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The New Testament and the People of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God) Paperback – 21 Mar 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing; Re-issue edition (21 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0281066213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281066216
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'It is difficult to know which feature of it is to be admired the most: the immense erudition - the lively examples - the integration of so many different approaches and disciplines - the easy intelligibility of the writing - the lucid ordering of the argument.' --Jack Dean Kingsbury, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia

'It is closely written, but witty and enlivened by homely examples. The author s range of erudition is impressive, but his judgement no less so. An inspiring start to an ambitious project.' --The Catholic Herald

'Eminently accessible to students; scholars will find it interesting and provocative. It deserves a place of privilege on the bookshelf of any serious student of the New Testament.' --The Expository Times

About the Author

N.T. Wright is Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews. He has written over forty books, including the monumental Jesus and the Victory of God (1996) and The Resurrection of the Son of God (2003). He is also the author of the popular 'For Everyone' guides to the New Testament and the best-selling Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope, Virtue Reborn, Simply Jesus and How God Became King (all published by SPCK).


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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having joined the journey a few years ago, I discovered that the train had left the station some years back and had already gathered a good head of steam.
This book, and in fact the series to date, has been a personally enlightening discovery for me. To find someone doing such a thourough job to hand me a clear picture of life, thinking and history at the time of the new testament was nothing short of amazing. As Wright pieces together not only the times, but ways to understand those times and make good sense of the data, I find myself with the tools needed to know and discover the Jesus that I had previously only experienced intangibly.
The beginning on such a massive task feels much like starting out to write a tale as grand as the Lord of the Rings. But this is one hughed in different tones and devices. The story goes on by clear and balanced scrutiney rather than narrative and description. But is none the less compelling to read.
As someone unused to such academic books, I devoured this and couldn't wait for more. Which thankfully there was, and plenty of.
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Format: Paperback
Is this a work of literary hermeneutics, historical epistemology, New Testament/Biblical theology, history of religions, worldview analysis, or simply a prolegomenon to Wright's following work on Jesus, Paul, et alia? The answer has to be that it is all these things. Moreover, it is all these things in a most impressive, magisterial way. This is one of the few occasions when 'tour de force' does not seem like hyperbole.
Wright has helpfully (for a reviewer at least) divided his work into five parts: an introduction, 'Tools for the Task', 'First-Century Judaism within the Greco-Roman world', 'The First Christian Century', and a conclusion.
'Tools for the Task' is the hardest section with which to know what to do. Recognising the difficulties in simplistic accounts of human knowing, Wright skilfully avoids the nihilism that claims that one cannot know truly anything external to oneself. He advocates what has become known as 'critical realism', a term which has become known to New Testament scholars primarily through the work of the late Ben F. Meyer (to whom Wright refers frequently and with approval). The forms of knowing in which Wright is most interested, for obvious reasons, are literary and historical knowledge. With regard to literature he asks, "Is anybody there?" a significant question given the solipsism of much recent literary theory. He explores Greimas' structuralist analysis of story, best known by Richard B. Hays use with regard to Paul (in his 'The Faith of Jesus Christ'). With regard to historical knowledge, he claims that real history will seek to get on the 'inside' of events. By this, he seems primarily to mean that the historian will seek to explore the intentions and beliefs of the actors in events.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. It is not a light read, but as neither a historian nor a theologian, I found this book perfectly approachable. As the first book in a series I approached it as a 'necessary evil' towards the rest of the series, but I was very quickly hooked. If you have serious questions about the new testament period this is the place to come. NT Wright seems to neatly plot a course between those who are not prepared to think and those who are not prepared to believe.
I believe that this series will make its mark on the church.
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The book was something of a revelation (if you'll pardon the pun) as it is the longest introduction I have ever read. Wright spends about the first third of the book (which is 500 pages long - and they ain't exactly small pages in large print) discussing his methodology and setting out his stall in meticulous detail. I know this may not be of particular interest to readers who want to get the Wright's summary of Judaic and early Christian history, but it is well worth it, I think, as it demonstrates the level of care needed to approach this topic.

Having set himself up, Wright then proceeds to give a summary history of Judaic thought roughly from the time of Judas Maccabeus through the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. He acknowledges that this is a summary rather than a detailed analysis and does provide plenty of references for the interested reader to follow-up on. At times, it is a bit dry and it took me a while to go through; I would readily admit to not being having taken it all in.

From here, Wright gives what is, in my opinion, the most fascinating chapter: an overview of Christianity from roughly A.D. 30 to A.D. 125. Wright acknowledges the difficulty in trying to study the history of the church given the scarcity over the contemporary sources, and their reliability (e.g. not trusting what Eusebius had to say without at least a pinch of salt).

In both his sections on Judaism and early Christianity, he looks at what they did (praxis), believed and hoped for. The reader should always be aware that this is an introduction, so Wright brushes on topics he intends to look at in much more detail later on. It serves as a useful appetiser and I can't wait to get going on Jesus and Victory of God.
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