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God and the Faithfulness of Paul

February 23, 2016

I mentioned earlier (here) that I’d received the published form of my own essay in the newly-released volume responding to N.T. Wright’s 2-volume opus on Paul, and yesterday the actual book arrived, all 833 pages of it!  God and the Faithfulness of Paul, eds. Christoph Heilig, J. Thomas Hewitt, and Michael F. Bird (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. 413; Tuebingen:  Mohr-Siebeck, 2016).  (The publisher’s online catalogue entry here.)  Even in paperback, it is priced at 129 Euros, which will make it prohibitively expensive for many individuals, but it probably should be acquired by any library intended to serve serious scholarship on the NT.

The 29 contributions are by scholars in various specialities, including NT, Ethics, Theology, and Missions, and approach Wright’s work focusing on a wide variety of questions.  All express some admiration for Wright’s commitment to his work, and for various features of it.  But pretty much every contribution also lays out some matters for critique, some sharper and more forceful than others.  I would say that my own contribution, “YHWH’s Return to Zion:  A New Catalyst for Earliest High Christology?” (pp. 417-38) is perhaps among the more critical of the essays.  And as it focuses on Wright’s own claim to posit the essential “key” and “catalyst” for all of early beliefs about Jesus, the question of whether his claim is correct is all the more important.

In fairness to Wright, he was allowed generous space in which to respond (although the task of reading and considering the various essays must have been onerous), and in a 56-page concluding discussion he does so.

Again, I say that this large multi-author volume attests the impact of Wright’s work (especially on Paul), and will also perhaps further attention to it in German-speaking scholarly circles (where it has not had nearly so much attention).  The various essays also reflect the controversial features of Wright’s interpretation of Paul, such as Wright’s grand-narrative approach, his (mis?)handling of Jewish apocalyptic thought, his (dubious?) treatment of Christ and Israel, and a number of other matters.  But one must certainly congratulate him for the enormous energy put into his scholarly work, and the considerable attention that it has won from other scholars, as well as the wider reading public.


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  1. Bee D. permalink

    Do you see any generic similarity or relation whatsoever, between the Day of the Lord, and the Secong Coming of Jesus? Or are they absolutely unrelated in your estimation?

    • In the NT writings, the OT “day of the Lord” becomes Jesus’ “parousia” (e.g., 1 Thess 5:1-11).

      • ounbbl permalink

        Where in 1The 5:1-11?? Nothing like ‘day of the Lord’ ‘parousia’ (coming; being present) or that line of idea is in the text I can locate.

      • “Day of the Lord”– 1 Thess. 5:2. And all of 1 Thess 4:13–5:11 is Paul’s answer to questions about what happens to those who have died prior to Jesus’parousia (4:13-18), and when the latter might happen (5:1-11).

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