Saturday, April 10, 2010
1100 for NTW Conference
Michael Gorman asks why are 1100 people going to a conference about N.T. Wright? That is important given that SBL gets 6000, ETS about 2000, and IBR about 800. Gorman then provides some answers:
1. Bishop Tom is a first-rate historian, New Testament scholar, theologian, churchman, and rhetorician all rolled into one. He is the total package.
2. As an historian and interpreter of texts, he is enormously insightful in his analysis and creative in his synthesis.
3. He has almost boundless energy and is simply a spellbinding speaker. As one noted speaker said when introduced as the next presenter following the bishop’s magical presentation, “No one should have to follow Tome Wright on a program.” Amazingly, he can do what he does often with little time for preparation—for instance, a riveting lecture or sermon prepared in a few minutes early in the morning and delivered before the rest of us have begun to think for the day. As one good friend of mine says, it’ a question of theodicy, of the justice of God, that someone can do that.
4. He is sometimes traditional and sometimes progressive, and often both at the same time.
5. He brings theology and Scripture to life, making the connection between them and the role of Christians in the real world.
6. Finally (at least for now) he has helped to revolutionize and solidify our understanding of many things about Jesus and Paul and the mission of the church. That’s not to say anyone, including me, agrees with him all the time. But he must always be taken seriously.
I would add:
7. He reintroduced people to Jesus - not a christological supposition, not a sunday school Jesus - but a Jesus of Nazareth who stands comfortably within the environment of first century Palestine and how his actions and teaching influenced the early church.
8. He is able to bring Christians to the big picture of redemptive history. As Markus Bockmuehl said about his resurrection book: Some people can't see the forest for the trees, but Wright is trying to map out the intergalactic ecosphere [or words to that effect].
9. He is an orthodox alternative to cranky Reformedism and excessive Dispensationalism.
10. He's foreign and exotic with a funny accent and a dry sense of wit.
11. The beard!