Writer, scholar, theologian, former Bishop of Durham and now Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at The University of St Andrews, Dr Nicholas Thomas (NT) Wright’s academic credentials are impeccable. But is he really as for everyone as his book titles claim?
Getting Wright answers to the right questions
By precise argument and the force of scripture, Tom Wright liberates convention-bound Christians and dares them to read the Bible more carefully. Always with close attention to the Bible's original context, his commentaries and study guides on the Gospels, Acts and Letters lead you in new and sometimes discomforting directions. Yet he is no heretic, nor does he challenge convention just for the sake of it.
Each For Everyone New Testament commentary includes Tom Wright’s own translation. A pretty much literal translation from the original Greek, Tom Wright’s New Testament reads quite formally, but makes an accurate basis for study and interpretation. Getting the best means following Tom’s tireless trek through the historical, religious and political context of the original, but it's no soulless ramble through antiquity. His careful guiding avoids any serious misinterpretation of what the Bible really says to the world today.
His 'now and not yet' concept of God's Kingdom, as both come and coming, is a continual theme of the commentaries. To Wright's books give a clear historical account of what the Church teaches, what the Bible says; and he always defers to scripture. Making his point that, with the Resurrection, the Kingdom of God is already here, Tom points out that the Gospels and Paul are quite clear: "Jesus is raised, therefore the new creation has begun, and we have a job to do." And with the completed Kingdom under Christ also yet to come, "What we are doing at the moment," he insists , "is building for that Kingdom."
Is Tom Wright's theology open to everyone?
The short answer is, 'Yes... sort of'. Tom Wright has a more down to earth writing style than most biblical scholars, but the practiced precision of his writing requires commitment from the reader. Also, he has a significantly different understanding of some biblical words and concepts. This is why some readers 'don’t get' his thoughts easily on first reading. But what he has to say is important and relevant to serious Bible study, and rewards a little dedication to the task.
Tom Wright’s theology gives compelling answers to the big issues in the Christian church. Though critics declare his writing at odds with the conventional view of the second coming, the divinity of Christ and the atonement of Jesus’ death, Tom might argue that any apparent difference is the result of beleiving recited creeds rather than the written gospels. And as Steve Chalke, Founder of Oasis Global, says, "What we believe has a huge impact on the way we behave." And for that reason alone a return to the authentic reading of the Gospels, Acts and Letters is something for everyone to consider.
So is 'For Everyone' really right for you?
If you want a Tom Wright ‘taster’, try his For Everyone Bible Study Guide: Luke. Each Bible passage is concisely summarised with enough background and context information for most readers. Questions and thoughts develop as the author leads you gently through the main themes of Luke toward the relevance of Jesus’ words and actions for today, with a few words to focus your mind on the Kingdom of God in your own daily life.
October 19th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison