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The New Testament and the People of God/ Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol.1 (Christian Origins and the Question of God (Paperback)) Paperback – September, 1992
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Wright offers a one stop veiw of previous NT research, and expalnation of methodology (both his and other's), and a comprehensive analysis of first century Palenstine. The material lays the ground work for his belief that current NT scholarship is missing the forest in its focus on the trees.
Wright rebuts the current work of the Jesus Seminar, Form Criticism, and other popular researchers that seek to deconstruct the NT in an effort to make the material easier to digest rationally. Ironically, it is Wright's arguments that offer the most credible explanation for the origin of the NT material.
This book is not an easy read, and may require a refresher course in history, methodology, and some of the social sciences. I found myself dusting of books not read since college to familiarize myself with some of Wright's references. But the whole experience is well worth the effort.
This book calls into question most of the liberal scholarship and much of the "traditional orthodox" research. I believe it will change the focus of NT Studies once the series is complete.
According to Wright, there is no such thing as a totally "objective" neutral view of reality; and while the N.T. offers an "interpretation" of Jesus, it is precisely the historical Jesus who is presented to us--rather than distorting Jesus, or creating a figure, to express their own private perspective, their witness brings out the "real" significance of the historical Jesus. Thus Wright argues for a "critical realism" methodology. Next Wright argues for a common worldview of 2nd temple Judaism, via an examination of its typical praxis, symbols, and beliefs. Then he argues that we can best understand Jesus, the N.T., and the earliest Christian community against this background. In all of these arguments, Wright draws upon numerous extant Jewish sources and references to other scholarly works.
Wright's treatment is comprehensive, massive, detailed, compelling, and original. His treatment of Jesus, the N.T., and the early Christian community against the Jewish background brings them to life, is believable and convincing; and throughout his book he critiques other scholarly positions and demonstrates how his offers a more probable accurate historical point of view. In the process, he destroys numerous traditional critical theories and sets the direction for all future discussion.
Wright is one of my favorite authors. This does not mean I agree with him all of the time. His critiques of those he disagrees with theologically are masterful. He lays careful foundations for his own work. His methods are generally quite solid. A lot of his conclusions are insightful. However, there are some things about Wright's work that leave me puzzled. For instance, I cannot understand his insistence that Jesus didn't really "know" know that he was the Son of God.
This notwithstanding, "The New Testament and the People of God" is an excellent first volume in what will no doubt be Wright's magnum opus: "Christian Origins and the Question of God ." This first volume sees Wright laying out the principles he uses while doing his work, discussing the history of much of the work that was done preceding him, and examining the world Jesus was born into.
The length of five hundred pages is deceptive. "The New Testament and the People of God"is a very dense read. It is heavily (though not too heavily) footnoted. Its ideas take adequate time for reflection to digest. I would even go so far as to suggest that reader either unfamiliar with Wright's work or not used to reading theology or books about the historical Jesus start with one of Wright's more popular books in preparation for reading this series. I would recommend starting with a book such as "The Way of the Lord," "The Challenge of Jesus," or "The Crown and the Fire" instead of starting cold on a massive undertaking like "The New Testament and the People of God." Wright is a great writer. You don't want to turn yourself off to him by jumping into the deep waters before you're ready.
I recommend this book highly.
Wright's interpretation of Second Temple Judaism is a variation on E.P. Sanders and J.D.G. Dunn's "New Perspective", which denies that the Jews in Jesus' time believed they could earn salvation through acts of covenantal loyalty. Wright parts ways with Sanders at several imporant points, though, including the historicity of Jesus' debates with the Pharisees (which he explores more fully in "Jesus and the Victory of God") and seems to be less interested in doing apologetics for Second Temple Jews than Sanders.
But with Sanders, he argues for a pluriform Judaism. He cites scads of ancient texts which catalogue the debates between the Pharisaical schools of Shammai and Hillel, the separatist Essenes and the Sadducess. These groups all expected the "forgiveness of sin" to involve YHWH moving decisively against those who refused to acknowledge him in the way he deserved, which included not only the Gentiles, but also members of the other sects of Judaism which did not hold to their belief system, and to exalt their particular group as the true children of Israel, returned from exile at last.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A required book for my Interpretation of the New Testament for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Jacksonville. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Timothy Bandi
N.T. Wright is by far one of my favorite theologians. This is the first volume of his magnum opus. Fantastic introductory volume. Read morePublished 4 months ago by nathantlz
The way Wright presents the nature of stories, his general approach to worldview, and his sketch of the early Christians will stick with me. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Teddy Ray
I love Dr Wright. I only wish, like Jesus, he would use more parables, and less words I have to go to the dictionary to look up.Published 13 months ago by W. D. W. DC