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N.T. Wright & Frank Viola: Interview

N.T. Wright & Frank Viola: Interview

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Published by Frank Viola
N.T. Wright & Frank Viola: Interview
N.T. Wright & Frank Viola: Interview

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Published by: Frank Viola on Jan 26, 2012
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03/05/2012

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N.T. Wright & Frank Viola
Frank Viola Talks with N.T. Wright
Today, I‘m featuring
 N.T. Wright on the blog. This interview fits in nicely with our series on Beyond Evangelical.But first, a little context.My favorite New Testament scholar of the 20
th
century was the British scholar F.F. Bruce. Bruce was
a ―bright
 
and shining light‖ in 20
th
century evangelicalism. He was prolific, churning out high qualitywork year after year. He had the rare ability to write academic books as well as popular (accessible)
books. Bruce‘s specialty was Jesus and Paul.
 F.F. Bruce also understood the importance of chronology in New Testament studies. Consequently,he published a 
. (Yes
 –
cough
F.F. Bruce was a major inspiration for me. Hence, I credit him in my Untold Story ofthe New Testament Church.)In addition, Bruce was a powerful apologist, substantiating the historicity of the Gospels in the faceof 20
th
century liberalism. To top it off, F.F. Bruce was a capable theologian as well as a NewTestament exegete (a rare combination).Enter N.T. Wright. Another British evangelical scholar.N.T. Wright is the 21
st
century equivalent to F.F. Bruce. What Bruce did for evangelicalism in themodern world, Wright is doing for evangelicalism in the postmodern world.Like F.F. Bruce, N.T. Wright is remarkably prolific, he has the rare ability to write academically aswell as popularly, he specializes in Jesus and Paul, and he is an effective and compelling apologist.(Wright has brilliantly excoriated the arguments of liberal scholars who traffic in historical Jesusstudies.)Like Bruce, Wright is both a theologian and an exegete, and he wrote his own translation of the NewTestament (though not in chronological sequence).To my mind, N.T. Wright is the new F.F. Bruce.
Meeting N.T. Wright
 
 
I had the privilege of spending time with Wright in 2007 when we were both featured speakers at aconference in the (cough) . . . Bahamas. (Yes, it was a notable hardship to accept the invitation. Butsome people must suffer for the kingdom.)All jesting aside, Wright and I spent several hours talking about various and sundry topics of mutualinterest. During the event, we shared a boat ride that lasted 1-hour both ways. We sat together onboth legs of the trip and filled our time schmoozing about the New Testament and theology.All told: I was pleased to discover that Wright and I had a lot more in common than I expected. For
instance, we agreed that Paul was the author of Ephesians, that Galatians was Paul‘s first epistle
(i.e., the South Galatian theory), and other views that are in the minority among New Testamentscholars today. We talked about the eternal purpose,the work of C.H. Dodd, the role of the Old Testament narrative on the New Testament story, etc.In getting to know Tom (N.T.) Wright, and in reading much of his work, he has become my favoritecontemporary New Testament scholar. You can find many of my favorite titles by Bruce and Wrightin my Best 100 Christian Books Ever Written and my Best 100 Academic Christian Books & Commentaries pages.Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting F.F. Bruce. But I am happy to have met andbefriended Tom Wright.With that as a background, what follows is my interview with N.T. Wright on his latest book,SimplyJesus
.I own virtually all of Wright‘s works in my study, and
 Simply Jesus has quickly become my
favorite ―N.T. Wright book.‖
 
 
 Every follower of Jesus should get a copy and read it. Especially those of you who aremoving beyond evangelical.  One final note. N.T. Wright is someone who is not afraid to challenge the status quo. In this regard, I
both resonate with and support him. And I‘ve intentionally played ―devil‘s advocate‖ on some of thequestions as I wanted Tom to have a safe platform in which to respond to ―the gainsayers.‖
 
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9, KJV)
 What follows is the uncut, unedited, and unrated version of the interview.
It‘s meaty, so you may
.But because of the uniqueness of the interview, I‘d encourage you to share itwith others by clicking the ―share buttons‖ at the bottom (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon,
etc.). Enjoy!
Frank: Tom, you have written a small library on the historical Jesus. What motivated you towrite
Simply Jesus,
and how does it differ from your other volumes on Jesus?
 N.T. Wright: I was asked to do it as a follow-up to Simply Christian
.It‘s over ten years since I last
wrote a book about Jesus(The Challenge of Jesus); that one was really an attempt to say, much
more briefly, what I‘d s
aid in Jesus and the Victory of God,adding a couple of closing chapters about the resurrection and the application of the whole thing to some of the tasks facing particularly youngacademics in the postmodern world (that project originated as lectures at an InterVarsity graduateconference).This time I stood back and reflected, after spending the best part of the last decade as a busy
bishop, on what I was now thinking about Jesus and what he was and is. It wasn‘t easy to keep it‗simple‘, because Jesus is always challenging and sometimes we oversimpli
fy him! But some of theearlier themes stand out more clearly
 –
 
for instance, Jesus as the embodiment of Israel‘s God,
coming back to rescue his people and reclaim his sovereignty over the whole world. That then leadsinto some quite new reflections, in th
e last (quite long) chapter, on the ‗so what‘ issues –
in dialogue,

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