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In Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today, Widely respected Bible and Jesus scholar, N. T. Wright gives new life to the old, tattered doctrine of the authority of scripture, delivering a fresh, helpful, and concise statement on the current “battles for the Bible,” and restoring scripture as the primary place to find God’s voice.In this revised andIn Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today, Widely respected Bible and Jesus scholar, N. T. Wright gives new life to the old, tattered doctrine of the authority of scripture, delivering a fresh, helpful, and concise statement on the current “battles for the Bible,” and restoring scripture as the primary place to find God’s voice.In this revised and expanded version of The Last Word, leading biblical scholar N. T. Wright shows how both evangelicals and liberals are guilty of misreading Scripture and reveals a new model for understanding God’s authority and the Bible....

Title : The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture
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ISBN : 9780060816094
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
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The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture Reviews

  • Justine
    2019-03-01 04:27

    I'm a big fan of N.T Wright, so I may be a bit biased. This book rails against the shallow debate that starts with [INSERT BIBLE VERSE] clearly forbids [TOPIC] and ends with either a reply that someone is misreading the verse or with a reply that Leviticus outlaws shellfish so clearly the Bible is outdated and cannot be referenced with any seriousness. He does assume that the reader is a Christian. He also is not dealing with issues of divine inspiration, authority of the Holy Spirit, or with issues related to authorship, translation, or canonization. This book is simply looking at, if you define yourself as a Christian, how do you read the Bible and answer possibly contentious questions. He looks at 3 main questions (quoted from N.T. Wright): 1. In what sense is the Bible authoritative in the first place?2. How can the Bible be appropriately understood and interpreted?3. How can its authority, assuming such appropriate interpretation, be brought to bear on the church itself, let alone on the world?He packs a ton of information into this short book, with (for the most part) clear language, abundant examples, and well-thought out explanations. He gives a lot of background and historical information, along with actionable items. He provides two case studies, which are fantastic. My only issue was with chapter 6, which seemed hurried and antagonistic. This might be my own lacking knowledge on the Enlightenment, Modernism, and Post-Modernism, but I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to get out of that chapter. The rest of the book was great (that chapter may be too - I think I just didn't have enough background information to see where he was going with it).

  • Andrew Hains
    2019-02-24 04:28

    Too ambitious and not as convincing as I had hoped. Wright tries to defend Christianity from the two flanks that he thinks are destroying it. First, Post-modern skepticism attacks upon the historical validity of the Bible. Second, the Faithful Conservative Evangelicals that take a "shallow reading" of the Bible, interpreting it based on modern agendas for personal needs neglecting the big picture and not taking Jesus seriously. Basically, he argues that Christians should understand, apply, and read all of scripture to be the fulfillment of world redemption through Jesus Christ. Modern agendas, personal interpretations, and skepticism diminish the authority of God in scripture. Christians may take the Bible literally but they are not serious about interpreting the Bible or applying it to their lives. He concludes by interpreting what the bible means for understanding the Sabbath and monogamy. Not sure that skeptics care and I assume Evangelicals will be too offended to even consider the rational and valid points that N.T. Wright makes about the problem Christians face in the "post-Christian era."

  • Christopher
    2019-03-15 03:49

    I'm reminded of John Frame's assessment of Pastor Wilson's writing: "... with which I agree maybe 80% of the time. But even when I disagree, his work makes me think and leaves me grateful to God for the encounter." This is such a wonderfully fruitful little book, which speaks very intelligently to an area I didn't even know I needed help with. I consistently appreciate Wright.

  • W. Littlejohn
    2019-03-11 07:33

    It's hard to find anything to disagree with in this book--and that is intended as both a compliment and as, I suppose, a complaint. The book is quite concise and basic, like several of Wright's more popular-level works (a similar sort of work, for instance, is his Evil and the Justice of God). Of course, being by Wright, concise and basic doesn't mean shallow and simplistic. You can tell this is just the tip of an iceberg, with Wright's enormous erudition and theological imagination lying underneath it, so that you feel like what you're being given is in fact substantial and significant, and not just trite truisms. And, as far as it goes, it's pretty spot-on in everything it says; he handles this controversial subject resolutely yet sensitively, and what he comes down with is, as I said, pretty hard to disagree with at any point.On the other hand, on a subject like this, laced about with many burning questions about inspiration, inerrancy, the relation of human and divine authorship, how we are to discern the various literary genres in Scripture and the history of the texts, etc., it is a bit frustrating to read through 150 or so pages and find nothing to disagree with. One wishes that he had ventured into some of these discussions and staked out positions on some of the thornier questions, thus provoking at worst a very healthy and fruitful disagreement. I'm finding it necessary to get a much clearer handle on the conservative doctrine of inerrancy and its critics, and so I hoped this book might provide an interesting angle. But although it provided a useful framework to approach such questions, it didn't come close to addressing them.In short, then, this book serves excellently as a sort of Mere Christianity's Doctrine of Scripture--here's what every Christian who wants to take the Bible seriously ought to be able to affirm, and how they ought to contextualize that confidence in the Bible's authority. As a starting point to establish a point of unity among rival factions, then, this is great. But a guide to resolving the disputes between those factions, it most certainly is not.

