I couldn't help but be interested in the book that had caused such a fuss in my former Protestant denomination (even if it did earn me some enemies at Bob Hope airport). I finished it over my camping vacation as I usually do with books. I have to say that overall I was a bit underwhelmed. In Wright's defense it's probably due to both my high expectations (having read his masterpiece Jesus and the Victory of God) and also because whatever was theologically sound in the book, I was already pretty well aware of. (That is, I didn't really learn anything new, unlike with Jesus and the Victory of God where I was still theologically wet behind the ears).
Despite heavy Catholic leanings in theology, Wright approaches biblical study purely as a Protestant in my estimation. There is a comment he made early on in the book which I have been unable to locate where he speaks of the ongoing usefulness of the scholarly approach to studying the Scriptures to keep Scripture study from "collapsing into Church history". I can only agree with him partially here. There is a certain sense where he's right, historical critical method is useful and we can learn from it (but as Pope Benedict pointed out, that can only be admitted up to a point and it does have its weaknesses). On the other hand, there is certainly a sense in which Scripture study does collapse into Church history. The irony of this whole matter is that Wright here and elsewhere, as arguably the top Protestant biblical scholar of our time is only discovering things that Church history would have told us a long time ago if we had only paid attention. That is, the Catholic Church knew all of this without Wright's help.
The book starts off slow and he doesn't really get to the meat of the matter until well into the second half. With all the negative things I've said so far, let me just quote a few passages which I did like and which would save the curious reader the time of wading through the book:
Pg 143:So there it is for what it's worth. All this seems to be scholarly common sense to me. I don't see how anyone can get so hung up on sola fide to absolutely miss the rest of the New Testament. Actually I do, but that is a different post altogether.
Despite those who have wanted to insist that 'works' never come into Paul's mind in a positive sense, he clearly envisages not only a future judgment at the bema tou Christou, the Messiah's judgment-seat, but also that this judgment will be in accordance with the entirety of the life that has been led.
You cannot understand justification by faith in Romans 3 and 4 unless you see it flanked by the long statement of judgment according to works in Romans 2.1-16 and the spectacular scene in Romans 8 which explains why there is indeed 'no condemnation for those who are in the Messiah, Jesus'.
I also found this admission on page 162 interesting:
He [Paul] describes it quite cautiously in Romans 15.20: it is his task to name the Messiah where he has not so far been named, rather than building on anyone else's foundation. This may well be directed at an awareness with the small Roman church that its founder had been Peter himself,