Commonplace Book #7

The word eschatology, which literally means “the study of the last things,” doesn’t just refer to death, judgment, heaven, and hell, as used  to be thought (and as many dictionaries still define the word).  It also refers to the strongly held belief of most first-century Jews, and virtually all early Christians, that history was going somewhere under the guidance of God and that where it was going was toward God’s new world of justice, healing, and hope.  The transition from the present world to the new one would be a matter not of the destruction of the present space-time universe but of its radical healing.

–N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, 122.

3 thoughts on “Commonplace Book #7

  1. I think I heard him being interviewed about the book. He is a thoughtful man and a genuine scholar, but he occasionally ruffles a few Christian feathers on this side of the Atlantic. That can be a good thing since he keeps us on our toes, Furthermore, he has the academic stature to silence theological liberals who are often especially deferential to European churchmen.

    In any case, I will put your recommendation on my list.


  2. Sometimes N.T. Wright is very insightful regarding historical theology and apologetics. He, however, occasionally falls short——especially on exegesis. In the above Commonplace Book 7, Bishop Wright makes a generalization which is misleading. Specifically, he states that “…virtually all early Christians…” believed that this present “…space-time universe…” was headed for redemption.
    Why is it misleading? First, I am not sure what he means by “early Christians.” In other words, is he speaking of those who lived prior to the completion of the canon of scripture or is he taking his observation into the 4th Century? It isn’t unreasonable to call the first three centuries of the Church “early.” Second, Bishop Wright must be assuming that St. Peter’s statement in his second epistle (IIPeter 3:7) was being ignored or at least was hidden from the early Church. I will acknowledge that textual scholars from of liberal and conservative schools assign a relatively late date to Peter’s second epistle, but Peter’s main point in the third chapter fits well with Christ’s own words in the Olivet Discourse.
    Bishop Wright appears to be advancing the historic Jewish concept of tikkun rather than the traditional Christian concept of death, judgement, hell, heaven. Tikkun aims at repairing the world whereas the new heaven and new earth concept is taught by the New Testament.


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