Markus Bockmuehl Reviews Paul Books by Rowan Williams and N.T. Wright

Prof. Markus Bockmuehl (Oxford Uni) has posted a great review of Paul books by Rowan Williams and N.T. Wright.

The Paul Debate answers the critics of Wright’s Paul in considerable part by paraphrasing Wright on Paul. As a handy guide to Paul and the Faithfulness of God, it is magnificent. As a “debate”, it features appreciably more give than take.

Williams’s slender volume offers a deeply perceptive, theologically fertile and eirenic portrait that pays attention to critical and historical questions while taking seriously the far-reaching theological demands of the subject matter. This is a book that invites existential engagement precisely of the sort anticipated in the concluding Lenten study guide. It depicts a Paul wholly captivated by his encounter with Christ, and invites readers to “meet God” in this fashion for themselves.

Here are two small but powerful books on St Paul, showing less to be more. And both may be judged to succeed in the terms they set for themselves. That also means it is in the end impossible to juxtapose and compare them directly. Where N. T. Wright spares a week of astonishing productivity to confound his critics, Rowan Williams’s more patiently paced exercise represents, as a cover blurb puts it, “a lifetime’s learning and praying . . . distilled into profound simplicity”.

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