Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision

by N. T. Wright

Hardcover, 2009





Here in one place Wright now offers a comprehensive account and defense of his perspective on this crucial doctrine. He provides a sweeping overview of the central points in the debate before launching into a thorough explanation of the key texts in Paul's writings. While fully cognizant of tradition and controversy, the final authority for his conclusions is the letters of Paul themselves. Along the way Wright responds to critics, such as John Piper, who have challenged what has come to be called the New Perspective. --from publisher description


IVP Academic (2009), 279 pages


½ (60 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member MarthaJeanne
A good starting place for learning part of Wright's opinions about Paul while we wait for the next volume of 'Christian origins and the question of God' to come out.

This is more difficult reading than usual for a boook listed as Tom Wright. I got a lot out of it. I will get a lot more out of Romans
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and the other Pauline letters the next time I read them. But I should also come back to this in a few months and try again to get all of what Wright is trying to say. As usual, what I understand of Wright makes a lot of sense.
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LibraryThing member oataker
I am not sure having read the book that I need to worry too much about the "New Perspective" on Paul; it seems that the main thrust of Christian teaching remains reliable. I have not read Piper, the book he is responding to, so why read this book? The exposition of Paul's arguments in his various
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letters, especially of course Romans is impressive (I mean that both for the explanation and for Paul!) The writing is lucid, vivid with helpful illustrations and leaves me with a better understanding of what seems to have been Paul's aims and motivation. Less relevant to me than Surprised by hope but it begins to answer why the Cross did not feature more prominently in that book.
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LibraryThing member brianghedges
N. T. Wright's response to John Piper's critique (The Future of Justification) is his most thorough book on Paul yet. It is, in many ways, a masterful unpacking of Paul's thought. Wright shows how Paul's theology of justification is grounded in God's covenant with Abraham and plan to bring
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redemption to the world through Israel, and ultimately through Jesus. He explores how justification is informed by Jewish law-court imagery, eschatology, and Christology. Wright's unpacking of the narrative substructure to Paul's thought is, at times, brilliant. And after reading this book, I think that Wright and Piper are actually much closer in their thinking than either one of them may think.

However, confusion and misunderstanding continues, and this due not least of all, to Wright himself. It's unfortunate that he sometimes caricatures positions that he rejects out of hand and misconstrues the thought and theology of his opponents. (Can anyone who knows John Piper seriously believe that there is no place for the Holy Spirit in his theology?!) Wright's reasons for rejecting imputation are not fully convincing. I still suspect that he takes some wrong steps in his exegesis at some crucial points. And his articulation of how justification by faith in the present relates to future judgment according to works is still a little fuzzy and subject to misunderstanding.

With that said, I think Wright's unpacking of the believer's union with Christ comes fairly close to achieving what imputation achieves for Piper and traditional Reformed theology. Not all his critics agree, but Wright should at least be carefully read and listened to before stones are cast.

I've heard Don Carson say before that Wright's problem is in backgrounding what should be in the foreground and foregrounding what should be in the background. I think I understand that critique. But after reading both Wright and Piper (and Waters, and Westerholm, and Carson, and Moo!) I am wanting to see a synthesis of the different insights and strengths these pastors and scholars bring to the table.

I recommend this book to those who are following the conversation on the New Perspective on Paul. If you've read Piper, definitely read Wright. But in my opinion, it would be better to read neither than to read only one side of the argument. 3 1/2 stars.
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LibraryThing member StephenBarkley
This book was an advance treat. I've already read and thoroughly enjoyed the first three books in Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God series:

1. The New Testament and the People of God
2. Jesus and the Victory of God
3. The Resurrection of the Son of God

The proposed fourth book deals
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primarily with Paul. While waiting for it to be written, this gem arrived. Thank you to Dr. Piper for necessitating Wright's interim volume. (In case you are unaware, Justification is Wright's answer to Piper's The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright.)

Along with Sanders and Dunn, Wright forms the trinity of lead thinkers on the New Perspective on Paul. Interestingly, though, Wright doesn't ask everyone to board the New Perspective bandwagon—instead he calls for a synthesis of views that puts everything in its proper perspective.

For Wright, the old view of justification had a lot of valuable components, but missed the main point of the story: God's plan to rescue the world through Israel. Traditional justification proponents largely treat talk of covenant in Genesis 15 and Deuteronomy 30 in Paul as illustrative. Wright reads them as essential to the argument.

In Justification, Wright pleads with his detractors to join the heliocentric revolution: If you see God's plan to rescue the world through Israel (i.e. covenant) as the sun then every other theme falls into place. All the puzzle pieces can be accounted for. Long arguments make logical sense.

Wright's tone is sharp at points, and the commanding metaphor of the earth revolving around the sun is almost insulting. However, with something this fundamental at stake along with a published critique by Piper, it was time for action.

This is Wright at his best. Read it.
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LibraryThing member theedge77
This was my first dive into the recent debates on Justification. This particular book was a response to a book put out by John Piper. While it was a dense read (for me, anyway) at times... I found Wright's wit and humor to be engaging... and his chapters on actual scriptural exegesis were
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fascinating to trace through. This probably isn't a book for everyone... but for those particularly interested in Pauline theology... you may want to check it out. I thought it was fantastic!
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LibraryThing member aevaughn
This was a thought-provoking book. Although, I must say that I haven't read Piper's book that this book is in response to, therefore I missed out on a portion of the counter-arguments presented by Piper. It brings some very interesting issues related to exactly what justification and righteousness
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are. I hope some of this issues are fleshed out further in his book on Paul coming out in the next year or so. This book appears to be well thought out and his approach to Scripture is particularly thorough while being aware of Christian traditions with regard to the subject and passages under discussion. In the future, I believe I will need to revisit this book and look at the passages involved more closely. Luckily though this book while it did rely on a variety of passages, it largely relied on the flow of the argument and themes of the Pauline works being studied in the exegesis portion of the work. As a final note, though I did find his notes directed towards Piper especially in the first chapter or so, somewhat annoying, but these have little to do with the actual argument being made. These have little to do with the actual ideas being presented however.
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LibraryThing member ChadS762
Read for a class. Wright's exegesis is highly selective and dubious - he (and the other proponents of the NPP) just redefine the words they don't like to arrive at their predetermined conclusion. Wright in particular completely discounts other NT books but he gives much weight to the apocrypha and
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Qumran texts to arrive at his "correct" understanding of 1st C. Jewish thought.
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