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Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,011 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Lively & topical overview of the issues involved when the authority of scripture is cited or called into question An account of how the church does, and should, understand the authority of scripture - how do we read the Bible, how does our understanding change over time, who has power to change or challenge what the church believes, how do we balance the claims of the ...more
Kindle Edition, 229 pages
Published (first published March 18th 2005)
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May 13, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent, very accessible (non-academic) book which guides the reader away from shallow readings of Scripture and replaces that with a thoughtful method centered on the authority of God as exercised through Scripture. Wright does a good job of avoiding external priorities overlaid on Scripture by various camps and includes two intriguing case studies.
Feb 03, 2015 Justine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I'm a big fan of N.T Wright, so I may be a bit biased. This book rails against the shallow debate that starts with [INSERT BIBLE VERSE] clearly forbids [TOPIC] and ends with either a reply that someone is misreading the verse or with a reply that Leviticus outlaws shellfish so clearly the Bible is outdated and cannot be referenced with any seriousness. He does assume that the reader is a Christian. He also is not dealing with issues of divine inspiration, authority of the Holy Spirit, or with is ...more
Andrew Hains
Too ambitious and not as convincing as I had hoped. Wright tries to defend Christianity from the two flanks that he thinks are destroying it. First, Post-modern skepticism attacks upon the historical validity of the Bible. Second, the Faithful Conservative Evangelicals that take a "shallow reading" of the Bible, interpreting it based on modern agendas for personal needs neglecting the big picture and not taking Jesus seriously. Basically, he argues that Christians should understand, apply, and r ...more
Lynn Joshua
Jan 14, 2015 Lynn Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend it! This book is very helpful in giving the framework in which to understand scripture as the narrative of how God is working in His creation. NTW's analogy of a 5-part play, and the explanation of where we are in the story is quite helpful. He is good at giving the big picture, exposing and clearing up false ideas, and giving us a vision of God's great and glorious Kingdom being inaugurated here and now. He has a gift for generating enthusiasm about how we should read Scripture to b ...more
Jan 24, 2013 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
N.T. Wright tackles the Scriptures asking questions about what we mean by authority. Questions like - if Jesus has authority, what do we mean by authority? and how does Jesus exercise His authority through the Bible? and since the Bible is mostly narrative, how can a story be authoritative?

Ultimately this is a book about hermeneutics (a fancy word for the framework used by a reader to understand/process what they are reading) and the one that Wright advocates. His focus is on the meta-story line
Jeff McCormack
Mar 23, 2013 Jeff McCormack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: doctrine, read-2013
Dummy me - had this on my shelf since it came out - forgetting what it was (an updated version of "The Last Word), and ran across a copy of "The Last Word" at the library, so I grabbed it and read it. DOH!! So, I read this book's additional chapters and therefore include my review from "The Last Word" onto this edition too.

Our modern society is in need of instruction when it comes to how to handle God's Word, and this book is a great foundational look at the topic. What does it mean when someone
Steve Watson
Apr 19, 2013 Steve Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wright argues that the Bible's authority is ultimately about God's authority exercised through Scripture. Scripture tells a five-act story, the fifth act of which we still live in: the age of the church. God works through the Scriptures to bring about the Kingdom of God, shaping people and also specifically equipping teachers and leaders. Wright also offers a helpful, short history of how the Bible has been read over time as well as suggestions for being a Scripture-reading community. He ends wi ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
But what does scripture say? 1D That question has echoed through a thousand debates in the life of the worldwide church. All churches have officially endorsed strong statements about the centrality of scripture and its authority in their mission, life, doctrine, and discipline. But there is no agreement on what this might mean or how it might work in practice. Individuals and churches struggle with how to respond to issues such as war, homosexuality, and abortion, and especially how to interpret ...more
Jordan Varey
Dec 27, 2015 Jordan Varey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book refreshing in the same way that C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton are refreshing in Mere Christianity and Orthodoxy. Wright, Lewis, and Chesterton share the fact that they don't offer novel or new information but a fresh dressing on tried and tested themes.

