Monday, February 27, 2006

The Last Word by N.T. Wright Pt 2

Well, I just finished The Last Word by N.T. Wright. Literally. And I will admit that the last part of this book was much more understandable than I felt that the first section was.

When I wrote last week, I was in Wright's historical overview of Biblical interpretation (very brief). I was knee deep in the Enlightenment period and immediately after that, Wright gets into postmodernism. In that, he makes a really interesting critique of postmodernism. He basically says that the problem with postmodernism is that it deconstructs without reconstructing. It basically is a narcissistic nihilism that allows someone to construe and mistconstrue Scripture, making it dance on its hind legs while balancing a ball on its nose.

What Wright does is offer a new framework for dealing with Scripture and its authority, which just to remind people is that Scripture only has authority in how it reveals God's Word.
  • A totally contextual reading of Scripture
    In this, Wright brings out the idea of Scripture being written in a context and that it's our responsibility as students of the Word to familiarize ourselves with it.

  • A liturgically grounded reading of Scripture
    Wright is a big fan of reading Scripture aloud in worship services. He makes a point though, that the reading shouldn't merely be "aural wallpaper." But truly a part of life blood of the service. He has stressed the importance of having good readers and not simply reciters. He also recommends the Lectio Divina as a way to experience this kind of liturgical reading. I would also highly recommend Sacred Space as a way to experience this too.

  • A privately studied reading of Scripture
    Wright obviously feels that private study is a very valuable way to experience Scripture. In fact, I would agree with this and say that this is one of the most valuable ways to do this.

  • A reading of Scripture refreshed by Appropriate Scholarship
    Wright recommends studying Scripture along with scholarly works that help with the understanding of Scripture. I can also recommend this as a great way to enhance the understanding of Scripture. I found a lot of works that have helped me with my studies of Philippians and Luke.

  • A reading of Scripture taught be the Church's Accredited leaders
    And here's where I say, "Ehhhhhh... maybe." Wright puts out the idea that in addition to all the other ways, people should look at accredited church leaders as means to understand the Scripture more fully. I think my cautiousness on this is based on my "low church" setting, where the leaders are brought out from the congregation and Wright operates in a "high church" setting where the leaders of the church are thought be in direcctly spiritual line from the apostles and a more specialized dispensation from the Holy Spirit. I can understand that and can say that I've had the privilege of sitting at the feet of some very wise men and women, who have taught me a lot. I guess from my egalitarian mindset I struggle with that and don't know exactly how all of that works. I guess some people do have more aptitude on this (as I believe Wright has), but I wonder about who does the accrediting.
This is a really good book and I think that it's one that people interested Scripture should take a look at. Like I said, I'm not sure I understand all of it, but it's certainly caused me to think.

btw, I will be out of town all next week (skiing!!!!), so no blogging, but hopefully lots of reading.

4 comments:

scott said...

Have you read Slaves, Women and Homosexuals by William Webb. He attempts to lay out a hermeneutic based upon the cultural context in which scripture was written. I saw some parallels in The Last Word.

Phil said...

It's one of those on my list to get, which is longer than my list of ones I have to read.

I will definitely pick it up at some point.

Purgatory Penman said...

I would like to discuss God's plan with other Christians. See me at: purgatorypenman.blogspot.com

scott said...

I hear you. I alway feel behind.

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