N.T. Wright on Our Reading of the Gospels

It isn’t just that we’ve all misread the gospels, though I think that’s broadly true.  It is more that we haven’t really read them at all.  We have fitted them into the framework of ideas and beliefs that we have acquired from other sources.

MatthewGospelWhat is N.T. Wright really getting at?  Is he correct in his assessment?  If so, where did we go wrong?  And how can we really read the gospels as they were intended to be read?  In his book How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, Wright continues, “I want in this book to allow them [the four gospels], as far as I can, to speak for themselves.  Not everyone will like the results.”

I must say that this is BOLD on Wright’s part.  Has he figured out how we should read the Gospels?  The more important question is, Can anyone make such a claim?

At the moment I’m reading Wright’s How God Became King, seeing where it leads.  And though I’m no biblical scholar, I believe I can make a few judgments about its contents.

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7 Responses to N.T. Wright on Our Reading of the Gospels

  1. Craig Benno says:

    I often wonder if Wright is asking these sort of questions and making these statements within his own European Anglican context? No matter our thoughts about him, he knows what he is saying and makes a good case for what he is saying.

  2. 123kylephillips says:

    My take is that that is precisely Paul’s point in Romans 12:2. I believe Paul himself misread the Hebrew scriptures, reading them as a 1st century Jewish nationalist until the Damascus Road experience re focused his attention. No less is required of us.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Did Paul actually miss-read the Scriptures as a first century nationalist – or did Jesus redefine them?

      • 123kylephillips says:

        I think a better way of saying it is that Jesus fulfilled the law (ala Matt. 5:17). He did not redefine the OT as much as recognize God’s consistent call to Israel to be that “kingdom of priests” and “light to the nations.” Paul and his contemporaries missed it because of their Jewish bias. When Jesus showed up on the Damascus road everything popped into focus for Paul. “Of course! Now I see!” It could be argued that it took until Acts 13 for full clarity to come as he and Barnabas were rejected in the synagogue and Paul zeroed in on Isaiah’s passage,
        “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
        that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth’”.

        The message had been there all along. Not much “new” in the New Testament, except, of course, Jesus coming as the Messiah to die for sin in fulfillment of the OT scripture to open the floodgates of grace. 🙂

  3. TC Robinson says:

    Guys, I’m enjoying this short exchange. On the question, I don’t think it’s an either/or. It’s a both/and: Paul misreading Israel’s Scripture and things being fulfilled and expanded around Messiah. Take Romans 4:13: from a piece of real estate, promised to ethnic Israel, to being heirs of the world, for the new Israel, if you will.

    • 123kylephillips says:

      Absolutely. The interesting thing is that Paul’s take expressed in Romans 4:13 is present in Gen 12:1-3, meaning Paul isn’t forcing anything by going there. Rather, he is able to see where God has been heading all along in the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

  4. Mariah says:

    “Take Romans 4:13: from a piece of real estate, promised to ethnic Israel, to being heirs of the world, for the new Israel, if you will.”

    Great point. Puts a whole new light on it.

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