I've slowly been reading Tom Wright's How God Became King. One of the strengths of Wright's overall approach to the New Testament is the way he takes hold of us, grabs our shoulders, and turns us round to look at things from a different perspective. In other words he calls in question the received point of view, and by a tour de force compels consideration of an alternative interpretation of the evidence.
This book is a delight to read, and it helps that I happen to agree almost without demur with his overall thesis - the Gospels are indeed about the Kingdom of God; and Jesus is the one in whom we see the kingship of God in all the mystery and majesty of love incarnate and the embodied holiness of God. It is unhelpful to create a tension far less a contention between Paul and Jesus - but for that precise reason, Wright is correct to insist that much of New Testament theology and historical study has carried a presumption of priority for Paul as the theologian par excellence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A reading of the Gospel that takes them at their face value as accounts of the life, ministry and meaning of Jesus restores a necessary balance and provides the major canonical corrective, holding the balance between event and interpretation, between the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and the lived reflection of the first Christian communities. Gospels and Epistles create an essential conversation between the Gospel of Jesus and hermeneutic reflection emeging from the church's experience in the life of the Spirit. This and much more comes from Wright's characteristic combination of creative scepticism about received assumptions and persuasive argument built on analytic and synthetic control of the full range of material necessary for constructive New Testament theology and history.
I am enjoying this book.
The plaque above is by Ghiberti, from the Florence Baptistry of San Giovanni, and shows the Triumphal Entry - a key event not only for understanding the KIngdom of God, but as an authoritative statement of Christology. I love the work of Ghiberti.