I saw and spoke with many outstanding scholars during my time at the ETS and SBL annual meetings in Georgia, but the highlight was Sunday afternoon. Marianne Meye Thompson and I were headed to have lunch together. (Dr. Thompson is a professor of NT at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. She is quite well known herself in the 'Biblical Studies' crowd as an expert on John's gospel and has published many books. We were meeting so that I could learn more about Fuller's PhD program.) She turned aside for a moment to shake hands with a good friend. It was none other than N.T. Wright.
"Tom" Wright is the former Bishop of Durham for the Anglican Church, now a research professor at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He is the author of 64 books and has spoken innumerable times to large crowds of people, both in person and on T.V. He was the main speaker for both ETS (where 2500 were gathered) and the Institute of Biblical Research, which met Friday evening between the conferences. Though IBR only has 400 members, 1000 people filled the room to hear Bishop Wright speak on "The Kingdom and the Cross." You may remember my trip to Wheaton College back in April where N.T. Wright's work was the focus of discussion for the over 1000 people who had gathered. In addition to all of these honors, N.T. Wright also has the distinction of being the only non-fiction author whose books appear on both of our bedside tables. I told him so.
I had rehearsed a few short lines in case I had the pleasure of meeting him (and since I was just 3 feet away I was not going to let the opportunity slip by!). His work has made a profound impact on my thinking about the Bible and about Jesus. I've read at sections of Jesus and the Victory of God, Following Jesus: Reflections on Biblical Discipleship, Paul in Fresh Perspective, and Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision. Danny's men's group has also benefitted from his work, reading both Simply Christian and Following Jesus together. It is a rare author who can significantly impact the world of biblical scholarship and at the same time speak deeply to the hearts of the average Christian. For his academic audience he is known as "N.T.", while he publishes at a popular level as "Tom." Bishop Wright, more than any other author, has nurtured both of us in our spiritual journey and enlivened our conversations about God, the Bible, and theology. It was an honor to be able to thank him personally for the way he has brought fresh insight to our study of God's Word.