Wright re-introduces his readers to hermeneutics without ever using the term. He cautions against proof texting, reminds us of context, reviews canonization, and explains the importance of genre. All this feels like fresh water
Andy Zell
Scripture and the Authority of God by N.T. Wright is a helpful book on a difficult topic. Part of my difficulty was my confusion on what exactly “the authority of scripture” means. Wright contends that the authority of scripture only makes sense as shorthand for “the authority of the triune God, exercised somehow through scripture.” But the Bible is not a rule book or a book of doctrines, or at least not primarily so. Rather, “most of its constituent parts, and all of it when put together […] ca ...more
Neil Coulter
Oct 22, 2015 Neil Coulter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Christians
Shelves: non-fiction
Recently I read The Bible Tells Me So, by Peter Enns. In that book, Enns asks a lot of questions about the Bible that many Christians wonder about but don't often voice--because the questions seem to lead to places of deep doubt and confusion. Questions like: Why does the Bible seem to contradict itself? Why are supposedly historical sections of the Bible actually historically inaccurate? Why do the New Testament writers, and sometimes even Jesus himself, seem to almost capriciously pick and cho ...more
Eric Marcy
Jan 10, 2015 Eric Marcy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wright provides a well-thought out and compelling argument for ways to free our perspectives on Scripture from modern/post-Enlightenment/post-modern categories and biases. Wright critiques both conservative and liberal ideas, arguing for the Church to return to a more balanced view of Scripture, viewing it as primarily part of the Gospel *narrative*, and a text that should be viewed through this narrative light. This is extremely helpful, particularly in regards to his Five Act view of Scripture ...more
Jul 09, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciate Wright's approach to Scripture, moving as it does away from the constraints of tired American evangelical debates about inerrancy. His comments on Scipture bearing the authority of God is not monolithic or final as an answer, but he provides good historical background and Scriptural support for it. I found the prose tedious at first, an issue I have had with several of Wright's books, but this one seemed to take even longer to fire than normal. Enjoyed his final chapter ("How to Get ...more
Brendan Swan
I'll begin my review by admitting that my 3 star rating is partially related to my disappointment that the book did not answer a question that I believe the title itself demands, and perhaps that is an unfair assessment. Wright argues brilliantly the authority of scripture from within the text itself, and melds beautifully the cultural vicissitudes that have modified perceptions of the text over the centuries. He leaves very few rocks unturned in his attempt, not only to understand scripture its ...more
James Smith
Nov 17, 2011 James Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It would be pretty easy to resent NT Wright: he's ubiquitous, brilliant, and just slightly cocky. But the fact is, he's one of the church's wisest voices right now. Don't let all the adulation distract you from listening to him. It's always worth it. This book is no exception. Cuts to the chase without over simplifying. It reminds us that the authority of Scripture is really about the reign of God.
M Christopher
I was privileged to hear Bishop N.T. "Tom" Wright speak some years ago before I ever read any of his books (although I'd read some articles by him) and was so impressed, I immediately decided I needed to read as many of his books as possible. I didn't count on his incredible prolificacy. He has now written some 140 books, according to Goodreads, and shows no sign of slowing.

The problem, of course, is that when you write that much, not all of them can be gems. And although "Scripture and the Auth
Jul 30, 2015 Conrad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first this book seemed a bit dry and scholarly - more of a debate between theologians and not something with practical application for the ordinary Christian, but the more I delved into it, the more profound his insights are and the practical application of what he is saying is incredibly important. His understanding of the whole Bible as a five act story makes so much sense and really clarifies a lot of apparent confusion and contradiction. He gives two examples of how that works out in the ...more
Ben Zajdel
Apr 09, 2012 Ben Zajdel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent work on the role and authority of Scripture today. Wright shows how reading the Bible as a narrative of God restoring creation can eliminate seemingly contradictory passages, especially those between the Old and New Testaments.

He uses as examples the cases of Sabbath keeping and monogamy. An interesting read.
Jan 24, 2015 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't bad but maybe not the best N.T. Wright book to start with. In the interest of a keeping the book relatively short Wright momentarily references then dismisses centuries of theological writing. I am also not always 100% sure what the position he is advocating for actually is. I think Wright is someone a reader could easily project his own beliefs onto and come away with a misleading view of what he actually thinks.

Wright spends the last two chapters demonstrating how he would do a 'Ch
Sep 03, 2015 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What to say that hasn't been said already? Wright is the foremost, the linchpin of a group of biblical scholars answering all of the difficult inquiries raised by the new biblical scholarship of the past ~150 years from a pastoral but not fundamentalist perspective. Wright, himself, is a former bishop within the Anglican church who has somehow managed a scholarly output that flat-out boggles the mind. Many have called him the C.S. Lewis of our time.

I've only returned to my faith recently. Divini
Daniel Wells
May 03, 2014 Daniel Wells rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I largely agree with John Frame's review of Wright's book. While there is little I would disagree with Wright in this book, he fails to address the most fundamental issue of the doctrine of Scripture, whether the text of the Bible is the word of God.

