hits counter Paul and the Faithfulness of God - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Paul and the Faithfulness of God

Availability: Ready to download

This highly anticipated two-book fourth volume in N. T. Wright's magisterial series, Christian Origins and the Question of God, is destined to become the standard reference point on the subject for all serious students of the Bible and theology. The mature summation of a lifetime's study, this landmark book pays a rich tribute to the breadth and depth of the apostles' visi This highly anticipated two-book fourth volume in N. T. Wright's magisterial series, Christian Origins and the Question of God, is destined to become the standard reference point on the subject for all serious students of the Bible and theology. The mature summation of a lifetime's study, this landmark book pays a rich tribute to the breadth and depth of the apostles' vision, and offers an unparalleled wealth of detailed insights into his life, times, and enduring impact. Wright carefully explores the whole context of Paul's thought and activity--Jewish, Greek and Roman, cultural, philosophical, religious, and imperial--and shows how the apostles' worldview and theology enabled him to engage with the many-sided complexities of first-century life that his churches were facing. Wright also provides close and illuminating readings of the letters and other primary sources, along with critical insights into the major twists and turns of exegetical and theological debate in the vast secondary literature. The result is a rounded and profoundly compelling account of the man who became the world's first, and greatest, Christian theologian.


Compare

This highly anticipated two-book fourth volume in N. T. Wright's magisterial series, Christian Origins and the Question of God, is destined to become the standard reference point on the subject for all serious students of the Bible and theology. The mature summation of a lifetime's study, this landmark book pays a rich tribute to the breadth and depth of the apostles' visi This highly anticipated two-book fourth volume in N. T. Wright's magisterial series, Christian Origins and the Question of God, is destined to become the standard reference point on the subject for all serious students of the Bible and theology. The mature summation of a lifetime's study, this landmark book pays a rich tribute to the breadth and depth of the apostles' vision, and offers an unparalleled wealth of detailed insights into his life, times, and enduring impact. Wright carefully explores the whole context of Paul's thought and activity--Jewish, Greek and Roman, cultural, philosophical, religious, and imperial--and shows how the apostles' worldview and theology enabled him to engage with the many-sided complexities of first-century life that his churches were facing. Wright also provides close and illuminating readings of the letters and other primary sources, along with critical insights into the major twists and turns of exegetical and theological debate in the vast secondary literature. The result is a rounded and profoundly compelling account of the man who became the world's first, and greatest, Christian theologian.

30 review for Paul and the Faithfulness of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Colvin

    If you have read most of Wright's other work on Paul, you will not have any earthshaking revelations from PFG. Because I was in that category, having read his NIB Romans commentary, WSPRS, and Paul in Fresh Perspective, I was a bit frustrated by the length of this book. It opens with a scintillating reading of the epistle to Philemon by comparison with a letter of Pliny. I was hoping for more at this level, close up and personal with the text. But PFG spends much of its time at 3000 feet, survey If you have read most of Wright's other work on Paul, you will not have any earthshaking revelations from PFG. Because I was in that category, having read his NIB Romans commentary, WSPRS, and Paul in Fresh Perspective, I was a bit frustrated by the length of this book. It opens with a scintillating reading of the epistle to Philemon by comparison with a letter of Pliny. I was hoping for more at this level, close up and personal with the text. But PFG spends much of its time at 3000 feet, surveying background, cultural context, and themes in Pauline theology. This will make it an incredibly useful seminary textbook, to be sure. But for those who already know Wright, this is simply not new information: yes, Paul was a Second Temple Jew, reading Israel's scriptures about exile and return, not dividing religion from politics. It is all conveyed with the usual Wrightian brilliance and literary allusions — to Shakespeare, to Robert Browning, to Pride and Prejudice —and accompanied by the refutations of erring scholars (F.C. Baur's History of Relgions school, Bultmann's demythologizing, and Engberg-Pedersen's Paul as quasi-Stoic are all dealt with in a thoroughh and satisfying way). It's good, but it doesnt pack the punch of WSPRS or JVG.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt Pitts

    I remember the first time I pulled N.T. Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of God off the shelf. It was probably not long too long after that when I got my own copy and started eagerly devouring it. I should say at the outset that though this is a fairly glowing review I do not agree with everything Wright says (particularly about justification). But I have come to appreciate him as one of the most fresh and comprehensive writers I have encountered. Words seem to flow from Wright's pen like they I remember the first time I pulled N.T. Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of God off the shelf. It was probably not long too long after that when I got my own copy and started eagerly devouring it. I should say at the outset that though this is a fairly glowing review I do not agree with everything Wright says (particularly about justification). But I have come to appreciate him as one of the most fresh and comprehensive writers I have encountered. Words seem to flow from Wright's pen like they did from Dickens's and both men are alike masters of the English language. That alone makes Wright a delight to read. I recognize that a 1,500 page book on Paul is daunting for just about everyone. I had never read any book that long before (not even my Bible has that many pages!) and it took me a little over a year to read this one. But it was worth it. If you are at all interested in reading this book, at least read the first chapter. Wright may be the only person who has ever started a book on Paul's theology with the letter of Philemon (he has good reason for doing so; see the end of his preface), but it was a brilliant move and probably remains my favorite part of the book. If you read that far, then you might try reading the rest of part one where Wright describes the various 'worlds' in which Paul lived: Judaism, Greek philosophy, pagan religion, and the Roman Empire. This is the kind of material you do not often encounter (at least not to this extent) in works of NT theology but that forms the necessary background to understanding what Paul was writing and why. And if you read that much, then you would probably enjoy part two as well. Part two is where Wright examines Paul's worldview (which he calls his "mindset" since it belongs to one person rather than a group) in light of the worldviews around him. I read these first two parts (which make up the first bound portion of the book) in just over 3 months. I almost wish that you could purchase this half of the book separately. It is well worth reading, even if you never get to the dense exegetical and theological chapters in part three. Part three, which is longer than parts one and two combined, took me around nine months. This part of the book is a beast. Wright takes three chapters to explore how Paul has come to understand the Jewish categories of monotheism, election, and eschatology in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit (though in one of his odd moves, Wright does not capitalize Spirit). These chapters are long (the longest of the three is over 250 pages - a book in itself!) and filled with the exposition of multiple passages from Paul's letters. The chapter on eschatology devotes about 100 pages to Romans 9-11 alone. Part four is where Wright puts all of this back together into a cohesive understanding of Paul in his context. This section took me less than a month to read and was probably the least helpful of all the sections. There are some new insights even at this point in the book, but at times it seemed merely to repeat what had been said before and felt longer than it needed to be. A book of such length and breadth and depth cannot be easily summarized. But as one who has been immersed in it for some time, I can say that it is worth your time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    As everyone knows, it is an exhaustively long book. But for those who can chug through it, it is well worth the time and effort. I read the first 'half' (volume 1) over a year ago for a group study, and I loved it as much then as I do with volume 2 now. I thought both volumes were easy to follow because I have read a lot of other works by Wright, and I'm familiar with many 1st century events. I thought both volumes were well organized also, so as each chapter progressed I felt confident that I k As everyone knows, it is an exhaustively long book. But for those who can chug through it, it is well worth the time and effort. I read the first 'half' (volume 1) over a year ago for a group study, and I loved it as much then as I do with volume 2 now. I thought both volumes were easy to follow because I have read a lot of other works by Wright, and I'm familiar with many 1st century events. I thought both volumes were well organized also, so as each chapter progressed I felt confident that I knew where he was leading his readers. I anticipate that a common frustrating aspect of this work to his readers will be his use of prooftexts. Wright proves his interpretations of the text through long explanations of the narrative and cultural background, instead of what most laymen expect: short, simple, systematic and explicit proofs which require little background knowledge. After reading this, I do feel like I understand Paul's letters better. However, I think Wright overstates his case. This book is not necessary to understand Paul's letters, but it is an essential tool for understanding Paul better than most neo-Reformed, fundamentalist-baptist, and postmodern-liberal commentaries.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Wright

