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Jesus Creed

A clip from Books & Culture, my review of Tom Wright’s newest book  …

Tom Wright is  well-known for insightful theories about Judaism that are swiftly developed so we gain fresh and enduring insights into the New Testament. He has  brought into the field of play ideas like this: that Jesus’ kingdom vision and mission were about the “end of the exile,” that the apostle Paul’s understanding of justification was not so much about personal redemption as about Gentiles being included in the people of God alongside Israel, and that Paul’s gospel message itself was, in the very core of that message, about Jesus as Lord (with the anti-imperial cult implication being that Caesar was not). Wright, then, has been at the center of the Third Quest for the historical Jesus, the New Perspective on Paul, and now the “fresh” (anti-empire) perspective on Paul.

Each of these scholarly but always readable and digestible proposals enters into the field of academic and pastoral theology as credible because each of these perspectives emerges out of Tom’s fresh studies of Judaism. Suddenly, and with the unpredictable freshness that characterizes his work, Tom’s newest book, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
, shifts, circles round, dodges one blow after another, and contends that New Testament ethics is most like Aristotle’s virtue ethics but is both something else and more than anything Aristotle ever imagined. I’ve brewed over this new book of Tom’s, pondering it daily during my commute. At times I’ve wondered if he has an excessively Aristotelian view of NT ethics, but at other times I’ve wondered if his proposal is Jewish enough, and I’m convinced that he has successfully employed Aristotle both as foil and friend of Jesus and Paul. In other words, Wright gets it right, even if each of us will find some points to quibble with here and there.

See here for the rest of the review.

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