Wright on Israel in Rom 11
‘So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”’ (Rom 11:25-26)Verse 26 in the Greek is: ‘kai. ou[twj pa/j VIsrah.l swqh,setai( kaqw.j ge,graptai\ h[xei evk Siw.n o` r`uo,menoj( avpostre,yei avsebei,aj avpo. VIakw,b’.
Of the ou[twj Tom Wright famously claims:
‘Despite repeated assertions to the contrary, the meaning of ou[twj is not ‘then’ but ‘thus’, ‘in this manner’. Paul’s meaning is not temporal sequence – first the Gentiles, then the Jews. Rather, it is the interpretation of a particular process as the salvation of ‘all Israel’. And in this context ‘all Israel’ cannot possibly mean ‘all Jews’. It is impermissible to argue that ‘Israel’ cannot change its referent within the space of two verses, so that ‘Israel’ in v.25 must mean the same as ‘Israel’ in v.26: Paul actually began the whole section (9:6) with just such a programmatic distinction of two ‘Israles’, and throughout the letter (e.g. 2.25-9) as well as elsewhere (Philippians 3.2-11) he has systematically transferred the privileges and attributes of ‘Israel’ to the Messiah and his people’ (The Climax of the Covenant, 250) – though to clarify I should point out that later Wright is clear to rule out a straightforward ‘replationist’ theology (253).
Speaking for him is that this interpretation helps 11:26 sit more comfortably in a otherwise problematic context. In fact, others have tried to resolve the apparent tension by proposing that 11:26 be understood a mere Pauline inconsistency, the outburst of an unthoughtout apocalyptic fantasy (Bultmann), while others explain it away as a later unPauline gloss. Not only that, Wright’s whole scheme in these chapters (Rom 9-11) helps one make sense of the relations between Rom 1-8 with 9-11 and even 12-16. Perhaps another good thing is that his interpretation flies in the face of Christian predictive Zionism that sometimes understands and reads the bible as if it were a script written by Nostrodamus, but admittedly that is hardly positive reason of itself. OK, maybe it is.
Do you think Wright is wrong or spot on?