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Climax of the Covenant

, 1991
ISBN: 056729594
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With an eye to recent proposals on Paul's view of the Law and his relation to his first-century context, N. T. Wright looks in detail at passages central to the current debate. Among them are some of the most controversial sections of Paul. From his meticulous exegesis Wright argues that Paul saw the death and resurrection of Jesus as the climactic moment in the covenant history of Israel and from this perspective came to a different understanding of the function of the Jewish Law. Wright thus creates a basis from which many of the most vexed problems of Pauline exegesis can in principle be solved and longstanding theological puzzles clarified.

Resource Experts
  • Examines in detail passages central to the debate about Paul's Christology and his view of Jewish Law
  • Provides meticulous exegesis of key Pauline passages
  • Argues for several striking theological and historical conclusions
  • Introduction: Christ, the Law, and ‘Pauline Theology’
  • Part One: studies in Paul’s Christology
    • Adam, Israel and the Messiah
    • ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ as ‘Messiah’
    • Jesus Christ is Lord: Philippians 2.5-11
    • Poetry and Theology in Colossians 1.15-20
    • Monotheism, Christology and Ethics: 1 Corinthians 8
  • Part Two: Paul and the Law
    • Curse and Covenant: Galatians 3.10-14
    • The Seed and the Mediator: Galatians 3.15-20
    • Reflected Glory: 2 Corinthians 3
    • The Vindication of the Law: Narrative Analysis and Romans 8.1-11
    • The Meaning of περὶ ἀαρτίας in Romans 8.3
    • Echoes of Cain in Romans 7
  • Conclusion: The Climax of the Covenant
    • Christ, the Law and the People of God: the Problem of Romans 9-11
    • The Nature of Pauline Theology

Top Highlights

“The overall title reflects my growing conviction that covenant theology is one of the main clues, usually neglected, for understanding Paul, and that at many points in his writings, several of which are discussed in this book, what he says about Jesus and about the Law reflects his belief that the covenant purposes of Israel’s God had reached their climactic moment in the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection.” (Page xi)

“The main subject-matter of Romans 9–11, then, is the covenant faithfulness of God, seen in its outworking in the history of the people of God.” (Page 236)

“He is arguing, basically, that the events of Israel’s rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ are the paradoxical outworking of God’s covenant faithfulness. Only by such a process—Israel’s unbelief, the turning to the Gentiles, and the continual offer of salvation to Jews also—can God be true to the promises to Abraham, promises which declared both that he would give him a worldwide family and that his own seed would share in the blessing.” (Page 236)

“It is about the way in which, through the Messiah and the preaching which heralds him, Israel is transformed from being an ethnic people into a worldwide family—and about the fact, once more, that this was what God always said that he would do.” (Page 240)

“Not that he agreed with the conclusions of Ben-Sira or 4 Ezra. He forcibly rejected them. To propose a Jewish background for his thoughts does not mean that Paul had no critique of Judaism. I suggest, however, that the reasons for his rejection of the traditional conclusions about God’s purposes for Israel were not that he had acquired different categories of thought altogether, but that a new factor, arising from within the traditional matrix of Jewish ideas, had occasioned a revolution in his understanding. To put it simply: the role traditionally assigned to Israel had devolved on to Jesus Christ. Paul now regarded him, not Israel, as God’s true humanity.” (Page 26)

N. T. Wright is a fresh and provocative voice in Pauline studies ... Wright gives thorough, deft, and imaginative readings of key texts in Paul ... A bold new global construal of Paul the Jewish Christian theologian takes shape before our eyes. Wright's account of Paul is a major force to be reckoned with: no one should write—or preach—on Paul without pondering his work.

—Richard B. Hays, Duke Divinity School

In this volume of Pauline theology, Wright makes a strong, overt claim for Paul's theology being covenantal, formulated around the topics of monotheism and election. . . . Wright's thesis is a helpful one, and he has published many significant essays that go much of the way toward proving his point.

Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 1992

  • Title: The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology
  • Author: N. T. Wright
  • Publisher: T&T Clark
  • Print Publication Date: 1991
  • Logos Release Date: 2018
  • Pages: 332
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. N.T. Epistles of Paul; Christianity Scriptures
  • ISBN: 056729594
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-29T22:45:21Z

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N. T. Wright

Nicholas Thomas “Tom” Wright (1948–) is a New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and Anglican bishop and currently Research Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary's College in the University of St Andrews and Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Christianity Today named him one of today's top theologians. 

Wright was born in Morpeth, Northumberland, and recounts an awareness of God's presence from a young age—and that relationship with God ever since is reflected in his life and work. He's a prolific author; one of his most popular books, Surprised by Hope, frames the resurrection of the dead as the appropriate hope for all believers rather than an overemphasis on just "going to heaven when you die." He's among the leading theologians in the New Perspective on Paul debate. Wright has several honorary doctoral degrees, and in 2014, the British Academy awarded him the Burkitt Medal "in recognition of special service to biblical studies." In 2015, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Wright served as chaplain at Cambridge from 1978 to 1981, then as assistant professor of New Testament language and literature at McGill University in Montreal. Before becoming a chaplain, tutor, lecturer, and fellow at Oxford in 1986, Wright served as dean of Lichfield Cathedral, canon theologian of Westminster Abbey, and the bishop of Durham from 2003–10. In addition to the entire New Testament for Everyone Series, some of N. T. Wright's books include The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians, Who Was Jesus, The New Testament and the People of God, God and the Pandemic, Evil and the Justice of God, Surprised by Hope, and Simply Christian. He coauthored Jesus the Final Days with Craig A. Evans.


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Digital list price: $29.99
Save $10.00 (33%)