You know, I’m starting to fall into old, poor reading habits. See, when I look at my library, I get excited about reading everything in it. When that happens…I get distracted from reading the first book I was on. With the addition of the two library books I got last week, that puts me at four books now, none of them related to one another at all. I’ve nearly given up on On the Campaign Trail, though I occasionally do read a page or so out of it. I’m all the way through Paul In Fresh Perspective, going through it a second time, giving you the low down on its contents, AND I’ve got a book on New Urbanism and a book on how America isn’t much of a democracy anymore.
That’s a lot to be reading.
Anyway, let’s talk about narratives and how they influence Paul. In Paul’s day (not unlike our own), people knew stories, and references to them were prevalent no matter where you looked. The Jews talked about Abraham, Moses, David, and many other stories from their scriptures; the pagans had the writings of Homer and Virgil and all the stories of the gods and the rather licentious things they did. Everyone and their mother made references to these stories in common speech, and Paul does the same thing, predominately Jewish ones, but also pagan ones (check out Acts 17). For Paul, everything he preached was part of the great Jewish narrative of God making everything, man screwing it up, and God promising to make it right again. Jesus was the center of that story.
Now, let’s be clear; we’re not jumping on some post-liberal theology bandwagon here, speaking about “narrative theology” and such, something the “New Perspective On Paul” has taken a little too far. When you start talking “narratives,” people start reading all kinds of crap into Paul that just isn’t there and start yanking him out of context. Wright seems to think, and I agree, that this is why there’s been such a backlash to the New Perspective by some of the more “reformed” gentlemen.
No one wants to read into Scripture what isn’t there, but we have to place Paul in context. The usual reaction by the “Old Perspective” has been, often, to ignore narrative and stick to systematic doctrine, and this is just as destructive. It limits Paul’s writings to being more about “how one gets saved” or “how one acts like a Christian.” Paul is so, so much more than that.
Anyway, I’m kinda brain dead today and this post is already five hours late. This is about all I can muster from Wright for now, and we’re only still in the first chapter! There will be more to come, though. Promise! See y’all tomorrow!