Comments: Marmite Man

>>>we “wait with eager expectation” for Bishop Tom to put aside these wrangles, and complete the promised fourth volume of his magnum opus, devoted to Paul — with or without Marmite.

Sorry, but he's too busy lecturing us naughty colonials to be bothered with scholarship, or even running his own diocese.

Posted by JPM at Sunday, 6 September 2009 at 9:04pm BST

The tool box - skilled means for reading and understanding the scriptures which give rise in our times to this new view of Pauline thinking - is pretty much the same set of tools or scholarly practices which give rise to modern corrected readings of the six or seven clobber verses, used to maintain negative definitions of queer folks.

It's quite curious then, that a notable scholar should be able to manage critical change studies of one topic, changed views of Pauline thinking; and be completely deaf and blind to critical change studies of the other topic, queer folks. Well not only blind and deaf, but filled with a high and mighty rageful superiority, on most occasions. Queer folks are constantly demeaned by these pick and choose scholars. Queer life gets scorned as a lifestyle. Ethical couples are glossed resolutely with very bad conservative believer faith, as if all modern queer folks in western democracies were definitively the same as ancient decadents attending temple prostitutes in sacred sex rituals, down at the local temple to Dionysis or Venus?

Why is it, then, that conservative thinkers who can change their big brains about Paul, and a growing list of other hot topics by talking across scholarship groups and tolerating modern research, simply collapse into pat, neat negatives when queer folks come up for scholarly believer consideration?

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 6 September 2009 at 9:30pm BST

+Wright drives me crazy. I just finished "Justification," and although I don't pretend to have understood everything he said, I have come away from the book with the sense that "I think I finally get what Paul was really talking about." (I've always thought that the Reformers as well as the medieval western catholic tradition were pretty much "not getting it.") I also greatly appreciated the first three volumes of "Christian Origins..." I have several other of his books on my "one of these days" shelf. But he's going to destroy himself as a biblical theologian not only with his arrogance (especially his anti-TEC arrogance) but particularly with his flaming homophobia. (His appeal to Romans 1:26-27 is a flagrant violation of his own rules for reading Paul.) I really do wish he would get off it. He has too much to offer the church to corrode himself by junk like hanging out with the ACI.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 2:45am BST

How totally compelling - Not.

I can('t) wait -- yawns ...

Are you sure that's really Marmite ya got there ?!

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 5:08am BST

There is a suggestion in this piece that to be a 'marmite man' is in some way to be a towering figure. How about some other 'marmite men (and women)? Tony Benn, Enoch Powell, Ann Widdecombe, Margaret Thatcher, Nick Griffin, Chris Moyles, Ricky Gervais, Jade Goodey, Josef Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Richard Dawkins. The fact that N T Wright incites strong feelings in people says nothing at all about his value either as a scholar or as a bishop. If I were to put these people into 'good' and 'bad' lists I know which side I'd put Wright into, but that's not helpful. Please may we debate the value of his contribution without personalising it in this way?

Posted by toby forward at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 7:58am BST

Dr Dan wrote: "It's quite curious then, that a notable scholar should be able to manage critical change studies of one topic, changed views of Pauline thinking; and be completely deaf and blind to critical change studies of the other topic, queer folks."

Well... Dunelm (as Tom) perhaps contributed to popularise the New Perspective but didn't as I understand have anything to do with inventing it.

Saunders is the name I've heard.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 8:07am BST

Do the conclusions determine the value of the study that leads to them? I read above stuff from folk who do not like +NTW's conclusions concerning the homosexual debate as he finds them in the Scriptures and then contributes them. His conclusions on other things (Justification being one of them, life after death another) do not excite such vitriol and are arrived at with the same painstaking scholarship. It is not that he has ignored to pieces of recent argument in favor of reinterpreting the Scriptures in favor of changing the historical teaching on sexuality - he has in fact studied and evaluated them and found them wanting, generally because they tend to eisogesis, where the conclusion determines the studies.

I have known +Tom for nearly forty years and find in him a scholar who is not afraid to go against past received teaching when he is convinced that the Scriptures say otherwise. He does not deserve this vitriol.

Posted by Ian Montgomery at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 2:47pm BST

All is well, all is well...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 3:48pm BST

Ian Montgomery says that N T Wright 'is not afraid to go against past received teaching when he is convinced that the Scriptures say otherwise'. That raises a lot of questions. First, is the use of the word 'Scripture' when most of us would say 'Bible'. 'Scripture' makes a lot of assumptions about the status of the Bible that not everyone would accept. Following on from this is the value we place on Tradition and on modern scientific scholarship, when it conflicts with things which may be found in parts of the Bible. Then, there is the question of how we interpret the texts themselves. For every N T Wright who understands a certain passage to mean one thing there is a scholar who understands it mean something else. I don't see why I should be persuaded by N T Wright when he asks me to elevate the Bible to a status it does not deserve, above tradition and reason. Nor do I see why I should accept his interpretation rather than one which seems to me to make more sense both of the Bible and of other evidence. His voice is rather too loud and too often heard for my liking.

Posted by toby forward at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 4:16pm BST

'His voice is rather too loud and too often heard for my liking.'

Absolutely, though this seems like a very good response to a certain Toby forward above ...

Posted by john at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 7:15pm BST

I don't hold St. Paul responsible (for poor translations, mistranslations, and addenda to his works, leading to) contemporary bigotry, discrimination and oppression.

Tom Wright on the other hand... >:-/

Posted by JCF at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 8:20pm BST

I still stand by my observation that the opening up of a new perspective on Pauline writings in the NT goes one way, and the closed down readings used to maintain trash talk about modern queer folks, goes just the other way.

My guess? We'd be a whole lot better off as Anglican believers if we stayed in hermeneutical bounds and had qualified peer referees whose main job was to watch us doing it - which is actually, I think, what the global bonds of affection are all about? Our three-legged stool image?

I'd prefer we Anglicans used every energy at our considerable disposal to apply modern best practices to all discernments, all readings. While staying open and tuned for further developments. Science is still happening, duh.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 10:15pm BST

"Why is it, then, that conservative thinkers who can change their big brains about Paul, and a growing list of other hot topics by talking across scholarship groups and tolerating modern research, simply collapse into pat, neat negatives when queer folks come up for scholarly believer consideration?" - drdanfee on Sunday -

Big brains don't necessarily make right thinkers!
Dr. Dan's reference, above, to Bishop Tom Wright's selective hermeneutic shouldn't put us off the real task of sussing out the 'Gospel content of St. Paul's theology. Granted, Paul was influenced by his Old Testament background - as was Jesus, to a degree. The difference between their teaching is that Jesus was totally motivated by the agape of his Father, whereas Paul was still concerned with lining up the components of his Law and Grace concepts with what he had imbibed of the Old Testament.

Paul without the Gospel Narrative is as useless as Jesus without the understanding of his human origins in Judaism. Paul had to be converted. Jesus just had to grow through his own experience and knowledge of his human/divine nature.

No theologian has all the knowledge of God that is necessary to expound the inclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Certainly Not Uncle Tom.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at 1:11am BST

Does anyone else think that Marmite, manufacturers of a delicious and wholesome product, should sue the author of this article?

Posted by JPM at Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at 2:41pm BST
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