  • Laura
    2019-03-19 00:40

    This is an excellent, very accessible (non-academic) book which guides the reader away from shallow readings of Scripture and replaces that with a thoughtful method centered on the authority of God as exercised through Scripture. Wright does a good job of avoiding external priorities overlaid on Scripture by various camps and includes two intriguing case studies.

  • Cody Wright
    2019-03-14 01:35

    Very intelligent, well founded, and relevant. Sometimes extremely difficult to track with (for me). Overall good (desert dry) read.

  • Neil Coulter
    2019-03-26 04:40

    Recently I read The Bible Tells Me So, by Peter Enns. In that book, Enns asks a lot of questions about the Bible that many Christians wonder about but don't often voice--because the questions seem to lead to places of deep doubt and confusion. Questions like: Why does the Bible seem to contradict itself? Why are supposedly historical sections of the Bible actually historically inaccurate? Why do the New Testament writers, and sometimes even Jesus himself, seem to almost capriciously pick and choose which parts of the Old Testament to discard and which to hold onto? Why does the very character of God seem to change from one part of the Bible to another? These are tough questions, and the search for answers is some of what fuels ongoing theological study and debate. While I enjoyed the fact that Enns was raising these questions, I was thoroughly disappointed by the manner in which he discussed them. His tone throughout the book was childish and condescending, and instead of suggesting answers or drawing from church history, Enns mocked Christians who may be offended by his questions, and offered very few helpful answers. So my search for answers continued. And like many of my searches for answers about the Bible and theology, I came to N. T. Wright.Wright has been a beacon for me in my faith journey since I first read something by him several years ago. I find his academic theology writing to be too dense for me--I just don't have the background to fully appreciate what he's saying, where he fits into the discipline of theology. But when he writes for a general audience (which, thankfully, he often does), there is almost no one who can surpass his ability to look at a topic, investigate its history, put it into the contemporary context, and share the wisdom of his research in an engaging, winsome way. I also appreciate that he is bold to tell the church where it is falling short, and challenge us all to be the people that God wants us to be. When I have doubts in my own faith, I need people like Wright whom I look up to, people who are not afraid to be a little bit ahead of me on the journey, but still good friends. When I wanted to read more about how to understand scripture today, I turned to Wright, in his book Scripture and the Authority of God (which is a revised and expanded version of The Last Word). Wright's book is in some ways at the opposite end of Enns's. Wright's tone is respectful, wise, careful, thoughtful, sincere, with a sense of humor that is not juvenile. He fills in the history that Enns neglected: the formation of the canon of scripture, the ways in which the Old and New Testaments have been understood through the history of the Christian church, and the cultural contexts of some of the writers of the Bible. He doesn't answer all of the questions that Enns raises, but when I read Wright I don't worry so much about it. Wright's confident and caring tone assures me that there are answers, and Wright challenges me to go forth and find out what they might be, comforted that it's not a fruitless or hopeless search.Wright challenges Christians to get past the name-calling and stereotyping that often cripples any discussion about how to read the Bible. He longs for true conversation, that we can know one another and come to know God better in the process; I completely agree. "The authority of scripture," it turns out, is not a weapon to aim at enemies (too often fellow Christians!); it is a shorthand for "the authority of God, exercised through scripture." God is more than the book. That does not mean that any part of the book should be discarded; the Bible remains a primary means of God revealing himself to us, but it is not a code that has to be broken. It is an ongoing invitation to relationship, to understand the story God is working out in this world, and a challenge to be the people God wants us to be at this moment in the story, building his kingdom in this creation as we await the beauty of the new creation to come. As with Surprised by Hope, my favorite book by Wright, I encouraged all Christians to read Scripture and the Authority of God.My favorite line from the book: "Once you can make scripture stand on its hind legs and dance a jig, it becomes a tame pet rather than a roaring lion" (71).

  • Lynn Joshua
    2019-03-16 07:35

    I recommend it! This book is very helpful in giving the framework in which to understand scripture as the narrative of how God is working in His creation. NTW's analogy of a 5-part play, and the explanation of where we are in the story is quite helpful. He is good at giving the big picture, exposing and clearing up false ideas, and giving us a vision of God's great and glorious Kingdom being inaugurated here and now. He has a gift for generating enthusiasm about how we should read Scripture to be equipped for mission. He is purposely avoiding what he calls the "Bible wars" and does not address the issue of inerrancy. He answers the question of authority by saying that the authority of God is exercised through Scripture. Since we can be confident in the fact that God is authoritative over every area of our life then we can be confident that scripture is authoritative because the scriptures spring forth from the Triune-God.He has excellent insights, and I see nothing I disagree with, but I still have questions. I wish he could have gone into more detail on some of his points. His last 3 chapters - the ones dealing with how to put his ideas to work in actual cases - are the best. Here he illustrates his well-thought-out and compelling approach to the issues of the Sabbath and of monogamy.This quote sums up his approach nicely: " light of the whole story and intention of the creator God, dealing with this world step by step and eventually dealing decisively with it in and through Jesus Christ, then we discover that the authority of God, as mediated through and in the whole of Scripture, points to the renewal of creation through Jesus Christ as the key of the whole story."

