Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Quote of the day

*Provoke mode on*

He may not appeal to everybody (i.e. Jim West!), but I for one cannot help but be impressed by the architecture of his thinking - I have truly learnt a lot from him. Not only that, his individual exegetical work I find impressive and, in my humble opinion, usually precise (e.g. cf. his work on 1 Cor 8-10 in The Climax, one of the best to be written anywhere/anywhen on the subject). Who am I talking about? Tom-Greater-than-Bultmann-Wright, of course.


*Provoke mode off*

“the old picture of Jesus as the teacher of timeless truths, or even the announcer of the essentially timeless call for decision, will simply have to go. His announcement of the kingdom was a warn­ing of imminent catastrophe, a summons to an immediate change of heart and direction of life, an invitation to a new way of being Israel. Jesus announced that the reign of Israel’s god, so long awaited, was now beginning; but, in the announcement and inauguration itself, he drastically but consistently redefined the concept of the reign of god itself. In the light of the Jewish background sketched in NTPG Part III, this cannot but have been heard as the announcement that the exile was at last drawing to a close, that Israel was about to be vindicated against her enemies, that her god was returning at last to deal with evil, to right wrongs, to bring justice to those who were thirsting for it like dying people in a desert. We are bound to say, I think, that Jesus could not have used the phrase ‘the reign of god’ if he were not in some sense or other claiming to fulfil, or at least to announce the fulfilment of, those deeply rooted Jewish aspirations. The phrase was not a novum, an invention of his own. It spoke of covenant renewed, of creation restored, of Israel liberated, of YHWH returning. It can be reduced neither to a general existential state of affairs, unrelated to Israel’s national hope, nor to a hypothetical ‘parousia’ hope (which the early church first invented, then cherished, then projected back on to Jesus, and then finally abandoned), nor to the offer of a new type of private spirituality”.

(N.T. Wright, JVG, 172)


At 10/10/2006 2:45 PM, Anonymous One of Freedom said...

Sweet quote, that might be just the piece to engage for my upcoming Kingdom series. What a great way to start the day!

At 10/10/2006 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We are bound to say, I think, that Jesus could not have used the phrase ‘the reign of god’ if he were not in some sense or other claiming to fulfil, or at least to announce the fulfilment of, those deeply rooted Jewish aspirations."

Well said.

At 10/10/2006 6:26 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

Sorry chris, i am with dr west. i went through a class in seminary on the new perspective and studied well the triumvarate of sanders dunn and wright, the current leaders of this theology and found it quite wanting. mostly non-sequitors and logical fallacies.

So i am at a loss to see the reasons for the apparent obsessions over wright and his theology.

His thoughts in the reign of God (note the cap) are well and dandy and it is good to note the coming vindication of the messiah but somehow he convinently leaves out the role of the cross as judgement against personal sin. he seems to prefer a more corporate approach that appears to present sin as a genenral problem, and not necessarily a serious one.

To be quite frank, it seems like Wright either inadvertenly or unintentionally or not, makes the Cross of Christ akin to a clock on the wall (a sort of footnote to the Jews about what God was doing at that point in history - allowing for Gentile inclusion into the plan of God) as though the work of the Cross doesn't apply to the Jews per se.

This isn't to say that Wright is all wrong or anything but sometime what someone doesn't say is as important as what they do say.

All that to say I will admit that I am not widely read on Wright but as Dr. West noted, you read one book by Wright and it seems like you've read them all. He keeps playing the same tune.

At 10/10/2006 7:39 PM, Anonymous El Bryan Libre said...

Wright has published quite a bit. If you admit that you haven't read much by him, then how do you know that reading one is like reading it all? Maybe you were just reading his works that were similar in subject. Maybe you were reading a popular level book of his that made accessible his major work. Or maybe you keep noticing his emphasis on the Kingdom of God and the end of exile (I'm guessing. you didn't say this), and how it keeps popping up in his work, because he sees it as an important theme that's everywhere and makes sense of much of the NT.
Try reading some of his other books and maybe you'll change your mind. Maybe his emphasis on the cross will show up (I think he does emphasize it when he speaks about God dealing with evil or his way of defeating Satan and sin and bringing about the New Exodus but I can't remember). I'll admit, I read his 3 books on Christian Origins and was really impressed at his grasp of the subject, but then amazed to find out that he was really a Pauline scholar. If you look at some of the other subjects he writes on he really is a lot more diverse than he's being given credit for and I've never felt like reading one book was like reading all but I do get the feeling that they are all Wright's work the same way you can tell a famous director’s movies.

At 10/10/2006 9:27 PM, Anonymous Michael F. Bird said...

I'm with you on that one mate! Good to see that the Wright-greather-than-Bultmann legend lives on!!

At 10/11/2006 1:15 AM, Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Since, as Stanley Hauerwas says, "best" is not a theological category, I am uninterested in whether N. T. Wright or Rudolf Bultmann are "better," or "greater." Both asked very profound and provocative questions that changed the shape of debates. Neither is any more authoritative than the strength of their arguments and evidence--the latter of which can change as time passes.

I agree more with Wright than Bultmann, but I don't feel like taking sides. It is far more profitable to learn from each and other biblical scholars. I could list serious challenges to the perspectives of each. Those are valid exercises--necessary to the whole discipline of scholarly exegesis that is more than subjectivism. But this queen bee attempts to vote who is the best "New Testament Idol" is a bit silly.

At 10/11/2006 3:25 PM, Anonymous jeremy said...

forgive my ignorance, but please help me out with what book title is JVG.

At 10/11/2006 3:27 PM, Anonymous jeremy said...

nevermind, i understand it now. don't mind the waste of blogger comment space. carry on.

At 10/11/2006 3:28 PM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...


I agree with you there, friend. The more I read Wright, the more impressed I am by him and his work. BTW, great quote!

At 10/11/2006 6:36 PM, Anonymous ntWrong said...

I agree with James Dunn more often than with Wright. Despite their shared interest in the New Perspective on Paul, they come at the New Testament from quite different perspectives.

The NT Wright page has two Wright/Dunn dialogues available on mp3. Dunn takes the lead in discussing Jesus and Wright takes the lead in discussing Paul. In the second dialogue, Dunn chides Wright for trying to subsume too many divergent New Testament data under his "grand narrative" approach.

Still, I applaud Wright for setting the theological agenda — not many conservative theologians succeed in doing that.

At 10/11/2006 11:11 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Brian, Brian.

*shakes head solemly*

"So i am at a loss to see the reasons for the apparent obsessions over wright and his theology"

The words 'sackcloth' and 'ashes' spring to mind.

Though in all seriousness, his works aren't all one-dimensional - his exegetical work is varied and astute, and the whole NP on Paul issue is a developing matter. His presentation in Paul: Fresh Perspectives was a little more nuanced.

Mr Michael Westmoreland-White, I agree with you, of course. Just not when I'm in provoke mode.

Hi Q,
Yes, Dunn is the more rigorous NT scholar, of that there is no doubt. Though I find his works less nuanced.


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