In Evil and the Justice of God, N.T. Wright enters the conversation of the problem and origin of evil traditionally dominated by the philosophers. However, by offering a fresh—and, at times, unorthodox—approach, Wright brings an offering that makes a reasonable contribution to the conversation.
Wright doesn't seem to approach anything head-on, which is at the same time this book's greatest strength and greatest weakness. He seems often to talk around the subject, but in this way he does cover material that doesn't always get included in the traditional conversation. In this way, the train of thought does go somewhere, even if it feels meandering at times, and the journey is often worthwhile.
On occasion the vagueness can be distracting and even confusing. While he believes evil is a very real thing, it is unclear whether Wright believes the Devil (or "the satan" with a lower-case "s" as he says) or demons are real beings. Not that this idea is integral to the understanding of either the problem or the origin of evil, but as often as "the satan" comes up, it is confusing in such impersonal terms.
InterVarsity Press was kind enough to send me the new Special Edition of the book that includes the DVD on the back cover simply entitled Evil. While the DVD is a good supplement to the book and certainly an excellent tool for a small group discussion, I am glad it accompanies the book because it moves through the material too quickly to standing alone.
In both the book and DVD, the main solution to the problem of evil offered is this: "Forgiveness, then—including God's forgiveness of us, our forgiveness of one another and our forgiveness even of ourselves—is a central part of the deliverance of evil". While this conclusion may be incomplete as a full answer, this was never what Wright set out to accomplish in the first place.
In the end, while Evil and the Justice of God may be less intellectually satisfying than it's more philosophical/theological counterparts, it is at times more existentially satisfying. Wright succeeds in joining the conversation and covering territory that has largely gone unexplored.
This book was a free review copy provided by InterVarsity Press.