Dr. N.T. Wright is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian and retired Anglican bishop. He is known for his work as a professor and author.
Dr. Jerry Johnston talked with prominent New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright, at Houston Baptist University. In their time together, they discuss what the coming of Jesus meant in the first century, and what it means today.
“As a historian, as a theologian, as a Christian, Jesus is at the center of it all simultaneously,” Wright says. “The resurrection means that God has started something new; Jesus in His own body is the paradigm for something new. I Corinthians 15 is really working with Genesis 1 and 2.”
Wright refers to the passage in which Paul writes in verses 21 and 22: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
While the ministry of Jesus sent shock waves throughout the ancient world, to the modern mind, His ministry began small in scope. “God seems to take delight in working through tiny, small things in order to achieve great ends,” Wright explains.
Many in the current era tend to view faith as a compartment of life, but that wasn’t always the case, Wright says. “For us, the word ‘religion’ has come to have a meaning that is totally different from anything anyone would have recognized in the first century. Since the 18th century in Europe and America, the word ‘religion’ seems to mean something of a private, personal belief which is split off from real life. In the ancient world, what you believed about God or the gods was all part of real life,” he explains.
Growing up in a Christian home, Wright deepened his faith in God when he came to understand what it really meant that Jesus died for him. Throughout his life, Wright has sought God, going on a journey that has heavily involved academic work.
“When you pray, you have no idea what God is going to do, but you put yourself in His hands,” he says. “Guidance is a funny thing. You get the guidance you need, not the guidance you want. You’ll find out what God wants you to do if you’re patient and faithful.”
No matter how much he has learned, Wright says there is always more ways to grow. “All human beings know in their bones that there are certain things that matter – justice, beauty, relationships, spirituality, power – these are all big concepts that matter. The Christian story addresses all of those,” he says.
The redemptive work of Jesus Christ is more powerful than most Christians perhaps realize. Wright says, “Everything about the New Testament says that the story of Israel has come to its fruition in Jesus. The claim is that the story of Israel has converged upon Jesus and now it is for the whole world. Jesus says at the end of Matthew, ‘All authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me.’ Western Christians are quite good at thinking that Jesus has all authority in heaven – we’ve hardly begun to think what it might mean to say that He has all authority on Earth. God has passionate love for His wonderful, good creation.”
Listen to the complete podcast on HBU.edu.