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Paul: In Fresh Perspective Hardcover – January 15, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


N.T. Wright is one of the premier New Testament scholars in the world right now, but his views not least some of those set out in Paul in Fresh Perspective are quite controversial.

He is part of a group of scholars (by no means agreed among themselves) arguing for the "New Perspective on Paul," or NPP. Wright is the foremost NPP popularizer. He is an engaging speaker and lucid writer who works admirably hard at bringing his view to lay people.

However, Paul in Fresh Perspective is not easy reading and not quite for most lay people. This small book (just 174 pages of text and a few endnotes) comprises the Hulsean Lectures Wright delivered at Cambridge. These lectures, Wright says, are a further development beyond another small book he wrote, What St. Paul Really Said. In Paul in Fresh Perspective Wright hits themes familiar from that earlier book: the narrative of creation and covenant, Messiah and apocalyptic, and gospel and empire.

The most controversial of Wright's emphases are those which have a bearing on justification. He is famous for arguing that justification is not about how you get into God's family; it's proof that you are in. It's God's declaration that you are, in fact, part of His covenant family. He thus questions the traditional Reformation doctrine of imputation.

In the second half of Paul in Fresh Perspective, Wright takes Jewish theology as an organizing principle for laying out a Pauline theology, viewing it through the three primary lenses of monotheism, election, and eschatology. This is a work with a popular look but a scholarly appeal. It appears to be a forerunner to the fourth volume of what will likely prove Wright's magnum opus, the New Testament and the People of
God series. It will bring readers up to date on the thinking of a very good writer and important scholar and theologian. --Mark L. Ward, Jr., Chrisitan Library Journal, June 2007

About the Author

N. T.Wright is the Bishop of Durham and the author of several Fortress Press books, including Jesus and the Victory of God (1996), The Resurrection of the Son of God (2003), The New Testament and the People of God (1992), and The Climax of the Covenant (1992).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 195 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (January 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800637666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800637668
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #694,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on March 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book grew out of a series of lectures that Dr. Wright gave on the apostle Paul. He begins with a brief overview of the Roman and Jewish and Greek and Christian worlds in which he lived. He follows this up with a chapter on how Paul's understanding of creation and covenant informs his work on the Christ hymn in Colossians 1 as well as the first 11 chapters of Romans. He underscores how Paul redefines God's covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12 and Genesis 15 as to include Gentiles today, forming one people of God with Israel. He shows how Paul's exposition of the gospel in Romans is a working out of his understanding of the Abrahamic covenant.

There is also a helpful chapter where Wright shows how Paul is underscoring that Christ is the true emperor of the world, and that it is His empire that we belong to, not the empire of Nero.

Wright goes on to talk about the concepts of Messiah and apocalyptic. He contends that apocalyptic in Paul refers to the revelation or uncovering of the mysteries of God in Christ. He disagrees with Kasemann and others who see apocalyptic as a term simply describing the end time.

In part two of this book, Wright discusses how Paul reimagines the Jewish Shema in 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Ephesians 4:4-5 and in Philippians 2, and how this was expressed later on in the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity.

He also shows how the concept of the people of God has been reworked by Paul to include both Gentiles and Jews. There is also a section where Paul reimagines God's future as being all in all and ruling forever in Christ. He rejects the dispensational model of Jesus coming back to rapture us into heaven where we will forever live with God.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not actually another stab at the "New Perspective" issues on the part of Wright; rather, it is a type of condensed culmination of Wright's work up to this point. However, for those who have not read any of N.T. Wright's works, I would not recommend beginning here.

This book is actually a "tweaked" compilation of Wright's Hulsean Lectures presented at Cambridge University. Wright declares that he revised the lectures a bit for book form, and added chapters to complete the overall thought of the lectures. What is more, Wright, through out this book responds to his critics on certain points. But, the main thrust of this book seems to be a general overview of Wright's work up to this point.

Wright reviews Paul's historical setting in first century, second Temple Judaism, then Wright moves into a discussion of creation and covenant and how these play an important role in Paul's epistles and what Paul is attempting to communicate to his audience regarding Jesus' claims (especially the act of the resurrection). It is actually in this section where Wright, point by point, book and verses by book and verses, details Paul's letters in light of certain Old Testament narratives and God's work in the world to set creation right in the covenant made wit Abraham and the Jewish people.

From these two chapters Wright moves into a discussion of the Messiah (of course, Jesus) and Paul's apocalyptic language and how these things are vital in Paul's covenant theology and their steady progress of historical fulfillment, as Wright declares. Then Wright finishes up this part of the book with the actual gospel and the Roman empire/rule. This, of course, as Wright points out, is the context within which Paul is working and writing.
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N T Wright has a great writing style that is lucid, insightful and informative. Scholar and student both, can read his books and not be overwhelmed by technical jargon and vocabulary. He brings his great insight into Paul to light in this book that everyone who will attempt to get a grasp on Paul will need to start here (after the Bible of course).
Wright begins by discussing the three worlds of Paul, which were Jewish (this one was foundational), Roman, and Greek. Wright shows how that Paul works out the fulfillment of Israel in Jesus and that being true Israel means that one has put their hope and faith in Jesus and not the Law or Temple. Wright carries this thread throughout his discussion on Paul.
The book has two parts. Part one is themes and they include Creation and Covenant, Messiah and Apocalyptic, Gospel and Empire. Part two is structures and the structures he sees are entitled rethinking God, reworking God's people, reimagining God's future, and then the conclusion, which he has called Jesus, Paul and the Task of the Church.
In Creation and Covenant Wright works out the idea that God created man, man then got himself in a mess through the fall and then God acts to restore his creation through covenant. Abraham and his seed were give the vocation of restoring what Adam had lost by being light to the world. The problem, as Wright so rightly points out, was that the solution (Abraham or Israel) became part of the problem, precisely because the Law was not equipped to change humanity. In the end Jew and Gentile stand unrestored and sinful and in need of redemption.
In the section Messiah and Apocalyptic, Wright shows that Jesus as Israel's true representative has accomplished for humanity what the nation of Israel had failed to accomplished.
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