Mark Stevens is giving away a copy of N. T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), and—miserable sadist that he is—he has required all participants to offer their considered opinion on the final outcome of the contest that led to the giveaway in question.
You see, Mark (who apparently depends exclusively on televised talent shows for inspiration) recently decided to organize a little showdown by pairing off various biblical scholars and asking his readers to vote in a number of successive elimination rounds. After fudging with the numbers in various ways, he eventually arrived at three (obviously predetermined) finalists: Ben Witherington, Gordon Fee, and N. T. Wright. Witherington, of course, was only on the list because Mark has sold his soul to him for a string of endorsements. Fee made it because Mark did not wish to be accused of merely filling every valley and bring low every mountain and hill for the former Bishop of Durham. It is clear, however, that his intention all along was to adoringly proclaim Wright the princeps invictus of contemporary biblical scholarship.
Of course, I saw this farce for what it was and boldly cast my vote for our Infallible Hero, Moisés Silva. My courageous vote was roundly ignored, however, so I decided to realign my vote with Fee in the end. Needless to say, Mark’s manipulated process yielded the expected result, and N. T. Wright was predictably crowned as Winner, Vicar of Christ, and Head of the Papal States. Yet in spite of the natural revulsion that Mark’s Wrightianist sycophancy might provoke in sensible people, I’m afraid that his assessment has a certain ring of truth to it. Surely Wright has a wider sphere of influence than the other two, and his work has effected what, in many ways, amounts to a paradigm shift in the discipline. I have no doubt that when the next edition of Stephen Neill’s The Interpretation of the New Testament sees the light of day, its erstwhile reviser Wright will feature prominently in it.
I suppose, then, that I find fault not so much with Mark’s conclusion as with his reprehensible methods.
Anyway, I hope that my shiny new book won’t take too long to arrive here. I have put myself through both The New Testament and the People of God (vol. 1) and Jesus and the Victory of God (vol. 2) in the past, since reading Wright’s “Christian Origins and the Question of God” is the unavoidable chore of New Testament students of our generation. I have been remiss, however, in reading The Resurrection of the Son of God (vol. 3), and I’m running out of time: the fourth volume, Wright’s mythical “big book on Paul,” was originally expected at the end of the year—but even if it does not arrive on time, it can’t be too far away.