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What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? Paperback

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What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? + The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright + Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 1 edition (June 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802844456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802844453
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


N. T. Wright's What Saint Paul Really Said leads readers through the current scholarly discussion of Paul and gives a concise account of the actual contribution Paul made to the birth of Christianity. Wright offers a critique of the argument that claims that it was Paul who founded Christianity and shows clearly that Paul this allegation is simply not true. But rather that Paul was the faithful witness and herald of Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah and the risen Lord of the Christian faith. And that neither he, nor any of those who immediately followed him in the leadership counsels of the Christian church, every claimed or thought otherwise. -- Midwest Book Review

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.

Customer Reviews

This is a tremendous work that is highly recommended!
This book is way more Catholic and Orthodox than many other evangelical Protestants might like.
I approached the book very guardedly, because I thought his prologue was rather pompous.
J. Krueger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Da Hampster on January 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
I think a couple of words are in order in response to the criticism of some of the reviewers of this book.
First off, Wright is most assuredly not teaching any sort of a works based salvation. He simply points out that when Paul speaks against the Judaizers of his day, we can not, as Luther did, project onto them a meaning consistent with that of the Medieval Catholic Church. That is, Luther read Paul struggling with the Judaizer's speaking of the "works of the law" then saw his own struggle with the Church that seemed to place an endless string of hoops to jump through to achieve salvation. He assumed Paul was speaking to him in his situation directly. "The Just shall live by faith" became for Luther a liberating statement. Faith, not works, is how one is justified before God.
However, Wright explores more precisely what it was Paul was up against. What it was, was those who insisted that the things which made the Jews separate from the nations, such as circumcision, food laws, etc. desired to impose these on new Christians as a badge of their membership in the New Covenant. No, Paul says. It is faith, not these works of the law, which mark you out as a true covenant member. If you live in faith, which is of course outwardly exhibited in obedience, then you will be known as a true covenant member. This is most definitely not telling us that through our works we are or even can be justified before God.
Instead, God's justification is really closely tied to his righteousness. Not just righteousness in terms "God is better than us" (though he certainly is) but righteousness in terms of His faithfulness to His covenant. God will justify His people. In fact, in time and history, He has done so in the cross. The cross is very central to Paul's writings.
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90 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Seth Aaron Lowry on October 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although many within the traditional Protestant camp dish out some harsh criticism toward Wright, I think no one will contest that Wright is a first rate scholar and that his views must be taken seriously and engaged by other evangelical Protestants. That being said, I think Wright's new work on Paul's gospel message is a great work that sheds new light on a topic that most think they have fully grasped. The reason why I like Wright's work is because he attempts to understand Paul from a 1st century Jewish mindset, and not from a later perspective. I think most Protestants would do well to reconsider if the 16th century interpretation of Paul is really the best one, and understand that that interpretation is a product of 16th century scholastic Augustinianism, and does not try to understand Paul as a first century Jewish scholar. This is why the New Perspective is so helpful at giving us a new dimension within which we can understand Paul's teachings.
Briefly, Wright begins the book by arguing that the heart of the gospel is not how one can get into a right relationship with God, but that it is an imperial proclomation that Jesus and not Caesar is Lord. I thought this idea was well argued for and has some merit, but I am not fully convinced. Then Wright argues that membership in the covenant community is much like that of traditional Judaism; One becomes a member of this corporate community via the covenant, and then one remains in that covenant community. In addition, Wright takes a different view of what exactly the righteousness of God means in a book like Romans.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By D.P. on July 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
N.T. Wright is a tremendous author, whether you agree with him or not. He does a wonderful job of showing that Paul was the faithful interpretor of Jesus, and not the founder of Christianity. Wright argues that if Paul would have said the same things Jesus did, then he would have been claiming Messiahship as well.

A previous revewier has stated that this book is the end of Protestantism. His reason is that "the central theme of the gospel to Protestantism is justification by faith". That may be the case within some strands of Protestantism, but is not so all throughout the board (i.e. the Redemptive-Historical school of Reformed Theology with Vos, Ridderbos and Gaffin).

Now to the controversial "Fresh Perspective on Paul" as Wright calls it. I am a confessional Protestant who adheres to the Westminster standards, and do not have a problem highly endorsing the eschatological focus of this book. He says that the crucifixion is the chief eschatological act. This ligns right up with what Richard Gaffin says in 'Resurrection and Redemption' from a Reformed perspective.

I really liek his interpretation of 'dikaiosune theou', or righteousness of God. That has been a perplexing topic in the history of interpretation and is usually identified as a genitive of origin to uphold the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. However, Wright classifies it as a subjective genitive, where the righteousness is God's own righteousness in His covenental faithfulness by redeeming Israel. This clears up a lot of muddled water where that the genitive of origen will not work in all contexts.

His notion of justification is the other controversial aspect of his theology.
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