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Exile: A Conversation with N.T. Wright

, 2017
ISBN: 9780830890002
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Few New Testament scholars of recent decades have set the pitch for academic discussion and debate in their field like N.T. Wright. His signature contention, that Israel’s continuing exile was a pivotal issue in the emergence of Christianity, has found a central place in contemporary New Testament scholarship.

Israel had grievously sinned against Yahweh and suffered the judgment of exile from its land. But even though Israel had returned, the majority of Jews of the second temple era regarded themselves in paradoxical exile under Roman rule and still awaiting their full restoration. It was this crisis of exile that reached its climax and resolution in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This, according to N.T. Wright, is the controlling narrative that shaped the thinking of Jesus and Paul.

While many find this a compelling key to understanding the New Testament, critical responses also abound. This book engages a variety of scholars in conversation with Wright’s thesis. The scene is set in an introduction by James M. Scott, who has made significant contributions to the debate. Then, in a programmatic essay, Wright clearly restates his thesis. Next come eleven essays from scholars such as Walter Brueggemann, Philip Alexander, Jörn Kiefer, Dorothy Peters, and Scot McKnight. They interact with Wright’s thesis from various perspectives: Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, early Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the New Testament. Hans Boersma and Ephraim Radner then engage Wright’s thesis from theological perspectives. Finally, Wright offers a lively response to his interlocutors.

Exile: A Conversation with N.T. Wright takes our understanding of this critical issue to a new level. It is essential reading for anyone engaged with Wright’s work and the Jewish setting of Jesus and Paul.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

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Key Features

  • Engages a variety of scholars
  • States Wright’s thesis, eleven scholarly responses, and a response from Wright
  • Examines Israel’s exile, Roman rule, and the resolution found in Christ



  • N.T. Wright’s Hypothesis of an “Ongoing Exile:” Issues and Answers by James M. Scott

Lead Essay

  • Yet the Sun Will Rise Again by N.T. Wright

Part 1: Old Testament/Hebrew Bible/Septuagint

  • Wright on Exile: A Response by Walter Brueggemann
  • Exile and Restoration Terminology in the Septuagint and the New Testament by Robert J.V. Hiebert
  • Not All Gloom and Doom: Positive Interpretations of Exile and Diaspora in the Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism by Jörn Kiefer

Part 2: Early Judaism

  • Jewish Nationalism from Judah the Maccabee to Judah the Prince and the Problem of “Continuing Exile” by Philip Alexander
  • Continuing Exile Among the People of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Nuancing N.T. Wright’s Hypothesis by Robert Kugler
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls and Exile’s End: Sword and Word and the Execution of Judgment by Dorothy M. Peters

Part 3: New Testament

  • Exiled to the Land: N.T. Wright’s Exile Theory as Organic to Judaism by Scot McKnight
  • Paul, Exile, and the Economy of God by S.A. Cummins
  • How to Write a Synthesis: Wright and the Problem of Continuity in New Testament Theology by Timo Eskola

Part 4: Theology

  • Sacramental Interpretation: On the Need for Theological Grounding of Narratival History by Hans Boersma
  • Exile and Figural History by Ephraim Radner


  • Responding to Exile by N.T. Wright

Top Highlights

“For it is precisely within this sort of first-century Jewish tradition that Wright seeks to situate the ‘controlling narrative,’ ‘grand story,’ ‘metanarrative,’ that fundamentally shaped Jesus’ and Paul’s thinking.8 According to this narrative, Israel had fallen into grievous sin and indeed national apostasy for which the people had come under divine judgment in the form of exile. Moreover, that condition of the ongoing exile was brought to an end through the person and work of Jesus Christ, who constitutes the climax of the salvation-historical story of Israel.” (Page 8)

“The basic point I, and others, have made is that within the continuing narrative that a great many Jews believed themselves to be living in, many Second Temple Jews interpreted that part of the continuing narrative in which they were living in terms of the so-called Deuteronomic scheme of sin—exile—restoration. They understood their place as still somewhere in the middle stage of exile looking forward to the restoration but being shackled at the ankles by their past sins—both corporately and individually.” (Page 21)

“The temple was inextricably bound up, in Jewish thought from a thousand years before Paul, with the royal house of David” (Page 42)

