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Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision Hardcover – April 16, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0830838639 ISBN-10: 0830838635 Edition: 0th

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Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision + The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright + The New Perspective on Paul
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 279 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (April 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838639
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Justification reamins a well-written, persuasive articulation of Wright's position, littered throughout with flashes of brilliant exegetical insight, which deserves to be read by everyone interested in the debate, friend and foe alike." (Alexander Stewart, Biblical Theology Bulletin, Volume 41, 2011)

"...N.T. wright's Justification is well worth reading. It's not a light read and may take some effort, but it is about one of the ocre issues of our faith, and touches on something that is both a contemporary issue and one that concerned the lifes of Paul and Martin Luter. Wherever you fall in the argument, Wright's position is worth knowing." (Paul Metzloff, Trinity Seminary Review, Winter 2011)

"Wright's work is brilliant, so full of inter-textual allusions and quotes that one can only stand in awe of the final product!" (Susan K. Hedahl, Currents, Winter 2011)

"Whether you are a scholar or lay teacher, if you want to learn more about the New Perspective on Paul and N.T. Wright's views on justification, Justification is an important work." (Michael Makidon, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society)

"Wright is a versatile author, able to reach both academic and popular audiences. Justification will appeal to academic readers and serious students of theology." (C. Brian Smith, Christian Retailing, June 8, 2009)

"For those interested in this ongoing debate regarding justification, this book offers an introduction to the overall debate, as well as a detailed biblical-exegetical understanding of Wright's onwn position." (Mary L. VandenBerg, Calvin Theological Journal, April 2010)

"Wright offers a passionate and stimulating treatment of the core of Paul's theology. . .Both an engaging exploration of Paul's theology and alively defense of his own approach to what in some circles is regarded as the heart of Christian doctrine." (Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., American, March 8, 2010)

"Justification is likely to become his most controversial book to date, for it offers a fundamentally new reading of a doctrine at the center of Protestant and evangelical theology." (Douglas Harink, Christian Century, December 1, 2009)

"Wright is pretty succinct in his argument. Wright's perspective falls in line with what is commonly referred to as the new perspective on Paul. Because, in Wright's mind, this perspective is much older than other conceptions. Put simply, it is an approach to Paul from within the interpretive context of Paul's original, Jewish milieu. Wright, and others on the same "quest" have argued that we have missed much of what Paul was getting at because we failed to read him through the original lens." (Darren King, Precipice (precipicemagazine.com), July 2009)

"Wright does provide a vision of justification that - perhaps not surprisingly - is more in touch with the understanding of the 17th century Mennonite church than it is with Reformed theology. This is a great book." (Young Anabaptist Radicals (young.anabaptistradicals.org), June 14, 2009)

Listed in the article Ten Theology Books for Your Beach Bag. (Collin Hansen, Christianity Today Online (christianitytoday.com), June 15, 2009)

"An outstanding book. Written in lively, if somewhat polemical style, not encumbered with many footnotes, Wright has here laid out his views with exemplary clarity. In fact, he is affirming all the major Reformation perspecitves on justification. The burden of Wright's work, however, is to highlight how dwelling exclusively on the Reformers' emphases in Pauline soteriology can easily cause us to miss the bigger picture and the grander narrtive in which those empases are set. The problem for Wright with much of the Reformation and especially with John Peper's version of Calvinism is that it can quickly lose sight of the plan of God to redeem the entire cosmos through the people of Israel, culminating in the Messiah, as a blessing for the whole world. While one may still disagree with Wright's take on this or that passage or on one specific exegetical conundrum in a given passage, the only way I can see how one can deny that his major emphases are both correct and profoundly important, is to ignore large swaths of Paul's writing and especially Ephesians. Perhaps Wright's critics will finaly recognize Wright as a crucial ally and not an opponent." (Craig Blomberg, Koinonia (www.koinoniablog.net), May 14, 2009)

"Frank theological table talk is sometimes a necessary endeavor. Tom Wright's Justification is his substantive reply to critical work by many, including John Piper, on the New Perspective. Wright correctly reminds us that this approach should be better called New or Fresh Perspectives. The goal is to open up the text concerning what it originally said in the first century, not change it. This book sets up a meaningful and significant conversation between the camps in this debate through its direct interaction with the critique. It should be read and reflected on, just as work on the other side should be. So I recommend this book and say, pull up a chair to the table and pay careful attention to the conversation. In the dialogue, all of us will learn more about what Paul and Scripture say about justification (and a few other things as well)." (Darrell Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary)

