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The New Testament and the People of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God #1)

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,615 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Part of a five-volume project on the theological questions surrounding the origins of Christianity, this book offers a reappraisal of literary, historical and theological readings of the New Testament, arguing for a form of "critical realism" that facilitates different readings of the text.

Provides a historical, theological and literary study of first-century Judaism and C
Paperback, 535 pages
Published January 1st 1992 by Fortress Press (first published December 15th 1991)
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Community Reviews

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As an atheist with an interest in the Bible and its history, I'm afraid to say that I've been put off reading N.T. Wright until now. While most of the best Biblical scholars I've read (Crossan, Borg, Dunn, Brown etc.) have all notionally retained their Christian faith to one degree or another in spite of their rigorous scholarship, I was well aware that Wright is often particularly forthright in his defence of certain Christian claims (the resurrection, virgin birth etc.) that other scholars hav ...more
Justin Evans
A very clearly written, well-argued, but sometimes repetitive book. The first methodological section is embarrassing for anyone who has read literary criticism or philosophy of the last forty years--as ever, the other humanistic disciplines take a while to catch up (viz, classics). But Wright's approach is fair. You might even call it common-sensical, except that it's couched in such high-flown concepts: to understand what people meant by their texts, you should try to find out how they saw the ...more
Jacob Aitken
NTPG attempts a constructive methodology for reading Scripture and doing theology in a post-postmodern age. This book sets the stage for the next two, draws heavily from it, and determines later exegesis. If this book is mastered, much of Wright's later writings is fairly simple.

Wright criticizes the Enlightenment's approach to knowledge. He says, in line with Postmodern philosophy, that a tabula rasa is impossible. We do not simply "see" other facts, but recieve those facts pre-interp
Mark Sequeira
Wow! So N.T. Wright rocks my world yet again! Okay, yes, it may be more of the same considering I've already read "Jesus and the Victory of God" (which technically comes after this one I believe) and if I had to, II'd say that one is better but once reading N.T. wright, I want to read more. Big books, slow reading, but boy has it been worth it. Got to be some of the most important reading I have done and I have done a lot of reading from Calvin's Institutes to John Owen to Stanley Grenz to Wesle ...more
The New Testament and the People of God is the first volume in a multi-volume series by noted New Testament scholar N.T. Wright called "Christian Origins and the Question of God." This first volume is suppose to act as a sort of introduction to the many themes that Mr. Wright will hit upon in future books and will act as a sort of reference to those volumes. That is not to say that this book is boring or unnecessary. Quite the contrary actually. This is perhaps one of the most insightful books y ...more
B. Hawk
Much of this book is clearly about introductions: historiography, methodology, and the place of the historian among all of these. Throughout most of this, Wright places himself in relation to his predecessors and others in his field, establishing how his work moves forward in new directions. Of course, he also acknowledges his debt to many of his influences, and those from whose work he has gained much of the background to his own project. In all, the book establishes the foundations of the rest ...more
Brian Collins
[Re-read Part III: First-Century Judaism within the Greco-Roman World]

Wright provides a helpful outline of Israel's history from the Babylonian captivity through the beginning of the rabbinic era. He provides sketches of the major Jewish groups of this time period: Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees, and others. He investigates worldview topics such as temple, land, torah, racial identity, festivals, monothiesm, election, covenant, redemption, and eschatology, the kingdom of God, and justification. W
A few thoughts:
- NT Wright is an excellent communicator. As someone with limited experience reading texts in the field of philosophy and history, the first section of the book was daunting and seemingly impenetrable. However, I found that Wright's thoughts were actually quite cogent when I spent the time slowing down and paying attention to his arguments. I'm interested to hear if other readers found this to be true as well.
- The "meat of the book" is Part III: "First-Century Judaism within the
Glenn Crouch
I very much enjoyed reading this book, and am eager to get into the next volume.

I enjoyed how the Author first went through some basic logic and established an understanding of such things as Knowledge, History, Theology, etc - he then constructed a picture of "First Century Jewish Worldview" - and I appreciated how he spent quite a bit of time analysing apocalyptic literature, as well as endeavoured to use material from 2nd Century BC through to 2nd Century AD.