“Forgiveness was an eschatological blessing. If Israel went into exile because of its sins, then forgiveness consists in its returning: returning to YHWH, returning from exile.79 Jesus’ action and claim indicated that this symbol of return was now becoming a reality.” (Pages 55–56)

“What happens to the worldview that was focused on the temple when the king was killed and the temple destroyed? Answer: it threatens to fall apart: YHWH has abandoned the temple to its fate, thereby removing his presence from Israel and leaving nation and king to their fate. The worldview can be put back together again only with the help of prophecies about the coming new temple—which will, of course, mean both the work of the true king and the restoration of the true cosmos. New temple, new king, new creation: that is the combined promise of the exilic prophets. Israel’s God will return to his temple at last, the temple that the coming king will build. Then, and only then, the new Genesis will come about.62 That is the promise, too, of the so-called postexilic prophets.” (Page 44)


  • James M. Scott
  • Walter Brueggemann
  • Robert J.V. Hiebert
  • Jörn Kiefer
  • Philip Alexander
  • Robert Kugler
  • Dorothy M. Peters
  • S.A. Cummins
  • Timo Eskola
  • Hans Boersma
  • Ephraim Radner
  • Scot McKnight

Praise for the Print Edition

N.T. Wright’s thesis that most Second Temple Jews believed that they were in a protracted state of punitive exile, despite the fact that many Judeans had returned to the land from Babylon, is one of the most exciting and controversial proposals in biblical scholarship. In this volume, James Scott has assembled a wonderful cast of scholars to prod, evaluate, critique, and engage Wright’s thesis about exile in biblical theology, Jewish literature, and as a theological idea in the New Testament. It’s the best exploration to date of what it meant for the Jewish people, including the early church, to look forward to the day when ‘many will come from the east and west to recline in the company of Abraham.’

—Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

For some New Testament scholars, the notion of exiled Israel awaiting return is a powerful explanatory paradigm for a range of biblical texts. For others, it is a vague impulse that may or may not have been ‘in the air’ in the first century but in any case does little interpretive work for reading the Gospels and Paul. This fresh engagement with N.T. Wright’s thesis and his restatement of it and response to critics brings the discussion up to date and provides scholars and students with an excellent survey of the state of the question.

—Timothy Gombis, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Editor James Scott suggests that many scholars think Tom Wright’s thesis of ongoing exile in Second Temple Judaism and its role in the visions of Jesus and Paul is either his ‘greatest accomplishment’ or his ‘most serious weakness.’ This collection of perceptive essays engages Wright's thesis in a dialogical manner, generally affirming but also refining, developing, and challenging aspects of it. A book not to be missed by anyone interested in this important topic.

—Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore

The idea of the end of Israel’s exile is one of the most distinctive features of N.T. Wright’s ambitious construction of a theology of Jesus and Paul. It has also proved controversial. Most of the essays in this volume are broadly favorable toward Wright's project but probe the idea of ‘exile’ from various perspectives. The arguments they advance and the responses Wright gives are full of interest. Both fans and critics of Wright’s work will find themselves entering a fruitful conversation.

—Richard Bauckham, emeritus professor of New Testament studies, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Over the course of his remarkable career, N.T. Wright has somehow managed to ignite contemporary biblical scholarship’s most burning questions. Of these, one of the hottest revolves around Wright’s thesis of ongoing exile. Now James Scott and company do us a great service by providing some important illumination on an issue that for too long has been dominated by reactive smoke and heat.

—Nicholas Perrin, Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies, dean, Wheaton Graduate School

  • Title: Exile: A Conversation with N. T. Wright
  • Authors: James M. Scott, N. T. Wright
  • Publisher: IVP
  • Print Publication Date: 2017
  • Logos Release Date: 2017
  • Pages: 358
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Wright, N. T. (Nicholas Thomas) › Philosophy; Bible › Criticism, interpretation, etc; Jews › History--586 B.C.-70 A.D; Exile (Punishment) › Biblical teaching
  • ISBNs: 9780830890002, 9780830851836, 0830890009, 0830851836
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T04:30:57Z

About the Editor

James M. Scott (DTheol, University of Tübingen) is professor of religious studies at Trinity Western University, British Columbia, Canada. He is the author of Paul and the Nations and Adoption as Sons of God, and is a recognized expert on the topic of exile and restoration in Jewish and Christian perspectives.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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Print list price: $39.99
Save $20.00 (50%)