new N.T. Wright

Evil and the Justice of God is the long-awaited, brief hardback published by InterVarsity Press ($18.00), a book that surely will be on many critics “best of” lists here at the end of the year. Os Guinness has written, I might remind you, one of the best recent books on the question of suffering, the problem of evil and the call to not only understand evil from within a profoundly Biblical worldview, but to use that framework as the basis for appropriate, faithful, robust and hopeful resistance to evil. I must say that my largest disappointment with the new N.T. Wright is that is doesn’t cite Unspeakable: Facing Up To The Challenge of Evil, Dr. Guinness’ elequant and thoughtful apologetic. That aside, it is otherwise fabulous and very, very urgent.
The reason for the oversight, I suppose, is that Wright is a Biblical scholar and uses a more direct interaction with Biblical texts and themes. Guinness is a Christian sociologist, popularizer of the best philosphy and literary works, and, while he may not want this term applied to him, is the quintessential “public intellectual.” Wright, although himself quite culturally savvy, is an ordained Anglican priest, a churchman, a bishop and former canon theologian at Westminister Abby, so brings his theological and Scriptural studies focus to the task. Within the guild of New Testament scholars, N.T. is a large presence, and very well-respected (if often debated from those who find him too evangelical, on the one hand, and those who find him too liberal, on the other. Go figure.)
And so, his new book looks at the problem of evil within creation, the overall Biblical drama, and the responsibilities we have to be fully human in the face of tragic suffering. He offers a compelling call to live into the “new heavens and new Earth” even as we await Christ making “all things new.” It is both insightful and inspiring.
With excellent endorsements on the back from various sources—for instance, Yale’s Lamin Sanneh and Talbot’s J.P. Moreland— one can see the breadth of respect and Wright’s influence in various streams within the church of today. When perhaps the best-read Christian leader in North America, Books & Culture editor John Wilson, says “This is a book that every thoughtful Christian should read” we should take notice.

Also, this month, Baker books published a small hardback by N.T. Wright on the debates about New Testament documents, DaVinci Code kind of questions, formulated around the publication of the recent so-called Gospel of Judas. Entitled Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth About Christianity? (Baker; $18.95) this is a balanced and reasonable look into the reliability of recent media claims about the gospels and these pseudo-gospels that have been so discussed in recent years. It was just a few months ago that the Judas document was on the cover of Time and I am sure that we will be hearing more of these pre-gnostic accounts of an less than Divine and less than human Christ. Not bad holiday reading, come to think of it, Wright on the proper take on the person of the Babe of Bethlehem.

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