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Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  245 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A thoughtful and provocative collection, in the vein of the intellectual spiritual classic The Weight of Glory, from N. T. Wright, the influential Bishop, Bible scholar, and bestselling author widely regarded as a modern C. S. Lewis.

An unusual combination of scholar, churchman, and leader, N. T. Wright—hailed by Newsweek as “the world’s leading New Testament scholar”—is no
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by HarperOne (first published June 1st 2014)
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I finished this book nearly three weeks ago, but I couldn't review it until now because I hadn't transcribed all my notes yet. Because there were a lot of notes. Because this book is amazing.

The premise is simple: N. T. Wright tackles a variety of modern subjects like politics, feminism, and many more using the Bible as a reference and, again and again, finds surprising relevance for modern problems from this ancient scripture.

I don't think I could really do the themes of the book justice with a
Douglas Wilson
A true mixed bag. Some chapters were very good, and a number of them were lame. The three stars is therefore an average.
Since falling in love with the works of N.T. Wright over a year ago, I have recognized in his works how the overarching theme in all his works (that with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the new creation has begun to break into our world, that God has declared himself the king of this new world, and that we as Christians are called, as his image-bearers, to reflect His goodness in all things and to share the Gospel with everyone) has a political dimension to it. Sometimes Mr. Wright h ...more
Adam Shields
Short Review: variety of articles bundled together in a new book. On the whole, these are mostly issues that Wright has dealt with more fully in his full length books. But there are a couple of issues that are either new or better dealt with here, particularly his chapter on Women in Ministry and his take on Epicureanism. Because of Wright's style (long narrative to explain why many traditional readings are missing the actual point of the issues because of a lack of understanding of the original ...more
If you have read much of NT Wright nothing in this collection is likely to surprise you as it really involves the themes and perspectives he has been developing in his last few books. It is, however, interesting to see him use this lens to explore a variety of topics in smaller chapters.

Wright's theme throughout is how Western Christians have allowed the modern mindset of rationalistic and epicurean approaches to culture and knowledge shrink their faith into an internal personal belief disconnec
Lots of good stuff here, but some (many) of the ideas would have benefited from a fuller (book length) development. I suppose that is to be expected from a collection of essays on large topics. Not surprisingly, then, the pieces I enjoyed most were those on topics Wright has addressed in books. “Jesus is Coming – Plant a Tree!,”one of my favorites, expands on ideas from Surprised by Hope and For All God's Worth, and “How the Bible Reads the Modern World” on ideas from The Last Word. Conversely, ...more
Joel Wentz
As a major fan of N.T. Wright, the only thing that would have been surprising about "Surprised by Scripture" would be me not enjoying it. This extremely easy-to-read book is a fantastic overview of N.T. Wright's theological perspective, and how it practically impacts Christian life in the modern world. Nearly every hot-button issue is addressed - the divide between science and faith, political engagement, the ordination of women, environmental care, and such (I was actually quite pleased with th ...more
Naomi Young
I love N.T. Wright. I actually made my way through the entirety of The Resurrection of the Son of God, though I think I understood less of it than the author would have liked. If his more massive works have frightened you, this might be an excellent introduction to some of the major lines of Wright's thought.

This is a collection of short essays, and Wright warns us from the start that there is a certain amount of repetition that he has not attempted to smooth out. I was encouraged by that not t
This is an enlightening read, showing how we arrived at our Epicurean view of God and how that has evolved theology to the point where we now have a deep divide in our society. Wright addresses how this has affected various issues (women in the church, the apocalypse, etc.) and how there is another way of reading and interpreting scripture. His Christian moderate voice and call for action and living the love of God through Jesus are very appealing and offer an alternative to the fundamentalist v ...more
This is a collection of precious papers and chapters from various occasions. As such the chapters stand on their own with some semblance of a theme to hold them together.

While the information is good, there is little new here and experienced readers of Wright may be disappointed with this fare. There are the common ideas that the United States, Britain, and the Western world in general has either overly politicized or gutted Christianity to ineffectibeness; that Christians are living in the King
Steve Penner
This is a practical follow-up to Wright's "Surprised by Hope" and "How God Became King." They are essentially transcribed and edited talks that Wright has given to various groups over the past decade. The theme that holds them together is how do we as followers of Jesus take the resurrection reality of Jesus' Kingship into the world. This is particularly difficult in a secularized world that has become suspicious of all truth claims, particular the Christian ones that have often been hypocritica ...more
If you're a Christian then N.T. Wright is one of those must-read authors. First, because he does a great job at approaching the biblical text with Christ-centered humility and wisdom. Second, because he helps Western readers get over certain modernist viewpoints.

I always appreciate the way he talks about God's plan with Creation; Jesus is the start of the re-Creation that continues in the kingdom of God. In other words, we are not saved so we can escape the physical universe, but rather God is g
Jerry Hillyer
Title: Surprised by Scripture

Author: NT Wright

Publisher: HarperOne

Year: 2014

Pages: 223

Anyone who has read any of my book reviews knows that NT Wright typically gets rave reviews from me--both as a lover of literature and as a Christian who loves Wright's theological perspective. Fact is, I can scarcely ever find anything in his books with which I disagree.

