Note on Paul and N.T. Wright

N.T. Wrights ‘Paul: (In) Fresh Perspectives’ (depending on which side of the pond you bought it on) remains one of my favourite Wright books. Things I like about it? His early Jewish context. Themes of God, election, God’s people, empire and eschatology all are grounded firmly in a 1st century Jewish frame of thought and Scripture. There’s no speculative philosophy or philosophical theology here. This book is fantastic in its scope, depth and lucidity.

What I’m not so certain of is Wright’s christology, which is fairly different from the classical formulations (Chalcedon, for example). Wright seems (seems!) to portray Jesus as a rather uncertain man, and despite his rebuttals against that very accusation I’m not quite convinced. I understand Wright’s hesitance to use extrabiblical categories like nature, essence, substance, etc in christology, and I agree with a lot of what he has to say on that subject. But I wonder if his non-use of patristic language, concepts and grammar in christology are a weakness, despite his insistence on keeping Christian thought firmly anchored in Jewish categories.

I think that, and then I re-read Wright, and find myself agreeing with his christology – I flip-flop back and forth.


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