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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Christian Origin & Question of God)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 July 2016
When it comes to a genius of NT Wright's standing, I hate to find myself in the position of Emperor Joseph II who famously told Mozart that his music had 'too many notes', but that's honestly the feeling I had for much of this book.

Perhaps that's because I'd previously worked through his other books in this series (with great delight and pleasure), and indeed, have worked through most of his published work.

But I still feel that this massively, massively long book is much longer than it really needed to be. There's a surprising amount of repetition, not only of material in the previous books, but also of material covered just a chapter or two ago. I honestly feel that this would have been a much better book - a classic, indeed - it if had only been edited more ruthlessly. (Did we really need such a lengthy exposition of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream?)

In spite of that, I learned a lot. The book does a WONDERFUL job of setting Paul in his contemporary world, in terms of religion, philosophy and politics. For me that's where the book really shone. As for the sections on Paul's theology... I'm sorry, but for much of the time I found myself thinking things like, "But you've just already said all that" and even "Oh, get ON with it."

Still, Wright at his worst (and this is far from his worst) is still better than many of his contemporariness at their best. I recommend the book, but I'll be surprised if you don't find yourself yielding to the urge to skim or speed-read several lengthy sections.

3 stars is mean, but I can't quite bring myself to give it 4, and unfortunately 3.5 isn't an option.

But yes, definitely recommended.
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on 24 July 2015
It's hard not to agree with Tom Wright but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Having read this entire series to date I found this extremely difficult to rate. If you've read the other three volumes in the series, you could almost skip the first 600 pages (part I and II) of 'Paul and the Faithfulness of God.' There is an interesting piece of exegesis on Onesimus, but not really worth the time required to wade through the the first of this two-part tome. There is also not very much to surprise you along the way - but only IF you've already read the Jesus and the Victory of God (JVG), the New Testament and the People of God (NTPG), and the Resurrection of the Son of God (RSG).

However, I gave it the five stars simply because it does remain an outstanding, superb, magnificent piece of work in its own right. If you've not read much on Paul - I believe this is the best introduction, and is - as usual - brilliantly well written.

Some criticisms, but fairly minor and tentative:
1 - There is little evidence of development or change or even evolution in the author's hermeneutic views since the publication of NTPG back in 1992.
2 - Being as popular as he is, it must be difficult to keep hold of the fallibility of one's own views, and sometimes he's a little too arrogant in his assertions about subjects beyond his own range of knowledge. (E.g., I find his views on postmodernity excruciating, and on non-Anglican ecclesiastical traditions naively dismissive.)
3 - As everyone states, it is TOO long, unnecessarily long, unhelpfully long.

Tom Wright is not the best interpreter of Paul, but for all my reservations if you're new to Wright or New to Pauline scholarship, then I think this does deserve five stars.
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on 18 November 2014
‘Something understood.’ With this seemingly modest phrase quoted from George Herbert’s poem ‘Prayer’, Tom Wright ends his immense, scholarly exploration of Pauline theology. It is not one book, but rather four in one, a symphony in four movements. This is not the book for those who want a succinct overview of the subject (he ably provided that some years ago with his excellent ‘What St Paul really said’). Rather, it aims to give us a highly detailed account of Paul, who is primarily to be understood in the context of the first century Eastern Mediterranean world from which he, a formerly zealous Pharisee emerged as the principal representative to the gentile world of the early Christian movement.

What is so impressive is the ‘scientific’ way in which Wright has examined (through precise exegetical analysis, with a panoramic awareness of critics and counter arguments) all the available Pauline phenomena and presented them in an economic, elegant and convincing way, which avoids dogmatism and the anachronistic narrowness of later (especially Reformation) readings. He doesn’t allow Paul to be shoe-horned into any ill-fitting theological schemes, but shows the breadth and beauty of Paul’s understanding of Jesus as Messiah and how that fits with the grand narrative of creation and covenant in the Jewish scriptures. Concepts deemed to be central (e.g. the righteousness of God) are reinterpreted and others (e.g. new creation) emerge with a greater force. We see Paul developing as the greatest Christian theologian, not only as we understand better the results (the letters), but also by being inducted into the process (the thinking and theologizing behind them) of his creative endeavour.

