exile, they were in waiting for God‟s promises to be fulfilled.
But it was more than this: “Israel
was (still) ensl
aved to foreign overlords and their pagan culture and customs.”
This “exile” was
understood through the lens of Daniel 9. As a result of disobedience to the covenant, and failingin their God-
given mission to be God‟s people in the world, God‟s people Isr
ael were inperpetual exile. But God would be faithful to his promises, and so Israel was waiting on God to
This view of Second Temple Judaism is significant, for it provides the stage set-upwhen Jesus comes on the scene.
The “righteousness of God,”
as one might expect, plays a significant role in N.T.
Wright‟s Biblical Theology. Or at least it seems to in current debates.
This leads one to wonder if
we can, like Schweizer said of “righteousness by faith” in Paul‟s thought
, suggest that
“justification” or “righteousness” is not the center of Wright‟s theology, but a key topic that
receives its significance from debate with others.
we can place “righteousness” at or near the center of Wright‟
s BiblicalTheology. I hasten to add that
one suspects “justification” or “righteousness” is at the center
that it is
itself the center, but part of a center that includes more than one element.Specifically
it is God‟s righteousness and not human righteousness
or justification. In other
words, the whole of Scripture, as a story of God‟s redemption of the world, is also about God‟s
In this sense, “righteousness” is understood in terms of God being faithful toGod‟s promises.
Wright explains this in terms of covenant and lawcourt, in fact
God being faithful to his covenant was God‟s way of working to “bring justice to the wholeworld.”
For it was always through God‟s people Israel and his covenant with them that god had
been working to restore his rule in the world.How does Jesus fit? For Wright, Jesus
, according to the gospels‟ proclamation,
“embod(ies) in himself the returning and redeeming action of the covenant God.”
himself to be the focal point of the people of YHWH, the returned-from-exile people, the peopleof the renewed covenant, the people whose sins were now
to be forgiven.”
In the resurrection
of Jesus, sin and death have been dealt a final blow, bringing to fulfillment God‟s covenant plan,
and inaugurating God
‟s new creation.
Wright reads Paul through this lens as well. For Wright
the theme of Romans is “God‟s gospel unveils God‟s righteousness.”
“As long as Israel remained under the rule of pagans, the great promises made by this God to the patriarchs, and through the prophets, had still not been fulfilled” (“Romans, 398).
For his full interpretation, see
, 268-79. It is important to note tha
t Wright acknowledged that “we cannot say that all first
thought like this, any more than you can say that all Americans like hamburgers” (
, 59). This is animportant point, and raises the question of what Jews did
think like this, and might Paul in particular haveinteracted with them?
The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle
, trans. W. Montgomery (New York: Holt andCompany, 1931), 220-25.
This is a result of Wright‟s detailed work on the historical Jesus.