Monday, August 15, 2011

NT Wright on Romans . . . in 22 Minutes!

Among the courses I teach in rotation is Paul's letter the Romans. It is one of Paul's most celebrated, important and influential letters. It helped to propel Luther and the Protestant Reformation, it strangely warmed John Wesley's heart, and it landed like a bomb on the playground of European theologians in the form of Karl Barth' commentary. And since the New Perspective on Paul, it has been reexamined and commented on all over again.

In spite of all that, I must admit that it is the one class I enjoy teaching the least. The reason for my lack in teaching Romans is not because it is an uninteresting book. No, the reason I don't find it as enjoyable as say, 1 & 2 Corinthians, is because Romans is so long and complicated that I never feel that I can do the type of job I would like. With sixteen densely packed chapters, I find it impossible to do the kind of job I should when I am only given 30 hours in a ten week quarter. Nonetheless, I continue to teach the course every couple years because despite the courses shortcoming, it is still important for students to have at least one course in this letter, no matter how incomplete it may be.

Recently, Joel Watts over at Unsettled Christianity directed my attention to a 22 minute video clip of NT Wright giving an overview of Romans. Tom is well-known for his ability to boil-down an issue or topic into something that is accessible and digestible. In this clip Wright talks about 1) the historical setting of the letter; 2) what righteousness means; and 3) the faithfulness of God.

I am, not prepared to use this video as a substitute for my class, but I will include it as part of an introduction. The video would also be good for anyone who wants a crash course in Wright's view of Paul's theology and Romans in particular. While Wright and I don't see eye to eye on everything, I do agree with him on a number of areas, so recommend this clip.



  1. You've probably already asked to teach Romans as a two-part, two-quarter class. What about a "Romans: Advanced Study" course, that would re-look at Romans and dig deeper. The first class would fulfill a Romans requirement, and would be a prerequisite for the second class, which would cover in-depth the areas that need further probing. There are probably a number of students who would enjoy such a thorough study.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I'm interested in learning more about the New Persepctive on Paul and how it differs from the Reformed interpretaion of imputed righteousness. This video was interesting and helpful, but I want more. How about breakfast soon?