I, the dad, enjoyed this book more than the previous one. It had more action and interest. What's more important is that my five-year-old son liked itI, the dad, enjoyed this book more than the previous one. It had more action and interest. What's more important is that my five-year-old son liked it and kept asking for it....more
Absolutely loved this. McWhorter is a brilliant lecturer (and at 1.75 speed, he sounds superhumanly brilliant =). As I began, however, I wasn't sure hAbsolutely loved this. McWhorter is a brilliant lecturer (and at 1.75 speed, he sounds superhumanly brilliant =). As I began, however, I wasn't sure how much more McWhorter had to teach me given the other things I've read and enjoyed by him. I'm happy to say I stand humbled and enriched and, hopefully, a little closer to "educated." Language is endlessly fascinating.
Particularly helpful for me: McWhorter explores the cultural reasons behind the impossible-to-miss "informalization" of American English over the last century. There was a day when even casual speech, when quoted in a newspaper, had to be—it just had to be—"formalized." People are quoted in old newspapers as saying things that no one could possibly say in real life, only write. Senators up till not all that long ago wouldn't dream of delivering anything on the Senate floor but a flowery, formalized, oratory. Now hardly anyone speaks in a formal tone. Why? McWhorter points to the anti-authoritarian 1960s and to the self-assurance America gained as a nation in the mid-20th century (i.e., now that we're on top of the world we can relax). He doesn't point to texting.
In fact, he proposes a helpful new taxonomy through which to view texting. Think of a graph of four quadrants mapping speech and writing on the side and formal/informal on the top. in which we have formal speech ("fundamentalist oratory" is his repeated example), informal speech (all other speech, pretty much), formal writing (most of our writing now) and a new category: informal writing (e-mail and—especially—texting). Great. Texting fills in an empty gap. It's creative and interesting—and if you don't believe me, use one of McWhorter's common strategies and examine texting in other languages. It's clever in Japanese. It doesn't ruin writing in German. Nor in America.
Random: he also explained how Edward became "Ned." I am forever in his debt. You gotta listen....more
I read this because my wife and I are about to buy our third house and I wanted wisdom. Our second house, it turns out, was very well made in 1948. WeI read this because my wife and I are about to buy our third house and I wanted wisdom. Our second house, it turns out, was very well made in 1948. We already miss it and we haven't yet left it. I wanted to know what made me like this house. Hull helped. He told me about a classical tradition of home construction that, he says, has been nearly lost in America. He told me to build a house (if I ever get to do such a thing) to tell a story about my family and my beliefs. He told me to build a timeless house by going back in time for wisdom.
Some better editing would have helped, and not just the typos. But Hull loses a star mainly because I felt he didn't really connect theory and praxis as much as I hoped he would, and because I felt he had so little to say to someone who will be in the lower middle class for the foreseeable future. I may not be able to buy a house meeting his criteria. But I'm glad I've got them in mind....more
Pretty good. Pretty short. Here's one quote I liked:
Fear is unquestionably a common theme found in Scripture. For example, the Bible says, “The fear o
Pretty good. Pretty short. Here's one quote I liked:
Fear is unquestionably a common theme found in Scripture. For example, the Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7). What stands out to me in this well-known verse of Scripture is that holy fear is not a dead-end road, but the beginning of something great—the knowledge of God.
A review I wrote way back when at the beginning of my PhD work:
No one active in Pauline studies can afford to ignore Tom Wright and his contribution tA review I wrote way back when at the beginning of my PhD work:
No one active in Pauline studies can afford to ignore Tom Wright and his contribution to the “New Perspective” on Paul. This is due not to his contribution to an orthodox understanding of Paul’s critical doctrines but to his provocative re-understanding of Paul’s most important doctrine.
Wright first surveys important developments in Pauline scholarship since the field shifted from conservatism to radical reconsiderations of Paul. Schweitzer, Käsemaan, and most notably E. P. Sanders—all made contributions to this (r)evolution in understanding the great apostle. Wright, however, gives too much praise to all of these unbelieving scholars, though he does criticize them later in the book for “dismembering” Paul.
The second chapter turns to Paul’s conversion, laying a foundation for Wright’s understanding of Paul by describing just what type of Jew he had been before the Damascus road. He was a strict Shammaite (a redundancy, certainly!) despite the leniency of his Hillelite teacher Gamaliel. He saw himself, as many other Jews saw themselves, as part of God’s plan to bring about the prophesied ascendancy of Israel. His fulminations against Christians were driven by this holy zeal.
