Paul and the Faithfulness of God

Douglas Moo | November 6, 2013

N. T. Wright. Paul and the Faithfulness of God. 2 vols. Christian Origins and the Question of God 4. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013. 1,696 pp. $89.00.

Reviewing N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God is like trying to get a handle on the U.S. tax code. In 1,513 pages (like Luke-Acts, split into two volumes), Wright not only outlines his distinctive vision of Paul’s theology (chs. 9-11); he also describes the worldview that generates that theology (chs. 6-8) and, in keeping with his view of theology as historically rooted, sets it in first-century context. After an introductory chapter, therefore, Wright offers a rather lengthy description of Paul’s first-century context (four chapters on Judaism, Greek philosophy, Greco-Roman religion and culture, and Roman imperial ideology, respectively). In chiastic fashion, Wright then toward the end of the book returns to assess the way in which Paul’s theologizing addresses these first-century realities. The result is a “Pauline theology” unlike any we’ve seen before—and a long, complex, at times repetitive book that’s extraordinarily difficult to review. (What possessed me to agree to do this? I asked myself more than once!)

In an attempt to tame the monster, I’ll focus somewhat narrowly on Wright’s overall…

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