At 08:42 AM 12/29/2010, Dennis Goffin wrote:
> You say "What I think "the Gospel of God" means in this
> particular line of Mark (early in that text, be it noted) is
> precisely what it says, and what John the Baptist would have meant
> by it: the Good news about God is that God forgives, and that
> repentance accordingly saves. John (if we believe Mark, and even if
> we don't, it is probably relevant to what Mark says elsewhere) was
> pulling large crowds on the law or less this proposition: the
> chance to be forgiven, and thus cleansed of sin, and thus made fit
> for the Good Option which was going to appear very soon, along with
> a highly undesirable Bad Option."
> In my Bible, however, the phrase that I read is the
> gospel of the kingdom of God, a totally different
> proposition. This is what all the parables about the kingdom were
> about. What is the Good Option about, if it isn't about this? ...
I agree with you. Years ago on Crosstalk, I had an extended
conversation with Stevan Davies and others about what the essence of
the Gospels was, and after considering many things, the one thing we
could both absolutely agree on was that the historical Jesus,
whatever else he might have said, was clearly interested in the
*kingdom of God*. However, if there were a Gospel of God associated
with all his talk about that kingdom, we could not agree on what the
historical Jesus said about it.
So I think that you are right to return the emphasis to talk about
the *kingdom* of God. People will argue this and that about what he
said about the kingdom, but counter-arguments can also be found for
every such thesis, even if they are not re-posted every time such an
argument is presented.
The Jesus Seminar came somewhat to the same conclusion. In The Five
Gospels, (pp. 40f, 136f) they agreed that the historical Jesus did,
indeed, talk about the Kingdom of God (or, as they translate it,
God's Imperial Rule), but found it difficult to state firm
conclusions about it. They wrote (p. 137),
The Fellows of the Jesus Seminar are inclined to the second option:
Jesus conceived of God's Rule as all around him but difficult to
discern. God was so real for him that he could not distinguish God's
present activity from any future activity. He had a poetic sense of
time in which the future and the present merged, simply melted
together, in the intensity of his vision. But Jesus' uncommon views
were obfuscated by the more pedestrian conceptions of John, on the
one side, and by the equally pedestrian views of the early Christian
community, on the other.
It is not often that I hear John's gospel described as "pedestrian,"
and it is even less often that we hear the Jesus Seminar giving much
credence to John's testimony. But their analysis should be sufficient
warning against the uncritical acceptance of any theory of what Jesus
meant by the Kingdom of God, much less any proposed "Gospel of God."
Northern Arizona University
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