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The New Testament and the People of God

(Christian Origins and the Question of God #1)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  2,304 ratings  ·  149 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
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Paperback, 535 pages
Published January 1st 1992 by Fortress Press (first published December 15th 1991)
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James
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 ...more
Nick
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, own, 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.
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
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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
John
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,
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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
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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.

Overview:
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
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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 ...more
Jeremy
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.
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
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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
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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 ...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
B. Hawk
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Christopher
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 ...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.
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Theron
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
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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!
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 ...more
Curby Graham
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of a four-part series Christian Origins and the Question of God by NT Wright. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it has been out for 27 years and I only just finished it. I will start on the next one in a few days as I digest this. I use digest as an appropriate term as this was like eating a side of beef. There is a lot of meat here.

Wright is possibly the most significant New Testament scholar of his generation, and whether or not you agree with him on everything, you should
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Lu Tsun
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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Daniel Supimpa
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biblical-studies
The first tome of a massive project by N. T. Wright. The only one I have read so far.
It was a painful experience at times. The first part, in which Wright lays out his epistemological north for the whole project will hurt you if this is the first book of theology/philosophy/philosophy of history you are reading. I highly recommend reading it slowly, and if possible with other people or even a tutor.

No wonder Wright is respected as a foremost scholar in the history of early Christianity. His use
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Michael
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, history
Only took me 5 years...

In hindsight I can see why some people skip to the final section of this volume and avoid the tedious methodology that Wright lays out in the opening sections.

There is some really good historical stuff in the final two sections of this volume that clarify both the Jewish and the Christian settings of the New Testament. Wright's thesis, I believe, is very sound overall:

The Christian movement encapsulated in the NT is an essentially Jewish movement. It claims that the Jewish
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Michael Joosten
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book starts DRY. It is fortunate that I already know I like N.T. Wright, or it might have been a harder slog to get through. In other words, this is his professional and academic work. Dry as it begins, though, it starts where serious Scripture reading has to start: with the fundamentals. Before he can ever begin anything more specific, Wright has to rehabilitate the possibility of reading Scripture from the ground up.

He does so, during the first half of this book. In the second half, he
...more
Bettie
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book starts DRY. It is fortunate that I already know I like N.T. Wright, or it might have been a harder slog to get through. In other words, this is his professional and academic work. Dry as it begins, though, it starts where serious Scripture reading has to start: with the fundamentals. Before he can ever begin anything more specific, Wright has to rehabilitate the possibility of reading Scripture from the ground up.

He does so, during the first half of this book. In the second half, he
...more
Jacob Gane
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
More recently, I have been consistently using the phrase “come to the Bible on its own terms.” This has mostly been in situations where I try to show the person sitting next to me that the Bible isn’t a divine book that fell from the sky; it doesn’t answers all of our theological questions and it isn’t a book that teaches me “how to get to heaven when I die.” I realize now that much of my passion for such conversations were driven subconsciously by this book. I’m so thankful that the church has ...more
Janella
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
More recently, I have been consistently using the phrase “come to the Bible on its own terms.” This has mostly been in situations where I try to show the person sitting next to me that the Bible isn’t a divine book that fell from the sky; it doesn’t answers all of our theological questions and it isn’t a book that teaches me “how to get to heaven when I die.” I realize now that much of my passion for such conversations were driven subconsciously by this book. I’m so thankful that the church has ...more
Spencer Brown
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent exposition on the world of first century Judaism and the historical context into which Jesus was born and from which the early church grew. Wright also offers some more fundamental arguments against both strict positivism and subjectivism when reading historical texts, laying out a middle way--which he calls a "hermeneutic of love"--through which we can simultaneously acknowledge our distance from historical events (whatever a "historical event" actually is) and yet believe that ...more
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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, ...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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