In what has become known as the `new perspective on Paul, Tom Wright has proposed a vision of the apostles central message that does fuller justice to the whole of Pauls letters and, in particular, to the God-centred nature of his gospel. He argues that `traditional readings of Paul can suggest that the apostles message is simply about us: our sin, our justification, our salvation. All these are important but they are not the heart of the matter, for, as Wright declares in the first chapter of this book, `We are not the centre of the universe. God is not circling around us. We are circling around him.
Writing from the perspective of his much admired scholarship, yet with a fluency and accessibility that few can match, Tom Wright argues that to understand `justification from Pauls point of view, it is necessary to see it in terms of four elements: the cosmic law court; the forward-moving purpose of God (eschatology); the fact of Gods achievement in Jesus Christ and our participation in him; and ultimately the single divine plan, through Israel, for the whole world (`covenant). Above all, we will only see what `justification is about when we recognize that we are part of a larger purpose. God is rescuing us from the shipwreck of the world, not so that we can sit back and put our feet up in his company, but so that we can be part of his plan to rescue and remake the whole of creation.
Ambitious in scope, yet closely argued, Justification: Gods Plan and Pauls Vision suggests that this crucial understanding of the theology of St Paul, and thus of the gospel of Christ, is urgently needed as the church faces the tasks of mission in a dangerous world.
Tom Wright is the Bishop of Durham and is a regular broadcaster on radio and television. He is the author of over forty books, including the For Everyone guides to the New Testament, the highly acclaimed series, Christian Origins and the Question of God, and the best-selling books Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope (all SPCK)
This is definitely one of the most exciting and significant books that I have read this year. Like all of the authors work, I found it hard to set down once I had started to read it. Strongly commended!
- I. Howard Marshall, Honorary Research Professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen
`Tom Wright has out-Reformed Americas newest religious zealots - the neo-Reformed - by taking them back to Scripture and to its meaning in its historical context. Wright reveals that the neo-Reformed are more committed to Tradition than to the Sacred Text. This irony is palpable on every page of this judicious, hard-hitting, respectful study.
- Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University, Chicago