    I'm not going to presume to rate such a monumental and erudite work as this - if I ever find I've read as much as one tenth of the bibliography I will consider myself well-read - but in the interest of writing some of my thoughts about it, and given the impossibility of collecting them all at the end, I will here record some comments on each chapter as I go. Update: I've now finished. A review of the whole book can be found at the end. Part 1: Paul and His World The first part tells you very littl I'm not going to presume to rate such a monumental and erudite work as this - if I ever find I've read as much as one tenth of the bibliography I will consider myself well-read - but in the interest of writing some of my thoughts about it, and given the impossibility of collecting them all at the end, I will here record some comments on each chapter as I go. Update: I've now finished. A review of the whole book can be found at the end. Part 1: Paul and His World The first part tells you very little about Paul directly, though Wright (usual disclaimer: no relation) continually hints at what is to come in Part 4. Chapter 1: Return of the Runaway? As an introduction to the whole enterprise, Wright ostensibly starts with an analysis of the very shortest of Paul's surviving works. He uses confusions about this as a microcosm for confusions in Pauline studies more generally, outlining his methods and approach to the subject, and comparing it (for the sake of historical context) to a letter of Pliny. It is reasonably clear that there will be no surprises in this book - Wright's opinions about Paul, and his positioning in the 'new perspectives' movement, are already well-known and explained, if not at such great length as here. This book will not so much be a bombshell in a playground as an egregiously devastating bombshell in an already ferocious war. Wright, conscious of the difficulties, turns his reading of Philemon into an elaborate and somewhat whimsical allegory (for which he 'begs the reader's indulgence'). In this, Philemon becomes Theology (meaning religious beliefs about Paul), looking only at the weighty matters, while History (meaning historical context) is the runaway slave Onesimus. This is then inverted: Philemon becomes History, not wishing to be tainted with the frivolity of religious belief. Wright, in both cases, wishes (somewhat hubristically, imho) to take on the role of Paul, trying to effect a reconciliation between the two. Much as with the original, how successful he will be remains to be seen. Chapter 2: Like Birds Hovering Overhead Taking his chapter title from a verse from Isaiah (31:5) about YHWH protecting Jerusalem, Wright proceeds to describe the worldview of Paul's contemporary Judaism in general and Pharisaism in particular (while acknowledging that these things may not be entirely separable from Hellenism in a post-Alexandrine world). The result: Saul of Tarsus was concerned with 'creational monotheism', a hope for God's people, and the study and practice of Torah. More to come, it would seem. Chapter 3: Athene and Her Owl A survey of the main thinkers and schools of thought in Greek philosophy, skimping (consciously) on detail. Relevance not yet apparent. Chapter 4: A Cock for Asclepius Taking his title from the incongruous dying words of Socrates, Wright explores the 'religion' and 'culture' of the pagan world in Paul's day, complete with scare quotes to note that they do not mean quite the same thing now as they did then. The sense one gets is of how overwhelmingly formidable the religious establishment was, entwined with and pervasive in almost every aspect of ancient life. Chapter 5: The Eagle Has Landed Referring to the Roman Eagle, on the nature of Roman imperial power in the first century. Anyone familiar with Wright's work knows that he thinks that Paul has a conscious anti-imperial subtext, though this is rather controversial among scholars. At any rate, there is nothing controversial in this chapter, which consists of a potted history of the republic-turned-empire, which is well-covered ground to say the least. Once again, one gets a sense of how formidable the institutions are which Paul is taking on. Part 2: The Mindset of the Apostle This part is about context, i.e. the background thought behind what Paul actually says in his letters. Chapter 6: A Bird in the Hand? This is where things start to get complicated. The chapter title is not very helpful for explaining what the chapter is about and the subtitle - 'the symbolic praxis of Paul's world' - does not help much either. Agonizing for a while about how I was going to summarise it, I realized that the reason that this task was difficult was that it was impossible. You might be able to express it in less than the hundred-odd pages Wright takes up, but not in one paragraph. What it is about, though, is the set of assumptions about words and symbols that form the background to everything that Paul says (or something like that). 'A bird in the hand' is worth two in the bush, and what we have in the hand (hopefully) is what Wright calls 'worldview' - it's what Paul feels is so obvious it doesn't need saying. Chapter 7: The Plot, the Plan and the Storied Worldview I sometimes don't know if Wright is earnestly pretentious or if he indulges himself with frivolities such as in this chapter just because he knows he can get away with it (which he certainly can). He usually has a note begging the reader's forgiveness for such a thing, but not on this occasion, though I admit there is a note of self-parody in the introduction as he notes the concern of various exasperated critics that he manages to find a narrative in everything. Anyway, the substance of the chapter begins with an excellent albeit - I shall be frank - completely irrelevant analysis of the plot, various sub-plots, and hidden allusions in Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. He then uses this as a paradigm to explore the underlying narratives and allusions of Paul's thought. The over-arching story, as he sees it, is one about God and his creation (corresponding to the story of Theseus and Hippolyta's marriage in the Dream), while those about Israel, Jesus and the church are sub-plots on top of it (thus Hermia, Helena, Lysander, Demetrius, Titania, Oberon, and Bottom and his crew). This is all, therefore, a presumed context to Paul's letters. Chapter 8: Five Signposts to the Apostolic Mindset Taking his cue from Kipling's 'honest serving men', Wright tackles the basic 'worldview questions' to explore Paul's mindset: Who (who are we?), where (where are we?), what (what's wrong?), how (what's the solution), when (what time is it?). There is another question, the 'why', to be discussed later on. I will leave it to the reader's imagination to guess what Wright thinks Paul's answers to these questions are. Part 3: Paul's Theology Stage 1 (page 610): 'I take as the framework the three main elements of [contemporary Judaism], namely monotheism, election and eschatology.' Stage 2 (page 612): 'in the case of each of these three... Paul rethought, reworked and reimagined them around Jesus the Messiah on the one hand and the spirit on the other.' Stage 3 (page 612):'this... complex... was was directed by Paul in three further ways, which we postpone to Part IV'. Chapter 9: The One God of Israel, Freshly Revealed With a few key passages in mind, Wright argues cogently a number of points: that Paul was still a strong Jewish monotheist; that this was not compromised by his early and high Christology and Pnemuatology; that he was an eschatological monotheist. This last is not a case of Paul taking the solution of Jesus and working out that there was a problem, nor is it a case of him having individual problems to which he discovered that Jesus was the only answer; rather, it was a case of him starting with the traditional problem of Judaism, discovering the solution that God had provided in Jesus and re-working what that problem meant for all of humanity. Chapter 10: The People of God, Freshly Reworked This chapter is - there is no other way of putting it - monstrous; at 269 pages, it's a small book in itself, and its part of the contents takes up a whole page, a glance at which will reveal that it drills down all the way to sub-sub-sub-sections. The main theme is 'election' which is conceived (it is claimed) not - as is more traditional in Christian theology - as the choosing of individuals, but the choosing of a community: first Israel, now the church. Wright takes no prisoners of the somewhat ovine majority of Paul scholars who claim that Paul did not believe that Jesus was Israel's Messiah, and that Christos was merely a proper name. Jesus is the 'remnant', the last faithful Israelite, who made the way for the new ekklesia. Then, finally, we get to the most anticipated and contentious subject of all, and the climax of the entire book: justification. Those who have read the whole way through my review to get to this point will be somewhat disappointed, as I don't have much to say about it, other than that it was itself disappointingly brief (as far as Wright is even capable of being brief). His ability, though, to interpret texts minutely while holding the big theological picture in his head continues to impress. Chapter 11: God's Future for the World, Freshly Imagined Another monstrous, book-length chapter, though a mere 224 pages this time. A lot of the ideas have been re-hashed from the book's predecessor, The Resurrection of the Son of God. Additionally, there is a verse-by-verse analysis (Wright bizarrely refuses the term 'commentary') of Romans 9 - 11, involving a chiasmus within a chiasmus and more sub-sub-sub-sections. Wright is painfully conscious of (what some would see as) the political implications of some of what he says, though appropriately disdainful of those who anachronistically read back 21st century geopolitics and post-Holocaust ideology on to the 1st century letters. He insists he has moved beyond simple 'replacement' theology, which is not strictly true - he has only shaken it up a bit and made it a bit more nuanced. On one thing, though, he is quite clear and correct: that Paul wished to convert Jews to Christianity, and this was not 'ant-semitism' (as indeed for modern Christians). He wanted to include them in this new hope precisely because he loved them. One more thing. Towards the end of the chapter, Wright gives an apparently inadvertent clue to answering the perennial question of why he is so controversial among evangelicals. 'I have come to see Paul's letters,' he writes on page 1258, 'not so much as themselves the means by which he was developing his thought... as small windows on to a larger, richer and denser world of belief and life, of exegesis and prayer, of faith and love and, yes, hope.' Innocent this may appear, but traditional Protestantism sees the scriptures as 'sufficient for salvation', a direct revelation of God to His people. Therefore, they are the theology themselves, in their entirety with no gaps; to suggest anything else is to insult God's Providence. And that is the issue with which I am currently wrestling. Part 4: Paul in History Part 1, which was essentially a mirror image of this one, was highly promising. But as it turns out. This chapter was a bit of a let-down. He engages very little with either primary or secondary sources - which makes one wonder if the latter are simply non-existent or if he simply hasn't bothered, which would be seriously unimpressive from a book whose bibliography is the length of a small book in itself. The point is that there is an enormous scope for further study in the area of Paul's engagement with ancient philosophy especially, of which this part has not even scratched the surface. Chapter 12: The Lion and the Eagle: Paul in Caesar's Empire After a blisteringly vociferous argument that Paul really, really cared about the Roman Empire and hated it with a passion, Wright suddenly retreats into claiming that his view is actually quite nuanced and beats a middle path between extremes, as is normal. The result, sadly, is somewhat incoherent. Chapter 13: A Different Sacrifice: Paul and 'Religion' ...complete with scare quotes, as before. Wright expresses disdain at views which try to separate Paul from 'religion', but does not come up with any interesting alternative views himself, choosing to take us on a brief tour of Christian practice as seen in Paul's letters, with all but no engagement either with primary historical-theological sources or with secondary anthropological ones. The result, after the epic scope of Part 3, is rather lame, and his conclusion is write to note that there is room for a whole new project in this area, but one cannot help but wonder whether it is there and Wright simply hasn't seen it. Chapter 14: The Foolishness of God: Paul among the Philosophers Considering the excellent engagement with primary and secondary sources in the original chapter that introduced this one (3), this is a bit of a let-down. After making a few general points about philosophy, Wright proceeds to debunking the recently expressed views of the Danish philosopher Engberg-Pedersen, making it feel as if the entire thing is just an excuse to allow him to do so. I have more to say about this, but I think it applies to the whole of Part 4, so will have to wait until I've finished. Chapter 15: To Know the Place for the First Time This chapter just felt like a summary of the arguments of Part 3 but with more engagement with other (recent) scholars. The conclusion is quite simple: that Paul now identified as a 'Messiah-person' before being Jewish. Chapter 16: Signs of the New Creation: Paul's Aims and Achievements A summary of the whole book. Nothing surprising. Overall impression So, I've finally got to the end. Indeed, you, dear reader, have finally got to the end of this review. If you've actually read the whole thing, then - well, firstly, thankyou; I'm flattered. Secondly, you probably ought to find something better to do with your time, for example, go for a walk, make a new friend, or read this much better review by Professor John Barclay, who is a friend of Wright's, once taught me Greek for a term, and, most importantly, knows far more about the subject than I do. After all the time and effort put into this, why such a low rating? Because I have quite serious doubts about it. I'm not in a position to judge the quality of the scholarship, but the strident, even combative, tone that he takes with his opponents is quite unprofessional. More to the point, he engages very little with the enormous body of historical reactions to Paul, preferring to deal only with scholars of the last century or so, and even those also get dismissed by being lumped inside -isms and larger schools of thought rather than criticized directly. This is deeply unfair, and only contributes to the dislike that many traditional protestants hold for his views. He is all too conscious of it, but will not attempt to fight them on their own traditional-historical ground. 'Fuller integration, fuller reconciliation,' he writes in the last chapter, 'is always the Pauline aim, and I hope we have gone a good way towards achieving it.' Tragically, I think we have not. (By the way, the previous volume in this series, The Resurrection of the Son of God, remains, in my opinion, Wright's magnum opus, a triumphant artifice of history and theology that will stand the test of time. If you haven't read it, read it instead).

