Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Wright stuff I left behind . . .

N. T. Wright
Christianity Today

Over 15 years ago, back when I was striving hard to become a scholar in religious studies, I grew interested in the writings of N. T. Wright, and I met him at the 1999 SBL/AAR Conference, where I gave three ground-breaking presentations but garnered no interviews. Within three months of that conference, I was walking a couple of kilometers four times a day to teach English conversation in a language institute in Daegu. I was lucky. I had a job.

Yesterday, I encountered an article by Jason Byassee, "Surprised by N.T. Wright" (Christianity Today, April 8, 2014), that called forth memories I'd forgotten of Wright's attraction as a scholar:
Wright's goal in his teaching and writing is to massively revise the way Christianity has been articulated for generations. Christian faith, for Wright, is not about going to heaven when you die. It is not about the triumph of grace over the law of the Old Testament. He says its key doctrine is not justification by grace alone, the cornerstone for the Protestant Reformers. The church has misread Paul so severely, it seems, that no one fully understood the gospel from the time of the apostle to the time a certain British scholar started reading Paul in Greek in graduate school.
In short, Wright was a pot-stirrer, an iconoclast, a trouble-maker . . . except that he presented a novel conservative reading through his radical approach, so his writings offered a bracing challenge to things I had previously learned, whether liberal or conservative.

But I've left that scholarly realm behind, for life is full of surprises . . .

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