To C S Lewis Contemplates The Central Event At The Heart Of The Christian Faith Jesus Crucifixion Arguing That The Protestant Reformation Did Not Go Far Enough In Transforming Our Understanding Of Its Meaning In The Day The Revolution Began, N T Wright Once Again Challenges Commonly Held Christian Beliefs, As He Did In His Acclaimed Surprised By Hope Demonstrating The Rigorous Intellect And Breathtaking Knowledge That Have Long Defined His Work, Wright Argues That Jesus Death On The Cross Was Not Only To Absolve Us Of Our Sins, It Was Actually The Beginning Of A Revolution Commissioning The Christian Faithful To A New Vocation A Royal Priesthood Responsible For Restoring And Reconciling All Of God S Creation Wright Argues That Jesus Crucifixion Must Be Understood Within The Much Larger Story Of God S Purposes To Bring Heaven And Earth Together The Day The Revolution Began Offers A Grand Picture Of Jesus Sacrifice And Its Full Significance For The Christian Faith, Inspiring Believers With A Renewed Sense Of Mission, Purpose, And Hope And Reminding Them Of The Crucial Role The Christian Faith Must Play In Protecting And Shaping The Future Of The World


About the Author: N. T. Wright

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion book, this is one of the most wanted N. T. Wright author readers around the world.


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