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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Wrights right? or is Wright wrong?
Wright's book brings into account the last 2/3 decades of Pauline scholarship. His work compliments and calls into question this work, and truly does give a fresh perspective on Paul. The book is well written, and highly readable, and has some thought provoking comments and questions littered throughout. As an undergraduate Theology student the book has been useful in...
Published on 21 Dec. 2008 by J. Mccormick

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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The apostle Paul - from an acute angle
This is an engagingly-written, if not altogether convincingly argued, take on where the last twenty years or so of scholarship on the apostle Paul have led us. With his customary thoroughness, Wright presents Paul the faithful Jew very much concerned to show Jesus Christ as the sustainer and fulfilment of Israel's creation/covenant self-understanding, now reworked to...
Published on 3 May 2008 by Jeremy Bevan


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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Wrights right? or is Wright wrong?, 21 Dec. 2008
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Wright's book brings into account the last 2/3 decades of Pauline scholarship. His work compliments and calls into question this work, and truly does give a fresh perspective on Paul. The book is well written, and highly readable, and has some thought provoking comments and questions littered throughout. As an undergraduate Theology student the book has been useful in my New Testament Studies as a whole. The book however, is theology specific. It is not entirely balanced, and will depend on your view of Pauline theology, and the the purpose of Christ. There is some interesting discussion on the Pauline doctrine of Justification. This cannot be overlooked by those wanting to engage will Paul at a deeper level, and will be highly useful to, Pastors, student, scholars, and interested persons alike.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The apostle Paul - from an acute angle, 3 May 2008
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Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an engagingly-written, if not altogether convincingly argued, take on where the last twenty years or so of scholarship on the apostle Paul have led us. With his customary thoroughness, Wright presents Paul the faithful Jew very much concerned to show Jesus Christ as the sustainer and fulfilment of Israel's creation/covenant self-understanding, now reworked to include the Gentiles. In his life, death and resurrection (Wright argues), Christ embodies Israel's Messianic hopes and apocalyptic expectations. The author has has some thought-provoking remarks, too, on the debate - centred around Paul's letter to the Galatians - about what the central Christian concept of `justification' means, seeing it as being about membership of the community of believers: what it means to be in that community, as opposed to what you have to do to get in.

But Wright's account of Paul interpreting Jesus runs the constant risk of divorcing the apostle from Judaism, on the one hand, by his insistence that Jesus was doing something new (`not even the most devout Israelite believed it would happen like this' (54)); and from the Gentile context, on the other, by that selfsame insistence on a rigid framework that interprets Jesus solely in Jewish categories. Unanswered questions - for example, the significance of the largely irreligious masses is ignored in the quest for an all-encompassing Israelite story - and the fact that Wright is clearly condensing debate that has been conducted elsewhere at greater length (for example in his `The New Testament and the People of God') make this a work where clarity has to an extent been sacrificed to brevity. It's also one in which a number of question-begging assumptions loom large without being satisfactorily resolved. In summary, a good update on recent `Paul' scholarship - but by no means a rounded picture.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Looking at many sides of Paul, 26 Dec. 2012
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This was Wright's follow up to What Saint Paul Really Said. While some of the topics covered broadly cover the same ground, this is a very different book which incorporates and references quite a bit of Wright's other writings (excluding his New Testament For Everyone series). As such, if you are new to Wright, I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point.

The first half of the book looks at the background setting into which Paul's theology was born. These are outlined in some detail (but not exhaustively, as Wright is keen to emphasize) under the titles `Creation and Covenant', `Messiah and Apocalyptic' and `Gospel and Empire'. The first of these echoes What St Paul Really Said the most, with Wright's view on the New Perspective movement being that when references are made to the history of Israel that Paul had the whole sweep of that history in mind. So a reference to the Exodus necessarily entails a knowledge and understanding of all the nuances and symbolism that entails.

This is a very interesting view which is fairly persuasive, yet not compelling. For example, the painting of the Forth Road Bridge was sometimes referred to as a Sisyphean task, yet I think this only refers to the part of the myth of Sisyphus which relates to his rolling the stone up the hill repeatedly, not necessarily the backstory as to how he ended up there. So it might be with Paul's references to the Jewish theologies of monotheism, creation and covenant.

In `Messiah and Apocalyptic' Wright redefines these terms of how he thinks Paul understood them, which may be quite different to modern usage. So one is referred strongly back to The New Testament and the People of God: 1 (Christian Origins & Ques God 1) for detail on `Apocalyptic' and to Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: v. 2 (Christian Origins & the Question of God) for detail on `Messiah'.

In Gospel and Empire, Wright looks at the royal proclamation element of the gospel for which he has been noted, not least in Jesus and the Victory of God and, more recently, in How God Became King - Getting to the heart of the Gospels. So if you have read either of those, there will be little new here, but it's needed for completeness.

