Posted by: chuckbumgardner | June 15, 2008

N. T. Wright, “New Testament Scholarship and Christian Discipleship”

An insightful lecture for both pastors and professors by N. T. Wright, “New Testament Scholarship and Christian Discipleship” examines the intersection of two aspects of the church which are in our day often kept at arm’s length from each other.  Written in Wright’s engaging style, the essay is well worth reading.

A few teasers:

. . . you don’t have to be a New Testament scholar to be a Christian disciple. Many of the most devout disciples of Jesus, saints, martyrs, heroes of the faith, men and women of prayer and courage and self-sacrificial love, have known little or nothing of the regular subject matter of New Testament scholarship. They have read their Bibles and been sustained by what they found there, without needing to address questions of textual criticism, lexicography, historical investigation, or even theological interpretation. . . . Of course, at the risk of sounding ungracious, one might always suggest that they would have been even more saintly and effective as witnessing disciples if they’d got the exegesis right, but one would quickly need to balance this by saying that many fine exegetes and text critics would have been even better if they had learned to pray and to love God and their neighbours a bit more.

The chapel is also a place of study; the library is also a place of prayer. And there must be many for whom . . . it is often hard to discern where the one ends and the other begins, or indeed whether either of them really stops.

. . . just as the non-scholarly disciple ought to recognise that he or she lives and works and prays within a larger whole in which the scholarly contribution is vital for health and life and growth, so the scholar-disciple must recognise that at two levels he or she is part of a larger whole. First, scholar-disciples are part of the larger whole of the wider world of scholarship, not least other Christian scholars, and that it is not just likely but absolutely certain that God intends them to learn with and through and from one another by mutual correction and admonition. . . . But second, scholar-disciples are part of the larger world of the church, including the great majority of fellow-disciples who are not themselves scholars. . . . Scholar-disciples must learn how to teach without pride, and to learn without fear, among their fellow members of the Body of Christ.



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