It is here that Wright first makes clear his departure from a typical—he calls it “radically anachronistic”—evangelical understanding of Paul, and his own statement of the difference is worth quotation:
Jews like Saul of Tarsus were not interested in an abstract, timeless, ahistorical system of salvation. They were not even primarily interested in, as we say today, “going to heaven when they died.” (They believed in the resurrection, in which God would raise them all to share in the life of the promised renewed Israel and renewed world; but that is very different from the normal Western vision of “heaven.”) They were interested in the salvation which, they believed, the one true God had promised to his people Israel. (32-33)
Wright himself points to this statement as very important in his line of reasoning because Bible readers can now understand what background Paul, a former Pharisee, carried into his New Testament epistles. Zealous Jew Saul of Tarsus had expected an Age to Come in which Israel would be vindicated before God, and now Christian Paul’s Damascus road experience made him a herald of this new kingdom. Indeed, the gospel, Wright says, is a “narrative proclamation of King Jesus” including Jesus’ crucifixion and his resurrection, the latter of which proved Him to be Messiah. But “Messiah” was not in Paul’s day the benign term it has now become; for Paul to proclaim Jesus as Messiah and Lord was to fire a shot directly at the Roman imperial cult. His gospel was an authoritative summons to obey this new ruler. It was this political blasphemy which persuaded Pilate to finally condemn Jesus, and Paul was touting the same message.
Paul’s claim that Jesus was Lord to whom all other kurioi must bow was not the only shocking affirmation the apostle made. He also spoke openly of a “one true God”—Whom all Jews took quite seriously and Whom (among other gods) many Gentiles feared as well. Wright argues that “the ‘gospel’ is for Paul, at its very heart, an announcement about the true God as opposed to false gods” (59). The reason this affirmation was so shocking was that Paul directly challenged pagan deities (like Diana of the Ephesians, whose followers rioted when Paul made his proclamation) in addition to the imperial cult.
However, Paul was not striking out in wholly new religious territory; he did not consider himself to be starting another religion per se. He, Wright says, was just as dedicated to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as he had always been, only now he had a new understanding, gained by revelation, of what that meant. God had revealed Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, and now Paul could proclaim the Jewish Shema with a deeper understanding.
And proclaim Paul did, to Jew and Gentile alike. Wright traces the implications of Paul’s message to pagans, and points out just how directly he challenged them. He takes issue with the history of religions movement and their assertions that Paul derived his theology from paganism. That is wrong in two respects, Wright says: first, Paul’s message was thoroughly Jewish, and second, the key question about Paul’s message is not so much where it came from anyway, but where he meant it to go.
Then comes the real area of contention Wright faces with the rest of evangelicalism, his definition of justification. Wright uses his new understanding of Paul’s Jewish context to reject the definition which would turn the righteousness of God (dikaiosunh qeou) into “imputed” righteousness. Instead Wright summarizes dikaiosunh qeou as God’s own righteousness displayed in His “covenant faithfulness.” He examines the occurrences of dikaiosunh qeou in the NT and mines evidence to support his view. While clearly denying that God imputes (or even imparts) His righteousness to believers, Wright does still see justification as providing men with a certain legal status, namely “righteous”; but Wright claims that the traditional view of imputation turns God into a cold logician who accomplished justification by a trick and hardly merits worship.
Justification, then, becomes not the means by which a man enters into an appropriate relationship to God, but the test by which others can tell whether that man is indeed a member of God’s covenant family. Wright runs through all of Paul’s major epistles picking up this thread.
Wright devotes his last chapter to summarizing the views of A.N. Wilson as expressed in his work Paul: The Mind of the Apostle. He gives the book more praise than it is due, but does oppose it on nearly every point.
Wright is an evangelical Anglican who wrote for the Tyndale series of New Testament commentaries, but he uses his new understanding of justification to call for ecumenism among Christians. He also expresses doubt as to whether Paul is the source of the Acts 17 speech attributed to him, and even wonders aloud about Paul’s authorship of Colossians. His book brims over with charges that past exegetes and commentators and theologians have missed various emphases in Paul or have entirely misread him. Naturally if that were so, Wright would be performing a distinguished service for the church. But this reviewer expresses some doubt as to this, though he admits defeat in not being able to evaluate Wright’s view fully. This reviewer awaits the help of the more learned in combating what he views to be an innovation, and as controversy often sharpens our view of truth so he trusts that Wright’s diligent work will spur the church to a better understanding of the crucial doctrine of justification. It remains to be seen as Wright’s work is evaluated whether or not he has understood What Saint Paul Really Said....more