This is odd: Michael Bird noticed that Amazon.com is selling a book co-authored by N.T. Wright of which Wright has never heard. Bird contacted Wright, and Wright said he does not know the author, nor has he had anything to do with the book. (See The Mystery of Tom Wright’s New Book that He Didn’t Write.)

Apparently, the author has explained that Wright had no involvement with the book, but that it is “riff off of what N.T. Wright talked about in” the videos he did with Work of the People. (See Breaking Beautiful: Is it sad that I have to say this is not a ruse?)

Now, I’ve seen books interacting with N.T. Wright, like Stephen Kuhrt’s Tom Wright for Everyonebut Kuhrt did not present Wright’s name as an author. It is not a wise decision to use an author’s name without their permission, especially if the publisher decides to market the book with that person’s name on the cover as an author, especially if it was confusing enough for Amazon.com to sell the book as if it had been written by Wright.

I am sure the author is not malicious, but I hope he has a discussion with his publisher (and I should add that I am surprised that the publisher appears to have allowed this), soon, to remarket this book. It is not fair for someone to buy a book under the impression that it was written by someone who has nothing to do with its composition.

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Two thoughts have come to mind since I posted this:

(1) I want to emphasize this: I presume that the author had no intent to deceive anyone. This book doesn’t release until July 1st, which means there is plenty of time to realize and correct the mistake. That said, how did the publisher overlook the ethical violations associated with naming Wright as an author? Also, how does Amazon.com work when it comes to listing books as written by various authors?

(2) In Bird’s post he says, “…this might be a wonderful illustration of modern pseudepigraphy.” Interestingly, I was listening to a lecture by John Goldingay of FTS this week where he talks about how some aspects of Torah may not be from Moses, but later authors understood them as derived or inspired by Moses’ past writings, and therefore, in ancient culture, it seemed odd to put one’s name on something that has roots in the thinking of a more important and wise person. This idea could apply to some of the Pauline corpus as well, or the Peterine epistles, where some of the content does come from Paul or Peter, but the current document is an outworking of their ideas, and in ancient thought some felt odd attributing their derivative insights to themselves when they thought of these insights as an extension of the more important figure’s thoughts and words.

 

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