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The New Testament and the People of God

(Christian Origins and the Question of God #1)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  2,395 ratings  ·  162 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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Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, theology, favorites
N.T. Wright has been somewhat of a hero of mine for a while now. I must admit that I do not agree with him on all points and he tends to be a bit repetitive; however, I could say this of many authors.

Wright is one of my heros because he is cross-disciplinary. He is a historian, theologian, biblical exegete, pastor, and a good writer to boot. NTPG reflects this diversity of roles in the best way.
Justin Evans
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-etc
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
Corey Hampton
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Late last year I decided that I was going to read through N.T. Wright’s Christian Origins and the Question of God series, as I have benefited so greatly from his other works and found them so helpful theologically and ecclesiologically.

But the reality that I have (surprisingly) run into, is that N.T. Wright is quite a controversial figure within evangelicalism, particularly within my circle of churches. In fact, I have now read this book twice; this, because, after my first reading, I realised t
Shane Williamson
2020 reads: 48/52

Rating: 5 stars

How does one review such a book? This first volume of five in a 'NT theology' from Wright is just under 500 (large) pages of articulate and sophisticated historical, theological, literary, and biblical enquiry. Wright presents no assumptions, beginning his enquiry with epistemology. Correctly critiquing post-Enlightenment rationalism, Wright attempts to construct history, theology and literature through a 'critical realism' framework. Fundamental to this proposal
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, 2018
Wright's first volume in his "Christian Origins" series is largely an apologetic work, whose thesis is well summarized toward the end of the book. He writes:

"The New Testament writers claim that, though there is only one god, all human beings of themselves cherish wrong ideas about this one god. In worshipping the god thus wrongly conceived, they worship an idol. Pagans worship gods of wood and stone, distorting the creator by worshipping the creature. Jews, Paul argues in parallel with this, ha
Scriptor Ignotus
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
When I picture Jesus of Nazareth, I’m inclined to imagine a man, slender at the waist but tall and broad-shouldered like a college football quarterback, with an immaculately-trimmed beard bristling the contours of a jawline that could shear sheet metal, eyes that slay leviathans and make babies laugh by changes of countenance, and shoulder-length, wavy tresses of such impeccable sheen and lift that women everywhere want to know: is he born with it, or is it Maybelline?

This man strides over the
Czarny Pies
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one. This book is seriosuly flawed.
Shelves: religion
N.T. Wright's "The New Testament and the People of God" is very likely to irritate anyone who has ever taken an introductory course at university on the history of the Roman Empire. Wright insists that the first leaders of the Christian Church were not only Jewish but held a Jewish worldview and wrote using styles that were typically Jewish. I had trouble seeing what Wright thought was so new in this as it had all been explained to me 47 years ago when I was in my first year at university. In fa ...more
Hunter Smithpeters
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Best book I've read. Punt everything you've ever read in any systematic theology book (jk don't that's silly). By rebuilding the worldview of second-temple Judaism and then studying how the Early-Christian worldview developed from the former worldview, we're able to see with 1st century eyes (instead of 16th or 21st century eyes) what the evangelists and Paul were in fact faced with and writing about. Must read. ...more
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are definitely a good number of areas in this book in which I disagree with Wright (some minor, some major). But it's mostly a brilliant display of epistemology, history, literary study, and theology. Well-written and thought-provoking from start to finish. ...more
Samuel Parkison
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading through Wright. I had read a portion of this work for Advanced Biblical Hermeneutics, and it certainly made sense for the class at the time, but we really did miss all the juicy parts then, so I'm glad I got to pick it back up. There's much to commend about Wright's project as a whole in this work, and much to glean from. The mood he strikes when describing his proposal for critical realism is, I think, exactly right. On the one hand, he wants to avoid reductionistic ske ...more
Jacob Aitken
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant introduction to reading Christian scriptures including many of the common distortions. Wright is often considered on the conservative end of things by liberals, but relatively liberal by conservatives and fundamentalists. What we see hear is brilliant scholarships. The method of this book will be useful for anyone reading scriptural texts in other traditions. Part of a series of three, highly recommended.
Jon Beadle
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
If the breadth of scholarship was an ocean, Wright would be walking on the water! This book took me nearly a month to finish and I don't think my perspective of the early church in the world of second-temple Judaism will ever be the same. ...more
Josh Cheng
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great. Granted this is my first foray into historical/literary study of first century Judaism/Christianity, I learned a ton from this book and enjoyed it a lot as well.

I found Wright's critical realist approach to be really helpful in combating the extremes of either feeling like knowing anything about history is impossible, or that we can through enough study come to some absolute objective account of what happened. I also found his emphasis on narrative interesting; not just narra
Ben Smitthimedhin
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biblical-studies
Wright does an excellent job at weaving Judaism and Christianity together while still distinguishing their core beliefs and practices from one another. In The New Testament and the People of God , Wright establishes the message of the New Testament within its first century context, showing how Jesus and Paul cannot be understood apart from their Jewish themes.

I personally found the first couple chapters (on epistemology and literary criticism) to be unnecessary. While I understand that Wright w
Frank Peters
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This is an impressive book. The research and study that went into it is rather astounding. The book itself reads as a nearly 500 page introduction to further work. It introduces the background of the New Testament and develops and intellectual rationale for the study of New Testament people and ideas. Much of what the book discusses and works through are concepts that I had not quite imagined needed discussing in the first place. However, after reading I can fully respect what Prof. Wright was s ...more
Zach Adams
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It took a long time for me to build up the courage to read this book. But after finally finishing it, i look back on it and say, “that wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.” Wright is not only brilliant in his content, but also surprisingly fluid and conversational in his academic writing. So for you out there who enjoy Wright (and also have at least some biblical studies training—which is needed to fully appreciate the work), but haven’t read this volume, go for it! Just chip away at ...more
Ben Franklin
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Whew! Finally done. This book is so dense I could only read a few pages at a time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time and it will reap rewards.
Daniel Nelms
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Part of my 2021 reading goals is to get through all five volumes of Wright’s Origins. I was able to get through the first volume in a few months… we will see if I can do it.
Wright’s writing in the Origins is semi-scholarly, yet still accessible for anyone with any sort of academic foundation in biblical study. Such accessibility is rather rare in terms of the scope of Wright’s writing.
In the first three chapters, Wright lays out the basics of how he approaches literature, giving the necessary fo
Brandon Hawk
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biblical-studies
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
Keith Karr
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
N.T. Wright's opening volume in the Christian Origins and the Question of God is not only a strong introduction to the subsequent volumes, but one of the best general New Testament Introductions available. What distinguishes Wright's work from others is the comprehensive scope as well as how well it is written. Wright demonstrates both a mastery of the material as well as an ability to communicate the material clearly and compellingly.

After an overall introduction to both this volume and the se
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
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
Graham Heslop
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Alex Stroshine
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
It is a good framework, paradigm setting book on studying the New Testament. I imagine it'll be a conversation partner for the rest of my studies. I highly recommend this book.

"This book [the New Testament] is a book of wisdom for all peoples, but we have made it a den of scholarship, or of a narrow, hard and exclusive piety." p. 4

"...we have a justifiable insistence on the importance of history as giving depth, and extra dimensions to contemporary awareness; on the other, a justifiable insisten
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!
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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

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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