NT Wright(oder auch Tom Wright) gehört zu einen der führenden neutestamentlichen Theologen und Leben-Jesu-Forschern weltweit. Auf unnachahmliche Art und Weise schafft es der Theologe dabei theologische Wissenschaft und Alltagschristsein zu verbinden. Jetzt erscheinen zwei seiner Bücher auf Deutsch, zum einen das theologische Grundsatzwerk „Jesus und der Sieg Gottes“ welches sich Jesus auf 864 Seiten im Kontext des Judentums des 1. Jahrhunderts nähert und wem das zu viel ist, die populärere Kurzfassung „Jesus. Wer er war, was er wollte und warum er für uns wichtig ist.“ Vom 24. bis 27. Januar spricht NT Wright auf dem “Neues wagen Kongress” des Ev. Gnadauer Verbandes, ich konnte jetzt schon mal kurz mit ihm reden.
Toby: Your translation of the NT (The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation) was recently published in the UK. What was the response so far?
Tom: I think quite a lot of people have liked it. Of course, there are now many English translations available; but I know some churches have adopted mine for reading out loud in worship, and some teachers in schools and colleges have had their students study it. The reviews have been quite good, though of course you can’t please all the people all the time!
Why did you come up with yet “another” translation of the NT? What is special about your translation?
I was writing a series of popular commentaries on the whole New Testament, and we had to decide which version to print as part of the books. The trouble was that the commentaries were designed for people who didn’t normally study things in a scholarly way, and I didn’t want to confuse them by using an existing translation and then having to say ‘but verse 20 is wrong here because . . . ‘ So I decided to do my own translation all through. When the commentary series was finished, then of course I had a complete translation as well. The translation is meant to capture something of the fresh and lively feel of the original Greek, while being an accurate translation and not just a ‘paraphrase’. I have tried to use idiomatic and popular English and to avoid ‘churchy’ clichés. I have also frequently translated Christos, not as ‘Christ’ as though it was just a name, but as ‘Messiah’ or even ‘King’. But that leads to your next question . . .
Among Evangelicals in Germany we have a debate about the kingdom of God – some say, it is something that is yet to come and refers to “eternal life”. What is your opinion on that?
The phrase ‘kingdom of God’ did come to be used, at least by the third century I think, to mean ‘the place where God’s people go to be with him after their death’. But that is never what it means in the New Testament. Jesus taught his followers to pray that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven, and the whole story of the four gospels is about how his life, and then his death and resurrection, made that happen. (By the way, the phrase ‘eternal life’ which you used has been misunderstood as well; to a first-century Jew it would mean ‘the life of the age to come’, which wasn’t thought of as ‘going to heaven when you die’ but as a new state of affairs for the whole world.) When the risen Jesus says, at the end of Matthew’s gospel, that he is now in charge on earth and in heaven, this means that the prayer has in principle been answered. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of Jesus already reigning, fighting the continuing battle against sin and ultimately death itself. So there is a future aspect to the kingdom – we can’t reduce it to the present state of things – but equally it is a present reality. How this works becomes clear when we look at other early Jewish kingdom-movements, as I have explained in Simply Jesus . . .
You will come to Germany in two weeks for the congress called “Neues wagen” and will speak in front of 2500 people. What will you talk about?
I will be talking about those same themes, the Kingdom of God and society. First we have to understand afresh the way in which, in the Bible, there is a strong sense of God actually defeating the powers of evil and launching his own kingdom – through Jesus and particularly his suffering and death. This demands that we rethink the very notions of power and kingdom themselves, which the gospels again and again help us to do. Only when we have done that can we recognize the ways in which God’s kingdom makes its way in the world today. We in our confused western culture need urgently to get clear on all this.
Two of your Jesus-books will be published in Germany this week: “Simply Jesus” and “Victory of God”. Why are these books worth reading?
I think many Christians have grown up with a view of Jesus which floats in mid-air somewhere: we know he is our savior, our friend, our lord, but we have never come to terms with who he really was as a first-century Jew announcing God’s kingdom and dying to bring it about. My hope is that reading these books – Simply Jesus is much more recent, and also much shorter! , but Jesus and the Victory of God gives you the larger and fuller overall picture – will have the effect for many people that you get when you swap an old, fuzzy, black and white television for a sharp, clear colour TV. Often when I’ve lectured about Jesus people have said that was the effect on them. To put it another way, we have allowed the ‘Jesus of History’ to become separated from ‘the Christ of faith’. I have tried to show that when we really do the history – not just by negative assumptions, but really reconstructing what we actually know of Palestine in Jesus’ day – the real Jesus can be seen as it were in colour, in three dimensions. And he is just as compelling today as he was then!
Thanks for the interview
You’re welcome! See you soon!