N.T. Wright’s View of Hell
I am well entrenched in the 8am-5pm work world now. Many days it is a lot of fun. Today was really crappy. Nothing seemed to go right. After a lousy day, there’s nothing like sitting down with a good beer and a good theology book. This is where I find solace. In fact, I have decided that drinking a beer and reading a good theology book are my two favorite things to do in life… okay, two of my three favorite things.
Perhaps the greatest theology book of all time to be read while drinking beer is N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God. Indeed, does not nature itself teach that Tom Wright and Leinenkugel’s go hand-in-hand? Here is a great quote about the nature of Jesus’ “hell” passages:
The next comment ought to be unnecessary, but misunderstanding has been so long-lasting here that perhaps it is as well to be clear. The warnings already mentioned, and those about to be discussed, are manifestly and obviously, within their historical context, warnings about a coming national disaster, involving the destruction by Rome of the nation, the city and the Temple. The story of judgment and vindication which Jesus told is very much like the story told by the prophet Jeremiah, invoking the categories of cosmic disaster in order to invest the coming socio-political disaster with its full theological significance. The ‘normal’ way of reading these passages withing the Christian tradition has been to see them as references to a general post mortem judgment in hell; but this betrays a fairly thorough lack of historical understanding. Jesus’ sayings may have wider implications. That is a topic outside the scope of the present book. But as historicans we are bound to read at least the passages [traditionally taken to refer to hell] as warnings about a coming national disaster. (p. 323)
I think Wright is absolutely on target with this. What do you think? Does Gehennah refer to the afterlife or is it a metaphor for this-worldly judgment?