Nicholas Thomas Wright, born 1948 in Morpeth, United Kingdom, is an influential, leading New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired Anglican bishop.
Wright’s education spanned 10 years with a professional career far exceeding that. He received his BA in Literae humaniores (classical literature) (Exeter College) in 1971, his BA in theology (Exter College) in 1973, his MA in 1975, D Phil in 1981 (Merton College), and Doctor of Divinity (University of Oxford) in 2000. He has also held numerous positions throughout his academic career including that of Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity (St. Mary’s College), the assistant Professor of New Testament Studies (McGill University), a chaplain, fellow and tutor (Worcester College), lecturer in New Testament (University of Oxford), and a Visiting Fellow (Merton College). His clerical positions have included him being the Bishop of Durham, the Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, and the Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey.
Wright is most well-known for his writing on the Apostle Paul and he has contributed to what is known as the New perspective on Paul. He argues that we should allow Paul to speak for himself without contemporary scholars and writers imposing modern criteria and expectations on him.
Wright has engaged the question of justification in Paul’s letters, and has written widely on the historical Jesus, questions over the ordination of women in the church, and Christian beliefs concerning life after death. He argues for for a ‘very Jewish’ Jesus, for the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ as an actual event, and he has defended a literal belief in the Second Coming and the resurrection of the dead. Wright has criticized the skepticism of the controversial group known as the Jesus Seminar, and has engaged the likes John Dominic Crossan and the late Marcus Borg in discussion. Wright has also been critical of elements of American evangelical preaching.
Wright has authored over fifty books. Influential has been his Christian Origins and the Question of God series. The first book in this series The New Testament and the People of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God (1992) provides a historical, theological, and literary study of first-century Judaism and Christianity. Wright provides discussion on the meaning of the word “God” within those cultures, and explores the ways in which developing an understanding of those first-century cultures are of relevance for the modern world. Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God (1996) focuses on key questions concerning the historical Jesus: Who was he? What did he say? And what did he mean by what he said? The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God (2003) asks and attempts to answer important questions such as: Why did Christianity begin? Why did it take the shape it did? What did the early Christians mean when they said that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead? What can be said today about his belief? Wright engages a wide range of ancient beliefs about life after death, in both the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds. He observes that the early Christians belief about the afterlife belonged firmly on the Jewish spectrum. He argues that the Easter narratives in the gospels must be read, not simply as late rationalizations of early Christian spirituality, but as accounts of two actual events: the empty tomb of Jesus and his “appearances.” Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God (2013) is a close look at the Apostle Paul, and provides detailed historical exploration into his life, times, and the lasting impact he left within early Christian history. Wright explores the context of Paul’s thought and examines the details of his worldview including his Jewish, cultural, philosophical, and religious beliefs. Wright has also penned the “For Everyone” series which provides a reader friendly commentary on the New Testament gospels and letters. Further, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (2006) is a little more apologetic in nature as it makes the case for Christianity using reason and rationality. It is written for believers, seekers, and skeptics, and offers explanations for those with doubts. Paul and His Recent Interpreters: Some Contemporary Debates (2013) emphasizes the discussions and debates relating to the interpretation of Paul, and both outlines and engages with the main views within Pauline scholarship. Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good (2015) engages common objections to belief, and key questions about the gospel: Why is it “good news”? Who did Jesus think he was? And who is God? Wright looks at the meaning of “good news,” what it means for us today, and how it can transform our lives.