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Too many words?
on 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.