Friday, January 7, 2011

The New Testament and the People of God - Christian Origins and the New Testament

Along with Church Dogmatics, this Christmas I gave myself the gift of N.T. Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God. Furthermore, to increase the frequency with which is write (blog), I will blog my way through this trio. With more reading and more writing, I hope to do more than summarize the chapters as I read them.

Christian Origins and the New Testament

In the preface to this volume, Wright warns us with something some of us are all too familiar with:
I frequently tell my student that quite a high proportion of what I say is probably wrong, or at least flawed or skewed in some way which I do not at the moment realize. The only problem is that I do not know which bits are wrong (p. xvii).
In chapter one, Wright sets out to first deal with the question of New Testament hermeneutics. He categorizes the hermeneutics of centuries past four ways: pre-critical, historical, theology and postmodern (p. 7). Which is the most appropriate way to understand the New Testament? "...We need to do justice, simultaneously, to Wrede's emphasis on serious history (including the history of Jesus), Bultmann's emphasis on normative theology, and the postmodern emphasis on the text and its reader" (p. 27)

Certainly the task of a New Testament theology or introduction is nothing new, but the task that Wright has created for himself is something unseen. What has started as a two volume set has become three and then six. In Wright's mind, the divide between New Testament studies and theology is not only unnecessary but is also misleading (p.13). I do not doubt that this series will be of great help and encouragement.

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