The second half of the book gets into some of the real meat of the argument, although it is clear (and Wright acknowledges this) that this is a condensed line of reasoning, with much that either has been expanded upon elsewhere or will be expanded upon later. As such, I would warn potential readers of the book that even though it is less than 200 pages long, the content is very dense. If you gloss over a sentence, you will lose the thread. Also, Wright refers to some quite extensive passages of scripture without providing the reader much by way of including it. So have a bible to hand.

Much of the point of view that Wright expresses is dependent upon his translation. I'm no expert in Greek so I could not help but wonder if his translation was influenced by his theology and not the other way around. While I intend to read some of the detractors to the `new perspective' movement, I would be surprised if a similar point is not raised.

The most contentious chapter, by some way, is `Reworking God's People' where Wright looks at the doctrines of election and `justification by faith'. He brings to the readers' attention some of the passages of New Testament which many churches will tend to view only out of the corner of their eyes. While Romans 8 may be a favourite passage for many, chapters 9-11 of the same book may not be. He similarly notes that proponents of the New Perspective love the 2nd half of Ephesians 2, while its detractors like to focus more on the first half of the chapter.

Wright tries to steer round this debate by saying that the approach needed is one that is all-encompassing. There ought to not be an either/or discussion, but rather a both/and way of viewing these doctrines. After all, if Paul put these next to one another in his own writings, it's unlikely he intended to be being self-contradictory.

The image that was cast in my head was that of a die. You cannot see all of its faces at once. Traditional theology has been entranced by looking at the six and catching an askew glance at some of the other faces, while others remain out of side, either on the opposite side, or face down on the table. Wright wants us to pick up the die and turn it over in our hands, looking at every side. For some, this may mean losing sight temporarily of the view they have grown up with and loved for many years. But Wright is not advocating throwing away any aspects of traditional theology. Instead, he wishes to cast a new light on it. But, to mix my metaphors, adding light can also cast a shadow elsewhere. So while the idea of justification by faith has been core to much reformed theology, the point put forward is that it is has been partially misunderstood and is also part of a bigger picture.

In writing this, Wright did not set out to answer all questions about Paul and give an holistic account of his theology. Instead, this book should be taken as a thought-provoker, inviting the reader to re-examine Paul for themselves and to go further down the pathways which Wright has sketched out. It's not an easy read, but it's not impenetrable either. So, with due caution, proceed, learn and think.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Perspectives, 19 Feb. 2013
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I found this easy to read but had to keep going back to take in the ideas that were coming at me thick and fast out of it. Everyone should read this who is studying Paul - it not only opened up a whole new world for me of thought but left me thinking - I really have found the real basis for my life in Christ Jesus
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5.0 out of 5 stars One person, three worlds, 16 Mar. 2014
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Mr. M. Parnell "Reader" (Doncaster) - See all my reviews
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A clear and easy to understand review of the fresh perspectives on St Paul that has arrived in the theological consciousness since the second world war. People may disagree with Paul to find that it was only a stereo type they were disagreeing with and not really the man he was.To understand Paul in the light of this fresh perspective helps us to understand his thought and his theology. To understand that he was a Roman Citizen, a Jew and a Christian at the same time helps us to see what he meant and how his original hearers are likely to have understood him. Tom Wright enables the reader to enter Paul's world and gain a deeper understanding of the letters he wrote and why which make up a considerable part of the New Testament. It is also refreshing to hear a scholar to argue that Paul wrote some of the letters that traditionally believers say he wrote but which scholars have previously argued that he didn't.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 13 Jan. 2013
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Peter Gray (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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In placing Paul and his thought firmly in the context of the Old Testament and 1st Century Jewish thinking, Wright has - in my view - absolutely nailed the man's theology. His views will be controversial in some circles, but for me this is the definitive book on Paul's theology and how it fits into scripture. Highly recommended
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hard Going, 31 Mar. 2014
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Peter Culbert - See all my reviews
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Ive enjoyed Wright's other books but I found this one a struggle to read. I suppose I should have realised it is directed more at theological students rather than the layman as it was originally written for a series of lectures at Cambridge University.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting interpretation of Paul, 25 Sept. 2013
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The text is very good, it has opened up a new area of study into a new and exciting interpretation of Paul for me. My only criticism is that there are times when the author skims over some points without leaving adequate direction for further study.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 9 May 2014
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As usual Tom Wright has the ability to translate hius years of scholarship for the general reader in no technical terms while the book is so written one is encouraged to return again and again to read Paul.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by the 2009 publication date..., 2 Feb. 2010
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An Amazon Customer (Northwood, Middx, GB) - See all my reviews
Don't be fooled by the 2009 publication date: this is simply a re-issue of Wright's 'Paul: Fresh Perspectives' published by SPCK in the UK Paul: Fresh Perspectives.
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