The Near Word Of Christ And The Distant Vision Of N. T. Wright -- By: Mark A. Seifrid

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:2 (Jun 2011)
Article: The Near Word Of Christ And The Distant Vision Of N. T. Wright
Author: Mark A. Seifrid

The Near Word Of Christ And The Distant Vision Of N. T. Wright

Mark Seifrid*

* Mark Seifrid is professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280. This paper was originally presented for the Pauline Epistles Section at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta, GA, November 19, 2010 and has been slightly revised for publication.

In Romans 10, in the midst of his discussion of the faith of the Gentiles and failure of Israel, Paul provides a defense of his apostolic ministry in which he expands the highly condensed summaries of his Gospel that appear in 1:16-17 and 3:21-26. The passage provides a window to the way in which Paul’s gospel came to expression in his proclamation, just as the earlier summaries display its deeper theological structure. Romans 10 therefore may be regarded as providing an interpretive key to his earlier characterizations of his gospel and as indicative of the message he proclaimed. Here the themes of faith, justification, and the community of faith come to expression in a way that is highly relevant to the reading of Paul that N. T. Wright has offered. We shall attempt, then, to listen to Paul and having listened to him, to assess Wright’s vision.

In the opening of the passage, verses 1-3, Paul expresses his longing and prayer for the salvation of Israel, recalling the lament that opens his discussion of his nation (9:1-5) as well as his preceding narrative of the strangest of all foot-races (9:30-33).1 Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have taken hold of it. Israel, pursuing a “Law of righteousness,” has failed to be the first to arrive at the Law (9:30-33).2 That failure, Paul explains, is due to Israel having imagined that one could attain the Law and righteousness by works and not by faith (9:31). “They” therefore stumbled at the “stone” that the Lord warned that he would place in Zion (9:33a; Isa 8:14; 28:16). As Paul explains, the one who “believes on” that stone of stumbling shall not be put to shame. According to biblical idiom, that is to say that they shall be vindicated in judgment and delivered from distress (9:33b; LXX Isa 28:16).3 They shall

be justified. Paul’s argument in 10:1-21 is clearly resumptive, taking up and i...

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