  • Frank Peters
    2019-03-22 05:49

    The book was a bit of a surprise as it was marketed as a follow up to some of NT Wright’s recent books such as: “Surprised by Hope” and “After you believe”. In fact it was originally written a long time before and was just re-edited and repackaged. The book title well describes what the book is all about: it is a discussion on how we need to approach our reading of the bible. This was done from a God-honouring, Christian perspective, with a high view of scripture. Fundamental to the discussion was that we believe primarily in the Authority of God, which is represented through the Bible. Then NT Wright discusses the way we go from there, and discusses many of the common errors that are made. For example, we all read the Bible through the social and cultural filters that are inherit with us. So, it is a mistake to pretend that we are reading the bible without any pre-conceived notions. But, it is also an error to place our pre-conceived notions as primary and then read the Bible to find out where it agrees with what we have already decided. Wright discusses the importance of those who have come before us – tradition, but then states that each generation must listen to what God wants to say to us right now; as the bible is living and active. While I tend to agree with what Wright had to say, his points were not justified very well. It was hard to see why or how anyone with a different opinion would be swayed by what Wright had to say. Even the case studies at the end (which I thought were excellent) were not written in any structured way so that one could see how Wright was proposing that we read scripture. So, ultimately, I was a bit disappointed with the book.

  • Mike
    2019-03-15 06:31

    N.T. Wright tackles the Scriptures asking questions about what we mean by authority. Questions like - if Jesus has authority, what do we mean by authority? and how does Jesus exercise His authority through the Bible? and since the Bible is mostly narrative, how can a story be authoritative?Ultimately this is a book about hermeneutics (a fancy word for the framework used by a reader to understand/process what they are reading) and the one that Wright advocates. His focus is on the meta-story line (consisting of 5 major acts) that runs through Bible and the hero of the story Jesus. I struggled with how to rate this book. But in the end decided a rating for this kind of book (vs fiction) should be based on the presentation of content, quality of arguments made, and whether it encouraged thought, not whether I totally agreed with the conclusions. While I really liked the questions it brought out, there were many concepts and answers that were not fully developed in the book which required additional research to fully understand. This ended up losing a star. Grappling with the questions he asks is important, but in the end, I don't think Wright's hermeneutic should replace others nor does it solve all the problems he presents with other approaches. However it is a view that takes into account the big-story line of Scripture which should be part of the serious Bible students tool box. For those really interested, I blogged my reading of it last year.

  • Jeff McCormack
    2019-03-12 02:31

    Dummy me - had this on my shelf since it came out - forgetting what it was (an updated version of "The Last Word), and ran across a copy of "The Last Word" at the library, so I grabbed it and read it. DOH!! So, I read this book's additional chapters and therefore include my review from "The Last Word" onto this edition too.Our modern society is in need of instruction when it comes to how to handle God's Word, and this book is a great foundational look at the topic. What does it mean when someone says the authority of Scripture? What did the Reformers mean when they spoke of taking Scripture literal? As are most of his smaller writings (at least the ones I have ready so far), Wright is not overly scholarly, but speaks on a level that anyone can grasp his points. All in all, a great resource on the importance of Scripture, and how we should use it for change.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-09 00:40

    This was the first Wright book I've read and I found much to like in it. He's an engaging writer which helps explain some of his popularity. I think I most appreciated his strong challenge to church leaders to remember their call to immerse themselves in the scripture (which he never capitalizes), feed their flocks, and not get entirely caught up in church politics and bureaucracy. I didn't appreciate his constant digs at "North America" and his seeming savior mentality through his use of historical exegesis.I would recommend reading this book because it's short, it's insightful into Wright's view of the Bible and because it will challenge the reader to think about how he or she should engage God's Word.

  • Steve Watson
    2019-03-08 02:20

    Wright argues that the Bible's authority is ultimately about God's authority exercised through Scripture. Scripture tells a five-act story, the fifth act of which we still live in: the age of the church. God works through the Scriptures to bring about the Kingdom of God, shaping people and also specifically equipping teachers and leaders. Wright also offers a helpful, short history of how the Bible has been read over time as well as suggestions for being a Scripture-reading community. He ends with two case studies, the one on sabbath as well-ordered life full of celebration being especially helpful.

  • James Smith
    2019-03-06 03:32

    It would be pretty easy to resent NT Wright: he's ubiquitous, brilliant, and just slightly cocky. But the fact is, he's one of the church's wisest voices right now. Don't let all the adulation distract you from listening to him. It's always worth it. This book is no exception. Cuts to the chase without over simplifying. It reminds us that the authority of Scripture is really about the reign of God.

  • Ben Zajdel
    2019-02-28 06:48

    Excellent work on the role and authority of Scripture today. Wright shows how reading the Bible as a narrative of God restoring creation can eliminate seemingly contradictory passages, especially those between the Old and New Testaments.He uses as examples the cases of Sabbath keeping and monogamy. An interesting read.

  • Nicholas Norris
    2019-03-10 04:43

    My first and definitely not my last of N.T. Wrights literature. Very inspiring and motivating as a Christian desiring to deepen my faith and my understanding of the bible.

