The second massive volume (910 pages of text and notes, never mind voluminous bibliography) focuses on Pauline theology proper, and Paul’s Aims and Intentions. Tom stakes out his turf in the Introduction. The way he will approach the task is based on the following basic assumptions (which proves that Wright completely rejects the form critical approach to the text): 1) he assumes the Pauline letter has an inner logic and a central concern, and 2) “I take it as axiomatic… Read more

The last chapter in volume one of Paul and the Faithfulness of God, reviews for us Tom’s answers on the who, what, when, where, why etc. questions (pp. 538-69). On the ‘who’ question it will be noted that Tom is perfectly comfortable in saying that Paul could call any and all Christians ‘the Jew’ as well as ‘the seed of Abraham’ and ‘Israel’. The middle of these three terms is clear enough, the other two controversial. Tom has to concede… Read more

The discussion between p. 500 and the end of the chapter at p. 537 present us with some of the most critical and also controversial elements in Wright’s analysis. We need to bear in mind that Wright is hear talking about worldview, and stories that are part of the worldview, that which lies beneath and undergirds the theologizing. For example, Deut. 27-30, which is so fundamental to Wright’s argument is treated as something of a long range prophecy, not merely… Read more

More on track is the discussion of the praxis of the Lord’s Supper, and to a lesser degree Baptism. I agree that these symbolic rites encode a good deal of the Gospel message deliberately, and they reinforce the message. They do indeed help form world view and ethos. The trick is to neither say too much or too little about the ‘sacraments’ and Paul. On the one hand, Paul is prepared to say ‘I thank God I did not baptize… Read more

Under the heading of the large plot about God and creation does come the theme which crops up some seven times in Paul’s letter— the Dominion of God, or God retaking back his creation from the powers of darkness. In other words, God is not just interested in saving humans, he’s interested in the renewal of his whole creation (see Rom. 8). Thus Wright stresses that the larger outer story about God and creation is a story about judgment (p…. Read more

In Chapter Seven, Tom takes on the pushback against narratival analysis of Paul’s letters. He does so not just because he knows that human beings make sense of what happens to them by telling stories, but because Bultmann was wrong. “The main problem with Bultmann’s [demythologizing] proposal, in addition to the muddling of the different senses of ‘myth’ [which does not necessarily refer to a fictional story], is that when he insisted that we should strip the early Christian world… Read more

Wright explores what Schweitzer was perhaps the first to call the mysticism of Paul. He does so in the larger context of early Jewish mysticism which focused on “penetration of the secrets of creation and cosmology on the one hand and gazing on the vision of the God enthroned on his chariot (as in Ezek. 1) on the other” (p. 415). Only now when Paul ‘sees’ God he has the face of Jesus, indeed he sees the glory of God… Read more

RSVP To move from fast to feast, From ashes to riding an ass, From wilderness wandering God’s willingness wondering To follow the way of the cross To find what was utterly lost All this was Lent to us. The cup not passed over By our Passover The vinegar he willingly drank— But through gift divine New covenant wine Came forth from his side as he sank All this was given to us Through breaking of bread They knew their head… Read more

Lest one think, in light of Wright’s strong conviction that Paul is critiquing the Imperial Cult, that Wright is actually an advocate of Paul being seen as something of a subversive or a political revolutionary in general, the following should lay such concerns to rest. He says “Yet I believe in the last analysis Paul did affirm the goodness, the God-givenness, of human structures of authority, even while at the same time undermining, through central aspects of his theology, the… Read more

(Below is the continuation of Dr. Kuruvilla’s case for non-resistance). What about men like David who served in war? The Old Testament is filled with men of faith who engaged in physical combat. David is but one example. Like practices of polygamy or animal sacrifice, physical war pertains to the Old Covenant but not to the New. Jesus often supersedes Old Testament practices in the Sermon on the Mount. A Christocentric, New Covenant perspective demands that Jesus’ followers obey His… Read more

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