Varia on NTW’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God #5 – Having Some Fun (Gupta)

OK, it has been months since I have picked up Wright’s PFG – I have a 2700-mile move coming up in less than a month, so I have been a tad bit busy. But my aim is to finish the book before the end of June so I can write a short published review.

So, today all I can manage to do is have a bit of fun with PFG. I am making my way through chapter 11 on eschatology and especially the “future of Israel” section. In the quote below, Wright introduces the complexities of Romans 9-11, but I thought it was deliciously ironic that these words match almost exactly how I feel about Paul and the Faithfulness of God. See if this sounds familiar:

It is easy to be overwhelmed by Romans 9-11: its scale and scope, the mass of secondary literature, the controversial theological and also political topics, and the huge and difficult questions of the overall flow of thought on the one hand and the complex details of exegesis and interpretation on the other. (1156)

I could very easily write this sentence about Tom’s book! :) But – Tom could also very quickly respond in defense to his book the way Tom defends Romans 9-11:

The structure is clear; the balance is remarkable; the rhetorical effects are intended; the theology is reflected in the way the parts fit together into the whole (1162).

Another “fun” moment in PFG. On pg. 1168, Tom makes a comment about whether or not dikaosyne appears in Rom 10:3, and he compares scribes in early Christian history who tried to “edit” Paul with the word-cutting activities of modern copy-editors. Here is how Tom reflects on this (obviously in view of the size of his book):

I have encountered copy-editors like that, too, but they are usually to be resisted when every word in a dense passage is actually doing its bit for the common cause.

So, there you have it!

And one last thing. On page 1169, Wright takes a little shot at the anti-New Perspective scholars on the interpretation of Romans 10:3.

Of course, the phrase about ‘their own righteousness’, glimpsed out of context in the dark with the light behind it, with a glass of Wittenberg beer in hand and another already on board, could no doubt be read as indicating that these Jews were guilty of proto-Pelagianism, imagining that by doing ‘good works’ in the sense of making the moral effort to keep Torah they were earning favour, or indeed ‘righteousness’, with God.

Personally, I would love to have a T-shirt with the “Wittenberg Pub Club Five” all holding steins with Luther’s face on the mug (Carson, Seifrid, Moo, Westerholm, and Schreiner). Chris Tilling – do you think you could get a few hundred of these printed up? They’d be fun collectors’ items for both sides! I will work on getting Tom a Rabbi Akiva tea set.

All joking aside, I actually do like reading many parts of this book – such a unique volume, not only in size and academic depth, but also as Tom is often pastoral and worship-ful. He is a very good model of a theologian-scholar-pastor for my students.

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2 thoughts on “Varia on NTW’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God #5 – Having Some Fun (Gupta)

  1. Dr. Gupta,

    I’ll find out when I finally get around to checking out PFG for myself, but I was curious if there is any helpful interaction with Westerholm’s work in it. I remember being a little disappointed that Wright didn’t engage with Westerholm more in “Justifcation” (given the aims of the book it was, of course, understandable). Westerholm’s style and approach are so different from Wright’s that I fear that they often “talk past” each other, but I’d really like to see some of the main objections answered.

    • Michael – hard to remember, but Wright tries to articulate his view on justification over and against recent detractors. However, I felt that he did not say much that was “new” in his defense of his take on justification, so I don’t think he sufficiently laid Westerholmian concerns to rest. When I write my “official” review of PFG, this is something I will take up in more detail.

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