One cannot or should not accuse N.T. Wright of supercessionism. It seems that all of this theology is grounded in a very real and very present Israel. His second chapter, Israel and God’s Kingdom People, in which he examines Scripture as used by ancient Israel, shows that this basis is in no danger of fading. For Wright, in his Kingdom Theology, the ultimate goal of Israel, and of God through Israel, is the establishment of the Kingdom of God. So, what role does Scripture play in this pursuit? Wright sums it up as, “…we may propose that Israel’s sacred writings were the place where, and the means by which, Israel discovered again and again who the true God was, and how his Kingdom-purposes were being taken forward.” (p34) He goes on to note that Scripture wasn’t just a reflection of the times, but a continued voice of God to Israel. I see problems with that viewpoint, but I also see the allowance needed in that viewpoint, especially in reading Matthew and Hebrews. All in all, though, Wright still holds Scripture in a prima position.
He begins to tackle the idea of inspiration, but leaves it thread-bare. This is a subject which many miss today – as to what inspiration of Scripture actually means. Wright is correct, I believe, that it is an idea ever-present in Judaism and Christian (or as present as present is when collecting canons and texts, etc…), but it has gotten mixed up with this idea of inerrancy and “the word of God”, i.e., the Text for many, but in reality, not pointing to anything written at all (p36). This is why I disagree with the image of a Transcendent God (which Wright seems to enjoy), because it is through inspiration (of Scriptures) and through the active word of God wherein God connects to us and remains ever present. And Wright’s acceptance of transcendence, at least for me, make his proclamation of keeping Scripture as something more than a “record of revelation”, as indeed, very much a continuing “speech-act (p37, both) very ironic. I mean, if God is so transcendent, then how can Scripture continue to be give us hope, instead of just imparting information about a far-distant time when God was just a little less than too far away? If there is wonder working power in the narrative expressly related to inspiration which is the work of the Spirit, then how can it be that God is wholly transcendent, regardless of the paradoxes of being ever-present which Wright uses as a qualifier?
He ends this brief chapter with two lessons drawn from Second Temple Judaism’s use of Scripture. For those Jewish believers, which would later involve Christians, Wright contends that Scripture provided a “controlling story” and a call to obedience. Both uses call for a shaping of the corporate body, in response to God, using themes and narratives. In this, Scripture served as an authority, but a modern guide.
So ends this chapter. Wright really needed to focus more on inspiration, which many conflate with their notion of authority. Further, this chapter was later week on how Judaism then and now used and uses Scripture and this might translate to use of Scripture by the first Christians, and of course today. His focus is on how the narrative shapes us, as if the Spirit of God is not transcendent, but ever working through Scripture to bring about the Kingdom of God.