Book Review: “Surprised By Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues”, By N. T. Wright (HarperOne, 2014) -- By: Dawn Gentry

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 29:2 (Spring 2015)
Article: Book Review: “Surprised By Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues”, By N. T. Wright (HarperOne, 2014)
Author: Dawn Gentry

Book Review: “Surprised By Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues”, By N. T. Wright (HarperOne, 2014)

Dawn Gentry

Dawn Gentry is now pursuing her MDiv at Emmanuel Christian Seminary, after 11 years of full time church ministry. She and her husband, Harold, have two grown children and an adorable grandson. Dawn is passionate about equipping others for ministry and encouraging dialogue on a biblical theology of women. When she’s not writing papers for graduate classes, she blogs at

N. T. (Tom) Wright is an esteemed scholar and prolific author whose work is no stranger to readers of Priscilla Papers. His article, “The Biblical Basis for Women’s Service in the Church,”1 was one of the first I read on the topic and served as a launching point for my subsequent research and writing. Consequently, I am pleased to provide a review of his recent book, Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues.

Wright is well-respected in academic circles. While some of his theology is considered traditional, he is unafraid to bring more controversial views to the forefront. In this book, Wright emphasizes the influence that the eighteenth- century Enlightenment had on the development of modern Western thinking. Similarly, his assertion that Epicureanism is foundational for Modernity is borne out in several essays, particularly as it applies to political thought. Until readers are able to recognize their own firmly held, underlying beliefs about the way things are, he notes, they will be unable fully to appreciate the (potentially surprising) things scripture has to say. (On the impact of worldview on the dialogue about patriarchy versus equality, see the summer 2014 issue of Mutuality.)

As a former bishop and current professor, Wright skillfully crafts exemplary scholarship into a readable treatise, while showing pastoral care for his readers. His ability to reach a varied audience is evident in his For Everyone New Testament Commentary series, and this ability shines in Wright’s latest work as well. Using several case-studies, Wright illustrates how “people may not expect the Bible to have much to say on these topics… [and] when it does speak to them it may not say what people have imagined” (x). Wright found he was himself “surprised by scripture” and developed these essays in response to lecture requests on various topics.

The first three essays interact with the scientific community. In “Healing the Divide Between Science and Religion,” Wright lays out his case for Epicurus and Lucretius as predecessors of Darwin, and suggests a deep-seated opposition between a “system in which God has been disinvolved” ...

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