by John Vlainic
N. T. Wright has a relatively small, readable survey, Paul In Fresh Perspective (Fortress Press, 2005). This one is not for those who love exploring footnotes. But it does contain many careful distinctions about Pauline and Christian thought.
As with Wright’s Evil and the Justice of God, this book is extremely helpful in getting at the “big picture” of the whole of scripture, even while it touches on many particulars.
Wright provides (gracious) corrections to popular teachings among evangelicals (and many Free Methodists too??). Here are some of them, posed as questions.
CROSS: What “freight does the word “CROSS” cary for Paul?
ELECTION: How has Paul reshaped and reworked the election of Israel?
JUSTIFICATION: Does Paul use “justification” to refer to how a person gets saved, or to something else?
HOLY LAND: What does Paul understand as “Holy Land” now? Has the old covenant to Israel been replaced?
RAPTURE: What did Paul mean in his one use of a “rapture” image for when Christ appears?
APOCALYPTIC: What is “apocalyptic” and how does Paul use it?
PISTIS CHRISTOU: Does Paul think we are justified by “faith in Christ” or by “the faithfulness of Christ”? [e.g. Galatians 2:16]
JESUS AND PAUL: Different or same or ________?
CHRIST AND THE EMPIRE: How would Paul feel about our passive, relatively submissive reading of Roman 13? What does the Gospel say to pagan culture?
ETHICS: How does Paul understand ethics for Christians – rules to be kept?
Part I THEMES
1 Paul's World, Paul's Legacy
.....1. The Three Worlds of Paul
.....2. Fighting over Paul's Legacy: Perspectives Old, New and Different
2 Creation and Covenant
.....1. Creation and Covenant in the Old Testament
.....2. Paul: Three Central Passages
..........(i) Colossians 1.15-20
..........(ii) 1 Corinthians 15
..........(iii) Romans 1-11 3. Evil and Grace, Plight and Solution
.....4. Conclusion: Jesus within Creation and Covenant
3 Messiah and Apocalyptic
.....2. Jesus as Messiah in Paul
.....3. Apocalyptic in Paul
4 Gospel and Empire
.....2. Caesar's Empire and Its Ideology
.....3. Jewish Critique of Pagan Empire
.....4. Paul's Counter-Imperial Theology
Part II STRUCTURES
5 Rethinking God
.....2. Monotheism: The Jewish Roots
.....3. Monotheism and Christology
.....4. Monotheism and the Spirit
.....5. Scriptural Roots, Pagan Targets, Practical Work
6 Reworking God's People
.....2. Election: Jewish Views of God's People
.....3. Election Reshaped around Jesus
.....4. Election Reworked around the Spirit
.....5. Redefinition of Election Rooted in Scripture
7 Reimagining God's Future
.....2. Jewish Eschatology in the First Century
.....3. Eschatology Reimagined around the Messiah
.....4. Eschatology Reimagined around the Spirit
.....5. Eschatology in Context
8 Jesus, Paul and the Task of the Church
.....2. Jesus and Paul
.....3. The Work of an Apostle
..........a. Servant, apostle, set apart
..........b. Redefinitions in practice
.....4. Conclusion: Paul and the Task of the Church
Notes / Bibliography / Indexes