Tom Wright on the Sabbath

Scott McKnight presents on his blog Jesus Creed a few considerations on NT Wright’s latest book, Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today,which is, says McKnight, ‘both a revision and an expansion of his former book The Last Word’.

For an exemplification of Tom Wright’s dealing with the biblical text and the theology it contains, here is how McKnight summarises his understanding of the doctrine of Sabbath:

Tom provides an exceptional illustration of how both to read Sabbath in its OT setting, what Jesus and Paul “did” to that teaching, how the Jubilee principle extends the Sabbath principle, and how Jesus is the transition to a new kind of time — death and resurrection and new creation, and thus how the Sabbath principle finds fulfillment in Jesus himself, and then he probes how to live that Sabbath principle out in our world. Here are some highlights:

1. In the OT Sabbath was a strong commandment, it was the day YHWH took up abode in the temple of creation (here he chimes in with John Walton) and asked image-bearers to enjoy that same rest.
2. Sabbath shows that history is going somewhere, it is a temporal sign that creation is headed toward that final rest, and it is sacred time.
3. Sabbath has to be connected to Jubilee, and therefore to justice and compassion for the poor, and that means Sabbath and Jubilee point us toward the restoration of creation.
4. Jesus thought the entire Sabbath principle pointed toward himself. Time was fulfilled in him; a new kind of time begins with him. Paul does not seem to care about Sabbath, and he observes its absence in Romans 13:9; Col 2:14-16; Rom 14:5-6. I have to be brief: it’s about time’s fulfillment. Sacred time finds its way to Jesus Christ and new creation.
5. To continue celebrating sabbaths is to focus on the signposts when we have already arrived. Thus, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” You don’t need the alarm clock when the sun is flooding the room with its light.
6. The early Christians didn’t transfer Sabbath to Sunday.
7. We don’t need to back up into a Sabbatarianism.
8. We “celebrate” instead of “rest” — a kind of celebration rest. We reserve this day for new creation life. Music, the meal, family, service, peace, justice, love — these are the notes of Sunday for those who see the fulfillment of Sabbath in Jesus.

We live in a perpetual sabbath.

I would say, absolutely splendid.

Read the whole blog post HERE.

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

3 thoughts on “Tom Wright on the Sabbath”

  1. O intelegere biblica si corecta a Sabatului, din perspectiva lucrarii Mantuitorului, e foarte necesara, mai ales in contextul evanghelic romanesc. Cred ca majoritatea crestinilor intelege ca Sabatul a fost transferat zilei de Duminica.

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  2. Wright explica autoritatea Scripturii pornind de la natura sa narativa – un ansamblu de istorisiri care incheaga o metanaratiune, povestea (planul) lui Dumnezeu cu creatia Sa.

    Folosind metafora unei piese de teatru – o “drama in 5 acte”: creatia, caderea, Israel, Cristos, Biserica –, Wright conecteaza aceasta mare naratiune cu trairea crestina. Credinciosul trebuie sa joace ultima scena din actul al 5-lea (dupa incheierea scrierii Noului Testament) fara a avea un scenariu explicit (de exemplu, probleme contemporane despre care Biblia nu spune nimic) si avand libertatea sa-si foloseasca imaginatia, sa improvizeze in limitele si tonul scriptului celorlalte acte. Actul al 5-lea nu va fi o copie a celui de-al 4-lea, ci o continuare a acestuia, o “implementare” a ceea ce a realizat Cristos: victoria asupra raului, inaugurarea noii creatii.

    Biblia nu este vazuta ca fiind, pur si simplu, un cod de reguli si norme aplicate mecanic. Prin modelul propus, Wright incearca sa depaseasca dificultatea modernista a identificarii unui text biblic ca descriptiv ori normativ si sustine, in acelasi timp, autoritatea Scripturii in viata credinciosului, autoritate derivata din cea a Autorului.

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