In Which Alastair Posts his First Audio…

Rubens - The Descent from the Cross (c.1611)
I have just recorded a talk on the subject of N.T. Wright’s understanding of Jesus. Hopefully I will follow it up with some talk on Paul and Wright’s critics.

I am not particularly pleased with it, but have decided to put it online nonetheless. I am not gifted at speaking and far prefer writing. Here it is. Please e-mail me if there are any problems with it. I haven’t listened to the recording all the way through, nor have I checked that it has uploaded properly (due to the fact that I don’t have access to broadband at present). I would also appreciate feedback and any constructive criticism that people might have.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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12 Responses to In Which Alastair Posts his First Audio…

  1. Alastair, this is great. Love the content, and I’m looking forward to many more of these.

    The audio is a touch fuzzy; there’s a bit of a fuzzy echo of your own voice. I have no idea what would cause that…what are you using to record?

    Even with the bit of fuzziness, it’s never unclear. Everything is easily understandable. Do you plan on turning this into a regular “podcast” with a feed that I can plug into iTunes?

  2. Al says:


    I was recording with a mic on a set of headphones. It is not surprising that the audio isn’t as good as it could be. The program that I used was also very basic.

    I am not sure that I will start a regular podcast, although I might post audio from time to time.

  3. Trevor Acorn says:


    If you’re able to pull a podcast together, you’d have one subscriber in me.

  4. Curious Presbyterian says:

    You are a lot better speaker than I am!

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks Alastair for that, it was very good. It would be great if you were to do more such recordings in future – I find it a lot easier and more enjoyable to listen to a recording (while doing something else) than sit and read yet another a huge article (not that I don’t enjoy that too).

    In terms of the content, I would like to complain/comment/challenge you regarding the idea of undoing Adam’s sin. As you note in your talk, Wright seems a great advocate of the idea that Israel understood that the ultimate purpose of the covenant with Abraham was to undo the sin of Adam. I am currently inclined to think that such an idea is simply incorrect.

    I can see no reason to think that Israelites saw any connection between Abraham and Adam. It seems to me that the story of Adam serves as a general explanatory background narrative that explains why the world in general is not perfect (a “just-so” story, as it were). Whereas Abraham and his covenant is all about the nation of Israel and them having a land to live in. There seems no thought in the old testament writings that the Abrahamic covenant will in any way undo Adam’s sin or is in any way related. It seems to me that the idea of a connection comes only in the Pauline phase of Christianity, where Jesus both undoes Adam’s sin AND provides a neo-Abrahamic covenant.

    I’m a fan of a lot of what Wright’s got to say, but I can’t see that his determinedness to strongly connect Adam and Abraham is based on anything more than fanciful theory. If you think there is good reason to think differently, I would love to hear why.

  6. Al says:

    Thanks for the comment, Andrew. I don’t think that Wright’s position can be dismissed as fanciful theory. Wright draws on a number of different lines of evidence. He points to the fact that Abraham is seen to have the task of reversing the sin of Adam in a number of places within the body of Jewish literature (e.g. Genesis Rabbah 14:6; Wright also references Morna Hooker’s The Son of Man in Mark, pp.73f.). It is hard to argue that the story of Adam was understood as a mere just-so story, when it is so tightly bound up with the story of Abraham and Israel in later literature. The speculative stories that one finds about Adam in Jewish literature are seldom concerned with humankind in general, but with Israel in particular.

    We must remember that the story of Genesis 1-11 is part of Israel’s own covenant story and cannot be detached from what follows. There is a narrative coherence to the book of Genesis and the key turning point comes in chapter 12. God promises that all nations (which have just been cursed at Babel) will be blessed through Abraham. God also frequently promises that Abraham and his descendents will be fruitful and multiply. The echoes of Genesis 1:28 are quite significant.

    The story of Israel and Adam are bound together most powerfully in the fact that Israel believed that YHWH, the God who had made a covenant with them, alone among all the nations of the world, was not just another tribal deity, but was the Creator of the whole cosmos. Given the fact of the exclusive relationship that they enjoyed, they read the story of creation through the lens of the covenant. If YHWH truly was committed to set His creation to rights He would achieve this end through Israel.

    The presence of the Creator God is particularly known in Israel and it will work out from there. We can see this in the OT theme of holy war. Israel is God’s war camp, patterned after the very army of the heavens (in Numbers 2 we see that the camp of Israel is ordered like the signs of the zodiac). Israel is God’s foothold in a rebellious world, from which He will do battle with the rebellious forces in the creation. When salvation for the creation comes it will flow out from Jerusalem.

    Israel was regarded as a priestly nation and the idea that it somehow represented the whole world can be seen in a number of places, for example, the number of sacrifices offered in the Feast of Tabernacles. Israel was also a kingly nation and the OT literature proclaims that YHWH will one day establish His true king and that the king would enjoy worldwide dominion. As a prophetic nation we see Israel being a light to the Gentiles. We also see God speaking to the Gentiles through Israel in the prophets.

    In the prophets we find the ideas of restoration of creation and order in the wider world through the deliverance of Israel. The developing idea of resurrection, for example, is seen as the reestablishment of true humanity. However, the hope of resurrection is one that is focused on the resurrection of Israel as a nation. The defeat of death itself takes place primarily within the context of Israel itself.

    The point is that the cosmic concern of the narrative of Genesis 1-11 is not abandoned when we come to Genesis 12. Rather, the cosmic concern of the narrative becomes focused on one man and his seed. Through this man and his family the cosmic issues will be addressed. At key points in its history Israel’s own story widens out to bring the wider world into view. The prophets witness to the belief that this is what would happen when the covenant was renewed.

  7. Barb says:

    Why, Alastair! You’re a Brit! 😉

  8. wyclif says:

    Congrats, you’re BritishTM. EDIT: (Oops, Barb beat me to it.)

    Thanks for this; I enjoyed it. I recommend a regular podcast…

  9. This is great stuff, Al, I look forward to your second.

  10. Listened to it all now, really good stuff. I wonder if you would expand on the exile-return issue in light of his critics (1 Peter 1:17)?

  11. Al says:


    I will add that to the list of questions to address.

  12. Pingback: Ten Years of Blogging: 2006-2007 | Alastair's Adversaria

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