  • Jerry Hillyer
    2019-03-02 07:22

    Title: Scripture and the Authority of GodAuthor: N.T. WrightPublisher: HarperCollinsYear: 2011Pages: 210N.T. Wright other works: N.T. Wright Page[Disclaimer: I paid for this book with a gift card I received at Christmas 2013. It was a very happy time in my life when I could freely spend at It also prevented me from having to humbly admit that I got the book free in exchange for a fair review. I can be as nasty as I wanna be in this review. :-) ]No one will ever accuse N.T. Wright of cutting corners when it comes to Scripture. What he does in Scripture and the Authority of God is take his readers on a whirlwind tour of the complex cultural cancers that have affected and distorted the way we read the Scripture. And if I have read this book correctly, Wright is saying that it is far less about the external forces and far more about internal pressures that have, in a sense, ruined the Scripture. To wit: "This strongly suggests that for the Bible to have the effect it seems to be designed to have it will be necessary for the church to hear it as it is, not to chop it up in an effort to make it into something else" (25). To repeat myself, this is akin to saying: it is less the cultured despisers we have to worry about when it comes to Scripture and far much more the prophets, priests, and preachers in the church. And isn't this, if we are honest, the truth?Throughout the book Wright maintains a singular thought, which he repeats in earnest as often as he can: "...the phrase 'authority of Scripture' can make Christian sense only if it is a shorthand for 'the authority of the triune God, exercised somehow through scripture" (20). The main problem we have in the church is that we tend to ignore context when it comes to Scripture. Preachers are so bent on a particular theological or political system that the entire corpus of Scripture gets forgotten, the story from beginning to end is either ignored or forgotten. In my opinion, N.T.Wright is absolutely prophetic in this regard because he always, I mean always, keeps this overarching metanarrative in mind when spelling out some of the more microcosmic ideas found in Scripture. And no one is safe from his pen: conservative, liberal, right, left, high-church or country-bumpkin. His solution? There is a profound need for 'fresh, Kingdom-oriented, historically rooted exegesis' (112). I have read many of Dr. Wright's books and if anything can be said of his work, perhaps the best thing that can be said is that he is undeniable consistent: the metanarrative never leaves his focus regardless of the topic he is discussing.This is like telling people who have been doing the same thing for 100 years that they are doing it wrong and need to change to which they would respond, "We have always done it this way." I hear such sentiments in churches, in schools, in business. And again it is hard to argue when the current methods have resulted in the modern phenomenon of the mega-rich, mega-churches. It's a lot easier to use Scripture to make some politically expedient point or some culturally relevant pop-psychological jabberwocky than it is to do the hard work of actually reading Scripture from front to back, and back to front, seeing what it says and then thinking about what it means. I remember sitting in my office one Sunday morning and listening to the women's Sunday school class on the other side of the wall. We had just started a Bible reading campaign designed to take the entire church the entire Bible in 90 days. I distinctly remember hearing one of the women say, "I don't know why we have to do this."Wright takes his time explaining to his readers the insidious nature of the various cultural developments and church reactions that have so distorted and warped our reading of Scripture. He covers sixteen centuries of warped exegesis in about 20 pages before he moves on to discuss the enlightenment period in a little more than 20 pages. He then demonstrates for us how those on the 'left' and 'right' have used the flawed methods of those previous generations to distort the Scripture for their own purposes. Then, finally, he moves on give us thoughts on how to get back on track. (Yes, there was much more at the beginning of the book, and I'm not overlooking it. It's there and lays an important foundation.) It is here that I find most agreement with Wright based on my own experience as a local church preacher and a well read Christian. This newer version of the book I read also features