Book Write-Up: Paul, a Biography, by N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright.  Paul: A Biography.  HarperOne, 2018.  See here to purchase the book.

N.T. Wright is a renowned New Testament scholar and a former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England.

As the title indicates, this book is a biography of the Apostle Paul.  Wright goes through the events narrated in the Book of Acts, including in intervals his comments about Paul’s epistles.  Overall, Wright treats the Book of Acts as historical, while arguing that Paul wrote the Book of Colossians, whose Pauline authorship is doubted by many scholars.  Wright expresses more skepticism about Paul’s authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (I-II Timothy, Titus), mentioning possible tensions that would need to be resolved to accept their authenticity.  The book is eloquent and reflective, looking at Paul’s theology and also at Paul the man.  The final chapter especially fleshes out what Wright believes Paul was like: a person of high energy and strong opinions.

The book includes a lot of the usual N.T. Wright arguments, about how justification is more about the inclusion of Jews and Gentiles into the Christian community than personal forgiveness (though the latter is still relevant), how Paul was proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not, and how the Olivet Discourse is not about the end of the world.  Wright also addresses the question of why Saul of Tarsus persecuted the early Christian community, arguing that, for some Jews, people like Stephen were undermining the Temple by predicting its destruction and by claiming that God’s presence was in Jesus.  The book also contained thoughts that were previously unknown to me, such as Wright’s argument that Paul’s address in Acts 17 was Paul speaking while on trial, not Paul engaging in an academic discussion.  Moreover, Wright provided historical background that made the past come alive, as when he said that prisoners needed family and friends to bring them food if they were to eat at all, and when he discussed the likelihood of whether high officials on a ship would listen to Paul.

This book was a little more informal than Wright’s academic works, but it was an engaging and informative read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers.  My review is honest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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