on the works of N.T. Wright

okay, I haven’t really posted anything from or about or by N.T. Wright on my blog, but I’ll let the cat out of the bag… (if you have seen me commenting here and there this may not be a surprise): I don’t really care for it too much.  Why?  Well, I suppose it has more to do with his attitude and tone than anything else.   I suppose much of it has been communicated in subtle ways but it has finally seemed to break through in full force with his latest book How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels (HaperOne, 2012).  It comes across in the subtitle.

James Smith has a blog post about it too and I am in basic agreement with him about it all.  Here is an excerpt:

Actually, let me rephrase that: it’s not the substance of the argument itself that frustrates me, it’s the attendant tone and asides by which Wright frames his project…

…This probably explains my frustration with how Wright pitches his argument and interpretation.  For example, notice the subtitle: Wright is offering us the “forgotten story of the Gospels.”  This may be a publishers’ ploy, but having heard Wright talk about this argument in several different contexts, he clearly affirms the claim: for hundreds and hundreds of years, we have not been able to properly read the Gospels.  And now Tom Wright has come along to give us what we lacked: the backstory of Second Temple Judaism, the historian’s read of Israel’s expectations, the secret keys we need to finally read the Gospels…

It is the “finally” stuff and his use of “really” and “simply.”  Whether it is true or not, they all seem to have an underlying tone of condescension.  It is interesting to me that American Evangelicals eat this stuff up and yet may not realize it is they whom he is addressing.  It’s all a put down really.  Well, that is how I see it and why, maybe with some exceptions, I probably won’t own any of his books.   I also agreed with and appreciated Smith’s conclusion:

But do we need this extra-canonical resource (a canon without the canon) to be able to read the Gospel as the announcement of God’s kingship?  I don’t think so.  Indeed, I think there’s a Reformed tradition of biblical interpretation that found the resources for just such a reading right within the canon itself–and in concert with Nicene faith.  I’m not persuaded that the fruits of historical science have suddenly put us in a position superior to pre-modern interpreters.

I guess the only main difference between myself and Smith, as if such a comparison can even be made… is that he still likes Wright’s work.


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