Wright or Willard Wednesday: Paul, Exile, and Jesus of Nazareth

Today’s Wright or Willard Wednesday is from NT Wright’s big book on Paul: Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

In this passage, Wright is beginning to sketch how Paul as a 2nd Temple Jew, shaped his early letters. Here, Wright shares how Jesus fulfills Israel’s longing for a God who returns to them; he is not a god that ascends into a pantheon of gods like the wider Greco-Roman audience might expect:

At the center of his [Paul] Jewish-style monotheism is a human being who lived, died and rose in very recent memory. Jesus is not a new God added to a pantheon. He is the human being in whom YHWH, Israel’s one and only God, has acted within cosmic history, human history and Israel’s history to do for Israel, humanity and the world what they could not do for themselves. Jesus is to be seen as part of the identity of Israel’s God, and vice versa. Israel had longed for its God to return after his extended absence. Paul, like the writers of the gospels, saw that longing fulfilled in Jesus.

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