Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Christian Origins and the uestion of God #4) review Þ 104

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Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #4) review Þ 104 Ü This highly anticipated two book fourth volume in N T Wright's magisterial series Christian Origins and the uestion of God is destined to become the standard reference point on the subject for Urches were facing Wright also provides close and illuminating readings of the letters and other primary sources along with critical insights into the major twists and turns of exegetical and theological debate in the vast secondary literature The result is a rounded and profoundly compelling account of the man who became the world's first and greatest Christian theologia. A long long read worthwhile but not without its flawsAlthough he denies it within the book Wright has here presented the better part of a systematic theology of Paul including theology soteriology and eschatology He also provides a study of Pauline backgrounds in and the response of Paul to Second Temple Judaism Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman philosophy This is a massive study which could easily be the textbook for four seminary courses Indeed in both its editing and in its sheer physical printing this two volume set would have been easier to read digest and handle as four volumesWright as always is an engaging writer He is nearly always clear about his points and leavens his work with wry humor literary allusion and clever turns of phrase His insistence on framing Paul's work in context particularly within the context of Second Temple Judaism is of vital importance to understanding the author responsible for much of the New Testament His Biblical exegesis is careful and to the point I definitely feel that I have a new and improved grasp on Paul thanks to Wright's work in these volumes I am particularly impressed by Wright's well developed point that Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and all that flows from that assertionI do think however that Bishop Wright needs an editor who will curb his occasional tendency towards prolixity As an intuitive learner I don't need or appreciate 10 examples to make the same point One or two will do As with some of Wright's other books Justification comes most to mind I find his need to compare his own work to those of other scholars to their detriment to be uninteresting and frankly juvenile although there was less snark in these matters in these volumes than in some others I realize that both of these issues are likely a necessary part of being a professional theologian who writes for others in the field But as a simple small church bivocational pastor who reads theology for enjoyment and to help unlock the mysteries of faith so that I can pass the best ideas of our time on to my flock I find the completism and competition tiresome I will likely wait a while before tackling another of Wright's great works

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This highly anticipated two book fourth volume in N T Wright's magisterial series Christian Origins and the uestion of God is destined to become the standard reference point on the subject for all serious students of the Bible and theology The mature summation of a lifetime's study this landmark book pays a rich tribute to the breadth and depth of the apostles' vision and. If you have read most of Wright's other work on Paul you will not have any earthshaking revelations from PFG Because I was in that category having read his NIB Romans commentary WSPRS and Paul in Fresh Perspective I was a bit frustrated by the length of this book It opens with a scintillating reading of the epistle to Philemon by comparison with a letter of Pliny I was hoping for at this level close up and personal with the text But PFG spends much of its time at 3000 feet surveying background cultural context and themes in Pauline theology This will make it an incredibly useful seminary textbook to be sure But for those who already know Wright this is simply not new information yes Paul was a Second Temple Jew reading Israel's scriptures about exile and return not dividing religion from politics It is all conveyed with the usual Wrightian brilliance and literary allusions — to Shakespeare to Robert Browning to Pride and Prejudice —and accompanied by the refutations of erring scholars FC Baur's History of Relgions school Bultmann's demythologizing and Engberg Pedersen's Paul as uasi Stoic are all dealt with in a thoroughh and satisfying way It's good but it doesnt pack the punch of WSPRS or JVG

