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.


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:

scott said...

I hear you. I alway feel behind.

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