Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The controversial N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright is accused of many things.

One accusation is that his scholarship focuses inordinately on letting the Jews who rejected Christ decide what Jews like Paul who accepted Christ mean. A related accusation is that Wright pays insufficient attention to first and second century Christian writings that seem to display Judaism as a works based religion. I guess these people will also take offense at Wright’s focus on Second Temple Judaism and the intertestamental period for one reason or another.

Well these are good points to raise. It' all a question of balance, isn’t it ? And I think all that NTW is doing is trying to redress it. Of course, there is always the danger of going too far in the opposite direction.

There is a real and worthwhile agenda in trying to learn what Judaism was about through a combination of the following:

(a) what Jews who rejected Christ thought, wrote and did

(b) what Jesus had to say about *some* Jews he encountered in his ministry and

(c) what Paul had to say about:
(i) Jews who had accepted Christ but wanted Gentiles to convert to Judaism and

(ii) Jews who rejected Christ and were persecuting Christians (be they Jewish or Gentile).

All of these elements are important and so need to be distinguished and considered carefully on their own merits . This has not been the case in the past.

We do get the impression from the letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation that it was unbelieving Jews who were having Christians persecuted, arrested by the roman authorities, thrown out of the synagogues etc. We also get a feeling of this kind of activity in Acts during Paul's missionary journeys through Asia Minor.

This experience fed and fueled and in some sense legitimised the widespread anti-Judaism that we see in first and second century Christian writings and even beyond that period. It is my own conclusion , that this anti-Judaism has affected and infected a lot of things from the way the OT is interpreted (or mis-interpreted) to the way Jews have been treated (or mis-treated) to this very day and hour.

So there is a lot of work to be done to undo a lot of rubbish :-)

1 comment:

The Prudent Investor said...

Dear Celal,
Being born to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father, having had a grandmother who was a member of the NSDAP (for opportunistic reasons) and a two grandfathers who actively participated in the Austrian resistance I consider myself an agnostic.
Simply for the reason that every religion save for Buddhism went on deadly crusades to "convert" people.
I have a belief that there is more than just the material world we sense. Just read a book that says all matter is just energy.
I endorse your blog because it lists links to various religions. And no matter what God is called in one or the other we must not forget that we are just mortal beings who should engage in cooperation and not mutual destruction. We have only one world.