With this book, that changed just a little because I found much of what he wrote to be provocative and challenging to some long held theologic
“I love the story of the young William Temple, who became archbishop of Canterbury. He once asked his father, ‘Daddy, why don’t the philosophers rule the world?’ His wise father answered, ‘Of course they do, silly--two hundred years after they’re dead!’” - N.T.W., Surprised by Scripture, beginning of Chapter 7

And thus is the underlying premise of the book summarized. Wright sees the worldview of people in modern Western society, especially people in the U.S., both Christian and non-Christian, as
Classic Wright, similar to many of his points in books such as Surprised by Hope, or Simply Jesus. Perhaps a unified thread that runs throughout is Wright's attention to how the modernist, post-Enlightenment, Epicurean outlooks controls how western society thinks about many issues, such as faith vs. science, the resurrection. His essays on idolatry and the "smallness" of our politics are particularly good. His essay advocating for the ordination of women seems more to make a solid case for maint ...more
Jon Sedlak
There really is not anything special about this book. It's not technical at all. It's not very well organized either. It's a collection of essays, so it's very repetitive. Some are controversial though. Wright's arguments in favor of female ordination are not that great or thorough. (For those interested, R.T. France & Craig Keener offer MUCH more convincing hermeneutical arguments in favor of female ordination.) Also, his comments about old-earth vs young earth aren't anything surprising. H ...more
Jesse Evans

I loved this book. Though it it's a bit of jumbled up topics. It provides what it is offering here. If your looking for answers and dialogue on some of the contemporary issues of the day and what the bible has to say on it from a man who has been helping people sort through the issues. Well check it out. Just about any book from wright gets a 5 star as far as I'm concerned. But up love that he had this book put together even if it is not as thought it or intentional as others.
Becky B
This is a collection of essays/speeches on various topics Wright revamped for book form. The uniting theme of the book is the way Enlightenment thought has permeated modern Western culture and subtly affected thinking in regards to science, religion, and politics in ways many do not realize. Wright addresses many "sticky" contemporary issues and challenges Christians to not just accept common thought, but really try to figure out what the God of the Bible thinks on these issues.

As each chapter r
Frank Peters
This is yet another excellent book by Professor N. T. Wright. Unlike many of his books, this is a series of essays based on topics that he has thought about over the previous decade. As a result, the book is not at all smooth as the topics vary. That being said, I found that the final two chapters meshed in a wonderful way! While many, if not all of the chapters or essays are outstanding, I cannot rate all of them the same. The author has the annoying tendency to pose a question and then to talk ...more
Trey Nowell
Pretty good insights to modern day problems in the world. Great comparison and contrast with the USA vs. Britain politics and views, which I was unaware of previously. Liked the book, but feel Wright has done a better job on others in the past, where this book just felt a bit scattered and less organized than his normal work. It was a good read, feel this book has some good insight for modern day Christians searching for solutions to problems without wavering or giving up.
This book had some good chapters, but if you have read much else of NT Wright, especially his longer scholarly works, you will already be familiar with most of the material. I did think the chapter on women's ordination was good, though, and many people may not have seen that material before. I also always love his discussions of the apocalypse, eschatology, etc., though none of that is new.
Dorothy Greco
Disclaimer: I admit to being an N. T. Wright fan. His willingness to go toe to toe with popular culture (inside and outside the church) heartens and encourages me. There were many moments while reading this most recent offering that I thought, "Yes! That makes so much sense! Why has no one ever said that before?" I appreciate his wisdom, British wit, and insight.
Greg Miller
I looked back to other N.T. Wright titles I've read, and feel much the same about this one. I get a really good vibe from his personality, which comes through in his writing, but just can't sort out all of the "-isms" well enough to consistently follow what he's saying. This book feels a lot like "When God Became King," and I really liked the last chapter. Historical context is very helpful, but some of the philosophical back-and-forth got in the way for me.
Although this is a compilation of past lectures, sermons and the like, it provides a very convenient way to get to the heart of some issues N.T. Wright writes about.

His writings are laid out in such an easy readable way, yet the issues are presented in a logical consistent way. Here is my argument and here it the evidence for them.
Book is base on 12 lectures NT Wright did from 2005 to 2012 on a variety of contemporary issues. He sticks right near the edge where he is relatively easy to follow which is what I personally enjoy reDing - not too,technical discussion. My favourite chapters were "can a scientist believe in the resurrection", "Jesus is coming - plant a tree" and "becoming people of hope". I recommend this book if you are looking to engage on current issues.
Daniel Stewart
In many ways this is an epistle from N.T. Wright to the American church - not a surprising similarity considering he is a New Testament scholar! His outsider's perspective is grace-laden but blunt. Frustrating but true. I particularly enjoyed his writings on science and religion. Sometimes we need the opinion of an intelligent outsider to convict and challenge us, and I think N.T. Wright, as well as this book, do an excellent job of doing that.

Tim Crabtree
The first half of the book was similar to other books/articles I've read by Wright before, but his discussions of modern society/politics was new to me and worth considering, even for those who find his interpretations of the Bible "out there".
N.T. Wright revises lectures he gave into an essay collection about how Scripture can engage the modern world. Much of this was familiar territory for me, as I've read some of his books. But I think he's the biggest brain in Christianity right now, so he's always worth reading. I recommend this as a good introduction to people who are curious about Wright's ideas.
Dale Critchley
Repetitiveness aside, which is covered in the preface, the author gives many mind-blowing insights that really make me think. I'm not onboard with all of his conclusions, but some hard positions I've held have become more tenuous.
Sara Richter
addresses a lot of modern subjects

I liked it addresses modern issues. Be prepared, there is too much for such a large topic in one book
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Review of Surprised by Scripture 1 4 Jul 14, 2014 08:24AM  
  • Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
  • The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited
  • The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
  • Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
  • The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate
  • The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins
  • Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
  • Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power
  • Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty
  • Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge
  • Beauty Will Save the World: Rediscovering the Allure and Mystery of Christianity
  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now
  • Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith
  • Prototype: What Happens When You Discover You're More Like Jesus Than You Think?
  • Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, III
  • How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor
  • A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New
  • How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals
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...
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is The New Testament and the People of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, #1) Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters

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