Monday, February 20, 2006

The Last Word by N.T. Wright

Ok, there's really no excuse for why I haven't finished this book. I'm 70 pages into it and it's only 140 pages long, but the thing about it is that it's a tough read.

N.T. Wright is an amazing thinker and writer and I've really gotten a lot out of the ideas he's presented and talked about. Particularly, when I heard the subject of The Last Word, I got very excited about reading it, because one of my interests is Scripture and how we interact with it. So I was very excited when Brad Crisler lent it to me (thanks, Brad [and update your blog!]).

Wright starts off the book by talking about the authority contained in Scripture and his basic intention is that Scripture is only authoritative in that it contains the Word of God. Now, if you're like me, that is a tough distinction to wrap your head around. Wright has address this subject earlier in a paper called "How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?" which you can find at among other great papers and lectures. I guess being raised Church of Christ and being taught (and still believing to some extent) that the Bible IS the Word of God, to try and make a distinction between the two is just a tough leap to make. I'm still trying to work through it.

The rest of the book so far has been a VERY brief historical overview of how Scripture has been used, both through the Old Testament, New Testament, and in the post Testamental times. I'm up through the Reformation now and one of the things that I've appreciated about what Wright is doing is explaining how some terms have different meanings now than they did when they were first used. For instance, in the past, "literal" meant the actual words and their actual meaning, so when Jesus said, "This is my body," he meant that the bread he was breaking was his actual body (hence, the theology of transubstantiation), as opposed to how it's traditionally understood (by most Protestants, anyway), that Jesus was speaking metaphorically as we do now when we call the bread his body and the wine/unfermented grape juice his blood.

At any rate, I'm enjoying this book, even though I'm finding it tough to power through. Hopefully, I'll have it finished by next week and can discuss it a little more fully. And then I can borrow Paul: In Fresh Perspective from Brad next... in addition to all the other books I have and want to read like...
And I might need to squeeze a novel or so in there, just to keep my brain from exploding.


scott said...

I'll be anxious to see your thoughts on The Last Word. I just finished reading it myself. You are right. It's not an easy read.

Phil said...

Thanks, Scott. btw, I visited your blog too and it seems that you're on a lot of the same path that I've been on. Except for being a preacher.

Is it just me or is it weird how many of us there seem to be out there?

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