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    It is probably not surprising for a thirty-something pastor type of an evangelical background proclaim his enjoyment of NT Wright's dozens of books. Like many in my profession, NT Wright is one of my favorite writers. His work has done more to shape my understanding of Jesus and Paul then that of any other writer or scholar. Even better, many of his works are completely readable for any Christian, you don't need a seminary education to get what he is writing. I'd love to see more people pick up It is probably not surprising for a thirty-something pastor type of an evangelical background proclaim his enjoyment of NT Wright's dozens of books. Like many in my profession, NT Wright is one of my favorite writers. His work has done more to shape my understanding of Jesus and Paul then that of any other writer or scholar. Even better, many of his works are completely readable for any Christian, you don't need a seminary education to get what he is writing. I'd love to see more people pick up an NT Wright book. That said, he is also a brilliant scholar. His big books on the New Testament are amazing. First was The New Testament and the People of God. Then came Jesus and the Victory of God, which is probably my favorite of his books, as it examined the life and ministry of Jesus. Third was The Resurrection of the Son of God which has a following among those who do apologetics, since Wright defends a literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus. But it is much more than that, not just defending that the resurrection happened but talking about what it means. Last fall Wright released the long-awaited fourth book in this series, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Perhaps "book" is the wrong word to use, for it is a two volume tome clocking in at over 1700 pages (well, 1519 is the last page before you get to bibliographies and such). My lovely wife got me this book for Christmas, figuring the $50 price tag made more sense as a gift then it would for me to just buy it myself. Since then I've read the book in chunks. It is broken into four parts. Parts 1 and 2 take up the first volume and after reading them I took a long break. I took another long break after finishing the chapter in part three on election (not coincidentally, this was days before my son was born). A little while later I took it up and managed to finish the whole thing just before my wife's maternity leave ended and I put my "at-home-dad" hat back on. What can I say about a 1500 page book on the Apostle Paul? If you want a summary of the book, you can find one easily. I'll just say it is amazing in both depth and breadth. It is not a book just for scholars, Wright writes in such a way as to deserve (and he does receive) wide readership. Overall, it is a fantastic book. To some degree, if you've read Wright's other works you may know the direction some of this would take. Wright places Paul solidly in his Jewish context. This meant that Paul, or Saul of Tarsus as he was before meeting Jesus, was a Pharisee in the first century, living under the rule of Rome in a culture infused with Greek thinking. As a first-century Jew, Paul lived at the end of a long story, the Hebrew Bible, that had not yet been finished yet. And it was his encounter with Jesus that led him to realize that Jesus truly was the Jewish Messiah who brought this grand narrative to a fulfillment. One thing Wright emphasizes over and over is that Paul was Jewish. Setting Paul up as the founder of Gentile Christianity, opposed to Judaism, is a false start that has been taken by many. Instead, we see Paul doing just what we would expect if he believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah - Paul rethinks his entire worldview, specifically monotheism, election and eschatology. It is these three topics that take up part three of the book. In terms of monotheism, Paul rethought the Jewish belief in one God in light of Jesus. This chapter could be seen as a sort of argument for Jesus' identification with God. I find Wright's argument makes a lot more sense, though it is not just a simplistic "Jesus = God" in the way we think of it. For Wright, Paul saw Jesus doing things that Israel's God was expected to do. From this Paul wrote things that may have put later Christians on the road to the Council of Nicea and the Trinity, but he was not there yet himself. In other words, to simply ask Paul, as people ask today, "Was Jesus God?" is to form the question somewhat wrongly. For Paul Jesus was not a mere man, but Paul was not writing a fully developed Trinitarian theology. Early in the book Wright argues that the ancient world was dominated by Stoic philosophy, similar to panetheism, while our world is more Epicurean, similar to Deism. So Paul is answering Stoics and our challenge is to apply this to an Epicurean world. All that to say, Wright is not giving us apologetic fodder to win arguments, he is giving us a picture of a first century Jew rethinking his tradition about God with Jesus now at the center of that tradition. Election is another topic that Wright has some great things to say. Too often "election" has been taken to mean that God chooses some people to save and go to heaven while everyone else can burn. Wright argues that election was always a choosing for the benefit of the world, Abraham and Israel were chosen to bring blessing. Paul rethinks this in light of Jesus, seeing the Christian church, made of Jew and Gentile, as chosen to bring this blessing to the world. Here is a place where people may want Wright to write more. What about those who never heard or who reject? What view on hell does Wright have? He does address that a bit in another book, but he leaves it here. Why? Because that was not the question Paul is asking, and this book is about Paul! Ultimately, Wright argues that in all this Paul is creating Christian theology that will feed the church in its mission. Jesus did what God would always do, open the door to relationship with God to all peoples. This point is made through various images, for example, Jesus is the rebuilt temple through whom any and all people can know God. There is no replacing of Jews by non-Jews, instead in Jesus all people, both Jew and Gentile, can know God. But in leaving behind Jewish traditions, as Paul did, there was a hole in the life of God's people. Paul's work filled this hole. He created an understanding of Jesus, a theology, that would carry the people onward into the future. There is so much more to say about this book. I thought it was interesting how we see Christianity as a religion, but most in Paul's day would have seen him doing philosophy. First century pagans did not go to religion to learn ethics, that was what philosophy was for (not counting the Jews). The beginning and end of Wright's book where Wright delves into this first century world and how Paul was responding to it is fantastic. Overall, its a great book. I can't recommend it enough for pastors, teachers or anyone who wants to spend a lot of time learning about Paul.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    An epic (ie needlessly long) 2 volume set on Pauline theology. I've been chipping away at this one for years, and don't think I'll ever actually read every single page, but will likely go back to sections as I need to when looking at certain texts or topics related to the letters of Paul. Overall, it's good, but at times a bit overreaching.

  7. 4 out of 5

    M Christopher

    A long, long read, worthwhile but not without its flaws. Although he denies it within the book, Wright has here presented the better part of a systematic theology of Paul, including theology, soteriology, and eschatology. He also provides a study of Pauline backgrounds in and the response of Paul to Second Temple Judaism, Greek and Roman religion, and Greek and Roman philosophy. This is a massive study, which could easily be the textbook for four seminary courses. Indeed, in both its editing and A long, long read, worthwhile but not without its flaws. Although he denies it within the book, Wright has here presented the better part of a systematic theology of Paul, including theology, soteriology, and eschatology. He also provides a study of Pauline backgrounds in and the response of Paul to Second Temple Judaism, Greek and Roman religion, and Greek and Roman philosophy. This is a massive study, which could easily be the textbook for four seminary courses. Indeed, in both its editing and in its sheer physical printing, this two-volume set would have been easier to read, digest, and handle as four volumes. Wright, as always, is an engaging writer. He is nearly always clear about his points and leavens his work with wry humor, literary allusion, and clever turns of phrase. His insistence on framing Paul's work in context, particularly within the context of Second Temple Judaism, is of vital importance to understanding the author responsible for much of the New Testament. His Biblical exegesis is careful and to the point. I definitely feel that I have a new and improved grasp on Paul thanks to Wright's work in these volumes. I am particularly impressed by Wright's well-developed point that Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and all that flows from that assertion. I do think, however, that Bishop Wright needs an editor who will curb his occasional tendency towards prolixity. As an intuitive learner, I don't need or appreciate 10 examples to make the same point. One or two will do. As with some of Wright's other books ("Justification" comes most to mind), I find his need to compare his own work to those of other scholars to their detriment to be uninteresting and, frankly, juvenile, although there was less "snark" in these matters in these volumes than in some others. I realize that both of these issues are likely a necessary part of being a professional theologian who writes for others in the field. But as a simple small-church, bivocational pastor, who reads theology for enjoyment and to help unlock the mysteries of faith so that I can pass the best ideas of our time on to my flock, I find the completism and competition tiresome. I will likely wait a while before tackling another of Wright's "great works."