"This is a sharply polemical book, and N. T. Wright occasionally rises to Pauline heights of exasperation at his opponents. At bottom, though, it is about Pauline basics—about Abraham and Israel, eschatology and covenant, courtroom and Christology. With debates about perspectives old and new swirling around him like a cyclone, Wright does what he always does—he leads us carefully through the text. Some will doubtless remain skeptical about the Copernican revolution Wright proposes, but we are all indebted to him for reminding us once again of the breadth of the gospel of God and the majesty of the God of the gospel." (Peter Leithart, author of Solomon Among the Postmoderns)

"John Piper, it turns out, has done us all a wonderful favor. In writing the critique that invited this response, he has given Bishop Wright the opportunity to clearly, directly, passionately and concisely summarize many of the key themes of his still-in-process yet already historic scholarly and pastoral project. Wright shows—convincingly—how the comprehensive view of Paul, Romans, justification, Jesus, and the Christian life and mission that he has helped articulate embraces 'both the truths the Reformers were eager to set forth and also the truths which, in their eagerness, they sidelined.' Eavesdropping on this conversation will help readers who are new to Wright get into the main themes of his work and the important conversation of which it is a part. And it will give Wright's critics a clearer sense than ever of what they are rejecting when they cling to their cherished old wineskins of conventional thought." (Brian McLaren, author of A Generous Orthodoxy)

"I find it quite stunning that a book dealing with the subject of justification could be this compelling of a read. Along the way you find yourself getting caught up in the momentum and energy of the book which pulls you into the momentum and energy of THE BOOK—which is, of course, Tom's point." (Rob Bell, author Velvet Elvis)

"Tom Wright has out-Reformed America's newest religious zealots—the neo-Reformed—by taking them back to Scripture and to its meaning in its historical context. Wright reveals that the neo-Reformed are more committed to tradition than to the sacred text. This irony is palpable on every page of this judicious, hard-hitting, respectful study." (Scot McKnight, North Park University)

"For some time now, I have watched in puzzlement as some critics, imagining themselves as defenders of Paul's gospel, have derided Tom Wright as a dangerous betrayer of the Christian faith. In fact, Paul's gospel of God's reconciling, world-transforming grace has no more ardent and eloquent exponent in our time than Tom Wright. If his detractors read this book carefully, they will find themselves engaged in close exegesis of Paul's letters, and they will be challenged to join Wright in grappling with the deepest logic of Paul's message. Beyond slogans and caricatures of 'Lutheran readings' and 'the New Perspective,' the task we all face is to interpret these difficult, theologically generative letters afresh for our time. Wright's sweeping, incisive sketch of Paul's thought, set forward in this book, will help us all in that task." (Richard B. Hays, Duke University)

"N. T. Wright provides yet again another fresh and exciting exposition of the apostle Paul. Here Wright shows how Paul proclaimed justification by faith as part of the Bible's theodramatic story of salvation, a story that stretches from creation to Abraham to Israel and all the way through to Jesus the Messiah. Wright responds to many criticisms including those of John Piper, and regardless of whether one gravitates toward Wright's or Piper's unpacking of Paul, you cannot help but enjoy the sparks that fly when these two great modern pastor-scholars cross swords over the apostle. Moreover, Wright artfully brings readers into the narrative world of Paul, and he sets before us a stirring portrait of the apostle to the Gentiles and his gospel." (Michael F. Bird, Highland Theological College, Scotland)

"Like Paul himself writing to the Galatians, in this book Bishop Tom expounds and defends his interpretation of the apostle's teaching on justification with passion and power. At the same time, he seeks to move beyond divisive categories (old perspective versus new; soteriology versus ecclesiology; justification versus participation) so that Paul can speak from within his own context and thereby to us in ours. The result is an extraordinary synthesis of the apostle's—and the Bishop's—views that should be read by the sympathetic, the suspicious and everyone else." (Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary's Seminary & University, Baltimore)

"This sprightly and gracious yet robust work is Tom Wright's carefully argued and scripturally based response to those who think that he has deeply misunderstood Paul's doctrine of justification. Although it is intended especially for those familiar with the debate between the various scholarly perspectives on Paul, it is in fact a straightforward and reasonably succinct exposition of Tom's interpretation that incorporates a defense of his approach to Paul in general and his exegesis of specific passages in Galatians and Romans in particular. This is definitely one of the most exciting and significant books that I have read this year. Like all of the author's work, I found it hard to set down once I had started to read it. Strongly commended!" (I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen)


"Tom Wright has out-Reformed America's newest religious zealots--the neo-Reformed--by taking them back to Scripture and to its meaning in its historical context. Wright reveals that the neo-Reformed are more committed to tradition than to the sacred text. This irony is palpable on every page of this judicious, hard-hitting, respectful study."

