I picked up this book because I've been feeling for a while that I need to catch up on the New Perspective on Paul and it's findings. It seems like theological due diligence to be aware of what's happening there, and in general I really enjoy NT Wright's books.
Honestly, I found this book less than thrilling. It's well written: Wright does a good job of walking us through the work to understand Paul's historical backdrop and work to get inside him as a person as well as we're able to 20 centuries later. He then works his way through the new perspective of gospel that Paul preached (the message that Jesus is Lord, rather than the message of justification by faith). After that, Wright takes us through revising our understanding of what Paul meant by words like "justification" and "righteousness" and frames these important doctrines in the kingdom story (which is too complicated to summarize succinctly here). Through and through, it's well written and clear, as Wright usually is.
What was lacking with the book for me was something that I found myself excited about. Paul's message is recast as something more Jesus-centric (this part is exciting), but the unique Pauline contributions (a focus on justification and righteousness) wind up feeling effectively a little empty to me. They become statements about who is welcome in the family of faith (everyone, not just the Jews) and a nuanced clarification that it is God who saves us, not our faith itself. I agree with those two points, but it's hard for me to feel enthused about them. Maybe that's just me, but it didn't do a lot for me. That being said, that has less to do with Wright and more to do with the content of the scholarship itself, which Wright is just summarizing for us here.
If you are looking for a more compelling book to understand the latest thinking on Paul, I found Wrights, Paul: A Biography to be fantastic.
Anyone looking to be up to speed on the New Perspective on Paul.
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