  8. 5 out of 5

    William

    Wright's magnum opus is excellent. I came to Wright rather late, reading only "What St. Paul Really Said" last summer and then, anticipating this volume's release, dove into the first three volumes of "Christian Origins and the Question of God". Having read all four volumes in (relatively) quick succession—they're all very large tomes—I've been very pleased. Wright does an excellent job of working with the existing and established scholarship to sift the wheat from the chaff and to synthesise a Wright's magnum opus is excellent. I came to Wright rather late, reading only "What St. Paul Really Said" last summer and then, anticipating this volume's release, dove into the first three volumes of "Christian Origins and the Question of God". Having read all four volumes in (relatively) quick succession—they're all very large tomes—I've been very pleased. Wright does an excellent job of working with the existing and established scholarship to sift the wheat from the chaff and to synthesise a mature New Testament theology. Part I of "Paul and the Faithfulness of God" may be tedious for those who have recently read "The New Testament and the People of God". Wright begins with an inspiring exegetical treatment of Philemon, but spends the following 500 pages largely restating the key points of NTPG. Parts II and III are the real goldmines here, where Wright fleshes out in detail what he's been saying for years in much shorter and less detailed books. Part II develops Paul's "worldview": Jewish monotheism, election, and eschatology rethought and reoriented around Jesus the Messiah. Part III provides the detailed exegesis as it works through Paul's epistles. Part IV explores the implications of all this in terms of how Paul's theology interacts with Caesar's empire, Judaism, and Greco-Roman philosophy, ending with a final chapter on how Paul saw his faith and mission in light of the new creation and how that worked out in practical ways for him.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chad Gibbons

    The fourth and largest volume in NT Wright's "Christian Origins and the Question of God" series. In this entry, there are four parts split across two volumes. The first part examines the different "worlds" in which Paul lived: The world of 2nd temple Judaism, the world of the Greeks and their philosophy/religion, and the world of Imperial Rome. Here, Wright uses the techniques he has used in previous volumes - studying the various symbols, praxis, and stories of a culture - to examine their "wor The fourth and largest volume in NT Wright's "Christian Origins and the Question of God" series. In this entry, there are four parts split across two volumes. The first part examines the different "worlds" in which Paul lived: The world of 2nd temple Judaism, the world of the Greeks and their philosophy/religion, and the world of Imperial Rome. Here, Wright uses the techniques he has used in previous volumes - studying the various symbols, praxis, and stories of a culture - to examine their "worldview". The way Wright does this will be familiar to readers of this series. He asks specific questions of the culture: "Who are we?", "When are we?", "What is wrong?", "What is the solution?" and by providing answers to these question from the point of view of the people of that culture, it helps us understand that culture's worldview. Wright then compares those answers with the answers of the apostle Paul to see how they differ and how Paul would have interacted with the Jewish, Greek, and Roman cultures he was apart of. The second section is where Paul himself really enters. Here, Wright shows what Paul's worldview was and the story Paul felt that he was living out of. Wright goes on Actantial analysis overload in this section (as with the other books in this series). There is some helpful fruit that comes from this, but many times the actants that Wright uses for the diagrams seem arbitrary. The conclusion is this: The basic story Paul lived and the one he preached is the story of Israel. But Paul (and the early church) had a unique understanding of this. Paul's take on this story is that Jesus is the culmination of the story of Israel. The idea is this: Humanity was created to be God's representatives in creation. This project went awry because of sin. Then, a specific people were called out - Israel - to reinstate this project of God redeeming humanity by restoring their vocation and ultimately, glorify God and be a 'blessing to the nations' (Wright would probably say these duties are one in the same). But the problem of sin is still there in the middle of his plan. Israel is not immune to it. As Wright puts it: God's rescue operation for the world (Israel) needed a rescue operation. Enter Jesus, The Messiah. The truly human one. The true Israelite. The true Israel. The Messiah accomplishes what God has always intended to accomplish and by being apart of Him, we are a part of the "new creation", ultimately doing what was always intended not only from God's people, but for all humanity (which were also supposed to have been the same thing). So how does this fit in with Wright's larger project? The main theme of Wright's thesis - if I had to narrow it down - is the claim that Jews at the time of Jesus thought of themselves as being in "exile". And the main purpose of Jesus is to bring an end to this exile. Forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, salvation, and many of the other things we typically think of Jesus doing is summed up by Wright as saying that: "the exile is over in Jesus". This is a tough sell for many. I personally think that "exile" is a weird way of saying what the Jews would have thought about themselves. I have a hard time thinking that even after Ezra and Nehemiah, even after returning to the land, even after the rebuilding the temple, with the Jews back in their homeland, that they would be actively thinking "we're still in exile". Is their situation in the first century really the same as it was by the rivers of Babylon? I'm not so sure about that. But regardless of semantics, I think Wright's underlying point is profound: The Jews were expecting the return of YHWH to Zion. This was a huge theme in the previous two books in the series, and in this one it's as strong as ever. In Jesus and the Victory of God, The point of Jesus' ministry - his life and death - was exactly the return of YHWH to Zion. In the Resurrection of the Son of God, this is vindicated by the raising of Jesus from the dead. But this book really sold me on this thought, because here's how Wright says Paul interacted with this theme: The Holy Spirit indwelling believers IS PRECISELY THE RETURN OF YHWH TO THE TEMPLE. Why is this? Because the "Messiah-people" (the church) are now the Temple and the Spirit of God is truly dwelling in His temple. What Israel has been waiting for since at least the time of Ezekiel and Jeremiah has now occurred, and it has occurred in the strangest way possible: the crucified and resurrected Messiah. The third section (now in volume 2) is the largest and perhaps the central section of the whole work. Here, Wright takes Paul's "mindset" and elaborates on how this plays out in terms of his theology. Wright seems to think that Theology becomes important with Christianity, and Paul specifically, because of the fact that the "Jesus communities" didn't have specific cultural rituals to bind them together. So theology itself becomes the glue that must do it. I'm not too sure on this either. I think this conclusion is just a quirk of Wright's actantial analyzing. The topics revolve around Paul's reworking of Monotheism, Election, and Eschatology, now that he understands Jesus to be Lord. This section became tedious. Countless times, Wright will mention what he sees as the several options other theologians have given to specific passages and themes, and then he gives a "both/and" conclusion with nuances about why he is right and everyone else is just a little bit off. Almost no topic on Paul is left untouched through this section. The last section wraps up by putting Paul back into his three "worlds" (Jewish, Hellenistic, and Roman) and answering again the questions that were asked in the first section. The length of these volumes is prohibitive, and honestly the style is as well. The chiastic structure and circular (Johannine?) writing gets repetitive. It's probably my least favorite in the series, although it was still a very good book(s). Wright really justifies himself (pun intended) on several areas concerning his version of the "new perspective". This topic, by the way, is never brought to the fore, but it's there throughout, lurking in the background. It is certainly clear that in terms of "gospel", the Old Perspective seems especially lacking and actually focused on things that Paul and the gospel writers didn't think were central. Wright has clarified and answered so many objections at this point, it's hard to say if these volumes add to anything in that respect. I feel his discussion on "righteousness of God" was more helpful than any of his previous work though. Here, he really has room to discuss the differing ways Jews used the phrase "righteousness". One of the main ways of being righteous was to be "declared in the right" in terms of a law court (A complaint was brought against you and the judge declare you "righteous" by nullifying the claim against you). Perhaps this is the way we should be thinking of the phrase in many of these instances it appears in Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians. When explaining the gospel, sometimes we use the imagery of a person sitting on trial and the judge - God - steps off the bench to pay our penalty himself so we can get let off. I think Wright would say that we come closer to what Paul is saying changing this image: Instead, the person put on trial is Sin. And in the act of condemning Sin in His Son, God the judge declares us righteous (in the right) because the power that once found us guilty has been destroyed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John

    1660 pages is a lot to read. I was patient enough to read it, but not patient enough, nor competent enough, to give it the kind of review that this work warrants. There is some great stuff in this book, as most anyone would expect. The middle of the book is where the meat of Wright's most controversial interpretations of Paul's theology are located. It is really good, and very helpful. I have two primary criticisms. First, the book is too long. Wright has a tendency to be very wordy, and could h 1660 pages is a lot to read. I was patient enough to read it, but not patient enough, nor competent enough, to give it the kind of review that this work warrants. There is some great stuff in this book, as most anyone would expect. The middle of the book is where the meat of Wright's most controversial interpretations of Paul's theology are located. It is really good, and very helpful. I have two primary criticisms. First, the book is too long. Wright has a tendency to be very wordy, and could have really used a more assertive editor. My second criticism is a bit unfair, as it could also be construed as a strength. Wright spends a lot of the book interacting with theologians that are seemingly on the margins of orthodoxy. These interactions tend to make the book almost an apologetic for an orthodox reading of Paul. This is likely very instructive for many, but for those already convinced, these long stretches of prose get to be a bit much. In the end, I expect that few readers will choose to read this book the way I did--namely cover to cover. It is too long for most to take the time necessary for such a reading, and for most, it won't really be worth it. By writing such a long book, Wright has possibly out-written the patience of his readership.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nic Don

