In this and following posts we will be dialoguing with N.T. Wright about his new biography of Paul which will emerge in a few days. We will start with Q+A and then move on to the review itself. Enjoy! (BW3)
Q: It’s been a long while since someone from our end of Protestantism has attempted a reasonably complete Bios on Paul. What was it that prompted you to take on this particular daunting task?
A. Two things. First, lots of people have said (after my large academic book Paul and the Faithfulness of God) that I should try to set out at least some of the overall thrust of that in a different and easier format. Second, having read Robert Harris’s splendid trilogy about Cicero, which sets the social and political situation so well that we understand Cicero’s famous speeches from the inside, I thought it would be great to try to do something similar for Paul – obviously not in the form of a novel as such but of a biography, which is somewhere between ‘academic history’ and the kind of novelistic treatment Harris uses (as also by e.g. David Lodge in his book about H. G. Wells – historically grounded but fleshed out). In other words, I want people to find themselves mentally living in Paul’s world and thus seeing why he had to write this letter at this moment to this congregation, rather than just meeting the letters as ‘part of holy scripture’ (though, as I stress, they are that as well).
[N.B. Tom is absolutely right about those wonderful novels by Robert Harris. I especially commend the one entitled Pompeii.]