Indexes – 780
- Preface – xv
- Bibliography – 739
- Stylistic Shorthands – 739
- Primary Sources – 739
- Secondary Sources, etc. – 741
- Primary Sources – 745
- Bible – 745
- Other Jewish Texts – 745
- Other Early Christian and Related Texts – 746
- Pagan Texts – 747
- Secondary Literature – 751
Index of Ancient Sources – 780
Index of Modem Authors – 807
- Old Testament – 780
- Apocrypha – 784
- Pseudepigrapha – 785
- Qumran – 786
- Josephus – 787
- Philo – 787
- Rabbinic Works – 787
- New Testament – 788
- Christian and/or Gnostic Works – 799
- Greco-Roman Texts – 802
- Persian Texts – 806
- Egyptian Texts – 806
Index of Selected Topics – 812
- Mainly recounts the genesis of the book, and how it fits in to the Christian Origins and the Question of God series which includes:-
- The excised chapter was expanded as a result of a series of three Shaffer Lectures at Yale in 1996, and subsequently during further lecture series over the next three years.
- However it was then greatly expanded from a small book reflecting 3-4 lectures to a huge one reflecting 20 or so, starting at Harvard in 1999.
- Wright’s aim is to show that the trend that suggests that the early Church – in particular Paul – thought of the resurrection in a (merely) “spiritual” sense is plain wrong.
- In the book he has focussed on the primary rather than secondary literature. Though he has “read as much as he could” of the latter, this book is not a “state of the question” treatise.
- The book would have doubled in size had he followed up all the possible “secondary roads” off the “main highway”. So, there is no (further) mention of the Turin Shroud3.
- He acknowledges some unevenness of treatment – sometime he has just stated rather than argued for his own views (particularly with respect to Paul; a fault he hopes to remedy in the next volume of the series).
- This volume pursues a single line of thought, outlined in the first Chapter ("Wright (N.T.) - The Target and the Arrows").
- The entry-point is a discussion of how resurrection – rejected by pagans but accepted by many Jews – was reaffirmed and redefined by the early Christians. Wright includes a range of material otherwise inaccessible to many readers.
- Terms: We are referred to the prefaces of the first two volumes. However,
- Pagan: not pejorative, but a bucket-term4 used to refer to all non-Christian/Jews. Not a term they used of themselves, but used of them by the latter two groups.
- god: he uses the small “g” to remind himself and the reader that the issue in the first century was not whether someone was a theist (they all5 were) but which of the many candidate-gods the person believed in. However, when he capitalises “God”, he specifically means the Judeo-Christian covenant and creator god “who raised the dead” – ie. the one and only true god.
- Literal versus Metaphorical resurrection:
- These terms, while easily understood, tend to be used improperly, as they apply to the way words refer to things, not to the things to which words refer, for which the terms ‘concrete’ and ‘abstract’ are more appropriate. So, “Plato’s Theory of Forms” refers literally to an abstract entity, while “the greasy spoon” refers metaphorically to a concrete entity.
- So, ‘sleep’ is a metaphor for a concrete state of affairs6, while in Ezekiel 37, metaphorical ‘resurrection’ language is used of a concrete political event (the return from Babylon). The metaphor allows Ezekiel to denote the concrete event while connoting a ‘new Genesis’ (says Wright7).
- All those in the (pre-Christian) first-century conversation – whether they believed in resurrection (Pharisees) or not (Sadducees and pagans) – used the term anastasis to denote a hypothetical future concrete event – ‘standing up’ from the dead. This book addresses the question whether the early Christians used the term in this sense, or were innovators as in much else.
- In the final section – acknowledgements – Rowan Williams (then recently promoted to Archbishop of Canterbury) gets a warm mention (he and Wright taught together at Oxford, 1986+) and is a joint-dedication recipient. He is said to have written a distinguished book of the resurrection. From the Bibliography, this would seem to be Resurrection – Interpreting the Easter Gospel. Is Wright sincere in his praise8?
Footnote 1: These will (hopefully) be very brief jottings on items of particular interest (to me).
Footnote 2: There’s a reference to the (now) 4th volume on Paul – "Wright (N.T.) - Paul and the Faithfulness of God". I’ve not been able to locate a 5th and 6th volume.
Footnote 3: He footnotes The Shroud of Turin by Mary & Alan Whanger, 1998. I have the following:- Footnote 4: He doesn’t mention whether the term “pagan” has any religious connotations
Footnote 5: These are my words, but they seem to be assumed (probably wrongly) by Wright.
Footnote 6: Wright refers to this ‘state of affairs’ as ‘death’ without saying whether the state of ‘being dead’ applies to an existent being, or only to a once-existent being. If intermittent existence is allowed, this question is orthogonal to that which addresses the possibility of resurrection.
Footnote 7: So, does Wright see in Ezekiel the connotation of the creation of Adam, rather than of the resurrection of the saints?
Footnote 8: The book gets 5*s from all 3 reviewers on Amazon, but reading one of them gives me the impression that Williams may sin against Wright’s strictures about confusing the metaphorical with the abstract. Either way, it’s a ‘book for reflection’ rather than analysis, it seems.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)