In Which I Attempt to Win a Book from Mark Stevens

Mark Stevens is giving away a copy of N. T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), andmiserable sadist that he ishe 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 yearbut even if it does not arrive on time, it can’t be too far away.


14 responses to “In Which I Attempt to Win a Book from Mark Stevens

  1. While I’ve come to despise Wrightanism with every fiber of my being over the past three years—more because of Wrightians than Wright himself—I have to say that what I’ve read of this volume is pretty excellent. I really do need to finish it and buckle down and fish NTPG as well.


  2. Jim> Why the tears? I’m trying to win this so that I can save my money for something better! ;-) But I must read the entire series — such is the high price that must be paid by the aspiring Neutestamentler of today. Sigh.

    Nick> As you know, Wrightianism is against my religion, so I know exactly what you mean! Regarding NTPG, read at least the first 140 pages, where Wright lays out his methodology and presuppositions. That’s arguably the most important thing in all these books.


  3. Though he also has shifted the paradigm of NT studies, for me, it was my own paradigm shift on his account that has endeared him so deeply to me. That, and his incredible volume “The Climax of the Covenant” which is, as far as I’m concerned, his most significant theologicallly speaking.


  4. Pingback: And the winner is… |

  5. Tony> Well, how the heck are ya?!

    I can certainly appreciate your perspective. Speaking for myself, though, I have never found Wright’s perspective particularly compelling. The first book of his I read was What St Paul Really Said. I found that to be pretty bland and unexciting, and the impression has stuck: certainly I didn’t find much to write home about in Paul: In Fresh Perspective. But I will freely admit that the “Tools for the Task” section in NTPG is a tour de force, and I read Scripture and the Authority of God (=The Last Word) with increasingly higher levels of appreciation. Still, when I purchased Surprised by Hope at the local Borders, I ended up returning it within two days. I have heard great things about The Climax of the Covenant, and I plan on reading it one of these days — though, frankly, it’s a bit too expensive to purchase outright.

    Mark> Why fake when you’re sure of yourself? ;-) Anyway, thanks so much, Mark! I really am delighted to have won, and look forward to reading the book.

    Meanwhile, I too find Barthians insufferable, as much as I do Wrightians. Love Barth, though! The only Barthianist and Wrightianist allowed in the premises is Tony Hunt, just because I like him.

    jskipfam> Thanks!


  6. I am excellent. I hope it is well to you also.

    But just to be clear, I am no Barthinian. If someday I should move to reject godly Reason, make God’s determining will His first principle, become a rude biblicist, make “history” determinative of God’s essence and obfusticate the whole of my speech so as to render my words utterly confusing – though for some this will mean I am profound when in fact I will simply be a raving lunatic – Then on that day you can call me a Barthinian!


  7. All is well here, indeed!

    I am delighted to hear that you eschew the snares of Barthianism. For some reason I had thought this was not the case, but I am glad to be corrected on this point. Watch your step, though — have you ever read Paul McGlasson’s Another Gospel: A Confrontation with Liberation Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994)? The number of problematic assumptions in contemporary theology that he traces back to Barth is disturbing. I was forced to conduct an emergency examination of conscience. I guess you never know until someone tells you!

    But anyway, I still forgive you for being a Wrightianist. ;-)


  8. “That I may be pardoned my sins and offenses / I entreat you o Esteban”

    These days I mostly have to apologize for my Radical Orthodoxy affinities. Apparently just mentioning the analogia entis is enough to be at risk of the wiles of the anti-christ himself.


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