J. Barclay über „Paul and the Faithfulness of God“

John M.G. Barclay, Lightfoot Professor an der Fakultät für Theologie und Religion der Universität Durham, hat N.T. Wrights Paul and the Faithfulness of God (SPCK, 2013) im Scottish Journal of Theology besprochen:

Wright presents his work as the historical recovery of the original Paul, against a history of misreadings, whether Platonic, Augustinian, medieval, Reformation, Enlightenment, modern or post-modern. All are confidently swatted aside, although none are here studied in depth: in general, reception history is regarded as a ‘recent fashion’ (48). Indeed, the persistent rhetoric of this book is that, to understand Paul, one simply needs to do better history. What is required is ‘sheer history’ (1261, n.731), since exegesis is ‘a branch of history’ (1515). Recognising that his reading might be taken to be Christian, he indicates that ‘the “Christian” view I take, in my tradition at least, is to let the text be the text, rather than make it say what we want’ (1133). That, of course, is a false or at least a highly simplistic way of representing our hermeneutical options. As his own earlier exposition of ‘critical realism’ appeared to acknowledge, there is no possibility of simply ‘letting the text be the text’: all readers start and remain in a location that shapes their reading, otherwise they could make no sense of the text at all. Exegesis has an indispensible historical responsibility, but the synthetic literary and ideological work that goes into making sense of Paul is by no means merely a historical task. Wright is quick to tell us what has led others astray and diagnoses theological (or anti-theological) prejudice with freedom. What he fails to tell us is where he is reading from, and for what goal. This lack of hermeneutical self-reflection (or at least, self-disclosure) may arise from the fact that Wright’s own theology is tacitly in agreement with (his reconstruction of) Paul’s; at least no critical gap emerges in the course of this exposition. But by presenting himself ‚as a historian and an exegete’ who ‘must stick to the text and try to understand what it actually says, and not what I would like it to say’ (1133) he has masked his own agency as a reader whose work of ‘understanding’ and connecting these complex texts inevitably (and properly) brings his own interests and conceptual tools to bear on their interpretation.

My tone may seem unduly negative. There are many valuable passages in this book, and its energy, breadth, confidence and ambition are on a scale commensurate with its size. In the history of the discipline few scholars have attempted such an original yet comprehensive construal of Pauline theology, and in the modern era perhaps only Schweitzer could match the liveliness of Wright’s mind. But I doubt that many Pauline scholars will accept the large synthetic schema that Wright presents, for all its attractions, while the stimulus offered by this book will be lessened, and perhaps cancelled, by it’s persistently shrill and overheated rhetoric.

Mehr hier: 14230.pdf.



  1. Christoph H. hat mich freundlicherweise noch auf eine Rezension von Simon Gathercole aufmerksam gemacht:


    Vielen Dank!

    Liebe Grüße, Ron

Deine Meinung ist uns wichtig