Chapter 5 – Rethinking God, a review

This review is for chapter five, “Rethinking God”, by N.T. Wright.  I will attempt to show that the author is successful as he demonstrated through different phases of how the God of Israel, the one monotheistic God is now being redefined through Paul with the inclusion of Jesus as the final revelation, the final fulfillment of the new covenant in the Holy Spirit.  Over all, I feel the chapter is extremely informative and clearly expressed the Paul’s theology as an introduction.  In the chapter, the author often mentioned that what he wrote need and deserve further treatments.  As someone who starts to learn about Paul, I found these statements somewhat formidable, thinking that there is so much more for me to learn.

In the first two sections of the chapter, I love how the author has taken the time and led us through the many aspects of monotheism.  He compared the Jewish monotheism (Judaism) to other types of monotheism such as Stoicism.  He then dug deeper in the Jewish roots of monotheism, the one compassioned God, actively in covenant with man.  Paul, being a Jew, believed in practice this type of monotheism. The author then expanded further on the idea of how God and evil and how man has fallen and how God had over and over times come to the rescue.

The author then introduced us to monotheism and Paul’s Christology and how Jesus is oneness with the God of Israel, the monotheistic God (referencing Roman 3 and Galatian 3).  And how the New Testament of Jesus Christ fits into the God of Old Testament as cited in Romans 10.5 – 13.   The author further claimed that Paul had read Deuteronomy 30 and tied that to clearly declared that Christ is the new Exodus, the new covenant.  The author then used the Old Testament’s specifically in the Septuagint reference to Lord (kyrios) and applied that reference to Jesus [Philippians 2.6-11].  Here, the author concisely brought in Jesus as the Son of God, uniting the idea of Son of God as Israel people and the Son of God as the Messiah.   

Then we are introduced to the aspect of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Monotheistic God.  The Spirit in which is the love of the God the Son Jesus and God the Father.  The Spirit with all the work of God among his people, put strong emphasis on the language of the spirit where one is inspired.  In 1 Corinthians 12, there, Paul clearly declared that only through the spirit one can know God and that the Spirit is truly at work inspiring the Gospels and the authors.  The author used Roman 8 and Galatian 4 (among others) to portray Paul’s intention for this subject. 

The author further expands on the redefined monotheism both in respond to the pagan as well as to the Jewish definition of monotheism.  He demonstrates that Paul’s work not only use in his writing but also use in his life and his daily life and work; setting of the examples for the early Christians.  For example, the Author shared that in Romans chapter 9 and 10, Paul emphasized the context in which Jesus is the final fulfillment of the new covenant.

It should be said that throughout the chapter and in each subsection, the author had clearly cited the proof points per Pauline letters as well as the writing in Acts.   

In conclusion, in this chapter, the author has successfully taken us through how Paul had completely redefined monotheism according to the Jewish faith. He clearly showed a redefinition through the introduction of Jesus Christ as a central figure in fulfilling God’s promise of salvation. He also explained the introduction of the Holy Spirit and how Paul has single-handedly upended the traditional definition of the one Jewish God. The author successfully backed up his claims with references to the many letters not only in Pauline’s letters but also in the Acts. Over all, the chapter has successfully informed me of the steps that Paul had gone through to redefine the Jewish monotheism and introducing the Christian God in the same God the Father, with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

3 thoughts on “Chapter 5 – Rethinking God, a review”

  1. Diep, Thanks for sharing your synopsis of Chapter 2. It summarizes a very dense read on Paul’s theology and it’s impact not only to Judaism, but to the pagan world in which he lived as well.

    I couldn’t help being amazed at Paul’s ability, tenacity and boldness to make these complex ideas known to those around him. His capability in expressing thoughts that took us 400-500 years to give terms to (like Trinity); his tenacity in writing, visiting and unwavering in his thoughts and theology of Christ and who Christ IS (despite very real opposition by the Romans and Jews, facing jail and hard arguments); and finally his boldness to take on both traditional Jewish thought AND prevailing pagan thought regarding “god.”

    Paul had to simultaneously persuade Jews that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit were “extensions” but really all the one, true, monotheistic God they always believed, and also challenge the pagan world’s multi-theistic tradition of the various gods who showed super-human strengths and human frailties and bring them to the one, true God in three persons (still one of the great mysteries of our faith!). Difficult to fathom sometimes…..

    1. Amen, Tim. Like you, I am amazed with the breath and depth of Paul’s writing. I cannot help but fully attribute them to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

  2. This is awesome, what an amazing work. It takes the spirit of the Lord to write such a narrative account of the gospel. Paul’s ability to persuade his audiences (Jews, Romans, Gentiles) was unbelievable. He was truly God-chosen one.

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