    With this book, Wright has moved utterly beyond any of the debates that have characterized public reception of his work in the last decade. As a characterization of Paul's writing, ministry, theology and vision, this book is a monument to breadth, depth, clarity, judiciousness and (in particular) method. From the brilliant humility of its opening comparison of Philemon to other letters of appeal of the era, it is clear that Wright is considering Paul and his writings within his whole milieu. The With this book, Wright has moved utterly beyond any of the debates that have characterized public reception of his work in the last decade. As a characterization of Paul's writing, ministry, theology and vision, this book is a monument to breadth, depth, clarity, judiciousness and (in particular) method. From the brilliant humility of its opening comparison of Philemon to other letters of appeal of the era, it is clear that Wright is considering Paul and his writings within his whole milieu. The inclusion of Greco-Roman philosophical and religious context is a much needed and valuable corrective to the sometimes too fraught world of post-Sanders Second-Temple Judaism studies, while Wright's decision to organize the work as a whole chiastically is well-advised, and extremely useful and enlightening as an orienting device. This does, as every reader will notice and as Wright himself admits, lead to some repetition of theme and passage consideration, but the gain in clarity far outweighs any drawbacks. This is a volume that will belong on the pastor-scholar's shelf for decades to come.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zach Waldis

    I was slightly disappointed by this book. On the one hand, Wright's (and Paul's) undeniable brilliance shines through at points, making this a must read for all interpreters of Paul. Wright's writing is so clear and sometimes humorous (to me at least) that the moments of brilliance are undeniable. On the down side, he seems to have really bought into Eichrodt's view of OT theology, that covenant is the driving factor and that that was Paul's primary concern. It seems to me that the book could ha I was slightly disappointed by this book. On the one hand, Wright's (and Paul's) undeniable brilliance shines through at points, making this a must read for all interpreters of Paul. Wright's writing is so clear and sometimes humorous (to me at least) that the moments of brilliance are undeniable. On the down side, he seems to have really bought into Eichrodt's view of OT theology, that covenant is the driving factor and that that was Paul's primary concern. It seems to me that the book could have been shortened significantly if he had not chosen to talk about covenant faithfulness and Abraham so much. Perhaps he's right, but after hearing it hundreds of times it just gets old. All of that aside, insight abounds here. Wright has gotten Paul right.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard Heyduck

    The most extensive discussion of Paul I've yet come across. Some of the chapters are books in themselves (over 200 pages). At some points in these chapters I thought the work could use some more editing (for sake of conciseness). Overall, Wright frames the work in terms of Paul's reworking of Israel's Monotheism, Election, and Eschatology in light of Jesus. Beyond engaging with the Judaisms (yes, that's supposed to be plural), Wright also considers Paul in the context of his engagement with Greco The most extensive discussion of Paul I've yet come across. Some of the chapters are books in themselves (over 200 pages). At some points in these chapters I thought the work could use some more editing (for sake of conciseness). Overall, Wright frames the work in terms of Paul's reworking of Israel's Monotheism, Election, and Eschatology in light of Jesus. Beyond engaging with the Judaisms (yes, that's supposed to be plural), Wright also considers Paul in the context of his engagement with Greco-Roman religion, philosophy, and politics. If you're interested in Paul, or Paul's world, check this out.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wyatt Houtz

    Excellent book on Paul. It's very accessible to the lay reader, and anyone could read this book without too much background in theology but even those people who are well read would appreciate the many layers in this book. This book may have been written with half as many words, but then the text may not be as accessible to so many people. Loved reading it, and although there is more that I wish was said, and there's more to be said, but I was sad when the book was finally done. Something unders Excellent book on Paul. It's very accessible to the lay reader, and anyone could read this book without too much background in theology but even those people who are well read would appreciate the many layers in this book. This book may have been written with half as many words, but then the text may not be as accessible to so many people. Loved reading it, and although there is more that I wish was said, and there's more to be said, but I was sad when the book was finally done. Something understood.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Fisher

    Only just started it. By his references to Pliny right at the beginning NT Wright fires his opening "salvo"...if we understand Jesus is Lord then Caesar is NOT. I would LOVE to be in a room where Wright and Stanley Hauerwas were dialoguing. Those two men clearly challenge the church to be the people of the Kingdom and hence subversive of so much that dominates in the communities claiming to follow after Jesus today. Truly Wright use of Pliny is stunning.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Evan Knies

    Going into reading this book, I knew where I disagreed with NT but this was a very well written work. I enjoyed it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris Breuninger

    Weighing in at over 1500 pages, this 2 volume requires work. But it's well worth it. No book that I've read about Paul contextualizes Paul to his world like this book. Highly recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John Walker

