Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tom Wright: Justification 7.4

This is the fourth dying gasp of my review of the seventh chapter of N. T. Wright's, Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision, Wright's response to John Piper's book, The Future of Justification.

Chapters reviewed thus far:

Chapter 1: What's it all about and why does it matter
Chapter 2: Rules of engagement
Chapter 3: First Century Judaism
Chapter 4: Justification: Definitions and Puzzles
Chapter 5: Exegesis of Galatians
Chapter 6: Interlude: Philippians, Corinthians, Ephesians
Chapter 7.1 Romans 1:16-17
Chapter 7.2 Romans 1:18-2:16
Chapter 7.3 Romans 2:17-3:20

And now 3:21-26 (pp.176-85). One day I'll have the mental strength just to plow through the rest. I finished the book Sunday on a plane, but I'm just sooo tired mentally.

Now righteousness of God has been revealed... "'God's righteousness', in the light of 2.17-3.8, must mean, and can only mean, God's faithfulness to his single plan, the plan through which he will deal with the problem of human sin and put the whole world to right at last" (176). Sounds familiar. I still think he reads too much meaning into the phrase, although I certainly agree more with him than Piper.

I did enjoy his rag on the NIV, again! "... fudging the evidence by translating dikaiosyne in verses 25 an 26 as 'justice', not noticing what a mess they are thereby making of the inner coherence of the paragraph" (177).

By the way, Steve Lennox is doing a review on the ESV Study Bible. I guess it has lots of bells and whistles... and of course is endorsed by several key wrong people for Wesleyans--John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Albert Mohler. I won't speak ill of all the names who have endorsed it, but Wesleyans should be aware that the individuals I just named hold views fundamentally incompatible with the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition (there is good in them, but you should treat anything you read from them as a hostile witness). The translation itself is a good translation, although I do not recommend it to Wesleyans (I'm endorsing the NLT and TNIV as our replacements for the NIV--I'll wait to see some of the other new ones). But I explicitly oppose the use of the ESV Study Bible by Wesleyans.

Now back to Wright: "faithfulness of Jesus Christ..."

"It was not so much that 'God needed a sinless victim', though in sacrificial terms that is no doubt true as well, as that 'God needed a faithful Israelite' (178). I agree with the first part, just don't see the second part.

I very much am sympathetic to his read of "the one from the faith of Jesus." Wright says it "looks as though it is a telescoping together of both halves of 3:22, 'through the faithfulness of Jesus for the benefit of all who have faith'" (179). Yes!

That's about as much of this section I feel like wading through today...


Josh Kusch said...

Dr. Schenck, My name is Josh Kusch. I came across your blog while doing research for a paper on Augustine's interpretation of Rom. 7 and its reception by Luther and Calvin. I really appreciate the review of Wright's book. I, too, am very sympathetic to Wright's treatment of Paul, but I also think he has missed the boat entirely with his understanding of perseverence. I understand election to be corporate for Paul, as can be clearly seen in the deutero-Pauline's where perseverence is assured IF one remains in Christ. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm coming from a Catholic perspective so I'm probably to be distrusted a little.

Ken Schenck said...

I think the Catholic tradition could make a number of valid critiques of the run of the mill Protestant interpretations of Paul.