two 'test cases' at the end of the book--one on the Sabbath and the other on monogamy.One wonders what the world would look like if preaching was not always a reaction to the goings on in the world or a mere 'how to feel better about life' medicinal word? I'm sure there is a place to address such things, but the best way to do so is found by consistently preaching how God has brought about his grace in the fullness of time in Jesus--his Kingdom where broken people find hope, peace, and love. We cannot ignore the world and what is happening--indeed, it is the world we are to redeem through our witness to Jesus and the preaching of the Gospel! When we keep the metanarrative in mind, not merely as a backdrop, or for illustrative material, or as I saw in a book I recently read, a place for good quotes, but as the sure historical foundation through which God was bringing about his redemptive purposes and preparing the world for Jesus, we can see how God's word is authoritative in the midst of our own cultural upheaval and turmoil and political intrigue. This is precisely the reason Paul writes that God gave us preachers, teachers, apostles--to equip us...then we will no longer be tossed about by the waves of this world (Ephesians 4:1-16).Whatever else we take away from this book, it is imperative that we read chapter 8 carefully and thoughtfully. This might mean, gasp, that we are going to be confronted individually or collectively with ideas that challenge us, change us, or choke us: "We who call ourselves Christians must be totally committed to telling the story of Jesus both as the climax of Israel's story and as the foundation of our own" (126). It is especially when he talks about five strategies for honoring the authority of Scripture that we ought to pay attention. I say yes to all of them! Contextual reading? Yes! Liturgically grounded reading of Scripture? Yes! I pause here because my own tradition has a nagging history of neglecting the liturgical, contextual, public reading of Scripture. That is, we prefer a bit before communion or a bit before the sermon or a bit before the plate is passed but we have failed greatly when it comes to the type of reading that reminds us of who we are, of the greater story being told, and our place within that narrative. This will not do. I weep for my tradition precisely at this point because we who have prided ourselves for so long as being a 'people of the book' have utterly neglected our historical roots and the reading Scripture in a liturgical fashion: "It also means that in our public worship, in whatever tradition, we need to make sure the reading of Scripture takes a central place" (131). Amen.I highly recommend Scripture and the Authority of God and it is my hope that when people read this they will begin to hold their leaders accountable. So I have some suggestions myself of how churches can hold leaders accountable.First, change your worship. That is, drop a song or two or three in order to create space for the unfiltered reading of the Scripture. This is what Ezra did (Nehemiah 8); this is what Jesus did (Luke 4); and this is what Paul told Timothy he was to do (1 Timothy 4:13). There is just as much worship in hearing the Scripture simply read as there is in singing and dancing (Revelation 1:3).Second, insist that your preacher have ample time and resources to study the Scripture. Demand less of him in areas where others can serve competently (Acts 6:1-7) so that his/her time in the Scripture is undiluted and undisturbed (2 Timothy 2:14-15). You want the church to grow? Count on the one thing in Scripture that God said would provide growth: Isaiah 55:10-12.Third, engage your congregation in consistent reading of the entire Bible. Interesting that one of the commands the king was to obey was that he was to write for himself a copy of the law (Deuteronomy 17:18-19) and have it with him all the days of his life. The congregation should do the same, always reading and studying and learning because when we are in Scripture we are bound to see Jesus (Luke 24:25-27, 44). Keep this metanarrative in mind at all times when reading, studying, and preaching.Surely there are things I could add to this list, but for now it will do. If churches could get motivated again to take the Scripture seriously, as Wright is ultimately suggesting, we might see the sort of revival take place in our churches. I say this especially to those among my own tradition who have, for far too long, neglected Scripture in favor of methodology.

