Today I went to hear N. T. Wright for this lecture series on sacramental theology at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. (For more info on Wright, see this unofficial N. T. Wright page and this collection of his works.)
I went to see Wright in order to get a glimpse into how his mind works and to see how good he is at answering questions.
Here are a few of my (not very profound) impressions:
- N. T. Wright is a gifted extemporaneous speaker (especially in Q & A).
- Wright has a very likable personality.
- Wright is witty and clever.
- Wright has a refined British accent. I love it. I’ve heard it before on MP3s but never in person. That accent can make the most trivial things seem interesting and intellectual.
- Wright’s presentation style disappointed me, mostly because I strongly dislike being read to in person (though I don’t mind it on MP3). It felt like I was being talked at, not talked to. Since these lectures are going to be published in the seminary’s journal, Wright carefully wrote out the lecture as a journal article and consequently spent several hours reading to us.
- Wright paints with a massive brush. He approached the issue at hand by taking hours to discuss time, space, and matter with reference to realized eschatology and a proper framework for assessing the meaning of the “sacraments.” I brought my GNT, but I didn’t crack it once; exegesis was pretty much non-existent. This is not to say that he can’t do exegesis; rather, I’m saying merely that he didn’t do it, probably assuming that we can go to his books to find that. His time constraints no doubt had something to do with this.
- Wright and I have at least one thing in common: when teaching from a lectern, we both use a laptop (and I think his was a Dell, too). I typically use my laptop when teaching and preaching–though I tend to walk around a lot. Wright stayed behind the lectern the entire time except for the very last bit of Q & A after the second lecture. I was sitting in the middle of the third row from the front, so I could see him only from the neck up. He looked like a talking head.
I have a lot of questions about Wright, and I have not yet read enough by Wright himself for my opinion to be worth much. See Ligon Duncan‘s “The Attractions of the New Perspective(s) on Paul” and his interview with Mark Dever: “Justification and the New Perspective.” Cf. two posts by Phil Gons: “New Perspective on Paul” and “Wright on Imputation.”