N.T. Wright Ü 4 review

Paul and the Faithfulness of God Christian Origins and the Question of God #4Offers an unparalleled wealth of detailed insights into his life times and enduring impactWright carefully explores the whole context of Paul's thought and activity Jewish Greek and Roman cultural philosophical religious and imperial and shows how the apostles' worldview and theology enabled him to engage with the many sided complexities of first century life that his ch. I'm not going to presume to rate such a monumental and erudite work as this if I ever find I've read as much as one tenth of the bibliography I will consider myself well read but in the interest of writing some of my thoughts about it and given the impossibility of collecting them all at the end I will here record some comments on each chapter as I goUpdate I've now finished A review of the whole book can be found at the end Part 1 Paul and His World The first part tells you very little about Paul directly though Wright usual disclaimer no relation continually hints at what is to come in Part 4 Chapter 1 Return of the Runaway As an introduction to the whole enterprise Wright ostensibly starts with an analysis of the very shortest of Paul's surviving works He uses confusions about this as a microcosm for confusions in Pauline studies generally outlining his methods and approach to the subject and comparing it for the sake of historical context to a letter of Pliny It is reasonably clear that there will be no surprises in this book Wright's opinions about Paul and his positioning in the 'new perspectives' movement are already well known and explained if not at such great length as here This book will not so much be a bombshell in a playground as an egregiously devastating bombshell in an already ferocious war Wright conscious of the difficulties turns his reading of Philemon into an elaborate and somewhat whimsical allegory for which he 'begs the reader's indulgence' In this Philemon becomes Theology meaning religious beliefs about Paul looking only at the weighty matters while History meaning historical context is the runaway slave Onesimus This is then inverted Philemon becomes History not wishing to be tainted with the frivolity of religious belief Wright in both cases wishes somewhat hubristically imho to take on the role of Paul trying to effect a reconciliation between the two Much as with the original how successful he will be remains to be seen Chapter 2 Like Birds Hovering Overhead Taking his chapter title from a verse from Isaiah 315 about YHWH protecting Jerusalem Wright proceeds to describe the worldview of Paul's contemporary Judaism in general and Pharisaism in particular while acknowledging that these things may not be entirely separable from Hellenism in a post Alexandrine world The result Saul of Tarsus was concerned with 'creational monotheism' a hope for God's people and the study and practice of Torah More to come it would seem Chapter 3 Athene and Her Owl A survey of the main thinkers and schools of thought in Greek philosophy skimping consciously on detail Relevance not yet apparent Chapter 4 A Cock for Asclepius Taking his title from the incongruous dying words of Socrates Wright explores the 'religion' and 'culture' of the pagan world in Paul's day complete with scare uotes to note that they do not mean uite the same thing now as they did then The sense one gets is of how overwhelmingly formidable the religious establishment was entwined with and pervasive in almost every aspect of ancient life Chapter 5 The Eagle Has Landed Referring to the Roman Eagle on the nature of Roman imperial power in the first century Anyone familiar with Wright's work knows that he thinks that Paul has a conscious anti imperial subtext though this is rather controversial among scholars At any rate there is nothing controversial in this chapter which consists of a potted history of the republic turned empire which is well covered ground to say the least Once again one gets a sense of how formidable the institutions are which Paul is taking on Part 2 The Mindset of the Apostle This part is about context ie the background thought behind what Paul actually says in his letters Chapter 6 A Bird in the Hand This is where things start to get complicated The chapter title is not very helpful for explaining what the chapter is about and the subtitle 'the symbolic praxis of Paul's world' does not help much either Agonizing for a while about how I was going to summarise it I realized that the reason that this task was difficult was that it was impossible You might be able to express it in less than the hundred odd pages Wright takes up but not in one paragraph What it is about though is the set of assumptions about words and symbols that form the background to everything that Paul says or something like that 'A bird in the hand' is worth two in the bush and what we have in the hand hopefully is what Wright calls 'worldview' it's what Paul feels is so obvious it doesn't need saying Chapter 7 The Plot the Plan and the Storied Worldview I sometimes don't know if Wright is earnestly pretentious or if he indulges himself with frivolities such as in this chapter just because he knows he can get away with it which he certainly can He usually has a note begging the reader's forgiveness for such a thing but not on this occasion though I admit there is a note of self parody in the introduction as he notes the concern of various exasperated critics that he manages to find a narrative in everything Anyway the substance of the chapter begins with an excellent albeit I shall be frank completely irrelevant analysis of the plot various sub plots and hidden allusions in Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream He then uses this as a paradigm to explore the underlying narratives and allus