Okay, The Wrightgate saga about the mysterious origins of the book Breaking Beautiful book has been explained.
N.T. Wright did some videos for a group called The House Studios. Then, as far as I can tell, the lectures were turned into a transcript and were augmented with commentary by Tim Suttle. Suttle was brought into the project to do the work and was not its initiator or manager. The House Studios also had legal permission from Wright authorizing use of the videos and production of the materials associated with them. The problem is that they produced the stuff without telling him about it.
Tom has emailed me and Suttle also has a post about it here explaining the story. This exonerates Suttle since it seems that he was the middle man in some bad project management. As such I’ve deleted my earlier blog post. Suttle writes:
I want to clarify that I have had no control over how this project was marketed. I think “N.T. Wright with Tim Suttle” does not reflect what really happened. In fact the moment I saw the cover I said so publicly. Two months ago I made sure to post something to mitigate any sense that I was somehow collaborating with N.T. Wright – you can see it here. I’m terribly embarrassed by all of this and I feel like a complete idiot.
I said earlier that new information might come to light and now it has. I had wondered if it was some kind of thing that someone did with Tom but was then developed into materials that Tom did not authorize. I confess that my conjectures towards “forgery” were unfounded and have been injurious to Tim Suttle. Given what I was told by Amazon.com and by Tom himself, it seemed like a reasonable inference to explain how someone’s name can appear on a book that he did not know about or authorize. Now that further information has come to light I am genuinely sorry for putting Suttle in that light.
However, a few things need be said.
This project looks like a real stuff up for Wright and for Suttle.
First, you cannot take someone’s material, adapt it and augment it without the persons knowledge (even if you technically have legal permission). Tom never saw the final product and had no opportunity to comment on its development or marketing. I am co-authoring a book with Tom and one important thing about the project is that he knows that he’s involved in it!
Second, Tom was not happy with the content, especially some of the language in the blurb as representative of his views.
Third, the blurb was quite deceptive in saying that Tom “partnered” with Suttle to produce the work. You cannot partner with someone you don’t know. Suttle has stated that he himself was unhappy with that language.
Fourth, given that Tom has contract arrangements with other publishers, to produce such a work like this without his knowledge or authorization, put him in a very awkward legal position.
As you can imagine, the project has now been pulled, and hopefully lessons learned.