"Discerning the Dawn: History: History, Eschatology and New Creation" by N.T. Wright

In the fall Merv shared some Pithy Quotes from N.T. Wright’s 2018 Gifford Lecture series . We have both listened to them and would like to focus a discussion on them.

We invite you to join in over the course of 16 weeks, beginning on January 5th. We propose a syllabus to help foster better discussion by helping participants keep in step with each other. The discussion should also allow for basic informational questions as well as response to the content of the lectures.

Because the lectures are long, some are very dense, some may require a bit of study and review, and we have real lives too, we will plan two weeks for each lecture.

There are 8 lectures in this series, Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology and New Creation, each about an hour long. For those who would like to coordinate discussion according to a syllabus, it is below. Please listen to the lecture and be ready to begin discussing it by the following dates:

You are here: Opening Post (OP)
Jan 5, 2024: Lecture 1 - The Fallen Shrine: Lisbon 1755 and the Triumph of Epicureanism
Jan 19, 2024: Lecture 2 - The Questioned Book: Critical Scholarship and the Gospels
Feb 2, 2024: Lecture 3 - The Shifting Sand: The Meanings of ‘History’
Feb 16, 2024: Lecture 4 - The End of the World? Eschatology and Apocalyptic in Historical Perspective
Mar 1, 2024: Lecture 5 - The Stone the Builders Rejected: Jesus, the Temple and the Kingdom
Mar 15, 2024: Lecture 6 - A New Creation: Resurrection and Epistemology
March 29, 2024: Lecture 7 - Broken Signposts? New Answers for the Right Questions
April 12, 2024: Lecture 8 - The Waiting Chalice: Natural Theology and the Missio Dei

Eventually the lectures were edited into a volume called History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology. Amazon’s blurb provides a basic abstract of the topic of the lectures:

The book is fairly expensive, so worth trying a library before buying. I put my ILL request in a few weeks ago.

There is an hour-long podcast overview of the book and lecture series here: Christian Humanist Profiles 180: History and Eschatology – The Christian Humanist .

If you want yet more background on the lectures or book @Jay313 provided a link to an extensive review of the book version in his post: Pithy quotes from our current reading which give us pause to reflect - #2323 by Jay313

See you here in the new year.


I’m interested, but this might be better as a PM once people indicate their own interest.

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It has crossed my mind. I hate having to consider the possible need to make this a PM discussion. My inclination is to try to keep it public.

I think there are people who might be interested now or in the future who would want to read the posts of value. If the discussion is as valuable as the lectures, this could be the kind of thread that a new-comer might benefit from. It reminds me of the way @St.Roymond has read through all sorts of old threads and liked things I haven’t thought of for years. He is surely not alone.

Let’s see how it goes.


I’ve gone through six lectures so far and haven’t decided if I want to keep going. I’ll try to remember to tune in on this!

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I hope you’ll join in.
I’ve listened to all of them, and some of them 4 or more times. One would think I’d retain something from those, but I wasn’t able to take notes while I was listening before. I need to knuckle down and work through them “studiously” now. Setting up this discussion is rather a challenge to myself to do this.

I’m interested too. How will we access the “course” and join the conversation?

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Hello Richard!
The links to the videos are up in the OP. Just click on the blue text and it will take you to the youtube set of Wright’s Gifford Lectures.

Please let me know, if you have any problems with the links, and I will correct them!

Glad to see you are interested!

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I’m looking forward to this too!

I think our intent is that the conversation can begin right here in this thread, though we can wait till early January to get that started - to give people a chance to listen to that first lecture for themselves. There isn’t any formal ‘enrollment’. It isn’t an official ‘course’ (Kendel’s excellent organization and syllabus notwithstanding!). So - after listening to the first lecture itself at the provided link, just bring back any discussion of it right here in a couple weeks! I already have some questions that I’m looking forward to running by knowledgeable scholars here. (Please correct if I mispeak in any of this, @Kendel - and thanks again for setting this up!)



@Mervin_Bitikofer you understood and answered the intent of Richard’s question better than I did. Thanks!

Once we are past Christmas, I will be able to spend more time with that first lecture and actually take notes, etc. Must focus on details and retention this time.


Looking forward to it. I need a little discipline in my life.


Thanks, Merv.

Just my two cents, but I think the first lecture can’t be fully appreciated without the second and third.

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I know what you mean. In fact, I had to go back and listen to the first lecture again after taking in some of the subsequent ones - because they helped me to take in the first one a lot better than I did the first go-through. I’m resisting the temptation to say more - I can tell that many of us are already itching to go on this! It will be good discipline for me to wait for the scheduled time!


Your description of the lectures as dense reminds me of how NT Wright described Paul’s writings in “Into the Heart of Romans:” dense. I laughed when I read Wright’s comment.


He’s right. One illustration of that is that Paul builds very long and very complex sentences that aren’t just simple statements, they’re layered propositions tightly bound in a structure. One example is the opening chapter; nearly the entire first page of Romans in the Greek is a single sentence.
English translators chop Paul’s sentences into pieces that today’s minds can handle easily – and we thereby lose a great deal of what Paul is trying to say.

I think you have to go to Hebrews to find anything else comparable.

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Yes, NT is right, but it doesn’t let him off the hook as an exegete who sometimes also writes dense explanations. I enjoy his work anyway.

Having had exegetes as grad school professors, my view is that they tend to be as dense as their material – perhaps I should say “at least” as dense.

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Thank you for doing this and I like the idea of keeping it public for the reasons you mentioned. Sounds like quality content we’d love to have accessible.


This is just a reminder that the formal discussion of Wright’s first Gifford lecture begins Friday, January 5th. The link to the lecture series and the discussion schedule are in the OP. The first few lectures are very dense with names of philosophers, scientists, and theologians, plus related concepts. I need to finish my notes on lecture 1 and identify a few questions I feel lurking in the back of my mind,
Looking forward to talking these over.
Please, speak up, if you are having trouble getting to the lectures.


Anyone know if there is a text version online for those of us who prefer to read?