Tom Wright and the Search for Truth: A Theological Evaluation

Tom Wright and the Search for Truth: A Theological EvaluationDr Tom Holland has asked me to announce the imminent publication of his evaluation of the theology of N.T. Wright:

Tom Wright and the Search for Truth: A Theological Evaluation

I have long felt that someone ought to write a comprehensive, probing critique of N. T. Wright’s theological thought. I’m very grateful to Tom Holland for tackling this challenging, yet much-needed task. Holland rightly, I believe, raises serious concerns regarding Wright’s methodology, which tends to elevate Second Temple literature above the Hebrew Scriptures.

While Wright is correct in his efforts to peel back layers of Reformation tradition in reading Paul, Holland shows that Wright’s own methodology does not always live up to the noble aims of the critical realism he espouses. No doubt there is much to learn from Wright’s scholarly contribution. The way forward, however, I believe, is subjecting Wright’s work to the kind of constructive critique Holland has provided. It is my hope that this volume marks the beginning of an even more thoroughgoing scrutiny of Wright’s reconstructed synthesis-with the result that Paul’s thought can be discerned more cogently from the New Testament documents against the most important ancient background, which surely must be the inspired canonical contributions of the Old Testament writers. Even the most ardent followers of Wright, not to mention Wright himself, will want to take note of this measured, yet pointed and sustained interaction.

Andreas J. Kostenberger, Senior Research Professor of New Testament & Biblical Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Founder of Biblical Foundations (www.biblicalfoundations.org)

Dr. Tom HollandAnyone wanting further details should go to Apiary Publishing. A 50% pre-publication discount is being offered on the Kindle edition until the end of October. A paperback edition will be available at a later date.

About the Author

Dr. Tom Holland is a Research Supervisor at Union School of Theology. He is a Baptist minister who has planted two independent evangelical churches in North Hertfordshire. He has been a visiting lecturer in Poland, USA, New Zealand, Singapore, Nepal and Korea.


Update 24th October 2017

Click here to download the “Books at a Glance” review of this book in PDF. The paperback version should be available soon from the Apiary Publishing site linked above,

The Jesus Scandals: Book Review and Giveaway

Instone-Brewer, David I was dlighted when David Instone-Brewer, with whom I work on Tyndale House’s STEP Project, contacted me and asked me to write a review of his latest book, The Jesus Scandals: Why He Shocked His Contemporaries (and Still Shocks Today).
I have always been fascinated with research that attempts to shed light on the meaning of obscure biblical texts by drawing upon relevant background material from the culture of day. In this case the author uses the theme of “Scandals” in Jesus’ life and teachings and among Jesus’ friends, using his extensive knowledge of rabbinic sources, to explain why what Jesus said and did was so shocking to the religious people of his day. scandals-small Each chapter contains references to these sources for further reading.

Of course, there are dangers in relying on background alone to clarify the meaning of biblical texts. There are countless examples where new interpretations of particular verses have been suggested based on background material that later turned out to have been misinterpreted, or in one case I can think of, completely fabricated! Rabbinic material is difficult to date, so that danger of an anachronistic interpretation is very real. However, the author is well aware of these potential pitfalls (as he has described in detail elsewhere), and strives to avoid falling into them.
The chapters are deliberately short and pithy, allowing them to be read in a few minutes, meaning that they could easily be used to provoke a discussion in a Bible Study or home group context, especially as a modern day application is suggested. The chapter on “Censored Arrest Warrant”, based on a document acquired by Tyndale House in Cambridge, where David works, can also be viewed as a video:

I found this and the chapter on “Child Abuse” particularly interesting as I had never come across this material before. Those interested in the New Testament teaching on divorce will want to read the chapters on “No Fault Divorce” and “Marital Abuse”, perhaps going on to read the author’s major work on that subject [Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities].

Whether you agree with all of David’s conclusions or not, I am sure that you will find as I did that your understanding of the context of Jesus’ life and ministry is expanded and enhanced, and so warmly recommend this book. For a sample chapter and a peak at the introduction and table of contents, click here.

I thought that this was such a great book that I bought another copy which you can win book by entering the giveaway below [i.e. it is not the free copy I was sent to review 🙂 ].

This Giveaway is now closed.

Book Review: The Heresy of Orthodoxy by Andreas J. Köstenberger & Michael J. Kruger

Andreas J. Köstenberger and Michael J. Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy. How Contemporary Cultures Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity.  Leicester: Apollos, 2010. Pbk. ISBN-13: 978-1-84474-446-6. pp.250.

This is a timely work for those wishing to answer the stream of recent books and articles arguing that we cannot know what the first followers of Jesus actually believed. What we can be sure of – writers such as Bart Ehrman assure us – is that the Church in the third and fourth centuries imposed is own interpretation of Jesus and suppressed the earlier “original” Christianity – which is now lost forever. As fictional as this interpretation of history might be it does require a considerable amount of time and effort to refute. I for one and very grateful for Köstenberger & Kruger for doing so in this volume.

 

The book is divided into three sections, answering in turn the three assertions of the Bauer-Ehrman hypothesis. Section 1 asks what is the evidence for a plurality of “Christianities” vying for supremacy in the early church. Drawing on some superb recent research by Richard Bauckham (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses), Larry Hurtado (Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity – now sadly out of print) and others, the authors make a convincing case that there was substantial and very early unity in the church about central issues of faith. Section 2 answers the issues of whether the later church decided which books were canonical in order to exclude “true Christianity” from the church. It demonstrates that the concept of “canon” is found within the New Testament itself and that even before the NT was complete parts of it were being recognised by apostolic witnesses as being of equal or greater authority than the Old Testament scriptures. Although a small number of books were still disputed until fairly late on, the core of the NT was very quickly accepted as Scripture. The third and fourth century church did not therefore invent the canon, they simply listed those books that had already been recognised as being authoritative.

 

The third and final section turns to the subject of textual criticism and focuses quite narrowly on how texts were copied in the ancient world and whether it was possible for a theological change made by a scribe could have become universally accepted without modern textual critics being able to identify it. Because of the vast number of NT manuscripts available and the speed in which they were disseminated throught the Empire we now know that this sort of theological change would have been impossible.

 

This book would prove a valuable addition to the library of anyone involved in apologetics today and anyone starting a theology course this Autumn. Some knowledge of early church history would be helpful, but not essential, as the authors do their best to explain who the characters they discuss are. It is a masterpiece of summarisation and deserves a wide readership.

I would like to leave the last word to D.A. Carson, who writes on the back cover:

In the beginning was Diversity. And the Diversity was with God, and the Diversity was God. Without Diversity was nothing made that has been made. And it came to pass that nasty old ‘orthodox’ people narrowed down diversity and finally squeezed it out, dismissing it as heresy. But in the fullness of time (which is of course our time). Diversity rose up and smote orthodoxy hip and thigh. Now, praise be, the only heresy is orthodoxy…