AJW and the BMI of PFG by NTW image

AJW and the BMI of PFG by NTW

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Once again the prolific A.J. Wilson has demonstrated his astonishing ability to speed-read, producing a review of Wright’s latest epic, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, a mere fortnight after its publication date. I must confess, however, that I am slightly concerned Wilson’s expeditiousness may have left us with a sub-standard review. My concerns are threefold:

Firstly, am I really supposed to believe that Andrew did in fact read the entire thing, rather than just skim the chapter headings and guess what might be contained within? He has produced a review at such pace as to resemble the scholarly equivalent of a kid who wolfs down his dinner simply so he can declare smugly to his siblings “I finished first!”

Secondly, since Andrew also reviewed Mark Driscoll’s book this week, am I to assume he read the two simultaneously? And might that not have impaired his critical faculties? What if he accidentally attributed aphorisms to Wright that belonged to Driscoll? Or the other way round? How am I to tell whether natty phrases like, “Jesus, could you please rapture the charismaniac lady who brings her tambourine to church?” came from the pen of the Bearded Bishop or the Scrappy Seattleite?

But thirdly, the question Mr Wilson totally failed to address in his review, which I’m sure we’re all dying to have answered, is this: how much does Paul and the Faithfulness of God actually weigh?

N.T. Wright has been one of the most significant contributors to the growing epidemic of book obesity! Each of his books is larger than the last and every one threatens to burst at the seams.

The Christian Origins and the Question of God series kicked off in 1992 with The New Testament and the People of God, which weighed in at a hefty 855g. As if that wasn’t heavy enough, it was soon followed by the 1168g Jesus and the Victory of God and topped 7 years later by The Resurrection of the Son of God, which measured a shelf-bending 1287g. Today I’ve read roughly half-a-dozen reviews of Wright’s latest tome and am still none the wiser as to how its weight compares to the previous volumes!

Size can be deceptive. Some books are extremely heavy, but every-inch muscle, whilst others may look just slightly chubby on the outside, but really be morbidly obese. There has to be a way of discerning the BMI of a book.

So in honour of Tom’s obsession with full-fat, supersized-theology, I would like to propose a new approach to book reviews, which follows the conventions of the UK Front-Of-Pack nutrition wheels. As in shopping, so in reading. At a glance, the reader will be able to tell from the pie chart on the book cover what balance of content they should anticipate. How many grams of edification per 100 page serving, if you will.

In my new approach to reviewing, a traffic light scheme indicates the healthy balance on any given subject. For example, a bright red ‘eschatology’ wedge indicates a fatty, over-realised, view of the kingdom. An orange ‘justification’ wedge lets the reader know that the author is trying to find a middle ground between Protestant (green) and Catholic (red) approaches to salvation by faith and/or works. And so on.

No doubt it will take a little while to iron out the particulars of the scheme, and critics will complain that my colour-choices simply reflect my own theological bias. But all ideas must begin somewhere. So may I request that Andrew re-writes his review adopting my new conventions, so that we can tell whether Wright’s work is not only worth the wait, but also worth the weight.

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