N.T. Wright’s Blind Spot

Just a short thought here . . . As regular readers know, I am a major fan of N.T. Wright. I think his historical reconstruction of Second Temple Judaism is as good as or better than any major New Testament scholar. I think his understanding of the sacrifice and resurrection of the Son of God is superb. Yet I feel he has a blind spot, perhaps a paradigm he cannot see beyond. He is a supersessionist (a more popular term is replacement theologian). Instead of seeing that Yeshua sums up all Israel and invites Israel to follow him, he sees Yeshua as replacing Israel.

I just read this paragraph in a paper Wright wrote about Jerusalem in the New Testament:

For a more positive view towards Jerusalem in Paul some are tempted to turn to Romans 11. There, in verse 26, he quotes from Isaiah 59:20 (‘the deliverer will come from Zion’) in confirmation of his statement that ‘all Israel will be saved’. Does this refer to a renewed physical Jerusalem and a large-scale last-minute salvation of all Jews (or nearly all)? No, it does not. For in the crucial passage (Romans 11:25-28) Paul is clearly offering a deliberately polemical redefinition of ‘Israel’, parallel to that in Galatians (6:16), in which the people thus referred to are the whole company, Jew and Gentile alike, who are now (as in chapter 4 and 9:6ff.) inheriting the promises made to Abraham.

What an interesting reading of Romans 11:25-28! It amazes me how anyone could read “Israel” in this passage as Jews and Gentiles who are redeemed.

Consider Romans 11:28, for example, “As regards the gospel they are enemies of God.” If that is not clearly a reference to Jewish people, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, even great scholars miss some things. We can only hope that Wright will someday see Israel’s continuing place as the vanguard of God’s redeeming and perfecting this world.

NOTE: Don’t miss the other post I put up today, “Talmud 101 From a Beginner.”

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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