Once that was all established, he
The first of N.T. Wright's epic 5 part book series on the origins of Christianity. Specifically, the series seeks to address two questions outlined in the first chapter, with respect to the New Testament:

1. How did Christianity begin, and why did it take the shape that it did?
2. What does Christianity believe, and does it make sense?

As the first title in the series, The NT and the People of God functions mainly to introduce the problems to be addressed by the rest of the series, as well the meth
James Rutherford
I found Wright's arguments unpersuasive, he frequently set up straw men of his opponents, and his description of early Christian beliefs were startlingly shallow. The philosophy of history and the epistemology laid out were largely unsatisfying. He made a claim for a view that allowed for objective (or public in his view) meaning while alos allowing subjective aspects (or private), but it left more questions than answers and appeared, at least to me, to be incoherent. If pushed to the extent of ...more
Wright has laid out an incredibly thorough analysis of the historical developments in the first century and their relation to the rise of Christianity. Much of this book relates to how the Jews thought of themselves under the covenant and teaching of the Torah - D.A. Carson wrote "Variegated Nomism" in response to Wright's sometimes simplistic view of a monolithic "covenantal nomism" where all Jews are said to reject merit-based theology. Carson is right here, but at any rate, Wright has done an ...more
Chauncey Lattimer
Wow! I actually started with the second book of the series, Jesus and the Victory of God, and realized at the end of the 144 page introduction that I needed to come back and read this book first. I press on to complete the series. It is just that good!
This was a great background read to get in the right mindset for approaching the Bible as a whole, and in particular, the New Testament. It is a very academic book, complete with a long section up front on methodology (including a nice discussion of epistemology and where Wright comes down in favor of critical realism as a middle ground between phenomenalism and positivism), and occasionally bogs down in, what were to me, unimportant debates (such as the discussion of Q). However, he clearly lay ...more
Feb 18, 2014 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
This book is a fascinating journey into the Jewish world in first century Palestine. N.T. Wright does a wonderful job of sifting through the competing theories that abound and providing his own take on the historical evidence. It takes a little while to get through his description of his critical realism approach, though there are interesting points he makes in this section as well. Once he gets into the actual history is where the book becomes really fascinating though. I enjoyed learning about ...more
Graham Heslop
Is it even possible to offer a fair review, given the sheer depth and breadth of this work? I'm not sure. You can read interactions with, critiques of, and appraisal for the COQG series all over the internet and in books, of varying agreement with Wright. I just want to say a few things about it:
- firstly, framed in its historical context and carefully arguing from a plethora of relevant original sources, this work is a superb and seminal contribution. The detail, further detailed footnotes, and
Terry Wildman
In this challenging book, written primarily for scholars, N.T. Wright lays the foundation for interpretation of the New Testament. Drawing from a massive amount of theological works, from over the past 200 years, and from the more recently discovered writings of the 2nd Temple Judaism period, and finally from the "Church Fathers" he forges a path for a responsible and convincing way to bring together hermeneutical principals that can be followed with confidence.

He has convinced me that the prop
This book is more of a stage-setter for N.T. Wright's series, "Christian Origins and the Question of God", than a book meant to be read in isolation. In the series Wright is attempting a wide-ranging historical and theological study of the origins of Christianity. "The New Testament and the People of God" seeks to address the questions that need to be answered before such a study can even begin.

The first 120 pages focus on philosophical questions. How do we evaluate history? How do we interpret
Tsun Lu
Wright's scholarship is excellent and his presentation is thoroughly impressive. But his epistemology and hermeneutic foundation is not sophisticated to handle the intention of his work.

Wright makes it clear that his hermeneutic foundation is "a form of critical realism".

