In another able critique of Bishop NT Wright’s view of Paul and Justification, dikaiosunē theou, that is, “the righteousness of God” and so on, I find it interesting that Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, begins his essay with a comparison of Wright to Bultmann:
N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, has become in the last several years a household name among evangelicals. In some respects, he is emerging as the 21st century equivalent to Rudolf Bultmann. Both scholars are known for their synthesis of the NT message. They have written multiple volumes dealing especially with global treatments on the theology of the NT. They both have also written commentaries on various NT books, but this is not their primary contribution. In short, both Bultmann and Wright are biblical theologians. One basic difference is that whereas Bultmann was a theological liberal, Wright is an evangelical (or conservative or at least significantly farther to the right than Bultmann). Wright’s respect for the text is vastly higher than Bultmann’s was. And this means that his view of the historicity of the biblical record is significantly higher than Bultmann’s was as well.
What I find more interesting, however, is professor Wallace’s censure of Bishop Wright:
The worst feature of this important work [Wright’s latest book on Justification] is Wright’s hubris. He takes such an incredibly dogmatic stance on almost every aspect of his understanding of Paul’s view of justification, and condemns his exegetical adversaries with such sweeping statements, that one gets the impression that we are seeing the reincarnation of Athanasius: Wright contra mundum. And all too often, that hubris is converted into rhetoric that has very little substance. Rather than reading a reasoned, sustained argument for a New Perspective view of Paul on justification, I felt as though Wright assumed that the debate was over and that he simply wanted to browbeat people into submission. Strip away the rhetoric and the book would have been half the length. Of course, it wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining to read, but the argument would have been clearer and, I think, more forceful. But I digress; enough for now on tone. Read the entire essay…
Here’s the grind: Bishop NT Wright is probably frustrated that most in the evangelical world, scholars and laypeople alike, have made up their minds to reject his reading of Paul and have chosen rather to continue their traditional reading of Paul.
“No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” (Luke 5:39, NET, italics mine)