Surprised by Scripture by N. T. Wright
(HarperOne, 2014, 240 pages)
N. T. Wright is not only a leading New Testament scholar, he is also an important voice on social and political issues facing the United States and Britain. In fact, these two qualifications are really of a piece. When Wright sets about to address “contemporary issues,” like the relationship between science and religion, woman’s ordination, ecology, and the political implications of the Gospels, he is first and foremost concerned with understanding what Jesus and the Apostle Paul have to say in the Gospels and the epistles. He brings his expertise in the socio-political context of the NT to bear on contemporary discussions of gender, science, and politics.
The chapters in this book consist of various addresses, lectures, and sermons that Wright delivered between 2004 and 2013. They were mostly delivered to non-specialist audiences, and Wright has a remarkable capacity to translate his scholarship into clear and accessible prose. Those who know Wright’s scholarly works will be familiar with the themes he discusses, but the quality of the writing and the skillful application of NT studies to broader cultural issues makes this volume valuable. There is some repetition of material amongst the chapters, and I found this tiresome at points. That said, chapter 2 on the question of the historical Adam and chapter 3 on science and the resurrection were particularly good. This is a great book for those interested in the relationship between religion and contemporary culture.