    N.T. Wright has put his readers to task, no less those foolish enough to choose to review his book. Paul and the Faithfulness of God is a mammoth – both in its length and impact. It breaches 1600 pages and aims to represent Paul as a thoroughly coherent and innovative Christian theologian. Due to the sheer magnitude of his fourth volume, I have broken up my review into two parts, mirroring the division of the book itself. Part one of my review will aim to summarize (hopefully succinctly) and eval N.T. Wright has put his readers to task, no less those foolish enough to choose to review his book. Paul and the Faithfulness of God is a mammoth – both in its length and impact. It breaches 1600 pages and aims to represent Paul as a thoroughly coherent and innovative Christian theologian. Due to the sheer magnitude of his fourth volume, I have broken up my review into two parts, mirroring the division of the book itself. Part one of my review will aim to summarize (hopefully succinctly) and evaluate the content of Parts One and Two of Wright’s magnum opus, while Part two of my review will naturally do the same for Parts Three and Four of his book. Clearly much will be left unsaid, however, I hope to faithfully chart out the general argument that Wright lays forth and offer my own perception of its success. A daunting task, no doubt, yet one that I am honored to do. Many thanks to Fortress Press for graciously sending me a review copy. After a brief preface laying forth the outline of the book, Wright begins his masterful symphony: Part One – Paul and His World Chapter One: Return of the Runaway? This chapter, in some sense, takes the place of an introduction, however, it does far more than introduce the task at hand. Wright begins by setting the Apostle Paul and Pliny the Younger side by side. Both were men of authority in their sphere’s of influence, both were Romans near the beginning of the Christian movement, and both had written letters addressing slaves. Paul wrote to Philemon about Onesimus, and Pliny wrote to Sabinianus about an unknown slave whom Sabinianus had recently set free. There is much of interest at hand here, however, most important is the incredible distinction in worldview between Pliny and this Paul figure. One reinforces the social hierarchy, while the other subverts it. One issues his commands through his own authority, the other in the authority of a certain “Messiah”. One calls for civil order, the other for familial reconciliation. The contrast is stark. Wright employs this juxtaposition to highlight some Pauline themes that become central to his overall project. For example, in expounding Philemon, he places particular importance on the fact that Paul calls for reconciliation. More than anything else, Paul is seeking reconciliation between the two. This fight for unity and harmony within the Church is a keystone in Wright’s reconstruction. More fundamentally, Wright sees the heart of Paul’s theology and worldview expressed in this short little text known as Philemon: Paul’s Jewish worldview, radically reshaped around the crucified Messiah, challenges the world of ancient paganism with the concrete signs of the faithfulness of God. That is a summary both of the letter to Philemon and of the entire present book. (pp. 21) Using Philemon as a platform, Wright ventures into discussion of other preliminary matters. In discussing matters of worldview and recounting his anthropological scheme Wright makes a provocative claim. The claim, that for Paul, theology took up a new, foundational position within his worldview, which prior to his allegiance to Jesus was only ancillary. Much more is discussed in this first, hodge-podge chapter then can be relayed here. Yet, one more feature is worth highlighting. Wright, correctly in my view, challenges the bullying skepticism regarding many traditional Pauline sources. He argues for the restoration of Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians to their rightful place within the Pauline corpus, against the current dominant view. Especially in light of the current discussions generated by the New Perspective, it seems clear that those three texts in particular are expressing characteristic Pauline themes. As for the other three, the Pastoral misfits, Wright says this: Third, as to the Pastorals, 2 Timothy may well be by Paul, writing in a different mood and context, and may be drawn on similarly, though again with due caution. 1 Timothy and Titus come in a different category, and will be used, in the opposite way to that in which a drunkard uses a lamppost, for illumination rather than support. (pp. 61) Chapter 2: Like Birds Hovering Overhead: The Faithfulness of the God of Israel. Here lies Wright’s reconstruction of the worldview of the Pharisees – a worldview of much importance to the discussion at hand. Wright limits his purpose to answering the worldview questions he set out in The New Testament and the People of God: “Who are we? Where are we? What’s wrong? What’s the solution? What time is it?” To that end, Wright lays out a general discussion of who the Pharisees were and some of their key praxis and symbol. Particularly, the Torah and the Temple. The Pharisees sought purity by means of the Torah, in relation especially to food, Sabbath, and circumcision. The Temple, on the other hand, was to be the place of God’s dwelling on earth, where he took up residence - the place where heaven and earth intersect. Yet all is not well in the Temple. Here enters Wright’s discussion of the eschatological narrative of the Pharisees. Fundamental to Wright’s conception is that the Pharisees see themselves as “living in a story in search of an ending” (pp. 109). What is this story? The story of God’s calling of Israel to put the world to rights. However, included is Israel’s subsequent failure, and now, exile. 1st century Jews saw themselves as people, who, though they had returned to Israel physically, remained in exile. They were awaiting the act of God in which they would truly return to the Promised Land. Here we begin to answer the worldview questions. What is the solution to their exile? It’s intensified Torah observation, of course. Jewish renegades from within must be dealt with, and Pagan opposition from without, likewise. When Israel repents rightly (this is the point of Torah observation) then God will send His time of restoration – when the Temple is restored and the covenant is renewed. A conversation which has been rehashed many times in Wright’s writing is once again laid out, the question of Jewish eschatological hope. Was it about abolishing the time, space universe – or something else? Doubtless, for Wright, it is surely not abolishment but restoration, a new world order in the this-worldly cosmos. Finally Wright gets around to answering the questions, which I will not relay here. None of which is very surprising for those who have read Wright. He then discusses the Theology of the Pharisees, which, in short, is about One God, One People of God, and One Future for God’s People. Monotheism, Election, and Eschatology. Overall, this is a very strong, very clear portrait of the 1st century Jewish sect known as the Pharisees. Chapter 3: Athene and Her Owl: The Wisdom of the Greeks Chapter three explores the Greek philosophy of the ancient world. Wright contends that many of Paul’s contemporaries would have seen him as some sort of strange philosopher, founding philosophical schools of thought, not a religious missionary (with all its potent anachronism). Likewise, Tarsus, the home of the great Apostle, was a center of Greek learning. Thus, Paul, likely at an early age, though, even if not in Tarsus definitely in his later travels, would have been exposed to much Greek thought. Though, we must remind ourselves, not through historical reconstructions or systematic expositions, but through everyday encounters, in piece-meal fashion. Now, Wright is not saying that Paul was a Greek philosopher, or even that he derived ideas from them. However, he is arguing that Paul would have interacted with them, either through confrontation or adaptation. This is a wise judgment, in my estimation. He offers an excellent introductory account of Greek philosophical history. Beginning with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, he works his way into the Epicureans and Stoics (highlighting four Stoics in particular) and then touches on the Cynics and Sceptics. He ultimately considers the general “Philosophical Worldview” with its accompanying praxis, symbols, and stories. And lastly, explores Jewish interaction/reception of Greek thought. Though it may be expected that Jews would reject this pagan thought, this is some strong evidence for its incorporation by at least one 2nd Temple Jew (see Wisdom of Solomon). Thus, we must be open to the idea that Paul would have considered Jewish thought – though, doubtless, transformed through the Jewish worldview. Chapter 4: A Cock for Asclepius: ‘Religion’ and ‘Culture’ in Paul’s World Wright delves into a long discussion on the usefulness of ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ as historical terms. He chooses to use them, as long as religion is understood as a far-reaching concept, rather than the compartmentalized version. His conclusion in this chapter is essentially that Roman religion was primarily about praxis. Whatever you think about the temples, whatever you believe about the gods, make sure to offer the sacrifices. Chapter 5: The Eagle Has Landed: Rome and the Challenge of Empire As readers should expect, Wright places great importance in the Roman Empire’s influence for Paul as a pastor/theologian. Of importance here is that Imperial cults were widespread. The Roman Imperial propaganda machine functioned at full force. As the evidence is recounted from the 1st century, Wright seems justified in placing such weight on ‘Empire’ as a Pauline category to be explored. Regarding Jewish response to Rome, the evidence suggests that Jews cared mainly about abuse from rulers, not the fact of rulers. Thus, Christian anarchists and Tolstoyans may be disappointed, but Wright sees Paul as affirming at least some sort of government. Part 2 – The Mindset of the Apostle Chapter 6: A Bird in the Hand? The Symbolic Praxis of Paul’s World Having drafted up the three worldviews, they now converge in one man, Paul the Apostle. Chapter 6 begins the charting of Paul’s personal worldview (which Wright calls “mindset”) that continues through chapters 7 and 8. This is where Wright begins to shine as a writer. There is so much rich theology intact that I pail at the work set before me. Sadly I must omit a great portion of the discussion, but of significance to me was Wright’s centralizing of Church Unity for Paul’s symbolic world. According to Wright, unity is the planet that the Paul’s symbolic cosmos spins around. This symbol then drives much of his praxis. In this chapter Wright also considers how Paul has rethought and recast the Jewish and Pagan worldview symbols. This portion is truly fascinating. I especially enjoyed his discussion on “sacralization”. Since Paul debases the “gods” of the pantheon, who in Pagan thought fill the cosmos, he must somehow resacralize the world. For Paul, “The resacralization of the world begins with Jesus. But it doesn’t stop there” (pp. 378). Again: …we have the beginnings of what we might call a Christian iconography: the start, and the generative point, for a newly sacral world. The other icons – statues, temples, coins, mosaics – fall away, and for Paul one solitary icon stands in the place of them all. Jesus reflects the one God: that is what eikon tou theou indicates. The fact of Jesus himself, who he was and is, and lost least his Messiahship, is for Paul the place where, and the means by which, the community of his followers gazes at the one God and, through worship and thanksgiving, is itself transformed into the same likeness. (pp. 406) Chapter 7: The Plot the Plan and the Storied Worldview It is here, in discussing Paul’s underlying narratives that N.T. Wright is on full display as a master exegete and theologian. He argues persuasively against the “apocalyptic” school in seeing Paul as a thoroughly “storied” thinker. In other words, he understood Jesus in light of an age-old narrative – namely, as the fulfillment and telos of that narrative – not (as the apocalypticists would have us think) as some new revelatory figure, detached from any prior history, who thus disposes of the story of Israel. So, if as Wright has argued, correctly in my view, that Paul is a fundamentally narrativized thinker, than what were the narratives which he held? And the answer to this question is perhaps the most significant contribution Wright makes in the whole first two parts of his magnum opus. Wright recognizes one primary, controlling narrative in Paul, which itself, has several sub-plots. It is important to note at this point, that these narratives that Wright picks up, are rarely (if ever) stated explicitly. Rather, as such worldview elements often are, they are “everywhere presupposed”. These foundation stories were not for looking at, but for looking through. The first, outer story – the primary narrative – is that of God and Creation; the Creator and His Cosmos. God creates the universe, and installs Man as the keeper and steward of the land. “First, the creator made a world with a purpose, and entrusted that purpose to humans: ah, now we have the beginning of a story – a quest, a task to be undertaken. Then, second, the humans to whom the task was entrusted abused that trust and rebelled. […] The purpose of that relationship [between Creator and Creation] appears to be thwarted.” (pp. 476) And for Paul, God’s response – his solution – this problem, is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is through Christ that God has launched the New Age, leaving the Old Age of the curse and rebellion behind. Through this recreation, the intention for the Cosmos would be restored. And this recreation has surprisingly already begun in the resurrection of the Messiah. Through the Christ, God is reclaiming His sovereignty over the world. The powers are corruption are ceased and His wise order is restored. This is the primary story, the one to which the others serve. However, just because the others are secondary, does not mean they are not necessary. It is through these subsidiary stories that the rectifying of the primary one is achieved. It follows naturally that if Man’s corruption has led to the corruption of the Cosmos, then the restoration of Man must be effected if the restoration of the Cosmos is to be. So it is under the story of Creation that we find the plight of Man. Man’s relation to God is not detached from the primary story of Creation. Thus, Gnosticism will find no place in Pauline theology (sorry Pagels...). “Creation cannot be put right until humans are put right” (pp. 488). For Paul, the fundamental problem for Man is his failure to fulfill the purpose God set out for him as an image bearer. Being in God’s image is both about reflecting God into the world (the purpose) and about receiving and returning the divine love (the relationship). The two go together. (pp. 487) Therefore, God has set out to redeem fallen humanity, which subsequently redeems fallen creation. I wish I could give more time to this topic here, but alas, space fails me. In short, Wright vigorously attacks the Gnostic style narrative that has been allowed to drive Western Christianity. The narrative that is all about “me and my relationship with God”, with nothing of the Cosmos or man’s stewardship. There is so much more going on! The last subplot is, once again, the answer to the previous subplot. If Man must be restored, how must he be so? God’s answer: Israel. Israel is chosen to be the vehicle of God’s blessing and reinstallment of Man over Creation. They are God’s rescue plan for the world. But, the problem arises. Israel itself is plagued with the same plight of Adam. She is unable to fulfill God’s purpose of rescue. Thus, she – Israel – must be restored if Adam and the rest of creation are to be put back to rights. The answer to this is the Messiah. The Messiah fulfills Israel’s vocation, thus fulfilling Man’s vocation – reclaiming His glory and reign – and, ultimately, restoring creation. That is the story of Scriptures, that is the story of Paul. When we lose sight of which story Paul is addressing at a particular time, we are cast into confusion and our exegesis wanes. Thus, I find these three stories as a incredibly helpful key to unlocking many of the Pauline trouble texts (trouble at least for me!). Wright goes on to address the role of Torah and Jesus own story, which falls under all of these, namely, as the answer to the troubles in all these stories. However, I cannot speak to them here. All I can say is that it is incredibly persuasive, and downright brilliant. Chapter 8: Five Signposts to the Apostolic Mindset Lastly, to end this drawn out review, we will consider Wright’s take on Paul’s answers to the 5 worldview questions that he’s laid out. Who are we? We are those who are in Messiah. We are Israel, the seed of Abraham. Our identity is not as pagans or Gentiles, or even as ethnic Jews, so much as Messiah people. As such, our identity is parallel to that of the Messiah, for that is what it means to be united with Him. Where are we? We are in the Cosmos that God has created, and in which the Messiah now reigns as Lord. We are in the new creation of God, even as the ongoing corruption of old creation lives on. What’s wrong and what’s the solution? Clearly, Paul sees the primary problems being solved in the work of the Messiah. However, trouble persists because we live in the Age of the Overlap, where evil and injustice continue. And there are enemies both inside and outside that seek to lead astray. What is the solution to this problem? “Prayer, the Spirit, and Resurrection”. Ultimately, the solution is Christ’s parousia in which recreation will be completed and evil judged. Evil will be confronted and denied future existence. What time is it? It should be clear by now. It is the time in which the Ages have converged. The time of the Messiah’s reign. Yet, still awaiting the complete, full consummation. Wright explores brilliantly the concept of the Messiah’s ruling as an age of Sabbath. The time when God sits over creation as ruler. The last thing to be considered in Paul’s worldview is what makes up the next Part of this book. Paul’s theology. A theology which, according to Wright, undergirds and props up His whole worldview. Without it, there is nothing to stand on. That portion, naturally, will be surveyed in part 2 of my review. For now, I close with words of adulation. Wright has succeeded in producing a weighty, much needed rethinking of the Apostle’s teaching. The Church and the Academy would do well to seriously look at the exposition he lays out. It will bring us that much closer to understanding for Paul what God has done, and is doing, in the world through the Messiah, His Spirit, and His people. Then, perhaps, like Paul, we would learn how to fight for the unity of our churches, or, even more necessary, for the unity of His Church. NOTE: This book was received free of charge in exchange for an honest review. FOR THE REVIEW OF PARTS 3&4: http://freedominorthodoxy.blogspot.co...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Harry Allagree

