Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues” as Want to Read:
Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  716 Ratings  ·  97 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, 223 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Surprised by Scripture, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Surprised by Scripture

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
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
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
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
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Ed Marriott
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Intellectually overwhelming while presenting one question yet answering another in just about every chapter. There were plenty of worthwhile components to this assembly of talks given by Wright. It would be a 3.5 for me overall but Goodreads doesn't do half stars. I came away wanting more conclusive thoughts.
Levi Jones
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of essays in which N. T. Wright tackles contemporary issues through the lens of scripture. Most of the essays were worthwhile reading. Some of the issues include: ordaining women, science and religion, politics, art and the apocalyptic, and others. As is typical of Wright, he weaves the theological and philosophical foundations that undergird popular culture and society and addresses them through the Christian faith's emphasis that Jesus has fundamentally changed history and the wor ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics, theology
A true mixed bag. Some chapters were very good, and a number of them were lame. The three stars is therefore an average.
Becky B
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Tony Roberts
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
There were two great lines in this book. One comes from the pen of Wright:

"The Bible is not about the rescue of humans from the world but about the rescue of humans for the world."

The other comes from the mouth of a taxi driver:

"What I always say is this: if God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, everything else is basically rock 'n' roll, i'n'it?"

What I found most surprising about this book was not any Scriptural insights on contemporary issues, but how its essential content could be summed up
Ben Kester
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's been a year between reading NT Wright's work, which has been too long. There is some overlap and the chapters aren't put together quite like a book usually is. Still, Wright provides a fresh look at life, scripture, culture. The first chapter, where he examines evolution, faith, and Epicurius is the best.
Ellen B
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I mark this as read only because I skipped the majority of the book because of its warned-of repetition. Wright has articulated some great ideas about scripture for modern Christians (and others) to consider, and I hope more people will read his books.
Apr 29, 2015 rated it liked it
The central message of this book and all four canonical Gospels is that the creator God is reclaiming the whole world through the wisdom of Jesus. This book calls us to wise up, grow up, and take responsibility. All said, this book does well to illuminate this great message.


One broad theme in this book is that the proliferation of Epicureanism is plaguing American society. Epicureanism is a worldview in which God may exist, but if he does he is far away and uninvolved in the world.
Jerry Hillyer
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
John Martindale
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, audiobook
I really liked this collection from Wright, either Wright seemed more clear in these writings or maybe, as I've now read and listened to more and more of his work, I am finally beginning comprehend his grand schema. I do wish I could ask him a couple of question that this work brought to my mind, if anyone reading this has a good answer, please comment.

My first question. Wright rejects the fundamentalist view that Genesis is a literal account of how it all was created 6000 years ago, and by imp
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very helpful digest of some of NT Wrights thoughts on contemporary issues particularly in understanding the story of scripture. The chapters are actually transcripts of talks that Wright gave over a period of years in various locations, which is why it works well as an introduction to Wrights major themes. If you have read a lot of Wright, there will not be anything new here. Even if this is all new, you will see certain themes repeated as you make your ay through the book. Personally ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Surprised By Scripture highlights the downside of audiobooks. Too many times have I wanted to highlight a quote or passage of this book, reread it, pause to contemplate it, just to realize that digital notes and bookmarks just won't cut it. I'll be purchasing a hard copy and recruiting people to a study group! Having the modern world and our American culture assessed through the lens of "an outsider" and his fresh take on issues as the Bible addresses them, challenges many cultural assumptions t ...more
Dave Courtney
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I recently revisited Wright's collection of essay's, which always reminds me of why he remains one of my favourite theologians. He is never afraid to think slightly outside of the box, and always humble enough to recognize the limitations of some of his own convictions. And he writes with such depth as a theologian, but with such accessibility as a pastor. His convictions remain entirely convincing, even as his heart is undeniably for God and for His people.

The essays presented in this collecti
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love the last chapter as he reminds us that we have our hope in the love of Christ.

Tristan Sherwin
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
N.T. Wright is the world's foremost theologian and historian on the New Testament, and has done a tremendous job over the past couple of decades in grounding scripture into its historical context. His ideas and studies have had a huge impact; it's very difficult to pick up a Christian non-fiction book today that doesn't cite or reference to him in some way and for some reason (including my own work).

Within this book, Wright is once again on top form. Bringing his sharp thinking to contemporary i
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
“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
Scott Hayden
Only read a few select chapters and my opinion is as varied as the chapters and their intended audiences. Here are two that I gave a little more attention than others.

Chapter 4 "The Biblical Case for Ordaining Women" disappointed me. I had read a conference paper Wright presented on this topic from 2004. Since that time, in carefully researched and well-documented books, Wayne Grudem and John Piper had addressed many of the claims that Wright made. I had hoped in this more recent book (2014) tha
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Naomi Young
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, aclib, 2014
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
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
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nt-wright
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
Joel Wentz
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, apologetics
A great collection of essays and papers by Wright on a variety of subjects, mostly touching on culture and Christian involvement in it. The last four are particularly good. Wright is at his best when addressing the resurrection of Jesus and what it means for Christians. He writes about the resurrection with authority and verve. He's very nearly as good in addressing the secular/Christian dichotomy of Western Post-Enlightenment culture in the earlier chapters. The chapter on women's ordination, h ...more
Frank Peters
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Review of Surprised by Scripture 1 5 Jul 14, 2014 08:24AM  
  • Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
  • The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate
  • The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited
  • Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
  • Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions
  • Revelation for Everyone
  • The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
  • Water To Wine: Some of My Story
  • Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
  • We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry
  • Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power
  • The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
  • A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology
  • Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
  • Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels
  • Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching
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...

Share This Book

“What the Gospels offer is not a philosophical explanation of evil—what it is or why it’s there—but the story of an event in which the living God deals with it” 6 likes
“Love is the deepest mode of knowing, because it is love that, while completely engaging with reality other than itself, affirms and celebrates that other-than-self reality. This is the mode of knowing that is necessary if we are to live in the new public world, the world launched at Easter, the world in which Jesus is Lord and Caesar isn’t.” 3 likes
More quotes…