“This is a way of describing the process of "knowing" that acknowledges the reality of the thing known, as something other than the knower (hence "realism"), while fully acknowledging that the only access we have to this reality
Neil Coulter

N.T. Wright has many excellent insights to share. So it is disappointing that the writing style he employs in The New Testament and the People of God is unbelievably tedious and opaque. Woe to the reader (like me) who enjoyed Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church and then moved on to the first volume of Wright's magnum opus series. I read a lot of academic prose, so I am well accustomed to the awkwardness that is, unfortunately (and, often, needles

Mark Mckelroy
This was very good. It's one of those books that I wish more Christians would read, especially western evangelicals. And here's why: the bible is very Jewish. I know that's an obvious statement, but most modern western bible readers don't approach the actual reading of scripture with that in mind. Scripture was written by Jewish authors, for a primarily Jewish audience, to tell the story of Israel and the covenant that God made with them. Even the New Testament is essentially a retelling of the ...more
Alex Stroshine
An (at times excruciating!) detailed account of early Christianity, its close relationship to Israel and the Roman world. There is a lot of information in this massive book and it warrants closer study and rereading than I did this time around (one could have a whole course devoted to it!). The first 140ish pages lays out N.T. Wright's critical realist epistemology (which I wish I had heard of when I took a sociology of knowledge class in undergrad). This book helped provide me with a lot of his ...more
In this, the first volume of the series, NT Wright sets out the tools he intends to use in his survey of New Testament Theology, tools based on a survey of world-views (questions, praxis, symbols, all leading to stories)that lead to his method, "critical realism". After laying these tools out he moves into a rather difficult discussion of Jewish apocalyptic stories (I don't see how this discussion could be anything BUT difficult)followed by a run through the gospels, the epistles of Paul, and a ...more
Don Henrikson
Though I can not come to all of the same theological conclusions as NT Wright does, I am glad to have read this remarkable book. This book lays the theological foundation for much of what he has written since. The depth of research, the clarity of argument, and the quality of writing makes his a hard book to put down. I look forward to eventually reading the other volumes in this monumental series.
Adam Smith
If you want a full review, please check out my blog review ( In a nutshell though, this book was really good, but it did take some perseverance to get through. I like Wright's writing style. He is very thorough. The purpose of this book as I saw it was to set the historical stage for volumes 2 and 3. In order to have a clear understanding of the New Testament context we have to understand the cultural milieu in which Jesus grew up. How did the Jews view ...more
Can't believe it's been a decade since I read this phenomenal, thorough work. It completely challenged how I read & understand Scripture, and history as well. Need to re-read for a fuller review, but I remember apprciating Christ's work on the cross so much more.
Though still processing, the book was very good. This is my first introduction to a lengthy study dealing with 'the NT and the people of God" through the grid of History, Literature and Theology. And, having read a ton of articles and smaller books by the author, I had a grasp of much of his conclusions, but not his methodology. So, in terms of how he gets to where he is going and gone, this books is necessary for those who want to understand Wright. I recommend it for someone who wants to commi ...more
I took a philosophy of Judaism this last semester in (secular) College, we didn't cover much history, but what was covered in this book didn't diverge too much from what the history I learned in that class. This book is thick material; I had to read pretty slow (10pg/hr) in order to retain/follow what I as reading. I appreciated his dealings with different types of literary criticism and his criticisms of Q.

I'm no expert but it seemed like a solid attempt to put together the milieu of first cent
Nathaniel Martin
Many of the concepts here are new to me so instead of being critical I will give this one a lighthearted review. NTPG is very helpful in a lot of ways. He provides a great summary of Jewish history, provides an interesting understanding of the theology and hope of Israel as well as the early church, and gives the Bultmann school a sensible boot. However, after reading it I think I am even more confused as to what apocalyptic literature actually is (who knows, dude). Having already read his work ...more
wes Goertzen
its an interesting read alongside Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Ok that said way back in the day. This was the most interesting introduction to anything i've ever read. I was told that it'd be kinda boring but the needed background for reading Wright's later stuff in the series. It was a fun (dare i say) though challenging read (b/c its scholarly). Since first reading Wright I've like him b/c (partly) of his wit and writing style.

Not being a professional scholar what i have to say abo
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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
More about N.T. Wright...

Other Books in the Series

Christian Origins and the Question of God (4 books)
  • Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #2)
  • The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #3)
  • Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #4)

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