We are coming to the end of Chapter 11, the last of three chapters that form a section the theme of which was largely unfamiliar to me. Now that I am at the end of it, I see why Paul breaks into Doxology in 11:33-36, and I want to lift it up with him (especially this week).
("People have often imagined that chapters 9-11 are a kind of bracket, an appendix, tackling a different subject to the rest of the letter. But that only shows how badly Romans as a whole has been misread . . . " Wright in Paul for Everyone - Romans: Part Two, p. 4.)
I have been aided immeasurably by N.T. Wright and John Stott, who sometimes differ but often seem as if they are collaborating with each other. (Macon and Walter, I will get to Barth later. Sorry.) Indeed, Stott cites Wright several times in his text, particularly Wright's The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology, a collection of essays on the subject. I acquired that book especially for its chapter 13, "Christ, the Law and the People of God: the Problem of Romans 9-11." But now I am going back and reading the book from the beginning.
The book is simply a pleasure to read because Wright is so unaffectedly and attractively literate. The way he writes is sheer entertainment. Here is an example from chapter 1, where Wright deals generally with the matter of "Contradictions, Tensions, Inconsistencies, Antinomies and Other Worrying Things" that are ascribed to Paul:
To call someone inconsistent seems today a somewhat two-edged compliment. Schecter's dictum is often quoted to the effect that, whatever faults the Rabbis may have had, consistency was not one of them . . .
Wright does not concede that Paul is inconsistent and that's not the point of my quoting this passage from Wright's book. The point is that I find it entertaining to see the problem of inconsistency (or not) introduced that way. I wonder if Wright is as good in the classroom. (And who is Schecter anyway? Don't you simply want to put Wright's book down and go off and find out who that clever man was and what else he wrote? It's a great teacher who points you to other great minds and makes you want to go and make their acquaintance.)