Another striking feature of Wright’s book is that something this monumental is never dry or tedious. His recipe includes judicious use of humour and poetry and framing mechanisms which keep the mixture lively and engaging, and exemplifies his aesthetic, as well as his theological appreciation of Paul’s achievement. Unsurprisingly, there is something eminently Pauline (symphonic) in the weaving and exposition of so many thematic elements, and in the cumulative sense of richness, depth and clarity of the resulting work.

Newsweek magazine once dubbed Tom Wright the world’s greatest living New Testament scholar and here is the proof. As Paul claims with staggering boldness in 1 Corinthians 2.16 ‘we have the mind of Christ’, so we now have in this book probably the best claim yet to have the mind of Paul.
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on 2 August 2017
Good service. Excellent value.
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on 9 October 2017
excellent buy!
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on 14 December 2013
I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that this book feels too long, and would have benefited from some more radical pruning. That said, pruning a book this size would, I would have thought, take some time, and given the choice between what we have, and what we perhaps could have had in a years time, I would still go with what we have. Warts and all, it is certainly good enough.

I liked the overall structure of the book, and it is mercifully well written. Perhaps too `chatty' in places, but that is a very minor quibble.

The broad sweep of his argument I found utterly compellingly. I didn't hear any new themes from his other writings, but this book did bring them together for me in a way they had not been before.

Some of his more detailed exegesis I struggled with. I kept wondering if someone in the first century would really have seen things that way. It just felt a little too convoluted at times. That said, NT Wright is fighting a lot of preconceived notions about what words and passages mean, so I was never sure whether the difficulty is with my preconceptions, or NT Wright's impositions.

Overall, this is a good book, with lots of insights - big and small. It feels like a major step forward, but I doubt if it will be the last word on the subject. I could probably do with a simpler version (by his alter ego Tom Wright), but I managed well enough and I certainly plan to read this again - although probably not for another year or so, to allow me to recover from this reading!
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on 4 March 2015
Am still working through this, but what an eye-opener! As someone who's already studied the scriptures a fair bit, I still found myself reading with sheer delight and surprise as the author builds the world of Pauline Christianity and draws you into Paul's world. Wright uses a social-scientific approach as his entry point to Paul's world from which he also builds his theology. As someone who's found philosophical anthropology and the social sciences fascinating as part of my theological study, this was a joy to read. I only wish Wright had seen it worthwhile adding a 'summary' section or something to that effect at the end of each chapter; it's easy to get lost in the detail of the new world you're being invited into. It's huge, but well worth it and all the puzzles seem to fall well into place.
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on 6 January 2014
This is an excellent book and having it in Kindle form is so much lighter on the pocket in so many ways. The diagrams just about work and being able to highlight the text is wonderful. But one problem is that the publisher has not added page numbers to correspond with the print version. This is a major oversight for an academic book such as this, It makes quoting from the Kindle version pretty much impossible. Any chance that a new version of the file could be generated with the page numbers added?
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on 20 January 2014
This is the book in the series we have been waiting for and Wright does not disappoint. Of course, people will disagree with some points. Of course, those who have nailed their colours to the traditional understanding of 'justification by faith' will be up in arms. Yet this book cannot be ignored.

Wright always wears his learning lightly. There are some dense patches where a second or third reading will be required. In the main, however, the points come across clearly.

Just the sheer scale of the approach, the breadth of references and the realisation that this is the result of a life's work, should leave the reader taking what he say seriously.
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on 7 January 2014
Stunningly comprehensive
Brilliant analogies and illustrations
Amazing insights
A mind and spirit opening and expanding experience
Certainly worth the effort to read the whole two volumes
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