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on 5 February 2007
Wright has written at great length about his views on the authority of Scripture, especially in NTPG. You get the impression that when he dedicates the book to Stephen Sykes and Robin Eames, the chairs of two boards Wright sits on, it is more than just a polite nod in their direction. This book seems to be a rapid response to a particular set of issues facing him in his ministry.

As such, it is a brilliant little book. In 100 pages it is never going to resolve the labyrinthine issues that face anyone asking the question "How can the Bible be authoritative" but Wright posts up a few signs in the right direction.

Superb illustrations and turns of phrase abound leaving you very clear as to what the author intends as he steps into a morass of contested terms. It is a superb little book to get one thinking anew on this crucial topic. Accessible to any interested reader. I cannot lay any major faults at its door.
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on 13 September 2015
This popular little book, ten years old this year, is now reissued with minor revisions to reflect recent issues and two useful case studies ("neither is currently a 'buzzing' issue") on the Sabbath and Monogamy, to exemplify how the critical methods explained in the book can be applied in practice.

It is one of those 'get you started' volumes that addresses the arguments over a Christian viewpoint - in this case, that scriptural authority is in reality God's authority, so we must see scripture as God's viewpoint and neither the views of ancient nor modern theologians can be treated as conclusive. Tom Wright has the happy knack of explaining his argument succinctly and clearly, backing it up with scriptural and authoritative quotes, with references to larger works for the compulsive skeptic and ending with study suggestions for the compulsive student. What often pleases and surprises me is the sudden re-interpretations of familiar passages (which his own bible translation clarifies) in the light both of ancient and forgotten practice, and of modern scholarship and research of the texts and the ancient world and languages; all backed up by solid scholarship. The language is Wright's best layman's 'Tom' style rather than the deep 'N.T.' of his larger studies; nevertheless, you will need to learn a few new words ('eschatology', 'Sabbatarian' and so on) if you have no grounding in religious studies - a worthwhile investment of your time.

If you are looking for a brief exposition on why scripture must be taken seriously but not dogmatically, with the strength of the very finest scholarship and copious help to look further if you wish - then this is just the book to leave you satisfied. If you plan to delve more deeply, then this will get you started and show you where to go next. The two monologues of the second edition's case studies deeply but briefly explain his views on the Christian Sabbath and on monogamy for all of society, and leave you wishing for more like them. That has now been provided, though, in his publication last year of "Surprised By Scripture", containing a dozen more such little studies.

Following in some famous (and infamous) footsteps, Tom Wright has spent seven years away from academia as Bishop of Durham; this book was his first major publication in that post (used for prominent academics or those destined for higher office, like his successor Justin Welby) and led both to lecture tours and local work like his series of Lenten Readings. Now back in his studies, and with his two major series on the New Testament completed, we look forward to his wider experiences bringing us more exquisite little books like this one, explaining and resolving problems in scriptural interpretation and in the Church and its denominational controversies. As this book shows, he does it so well, striking a balance between exposition and explanation and drawing together the disparate readings of scriptural authority over the last few centuries and the movements that they generated.

Thoroughly recommended, so why only 4 stars? It's a little dry compared to most of Wright's and others' popular books, and I do miss the humour he often uses to entertain us. Then, I suppose, it's a serious topic.
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on 22 October 2014
I endorse the quote on the front cover, 'the best book of its kind available.' For a lay person like myself, Tom Wright gives clear and valuable insight into how to approach the reading of Scripture. There is a very useful section on the misreading of Scripture. The book highlights the importance of Scripture and the need for teachers and preachers to open the Bible to people in the power of the Spirit.
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on 22 March 2014
Tom Wright writes clearly and authoritatively. To quote one of the reviwers,' probing, provacative, insightful, ever reframing old questions and old debates, always inviting holy scripture as a living,dynamic reality'
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on 9 October 2008
This book is a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned. I was helped by much of what was said, puzzled about what was left unsaid.

It an attempt to get `beyond the Bible wars' (from the subtitle of the American edition), Wright (deliberately?) omits any meaningful affirmation and explication of Scripture as the inspired word of God.

Wright defines `inspiration' in the following terms:-

"By his Spirit God guided the very different writers and editors, so that the books they produced were the books God intended his people to have."

Well, yes. But in the providence of God something similar could be said of any collection of books. For Wright, divine inspiration seems to imply divine providence, but the real question is whether inspiration implies divine endorsement.

It's OK to list some of the more troublesome misreadings of the `Right' and of the `Left' (78-81). It's helpful to be urged to see our role within the "five acts" of the narrative (creation, fall, Israel, Christ, the church). It's fine to be reminded that our reading of Scripture should be "totally contextual," "liturgically guided, "privately studied," "refreshed by appropriate scholarship," and "taught by the church's accredited leaders" (84-104).

But Wright simply does not discuss the most pressing question about the authority of Scripture. In Scripture, `the Word of God' implies, among other things, divine speech. We need to know, then, in what sense and to what extent the words of the Bible can be regarded as the words of God. On this point, he is unhelpfully silent.
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on 13 October 2005
Refreshing and perplexing is how I found my first experience of reading the new Bishop of Durham. God's authority is excercised through Scripture is his thesis. I do not think he would add a Reformation sola, alone there, or would he? No, I think not. Wright gives us a good survey of how Scripture has been used and misused in church history. His ctitique of Enlightenment rationalism is a joy to read but I am not clear how he gets both liberals and fundamentalists to be heirs of Enlightenment.
He gives examples of what he considers misreadings of Scripture from both left and right. I only fall foul of one of his condemnations, believing capital punishment by the state is required by Scripture. Wright rules it out because he says many Church Fathers did. An appeal to tradition?
I understand from this what the good bishop does not believe but I think he could have clarified to us just what his belief really does mean. Perhaps the post-modernism he critiques so well has left him averse to giving a new creedal formulation for today concerning the authority of Scripture? Perhaps I need to read him again and more slowly. One thing I would have to look for is whether or not he ever uses the term evangelical in his work.
Revealed truth does need to be restated to meet the needs of the 21st century but is it to much too ask for a concise formula on Scripture, and the authority of God, preferrably one that could be used liturgically to confess the faith once delivered before the watching world?
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on 14 December 2014
Deals with the selected topics in a clear and accessible way. Not for the fainthearted. It's worth reading at a slow pace and reflecting on what you are reading. Worth a second read.
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on 13 November 2014
Tom Wright never fails to inform and to inspire the reader towards new heights of knowledge and understanding. A first class addition to the Tom Wright canon from which all can benefit.
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on 11 November 2015
Just started to read and seems a helpful book
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on 22 November 2014
Tom Wright writes in a reader friendly style yet retains the 'technical' quality in the work
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