Hill Responds to N.T. Wright

Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry, writes for EerdWord, the weblog of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.:

N.T. Wright has written a review of my book Paul and the Trinity for which I am grateful. Every junior scholar appreciates when a more senior figure in the field takes notice of his or her work, especially when that figure is someone of Wright’s stature and influence. I trust that Wright may also appreciate a junior scholar’s demonstrating his gratitude by — as we like to say in academic circles — “pushing back” on some of what he disagrees with.

Some of Wright’s criticisms I would try to deflect by pleading the tight focus of my project. When he says, for instance, “Hill never explores Paul’s understanding of what it means to be human,” I want to reply, “This book is not a full treatment of Pauline theology!” Meanwhile, other points of critique I want to accept with appreciation: It’s true that I should have focused more on Paul’s messianic theology, drawing a clearer distinction than I did between Paul’s understanding the pre-incarnate Son (Philippians 2:6) and the enfleshed, Jewish man Jesus whose identity is inseparable from his taking on the titles and roles of Israel’s expectations (Romans 1:3-4). (My friend Keith Johnson made a similar point in private correspondence, reminding me that I might have put John Behr’s “partitive exegesis” — distinguishing between what Paul says of Christ as divine and what he says of him as human — to greater use in my book.)

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