I loved the two case studies at the end. On the Sabbath, Wright has some great insights, though I think he doesn't quite capture what is going on in Jesus' "critique" or "laying aside the Sabbath." Also, his interaction with Hebrews 3-4 is insufficie
Mar 26, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read several of Wright's books now, I mostly really appreciate his measured and thoughtful tone and approach to everything he writes about. He couches his well-informed opinions and perspectives within the context of historical and contemporary scholarship and theology. This book is the same, Wright manages to pull off what I would call a "bold modesty" in a way that few people can. His exegetical approach to scripture in this book is especially helpful for navigating the swirling convers ...more
Nicholas Norris
Nov 20, 2015 Nicholas Norris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first and definitely not my last of N.T. Wrights literature. Very inspiring and motivating as a Christian desiring to deepen my faith and my understanding of the bible.
David Scott
May 13, 2014 David Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wright is excellent here, as always. As usual, there are no sacred cows; he takes on both right and left-leaning readings of scripture through history, and using his "5 Act Play" model, takes us through a more correct reading and use of scripture. The two examples at the end of the book are extremely valuable at fleshing this out.

A few quotes:

"When we take the phrase 'the authority of scripture' out of its suitcase, then, we recognize that it can have Christian meaning only if we are referring t
Jerry Hillyer
Jun 08, 2014 Jerry Hillyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Title: Scripture and the Authority of God

Author: N.T. Wright

Publisher: HarperCollins

Year: 2011

Pages: 210

N.T. Wright other works: N.T. Wright Page

[Disclaimer: I paid for this book with a gift card I received at Christmas 2013. It was a very happy time in my life when I could freely spend at It also prevented me from having to humbly admit that I got the book free in exchange for a fair review. I can be as nasty as I wanna be in this review. :-) ]

No one will ever accuse N.T. Wright of
Mar 24, 2014 Meghann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging book about how to approach scripture. Wright points out many of the flaws in how we (people from either side of the fence) read and interpret the text. I like his framework for approaching the Bible, because it provides continuity between the Old and New Testaments. Wright wrote: "The Bible, as I have insisted throughout this book, is a story, and its authority is put into operation when we learn how the story works and where we belong within it." I also love his focus on the kingdom ...more
Karsten Hultgren
Oct 08, 2014 Karsten Hultgren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wright's thesis is Scriptures authority does not rest in itself, but directs to a higher authority, the Word Himself. Scripture is not the final authority in itself, but a vessel used by the one who has all authority. Wright does not use the conventional use of "political" authority commonly thought of, but explains that God's authority is his decree to bring about "new creation".

Most of the book is consumed by a 30,000 feet historical study of how the church viewed and used Scripture. In it, t
Ross Holmes
Nov 09, 2014 Ross Holmes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot of good stuff here, but I felt that, in the middle of the book, Wright relied too much on his previous body of work. There were several occasions when he said something either interesting or contentious, and I wanted him to elaborate, only to see him say "I argued this more comprehensively in chapter X of my book Y and the Z of God. Obviously I can't expect Wright to restate him entire argument every time he covers something he's worked on before, but this book felt in places like ...more
Robert Durough, Jr.
May 06, 2015 Robert Durough, Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-reads
In typical, well-articulated fashion, N. T. Wright, in this updated, 2013 edition of Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today , tackles questions concerning the nature of Scripture (the Bible) and how it is authoritative, going well beyond the simplistic “it’s the Word of God” statements by addressing deeper application and important questions with much needed nuance. It is impossible to consistently and effectively take Scripture at “face value” without any method of int ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and thought provoking look at the subject of the authority of scripture from NT Wright. Wright gives a history of Christian thinking on scripture and its authority down through the ages comparing and contrasting approaches and arguing for his own. I read this in fits and spurts and I feel like I need to go back and re-read it to get clarity. But not surprisingly given my appreciation for Wright, I think Wright is correct to see the proper approach in narrative and context within t ...more
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N. T. Wright is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England (2003-2010) and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. He has been featured on ABC News, Dateline NBC, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air, and he has taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGi ...more
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“We read scripture in order to be refreshed in our memory and understanding of the story within which we ourselves are actors, to be reminded where it has come from and where it is going to, and hence what our own part within it ought to be.” 5 likes
“The gospel by which individuals come to personal faith, and so to that radical transformation of life spoken of so often in the new Testament, is the personalizing of the larger challenge just mentioned: the call to every child, woman, and man to submit in faith to the lordship of the crucified and risen Jesus and so to become, through baptism and membership in the body of Christ, a living, breathing anticipation of the final new creation itself” 4 likes
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