Jesus’ View Of Repentance And Forgiveness: A Hermeneutical Test Case -- By: Joshua Chatraw

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 05:2 (Winter 2014)
Article: Jesus’ View Of Repentance And Forgiveness: A Hermeneutical Test Case
Author: Joshua Chatraw

Jesus’ View Of Repentance And Forgiveness:
A Hermeneutical Test Case

Joshua Chatraw

Liberty University


Recently, in a review of Tom Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Tom Schreiner wrote:

It seems as if discussions on Wright easily become a matter of whether one is “for him” or “against him.” But such an approach isn’t helpful and blunts the kind of discussion that is needed. It is fitting to be grateful (see above) for his contributions to scholarship and for his service to the church. He is clearly not an enemy of evangelicalism but a friend. At the same time, we serve scholarship and truth in raising questions and concerns as well. If demonizing Wright is irrational, we must also beware of an uncritical adulation where any disagreement with him is viewed as an attack. Mature discussion takes place when we honestly dialogue about places where we agree and differ with kindness and grace.1

Building up on Schreiner’s remarks, Wright’s creativity and willingness to challenge traditional paradigms can be helpful, even if one is not in full agreement with his conclusions, because it forces one to go back and look at the Bible again. And in particular, for those who have the patience, it drives readers to examine how conclusions are reached. The questions that are not asked enough by the theological students who want to rush to find out “Whose right?” Or, “Whose side am I on?” are “Why are there disagreements on this issue?” Or, to put this differently, “What methodological differences are driving the different exegetical conclusions?” Evaluating the steps along the interpretive path helps to dig under the surface of debated conclusions to get to the roots of the disagreements and draw some important hermeneutical lessons.2

N.T. Wright On Repentance And Forgiveness

In Jesus and the Victory of God (JVG), Wright defines repentance, in contrast to what he labels as the “traditional” understanding, as “what Israel must do if YHWH is to restore her fortune at last,” with Jesus proposing the answer to be “abandon revolutionary zeal.”3 Wright sees his understanding of Jesus’ use of “repentance” as a return to the historical context in which Jesus lived rather than the ahistorical conversion sense of the word. In other words, instead of “repentance” referring to the negative side of the conversion, Jesus is primarily calling Israel to turn from their revolutionary zeal and be restored f...

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