NT Wright

In this Fall's Seminary Without Walls class we are reading "What Saint Paul Really Said." Wright is able to condense and pack so much into this small, very readable book. His gift of clear, simple, and concise language means that readers don't have to wade through piles of words to get to the kernel of what he is saying. His main contention is to refute the often discussed idea that Paul was the creator of Christianity. Wright posits that Jesus was the creator of Christianity, Paul was simply a humble messenger, okay at times not so humble.

Secondly, Wright emphases that Paul's basic mission was to the pagans of his world, not to the Jews, and therefore he might have something to say to contemporary paganism. (22) Paul's message of Jesus as the true God in the midst of a polytheistic, syncretistic world is his main theme. In this vein Wright offers a different understanding and interpretation of "gospel." In the Christian religious world of today, particularly in Evangelical circles, there is a major emphasis upon personal salvation as the true meaning of gospel. Wright says that he doesn't deny the value of the "order of salvation" (41) but he says he doesn't believe that is what Paul means by the term. For Paul the idea of "gospel" or "good news" is kingdom language. It relates to the message that the long-awaited release from captivity is at hand, because the King is here. The emphasis upon Jesus as the author and King of this kingdom is powerful. Therefore, gospel is the announcement of the present and coming king. For Paul this was amazing because to "announce that YHWH was king was to announce that Caesar is not. This was the 'good news' that Isaiah's heral was called upon to proclaim." (44)

Therefore the gospel is a true story about a human life, death, and resurrecton through which the living God becomes king of the world. It is not a system of how peole get saved. The announcemtn of the gospel results in people being saved, but "the gospel" itself, strictly speaking, is the narrative proclamation of King Jesus. (45)

Chew on that for a while. More to come later.