A Reformation & Revival Journal Interview with N. T. Wright -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 11:1 (Winter 2002)
Article: A Reformation & Revival Journal Interview with N. T. Wright
Author: Anonymous


A Reformation & Revival Journal Interview with N. T. Wright

Part One

In early November one of our editors sat down with N. T. Wright in Washington, D. C., for a friendly chat. The discussion which followed was wide ranging, as you will quickly see from the first part of the interview. (The second half of the interview will appear in the next issue.) It touched particularly upon Wright’s work in biblical theology. Tom Wright is one of the freshest voices within orthodox evangelical Christian thought today and is a major contributor to both the study of the historical Jesus and the theology of the New Testament. He is an unusual academic theologian because he is comfortable in the work of the parish as well as in the world of academic New Testament study. He serves as canon theologian of Westminster Abbey in London.

R R J — It has been said that you do not pay close enough attention to the confessions and creeds of the historic church and thus your interpretations, which sometimes break new ground in hermeneutics, are unsafe.

N T W — I find this to be a defensive attitude. It is one that

I’ve met it in all sorts of people, and is actually a Roman Catholic attitude. It’s funny really, because it occurs in all sorts of conservative, Protestant circles. It says, “If something in the Bible really was that important then the church from earliest times must have understood that. Therefore, if we can’t find the understanding that you’re proposing in the great swathe of Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, or whoever, then we are going to be deeply suspicious.” I know what Calvin would have said to that, “God’s word is God’s word. Come on.” The seventeenth century writer John Robinson said, “God has more light yet to break out of his holy Word.” I believe this is what I am saying. The sad thing is I’ve always thought evangelicals believed the same.

R R J — Your work has been called “orthodox yet strikingly original.” We tend to think that orthodox means unoriginal and original is necessarily unorthodox. How can your work be both? How do you respond to critics who say that to the degree that your understanding of Jesus or Paul or early Christianity is new then it must be wrong?

N T W — I do not think orthodoxy is found in a book where you look up all the right answers, like a child learning mathematics.

The child knows that all the answers are in the back of the book so he simply checks on whether he did the sums right. You really don’t expect that by doing these sums you learn anything new. For me or...

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