  • David Lasley
    2019-03-19 23:47

    In Scripture and the Authority of God, Wright tackles a topic that could be incredibly dense and difficult to wade through. He asserts as much at the outset of the book and proceeds to give what felt like a primer on understanding how we ought to treat scripture. His basic thrust (as the title suggests) is that God is the authority - and the one who gives scripture its authority. He provides a framework for scriptural interpretation and gives several example case studies for actually applying it. My rating is probably a tad critical...given that I think Wright's writings are immensely helpful and really...exceptional. Overall this book is just as excellent as the others I've read by him. My only complaint - and the reason I gave it 4 stars - was that I think there were some instances in the book where Wright's brevity almost worked against him. I get it... the point of this book was to try to write an accessible book. Just maybe a little more elaboration on a couple of the more foundational points - like explaining more thoroughly why he treats the Bible as a 5 - part narrative for instance - would've been helpful (to me, anyway). Overall...a good read!

  • Kyle
    2019-03-21 23:43

    Some are quick to compare N.T. Wright to C.S. Lewis. I can see that. Both are English. Both write a profound demonstration of the worthiness and truthfulness of the Christian faith. Both write in a manner that appeals to people of all walks of life and all sorts of background – to the classically theologically trained to the casual observer. Both have the ability to take a complex reality and make it understandable for a mass audience. However, one important differences is that C.S. Lewis was a professor of literature whereas Wright is a bishop, biblical scholar, and a theologian. In terms of writing about the Christian faith, Lewis had a much narrow parameter. This is not a slight upon Lewis as much as it is an affirmation for Wright. Whereas Lewis could probably have written a book on the authority of Scripture, he would have been ill-equipped and ill-advised to do so. Wright on the other hand, has the writing ability and acumen to write a book on the authority of Scripture at a popular level. This serves Wright well, but can be a detriment as well. Because this book is written for a popular level, Wright, although he does this well, is forced to reduce complex and highly nuanced questions surrounding the nature and authority of Christian and Jewish Scriptures almost to the point of obscurity for the trained eye.As for the book itself, it is not a book detailing the origins of Scripture. It does not seek to address questions of inerrancy or canonization. There is surprisingly little coverage on revelation. This is not a book of a theology of Word and Spirit. Instead, it is on a related but different field – the authority of Scripture.Wright’s conclusion is that “‘the authority of scripture,’ when unpacked, offers a picture of God’s sovereign and saving plan for the entire cosmos, dramatically inaugurated by Jesus himself, and now to be implemented through the Spirit-led life of the church precisely as the scripture-reading community.” (114)Two noteworthy issues stand out: first is the church’s participation in the saving work of God through Jesus Christ. By itself, God’s work of salvation is ultimately eschatological. Second, is Wright’s own emphasis on the church as a scripture-reading community. How does the church implement God’s sovereign and saving plan? Through it’s reading and (re-)enacting the story told in scripture.How then does the community live as a scripture-community? First is by paying attention to tradition by living in dialogue with previous readings (117-119). Dialogue is the key word. By itself it suggest a conversation and not uncritical at that. One might remember the theological flights of fancy by 2nd and 3rd century Alexanderians as an example. Second is through the use of reason – paying attention to those historical-critical concerns such as context within a limited parameter (119-121). And finally, Wright proposes an acceptance of a “multi-layered” view of Scripture – specifically viewing it as a five-act story: creation, fall, Israel, Jesus, and the church (121-127).While this conclusion is interesting enough the greatest strength comes not from the conclusion but the journey as Wright’s outline of how Scripture has been used the last 2000 years is nothing short of wonderful. Particularly outstanding is his treatment on the first 200 years of Christendom. I especially enjoyed his attention on the overwhelmingly Jewish nature of the New Testament and his criticism of those who overlook this fact and view that canonization process as a power play of the elite – a view he deems as foolish and misguided. Second is his coverage of enlightenment thinking. He treats a large topic casually enough to easily follow by highlighting both the successes of enlightenment (e.g. historical criticism), its perils (e.g. human reason as the final arbitrator of all things; grossly reductionistic), and more importantly how enlightenment thinking highlights our thinking still today.Still, the book is not without its shortcomings. For starters the opening chapter – while trying to provide a broad introduction into questions of Scriptural authority – is much too broad and reductionary. Most troubling is his too-quick dismissal of “revelation”. Wright collapses revelation into a information-laden propositional variety that neglects the dynamic nature that can be found in a proposition. This dove-tails into a related issue – he is much too dismissive on systematic theologian’s use of Scripture. For example he draws attention to the fact that numerous Biblical scholars have criticized Barth’s used of Scripture. However, this neglects that fact that Barth wrote over 3000 pages of exegesis. Not all of it can be wrong. Further, Barth’s use of Scripture was consistent with his methodology, which is the same thing Wright does. As a second example, we might look at Moltmann’s use of Scripture in the “Crucified God” which itself is a prolonged theological reflection on the Scripture’s witness of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.In the end Wright should be commended for attempting to draw the Church back to the authority of God as exercised through Scripture and position an alternative between rigid literal fundamentalists on the right and existentialist liberalism on the left.

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-19 02:22

    4.5 N.T. Wright is a very bright and informed theologian. I feel like I could reread this book and learn even more. I'm not sure I agree with other reviewers who say the book is for non-academics because I felt like there was a lot of meat in it but it is definitely something that can be picked up and chewed on whether you are an academic or not. I really enjoyed the case studies in the back. Would love to hear N.T. Wright's thoughts on more controversial topics.

  • Tom Lambrecht
    2019-03-04 01:34

    An interesting overview of the source of Biblical authority. Sets the Biblical teachings in the context of narrative history, seeing the varying relevance of different passages depending upon the place we are in the narrative. I didn't entirely buy it, but it is a very interesting approach.

  • Sean
    2019-03-09 02:30

    In the light of the challenge to the Bible’s authority, Wright does the hard work for us in understanding where the challenge come from, and together with giving us the intelligent responses we need. Recommended.

  • Joy
    2019-03-16 23:32

    This rating is probably not fair. It’s not the author’s fault that I didn’t get some of the references. They weren’t obscure. While I’ve heard of Pascal, for example, I’ve never read him.What parts I did understand I enjoyed and learned from.

  • Bledar
    2019-03-09 01:34

    Good thoughts, but still required attentive reading, like anything else Wright writes.

  • Jonathan Tysick
    2019-02-26 07:48

    N.T. Wright is a (somewhat) conservative New Testament scholar and theologian who has an obvious high regard for the Bible, but does not worship it. This alone is invigorating. His approach to scripture is really refreshing (I love his 5 act model/hermeneutic) and enjoyable. I had to reread a couple of the chapters (the chapter on the enlightenment is worth the price of the book!) because it was just too good. Highly recommended to anyone who takes part in studying/reading/approaching the Bible.