    I have heard Bishop Tom Wright speak & found him very engaging. Some of his remarks during a lecture at a clergy conference a year or so ago led me to read his The Kingdom New Testament, which I've reviewed previously. It also moved me to obtain the 2-volume set on Paul & the Faithfulness of God -- a rather monumental undertaking for me. This is the 1st volume which I've completed, all 570+ pages! Some time soon I'll tackle the 2nd volume, some 1500+ pages! Wright, in the Preface, says that "the I have heard Bishop Tom Wright speak & found him very engaging. Some of his remarks during a lecture at a clergy conference a year or so ago led me to read his The Kingdom New Testament, which I've reviewed previously. It also moved me to obtain the 2-volume set on Paul & the Faithfulness of God -- a rather monumental undertaking for me. This is the 1st volume which I've completed, all 570+ pages! Some time soon I'll tackle the 2nd volume, some 1500+ pages! Wright, in the Preface, says that "the main thesis...which can be briefly stated thus [is]: Paul developed something we can appropriately call his 'theology', a radical mutation in the core beliefs of his Jewish world, because only so could he sustain what we can appropriately call the 'worldview' which he held himself and which he longed for his churches to hold as well." There is no way I can properly simplify or distill Wright's rich theological exposition of Paul's 'theology'/worldview. The best I can do is to say that out of his own rich Jewish Pharisaic theological tradition & background, and, once God had gotten Paul's attention by his being literally thrown from a horse & blinded, Paul experienced a deep inner transformation. He came, through what's traditionally called 'grace', to experience the presence & personal knowledge of Jesus the Christ in whom he recognized the Messiah. For Paul, Messiah/Jesus embodies & enacts the creative power & saving love of whom Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Moses had spoken of as God the creator. Paul sees the Messiah/Jesus as the 'true Israel', rescuing Adam, and therefore, the world, [through his death/resurrection] from their failure through selfish choices. For Paul, Jesus/Messiah stands over against "even Israel, doing for Israel, and hence for Adam and the world, what they could not do for themselves", thus bringing to completion the original promises of the God of the Hebrew Scriptures Paul was impelled to accept this "Good News" & to share it with others, which he did for the remainder of his life, traveling, preaching & bringing together small groups of "Messiah-people", both Jewish & gentile, who live in such a way that they bear living witness to the "Good News" of truth, goodness, love, etc. Wright stresses the importance of recognizing that Paul didn't "chuck" his Jewish tradition & found a new "religion", but rather recognized God's calling him to continue the essence of the Jewish beliefs about God, but in a radically new and transformed way. The author's style of writing, for me, often seems more verbose than it needs to be, but then no one will ever accuse Wright of not being precise & thorough in his research. I guess I'm saying this 2-volume work is worth plowing through!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Harry Allagree

    It's been a long time since I've read such a commanding, as well as demanding, theological book! It has taken me 3 months to complete this second volume of Wright's work on Paul & the Faithfulness of God. Nevertheless, the deliberate pace was very much worth it. Wright tends to be a "wordy" writer, many times repetitive, or "thorough"...probably the teacher in him! But by the end of his two volumes, I think I've been able to absorb at least the gist of what he has to say. His concluding chapter It's been a long time since I've read such a commanding, as well as demanding, theological book! It has taken me 3 months to complete this second volume of Wright's work on Paul & the Faithfulness of God. Nevertheless, the deliberate pace was very much worth it. Wright tends to be a "wordy" writer, many times repetitive, or "thorough"...probably the teacher in him! But by the end of his two volumes, I think I've been able to absorb at least the gist of what he has to say. His concluding chapter particularly made me aware of how much his thesis about Paul resonates with the world which we're experiencing today in the 21st century. Wright argues that Paul's theology is the result of how he, a 1st century Jew, had come to see all of reality. "His writing was a form of doing: he was concerned, not to explain the world or indeed the church, but to change it." The author rightly criticizes some of the big-name Scripture scholars [particularly German] of the past who, in Wright's view, have misunderstood & perpetuated their faulty understandings of Paul of Tarsus & his writings. He, & by extension Paul, reminds us of our liability today to make similar mistakes: "History...ought always to be liberating, freeing the past from the tyranny of the present. And for that one needs always to think in different ways. As fully fledged historians have long been aware, if the past is indeed a 'foreign country' where 'they do things differently', the historian is by definition one who learns to live there as a respectful guest, rather than insisting and speaking loudly in his own language to drown out the strange local babble and behaving according to his own customs irrespective of local tradition and taboo..." Wright sums it up well in noting: "...whereas western understanding has seen the individual as the goal, Paul sees individual Christians [Messiah-people, as Wright terms them] as signs pointing to a larger reality." For Paul, that is being "in Christ" Messiah, a "new creation": "a gift of love for the whole world", says Wright, which includes everyone & everything.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Frank Peters

    This was an impressive book, both for length as well as depth. As someone who is very much an amateur in this field, my thoughts are mixed. I greatly enjoy the intellectual challenge of reading Prod. Wright, even while I often fail in the attempt. This book certainly revealed my failures multiple times. When Prof. Wright is teaching history or theology through his writing, I think he is outstanding, and I often find myself gripped by what I am learning. When he is discussing philosophy, I start l This was an impressive book, both for length as well as depth. As someone who is very much an amateur in this field, my thoughts are mixed. I greatly enjoy the intellectual challenge of reading Prod. Wright, even while I often fail in the attempt. This book certainly revealed my failures multiple times. When Prof. Wright is teaching history or theology through his writing, I think he is outstanding, and I often find myself gripped by what I am learning. When he is discussing philosophy, I start looking forward to the end of the section. Too often in introductory sections in the book, he seems to want to start a discussion about the importance about what he will eventually write. These sections did not appeal to me at all. They seemed to be filled with references to people and positions that I am not aware of, such that I merely read the words without anything useful sinking into my brain (or heart). But again, the heart of the book, where he is teaching was extremely interesting. I appreciate his passion for consistency when dealing with Paul; that is, his insistence that Paul’s life and teaching must make sense from the perspective of a first century ex-Pharisee. Thus, Part 3 (of 4) of the book was by far the most interesting and thought provoking. I especially liked his treatment and discussion surrounding Romans Chapters 9-11. At ~1500 pages of often difficult material it is hard to give the book as a recommendation to others, but at the same time I am very happy that I have read it. I only wish it were possible to eliminate all the excess discussion, which would result in a book half the size. That book is one that could recommend.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Allen Watson

    tho Wright is more conservative than me, he is such a scholar that I learn a lot from him even though I often do not agree with his theology. For my taste he spends too much time talking about his methodology or sparring with things others have written. I’d be happier with a shorter book that presented his findings and interpretations. But I plan to make it through the whole 2 volumes, some 1700 pages.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shane Hill

    A solid yet challenging read! The author is a academic and theologian and is writing for that audience. You have to be on your toes reading this massive 1500 page opus about Pauline theology! A book that makes one ponder!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erich Jordan

    This is not a once off read. It’s a book I will come back to time and time again.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fred Middel

    Long. Intense. Detailed.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Spaun

