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N.T. Wright on the Dangers of Neglecting the History of the New Testament

“The early Christian communities were what we would call ‘political communities,’ that is to say, they formed total communities of a kind of egalitarian, mutually supportive, outward-facing, worship-directed character that were perceived as socially subversive in their world.” 

“We have been sort of conned into thinking that Christianity is a religion in the modern sense of religion, which is what people do with their solitude and their spirituality, whereas in the first century, a religion was something that embraced everything.”

“It’s perfectly possible for the Holy Spirit to speak to the most naive reader…but for teachers in the church, it’s absolutely vital that we constantly go back to refresh our sense of what was actually going on.”

“It’s highly likely that the first person ever to expound Paul’s letter to the Romans was a Christian businesswoman from the eastern port of Corinth.”

“Right from the start, Jesus and Paul seem not only very comfortable with women as preachers, as teachers, but actually positively to commend that and to set that up.”

“I think it’s quite wrong to take one particular reading of 1 Timothy 2 and allow that to override what is coming through in those other great passages, which seem to me very, very clear.”

“There were lots of independent women in Paul’s world, and that was something Paul worked with.”

“In the ancient world, there was no such thing as private life…this actually colors everything to do with what it meant to be an early Christian.”

“We need to think our way back into the realities of first century life, and when we do that, it should make us ask ourselves, ‘What are the similar cultural pressures that we face?’”

“The trouble is, again and again in the church, people have treated both Romans and Galatians as if they’re simply systematic treatises about how to get saved and then they’ve been puzzled that in the one, it looks as if Paul is being very opposed to the Jewish law and in the other one, it looks as if he’s very in favor of the Jewish law. And the answer is, get hold of the actual context and then you’ll see what’s going on.” 

“Studying the real world of the first century is one of the best ways of getting to the point of addressing the message of the New Testament to the real world of today.”

Mentioned in the Show by N.T. Wright

1 Corinthians 11
John 20
Psalm 2
Romans 16
1 Timothy 2

Alexander Cruden
Ask N.T. Wright Anything [podcast]
The Apostle Paul
The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences, Richard Bauckham
History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology, N.T. Wright
Martin Luther
Mary Magdalene
The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians, N.T. Wright
N.T. Wright Online [online courses]

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As Vice President of Ministry Mobilization for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. He also serves as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement and hosts the weekly ChurchLeaders podcast. Jason lives on Anastasia Island, Florida, with his beautiful wife and children. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @jasondaye