Friday 31 March 2006

An interview with N. T. Wright

During a coffee-break yesterday, Bishop Wright kindly agreed to participate in an interview for Faith and Theology. So I asked him to respond to the question: “Who do you think is the greatest modern New Testament scholar?” Instead of naming just one person, he named four. Here’s what he said (paraphrased slightly):

“Well, I greatly admire Albert Schweitzer. He had feet of clay, of course, but he really saw the big picture, and he got it right on some of the most important issues.

“The Canadian Catholic scholar, Ben Meyer, has been under-appreciated. But he did some very important work, with massive scholarly and philosophical apparatus. His loss was a tremendous blow to the field of New Testament studies. And some of his work is still only being implemented today.

“Then, among contemporary scholars, Richard Bauckham from the University of St Andrews is doing some work that is really unrivalled at the moment. Richard has an absolutely astonishing command of the first-century sources.

“Hmmm, who else? It’s silly that I can’t think of anyone else, since there are so many scholars whom I read every single day, with great appreciation.... Well, yes, there’s Martin Hengel. He’s said some rather intemperate things against the New Perspective, which is unfortunate, really, because he has done as much as anyone to contribute to our understanding of early Judaism.”

At this point, Wright was about to name a fifth person as well, but I insisted that he finish his cup of tea instead.


T.B. Vick said...

He was going to name himself - but thought better - due to his most humble nature - and decided that the offer to finish his tea was a good way out!


Chris Petersen said...

I'm surprised Wright didn't single out E.P. Sanders or his mentor George Caird.

Ben Myers said...

Yes, I was surprised too. I was especially expecting Sanders to get a mention (I even mentioned Sanders myself during the conversation, just in case he'd been forgotten!). But obviously Wright wasn't giving a prepared answer.

Incidentally, I also suggested that the answer might be "someone like Bultmann" -- but of course Wright just smiled good-naturedly, and passed over Bultmann in silence....

Peter M. Head said...

It is hard to imagine anybody who has influenced Wright less than Bultmann.

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