    Very interesting. The ideas put forward are certainly thought provoking if not quite as iron clad previous volumes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    For over 30 years, N.T. Wright has been researching and writing about the apostle Paul and the historical-social context from which his epistles sprung from. Also, over the past two decades, Mr. Wright has been working on a series of academic works known collectively as Christian Origins and the Question of God. This book is the culmination, the climax, both of that series and Mr. Wright's lifelong work on Paul. It is also a crowning achievement, combining history and theology, as it clearly art For over 30 years, N.T. Wright has been researching and writing about the apostle Paul and the historical-social context from which his epistles sprung from. Also, over the past two decades, Mr. Wright has been working on a series of academic works known collectively as Christian Origins and the Question of God. This book is the culmination, the climax, both of that series and Mr. Wright's lifelong work on Paul. It is also a crowning achievement, combining history and theology, as it clearly articulates his views on Paul, the early church, and the question of God. The structure of the book is pretty interesting. Parts I and IV deal with Paul's world and how his message interacted with that world. This includes brief overviews of pagan religion and philosophy, the Judaism of the time, and the imperial ideology of the Roman Empire, particularly Caesar worship, which was beginning to take off in the East in Paul's time. This shows that Paul was not just a product of his times, but also an influencer of those times. But the real meat of this book is in parts II and III, which deal with Paul's worldview and theology. Mr. Wright contends that Paul's theology was important because it was meant to help believers of the time both unify and work out for themselves the meaning of the salvation they (and Christians even today) had found in Jesus Christ. He also argues that his worldview and his theology, while still featuring key characteristics of his Jewish upbringing, were radically re-centered and refocused around the crucified and resurrected Messiah. It is an absolutely fascinating thesis that has many implications, particularly about the importance of works (to use a blunt word) as marking out those who had been saved by Jesus Christ. My favorite quote from this book will help clarify what I am saying: "That is why, among other things, the intermediate state between initial justification and the final verdict is to be marked, again as in Romans 8, by the Messiah-shaped cruciform life of holiness and suffering, by the spirit's transforming work, including the famous 'groaning' in prayer ([Romans] 8.26-27).... Justification is the divine declaration, creating the new status of 'righteous', 'adopted child', because of which the believer can move forward in the Christian pilgrimage. At every stage it utterly presupposes the one-off decisive work of the Messiah; at every stage it utterly requires the work of the spirit. This is the beating heart of redefined election." (p. 960) The only thing that I have against this book is that, in spite of its humongous length, it still feels rather packed. There are points where Mr. Wright says he wishes there was more space to discuss certain things, meaning that there is plenty more that the 1,600 pages he could've said about this topic (I suppose that's why there are two supplemental books for this volume)! This also means that there is a lot crammed into this book and, if you are not careful, you may miss out on some pretty important things. It took me two months to make it through this behemoth and I know that I missed some things. Thus, this is not a book that you want to approach lightly. Indeed, you will want to approach this respectfully and thoughtfully, ideally after reading the previous volumes in this series beforehand and with a Bible next to you to keep looking at the different verses he keeps quoting. I also don't like how he didn't rely on some of Paul's other epistles because of the academy's belief that some of them possibly weren't written by Paul. Of course, I don't know much about Biblical literary criticism and the criteria used by the academy to label some letters as probably written by Paul and others probably not, so I was willing to give Mr. Wright the benefit of a doubt here. However, I believe that careful study of this book and even more careful study of the Bible will have great benefits for all serious students of Christianity and the apostle Paul.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Achord

    Wright writes a lot. His writing reminds me of Barth. Read every other sentence and you'll get the idea. A disciple of Wright needs to come along and codify and simplify his thought. For now, it essentially is this: we shouldn't read 1st century context with 16th or 21st century lenses. It is improbable to understand a writer without knowing their context. The cultural context surrounding Paul and Jesus was not "How do I get to heaven?" or "How is one justified before God?", but was "When and ho Wright writes a lot. His writing reminds me of Barth. Read every other sentence and you'll get the idea. A disciple of Wright needs to come along and codify and simplify his thought. For now, it essentially is this: we shouldn't read 1st century context with 16th or 21st century lenses. It is improbable to understand a writer without knowing their context. The cultural context surrounding Paul and Jesus was not "How do I get to heaven?" or "How is one justified before God?", but was "When and how is God going to make good on his promises to Abraham?" “They were not asking how they might find their way out of this world to ‘heaven’. Nor were they simply saying, ‘We are fed up with our present rulers; let’s hope our God will do something to help’, and then going back to a few ancient oracles to see if there were hints as to how such a deliverance might come about. They were more like people who find themselves hired to act in a play, only to find that they are cast in roles which come on stage in the fifth act, and that to grasp what’s going on, and hence the particular nuances of the lines they have to speak, they must understand the full flow of the much longer drama which has already taken place, and particularly the questions that are to be resolved. They have (to change the image) been thrust into the stadium to run a race, but it turns out to be a multi-leg relay race in which they are carrying the baton for one of the legs near the end of the sequence, where they will carry the weight of the previous efforts, mishaps, false starts and so on. They have pulled a book off the library shelf, called ‘My Life’, only to discover that it is Volume 99 in a hundred-volume narrative, and that to make sense of who they are supposed to be they have to recall the entire narrative of the first ninety-eight volumes, and read ahead into number 100 to find out how it’s all supposed to end.” – Wright, N. T. “Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Two book set (Christian Origins and the Question of God).” Fair enough. But I think, and in my extreme humble opinion, that Wright maximizes this narrative and minimizes many other places that speak of righteousness as a legal requirement. Granted, there are no relations to God that are non-covenantal. So, I think this would solve Wright's dilemma of wanting to make righteousness largely a covenant-only inclusion - we're all in covenant with God, either via Adam or via Christ. Thus, all righteousness, yes, is within that context. As for the dreaded imputation, I think we need a more covenantal emphasis, but not as extreme. Instead of being given money into my own bank account, when viewed in terms of the covenant, imputation is more like joining bank accounts. Again, this solves some problems. Overall, I appreciate Wright's work for its many questions it raises, not least his covenantal emphasis and his philosophy-of-history hermeneutic.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This book is the 4th installment in NT Wright's "Christian Origins and the Question of God" series, and every one of the books is a work of genius. "Paul and the Faithfulness of God" is a brilliant book, that will absolutely give you insights on Paul, and perhaps insights on God and God's work in the church, that you have never had before. That being said, this book was insanely difficult to get through. It took me four months to read the book carefully, and at least twice I had to repeat entire This book is the 4th installment in NT Wright's "Christian Origins and the Question of God" series, and every one of the books is a work of genius. "Paul and the Faithfulness of God" is a brilliant book, that will absolutely give you insights on Paul, and perhaps insights on God and God's work in the church, that you have never had before. That being said, this book was insanely difficult to get through. It took me four months to read the book carefully, and at least twice I had to repeat entire chapters over again. Don't take up this enterprise unless you are a careful reader and really willing to put in the work to understand Wright's entire argument. Wright wants Paul to be understood in his own context, not via the centuries-later debates that modern theologians have often tried to force him into. So he spends the first four chapters simply laying the groundwork of Paul's world. Unfortunately, there are a lot of worlds - Paul's own Jewish origins, the pagan religion that surrounded him, the musing of the Greek philosophers that had spread across the entire region, and the machinations of the Roman empire that ruled it all. After four careful chapters of looking at exactly what was available to Paul through those four words, Wright then asks - what did Paul himself believe? What was his own worldview, and what where the symbols and actions of his own life that showed that worldview in action? Most importantly for our purposes, what was the theology that resulted from that worldview? Wright does his best to show us Paul though the context of all his letters, rather than focusing on isolated verses and books. He does narrow in on one book or one passage here and there, but it is always interpreted in the fullness of what Paul had stated throughout his life. As a result, this perspective on Paul is much deeper and fuller than anything else I've read on him. The greatest gift this book gave to me was a further understanding of the depths to which Paul valued community and unity among the entire body of Christ, and a further understanding of the alignment between the beliefs and objectives of Jesus and the beliefs and objectives of Paul. The Luke who wrote the beautiful portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke is the same Luke who wrote so admiringly of Paul in the Book of Acts, but from many modern controversies you would believe that you have to chose one of the other. Once you understand the core mission that Paul had given himself too, and the basic worldview that his letters and actions were driven by, you can't see them as separate again. Paul was an apostle of Christ Jesus, through and through.

  30. 4 out of 5

    T.A. Gallant

    Pretty much lives up to the expectation I have of Wright's epic works. Helpfully dispels a number of false dichotomies, such as the strange one that pits apocalyptic over against covenant. Some people may find part tedious, because due to various forms of nonsense in critical scholarship Wright has to argue certain points that ought in fact be patently obvious. I'm glad somebody had the patience to do it, and do it well. I naturally have a few quibbles. As with his big Romans commentary, Wright s Pretty much lives up to the expectation I have of Wright's epic works. Helpfully dispels a number of false dichotomies, such as the strange one that pits apocalyptic over against covenant. Some people may find part tedious, because due to various forms of nonsense in critical scholarship Wright has to argue certain points that ought in fact be patently obvious. I'm glad somebody had the patience to do it, and do it well. I naturally have a few quibbles. As with his big Romans commentary, Wright still offers his same reading of Romans 11, which differs little from that of William Hendriksen. It's disappointing that someone generally given to close attention to the exegetical details still doesn't track Paul's use of pronouns. The "all Israel" that shall be saved in Romans 11:26 simply must refer, not to an amalgam of Gentiles and Jews (however small or large), but to the preponderance of Israel. That's simply how the argumentative structure works. It's frustrating that Wright interacted with the weakest forms of the position he opposes. Wright has an interesting take on the biblical terminology of "glory," referring it to rule. I think that fits a lot of cases, but it's a bit too narrow and specific to bear the weight (pun intended; the Hebrew word for "glory" means "weight") of the full breadth of the biblical evidence. Certainly, there is overlap between ideas such as metaphorical weight, on one hand, and rule on the other, but I don't think they are synonymous. Still, some stimulating stuff that deserves further attention. Wright also has an odd throwaway line that for Gentiles, the Messianic reality represents new creation, while for Jews it represents resurrection. Again an interesting thought, but the truth is that both terms are suitable for both Jews and Gentiles, and I don't see Paul attempting to separate out his usage in that manner. Anyway, it's a massive project, and overall, Paul and the Faithfulness of God does justice to its ambitious scope, helping place Paul within the various aspects of his world: his fellow Jews, the contemporary philosophies, the political realities and so on. It has the breadth and depth that is typical of his entire series on Christian Origins, and if you can't learn something here, chances are you're either obtuse or unteachable. Is it my favourite Wright book? No, he's had too many gems, and Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision is probably my favourite so far as his books on the apostle goes. But in terms of what it sets out to do, this book is probably peerless in contemporary scholarship.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.