Customer Reviews

I found the book very easy to read (for an N.T. Wright book!)
Randy Olds
I think everyone should read this book to be at the very least, informed about current debates.
Grant Marshall
It's a rebuttal to Piper's book, The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright.
Michael Dalton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

184 of 202 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm VINE VOICE on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since reading Wright's Paul: In Fresh Perspective, I have been waiting for Wright to expound on the doctrine of justification. This book fills the bill, and it goes far beyond what I expected.

I disagree with those reviewers who say that Wright's use of historical context violates the "sola scriptura" model of the Reformers. In fact, the Reformers were making their own assumptions about the historical context of Paul's writings; they assumed either that Paul's issues were identical to their own (Renaissance/Enlightenment) issues or that the epistles could be treated as ahistorical expositions of universal truths (in spite of the fact that Paul contextualized each of his letters by addressing them to particular churches and even to specific people in those churches). The bottom line is that the much-vaunted "sola scriptura" of the Reformers was far from "sola"! Wright's practice of exploring Paul's teaching within a specific historical context is right on. (By the way, many Christians in the Reformed tradition, and I include myself in that number, have been guilty of treating the Reformation as God's last word on theology. But if the Reformers could claim that Augustine and Anselm and Aquinas weren't the last word, who are we to say that the Reformers were? They have no special claim to truth that wasn't possessed by their predecessors, without whom the Reformers would have had little to say about theology.) Wright is not claiming that he has the last word. As more is learned about first-century Judaism, he will no doubt adjust his current thinking. That approach is more biblical, and certainly more humble, than that of those who think they already have the last word.
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100 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Mondok on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book title: Justification
Author: N.T. Wright
Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 2009
Number of pages: 252

Leading New Testament scholar N.T. Wright has taken C.S. Lewis's seat at the table. As Lewis changed the way people looked at Christianity, read their Bibles and thought about God in the twentieth century, Wright will do the same in the twenty-first. Like Lewis, Wright has a talent for making difficult biblical concepts accessible to the average person.

He is a primary scholar in the New Perspective on Paul. Wright sheds light on aspects of Paul and his theology that have left to gather dust in the dark corners of church tradition.
Wright's rise to popularity makes him a lightning rod for controversy. He intends to educate, but theological sacred cows are kicked over in the process. Incoming criticism rains down on him from several theological strong-holds. Some he deflects and some he absorbs. His most public fire-fight revolves around his treatment of the Doctrine of Justification.
Opponents say that Wright's New Perspective is out of balance; that examining Paul in a historical Jewish context is a mistake. Wright's answer: "...we end up reading [Paul] as though was really a 17th-century theologian born out of due time..." Wright posits in his book Paul: In Fresh Perspective that most of what we accept about Paul is based on scholarship that has been delivered to the world since the Reformation. But Paul pre-dates the Reformation.

Author Scot McKnight attempts to sum up the New Perspective in three bullet points:
1. Judaism was not a works-earns-salvation religion.
2. Paul was therefore not opposing a works-earns-salvation religion.
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122 of 148 people found the following review helpful By gratiam_pro_gratia on June 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A high church Reformed Anglican bishop, NT Wright, has just written a book called Justification, which (as you can guess) is a summary of his thought on this much-debated issue within the Western Christian world.

His impetus for the book is a book published in 2007 by Dr. John Piper called The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright which probes the underpinnings of Wright's understanding of Paul and if this is a helpful or harmful understanding.

What is N.T. Wright's essential point, contra-the traditional Reformed/evangelical point of view? Because it is spread throughout the book, I will say essentially this: that the purpose of Christ's life, death, and resurrection was not merely about individual salvation (restoring "my relationship with God" and "getting to heaven") nor was it about fulfilling the Torah for us (the "active obedience" of Christ which is "imputed" to us, but that it was about fulfilling the promises made from way before the law was established and then transgressed. It was about fulfilling the promises made to Abraham to restore and bless the whole world and reconcile all the children of God in an eschatological way. This, therefore, makes the scope of the Jesus story much larger than a restoration of Israel from under the law, but more broadly the fulfillment of the covenant promise to Abraham to restore the whole world into the covenant. Therefore, justification is the declaration that one has been become a member of the covenant family, not an act of God which brings you into the covenant family (the traditional understanding).
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More About the Author

N.T. WRIGHT is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. For twenty years he taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. As being both one of the world's leading Bible scholars and a popular author, he has been featured on ABC News, Dateline, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air. His award-winning books include The Case for the Psalms, How God Became King, Simply Jesus, After You Believe, Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, Scripture and the Authority of God, The Meaning of Jesus (co-authored with Marcus Borg), as well as being the translator for The Kingdom New Testament. He also wrote the impressive Christian Origins and the Question of God series, including The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, The Resurrection of the Son of God and most recently, Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

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