  • Keith Madsen
    2019-03-17 00:24

    I view N.T. Wright as one Bible scholar who has the potential to establish a middle ground between fundamentalists, hunkered down in the prejudices and confusions of the past, and extreme theological liberals, ready to virtually toss away the Bible and any uniqueness of Christian faith. In SCRIPTURE AND THE AUTHORITY OF GOD, Wright attempts to clarify what authority Scripture has in a way that can carve out this middle ground. Some points he made well. First of all, he writes against putting people in theological boxes, forever to be kept separate: "The left/right spectrum...compels parties, commentators and voters into an appropriate 'package deal' mentality where it is assumed that once you decide on one issue you are committed to a particular position on lots of others as well." (This is true both in our political splits and in our intimately-related theological ones.) In such a divide, both sides line up their biblical "proof texts" while remaining blind to shades of gray or to any bigger picture. This amounts to using the Bible rather than finding direction in it. (I really liked one statement Wright makes about this: "Once you can make scripture stand on its hind legs and dance a jig, it becomes a tame pet rather than a roaring lion.") Wright makes some good points also against some aspects of the thinking of both extremes. Against the left, he decries the way some discount so much of Jesus' sayings as suspect, making that judgment on very speculative grounds. Also this perspective elevates Gnostic gospels, which have little life-changing power. Thus he writes, "...those [early Christians] who were being burned alive, thrown to the lions, or otherwise persecuted, tortured and killed were normally those who were reading Matthew, Mark, Luke John, Paul, and the rest. The kind of spirituality generated by 'Thomas' and similar books would not have worried the Roman imperial authorities..." He also writes against the way such Gnostics pictured creation as basically evil, and how salvation consists of being rescued from it. On the other hand, Wright also speaks against the conservative/fundamentalist tendency to say they believe everything in the Bible is "literally true" when some of the Bible was not even intended to be taken literally (like parables, for example.) They are also much more selective on where to focus in Scripture than they will admit. Wright makes the point, "...those who are most keen on 'conservative' Christianity on some issues choose to ignore what the Bible says about loving one's enemies and about economic justice, and choose to forget that many of the earliest and finest exponents of Christian Scripture -- the early church fathers -- were firmly opposed to the death penalty."Wright indicates that Scripture should be read and understood in context, and with a respect for how it has been interpreted historically by the church. But it should be viewed as STORY, a story which progresses through time; not a book of teachings isolated from context or where they fit in the story. Both Testaments are important, and are not to be viewed stereotypically. He specifically says, "It is simply no good, then, regarding the Old Testament as the book of fierce legalism and the New Testament as the book of soft options and easygoing inclusivity." To underline this he points at how the New Testament is more strict on issues of divorce and marriage than the Old Testament is. While Wright does a good job of pointing out how Scripture is misused, he is less clear in outlining how it should be used. It appeared to me that some of his interpretations were just a matter of him steering Scripture in the direction he (a scholar who tends to the conservative side in doctrine) wanted it to go. However, I am willing to point out that I am not a world-class biblical scholar, and hence may not have understood him at all points.

  • Naomi
    2019-03-05 23:42

    "Not only devotion: discipleship. Reading and studying scripture has been seen as central to how we are to grow in the love of God; how we come to understand God and his truth more fully; and how we can develop the moral muscle to live in accordance with the gospel of Jesus even when everything seems to be pulling the other way. Since these remain vital aspects of Christian living, the Bible has been woven into the fabric of normal Christian life at every point" (p. 3)."Idolatry generates all kinds of less-than-truly-human ways of living" (p.34).Holiness - "genuine and renewed humanness" (p. 34)."The one thing it is no longer possible to do is to claim that 'modern biblical studies' have come to the kind of fixed and unalterable conclusions that used to be taught in colleges and seminaries- an important point, since many who now debate major issues in the life of the church were educated in that way, and their reading and use of scripture has been, to say the least, significantly skewed as a result" (pp. 90-91)."To affirm 'the authority of scripture' is precisely not to say, 'We know what scripture means and don't need to raise any more questions.' It is always a way of saying that the church in each generation must make fresh and rejuvenated efforts to understand scripture more fully and live by it more thoroughly, even if that means cutting across cherished traditions... continually trying to understand and live by our foundation texts even better than our predecessors. Again, that is precisely what living by the authority of scripture looks like in practice... tradition should be allowed to be itself; that is, the living voice of the very human church as it struggles with scripture, sometimes misunderstanding it and sometimes gloriously getting it right. That is why the challenge comes fresh to each generation. Traditions tell us where we have come from. Scripture itself is a better guide as to where we should be going" (p.92, 97, 120). "Reasoned discourse is part of God's alternative way of living, over against that of violence and chaos. THat, perhaps, is part at least of the reason why Paul speaks of our being transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2), over against being conformed to the present age, in terms of 'our reasonable worship.' All this is as necessary in discussing scripture as anywhere else... we must be ferociously loyal to what has gone before and cheerfully open about what must come next" (p.121, 123)."The Bible is a big enough book, and the church ought to be a big enough community, to develop a relationship of trust between its biblical scholars and those involved in the many other tasks to which we are called" (p.136)."If we are professional about other things, we ought to be ashamed not to be properly equipped both to study the Bible ourselves and to bring its ever-fresh word to others" (p.139).

