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4 Stars Out Of 5
I need further new paul perspective readings
January 20, 2011
Without a doubt the letters of Paul have created plenty of doctrine and discussion in the Church, even in 2 Peter the writer mentions that Paul's letters contain some things that are hard to understand. N.T. Wright sets out to explore Paul again this time focusing on what he might have thought in a 1st century Jewish context. Overall this book was pretty interesting, it starts with a brief summary of the recent Pauline studies, and it gives plenty of places to go if someone wants to dig a little deeper. He ties Paul's zealous Pharisee thoughts to his new thoughts in Christ and how that defines his view of the Gospel which is Jesus is Lord. He also claims that neither Judaism nor later Paul's later Christian thought were a form of a Pelagian religion of self-help which might disappoint the people who don't actually read this book and assume that any difference in the idea of Justification in Faith Alone means that Wright is now advocating a new form of Pelagianism. (Although any mention of works will get the label of Semi-Plegianism thrown around, I never got the impression that he believes we're made righteous because of someone we do, at the same time does anyone truly believe that you can only have faith alone and live an antinomian lifestyle and still be saved in the end?)
My favorite part of the book was the last true chapter(9) which is sort of an application chapter, focusing on changing the world, especially moving away from serving mammon and Aphrodite, and instead serving Jesus as Lord and moving towards â€˜the ecumenical task'. He quotes someone saying that â€˜One is not justified by faith in justification by faith'. I have to completely agree, I wonder what Paul would think had he seen the split this justification by faith has caused in the church for the past 500 years. Does anyone really think that Christian's who lived during the first 1500 years aren't really Christians because they didn't believe in Justification by Faith Alone as presented by the reformation? Is this doctrine really worth a lack of unity in the body of Christ which according to Paul was supposed to be one body, I don't think it is.
The subtitle of this book is â€˜Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?' This question is briefly discussed in the last chapter of the book which was apparently added on after the book was completed, and it focuses on a book by A.N. Wilson. Its pointed out that Wilson has some pretty inventive ideas about Paul (some of which are completely off base), but in the decade plus since this book was published Wilson has returned to Christianity, I'm more interested in seeing him write his own critique of his Paul book.
N.T Wright is a master of word and thought in biblical studies. It is very rare to have one biblical scholar brood over so many fields in his/her discipline; and Wright does just that. Not only has he published the standard work on Jesus ("Jesus and the Victory of God"), but he is planning to do the same for Paul as he previews this in "What Saint Paul Really Said". In the very complex contemporary debates over Paul, Wright cuts through the issues and lays them forth with clarity, wisdom, and freshness.
Incredibly thought-provoking. Without question, the best book I have read on the subject. The author has a real gift for articulating the core issues of complex subjects and making them clear and accessible to all levels. His ability to "unpack" Paul'stheological terms of their Jewishcontext is stunning. You get the sense that N.T. Wright has lived with Paul for a long time. The book sent me to the Bible over and over again with new insights on familiar texts. The author is that rare combination of reverent, scholarly and warm. His passion for what Paul wrote will be contagious to any reader of this book.