The Text?

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“Reading the New Testament seriously, at the present moment in Western culture, sounds so problematic that some may feel like giving it up. The vineyard is overcrowded and apparently unfruitful. But this response, too, would be inappropriate. Whatever one’s viewpoint, this text matters . . . Whether, therefore, one has a Christian or non-Christian point of view, a thorough examination of this text is a necessary responsibility” (The New Testament and the People of God, p. 10).

N.T. Wright correctly urges us to fresh reading of the text of Scripture. And as people who have already been shaped by the text, we agree with him that a continued right understanding of the text is essential. But it is not strictly accurate to say “whatever one’s viewpoint, this text matters” because one possible viewpoint is that the text does not matter. Another possible viewpoint might be that there are no texts. And yet another might be that texts exist, but the meaning of them is necessarily inaccessible. There is no realm of agreed upon scholarly common sense which will enable us all to come to agreement before we ask what we think of Christ. Being dealt with by Christ must come first.

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