  • John Martindale
    2019-03-22 04:22

    "As i have argued in this book, "the authority of scripture" is really a shorthand for "the authority of God exercised through scripture"; and God's authority is not merely his right to control and order the church, but his sovereign power, exercised in and through Jesus and the Spirit, to bring all things in heaven and on earth into subjection to his judging and healing rule... in other words, if we are to be true, at the deepest level, to what scriptural authority really means, we must understand it like this; God is at work, through scripture to energize, enable and direct the outgoing mission of the church" -N.T Wright"this means that "the authority of scripture" is most truly put into operation as the church goes to work in the world on behalf of the gospel, the good news that in Jesus Christ, the living God has defeated the powers of evil and begun the work of new creation" -N.T WrightI liked what he shared in the last chapter concerning "the Five-Act Model." The Five Acts of scripture are creation, the fall, Israel, Jesus and the church; these constitute the differentiated stages in the divine drama which scripture offers. N.T Wright shares "Whether or not one adopts this particular scheme of interpretation, it is vital that we understand scripture, and our relation to it, in terms of some kind of overarching narrative which makes sense of the text. We cannot reduce scripture to a set of "timeless truths" on the one hand, or to mere fuel for devotion on the other, without being deeply disloyal, at the structural level, to scripture itself."He mentions how we are in the fifth act, and if we think of it as a Play in which we are actors, when we read scripture, its good to understand which act we are reading about. For example in the third act, the authority of God for the Israelite played out in their upholding a sacrificial system, a temple and lots of ceremonial rituals, but this is a past Act, though its foundational and had its place, we need not try and redo this Act. So it is with the Jesus who is the climax of scripture, we are not in this Act either; walking with Jesus, witnessing him heal people. But yeah, we are in the fifth Act and the authority of God primarily is about what we are to DO in this fifth act. Yeah, this is what I think he is getting at and when you think about, this is a pretty cool way to think about it :)One thing Wright shared that I liked was when the New Testament authors said "Jesus fulfilled the scriptures" they didn't mean he fulfilled a bunch of prophecies, but that He was the climax to the story the scriptures was putting forth. This is much more reasonable way to think about it.But yeah, there was some good things in this book, some of it seemed a bit dense and dry, but yeah, I suppose it was worthwhile.

  • Peter
    2019-03-15 00:43

    Generally good, but I'm not sure I would recommend it. As always, Wright is an engaging writer, and communicates effectively at a lay-level. He paints a grand vision and has some great "big picture" insights. However, several factors make this book one of his worst. First, he dances around the important question of inerrancy. No doubt he would make some dismissive comment about how that is a distinctively North American question (as he does occasionally throughout the book with other issues). He would be right, but being a NA question doesn't mean it isn't an important one. How can the Bible be authoritative if it isn't inerrant? There may actually be a good answer for that, but Wright doesn't deal with the real problems that question poses. If the Bible is full of "errors," then which parts are authoritative and which parts are erroneous and who gets to decide? Typically, when inerrancy is thrown out, the parts that are judged to be "errant" are the parts that the individual does not particularly like. Canaanite genocide? That was an error. Teachings about sexuality? Errors. Jesus' divinity? Error, error, error. Thus, for those who throw out inerrancy, the Bible can become functionally subservient to the authority of the individual, not the other way around. Wright's constructive chapter is fairly good, and brought the book from 2 stars to 3. Also, his example chapters on the Sabbath and monogamy are also very well done. Though I disagree with him on the Sabbath, he made a very good argument that respects the text. Wright also tries to place himself between two extremes, as he always does. It must be the Anglican in him. His critiques are often spot on, especially when he speaks against the "liberals," but he generally gets the "conservatives" right as well. Even so, this attempt to always place himself in the via media can be condescending and at times it seems as though there really isn't a "middle" despite his attempts to create one. Several times he brings up the death penalty noting that most of the early church fathers were against it and critiques the "right" for holding to it as a misapplication of the authority of Scripture. However, he offers not a shred of Biblical argument, so this critique fails and is rather an annoyance. Wright should have left those comments out as they only serve to distract.Wright's main point is that the authority of Scripture must be understood as God's authority exercised through and by Scripture. Scripture has a transformative purpose in the world that corresponds to Jesus' work to bring about the eschatological New Creation in the here and now. That purpose must be borne in mind when we talk about the authority of Scripture and how it applies to us.

  • Robert Durough, Jr.
    2019-03-23 01:49

    In typical, well-articulated fashion, N. T. Wright, in this updated, 2013 edition of Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today, tackles questions concerning the nature of Scripture (the Bible) and how it is authoritative, going well beyond the simplistic “it’s the Word of God” statements by addressing deeper application and important questions with much needed nuance. It is impossible to consistently and effectively take Scripture at “face value” without any method of interpretation—even the old adage “let Scripture interpret itself” will fail on a number of levels to withstand our interpretive interaction with passages we hope will help interpret others. So, if “because the Bible says so” isn’t very helpful when the Bible appears to disagree with itself in such superficial readings and the same “obvious” reference is equally used for opposing views, how do we use the text?Wright fundamentally approaches the Bible as narrative, the story within which we find ourselves, that which has in a number of ways been handed down to us. We must then read everything within its larger context (e.g., verse, chapter, book, style, genre, history, culture, etc.) in order to understand what it meant and what it means. This requires diligent study and scholarship. To ignore this fact is to ignorantly and/or arrogantly dismiss generations of careful work through language translation alone—translation is inherently interpretive—not to mention the centuries (millennia!) of dialogue and debate that have lead to where one may find him/herself in one’s walk with God. (Again, statements like, “I only use the Bible,” and, “If the Bible says it, that settles it,” are not quite that simple, belittle the Godly work of others, and assume one has cornered the hermeneutical [interpretive] market.)In this edition, Wright includes two case studies at the end of the book to demonstrate the argued biblical interpretation and how he views Scripture as being authoritative on the issues: Sabbath and Monogamy. These are quite helpful in working through some of the pragmatics of Wright’s work.This only scratches the surface, and I highly recommend this read. For some, keeping a dictionary of theological terms and an encyclopedia of historical moments and movements within Christianity may be help, per Wright’s depth and style, but I suggest the reader allow this to be an opportunity to learn rather than become a barrier or distraction.